Tag - social media

3 million musical MySpace monkeys?

I love the long tail as much as anyone.

Heck, I’m part of the long tail. Or, more accurately, part of a long tail.

But could there possibly be 3 million bands on MySpace? I mean, there’s a hundred million people supposedly on MySpace, which really means something like 10-20 million users.

15-30% of them are “bands?” It’s a little hard to swallow.

Which doesn’t mean that some startling musical wunderkind won’t emerge from the MySpace hive.

But it does mean that these numbers – as all other things MySpace – need to be taken with a largish grain of salt. Just because you have a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters doesn’t mean you’re going to get Shakespeare.

Even monkeys don’t have tails that long.

[tags] myspace, bands, music, long tail, john koetsier [/tags]

The pen is not mightier than the sword

… if your product is a sword, of course.

I subscribe to Bencivenga Bullets – Gary Bencivenga’s occasionally-updated marketing and copyrighting secrets. Just to continue the theme that marketing is not the solution to selling all the crappy products in the world, Gary says:

A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen.

Reminds me of something at Bokardo:

Our initial reaction, usually a superficial one based solely on looks, is vaporized upon use. If it doesn’t work well, then no matter how impressive your graphics are, it doesn’t matter. (think about all of the graphic design done for American-made cars)

So, as a graphic designer, make sure that you work on stuff that has the potential to work well!

So, as a social media marketing, don’t hitch your horse to the wrong cart. There’s nothing worse than failing for all the wrong reasons.

[tags] bokardo, bencivenga, marketing, social media, PR, copywriting, john koetsier [/tags]

Online reputation and anonymous comments: sxore to the rescue?

I’ve been wondering lately about online reputation in a world in which anyone can comment on any blog with any credentials.

For example, I could go to Dick Hardt’s blog Blame Canada and pretend to be Guy Kawasaki, and create a very nasty comment. And who would know that Guy didn’t flip his lid? After all, it’s his name, his email address, and his blog address. Right?

I see huge negative potential for this in the blogosphere. In fact, it’s already happening. Check out Scoble’s comment on one of his own posts: some creep is trackbacking sites as if he’s Scoble, and making it look as if Scoble has commented.

Hugh Macleod had the same problem on Tara Hunt’s blog: some sleazeball posting false and inflammatory comments, putting words into Hugh’s mouth, and potentially damaging both Hugh’s relationships and his reputation.

Here’s my question: can Dick Hardt’s sxore service prevent this problem? Sounds like it could:

sxore is an identity and reputation system for blog authors, readers and commenters. By acting as an intermediary between blog posts and comments, sxore provides a framework of identity for participants in the blog dialog.

But will my fake Guy Kawasaki comment make it through?

If I recall, when I signed up for sxore I had to authenticate myself via an automated email link. That has the potential to make it more difficult. Guy may be getting an email from sxore right now wondering what on earth is going on.

I could have put his email address as guy@sparkplug9.com … and unless there was a person checking it or an automated check that the email address is from the same domain as the blog (a potentially limiting factor for all those denizens of the blogosphere who do not have their own domain) my comment would probably still go through … because I could create that address and authenticate it. At least, however, there’d be some kind of audit trail that could be traced.

So sxore may be a solution to the problem. (In fact, there’s a WordPress plugin available right now.)

It just needs wide enough adoption to become a standard.

[tags] sxore, dick hardt, guy kawasaki, reputation, blogosphere, comments, spam, john koetsier [/tags]

User-generated content is not new

Driving home tonight listening to the local sports station riff with call-in guests on the Vancouver Canucks’ prospects for the coming NHL season, I started thinking.

“User” or “consumer” generated content is nothing new. It’s at least as old as talk radio, which relies heavily on call-in listeners to stimulation conversations and generate interest.

Are there other examples of producerism that predate the internet era? Here’s the components you need, as far as I can tell:

  • a shared and social media space
  • a community that gathers there
  • content of some kind that they create and share

Talk radio fits, I think, but the 18th-century tavern doesn’t. Am I missing something?

. . .
. . .

[ update Sept. 4 ]

America’s Funniest Home Videos comes to mind. A significant difference? The centralized gatekeeper/editor. Perhaps a necessary part of the definition of producerism/user-generated content is the lack of a centralized gatekeeper.

[tags] cgm, consumer-generated media, producerism, team1040, radio, talk, social media, community, john koetsier [/tags]

Horses, water, and social media

The benefits of social media and business blogging are not immediately apparent to all.

I recently received an email from an Ausssie who’s trying to convince a client to open up. Names changed to protect his privacy … and his relationship with his client! Also, I’ve done some very slight editing for clarity.

Hey John,

I enjoy reading your blog – your Increase your IQ: blog article caught my attention. We too have been inspired by the Stormhoek example which has been on my radar screen for some time now, and have also been trying to get corporates interested in leveraging the blogosphere …

We (name deleted) recently won a small project with (large Australian company – name deleted). We found a small group of bloggers based on geographic location and invited them to the launch party of a new brand … and … we are now endeavouring to get (the large Australian company) to have a link on their web site to all the bloggers/podcasters.

But we have found it difficult to convince (large Australian company) to do this – full marks for getting the project started but now it’s on the way it seems (to date anyway) they lack the ‘will’ to finish the job!

That, of course, is always great fun for consultants and outsourced talent: a hanging, incomplete project that the client seems to have forgotten.

My reply:

Hi Paul,

Can be tough, hey? Horse and water come to mind.

Reality is: if the client doesn’t get it, you’re probably wasting your time. Because then even if they do it they’ll do it as a tactic or as an episode … not as a new way of doing business and communicating and seeking input and telling people who care what they’re doing.

Hope everything goes well for you. I have a few buddies in Australia, on the Perth side. Where are you?

At this point, it’s probably better not to dip your toes in the social media water than to jump in and then find out that it’s way too cold, the currents are unfamiliar, and besides, you really like your old swimming hole much better anyways.

Authenticity (or lack thereof) will surface … and the social media sphere is extremely hostile to fakery, old-style marketing, or just simple BS.

PR fiasco: getting youtubed

Reason #379 to have an open and honest corporate structure that is designed to encourage questions and act ethically on the answers: getting outted on YouTube.

Like Lockheed Martin and the US Coast Guard:

Note: the actual video is boring and longish, though it deals with potentially critical design flaws in coast guard ships. And I can’t vouch for its veracity, although the individual who put this out certainly seems credible.

The point, however, is this: right or wrong, you don’t want to fight quality or ethics battles in public. You want to deal with these issues the right way, internally, before someone gets so frustrated they youtube your company.

Unless you like washing your underwear in public, of course.

. . .
. . .

(I just noticed this had been previously covered on boingboing. And here’s the original story at the Washington Post.)

[tags] youtube, PR, social media, lockheed martin, US Coast Guard, john koetsier [/tags]

Flockstar – new button

OK, I’m perverse. Intentionally, abysmally, and irredeemably.

Flock (the Firefox-based but much-friendlier web browser) came out with new buttons yesterday. And they’re cool. And one of them was even based on a suggestion of mine (errr, down in the comments).

But it wasn’t exactly the button I wanted. So I made one myself (stealing borrowing one of the official ones as source material). Here it is:


[tags] flock, browser, firefox, buttons, john koetsier [/tags]

Google @ school

I hate to say I knew it would happen, but 3-4 months ago I put together this strategy map of where I thought Google was heading.

I focused on education because I work for an education company. But this will happen in the corporate world too.

(click for a larger PDF)

Google will offer an integrated suite of single sign-on private labeled applications in all of these areas, and more:

All roads lead to Rome? All roads lead to Google.

If anyone is still wondering why Microsoft increased their projected R&D spend enormously just a few months ago, you can stop. Now you know.

Private label Google apps (for education, too)

Private label Google apps are here … for business and education:

In other words, you can package up Google’s apps under your own label and distribute them for free. Currently, for education, this is limited to email, calendaring, and IM, but more are coming.

(Education is near and dear to my heart, because that’s the area my company focuses on.)

What this means is that any provider of basic technology services to education will have to work hard – very hard – to sell them to schools and districts. That includes features like word processing, spreadsheets, web authoring, presentations, you name it. Not just the standard email and calendar.

Writely, Google Spreadsheets, Blogger, Google Page Creator, Gmail, Google Calendar … these are all coming, but these are just the beginning.

Sucks for Microsoft, maybe, but more than that: sucks for lots of web 2.0 application companies. It’s not necessarily deadly for them, but it is a competitor, and a tough one.

The one challenge in education: currently most of these apps are ad-supported. And that’s obviously Google’s long-term strategy. So ad-phobic educators will look for alternatives.

This reminds me of what Nicholas Carr recently wrote about: the death of IT as competitive advantage (because of ubiquity). In a different, nasty way that might come true: in the long term educational technology vendors will have a very hard time competing with free.

Written from my (free) Gmail account …

[tags] google, apps, private label, writely, spreadsheets, gmail, calendar, page creator, blogger, free, nicholas carr, john koetsier, death of IT [/tags]

Increase your IQ: blog

I’m trying to present business blogging as an opportunity to understand the marketplace at an unmentionable (as yet) company. Saw this today:

For us at Stormhoek, the blogosphere is useful as an idea incubator. Why? Because if you say something interesting, people talk about it. If you say something dull, people ignore it. And we take what we learn from interacting with other bloggers, and apply it to the more mundane world of supermarket aisles and wine importers. The new label designs initiative came directly out of this.

The blogosphere doesn’t get us sales, but it makes us much smarter salesmen.

Whoa. Makes me sit up and think.

Blogging has made me smarter – people know things I don’t, and they’re interacting with me here, and other places in the blogosphere. You know things I don’t, and you’re interacting with me right now – you’re making me smarter. (Hopefully, I’m not having the opposite effect on you!)

Now to bring that to the enterprise.

Imagine that: smarter companies. Clueful corporations. Marketing that doesn’t suck. Products that don’t bore.

Whoa. Now that would be different.

[tags] smarter, blogs, blogging, business blogging, corporate, marketing, conversations, gaping void, hugh macleod, john koetsier [/tags]

MySpace matters more (and less) than we think

We all know MySpace is huge, with over 100 million users. But oddly, it gets almost no play in the informal web 2.0 press.

Look at the Web 2.0 Workgroup, digg, reddit, delicious, newsvine, tailrank, or the aggregator of aggregators: popurls. How often is MySpace mentioned? Very seldom.

I think there’s a bit of attitude there. We (20 and 30-something social media devotees) have a kind of MySpace snobbery. We know it’s mainly the province of less tech-savvy, younger, and more pop culture people, and we know the site itself actually sucks. So we ignore it – to our peril, since it’s a huge story in social networking and technology. Perhaps bigger than the bloggers bible, Technorati.

But MySpace also matters less than some think.

Jeff Atwood pointed that out: total users does not equal total usage. Or, as I prefer: total accounts does not equal total use. Jeff cites LiveJournal stats:

  • 1 in 3 accounts are never used
  • 1 in 5 accounts are “active in some way”
  • 1 in 10 accounts updated in the last 30 days

Use that data as a benchmark, extrapolate a little, and you get the astonishing figure that there are maybe 10-20 million active MySpace accounts … significantly less than the 100 million total. Give MySpace the benefit of the doubt, because their users are active, more social, and younger, and the total might be 30 million.

From both perspectives, MySpace matters more – and less – than we think.

[tags] myspace, accounts, users, livejournal, tailrank, delicious, reddit, newsvine, web 2.0, social media, popurls [/tags]

A-lister conspiracy theories and dreams of easy success

There’s an interesting conversation happening right now about the equity or insularity of the blogosphere.

(Nick Carr, Kent Newsome, Labnotes, and Chip’s Quips are covering it as well. And now, Shel Israel.)

Partly, it’s the perrennial A-lister bitch-session: why am I not in the Technorati Top 100? Partly, it’s the angst of someone who started blogging with great expectations only to find he’s talking to himself in an empty room.

In other words: why aren’t “they” listening to me? Most especially, why aren’t “they” linking to me? (“They” being the top bloggers out “there.”)

Bloggers start blogging full of piss and vinegar, ready to take on the world and win, zoom up the Technorati rankings, get links from everyone, earn $100/day from AdSense, get the (supposedly) cushy panel speaker invitations and keynotes at hotter-than-flame conferences with weird names, receive free stuff from funky companies with missing letters, eventually write the book, make a million (or ten, a million isn’t what it used to be), and ride off into the sunset. Easy, isn’t it?


This is real life
This isn’t the movies. And this isn’t the crazy-stupid-brilliant flash-in-the-pan that you hear about from time to time, and wonder why you didn’t think of.

Anything worth doing is hard. Doing anything well is hard. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes talent. It takes skill.

But sorry, that’s not enough.

The L factor
Here’s the hardest part for any of us to accept: It takes luck.

We’d have it a lot easier if there was a clear-cut algorithm for success. Do X amount of work for Y number of days with Z degree of skill, and you’ll be successful.

Sorry. I wish it was true. But it’s not.

Some weird magic happens in the world.

  • Some wacked-out left-field idea like Snakes on a Plane just comes out of nowhere and hits a home run.
  • Some odd idea like getting people to write secrets on postcards and send them to you so you can post them on a website results in a top ten blog and a successful book.
  • Some 18-year-old kid creates a piece of software that others start contributing to that turns out to be really good and amazingly popular.
  • Some slightly-shady entrepreneurs take an old idea and a lousy site and sell it for over half a billion.
  • Some crazy geniuses create the best hardware/software combination the market has ever seen and spend decades struggling to get to 5% market share.
  • Some other crazy geniuses with duct-taped glasses buy a piece of junk software, land a distribution deal with a clueless giant, and become the most profitable company in the world.

The point
It doesn’t always make sense. In fact, it usually doesn’t. Success or failure in any venture, blogging, business, or personal, is a combination of so many factors that predicting it is virtually impossible. Ask stockbrokers.

This doesn’t mean you can’t stack the deck. It doesn’t mean hard work doesn’t pay off. It doesn’t mean that skill and intelligence and tenacity don’t make you more likely to succeed.

It just means that shit happens.

Ecclesiastes says it best:

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.

A-lister conspiracy theories
It’s hard, sometimes. I know. You don’t get the link you think you should – the one you think you deserve. I’ve had it myself.

The reality is, the blogosphere is a big place. Lots happens. Conversations abound. Blogs proliferate. Attention is limited. Blogs shoot up, blogs tumble down. Enough churn occurs to make me believe that success is still possible.

But you are already more successful than you know. Think about it: there are now 52 million blogs. 52 million!

Let’s say your blog is ranked 39,756 (coincidentally, just like the one you’re reading right now.) How lucky are you?

Let’s break it down:

  • If you’re in the top 5 million, you’re 1 out of 10
  • If in the top 500,000, you’re 1 out of 100
  • In the top 50,000, you’re 1 out of 1000
  • just for fun, let’s continue …
  • Top 5000? 1 out of 10,000
  • Top 500? 1 out of 100,000
  • And top 50? 1 out of 1,000,000

See the point? Even being in the top 100,000 is an accomplishment! (Of course, for all of us who are serious about this blogging journey, it may not be enough. It may not satisfy.)

We have to have a sense of realism. If everyone was a star, there’d be no fans. Not all of us, as Russell Crow said in Master and Commander, become the man (blogger, woman, person) we once hoped we’d be.

Maturity is the ability to see that fact without becoming bitter.

Genius is the ability to see that fact without becoming bitter – and to continue to hope, and continue to fight against the odds – and perhaps, eventually, through blood and sweat and tears, succeed.

It’s magic. Just don’t quit the day job.

PeopleAggregator has trouth-mubble

Every since Tara Hunt wrote about PeopleAggregator a few days ago, I’ve been wondering what PeopleAggregator is, precisely.

Marc Canter gave some more details today on his blog, a note that they are launching, and also provided a link to Richard MacManus’ explanation of the service.

According to MacManus, PeopleAggregator is the following (and I’m really, really editing here to try to just come up with the bones of the system, while taking out all of the speculation as to what this could become):

  • a social network system
  • that is the first ever open network (meaning you can get your data out)
  • an identity management system (perhaps not first and foremost, but certainly a necessary part of the service)
  • a place to create and access all the data you create all over the web (photos at Flickr, blog posts at WordPress.com, song preferences at last.fm, profiles at MySpace, and so on …

While not an elegant and simple message, taken by itself this appears to make some sense, be fairly differentiated from what a lot of other people are doing, and provide some value to individuals. (What value it provides to Flickr or MySpace, I haven’t a clue.)

But PeopleAggregator’s message on their home page is entirely different again. Right on the first page, PA is three things to three distinctly different types of people. The type of people I’m most interested in are people like myself, so here’s what the message to the hoi polloi is:

The PeopleAggregator is a feature rich, personal publishing oriented system.

Hrmm … sounds different. A lot simpler, but not very much like an open hub for all your digital detritus.

So in an attempt to learn more and get the definitive answer, you delve into the multi-slide presentation – a very PowerPoint(less) type of presentation.

Here there’s a ton of jargon (“social network web service,” “identity hub,” “open APIs, “normalized namespace,” before you actually get into the features. Several pages of features, which appear fairly standard for a social network, and then back into the jargon with “Identity Hub Architecture.”

I’m a fairly technical person – I’ve led a web development team, built a simple content management system from scratch, know all the TLAs (three-letter-acronyms), and can be pretty sure I know what they’re doing, but I’m not totally certain. Everywhere I look, the message is a little different.

For instance, the Broadband Mechanics home page (Marc Canter’s company, the creator of People Aggregator) has an entirely new piece of jargon, Digital Lifestyle Aggregators, and a significantly different message.

At that, I give up. What precisely does PeopleAggregator do? I suspect they don’t precisely know themselves. That may be because the company and the concept are in the very early stages, and I think that’s exactly what Tara Hunt said in her first post.

OK. I can understand that. I’ve been there.

My only advice: figure it out fast. Right now, there are too many words, too many messages.

PeopleAggregator: stop talking, I’m trying to understand you!

We are NOT consumers

I happened to notice a fairly informative blog today: Consumer-generated Media, by Pete Blackshaw.

The posts are on precisely what you’d expect: the read/write web, pinko marketing, and so on. But I have one beef with the site, and that’s the word “consumer” in the title.

The blog’s subtitle is “Did you get the memo? The consumer is in control!”

My question to Blackshaw is: didn’t you get the memo? It’s been right there in the Cluetrain Manifesto for years now.

Straight from the Cluetrain website:

If you only have time for one clue this year, this is the one to get …

We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers.

We are human beings, and our reach exceeds your grasp.

Deal with it.

As I mentioned recently, Doc Searls has coined a new term: producerism. I like it. I like it a lot.

I’ve always hated the term “consumer.” How denigrating to be referred to only as some entity with an enormous mouth, eating mass-produced, mass-marketed products 24/7. We’re moving beyond that. People are rediscovering their innate urge to create, to produce, to share.

“Consumer” is a recent term, historically speaking. I’m struggling to remember my university Communications courses, but I believe it originated almost simultaneously with modern mass media (radio, TV) and mass marketing. Before then, people were citizens. or workers. Or producers. Anything but “consumers.”

I think it’s about time we sent that term back to the trash can of history.