Category Archives: Blogs

The Five Types of Blog Commenters

Soldiers: These are the commenters who enjoy being the first to comment, even if they have nothing to say. Soldiers comments are typically encouraging but lack substance. They include phrases such as, “great post,” “interesting,” and “nice work.” Soldiers are always polite. Their comments are short and serve more of an acknowledgment that they read the post or visited the blog rather than substantive or thought provoking. If your blog had a “like” button, they would probably just click it. Most bloggers, myself included, appreciate these comments. They are at least one form of feedback that people are reading our posts.

Contributors: These are the most sought after types of commenters by most bloggers. This group might not leave a lot of comments around the blogosphere but when they do, they are worth reading. Contributors comments push forward the conversation started by the blog post. They can be both positive and negative, but they add substance to the conversation. These people are most likely to also retweet or otherwise share the post with their online networks.

Link Baiters: Most similar to Soldiers, link baiters objective is to try and build their own site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by creating a new incoming link from your blog. They are selfish, thinking of their own interests before the blogger’s. Link baiters comments are short and often plug something that they’ve written on a similar topic. Many marketers try to behave as contributors but, especially when they start out, end up as link baiters instead.

Trolls: The Wikipedia definition works here: “a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

Spammers: Most spammers are actually bots that post off-topic comments on a blog to promote a commercial site, typically a pharma or porn site. Again, I’ll reference Wikipedia for a pretty good definition: It is done by automatically posting random comments or promoting commercial services to blogs, wikis, guestbooks, or other publicly accessible online discussion boards. Any web application that accepts and displays hyperlinks submitted by visitors may be a target. Adding links that point to the spammer’s web site artificially increases the site’s search engine ranking. An increased ranking often results in the spammer’s commercial site being listed ahead of other sites for certain searches, increasing the number of potential visitors and paying customers.

I’d like to consider myself a Contributor, but I often end up as more of a Solider. I want my friends and other bloggers to know that I’ve stopped by to read their posts. However, I often feel short on time and end up just posting a quick sentence or two instead of something more substantive. I’m going to work on that in the next year.

What am I missing? Let’s expand this list. Also let us know what type of commenter you are and why.

The Three Phases of Robert Scoble

Robert Scoble
Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

I’ve lately fallen out of love with Robert Scoble . If I were to meet him in person, I’d say, "It’s not me, it’s you." But since that opportunity is unlikely to present itself anytime soon, I’m going to share this post instead.

PHASE 1: THE MICROSOFT YEARS

When Scoble started broadcasting from within the depths of Microsoft’s corporate headquarters, he was a ray of light on an otherwise overcast Seattle day. He shared with the outside world that which Microsoft was unaware they possessed: a personality. We learned how companies could share their institutional knowledge and, as a result, gain the trust of their community and build new inroads to their brand. We connected with the employees in a way we never connected with the corporate entity.

Scoble showed companies that they should embrace their quirkiness, not hide it. And as a result, he rose to fame as the poster child for corporate transparency and gave rise to the notion of corporate social media. Many social media case studies used his career path as an example of how social media must grow from the inside out fueled by the passion of a company’s employees.

PHASE 2: PODTECH

With the notoriety that Scoble’s efforts received inside Microsoft came many opportunities. Speaking gigs, a huge following on his blog and of course, other job offers. Scoble moved to PodTech , where he went from evangelizing one company to evangelizing EVERY company. He transitioned from an important corporate social media voice to a new breed of infomercial creator.

For a small fee (and often for free), (UPDATED: Scoble did not charge companies for the videos he produced at PodTech) Scoble would come to your corporate headquarters and produce a prosumer-like video podcast that he would then publish to the PodTech network. Because so many people followed him from Microsoft to PodTech, this remained a large and coveted corporate audience.

A Scoble mention inevitably resulted in a spike for web traffic and attention to the companies he covered. The problem was, there seemed to be little editorial oversight. As long as their was budget and/or access, Scoble was in. And as long as a video was produced, most corporate communications or marketing teams felt comfortable checking social media off their "to do" list.

PHASE 3: FASTCOMPANY.TV

As the funding dried up, Scoble took his show to Fast Company, thus completing his transition from corporate poster child to certified media representative. He’s everywhere these days, tweeting, posting video and updating his FriendFeed status from the littlest start-ups in Silicon Valley to hanging out with titans of industry in Davos, Switzerland.

The problem is, there’s no editor. There’s no one telling Robert what is valuable. I get what’s in it for Robert, but I’m not sure what’s in it for me or for the rest of his audience.

In my opinion, Scoble is no longer the signal, but the noise. And as I find more and more corporate entities trying to build online communities, the lessons they share are much more worthy of my attention than the boastings of an online celebrity.

MY ANALYSIS

What I used to love about Robert was his passion. Early adopters were quick to find new tools and technologies just by following his blog, which he updates much less regularly than before. Conversations would take place there that were unlike any other blog community in which I participated.

That passion has become to voluminous for me to endure, and I’ve found that there’s little professional value for me in keeping up with his whereabouts these days. He no longer serves as a role model for how companies should behave in social spaces (instead I look to people like Tyson Foods’ Ed Nicholson , Richard AT DELL ) and his travels/interviews are less relevant to my interests.

I’m slowly unsubscribing from the various networks on which we’re connected. Robert won’t notice. After all, he has thousands of friends.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Am I wrong on this? Are you watching his FastCompany videos and following his Twitter stream? Are you learning new things from keeping up with his globetrotting? If so, please share your thoughts. I’m curious what Scoble means to communicators today.

(This is a conversation. Please refrain from using any derogatory language in your response. I will not tolerate any personal attacks against Robert. The dialogue should remain around the topics discussed in this post. Thanks!)

Blog Analysis: Safeway

safeway John Cass had a post informing readers about some new additions to the Fortune 500 corporate blogging wiki.

If you haven’t visited the corporate blogging wiki yet, it’s a good place to see which large companies are using blogs as a communications tool. (It’s also interesting to click on some of the links and see how long its been since many of these blogs were last updated.)

There are some valuable takeaways from each of these new blogs, and so I thought I would share some of my observations and invite you to do the same. I’m going to start with the Safeway blog .

BLOG OVERVIEW

According to the About section on the right side of the page, the blog is written by a Safeway employee named Kate and it’s about, "family, food, value and fun." Kate makes a special point to ask readers to "join the conversation."

STRENGTHS

Audience: Kate writes that she is a mom, and that a large part of her job is getting to hear from a lot of women out there about everything that’s important to them. She has a specific audience in mind (women) that she’s writing for, which sets up certain expectations about the content. Targeting this demographic makes the content more relevant, which is appealing.

One Author: Kate is the only contributing author that I saw. She writes in a conversational tone and I don’t feel like she’s trying to sell me anything. She is a passionate participant, and that goes a long way.

Frequent Updates: The blog is updated regularly, and I like the diversity of the topics, from greener cleaning products to new foods and recipes. And even though the subject of each post changes, it’s always in some way related to Safeway and its products.

Images: Most posts have an image with them, which makes the overall site much more appealing. It also helps me as a way to navigate through the posts, since I can see an image of, say, frozen peas, and choose to skim over it without reading.

Integration: The blog is well integrated into the larger Safeway site with a prominent placement on the navigation bar on the main Safeway homepage. So many companies bury this link.

CHALLENGES

Zero Post Links: Despite the number of posts, there’s not one link, external or otherwise, in any of the entries. This is by far the biggest weakness. Not only would links improve the site’s SEO , but it would help readers to take action as a result of reading the blog. For example, the post on e-coupons should include a link to a few of the company’s e-coupons.

One Author: I know, I also listed this as a strength. As the blogger for Safeway’s official blog, I want to know more about Kate. There’s no picture of her next to her profile, nor does she indicate where she works or her job function. These details help readers to feel as if there is a true human behind the blog. It also helps us to better communicate with her as readers. If she works the deli counter in Oregon, I’m probably not going to ask her about the company’s work on improving the technology infrastructure for its chain.

No Conversation: It was encouraging that the blog asks readers to join the conversation, but nobody at Safeway seems to be listening. Not every post has a comment, and that’s fine. I don’t think a blog’s success should be measured strictly by the number of comments it receives. However, the comments (and questions) that are posited should be addressed by Kate or someone else at the company, and they aren’t. If Kate wants Safeway customers to participate, then she needs to actually engage them when they do.

Access: To see the blog archives, I’m asked to register. While this may be a feature of the blogging platform Safeway chose, it’s no excuse. I don’t want to sign up for company emails just to read your archives. Open those suckers up!

UPDATE: SAFEWAY’S RESPONSE

Shortly after writing this post, I received the following email from Rohini Jatkar, Safeway’s Online Marketing Manager. With her permission, I’ve posted it here:

Hello Aaron,

We want to thank you for your recent review of the Safeway blog on Disruptology. We are very excited about this opportunity to have a dialogue with our consumers and being reviewed by someone like you. You provide valuable information and feedback that will help us improve the blog and community experience on our site.

We are looking into expanding this section of our website significantly and making it more interactive. To this end we are exploring the addition of Forums and we are definitely looking into bringing in guest bloggers who are subject matter experts on occasion.

Your suggestion of providing links back to relevant sections of the site in posts (for example a link back to eCoupons) is great and we will implement more of that going forward.

Regarding the identity of the blogger, it’s her personal wish and a company requirement that she remain anonymous. We are not prepared to provide an interview at this time, but will look into this.

Regarding access to blog archives, you can currently access posts from each week via quick links on the bottom right of the page. We did notice that ‘View Complete Archives’ link at the end takes you to a registration page. We agree that this should be "free for all" so we’re going to open that up immediately!

Thank you on behalf of Safeway.

Regards,
Rohini

YOUR TURN

What do you think? Go check out the blog and provide some constructive feedback. And Kate, if you happen to see this, I’d love to hear from you!
Photo credit: mattieb

Best Posts of the Week

Thought I’d share a couple of interesting and useful posts I’ve read this week:

Enjoy. And if you have any feedback, please leave them for the bloggers at the end of their posts. Bloggers love feedback!

The Corporate Blog – 10 Community Building Tips

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You can continue your social media education without leaving your desk (or cube, or office, or favorite coffee shop).

On September 17, I’ll be leading an IABC webinar titled “The Corporate Blog: Ten Community Building Tips.”

I recently recorded a podcast with Neville Hobson to share a bit about what participants can expect to learn.

If you were to listen in, what types of questions about corporate blogging would you like to have answered? Share your thoughts below and I’ll try and incorporate as many of the comments as possible!

3 Up and Coming PR Bloggers You Should Read

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My buddy Josh Dilworth, who works for Porter-Novelli on all things social media, added me to a list of new bloggers worth reading. I really appreciate the consideration, and I figured I’d spread the love by adding a couple of bloggers I’m paying attention to these days that you might be interested in following as well (in addition to Josh, who always shares links to stories days before others are talking about them).

Since my interest lies at the intersection between communications and social media, I thought I’d focus on blogs in that space as well:

  • Adam Metz over at MetzMash is a young PR specialist who produces exciting content about social media and public relations topics, as this recent post illustrates. What I like about his writing is that it’s direct, it’s challenging and it’s passionate.  This is a new blog that I only stumbled upon recently, but I’ve enjoyed it, including Adam’s willingness to take a contrarian view on popular topics and help us to think about them differently.
  • My former colleague and dear friend, Georg Kolb, recently launched a blog titled Corporate Communications Compass. However, this is a blog in appearance only. Georg is one of the smartest PR practitioners that I’ve ever encountered and his posts address overarching changes and challenges facing our industry. The content is extremely rich and well researched, making this essential reading for anyone interested in the future of communications. Georg recently relocated to Europe, so it will be interesting to see if and how this affects his writing.
  • Ed Lee’s blog is called Blogging Me Blogging You. I’ve always been impressed with the caliber of his writing as well as his ability to summarize and produce content at an analytical level beyond his years in the industry. Although we started in PR around the same time, Ed’s blog is a source of inspiration as to the type of thinking we need to support from young PR people to prepare our companies for the next phase of social media communications.

So what about you? Are there any up and coming young bloggers (young in terms of time blogging, not age) that you recommend reading?

If so, please share them in the comments or on your own blog and link back to this post.

Photo credit: john_a_ward on Flickr

Alltop Adds Category for PR Blogs

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The blogosphere by its nature is unstructured, messy and disjointed. This often makes it difficult for newcomers to find blogs that reflect their interests. Of course you could do a Google Search for “PR blogs” or try the same search on Technorati or Ice Rocket.

But there’s a much simpler way thanks to Guy Kawasaki and Alltop. Alltop doesn’t require you to test a bunch of keywords to find the most relevant results. Instead, it employs a social algorithm to identify the top blogs divided by category.

And recently, they added a category for PR blogs.

I’m not included yet, but hopefully I can crack that nut in the next 12 months with your help.

(Hat tip to my buddy Josh for the head’s up on this.)

My First Mashable Post

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Last week I was traveling, so I wasn’t able to share that my first post for Mashable on How to Live Blog a Conference was published on July Fourth!

If you’re not familiar with the blog, Mashable is one of the world’s top 10 blogs according to Technorati, and really one of the premier blogs on social media news and information.

I’ll be posting there a couple times a week over the next few months, so please add it to your RSS reader and leave comments!

Who is your blog’s audience?

Photo Credit: felipe trucco [Flickr]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the conclusion of my social media workshops, there’s always one or two people that approach me and remark that they’ve never seen someone present with so much energy. I tell  them that it’s because I am so passionate about my work, and I’m glad that it shows.

It’s true, and it’s the same reason that I write this blog.

The bloggers that I read are pretty plugged in to the social media community, and I am certainly not writing for them (although of course I hope that my commentary can sometimes lend a new perspective to their thinking here). And this isn’t a destination for daily social media news and updates. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out these.

After seeing that indeed, people who participate in the workshops I lead are reading this blog for more information about this space, I think that my core audience is communications professionals who are just beginning to explore social media.

So if you’re reading this, here’s what I think I know about you:

  • You are between 30-50 years old
  • You are a male or a female (just threw that in to see if you’re skimming)
  • You are a seasoned communications professional
  • You have been tasked with integrating social media into your communications plans, or perhaps you just want to learn more about this space so you can provide strategic counsel to your executives

Please do me a favor and leave a comment on this post. Let me know a little bit about you so that I can do my best to ensure this content is relevant to you.

As always, thanks for reading!

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Bill Marriot and CEO Blogs

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At the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) conference this week, Bill Marriott was honored as the 2008 EXCEL Award Winner. I figured he’d reference the irony of speaking at the Hilton in his first sentence, but he waited until his second.

This was one of the speeches I was most looking forward to. Bill is in his late seventies and one of only a handful of CEO bloggers in his peer group. And since he’s not in the tech indstury, it’s even more remarkable.

Here are some quick notes from Bill’s remarks:

  • Bill doesn’t type his posts, but he records them and they are transcribed
  • The blog has received over 500K visits since January 2007, and according to Bill, generated nearly $4 million in hotel sales (NOTE: he was asked how he was able to track this and played the old man card, claiming he didn’t understand the technology)
  • His most popular post to date was this one on tipping

And a couple of choice quotes:

I would recommend blogging to any CEO. It’s worth it.

Whether we like it [social media] or not, we have to get on board.

Stories are the things that people remember.

What seems to make Bill a great blogger is his passion for his company and his ability to spin a good yarn. Reading these posts feel very authentic. But not every CEO has this gift, nor the same type of hands on approach to running a company as he has. Bill travels to 300 Marriot properties a year, which provides lots of fodder for colorful stories and blog topics.

Now I guess we can debate a bit about whether Bill’s blog is a true blog or not. He doesn’t actually type the posts  himself, as I mentioned above. I’m sure they are edited a bit as well. And he has the submitted comments printed out once in a while for his review, but he certainly doesn’t maintain this dialogue on his own. But he makes no attempt to hide it, and I appreciate the transparency.

I don’t thing that it makes sense for every CEO to blog. In fact, I would probably say that most shouldn’t. Engaging in a conversation of this nature is important, but it takes a certain type of individual to communicate well on this platform. It’s not for everyone, but there are certainly those within every organization that are more adept at it than others. Embrace them!

Having heard him speak, the blog feels very authentic. Mr. Marriot has been in this business his whole life. He’s passionate about the people that work for him, and he’s got a team that helps him share this vision using a new platform. Whether or not he actually types the posts seems a bit nitpicky all things considered. At least when I’m reading his stories, I know what I’m getting.