New Interwebers!!

May 22, 2008 at 2:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’ve been working very hard the past few days building the new Interwebers.com and she’s all ready to go!

Here’s an oversized link:

INTERWEBERS.COM

note: You may need to clear your cookies before you can view the new Interwebers. Otherwise you’ll get forwarded back here.

Blogging and Marketing Pt. 1

May 19, 2008 at 2:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This is the first of a series of posts looking at blogs from a business marketing perspective. More specifically, the business marketing mix. That’s right, the 4 p’s of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. 

The four P’s above are controlled through a marketing manager subject to the internal and external constraints of the marketing environment. You want to make decisions that center the circles over people in your target market generating a positive response and creating a perceived value. The further away from the center any one of the circles is the less you serve of your potential market.

 

Your blog is a product. Your readers are the customers. 

 

Re-read that. That’s probably the smartest thing I’ll say in this entire post.

The Wikipedia business definition for “product” is: anything that can be offered to a market that might satisfy a want or need. 

Some of the things that make up a product are:

  • Brand Name
  • Functionality/Usefullness
  • Styling
  • Quality

 

Brand Name: 

Most bloggers begin their interwebing careers with little to no brand value – meaning no one will go to our blog just because we write it. This presents one of the biggest challenges bloggers face: building a readership. There are exceptions. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper is an established brand name with a large TV viewing audience through which he promotes his blog: ac360. He could launch his blog, plug it on his show, and get over 10,000 hits on his first day. But Anderson is lucky. He’s already a brand; brand: Anderson Cooper, and he has a large TV viewing audience. If Coco-Cola, the most recognizable brand in the world, launches a new line of cola, people will buy it the first day because they know Coco-Cola. If I launched the EXACT SAME soda under the name Cal Soda (my initials + soda) no one would buy it; at least not at first. I need to build the brand name Cal Soda before anyone will buy my product based on the value of the name alone. 

Most bloggers start with a brand value of zero. On day 1, your blog has one visiter: you. You will only have one visitor until you start spreading the word while writing good posts. Build your brand, build your product, get readers in the door.

Functionality/Usefullness:

Why do people read your blog (buy your product)? Because it has value to them. They have something to gain by visiting your site. It could be entertaining, educational, insightful, fun, whatever. If your product has something to offer someone at the right price (FREEEEEEE), they will buy it. If it’s free, err, I mean FREEEEEEE, but doesn’t provide a function/use for them, they’ll check it out once but probably never come back. 

Styling:

To add value to your product, you need to do it your way. If your product lacks its own style, it’ll get lost in the shelves. No matter what you write about, your blog is your personal creation. By adding your name and your face, you’ve begun creating something unique. If you lack web designing experience, do as much as you can customizing WordPress or Blogger templates. They are designed with newbs in mind. 

Quality:

Most bloggers aren’t professional journalists. That dusnt meen we hav 2 right lik idiots!!!11! Would you drive a car that someone designed and built as quickly as they could without any knowledge of automobiles and mechanics and no system of quality control? If you want to have a good product, it needs to have quality. You’d better know what you’re talking about, do any necessary research, and proof read that bad boy.

When we don’t take care of the product side of marketing, we shift our product circle in a way that shrinks our market coverage and our perceived value. 

Simply put: fewer readers.

 

Ruh-roh! We’re running outs of internetz!!1!!1

May 19, 2008 at 5:42 am | Posted in silly | Leave a comment

http://www.forbes.com/2008/05/18/www-end-internet-face-cx_je_0516autofacescan02.html?feed=rss_popstories

::shrugs:: Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Daily interwebs…

May 15, 2008 at 8:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

4/15 del.icio.us

Twitter showing off its resourcefulness in the wake of natural disasters. This is what I was referring to in this post

A touching story of how a teen used social media to help tell her story and spread awareness. 

Modern TV is dying? Maybe. An interesting topic. Not necessarily interwebing, but still web related.

Interweber Gary V

May 14, 2008 at 3:40 am | Posted in careers, Twitter | Leave a comment

Every sport has their superstar. The internet has Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary Vaynerchuk is the host of Wine Library TV, an internet video blog shot in his Springfield, New Jersey wine store. He’s also an avid interweber – as best I can define the term.

Gary is one of the best examples of someone who rose to the top by balancing and using the internet to show the world who he is, what he does, and what he loves.

He grew up working in his parents wine store reading Wine Spectator. Before he was old enough to drink, he trained his palette backwards tasting the different components wine specialists would describe in their tastings: berries, wood, dirt, leather, grass.

By high school, he was recommending wines to older, more experienced drinkers. His devotion to the product, passion for what he was doing, and resilience to complacency helped him turn his parents’ $4 million/yr business into a $45 million/yr industry stronghold.

Ok, he’s a wine guy. I’ve made that point. But he doesn’t stop there. Circa 1997, WineLibrary.com was launched – SERIOUS props to any small business getting in the internet scene that early. What came next was Wine Library TV, launched February 21st, 2006.

Watching the first episode of Wine Library TV is pretty extraordinary for two reasons. First, it’s fun to see how much the show has evolved from its humbling beginnings. Second, Gary opens by introducing himself and his vision and hopes for the show.

It’s as if he knew exactly how big a sensation Wine Library TV would be. Now, it’s getting 60,000 hits a day.

So what made WLTV such a hit? First, it’s his ability to utilize the internet and social media to define and solidify the brand Wine Library and more importantly, the Gary Vaynerchuk brand. He links his social networks alongside WLTV, he’s on Twitter everyday, he responds to hundreds of fan e-mails daily – if you listen to him, he’ll listen back. He put his passion, his knowledge, his enthusiasm, and HIMSELF on the web for everyone to see.

I was so inspired by what he’s done I scheduled a time to meet with him in his New Jersey store. Our meeting was brief, only about 15 minutes, but it didn’t take long to gain some very valuable lessons. We spoke briefly about interwebers – which I had just launched. His advice was reflective of his Wine Library approach. Be YOURSELF and put yourself OUT THERE. He’d reference his wine show and his never-ending New York Jet references. He’s taken the world of wine and nearly flipped it on its back by bringing his zealous personality and traits to Wine Library TV. What you get is a wine show with a New Work Jets spit bucket, action figure dolls, and early 2000’s catch phrases. Strange? Yes! Successful? Very!

Some argue he’s nothing more than a great salesman. Half of the store’s sales (remember, we’re talking $45 million in sales) come from internet purchases and all the wines he tastes on the show are available on the store’s website.

Yet he’s never afraid to rate a wine poorly. He hardly ever pitches his online store. He could make a killing putting outside advertisements on his sites, but you won’t find one.

Straight up: he’s a sincere guy. He means what he says and he’s doing it because he loves it. I don’t think he does anything related to Wine Library with dollar signs in his eyes. And that’s why I think he’s most successful. Successful by business owner, wine aficionado, and internet marketing standards.

What’s most inspiring about Gary’s story is that we can all do what he’s done. We don’t need a wine store. We don’t even need a video blog. All we need is our passion, our desire, and an outlet to share it with others. In the words of Gary: “We are fundamentally in a gold rush right now. Hollywood understands that their next corps of celebrities are coming from the internet. You are the brand.”

If Gary isn’t an example of what can be accomplished by using web 2.0, I don’t know who is. The question is: who’s next?

Getting Lost in the Noise

May 8, 2008 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

With more interwebers hitting Web 2.0 multiplied by the increasing number of social media sites sprouting up daily, it’s almost enough to make you retire to the Amish country living the rest of your 18th century days selling wooden signs. This is information overload and we’re feeling it more now than ever. And if you’re into the 2.0 wave enough to be reading this blog, you probably deal with this more than the average person.

Grant me a short digression. Kelly Kapoor is bubbly customer service representative On NBC’s The Office. There was one episode when her co-worker Jim transfered back to her office in Scranton. When reunited, she threw her arms around him and told him all about the latest Hollywood celebrity news and gossip. When he asked what’s new with her, she confusedly responded, “I just told you.”

Is this what the internet is becoming to us? A giant melting pot of social news and gossip?

Take Facebook’s newsfeed. Despite its hugely negative response when launched, it has helped keep Facebook in front of the social network pack by organizing and listing what our Facebook friends are doing. It’s also paving the way for online water cooler sites Friend-Feed, Iminta, Plaxo, Readr, and Mugshot. These sites attempt to harness the information overload of all social media content and updates by packaging it into one comprehensive offering. Good idea? Sure. A little excessive? That’s up to you.

Social networks are great. They’re fun, they’re helpful, and we have a lot to benefit from them. But if we don’t know how to prioritize all the shouting, invites, and social network feeds, we’re gonna get lost.

There is more going on in the world of social media today than any day before and its gotten to the point where we need websites to organize it for us. As this medium grows and as more people get involved, the more noise on our screen and the more we become interested and informed to what everyone else is doing. Interwebers Beware! The one person most at risk of being lost in the digital noise is ourself!

We can’t be like Kelly. Her life revolves around what other people are doing. It’s great to stay in touch and to know what’s going on, but we can’t let it take away from everything else we’re trying to accomplish by being online.

As we plug along building our networks and getting back in touch with old friends, we have to keep our own presence on the www right where we want it. Are we establishing our image? Are we keeping everything up to date? Or are we just standing still watching everyone else?

Intertrashers

May 5, 2008 at 1:31 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 

A segment from Bob Costas’ HBO show Costas Now, a program discussing the sports media landscape, tackled a big web 2.0 issue. The heated back and forth argument seen on Costas Now is reminiscent of any classical purist vs. liberal debate. Buzz Bissinger, a renowned Pulitzer Prize winning author, hates bloggers like Will Leitch; founding author of the popular sports blog Deadspin.com. Understandably so – Buzz has dedicated the last 40 years of his life trying to perfect the art of the written word. Meanwhile, many bloggers have sub-par writing skills – yet they are becoming more widely read as mediums such as newspapers disappear with older generations. But this post isn’t about bloggers who suk @ righting. As Costas noted, one small measure that would help elevate Deadspin’s overall credibility is monitoring the nastiest user comments left on his blog. This, in my opinion, is just as serious an issue: the abuse of internet anonymity.

As interwebers, we all start on the same playing field….er….web. We have the same uniform and the same haircut and we choose how we’re going to dress ourselves. That’s when good interwebers start to build their brand, image, and network. We sport the hairstyle we want and wear the clothes we want. We become our legitimate selves on the world wide interweb.

But there are those who keep the uniform and the standard haircut and use their anonymity to trash talk on the internet without any distinguishable trait, name, or reputation. These are the intertrashers intertrashing on the interweb. And they are one of the biggest problems facing web 2.0.

Intertrashers take advantage of their faceless identity to spew hateful, uneducated, and un-constructive digital jeering. And they do it all through the power of anonymity. In person, they may seem perfectly decent. But when they detach their name and their face from their words while having an audience in front of them, they become different people – as seen below on John Gabriel’s Greater Internet ****wad Theory

 

In Andrew Keen’s article “How Vital is Anonymous Speech” he writes, 

Today, too many anonymous Internet users are posting hateful content about their neighbors, classmates and co-workers; today, online media is an increasingly shadowy, vertiginous environment in which it is becoming harder and harder to know other people’s real identities.”

The way people conduct themselves in person with nothing to hide behind and how they do so on the internet is sometimes so conflicting and dissimilar, it almost makes you pass judgements on the human mentality as a whole. It begs the question: when are people putting on a front? Are they putting on the mask of a respectable, decent human in front of real people, only to reveal their disgusting, disfigured face on the internet? Do they say these terrible things regardless of a digital or “in the flesh” audience? Is it for their own personal amusement? What’s going on here?

We’ve come to a fork in the digital road. How are we going to use our voice on the internet? We can use it for good or for bad. Intertrashers refuse to take personal responsibility for themselves and their words – something they’re forced to do in physical life when their face and (real) name is associated with their words and actions. Good interwebers are eager to put our identity on the interweb because we choose to use it as a powerful force in bettering ourselves and others. 

Of course, people are entitled to their privacy. As Andrew goes on to say, 

This isn’t illegal…because online speech — anonymous or otherwise — is protected by both the First Amendment and by the Supreme Court’s much-cited 1995 McIntyre vs. Ohio Elections Commission ruling protecting anonymous speech.”

This is about the abuse of the internet. The abuse of anonymity. I think most interwebers, opposed to intertrashers, are willing, able, and enthusiastic about putting their name and their brand on what they say on the internet. But like all good things, this medium can be used for the wrong reasons. Hence, intertrashers.

So what are you? An interweber, an intertrasher, both? Contrary to what Andrew says, I believe the internet is becoming more transparent. Lawmakers are starting to take notice. And whether or not you can hide behind a wall of anonymity forever, I think more (much more) is to be gained by openly being you with your ideas attached to your name. 

Smartphone Markets a changin’

May 1, 2008 at 6:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here’s an article out of the Sunday New York Times. This piece by Brad Stone does some great analysis on the smartphone market and why it’s changing but I want to dig a little deeper into the issue. It’s a hot topic in the technology field and interwebers are playing a larger role than many realize.  I’ll start with some paraphrasing to help set the stage for where I’m going. 

When I talk about the smartphone market, I’m referring to uber cell phones that do several things besides just making phone calls. Their functions and often appearance resemble more a computer than a standard cell phone i.e. BlackBerrys, Palms, iPhones, etc. In North America, the leading manufacturer of smartphones is Research in Motion (RIM). Their Flagship, and subsequent market leader in the U.S., is the BlackBerry. 

But the times, they are a changin’. At the end of the first quarter 2005, the Blackberry was enjoying nearly a 60% market share. Then within a year, other smartphones running Windows Mobile OS began to catch up. Market shares leveled off with BlackBerry still enjoying a 10-15% market lead over competitors. Second quarter, 2007: enter the iPhone. Take a look at the chart. The impact the iPhone is having on smartphone market share is hard to miss. 

We all know Apple products are good, but….that good? Good enough that it’s not only carving, but reshaping the smartphone market as we know it? Short answer: yes. But all the credit can’t be given to the physical product – the iPhone happens to come in the game at a very, very opportune time. 

To over simplify the issue, we have two things going on. 

1) The Devices:

We have the BlackBerry. RIM took the internet and e-mail technology found in most cell phones today and dedicated their product line to it. The result is a device that makes getting on the internet and sending dozens of e-mails a day relatively painless. To stereotype, the BlackBerry is a professional’s phone. The user is typically a busy person, more Type A-ish, and uses it as an extension of their office. Simply put, the BlackBerry’s demographic is on the older side (in terms of smartphone users) and the device itself is not considered an “everyone’s” gadget. Why? Because it’s not that cool. It’s practical, not fun. Professional, not hip. The next phase of the smart phone market is expanding beyond people who put a suit on in the morning – and this is creating a problem for RIM. 

Now we have the iPhone iCan-do-everything-the-BlackBerry-does-but-I’m-cooler-and-more-fun…..phone. Like, the Blackberry, you can comfortably access e-mail and internet on the device. But the difference is in the demographic. Shed the suit and lose the briefcase – we’re talking a younger crowd.

I don’t need to spell it out or blab any longer about this. I’m making a simple point: the iPhone appeals to a younger demographic. But why is that such a big deal? How is that “reshaping” the smartphone market. 

2) Social Media 

Social media is taking off – we’re no where close to where we’re going – but we’re no doubt gaining speed (usage from 2006 to 2007 is up 668%, but only accounts for 12% of all web traffic (Business Week)). With applications like Twitter, we also have a rise in the mobile usage of social media and the opening for more mobile social media applications. Now consider the social media demographic. It’s expansive, yes – but guess where it’s focused. You got it, it’s right there overlapping the iPhone. 

We now essentially have two worlds colliding. A rapidly growing force that is social media and a gadget that appeals directly to its users. Pow! There’s your new market. 

What does this mean for RIM? It means if they want to continue competing with a market that’s growing 60% in size annually, they are going to have to shed the proverbial formal wear. I’m not just talking casual shirt day, I’m talking Hawaiian shirt day – everyday. 

                                    

 

The Power of Twitter

April 27, 2008 at 1:27 am | Posted in Twitter | 4 Comments

Social media has several purposes. Some of which are held through opinion, others fact. Some people feel social media is purely for personal entertainment. Others see it as a way of branding themselves and furthering their careers. But as the medium develops, the community grows, and visionaries innovate, the power of social media is becoming more useful, more adopted, and in some cases, even life saving.

I originally came across this article on Digg and within days found it as the top story on CNN.com. It tells the story of University of California-Berkeley graduate student James Buck, who used Twitter to alert his friends that he had been arrested while covering an anti-government protest in Mahalla, Egypt.

His tweet simply read: “arrested.” Within minutes, friends in Egypt and the US went into action to help free James; his colleagues in America going as far as to hire a lawyer. Within 24 hours, Buck was out – his next tweet on Twitter: “Free.”

James’ story is a good, albeit somewhat extreme, example of the power of a portable, real-time communication network such as Twitter. While Twitter is mainly used for casual real-time updates among friends and colleagues, its value in more serious situations is not to be ignored. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone knew early on of Twitter’s potential use for good. A San Francisco based company, Twitter employees used its instant portable service to communicate during earthquakes. Imagine the value its service could have played in the Virginia Tech shootings or the September 11th attacks to alert friends and loved ones that those potentially involved were OK or to warn others of possible danger. 

Other roles played by Twitter that fall between James’ story and casual/just for fun tweets are its adoption in the professional world. Here are a few examples:

Marketing and Communication: Marketing is about communication. And communication is done instantly with Twitter. Twitter’s direct application with businesses is still being defined, however the potential is becoming more clear. For example, follow Interwebers on Twitter (see side panel) and you’ll be able to stay up to date on every Interwebers posting. If I were a business, I could potentially update you on temporary rebates or other purchasing incentives.

Business Networking: Network, network, network. We hear it all the time. It’s not what you know, but who you know. With Twitter, we stay more connected with more people. We are not only able to grow our personal network, but the ability to meet and become connected with important people in our field of expertise is simple with Twitter. 

Answers: Here’s a tick in the win column for the Venture Capitalist mentioned in the article below who claimed social media is destroying modern search. For how much I (still) disagree with him, here’s an example of when he’s right. Let’s say you’re in New York and you crave a slice of good pizza – send out a Tweet that says, “where’s the best pizza in mid-town Manhattan?” Assuming you have enough followers who know New York, you’ll have personal recommendations from people you know within minutes. If you run a website and realize it’s time for an upgrade, write a Tweet asking for good web designer recommendations. This is known as “friendsourcing.” It’s why Twitter has become a people-powered search engine. 

Getting People On Board: If you’re hosting, organizing, or participating in an event for a good cause such as charity, Twitter will help you instantly spread the word to those who can spread it further. 

Collaboration: If you are in quick need of suggestions or input for a presentation, meeting, or interview, Twitter can be a great tool for getting feedback and suggestions FAST. If a business partner is unable to attend a meeting or seminar, Twitter can help both of you stay connected to what’s going on while you act as a surrogate attendee for your absent colleague. If you are heading an interactive seminar, Twitter can serve as a tool for attendees to provide real-time feedback and questions that can be integrated into the live seminar. 

Last Minute Changes: During this years South by Southwest Conference (SXSW), interwebing enthusiast Gary Vaynerchuk threw an impromptu wine tasting party in a conference room of his hotel. I don’t have exact numbers or a specific timeline, but I do know the idea for the party originated the same night it took place, it was advertised almost exclusively through Twitter, and it was largely successful. In fact, most stories out of SXSW 2008 highlight Gary’s last-minute party. 

Here are suggestions to make the most out of your Twittering experience…

Think of why you’re using it and build your network accordingly: It’s easy to follow someone on Twitter. It’s as simple as one click. That being said, it’s very easy to follow dozens, maybe evens hundreds of people that are neither your friends or anyone that could be considered a valuable part of your network. Follow your friends and follow those who you consider valuable in your professional or personal network. Quality, not quantity. 

Get it on your phone: What’s great about Twitter is its portable, realtime capabilities. Take advantage of it! That’s how Buck was able to alert his friends while in jail in Egypt. 

And finally,

Use it responsibly: It’s easy to get carried away. Don’t “over-tweet” to the point that you are ignored. Make your tweets fun and relevant. 

Remember to follow Interwebers at twitter.com/interwebers and me, Chris Leone at twitter.com/caleone.

Happy Twittering everyone!

 

Social Networking is Killing Modern Search….(?)

April 26, 2008 at 10:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

With web 2.0, there has been an outbreak of social media networks and communities. This is the online equivalent of what has been taking place for centuries in societies across the world. Interwebers are taking it a step further by creating their own “microsites” – i.e. their identity and centralized representation on the web. According to the venture capitalist/futurist Glenn Derene describes in his article, How Social Networking Could Kill Web Search As We Know It “[the] focus on online identity is what could turn search upside down” implying “the next generation of Web users may find what they want by using their social network rather than a search algorithm” further implying everything we would ever want to know can be found through our 6 degrees of separation.

The article goes on to conclude: “The point is that even though Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon and others all have elements of this new relationship with users, nobody owns this space the way Google “owns” search. And as it evolves, there will be an unholy mess of privacy and security issues to work out. So in the future, the way we are guided around the Web may look very different from search as we know it. 

My take:

This all comes down to the following: what are we looking for?

The internet can be broken down into two basic categories: the individual person and everything else.

Web 2.0 is about the individual (ie interwebers). This article discusses the movement towards web 2.0 and how it’s affecting search. BUT there is still the rest of the internet dealing with issues NOT related to individual users and social media content. 

Take a second to think about what people typically search for in Google or Yahoo: store hours of their local hardware center, maps, best prices when shopping, historical accounts (I spent several minutes finding some of the historical references I’ve used in this post). Because the internet is open 24/7/365, we don’t need to rely on humans to find whatever we are looking for. In fact, of all the above examples I just gave, social media plays no direct part.

Somehow, the venture capitalist/futurist discussed in this article blended together the two different sectors of the internet into one big interwebing-blob-mess-thing. 

How far we can go in social media search is not limited by vision or capability, but more-so by information and privacy sharing issues – which is an entirely different beast.

               

 

::puts on op’ed hat::

The same lack foresight demonstrated in the above article closely mirrors this earlier post when Jonathan Zittrain claimed the iPhone and XBox were killing the internet. 

If anything, the internet has taught us to STOP with the claims and predictions of how far it will take us as a society and in what direction. Check out THIS article written 13 years ago by then internet cynic Clifford Stoll. This is the kind of short-sightedness the internet has repeatedly trampled. This lack of vision is nothing new in our society. In the 1890s the Patent Office commissioner exhibited his lack of foresight when he said the federal agency should be shut down because everything had already been invented. I wonder how many things we use on a day to day basis were originally patented before 1890…

The internet is about creating and utilizing and advancing. We need to stop looking at where we were and where we are and instead on where we’re going. 

We are still only at the tip of the iceberg.

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