TheWayoftheWeb Most Read Posts in 2011

There’s still a week to go, but unless something radical happens, here’s a quick run-down of the most read posts I’ve written on this site in 2011. It’s purely in terms of visitor numbers via Google Analytics, so I’m resisting the temptation to try and promote posts that I felt may have been overlooked!

1. 2012 The Year of 3D Printing?

If anything, the coverage of 3D printing has only gained pace since I wrote this, and there have been several more developments with funding, new businesses based around the technology, and growing consumer awareness.

2. Problems embedding Youtube videos in WordPress?

With the roll out of new embedding tools from Youtube, Vimeo etc, it turned out that WordPress was stripping out the code whenever you tried to publish an embedded video. It’s since been corrected, but judging by the traffic, it wasn’t just me that was a bit puzzled by the fact I had to revert to the old code.

3. Feeling attacked on all sides

A popular post for freelancers and entrepreneurs which covered my feelings about setting up my own small businesses, and then seeing constant news about competitors and massive global corporations moving into similar areas. How do you work on a tiny marketing business when the ‘big boys’ are constantly unveiling new social media units?

4. Guy Kawasaki’s ‘Enchantment – The art of changing hearts, minds and intentions’

A review from back in February of what I think is one of the most useful books released this year.

5. Everyone’s a curator now

How content curation may be a new buzzword for the media industry, but everyone else is already doing it with their writing, photos and videos. How does that change the way we act with friends and family, or how we upload and share?

6. The two sides of 3D Printing

Two examples of current 3D Printing – one very positive, one perhaps very negative, which hopefully start people thinking how best to utilise the technology in benefitting us all, rather than just being impressed with the tech itself.

7. Why don’t Facebook fans like us anymore?

What turns people away from a company Facebook page, and also how to plan to fix it.

8. Klout and Peerindex: Social network loyalty cards

How Klout and Peerindex are initially mapping ‘influence’, and the result that they act as loyalty cards for the social networks they include, requiring you to do your daily posting on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ rather than using a competitor, for example. Add in the quantity factor as a part of their metrics, plus the perk offers as a reward, and they’re loyalty cards for digital services.

 

And I’d like thank you

I’d just like to give my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to everyone who has visited my site, subscribed to my feed, RT’d, Liked, or +’d a post, left a comment, stumbled, reddit’d, digg’d, or told their friends about TheWayoftheWeb.

Starting a blog or a business is incredibly tough, and sometimes we all forget to share how important it is when we see that someone has enjoyed what we do. I promise you that I still get as excited by seeing new readers, new comments, and new recommendations of what I do today as I did when I first started blogging. And even on the worst days, when I’m working alone at home and feeling like noone cares, it’s guaranteed someone will post a comment or share a post on Twitter, and it’ll fuel my determination and motivation for weeks.

So many thanks, Happy Christmas, and if I can help you in 2012, please do let me know…

Do you blog?

The start of a new year is almost upon us, and for me it’s a good time to refresh a few things, including my reading list. And I’ve realised that I’ve been awfully rude for a while and not asked what YOU are doing…

So, if you’re reading this and have a blog, leave a link in the comments. It doesn’t have to be specifically about marketing or social media (Some of my absolute favourite bloggers have nothing to do with either subject). Maybe let me know what it’s about and how long you’ve been blogging for? The only rule is that blatant spam blogs harvesting and reposting content from other people will obviously be removed.

So what’s your blog called and where can I find it?

The best way to publish RSS feeds to Twitter?

If you’re looking to publish any RSS feeds to a Twitter account, then apparently you wouldn’t be alone in picking Twitterfeed, as it’s apparently used by nearly 350,000 publishers.

Twitterfeed

Not only was it around the first default choice, but there are a host of changes now going live to improve the service.

If you publish on a system that offers PubSubHubbub feeds (e.g. Blogger or Typepad), your new posts should be live on Twitter in a matter of moments.

It now also features the option to publish to Facebook, which makes life a little easier.

And you get better analytics – there’s now integration with both url shortner Bit.ly, and Google Analytics.

And behind the scenes there’s an improved queue management system for greater reliability.

In fact, my only complain from a personal note is that the new design and system gives a variety of methods to log-in, and for some reason I’m struggling with mine!

Is Twittad just a fad?

Back in June 2008, Ian Schaefer auctioned his Twitter profile page background for charity. Fast forward to September 2008, and there’s now a way for you to find advertisers willing to pay to display their commercial imagery on your page with Twittad.com. As their tagline says, ‘Let you ad meet Tweets’.

Twittad main page

When I blogged about Ian Schaefer’s charity auction, I wondered if it was possible to judge interest in monetisation in this way by doing it for a good cause – something far more likely to lead to high bidding from charitable souls. Now, we can really see whether there is gold in them, thar, backgrounds.

My guess is that it’s unlikely to be sustainable as a business model, but I’m open to being convinced. My theory is based on three  things:

1. It’s going to be almost impossible for advertisers to work out the Return on Investment for placing an advert. Prices are set by users, and at the time of writing, the accounts with advertising booked range from $5 to $30, with a maximum of 351 followers. Assuming a company wants coverage (and at the moment the only ad I’ve seen is the one in their example, for Film Fitt), they’re going to want to know what effect it’s had. It can’t be from click-throughs or page views, because there is no way to measure it. The number of followers is inefficient, because there’s no guarantee any amount of followers will visit the profile page hosting the advertisement. And you could measure an increase above average for the Twitter feed of the company, but that’s fairly inaccurate and hard to pinpoint.

Edit: Twittad CEO James Eliason suggests some solutions on the company blog, including coupon codes, or using a new url to track activity (as when TV ads use .tv to show where the interest came from).

2. For users, it may frustrating that Twitter profiles with a significant following are effectively priced out of the market. If 300 followers can sell for $30, then it’s tempting to sell 1000 followers for $100. But prices vary wildly, from 7144 followers for $140, to $1399 followers for a whopping $1500! So it’ll take a while for the Twitad economy to settle down and establish what a realistic maximum price tends to be.

3. Are there enough advertisers to sustain this type of service? For most mainstream businesses, the concept of Twitter is still a novelty, or an incomprehensible piece of geekery. People like @Zappos and @Comcastcares are written about because their methods stand out. And companies using techniques like those mentioned aren’t likely to find the idea of going from engagement to broadcasting their ads via profiles appealing. Meanwhile the mainstream who are more likely to see broadcasting as easy and attractive are quite happy playing with Adsense, or possibly Facebook.

Having said all that, I’m completely impartial about whether or not Twittads is a success or not. There’s no escaping the fact that various individuals and companies will seek to monetise the time and effort that creating a network on any platform requires, and capitalise on the opportunities it presents. And there’s no moral or ethical reason why an inoffensive advert on a profile page should impair the internet experience for anyone. But it’ll be interesting to see whether Twittads succeeds as is, or evolves further.

If you’re interested, there’s a Twittad blog. I’m intrigued enough to see how much value my 1200 followers creates, so don’t be surprised if I post later pimping my own advert (Of course, you could always beat the rush and contact me first!). After all, you can’t comment on something properly without taking a close look…

Time for some housekeeping…

I’ve been trying to manually import the remaining content from my old Blogger blog, but it’s been slow going. So there may be a little less posting while I finally finish the job.

Plus I also need to upgrade my blogs to the new WordPress 2.6. I hesitated a little due the problems outlined hear, but if you’re having problems logging in, apparently clearing your cookies will solve it.

I’m willing to take the risk to be able to post from anywhere and hopefully increase my output once more…

Two interesting posts on blogs

And neither of them are mine sadly! Stowe Boyd has posted two posts on /Message about two aspects of blogging, and I have to say I pretty much agree with both of them:

The A-list is dead: Long live the A-list. Covering the idea that the possible falling star of Robert Scoble and the retirement of Jason Calcanis from blogging does not mean there is an end to an A-list, or the short head of the long tail.

David Appell is Andrew Keen Jr: Covering the idea that blogs are worthless because they’re not written by specialist experts after months of research.

And I totally agree. I keep coming back to the idea that Chris Anderson made explicit in The Long Tail. It’s an AND change, not an OR change. The retirement of one prominent blogger, or the fall in buzz around blogging, does not mean that there will not continue to be some individuals or groups who will dominate the space. Either the names will change on the A-list, or the location of the fame may change e.g. Twitter or Seesmic, for example. After all, tech and social media bloggers always refer to traditional brands needing to evolve and stop relying on the reputation they built up by broadcast mechanisms before the internet – and yet we expect the popularity of prominent bloggers – and blogging, to be set in stone?

And the A-list will continue to change. Emarketer recently measured over half of U.S. internet users reading blogs – if it’s true, it’s a big number. But it’s going to keep growing by huge amounts – especially if you imagine the global growth possible from 50% upwards.

There will always be value found in blogs, and many of them will get that value by linking to an A-list. What is going to change is the names on the list – and if they’re located on a blog, microblog, video or alternative platform.

Dear Google

Hello Google,

There are many things you’ve done which I’ve appreciated. Search, Google maps, Gmail etc have all been great, and I know you’re very busy with lots of new projects and trying to figure out how on earth they’ll make money out of Youtube. And Adsense means I can cling to the dream that my blog will make me millions and allow me to retire to a small island I’ve bought.

But would you mind sorting out my Page Rank please? My old blog had a PR of about 4, and I’ve made sure it’s no longer being indexed in case of duplicate content. It’s been 10 weeks now, and I’ve been shown how important it is to have a reasonable Page Rank. You are indeed all powerful.

And I know Matt Cutts once said that the Google Toolbar Page Rank is republished every 3 months, but I can’t wait two more weeks to become a millionaire!

So how about it? And can you keep at eye on 140char as well please?

Cheers

Dan

Blog housekeeping underway

It’s the weekend, so I’ve taken a bit of a break from the latest news – yes Twitter is still up and down like the Assyrian Empire, and Plurk is still getting a lot of buzz. See the graph below for blogs mentioning Plurk over the last 30 days:

Blogs mentioning Plurk over last 30 days (Technorati)

But in the meantime, I’m adding to the blogroll (See right). We’ve also kicked off the first Plurk pack list we’re aware of, to compile a list of notable Plurkers by discipline, and we’ve started experimenting with listing any microbloggers looking for advertising/sponsorship, and companies looking for microbloggers to fund. So if you’re looking to get paid or sponsored for Twitter, Plurk, Seesmic, Pownce work, then why not list yourself…

Any other suggestions for items to add, or any offers from possible contributors, are always welcome. After all 140 char isn’t just a character limit – 140 contributors (characters!) could be one hell of a resource.

Conversation about definition: Marketing, Blog, Bloggers, Public Relations (PR)

Aside from an exponential increase in my involvement on Twitter, and setting up FriendFeed on an experimental basis, probably my most interesting discussion at the moment is with Brendan Cooper, the creator of the PR Friendly Index.

Having submitted this blog, I was curious whether it’s non-appearance was down to performance, or definition (I promise I was curious, rather than complaining!). Which led onto an interesting and good natured discussion about the definition of blogs, bloggers, PR and influence. I doubt there will ever be an exact definition for any of those terms which won’t cause disagreement in one quarter or another, but I thought Brendan’s views were pretty interesting, and wanted to post my latest response here, to hopefully get some other feedback on my own attempts to define the indefinable.

So, here’s my own humble take on blogs, bloggers, influence and PR. Which does raise the question for me of whether marketing and PR co-exist any more, or whether it’s an artificial split in the business of building relationships and conversations around a specific brand/topic/product:

Influence: Interestingly, I’m very deep in researching the usage of Net Promoter scores, Buzz Monitoring etc, to look at how to track influence and engagement as far as is currently possible (Nothing will ever be close to 100%!). I do know from discussions with some firms that they’ll be providing some limited free tools in the future, which may help track influence above and beyond popularity and linking. I’m influenced by a lot of things that I don’t end up linking from my blog due to time, effort etc.

Blogs: For me, it’s any site which is updated chronologically in one ‘flow’. Any news site is chronological, but articles etc will be spread across sections. A blog can cover numerous areas of interest, but everything is covered in one main stream of information which can then be split out. Rather than a homepage aggregating from the various sections. If that makes sense!

Bloggers: Anyone publishing a blog, whether paid/unpaid, corporate or not. And certainly a journalist can also be a blogger and vice versa. For me, the definition seems to come from what, where and how their content is displayed. Again, going back to my definition of a blog (which is very much a work in progress). I’d hesitate to define it by technical functionality, such as RSS, and certainly look to define it more by form (Any definition of over 100 million examples is going to be fuzzy in some way…)

PR: Definitely the trickiest one. Should it be classed with Marketing/Customer Retention? Is there even a place for it now? I’d argue that to define a discipline by the fact it doesn’t analyse as deeply as another is probably doing it a disservice, but it’s difficult not to. Certainly journalism, PR, marketing, advertising etc are all increasingly about relationships and conversations rather than purely broadcasting. I’m still stunned by at least one PR company I deal with banning employees from using Facebook for example, rather than encouraging the use of every tool to target press releases as accurately and individually as possible. But where the line comes between targetting press releases to journalists and bloggers, and marketing something to bloggers and consumers, for example, is very, very fuzzy. Maybe the terms for PR and Marketing should be merged and then discarded. Engagement and communication? Enunication? Communigagement?


I’m expecting some Entrecarders (I know you’re out there) to weigh in on Blogs and Blogging! And I hope Communigagement and the like don’t take off…but if they do, I want credit! Engagication?

Any comments I do get, I’ll aggregate and combine with the conversation with Brendan.

Max Gogarty and The Guardian – From mistake, to farce, to learning

I was ready to lay into The Guardian again, as the whole Max Gogarty controversy seemed to be missing the basic point of blogging. Besides the issues of nepotism, and class, the controversy would have been much less if blogging had been explained and implemented properly, criticism had been pro-actively responded to, and it The Guardian hadn’t decided to sulk and stop readers commenting.

We’ve had a response from the Travel Editor which concentrated on the hiring and class struggle. We’ve had a story detailing the ‘hate mail hell‘ Max has gone through. And throughout it all, there seems to be a lot of surprise about the responses to the blog, both on The Guardian, and throughout the internet.

Thailand pic by Flydime on Flickr.

It went viral because someone decided to close comments. For the same reason that someone banned from their local pub will probably go straight to their next nearest drinking hole, and sit their complaining about the ban. If you want to discuss something strongly, and a website won’t let you, you go elsewhere.

It got complaints because it wasn’t honest and open. Disclosure isn’t an unfamiliar concept to journalists or bloggers, so I’m still amazed it proves so difficult for corporate or company-approved bloggers to understand that hiding things are pointless. You should be honest,
to the point of stating why you can’t discuss certain topics on here. I wouldn’t blog about someone I didn’t like at work, for example, or a top secret project, because they’d be biased, or damaging to that project.

It got complaints because the only response was to close the comments. In later stories, you saw responses from someone claiming to be Max’s dad, Paul Gogarty, and also Emily Bell. And even though there was still blame on the ‘nasty bullies’, and a time limit on comments, you can already see that the nature of the comments changes slightly when there is actually someone listening and responding.

But, it seems like there is some valuable learning. Emily Bell, The Guardian’s Director of Digital Content, wrote a piece on the value of discourse yesterday, which did acknowledge the value of participation.

There is one line that worries me when she writes about ‘representative insitutions’ and mass participation : “we can shepherd refinement into this new partnership”.

Why would we want or need refinement? Do we want shepherds herding us around like sheep? Or do we just want to feel like our comments matter?