Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'll Take That One, and That One, and That One...: Push Button Subscriptions

In the language of Homer Simpson: "D'oh!" Putting the 'subscribe to feed' buttons at the top of your webpage increases subscription rates--so I'm told.

The goal of utilizing syndication technologies like RSS and Atom is to get people to opt-in for the great content you're producing. It's so very much like the process we go through when we're subscribing to magazines. You thumb through the magazine rack, and then you decide to buy this one, that one, and the other one. Eventually you find the magazines ('feeds' in our analogy) you want to come directly to you, so you subscribe to them. Once you've done this, every new issue (or feed) comes straight to you in the mail (or feed aggregator/reader) is mailed directly to you.

As a marketer, the benefit of getting your new content in front of readers is obvious. When people subscribe to your RSS feed, every time you publish (or 'syndicate') new content to the Internet, your content is placed in the subscriber's reader. Unfortunately, many of us are content with 'hits' on our content instead of 'subscriptions' to our content.

A simple little pointer to increase the number of subscribers for your content is this:

Put the buttons to subscribe to your content at the top of your web page.

If you don't do this, many end users don't ever see the subscribe option because it's located too far down your page.

Here's a short list to get you the HTML code to place the 'Add to whomever' buttons onto your website for:

Add to My Yahoo!
Add to Google
Add to My MSN
Subscribe in NewsGator Online

These make it so easy to syndicate your content for those people who don't even have an RSS aggregator/reader, but make use of My Yahoo!, Google homepage, or My MSN. For RSS Pundit, three-fourths of my hits (not subscriptions) come from My Yahoo! and the like. Making it as easy as a button click to subscribe has resulted in a measurable uptake in subscribers.

Give these a try and move them to the top. You'll find that having people push your buttons isn't such a bad thing after all...

P.S. (from the ‘Brief Historical Note’ Department) My next post will be number twenty-five--watch for Silver Anniversary gifts (so to speak) from the RSS Pundit…

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

We do it all with LEGOs®: Building Blocks for Syndication Solutions

Marketing pros should take a page from the mechanical engineering playbook--prototyping things using my kids' favorite toy: the Lego. (As much as I hate to admit it, engineers really do deserve a place in the business food chain...) Today's syndication tools offer the same modular capabilities.

I listen with rabid regularity to John Furrier's infoTalk podcast series. He gets really great interviews with all sorts of people from the venture capital, education, services, technology development, and technology marketing communities.

His November 21, 2005 podcast with Dan’l Lewin--the adult supervision at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus--contained a really interesting train of thought that resulted in this post.

Talking about software development tools, Lewin made the comment that "effectively, it's a world of the technology [that] is more like Legos... you're gonna assemble things with something in mind." He then talked about those pre-packaged Lego kits allowing you to "assemble things in a meaningful way and it's the 'cool guy on the island' with the boat and the palm tree and the whatever that really is what you want to do."

Mechanical engineering programs at schools like MIT and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have used Legos for years to do rapid prototyping of all sorts of devices. The Lego system's modularity makes the work easier and much less expensive than prototyping with injection moldings.

Happily for us, the software equivalents of Legos are making their way on to the scene, enabling marketers to utilize syndication technology building blocks to create feeds for public relations, direct marketing, e-commerce, and customer relationship management. In fact, I was talking with Rok Hrastnik (a.k.a. ‘Mr. RSS’) of MarketingStudies the other day, and he gave me a great short list of syndication building blocks to examine.

Over the next few weeks, we'll take a look at some of these tools Rok mentioned, and ways to use them. If you want a head start, check out the easy-to-use tools like NotePage, Inc.'s Feed for All and The Info Guru LLC's My RSS Creator. These tools can have you producing your own feeds in as little as 30 minutes.

Though a little more complex, some more advanced tools are also worth checking out. See SimpleFeed, Nooked FeedWizard, PressFEED, ByPass ePublisher, and the variety of tools at MyST Technology.

It's the holiday season, so do some window shopping and be the next kid on the block with the cool 'RSS Legos' (and tell us what you build with them). All of your friends will want to come and play!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Doing a 'Syndication Houdini'

I'm going to virtually escape for the Thanksgiving Holidays and hang out for the next couple of days in my home town...

Look for my next post the week of Monday, November 28th.

Be on the lookout for something completely different next week from the RSS Pundit...

(Oh, I really HATE suspense!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Sincerest Form of Flattery: RSS Data with Strings

While rifling through my multiple posts-in-process that are in various states of being on my blogger surgeon's table, I simply can't leave alone a very insightful post on Fred Wilson's blog: 'A VC--Musings of a VC in NYC'.

The post entitled 'The Second Coming of RSS' is simply a great read, so for today I'll copy rather than create. Reading it is a better use of your time than going through anything I could write today.

The final line in his post--"And that is just huge."--says it all.

Read this and really think about it, please.

More tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Now You’re Getting Personal: Syndication Format Choices and ‘Emotional Bandwidth’

Bringing people into your syndication dialogue hinges on delivering relevant content. Support your efforts by tapping into their emotional states and figuring out how to resonate with them emotionally. The form of content you deliver can determine how efficiently you do this.

Successfully engaging in syndication hinges on the assumption that you’ve got your messages sorted out; that you know what you want (or need) to say to your target market. You believe you have the content 'seed corn' to produce social discourse with your audience, right? So, how do you get the audience to consume your content?

While there are lots of strategies and tactics out there from a lot of smart people, it boils down to this:

You must put out content worthy of their participation.

Syndication is, after all, an opt-in world. ‘If you build it, they will come’ will not raise you above the ambient noise level of 21 plus million blogs.

To appeal enough for people to opt in, you must ‘seismically’ touch them (or their industry). You must create a ripple in their pond that shows up on their graph. You must define your ‘stake in the ground’ (your central message), communicate it with convincing conviction, and then continue to hold audience attention and keep your message inertia by continually impacting your community’s thinking.

The question looming is how to efficiently create such an impact.

Suw Charman’s November 10th address on Social Media delivered to the Utah Marketing Exec Forum keeps me thinking and re-thinking this whole opt-in efficiency thing. Her response to a question she fielded about different syndicated media types was profound, and thought-provoking.

She said:

If you think of the different media as able to communicate different amounts of information--text has a very low emotional bandwidth because I can write something in text, and you have no idea about tone of voice, body language, you don’t really know how to interpret it. So, if I’m sarcastic in text, you’ll never know. You can interpret it as sarcastic, you can interpret it as being straight, and unless I give you some indication there’s no way you can tell.

Now those indications have emerged in the form of ‘smileys.’ But they’re highly ineffective. So your next step on in emotional bandwidth is audio. So in audio you’ve got tone of voice. If I say something really sarcastic, then you can tell, you can hear what I mean. If I’m upset, you can hear it. If I’m happy, you can hear it. If I’m passionate you can hear it in my voice. And podcasting taps into that level of extra emotional bandwidth.

While there’s a lot of discussion about the validity of podcasting as a messaging medium, it clearly gives you an extra amount of ‘emotional bandwidth’ in conversations, informal discussions and communications that you can’t get from text. Podcasts can be much more humanizing, intimate and more personal than text.

Efficient use of emotional bandwidth means increased emotional impact, and personal emotional impact can be a powerful opt-in incentive.

Podcasting presents an opportunity if your business can figure out “how do we use this?” Done well, podcasts in the form of general conversations and interviews are—like their non-virtual counterparts—where you really start to get to know someone else.

Concluding her answer to the question, Suw also made this observation:

Businesses must resist the urge to broadcast, to actually just orate at their audience as if they were on TV or radio, because as soon as you start doing that, you really kind of lose the interactivity.

There are many of business-related questions to ask and answer before embarking on a podcast strategy (which we’ll talk about in subsequent posts).

In my opinion, there are lots of really interesting things that can be done with podcasting--doing them well will be a determining factor in maximizing your ‘emotional bandwidth’ yield.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

'People Say I'm Indecisive, But I Don't Know About That:' Choosing Business Blog Tools

Former presidential wisdom is helpful in making the hard choice about which business blog platform to use...

The title of this post is a quote ascribed to former president George H. W. Bush who said, "People say I'm indecisive, but I don't know about that."

That sounds strangely like my decision making process relating to starting this blog.

I waited around for about three months longer than I should have to start RSS Pundit over indecision about which blogging tool to use. I learned in that experience the words of former president Gerald R. Ford (you'll have to scroll down a bit...) to be quite true. He said, "Indecision is often worse than wrong action." Contrary to popular opinion, Perhaps President Ford--who was a very athletic man--could ascribe his ill-timed encounters with power windows and stairways to indecision. I lost time and momentum because of indecision--my own cyber-version of tripping on the stairs.

After all that, I chose Blogger (not the first choice of many blogging pundits). It has worked well for me so far, but I do see myself outgrowing it shortly as I want to take my blog in directions I don't believe Blogger can go. More importantly, I learned and progressed by deciding, moving forward, and just using it.

In the experience I have figured out things I didn't know--and wouldn’t have figured out--before starting to blog. I also figured out I was way too tentative about the decision.

Now, I'm not advocating would-be business bloggers rush out, pick the first blogging tool they can find, and start posting today.

I am saying it's a business decision, so treat it like one.

Get the best information you can find. Talk to people you trust who are in the know. Look at what other companies are doing on their blogs that you like, then chew it all up and make a business decision. If you're taking longer to make this business decision than you normally take, then you're probably over-analyzing it and losing out on an opportunity to grow.

If you still need a little more information before moving on a decision, yesterday's post on Ask Dave Taylor! entitled 'What's the best business blogging tool?' can help you get off the dime. It's a good (albeit somewhat technical in places for most) treatment on the different mainstream blogging tools out there. Dave has been around the block many times, knows a heck of a lot, and offers really good insights here. Take five minutes and read what he has to say.

Or, you could just wait to get your head stuck in a power window or something.

Either way, please let me know what you decide!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Can Any Good Marketing Come Out of Utah? Redux

The November 10th meeting of Utah's Marketing Exec Forum offers glimmers of social media marketing hope for Utah-based companies...

I meant to post this last Friday, but my post (and the ensuing discourse) on 'synthetic transparency' consumed my blogging bandwidth for the day. Here's hoping 'better late than never' is a truism.

Lest we come to the conclusion the high-water mark for marketing in Utah was achieved by this year's Utah State Fair 'Napoleon Dynamite' campaign, the November 10th meeting of Utah's Marketing Exec Forum on 'Social Media' was attended by around 40 of some of Utah's finest marketers.

Mentioned in my October 20th post, Marketing Executive Forum co-founder Cydni Tetro, and her employer NextPage, hosted the event at their corporate headquarters.

Suw Charman, author of the popular blog Strange Attractor, addressed MEF attendees via a combination of Apple iChat video and Skype audio from an undisclosed location in England.

Charman's comments were audience appropriate (no small feat when working remotely) and provided an excellent primer on ways organizations can start to make use of 'social media' including corporate blogging and Podcasting (audio and video).

I talked with a couple of attendees after the event, and had some interesting discussion. Highlights of those chats included comments from Brad Hintze of CanyonBridge who said:

"Blogging is an interesting marketing phenomenon because of the conversation that it breeds rather than the message being forced to the audience. My sales experience has shown how effective one-on-one conversations are with potential buyers but logistics and traditional marketing make that conversation difficult. Blogging allows consumers to have a conversation with company representative’s and not just be passive recipients of a crafted message. In my experience that has helped me understand more thoroughly why they offer the product they do and how it will affect me in my position; more so than just reading the literature. As was emphasized [by Suw Charman], sincerity--or lack thereof--is an important part of the success/influence of the blog. That is probably going to be the most difficult part of a corporate blog, sending the corporate message without compromising sincerity."

This comment became more interesting in light of my aforementioned November 11th post about a Northeastern University professor and students in his 'Advanced Organizational Communications' course who believe corporate blogging risks serving up 'synthetic transparency.'

Cydni Tetro's comments to me were interesting, too. Tetro told me:

"I feel blogs, Podcasts and video blogs are going to change the face of marketing as we know it. Markets truly are conversations and when we can create a relationship with prospects and customers we create relationships that transcend the moment. For marketers the key to success in this market is authenticity - it is about being honest, open and committed to your market and customers. And these tools now provide us with the opportunity to reach past just ourselves for our messages."

Given that NextPage is about as invested in 'social media' as any company in Utah, she's 'walking the walk, and not just talking the talk.'

Hailing from Utah myself, I gotta love a good pioneer story!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can't, Teach: 'Synthetic Transparency'

Do corporate blogs automatically constitute an exercise in faux openness, honesty, and transparency?

George Bernard Shaw is credited for saying: "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches."

And while I have the highest regard for our institutions of higher learning, sadly Debbie Weil's BlogWrite for CEOs post of last night citing a blog penned by Northeastern University students and their professor serves as anecdotal support for Shaw's couplet.

The post makes the contention that corporate blogging is 'synthetic transparency.' That is:

"...using blogs to give the impression of openness, honesty, and transparency but without really doing so.

"This notion is based on Norman Fairclough's* idea of "synthetic personalization"** which he defines as:

"'... a compensatory tendency to give the impression of treating each of the people 'handled' en masse as an individual. Examples would be air travel (have a nice day!), restaurants (Welcome to Wimpy!) and the simulated conversation (for example, chat shows) and bonhomie which litter the media...'"

* Fairclough, Norman (1989). Language and Power. London: Longman.
** Also see Deborah Cameron's use of synthetic personalization as applied to customer care philosophies and practices in organizations. Cameron, Deborah (2000). Good to Talk? Living and Working in a Communication Culture. London: Sage.

I can understand students in an 'Advanced Organizational Communications' class making such an illogical leap, but the post is ascribed to a 'Dr. Carl'--the instructor, I presume.

C'mon, Dr. Carl! The logic of this assertion is flawed, anti-establishment rhetoric.

Either that, or essentially every corporate communication (or individual one for that matter) is--by this definition--'synthetic.'

Here's why.

To categorize corporate blogging as 'synthetic transparency' on par with a sound-bite such as 'Have a nice day!' is simply defining (arguably annoying) pleasantries and communications of intended substance as the same thing.

Every business (or individual for that matter) makes selective (and not automatically 'synthetic') disclosure, not just those choosing to blog.

Selective disclosure of aspects of my business (or personal life for that matter) with 'openness, honesty, and transparency' at the exclusion of other private aspects of my business (or personal life for that matter) pre-dates the blogging phenomenon.

Selective disclosure does not render the disclosure 'synthetic.' Keeping some information back does not render the disclosed information disingenuous, insincere or untrue by default.

I'll grant you that it can happen, but it is not inherent to corporate blogging. This is the flaw in your reasoning.

Selective disclosure is integral to the nature of all communications in corporate life (or personal life for that matter).

It's either that, or we're all plastic, TVP, or cubic zirconium. Take your pick.

Am I missing something here, Doctor?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Turn the Ship Around: The Gates/Ozzie Memos and Syndication

Can Microsoft adopt their product offerings to assume a leadership role in the world of Web 2.0? Will they create and deliver products and services to help the masses move from browse to search to subscribe? Can they stay relevant to their installed base?

The mainstream media and the blogosphere are all awash with buzz over leaked internal memos from Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie. Calling web market behaviors “the next sea change” for Microsoft, the memos’ summarize Microsoft’s recognition of the need to harness the technology leviathan’s power in pursuing a new web strategy. Gates sums up the Microsoft leadership deficit saying: “to lead we need to do far more.

While InfoWorld has shared the full text of the Gates and Ozzie memos (certainly worth taking the time to read—and yes they are lengthy), I’ll defer to minds greater than my own to render commentary on the ‘macro’ impact of their content. Let’s focus on key comments about the role syndication will play in Microsoft’s moves.

Gates: “This coming ‘services wave’ will be very disruptive.

My take: “Disruption begets chaos. Chaos begets opportunity. Opportunity begets profits.”

Gates: “This next generation of the internet is being shaped by its ‘grassroots’ adoption and popularization model, and the cost-effective "seamless experiences" delivered through the intentional fusion of services, software and sometimes hardware.

My take: “Grassroots availability of syndication technologies is clearly part of this next generation internet. Organizations and individuals are bypassing and disrupting traditional media distribution outlets through syndication, creating personal reach into the customer base.”

Ozzie: “Computing and communications technologies have dramatically and progressively improved to enable the viability of a services-based model.

My take: “Syndication technologies are disruptive communications technologies. Using them gets us closer to the customer than traditional methods, and the only software the customer really needs to tap into this is a browser. That’s got to be a wake-up call for a company selling software facilitating any type of communication—not just Microsoft.”

Ozzie: “Businesses are increasingly considering what services-based economics of scale might do to help them reduce infrastructure costs or deploy solutions as-needed and on subscription basis.

My take: “Now I can die. The world’s largest software company tacitly admits software is a service.”

Ozzie: “This model has the potential to fundamentally impact how we and other developers build, deliver, and monetize innovations. No one yet knows what kind of software and in which markets this model will be embraced, and there is tremendous revenue potential in those where it ultimately is.

My take: “Translation: Our fundamental sources of revenue are being disrupted. Innovate or Microsoft will become a résumé factory.

Ozzie: “We’ve got amazing products in Office and our other IW offerings, having fully embraced standards such as XML, HTML, RSS and SIP.

My take: “What production Microsoft applications do you use to consume syndicated contents? Microsoft has followed, not led out in RSS technology application. They’ve been out-innovated here, and are feeling pain.”

Ozzie: “But for all our great progress, our efforts have not always led to the degree that perhaps they could have.

My take: “This reminds me of that great dialogue between Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker as the Millennium Falcon emerges from hyperspace on its way to the now destroyed Alderan. Solo wants to stop a ‘lone fighter’ from reporting the whereabouts of the Falcon when he says:

Han: "I think I can get him before he gets there. He's almost in range."

Obi-Wan: "That's no moon. It's a space station."

Han: "It's too big to be a space station."

Luke: "I have a very bad feeling about this."

Obi-Wan: "Turn the ship around."

Han: "Yeah, I think your right. Full reverse! Chewie, lock in the auxiliary power."

Ozzie: "RSS is the internet’s answer to the notification scenarios we’ve discussed and worked on for some time, and is filling a role as ‘the UNIX pipe of the internet’ as people use it to connect data and systems in unanticipated ways."

My take
: “Microsoft product managers take heed. You’d better figure out how RSS fits into your roadmaps like last year and deliver it to the market last quarter! You’re late, and late is very bad here.”

Ozzie: “Only a few years ago I’d have pointed to the Weblog and the Wiki as significant emerging trends; by now they?re mainstream and have moved into the enterprise.

My take: “Hate to say ‘I told you so,’ but I will. See my posts from October 21st and October 24th.”

Ozzie: “Most all use RSS in one way or another for data sharing. Remixing and mashing of multiple web applications using XML, REST and WS is common; interesting mash-ups range from combining maps with apartment listings, to others that place RSS feeds on top of systems and data not originally intended for remixing.

My take: “Payday for individuals and companies that have pushed syndication beyond initially intended bounds. You’ve just been validated.”

Ozzie: “Many fund their sites using syndicated ads, but have a difficult time transforming their services into higher levels of commerce.

My take
: “Good observation here. Figuring out the monetizing of syndication is still up for grabs here. This is a textbook indicator of a disruptive wave. Who will lead this innovation?”

Ozzie: “But enabling grassroots adoption is not just a product design issue. Today’s web is fundamentally a self-service environment, and it is critical to design websites and product ‘landing pages’ with sophisticated closed-loop measurement and feedback systems.

My take: “A great tactical take-away for anyone responsible for web content here. Don’t over-invest in your home page to the exclusion of the rest of your site’s content. Each page must stand on its own, because customers will get to them less and less through the ‘hop, click and a jump’ from your home page.”

Ozzie: “What should we do to bring Office’s classic COM-based publish-and-subscribe capabilities to a world where RSS and XML have become the de facto publish-and-subscribe mechanisms?

My take: “While not an overnight event, Microsoft Office is (or at least the file formats are) in danger of becoming a legacy app. Goodbye .DOC, .XLS and .PPT and hello .XML.”

Ozzie: “I have created an internal blog that will be used to notify you of further plans as they emerge. There, I’ll point you to libraries of documents that you will find interesting to read, and I’ll be experimenting with ways that you can directly engage in the conversation.

My take: “Way to eat your own dog food, Microsoft. Glad to have you joining the rest of us.”

Ozzie: “The opportunities to deliver greater value to our customers, to our developer and partner communities, and to our shareholders are significant. I very much look forward to embarking on this journey with all of you.

My take: "Web services companies take heed. There’s a lot of money and a lot of people who’ve started working on stuff in your space. The ‘800 pound gorilla’ has entered the building."

All in all, I say kudos to Microsoft for a fairly intellectually honest look at itself.

And while I would never underestimate Microsoft, I am left with the nagging question: will what the memos set out to do be enough, or is it ‘too little, too late?’


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Take a Look at Me Now

People will create inbound links to worthwhile content you've probably already written. Repurposing articles for syndication can connect you with larger audiences who want to read your stuff...

Some of the best advice I ever received before starting RSS Pundit was to be patient, be persistent, and provide worthwhile content. Doing this, I was told, would help me beat the odds of being an irrelevant voice, and deliver an audience. In RSS Pundit's third month, I am amazed at the conversations and learning my blogging efforts have generated for me, and the growth in subscriptions and hits that have occurred.

Each of those memorable conversations has started around meaningful content--someone else's content that is meaningful to me, or some of my content that is meaningful to someone else. While you are working on messaging and content in support of your syndication and subscription strategy, remember you probably already have some very compelling content to provide to your target audience.

Your published quality stuff, according to Internet marketing expert Sally Falkow, can help customers look for and find you--accomplished by delivering articles as part of your syndication strategy. See her November 1st post on the subject.

While my blog's content consists of original posts, I have a lot of material I have already produced that isn't as well suited for blogging format. I am now working to repurpose this into articles to place on my blog along side of my posts. I have great expectations from this effort in terms of the increased audience it will bring to the Pundit.

Falkow's blog (she has three of them actually) provides many excellent insights into creating voice, community, and driving traffic to you. I highly recommend it.

Doing what other smart people are doing with syndication will help you succeed against all odds and get people to take a look at what you have to say.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Blog Globally, Comment Locally

I’ve been on a very involved business trip for the past two days, hence the absence of posts. I'll make up for it with a little longer than the usual post. You’ll want to bookmark this one though, as I’m sure you’ll find it useful--it includes a little about strategy and a little about tactics, so here we go.

Strategy first.

"Where do I begin?" is a common question for marketing professionals figuring out corporate blogging strategy. Starting a corporate blog can be daunting. Just remember sorting out corporate blogging objectives starts by realizing there are two types of corporate blogs (that you can actually control, that is):

- Customer-facing blogs (these engage the customer)
- Inward-facing blogs (these engage employees with each other)

We'll talk about 'watchdog' blogs and 'whistleblower' blogs in another post…

So, as you begin working your corporate blogging strategy and execution, there is something you can do immediately to have an impact on the task:

Start commenting today!

Participate in the blogosphere by commenting on posts (a blogger’s entries are called ‘posts’) in other blogs. This will engage you (or other “smart people” in your organization who assist you) in relevant conversations, expose people to your ideas, and result in comments about your comments. This can happen well before you turn your blog loose on the world. People will already be familiar with you because of your comments.

Go to the blogs where your customers (or target customers) hang out, and start commenting on blog posts today. If you don't know where these blogs are, use tools like Technorati or Google Blogsearch to search for them. You'll find ones to start with easily enough.

Now for tactics.

As for entering the comments themselves, you’ll find in the different blog platforms a wide variety (a.k.a. ‘dearth’) of editing capabilities for your comments. To make your comments more unique and visually appealing, several of the editors support the use of HTML tags in comments.

If you came back from that link all intimidated, please don’t freak out and think you need to be an HTML guru in order to ready your ideas for the prime-time blogosphere. Just use this simple reference (NOTE: this is the part you'll use if you bookmark this post) to enhance the content of your comments from a readability and richness standpoint:

- To produce bold text in your comment, enclose the text with a <B> and a </B> like this: <B>bold</B>

- To produce italicized text in your comment, enclose the text with an <I> and an </I> like this: <I>italicized</I>

- To produce underlined text in your comment, enclose the text with a <U> and a </U> like this: <U>underlined</U>

You can also combine formatting tags, like this:

- To produce bold-italicized text, enclose the text with a <B><I> and a </I></B> like this: <B><I>bold-italicized</I></B>.

When making a comment, you will often want to include a hyperlink to another web page (my blog RSSPundit for instance). This tag is a little more involved than a formatting tag, but it's not too difficult. Here’s what the RSSPundit hyperlink tag looks like:

<A HREF="">RSSPundit</A>

Here's how to create the hyperlink in your comment:

1. Type <A HREF=" followed by the ENTIRE URL you'll want to jump to
2. Immediately after the URL, Whatever you place between the "> and the </A> will appear as the blue-underlined hyperlink text in the comment (RSSPundit in the example)

While it seems a bit involved, once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll easily get the hang of it. Also, take advantage of the Preview option most editors provide. This will let you check your work before you send your comment to 'the point of no return.'

Give it a try by creating a formatted comment in response to this post.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

‘Forbes’ or Fiction?

To say controversy generates buzz is to say the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground. Some controversy is good, and some is bad. As for the bad, like drivers passing by a car accident, we know we shouldn’t look, but we can’t help ourselves.

For better or worse, a feature by Daniel Lyons of Forbes Magazine entitled Attack of the Blogs has certainly grabbed the blogosphere buzz. It’s hard not to have done so with an article summary that reads:

Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo.

Whether good or bad, you must ultimately be the judge. The blogosphere’s reaction has been interesting. For a scattered sampling of these responses, take a look at what Chris Pirillo’s serves up by clicking on the following link: A quick saunter through the Google Blog Search with Daniel Lyons as the search string turns up 941 hits at the time of this post. From the contents of these links alone, it looks like we have controversy here; but let’s not be guilty of what Lyons says by becoming a cyber ‘lynch mob.’

Okay, while I was initially shocked by the article’s premise (and contents), I thought for a minute and determined that, at a high level, there are two things (among many others) to consider in light of Lyons’ article:

1. Whether a blogger or a journalist, intellectual honesty is a must. We always have to be willing to evaluate ourselves, our actions, and our motives in a ‘fair and balanced’ (sorry for the cliché) fashion. Ethical people hold themselves to such a standard.

2. In the words of a little-known Zen saying: "Every man is my teacher, in that I can learn something from him." Like it or not, we can learn something of worth from just about anyone—if we are willing to take the time to listen and understand what they’re trying to say, and then think for ourselves.

Some of the more thought-out posts in response to the article (not all agreeing with Lyons, BTW) include those from Dave Taylor, Debbie Weil, Rich Levin, and John Quiggin. Culling the and Google Blog Search results is worth a few minutes of your time as well. Scott Baradell of Idea Grove also published a transcript of the 27 October 2005 segment of CNBC’s On the Money which included Lyons, Steve Rubel (Micro Persuasion), and Neil Hunt (Hacking It was a short, but fascinating discussion.

Whichever side you come down on, as a marketing professional the significant thought to me is this entire buzz has occurred before the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section of Forbes has even been typeset.

This demonstrates the significance of subscription technology’s potential and power, and serves as a call to action for marketeers to make use of the technology.

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