Engadget vs. Commenters: Who Runs the Show?

Posted on February 3, 2010 by 7 Comments

Engadget CommentsMy colleagues on our consumer team have an interesting discussion going regarding the Engadget vs. Gizmodo approach to blog comments. For those unaware, Engadget has temporarily disabled comments due to a recent spike in trollish behavior; Gizmodo has responded with a post pointing to the merits of its somewhat more complex tiered comment system. Gizmodo concludes with an observation that the drastic measures Engadget is taking speak to the sad state of Internet commentary – abusive loudmouths are getting the upper hand.

In explaining its position, Engadget notes: “Some of you out there in the world of anonymous grandstanding have gotten the impression that you run the place, but that’s simply not the case.”

Really?

The consensus my colleagues have come to – thus far – is generally that conversation is the essence of blogs. That it’s precisely this feedback mechanism that differentiates blogs from static news outlets. And that a strong community should self-moderate – if it doesn’t, then there’s a bigger problem than the individual rogues and trolls.

I think this also unearths a bigger discussion about the role of the blogger and the role of the readers within the context of social media. Is Engadget right in asserting that it’s the editors, not the readers, that run the site? Or as news gathering and social journalism open up the playing field, is the role of an editor more of a social curator?

An Analog Kid in a Digital World

Posted on September 29, 2009 by Comments Off

Luigi Serio, Senior Editor, WE Studio D

Old CD playerAs a simple guy who’s left my 20s, err, 30s, I find myself among those, some much older than me, for whom adopting certain new technologies or jumping head first into the social networking pool can be daunting, of little or no interest, or seemingly too time-consuming to understand and pursue.

And to hear myself say this is somewhat surprising, considering, for instance, that I was nearly the first in my college dorm to own a CD player (sometime around 1984, for those looking for a chuckle). Those days, I gave up a lot, considering how little I had, to have great-sounding music — the best that technology could offer and that I could afford. I was passionate about it and proud that I could show off such technology toys to my dorm mates, geeky and academically minded types who appreciated the pursuit of such things.

I know that if I’m going to be a member in good standing of WE Studio D, I need to get on the ball and recapture some of my past fervor. So here I go, building my digital savvy bit by bit, just as I did my audio gear — it might takes years, but that’s OK.

The path so far (and thanks to those who’ve pushed and motivated me – you know who you are):

During my recent parental leave, I become hooked on “1 vs 100” on Xbox LIVE, playing it sometimes for hours once the house fell quiet. Explore online gaming – check!

I started a blog featuring my daughter but didn’t take it anywhere near where it could go. That’s a charitable way of saying I made a couple entries and then let it wither on the vine. Reinvigorate my baby blog – on the to-do list! (Hey, nobody’s perfect.)

Because “1 vs 100” was in beta while I was playing it, it wasn’t flawless. One night I couldn’t log in, so I hopped over to Twitter to learn what was happening. Ah, instant information from lots of knowledgeable folks, including a Microsoft “1 vs. 100” representative! I tweeted my dismay over the game being down and went to bed. Start becoming a Twitter guy – check!

My wife beat me in the race to become a member of Facebook, but I am on finally and doing my best to find the time to contribute and better connect with friends I’ve lost touch with. Become part of the social networking world – check!

Image by Elsie esq.

Top 10 Thinkers and Doers Posts August 2009

Posted on September 1, 2009 by Comments Off

Tac Anderson, Digital Consulting Director, WE Studio D

With all the summer vacations happening this month our posting was a little quieter but I think the posts that were made were all really high quality.

Micheal Foley and I took the #1 spot with our Gnomedex interviews. David PattonMatt Whiting and I all wrote 3 top 10 posts and Tammy McKnight made a strong showing with her Facebook and family values post.

  1. What’s the Biggest Problem Facing Social Media? 16 Responses. 0 Answers. By Tac Anderson, video edited by Micheal Foley
  2. Great Storytelling 101: Valuable Tips from “This American Life” by Matt Whiting
  3. Gnomedex 9.0 — Affinity for Robots? Affirmative. Robotic behavior? Negative. by Matt Whiting
  4. Is Facebook Damaging Your Family Values? by Tammy McKnight
  5. Jeremy Meyers Joins Studio D as Digital Media Producer by Tac Anderson
  6. Welcome Web Visitors Who Come in Through the Side Door by David Patton
  7. Top 10 Thinkers and Doers Posts July 2009 by Tac Anderson
  8. Beyond the Silver Lining: Action-Oriented Planning in Changing Times by Matt Whiting
  9. A Radical Site Redesign Is Beautiful on the Inside by David Patton
  10. Understanding the Cost of Content for Social Media by David Patton

I do these top 10 posts for my own blog and I find it interesting to see the different dynamics between a solo blog and a group blog.

What do you think? Do you like solo blogs or group blogs? How do you think we’re doing? Is there anything you’d like to see us do differently? Any topics we should address that we haven’t yet? Leave us a comment.

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Top 10 Thinkers and Doers Posts July 2009

Posted on August 3, 2009 by Comments Off

Tac Anderson, Digital Consulting Director, WE Studio D

Some interesting things to note:

  • The top 3 posts all had to do with brands.
  • Matt, Linh and Michele all are new posters to the blog and all made the top 10.
  • Last month’s top posts list made this list (people love lists).
  1. What’s in a Name? What’s in Your Cup? How Starbucks’ Signage Sneakery is a Sign of the Times by Matt Whiting
  2. Silence is Not a Strategy, Even If You’re a Pirate by Heather Snow
  3. The Stealth Starbucks Meets the Angry Mob: Lessons Learned in the Twitter Age of Communications by Matt Whiting
  4. Twitter is the Internet’s Water Cooler by Tac Anderson
  5. Waggener Edstrom Studio D Today by Kevin Murphy
  6. Top 10 Thinkers and Doers Posts June 2009 by Tac Anderson
  7. Even Those in the Business of Fake Need to Get Real by Matt Whiting
  8. Is There Any Value Left in Print? by Tac Anderson
  9. The Next Big Social Tool? Maybe So and Maybe Not by Linh Dinh
  10. Thanks to Digital Media, We Adopted a Baby! Part 1 of 3 by Michele Nachum

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Be a Social Media Black Belt With Posterous

Posted on July 30, 2009 by Comments Off

Tac Anderson, Digital Consulting Director, WE Studio D

Disarming an attacker using a "sword taki...

Image via Wikipedia

When asked what the next “hot” thing is in social media I say work flow. I know it sounds boring but tools that streamline the process of social media management and allow us to scale all this playing around on the Web we call social media *work* is so hot right now. That’s the main reason I geek out on Posterous.

@foleymo wanted to know if Posterous was paying me. No they are not. They are just have a really cool product that I find very useful and have been using for the last 6 months, ever since Zemanta (another favorite blogging tool of mine) started working with Gmail. (That and I like tools I get in early on to succeed because it makes me look really smart)

Yesterday I posted a quick Q&A about using Posterous as an internal collaboration tool. Today’s post is about using Posteruos as a corporate social media marketer’s secret weapon (say that 5 times really fast).

If you’re on top of things managing your social media, you have a TwitterFlickr and YouTube account plus a blog. If not go do that right now. Even for the most conservative companies out there, it’s pretty standard now to have Twitter, Flickr and YouTube set up. If you don’t and you think your company/client won’t go for it, try asking, you might be surprised.

If nothing else YOU should have a Twitter, Flickr and YouTube account. If not, I don’t know why you’re reading this.

Now, to earning that Black Belt: (For the benefit of those with uber anal legal departments we’ll leave out blogs).

Assuming you now have all 4 of these accounts set up (Posterous, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter) go into your ‘Autopost to Everywhere’ setting in Posterous and enable posting to these other accounts. You can also set to post to VimeoFacebookDelicious, your blog and many other services, but we’ll focus on the big three because they’re the ones I use the most.

Now take a picture or a video on your phone and send to post@posterous.com. If you sent a picture, you just posted to Posterous, Flickr and Twitter. If it was a video you just posted to Posterous, YouTube and Twitter. Score!

For PR/Marketing this is the killer event workflow!

Imagine being at corporate events (any event really) and with one handy smart phone you’re transformed into a live streaming Social Media Black Belt Ninja person.

Plus, bonus points, because during or after the event people only have to go to Posterous to see everything.

Double bonus points: If your company/client wouldn’t let you have a blog before, now you kind of have one, but instead of a blog I’d call it a “social media work flow and aggregation tool.”

Things to keep in mind:

  • The subject line of your email becomes the title of the post, the title of your picture or video and the content of the tweet.
  • You can also record short interviews or commentary as a voice note and send those. They’ll automagically be embedded in the post.
  • Posterous has the ability to only post to specific sites depending on the email address you send to. flickr@posterous.com will post to Flickr and Posterous but not Twitter.
  • Spend some time getting familiar with Posterous before using in the wild.

A Few More Thoughts on Writing Quality

Posted on July 27, 2009 by Comments Off

Mike Jacobs, Writing Manager, WE Studio D

A few days ago I blogged about the impact that poor grammar and other writing mistakes can have on the success of online blogs, tweets, press releases and other communiques. Or, to put it positively, the value that quality writing can add to these communications.

I’ve since come across some additional support for this argument that I’d like to add to the discussion.

Earlier this month, Samantha Karol, who works for the online marketing company CPX Interactive, made a similar case in her Brazen Careerist blog. Karol suggests that we should strive for first-rate writing for the same reason we dress up for a job interview: because if we don’t, we immediately call our credibility, competence, professionalism and commitment into question. It’s all about creating the right impression, she argues, because readers will quickly move on from a site that creates an unprofessional first impression through sloppy writing or other means – probably before they get to whatever point you were trying to make.

Then I came across an old blog from Marshall Kirkpatrick, vice president of content development at ReadWriteWeb, discussing a “small but interesting survey run by crowdsourced copy editing service GooseGrade.” Based on responses from about 200 readers of blogs, GooseGrade found that:

  • 78 percent at least sometimes consider web sites or blogs unreliable sources of information if the readers find spelling, grammatical or factual errors in the content.
  • 64 percent said they are less likely to share, link to or forward an article if it contains spelling or grammatical errors.
  • 65 percent said their perception of an author, blog or web site is negatively impacted if they encounter spelling or grammatical errors.
  • And 88 percent said they find spelling or grammatical errors distracting when reading online content, and have spent less time browsing a web site than they otherwise would have because spelling or grammatical errors became too distracting.

Kirkpatrick’s conclusion:

“Good writing is a rare skill, though it often goes unnoticed when it produces easily read text. Bad writing is very, very common and if you’re someone who finds it distracting – you’re not alone. Many of us fluctuate somewhere in between, but this study is another reminder that it’s not a casual matter if we wish to communicate effectively. If you’re response is that this study is over exagerating it’s conclusions – then your probly not paying attention. (Ha!)” (sic)

Occasionally, I feel like a Judith Martin (a.k.a. Miss Manners), fighting to uphold some archaic rules of etiquette that fewer and fewer people seem to care about. (Do you know what all 14 types of spoon are used for in a formal table setting?) But then I read comments like those above, and I realize that accomplished writing isn’t a pointless exercise; it can be the difference between a message delivered and a message lost, undelivered, in cyberspace.

GM Revives Brand Using Old Strategies & New Tactics

Posted on July 22, 2009 by Comments Off

Tac Anderson, Digital Consulting Director, WE Studio D

NEW YORK - JUNE 02: A torn and fading billboar...

Image by Getty Images viaDaylife

In a recent WSJ article John Stoll dives into the communication challenges GM faces in light of its recent bankruptcy and government bailout funding.

What’s interesting to note is the implementation of a traditional strategy using digital tactics.

Lee Iacocca is famous for putting a face on Chrysler’s turnaround efforts in the 1980s by appearing in TV commercials and in the media using a “plain speaking” and upfront approach to win back customers and trust.

GM’s new CEO Frederick “Fritz” Henderson is trying the same sort of thing but using an unscripted approach on company blogs, Web chats and a newly launched “Tell Fritz” online suggestion box instead of paid TV spots or other advertising.

Time Not Money

In Iacocca’s time writing a bestselling book (with the help of ghost writers, I’m sure) and buying a lot of advertising may have worked in a time before the Internet. Today those tactics would likely have resulted in more wasted bailout dollars.

While Fritz is taking a similar “honest” approach and putting himself front and center, he is making a greater commitment in time rather than money. Can you imagine how busy Fritz’s days are? Even as he works to revive a cornerstone of American manufacturing and pillar of the U.S. economy, he also takes the time to participate in Web chats and blogs. The message this sends is impactful.

But how does he do his “day job” at the helm of GM and participate in a meaningful way in social media?

Infrastructure and process provide scale

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but it’s not something you hear social media “experts” talk about. Putting processes in place and dedicating resources to “filter and flag” the most important content is critical. Technology alone can’t do this. It also takes a layer of human analysis.

At Waggener Edstrom we will often use various tools including (yet to be announced product) and twendz filter conversations from key influencers and flag the most relevant tweets for response. Fritz undoubtedly has people monitoring the most important and relevant comments and questions which he then responds to upon “arriving at the office or before he goes to bed.”

You’re planning a journey not an event

In PR we tend to spin cycles around upcoming events and product launches. But Fritz’s approach is not a one time, annual or quarterly event. It’s the way companies should be communicating now. You need a strategy, there had better be measurable results but there is no end date. There is no postmortem. You have to iterate and evolve as you go. Social media efforts are something you grow organically not hype up and then walk away from.

But will it work?

GM is in the midst of a PR nightmare. Consumers and taxpayers were outraged at the huge amounts of money given to the auto industry. Despite all the negativity, GM is staying engaged and working to focus the online discussion around its future, rather than the past.

GM was the first auto manufacturer to use social media and Fritz’s outreach shows those efforts are increasing. Through its consistent engagement, GM stays top of mind, participates and contributes to the conversation even if it can’t control what’s being said.

Is There Any Value Left in Print?

Posted on July 7, 2009 by Comments Off

Tac Anderson, Digital Consulting Director

So I jokingly posted a tweet this morning about wanting to start a newsletter. You know, those things that people used to print out and mail? Joke aside, I kind of really wanted to do it. I don’t know why. I don’t even know what I’d write about that would be better suited for print than a blog.

Sure, I may get analog with my note-taking, but read print? I still like books in print, but that’s because it’s something permanent. Books are something I want to keep. I always wanted to grow up and have a whole room that was a library. Of course I also wanted to grow up and be an astronaut.

Then I saw this post from TechCrunch about The Printed Blog heading to the recycle bin. And instead of making me toss my idea aside it kind of made me want to go through with it. I don’t know why!

Goodbye, Printed Blog
the_printed_blog
Remember the Printed Blog? It was a newspaper – on actual glossy paper – that would syndicate posts from the Interwebs. Josh Karp founded it six months ago and he ran through 16 issues and 80,000 copies – all on his own dime. And now it’s dead.

Maybe it’s some kind of weird nostalgia from my college days of printing a ‘zine. (Mine was called Pinion and was the normal drivel you’d expect from liberal arts majors: ranting opinion pieces and bad poetry submissions from me and my friends.) Maybe it’s because this was such a point of interest at my last employer, HP. Maybe it’s just the contrarian in me that wants to swim upstream. Maybe it’s because I want to see if there is any value in print.

What do you think? Is there any value in print? What would you want in print that you wouldn’t want online?

This post was originally posted on New Comm Biz

I Don’t Care What Google Thinks I Should Do With My Content

Posted on July 6, 2009 by Comments Off

Tac Anderson, Digital Consulting Director

I’d like to ask your forgiveness while I reuse an overused analogy here.

If your only marketing objective is to drive awareness of your message then why do you drive people to a site?

This is like going to a cocktail party and trying to get a girl to come back to your place for small talk.

If there’s no conversion, no purchase, no download, then why do you care if someone comes to your site to get that message? I would argue that in many cases it would be better if they didn’t come to your site to find the message.

When I asked Steve Rubel why he decided not to keep both his Life Stream and his blog, his initial response was because Google penalizes you for duplicate content.

I was kind of surprised that was his reason. I haven’t worried about duplicate content or SEO in general for my blog in almost a year. The only two “stats” I really care about are RSS subscriber numbers (because I don’t think RSS is dead) and comments, be they comments on the blog, Twitter, FriendFeed or somewhere else. (BTW if you haven’t, please feel free to subscribe to my RSS feed.)

Other than my own name I don’t care anymore what key words I rank highest for. If this site were trying to sell something or run advertising, then I’d care.

I care more about people reading my next post than I do about who read my last post.

And I don’t really care if they do that here or somewhere else.

And if Google’s not smart enough to tell the difference between good content repurposed on a good site, versus good content scraped on a spam site, then that’s their problem, not mine.

My personal take is that I want my content all over the place. That’s why you’ll see this post on my life stream, on my blog and on the Thinkers and Doers blog. My blog is the main source, it’s why I wrote it, but it’s also relevant to those other sites. You’ll also see this post on Social Media Today and My Venture Pad. Plus if you or your company is a subscriber to Lexis Nexis or Thomas Reuters or you have a Kindle, you can find my blog, which is syndicated throughNewstex.

If that penalizes me in Google, then so be it.

Image via my Flickr Stream

This post was originally posted on New Comm Biz

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Top 10 Thinkers and Doers Posts June 2009

Posted on July 1, 2009 by Comments Off

Tac Anderson, Digital Consulting Director

I’ve started Monthly Top 10 lists on my personal blog. I find it an interesting way to look back on what posts have done particularly well. This ranking is based just on unique visitors but I have also included the date published along with the comment count. I find it interesting that only 1 of the Top 10 posts received 0 comments and I find it interesting that it was that one.

  1. AP Creates Style Laws for Twitter; Brace for Disobedience
    6/12/09 7 Comments
  2. If You Care About Your Job in Marketing and PR, Read This Post
    6/5/12 0 Comments
  3. I Don’t Read the Paper, I Read Twitter
    6/17/09 10 Comments
  4. AP Stylebook Issues Half-Correction for Flawed Twitter Entry
    6/15/09 1 Comments
  5. What PR Can Learn From Nine Inch Nails
    6/11/09 3 Comments
  6. #BlameDrewsCancer That You Don’t Get to Work on More Fun Marketing Projects
    6/04/09 2 Comments
  7. Why Don’t We Argue More in PR and Marketing?
    6/1/09 10 Comments
  8. Developing a Digital News Ritual
    6/02/09 1 Comments
  9. Panic and the Power of Fear
    6/1/09 4 Comments
  10. Barriers Can Help You Create Innovative Communication Programs
    6/11/09 2 Comments

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