Archive for the ‘launch’ Category

What is a Blog? - An Essential PR Tool (PART 2)

Monday, January 7th, 2008

MegaphonePerhaps one of the most obvious uses of a corporate blog is as a PR and brand-building tool. When a company wants to let the world know about an update, bug fix, or any material change, a blog is a great place to do so. I’m not advocating against press releases - I just think there is a time and place for them.

In my opinion, press releases should only be issued in a situation of substantial change - i.e. new launch, partnership agreement, or management change, for example. Small updates and changes do not merit such treatment. In addition, press releases usually lack two-way communication, a definite downfall.

Companies can also announce special achievements, milestones, and awards on their blog. Such events don’t usually precede a press release (in most cases). What about company outings and happenings? A blog may provide an outlet to the world, informing about the inner-workings of the external facing entity. This concept of “humanizing” the company is extremely effective when it comes to building trust and loyalty. Credit goes to Robert Scoble, formerly of Microsoft, for pioneering this notion. Customers and readers are introduced to “real people” in a ”real company”. This has traditionally been condemned, as companies prefer to amplify their profile rather than diminish it. But more and more we are finding that such a strategy isn’t always the most effective.

All in all, corporate blogs (as a PR tool) are a great way to increase exposure and raise profile in a given industry. For a small investment, a company could be introducing itself to new investors, new customers, or even a potential acquisitor. Thus, it seems like a small price to pay for such huge benefits.

Do you have any stories about blogs being used as a PR tool? Have you leveraged one as such? Let us hear your stories.

What is a Blog? - PART 1

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Instead of spewing out another assortment of posts, I thought I’d take a step back and really mull over the concept of a blog. What is it? What does it accomplish? Why do we take the time to publish them? To many, these answers seem obvious. But upon further inspection, I think that there is more to this concept than meets the eye.

A blog isn’t a one-dimensional tool. It has multiple uses (which I will explore in later posts). But for now, let’s take a look at the definition of a blog from some highly respectable and reliable sources. 

Wikipedia’s definition:

“A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order.”’s definition:

“A website that displays in chronological order the postings by one or more individuals and usually has links to comments on specific postings.”

Merriam-Webster’s defintion:

“A Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.”

Interestingly,three different sources provide three separate views, especially the last one. Here are some key points to note:

  • The most traditional source (M-W) provides the most dated definition.
  • The concept of a ‘journal’ or ‘diary’ in real life does not provide entries in reverse chronological order.
  • A blog doesn’t necessarily have to have a comment section (ala Seth Godin). Some may argue this point.

All of sudden, what seemed like a clear definition becomes unclear. From my perspective, I think that Wikipedia’s definition, although somewhat vague, provides the most accurate and safe representation. A blog is essentially a “series of posts in reverse chronological order”. End of story. Whether the blog is personal, contains numerous authors, or has a comments section is irrelevant.

How would you define a blog? What do you think constitutes such an entity?

Note: In upcoming posts, we will explore the multiple uses of a blog, as well as the underlying motivation of bloggers.

NetFlix Shifts Focus From Offline to Online

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

NetFlix logoToday, NetFlix announced the launch of a new service that will limit its dependence on physical mail. The company plans to partner with numerous electronic manufacturers in a new initiative that will send movies from the Internet to your TV. An initial partnership with LG will get the ball rolling later this year. The service will be offered in HD and may include a limitation on the number of movies viewed per month.

Currently, NetFlix offers over 6,000 movies and television shows online for free, but this new service will extend beyond the PC to the TV. The company does acknowledge a threat from the video-on-demand space, but believes that such a system is incapable of reaching its full potential without the power of the web.

The company has ambitions to become the preeminent movie channel on all Internet-connected devices, including gaming systems, wireless devices, DVD players, and set top boxes.

I can understand the benefits of such a system for both the consumer and the company. It saves time, hassle, and money. I’m just not convinced that consumers will be rushing out to buy a NetFlix-enabled device. Having said that, I do think this a step in the right direction. However, the company will need to partner with as many electronic manufacturers as possible to really make this work. Furthermore, NetFlix will need to establish itself as the name in the space, as everyone from Apple to Amazon is jockeying for position.

As a side note, this looks like yet another hit to Blockbuster. The old-school video rental company has taken a butt-kicking over the past few years. The introduction of ‘no late fees’ did provide a bit of light, but only for the short term. It may only be a matter of time before…

What do you think of this move? Is it worthwhile or worthless?

10 Web Predictions for 2008

Monday, December 31st, 2007

In light of all the recent prediction posts for 2008, I present to you my list:

1. Google misses an earnings estimate; the stock drops a couple hundred bucks a share in one day.

2. An increasing number of mainstream musicians drop their record labels and sell directly online.

3. The term “web 2.0″ is outlawed.

4. The “semantic web” and start-ups in the space continue to stumble.

5. Twitter is acquired.

6. Facebook continues to set the bar and dominate the social networking space.

7. Technorati continues to suck.

8. Open ID takes off; more sites embrace the standard.

9. Google launches a job site (or acquires one… SimplyHired? Indeed?).

10. Wikipedia gains widespread credibility and acceptance.

Bonus: 37signals is acquired (long shot).

What do you think will happen in 2008? Am I on target or way off?

Choose a Smaller Market

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Choosing a target market for your product or service may not always be as simple as it seems. For example, creating a photo-sharing site for “anyone who takes photos” is a risky proposition. Difficulty targeting and high competition are two main downfalls of this approach. Having said that, the upside is a larger potential target group. Nevertheless, I’d recommend the former option as the chances for success are much more realistic. 

Trying to conquer a big market equates to a high risk-to-reward situation. Conversely, choosing a smaller subset usually leads to a lower risk-to-reward opportunity. A common misconception with the latter approach is that you may severely affecting your chances for success. In most cases however, such a tactic is not as risky as you may think (especially on the Internet). Niches are often still large groups.

Two advantages to niches include:

  1. Better opportunity for revenues
  2. Ability to create a stronger community

A quick example can be seen in the video-sharing space. A few start-ups (including ExpertVillage, Video Jug, Sclipo, and SuTree) chose NOT to compete against YouTube. A smart choice indeed. Instead, these video sites showcase “how-to” videos, a potentially lucrative niche. Obviously, users can upload and view “how-to” video on YouTube as well, but it is not their main focus. Staying small creates potential barriers, which can be good and bad. Also, as we can see from that small list, even niches are susceptible to competition.

Competing against the “big guy” in a given space is a long shot. The potential rewards may be handsome, but the likelihood of failure is also high. Place your bets and weigh your options carefully. Keep in mind that different industries may present different opportunities.

For more information on this topic, please read previous MappingTheWeb posts: Dethroning the Internet Giants and The Proliferation of Verticals.