Monthly Archives: October 2008

Wired wants me to kill this thing: Can we just talk this through?

In a recent article in Wired, Paul Boutin of Valleywag writes “Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.”

Not sure why I decided to discuss this over a BLOG. However this might be my only outlet with which to discuss it. I do not write for a big-name blog or contribute to an established magazine, Paul.

In the article he brings up a good point: the personality and intimacy that once drew now-famous bloggers to the activity is now gone. At least from well-read sites. He references a typical day on Technorati where the top blogging activity doesn’t highlight the personal prose of the individual, but rather sites that boast many well-known, uber-Tweeting contributers and thus mass readership and exposure. They no longer capture the discourse of an individual, but, more often, as is the case with the Huffington Post and TechCrunch, a releasing and rehashing of recent news. A professional outlet, rather than personal.

This is a problem, for sure, for PR professionals who are now including “Company Blog” as a tactic in their PR plan strategy for clients. Will it get read? Will it be taken seriously? Is it still a resource? These are the stakes in Boutin’s assertion.

I guess what I’m wondering is where this is stemming from? Why should blogs be a stagnant model for logging daily (semi-monthly, in my case) activities and thoughts and not evolve and transcend into a mass consumption outlet like ALL OTHER MEDIA?

Yes, there exist some big names that tend to monopolize the attention of he masses, but there exist many blogs that are personal and not professional. This one, for example.

Others:

The Unbride blog – A wedding blog that gets tons of readers, but is just one girl’s log of how she’s planning her wedding. Yet many people see it as a resource for their own planning.

The Cool Cat Teacher blog – Vicki Davis’ personal thoughts on education and technology. Widely read and an incredible force in the Edu-blogosphere.

Howsed – A home improvement blog written by a guy in Colorado. Gets tons of comments because he offers his personal “two-cents” on Do-It-Yourself projects.

These blogs continue to uphold the essence of the activity – a conversation, a discourse while still retaining the original charm of one person disclosing their ideas on a topic.

This whole situation reminds me of when a friend said, “You know Facebook is over when your mom joins it.” I disagree. I think that means it has become a commodity. Just because more people are starting to understand it and see its potential doesn’t degrade its value to those who originally and successfully invested in it.

I think what it comes down to is that I like my blog. I like being able to write and publish my thoughts without having to condense to Twitter all the time. Essentially, I want be able to keep blogging and not feel stupid for doing it.

Is there any hope for me?

* Image courtesy of http://www.asa.org.uk

Campaign banner ads: We belong to the Light (continued)

This ad is from Adotas.com. In my previous post I pointed out these ads for the debates and how they looked slightly amorous. Well this is just out of control.

Of course – it could just be a call for bipartisanship.

Fresh Meat Advice: Contribute what you know – in my case, Twitter.

On a tip from Kelli Matthew’s PRos in Training blog, to which I still subscribe, I read the post by Julia Roy called “Getting More Twitter Followers and Twittering for Business.” In the post she talks about gaining more Twitter traction – a whopping 4,000 followers – and how she decides to follow people back.

STUDENT TWEETS: Everyone has to start somewhere.

I started Twittering in February with no idea what I was doing. How did I become acclimated? I was online three or four times a day looking up tech news, reading Mashable and TechCrunch, NYT Tech columns, PRWeek, Business Week, poring over Google Trends, getting GMail alerts for news and blog posts on PR and Social Media, virtually all of the blogs in my Google Reader were tech and PR blogs. I needed to be able to engage with the people who were on Twitter about things that were important to them.

When LaunchSquad, found me on Twitter, though, it was because I’d “tweeted” about one of their clients – Vivaty.

TWITTER ON THE JOB?

JetBlue was one of the first business Twitter feeds that I followed and actually tweeted back at. They are one of the best Twitter business models I’ve seen.

When I started here, one of the first things I was asked to do on each of my accounts was either establish or revamp their Twitter activity. I wrote a Twitter strategy based on a case-study on JetBlue’s Twitter activity.

WHY I PAY ATTENTION: Their 4,800 followers are resulting from updates about their flight schedules, flying/travel tips and steady responses to customers and other Twitterers.

WHAT I TAKE AWAY: To be savvy with customers and Twitter, you need to pay attention to what they’re saying. People often express frustrations with software and companies on Twitter.

Another great example is Mighty Leaf Tea. They’re hardly tech, but they’re in the East Bay and so here in San Francisco – and silicon valley, we’re big fans. They’ve got great, unique flavors which makes for great “Tweets”. 

WHY I PAY ATTENTION: They’re not tech. At all. They sell tea, for god’s sake. But they come up with useful ways to discuss their products over Twitter and currently have 500+ followers in their pocket.

WHAT I TAKE AWAY: They post “relevant” issues and articles and are engaged in their industry beyond just their product – like the above post: List an interesting article and bring it back to the product. Very nice.

THE SKINNY

I suggest before taking on a client’s Twitter campaign, work on beefing up your own feed in addition to the rest of your online presence. Social media savvy applied to personal uses can only help when you’re asked to do it for a client.

A friend of mine and former intern here at LaunchSquad, Ben Kessler, has a great blog as well as a juggernaut Twitter following (currently at 579) and has managed 6,200+ updates so far – In September he averaged 24 updates a day. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

In my own case, I eventually found an even balance for my Twitter feed: my initial rabid tech/PR discourse combined with a cultural commentary (articles, music, film, events) and have – to reinforce Julia Roy’s point – seen a steady increase of 5-10 new follower’s a week.

Once you’ve honed this aspect of social media – and not to imply, by any means, that I have – you’ve become a valuable asset to any company, client and agency as they all are trying to figure out what Twitter means and could do for their business.