May 2006

I love Google Blog Search

There are several decent blog search tools out there and each one has its charms. Sphere is new and shiny. I really like Technorati because it provides so many ways to slice and dice the data. But come on Technorati, your blog search engine is like my old moped that i had to whack with a hammer every once in a while. IceRocket is fast and the SCOUTS at the office seem to like it a lot because if its trend tools. However, I'm really loving Google Blog Search because it's so fast and accurate. Here's a link to one of the latest enhancements to what is destined to become the blog search engine of choice for bloggers looking for fast and accurate blog search results.

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Filed under: Blogging Tools

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on May 18, 2006 10:28 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Too Ga Ga Over Blogs or not To Ga Ga over Blogs?

In a post today Cyrus Afzali of Astoria Communications asks Is the PR Industry Too Ga Ga Over Blogs?. Afzali brings up two very logical objections to enacting a corporate blog, but I think that there are two counter points. Cyrus made his first point this way..

"I think more PR pros, especially considering many are in NY, should go to the middle of 42nd/Broadway and ask people passing by how many of them actively read blogs. I would posit the number would be quite low."

And in his second point he cites a new survey by Manhattan PR shop Makovsky & Co , a "tiny percentage of Fortune 1000 leaders are using blogs to either communicate to their customers or build brands."

Let me go back to the first point: Just because the man on the street does not read blogs, that does not mean he / or she is not being influenced by them. Most of those people on the street get their news some how, and I think there is plenty of evidence that journalists monitor blogs and use respected bloggers as primary sources for niche stories. Another tidbit that the man on the street may not realize is that when he / or she is online doing a search, blog posts are being returned in the Google listings. Here's some data to back that one up... According to a Converseon's study that was cited in Business Week in July 2005, 39% of the top search listings were derived from consumer-generated media such as blogs.

To the second point was designed to demonstrate that not many "big" corporations are blogging YET. That's all it means. Some of us that have been in online marketing for a while may remember that for many years search engine optimization was considered to be this arcane technique practiced by computer geeks. Today Search engine marketing is a $7 Billion industry and the largetst segment of online marketing. Google is one of the most successful companies in the world. Search Engine Optimization did not become mainstream until after 2001. According to a 2005 survey by OneUpWeb, only a small percent of the Fortune 100 are conducting "Effective SEO".

Of the FORTUNE 100, 13 sites (13 percent) showed clear and effective optimization campaigns (see methodology for definitions). Ten of the 13 sites (77 percent) positioned in Google's top ten for searches of their respective core products and services (e.g. "health insurance", "retirement planning", "phone service", supply chain management", etc)."

Incidentally, my collogue, John Cass recently wrote some posts about the Fortune 500 companies that are blogging...

Business Blogging Dominated By Technology Companies In The Fortune 500

Fortune 500 Take Lead In Corporate Blogging: Only 0.73% Of Employers Blog - While 4.6% Of Fortune 500 Blog

My counter points are, (1) if your looking to be an innovative company and beat your competitors to the punch, don't sit around waiting for validation from Fortune Companies or the man on the street. (2) If you are interested in blogging for your business than you need to do your own assessment and make the call for your company.

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Posted by Stephen Turcotte on May 18, 2006 4:15 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Get a Master's in Blogging in One Day

Here's a great idea for companies looking to educate their workforce about corporate blogging. Send your employees to blogger university. Stonyfield Farm's famed chief blogger, Christine Halvorson has started Halvorson New Media, a new blogging practice featuring a suite of blogger training services ranging from the 1 hour "Freshman Seminar" to the "Master's in Business Blogging--Full Day Seminar".

Congratulations to Christine, one of the pioneers of successful corporate blogging. I think this is a great idea, and that it's sure to help promote corporate blogging best practices.

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Filed under: Blogging Tips

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on May 15, 2006 9:14 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

CNN: Teens can't name major TV networks

Just noticed this story on CNNMoney.com titled Teens can't name major TV networks. According to the poll "Almost 80 percent of 16- to 18-year-olds were unable to name the big 4 broadcasters."

Major marketers that are targeting teens with ad spending in 2006 and 2007 should be looking at Search Engine Marketing & Optimization, strategic blogging, and places like MySpace and SecondLife.

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Filed under: New Communications, Search Engine Optimization

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on May 15, 2006 12:07 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

The new media metamorphosis is well underway

Shel and Neville from the For Immediate Release (FIR) Podcast conducted an outstanding interview with Tom Foremski, founder and chief of the widely read blog, Silicon Valley Watcher. For me, the content, timing and even the facilitation of this podcast is very interesting because it illustrates, from several perspectives (*see perspectives below) how old media is evolving into new media. PR blogger Chuck Tanowitz calls this phenomenon Media Metamorphosis.

In the FIR interview Tom Foremski, talked about how he transitioned from being a full time journalist with The Financial Times to a full time journalist and media entrepreneur using a blog platform as his primary publishing medium and source of personal income. The point here is that Tom is still a journalist; the only difference is the primary medium he utilizes to reach his audience. Tom also talked about the future of the press release and why he thinks a traditional press release is a waste of energy. He also had some advice for PR people who want to know how they should deal with bloggers -- "Public Relations should use the same principles they use on journalists, you identify the influencers in your market and you reach out to them". Listen to the interview.

What's ironic is this interview coincides with recent (and re-occuring) story in the Boston Globe titled "Newspaper circulation drops in Hub". The story reports "Circulation at the nation's daily newspapers declined an average of 2.5 percent in the latest six-month reporting period as readers continued to migrate to the Internet, with losses hitting Boston papers especially hard." The reports also stated that local papers, "The MetroWest Daily News posted a 12.7 percent decline in Sunday circulation in the latest six-month reporting period". Boston and San Francisco seem to be hit the hardest. I expect that is because these are two of the most wired cities in the country.

Tom made so many great points in the FIR interview and the newspaper circulation story reinforces this main point.. the media metamorphosis is well underway.

*The perspectives referenced in the first paragraph are...

  • Old fashioned publishing and the expense of local distribution vs. digital global distribution and RSS.
  • Old fashioned expensive broadcast media vs. the efficiency of podcasting and interview conducted on two continents.
  • Access that the general public has to tools that can enable them to become a global media enterprise.
  • Consumers ability to consume where and when we want.
  • Please add your own in the comments area...

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Filed under: New Communications

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on May 10, 2006 5:32 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Should you host your own corporate blog or use a service

There are essentially two types of blog publishing systems, user-friendly hosted systems (like Blogger and TypePad and Wordpress.com) and robust flexible server systems (like Movable Type and Wordpress.org). Building and hosting a server solution can be a huge pain in the butt, and probably not the wisest move for companies with minimal technical resources. However, there are a number of reasons why companies should consider their options carefully.

When it comes to corporate blogging, I recommend setting up your own blog system over relying on a large hosted service like TypePad, Blogger. Granted hosted systems require minimal investment, they're very powerful, easy to use, setup, and design, but they can limit your potential.

Here's why I prefer the robust flexible server systems for corporate blogging.

  1. Server based blog publishing systems are less likely to be targeted by DOS attacks and system outages and slowdowns. With hosted systems, your company's blog is at the mercy of the provider. See this story in a May 3rd edition of Information Week. The headline reads Massive DoS Attack Knocks TypePad, LiveJournal Blogs Offline.
  2. For me the most important advantages to hosting your own blog are the search engine marketing / SEO implications. This is one reason companies are so keen on blogging in the first place. Well if your blog content is hosted somewhere else, the link juice is not helping boost your website link popularity. Also, the content that you are working so hard to produce is not getting attributed to your primary domain but rather something.blogspot or something.typepad. When you are in control of your own blog publishing system then you can decide where the content gets published. Some hosted systems like TypePad allow you to alias to a sub domain but from an SEO point of view I much prefer to publish to a root directory or a subfolder. I have anecdotal evidence as to why I believe this so if anyone is interested in hearing about it just ask.
  3. If you are into blogging for the long haul then you want the links and relationships that you build to accumulate and endure. You may start out blogging with a hosted service and then change your mind and go for hosted. It will be hard to transfer the rankings and subscriptions you have built up. That's like living in one neighborhood and then moving to another town. You can keep some of those relationships that you have built up but a lot of your friends will have your old address and it's a little like starting over.

Now, I know that this subject is rife with exceptions and grey areas. This post is not really about evaluating the features of various blogging systems but rather a discussion about whether it's a good idea to rely on one of the mainstream user-friendly hosted systems.

I have researched it a lot over the past year. This post is intended to get the discussion started but it's not the final word. Just for the record, we use Movable Type for all of our blogs but I think Wordpress (commercial) is also a very nice system.

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Filed under: Blogging Strategy, Blogging Tips, FAQ

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on May 4, 2006 10:47 AM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)