12 Nov 2008

Five Bloggers and a Microphone – What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

Okay, kids, it’s hitting the part of the day where Lisa becomes delirious. Don’t judge me. This will be the six session I’ve blogged today.

But this should be a fun one! Ken Jurina is moderating this group of crazy folks, including Andy Beal, Lee Odden, Michael McDonald, Barry Schwartz and Jane Copland. It’s a bloggerpalooza!

Ken Jurina is doing the intros. People are wooting Jane’s intro. Heh. Apparently we have some Washington State fans in the audience. Ken is very interested in Michael McDonald’s intro. The commentary is hilarious. I’m glad to see I’m not the only delirious one. Lee Odden is playing with his Blackberry through his intro.

Comment on the president election and social media?

Michael: Pretty huge discrepency in the amount of spin and usage in Interent ads and social media engagement in the election. You can make the argument that the Internet had a pretty big hand in getting the new president elected this year. He (Michael, not Obama. Though Obama was probably watching, too) was watching the election coverage and he had Facebook open and it said 5 million so Facebook people voted.  That’s 5 million social media users. This may be our first Internet president.

Lee: A blog is certainly a platform but there are lots of other communication channels. Use technology to make it more convenient.

Jane: The Obama campaign learned a lot from watching the Ron Paul campaign a year earlier.

Andy: Two years ago, I did a study  of all the candidates that were in the primaries and Obama had the cleanest online reputation of all the candidates. [Will someone please tell Andy that not EVERYTHING is abot ORM]

Barry: He asked his readers if Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt should have backed Obama. The whole thing is about perception. Does that hurt Google at all?  60/40 said that Google’s CEO should NOT have weighed in.

Michael: He doesn’t care who Google backs. It’s not going to impact his search engine use.

Jane: You have to be careful because you can alienate your readers if you’re publicly backing one candidate over another. SEOmoz has tried to not back any particular candidate.

Andy: People pick candidates. That doesn’t change Google.  He thinks half his audience believes what he says and then half think they’re idiots. That’s great because it creates discussion.  Four or five years ago he made the decision to make his blog opinionated. He lives in the grey area of media. He’s reporting the facts but they’re stepping over the line with some bias.

Lee: If you’re not going to give your opinions, you’re not going to build your community and attract people who will be interested in you. Telling people what you’re about makes it easy for them to align themselves with you.

Jane: Regardless of what you write, people are going to take you out of context or misunderstand and get offended. True that, my friend.

Do people meet you and think you’re different from your blog? Are you different online?

Andy says he’s exactly the same offline and online. He makes a lot jokes. He’s cynical. He questions people’s motives.

MIchael: I’m much cooler in real life. [Ken disagrees. Hee.]

Touching on Jane’s comment about Ron Paul, we see that voter turnout didn’t increase drastically, how do brand movements get people out of the basement and make them do thngs offline?

Jane: There’s definitely a disconnect. That probably is why a campaign like Obama’s sometimes seems to go overboard, because a lot of that won’t “convert” into anything.

Michael: It was proven to work this time, but it didn’t worked last time.  Voter turnout really wasn’t that much bigger than it was four years ago.

Lee: We’re seeing the Internet mature. More people are integrating what they’re doing online as a stimulus for what they’re doing offline.

Lee: How many people are active bloggers?

Most of the audience.

Monetizing your blogs — How do you make money?

Andy says its turning into a private consultation for Ken.

My company is launching a corporate blog — any advice?

Andy: Sit down and ask why you’re launching a corporate blog. Treat your blog with the same amount of respect as every other company product. Give it the same resources.

Jane: Whoever you get to write for the blog, make sure it has some personality. There’s nothing more annoying than a blog that is just a press release. You need personality and voice.

Michael: Be committed to the corporate blog. You have to keep updating it.  Whoever is tapped with doing the blogging, keep that person the blog. If you start out with someone and then take them away, it’s not going to work.

Lee: Once you’ve identified your goals, you want to make sure it’s social. The blogger needs to be active in the community and engage with other bloggers. They need to create relationships with other bloggers and journalists. In terms of the logistics, forecast the number of hours people will be able to spend on blogging.

Barry: Figure out what you’re going to talk about. Use your analytics to see what people are searching for on your site and use those as topics. Answer those questions. Create due dates for topics.

You’ve been able to see what the future trends are, with blogs reaching their 10th anniversary, what do you guys see as their future?

Lee: More and more organizations will understand that they need to become publishers.

Jane: Blogs look like old media right now. You have a header and a title and text. If you look at what kids are using, it doesn’t look like that. It’s going to change the way Web sites present information because those will be the folks creating Web sites in the futur.

Andy: If you look at the adoption of blogs, it’s no longer the early adopters. It’s mainstream.  He doesn’t think we’re going to see any massive changes. Instead, we’ll see other technology competing — like Twitter.

Barry: You have to keep experimenting with different things.  It’s hard to find out what’s going to happen in the future. You just have to trying a whole bunch of different things.

Michael: He thinks we’re going to see more platforms like Twitter where people don’t blog from their laptops, but send messages from their phones.

Andy: Plus, there’s a real blurring of the lines between mainstream media and blogs. Mainstream media is getting more conversational and bloggers are looking more like other news sources. Bloggers helpd redefine how we got our news.

Michael says he didn’t get Twitter, then he liked it, then he loved it, and then the love went away. Jane says when she first looked at Twiter, she thought it was stupid. Now she’s addicted.

Barry: Blogging used to be different. He used to feel connected to his readers. As he blogs more, he feels like he’s losing that relationship. That’s his biggest struggle today. He doesn’t feel that relationship anymore.

Michael says that’s his problem with Twitter. He felt lost in a big shuffle of a crap.

Jane says you can’t get too attached to your readers because they’ll come and go. She’s right, but trying to blog “unattached” is the best way to fail, in my opinion. Maybe I just get attached to people too easily? I wasn’t hugged enough as a child.

How much time a day do you spend on social media efforts? Do you have to devote time to social media in order to be successful? How do you have a life?

Lee: If you’re doing it right, what you do on the Web should facilitate what you do in real life.

Barry: He has a very strict schedule. He’s up at 5am, he blogs til 9:30am.  Then he does business stuff.

Andy: He says 9:30am is when he’s just getting started. He focuses on the commentary.  He spends 2 hours a day blogging. He works from home, so for him Twitter is like socializing in the office.

Michael says Andy Twitters out of loneliness.

Jane: She’s on the West Coast so things slow down in the afternoon. East Coast people are off work. So if she wants something to get attention, she posts it in the morning. If she publishes something at 7pm PST, the number of comments and clickthroughs is really low. But if she posts it at 6am PST, it gets far more attention.

Andy: He likes the 9-10am EST time slot.

Lee: Don’t underestimate the value of advanced posts. He has 15-20 blog posts started and builds on them over time. It’s nice to know that for 2-3 days you have posts that will go live when you want them to.

How important is it stick with one topic on your blog?

Barry: He has multiple blogs for different purposes. He thinks you should stay on topic if you have a topical blog.

Michael: If you have an audience that expects you to have a certain type of blog and you deviate from that, then people start to wonder what they’re going to get.

Andy: You have to be consistent. He reads Matt Cutts blog for the SEO, but he know he also has to put up with some cat posts. Hee!

How do you make a popular blog?

Barry: It’s about being on a schedule. Give users content when they expect it. You can’t predict what’s going to go popular. Sometimes him and Danny Sullivan argue about what to blog about because you just never know.

Lee: The most popular pages are resources. The most popular page on his blog is a list of RSS and blog directories.

Michael:  Use Twitter. [he’s kidding] Being passionate and having an interest in what you’re blogging about.

Jane: Throw in something silly. Every once and awhile, the Mozzers blog while intoxicated and then publish it. It’s not always useful but the community likes it.

Andy: He focuses on the title of the post. That’s what shows up in people’s RSS readers and is what makes them decide if they’ll read it or not.

Tips on getting your blog into Google News

Andy: His friend “Randy Beal” had to go through this. To get into Google News you have to prove that your blog is an official publication. You have to show that you have multiple writers contributing a fair amount of the posts written. You have to have a unique URL with numbers in it. It’s worth the effort to get in there.

Barry: You’ll get rejected the first few times you try. Keep submitting.

If you have images, keep it between 200-400 pixels.

How to get on TechMeme

Link to the main story in TechMeme, then link to the TechMeme anchor. Publish the story. hen click on the TechMeme link. That will tell TechMeme there’s a new blog about that topic. [If that made sense to you, you get a cookie.]

What’s your stance on publishing something that gets backlash from the community

Andy: Shit happens. As soon as you hit publish, it’s out there. He’s never deleted a post. He’s updated it extensively.  He apologizes when he’s wrong.

Lee: If you want to delete something, DELETE IT. It’s your long.

Michael: 301 that bad boy to a happy place. Hee!