Archive for the ‘networks’ Category

The Divergence of the Blogosphere

Monday, July 16th, 2007

DivergenceThe way I see it, the blogosphere is moving in two separate directions. One group of individuals who blog for personal reasons is moving toward micro-blogging. The other group, focused on news articles and editorials, is moving toward a more traditional media model. The reason behind this digression is actually quite straightforward when you consider the goals of each type of blogger.

Personal bloggers want to keep friends, family, and colleagues updated on their happenings. They don’t tend to have a lot of time to spend writing and editing posts. Historically, this group posts irregularly at best and updates tend to go on and on. For this reason, shorter, more frequent posts are perfect. Not only do they take less planning and time to fabricate, but they also don’t bore the reader.

All the aforementioned disadvantages of blogging lead us to a new trend - micro-blogging. This phenomenon has really taken off as of late. Start-ups such as Twiiter (most notably), but also Pownce, Jaiku, Hictu, Moodmill, and Tumblr have paved the way for this new form of blogging. This doesn’t mean that micro-bloggers are restricted to text. Personal media, such photos and videos, can still be shared using these platforms, as it is very important to this target group.

From the other side, bloggers who focus on news articles, editorials, and more professional content publishing are moving toward a more traditional media strategy. What this means is that we will see more and more blogs morph into so-called portals. This will provide added functionality, above and beyond that provided by the platforms. Other signs of the transformation include personalized designs and custom layouts, scheduled posting, ad models, user profiles, and, of course, well-written content.

Obviously not all bloggers fit into one of these two categories, but I would wager that a large majority do. It will be interesting to observe the evolution of micro-blogging as it progresses from infancy. Will it just be a trend or fad? I don’t think so. I think the future looks very bright for these short messages. As for the citizen journalists and publishers, I also think there is a huge opportunity for this group as well. More and more, we are seeing these individuals make a living off blogging. I am not going to predict the extinction of newspapers and magazines just yet, but blogs will definitely play a key role in the development of media in the years to come.

My 11 Blog Lessons

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

A few days ago, Mark Evans wrote a post outlining some of the blog lessons he has learned since he began. I can definitely relate to most. In light of that post, I will now outline some of the lessons I have learned since I began blogging in September 2006.

1. Content is king. This cannot be over-emphasized enough. Always provide quality content for your readers. If you find that you are unable to come up with interesting, pertinent content on a regular basis, post less often. Do not allow the quality of your content to degrade.

2. NEVER take your readers for granted. Your audience is your basis for being. Thank them for their participation, be sure to respond to their e-mails, and never insult their intelligence.

3. Blogging is a huge time commitment. Well, it can be if you post regularly and plan on successfully marketing your blog. Often, new bloggers underestimate the time needed to successfully operate a blog.

4. Become a part of the blogosphere community. This means commenting on other blogs, adding trackbacks to your posts, linking to other blogs via your blogroll, and leveraging community widgets to enhance your blog experience for readers. This will help build your traffic, provide incoming links, and ensure a certain level of exposure for your blog. Furthermore, community participation will also provide valuable networking opportunities with other bloggers, Internet enthusiasts, and company exceutives.

5. Have a goal and a vision when you begin blogging. What is your reason for blogging? Do you want to provide an update for friends and family, or do you want to write articles on a given niche? Everyone has a different reason and underlying motivation for blogging. Money and financial returns should not be a primary motivator, nor should notoriety and fame.

6. Make yourself extremely accessible to readers. By prominently displaying your contact information and allowing easy communication with readers, you will be bridging the gap and creating a more loyal, trustworthy following. Having said that, you must also make a strong effort to reply to comments and e-mails in a prompt, thoughtful manner. 

7. Post on a consistent basis. This doesn’t mean you need to post daily. What it means is that you must post on a consistent basis, whether it be once every two days, weekly, or even monthly. This way, your readers will know when to expect another post and do not become frustrated by an inconsistent posting schedule.

8. Stay on topic. Don’t sway too much from your initial niche and begin posting off topic. This not only disgruntles readers, but also ruins trust and loyalty. Providing high quality content in a given niche will help shape your space in the blogosphere and showcase your expertise.

9. Don’t regurgitate other blogs’ content. Numerous blogs simply choose to paraphrase other blogs or re-write articles in their own words. This provides no value to the reader, as he/she can simply visit the cited location. Every post must provide a unique perspective or view.

10. Don’t be discouraged by stats. It takes time to build a reader base. By posting quality content on a regular basis and participating in the blogosphere community, increased readership is inevitable. Stats can be discouraging at times, but you must stick with your initial vision. Quality and consistency will translate into surprising success.

11. Make design changes every once in awhile. In other words, keep a fresh look. This may mean changes to the overall design, colour schemes, widgets, layout, etc… By making regular changes, you will be providing a fresh look for you and your readers, creating a more enjoyable experience.

What lessons have you learned from blogging? What have been your biggest hurdles and obstacles to overcome? I encourage you to write a list of your own.

Google? Facebook? Acquisition?

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Google-FacebookOnce again, rumours are swirling about a potential Facebook acquisition. This time, Google is the culprit. Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, has expressed interest in the exploding social network. This isn’t the first Facebook takeover rumour we’ve heard so far this week. Already, reports surfaced that Microsoft has been in talks with Facebook. In addition, acquisition talks between Yahoo and Facebook have been going on for what seems like forever. The future of Facebook is uncertain to say the least.

What would a Google takeover mean for the search giant? Access to a large, highly sought-after market and ownership of a respectable social network (finally). Orkut just didn’t cut it. What would a deal mean for Facebook? Lots of money for Zuckerberg and more targeted advertising.

Let’s be honest though. This is an information deal - it’s all about the data. Facebook is a marketer’s dream. The amount of information available is ridiculous. Regional, demographic, social - Facebook has it all. Google would simply be adding another database of information to their arsenal. It’s all part of their master plan to take over the world. Muhuhaha…

Other rumours are circulating that indicate Google is laying back and waiting for Facebook to come to them. Still, others are saying that Zuckerberg and co. are sticking with their initial plan of staying indepedent, shunning all takeover offers, and planning to go public later this year.

Perhaps this is simply another Google PR stunt to raise awareness about the company. We haven’t heard much from the company in the last week or so. Ha. Having said that, they fooled me when they bought YouTube. It seems that the search giant is always looking to buy the cream of the crop in any given space, not only to acquire a large user base, but also to generate excessive amounts of PR and buzz.

Money always seems to be the big issue when it comes to Facebook acquisition talks. Because the social network is growing at such a phenomenal rate, it always seems to have the upper hand in takeover talks. What this means is that it can call the shots - i.e. the only way Facebook will sell out is if they are offered a huge sum of money. As mentioned, Zuckerberg has indicated an unwillingness to sell. But we live in a capitalist society. If the price is right, it is pretty hard to say no. Don’t forget that Google has deep pockets and a track record of getting what they want. Will Google be the one to finally pull the trigger? Can we say hello to GooBook?

Is Facebook Replacing E-mail?

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Facebook new logoMany of my friends and colleagues are now using the internal Facebook messaging system more than e-mail. It has almost become an e-mail substitute. Having said that, they still check their e-mail as it is essential to daily life on the Internet. Nonetheless, messaging between Facebook members is usually accomplished within the social network rather than e-mail.

Why is this?

My guess is that people consider the Facebook system and layout much easier and intuitive than e-mail. Once a dialogue is initiated, participants can quickly and easily track the evolution of the discussion via a simple threaded interface. Time and date are displayed in a prominent manner. Even the wording is intuitive, maximizing the user experience and minimizing frustrations.

The inbox is ingenious as well. Instead of cluttering the space with individuals messages, the threaded system allows for a discussion to be grouped into one message. Little icons beside the messages indicate different conversation statuses. A blue dot indicates a new message, while an arrow indicates that you have replied. I won’t even begin to touch on all the small AJAX features that ensure a satisfying experience.

The recent launch of Facebook Mobile has also been a huge factor. Facebook members who sign up for Mobile can now receive wall post, messages, and pokes as text messages. In essence, this is like receiving e-mail to your phone for free (assuming you are registered under a plan with unlimited text messages). This can’t quite be classified as a Blackberry substitute. However, it cannot be ignored either, as cost plays a huge role for many.

The viral growth of Facebook and exploding user base further encourage such behaviour as more and more friends, family members, and colleagues join the network. It is my prediction that the success of the Facebook messaging system will only grow from here. It may only be a matter of time before the system becomes a full-blown, web-based e-mail and you can e-mail me at _____ @

The Proliferation of Verticals

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Over the years, major players have emerged from specific spaces: Google in search; YouTube in video; Amazon in books/e-commerce; eBay in auctions; Facebook in social networks, etc… These giants are very hard to compete against for all kinds of reasons. Firstly, they benefit from economies of scale. Secondly, their resources are vast - not only in terms of financial, but also human. For these reasons, start-ups are refusing to compete head on, but rather choose a smaller vertical or niche to compete for.

We’ve already seen this trend occur in at least two of the biggest spaces: search and social networking. There are now search engines and social networks tailored for nearly every group. These narrow, highly-specific offerings provide huge value to the target audience, as well as lucrative revenue opportunities for the company due to the targeted nature of the group.

My guess is that we will continue to see this process occur over and over again. Once a given niche begins to fill out, we will started to see micro-niches - and the cycle continues… In other words, there will always be opportunities to compete against the big guys. Extracting a small subset of their user base and providing a more tailored offering is the key. If a new company is able to do this, expect satisfied users and financial success for the founders.

So what is next for verticals? Which industries will they invade? What trends and strategies will emerge?