September 28, 2007

The Art of Blog Conversation

With all the talk about Adsense, Digg homepage stories, SEO, you could be forgiven for forgetting that Blogging is a social medium.

In fact I would go one step further and call it a conversational medium. What do I mean by that?

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What Does It Really Take to Blog?

In preparation for a seminar I’ll be presenting on the basics of blogging, defining what a blog is and why people should blog, the program coordinator asked me:

What does it really take to blog?

I wasn’t sure what she was asking me. Did she want to know what technical skills and abilities it took to blog? Did a person have to learn code and web design? Was she challenging me about the learning curve that comes with blogging?

Or was she asking me what it took to write a blog, finding and researching content, and providing a constant stream of posts on a blog?
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YouTube Helping Charity Groups, Non-Profit Bloggers, Raise Money

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Google’s Youtube has recently given not-for-profit organizations in the US a chance to raise donations straight from their video channels.

(Official Google Blog) In the past few years, online video has emerged as a key tool for grassroots organizing on the Internet — a short, simple video can demonstrate the impact and the needs of an organization in a uniquely compelling fashion. This program will enable non-profits to create dedicated YouTube channels for themselves, making it even easier for people to find, watch, and engage with the organization’s video content. […]

One other thing the YouTube Non-Profit Program offers: the ability to collect donations directly from these channels using the new Google Checkout for Non-Profits. Checkout for Non-Profits — which can also be integrated directly into a non-profit’s site — helps drive more donations for U.S.-based 501(c)(3) groups by making it possible for supporters to contribute quickly and securely. It also offers supporters the satisfaction of knowing that 100 percent of their contributions will be sent to the non-profit, as Google has committed to processing donations through Checkout for free through at least the end of 2008.

While this will generally appeal to charities throughout the US, this will definitely help bloggers who are either writing for charities or are registered as one (example: Committee To Protect Bloggers).

Since many not-for-profit organizations lack the “marketing teams” that most businesses have, the YouTube blog provided a short video with tips on how charities can properly address their cause with readers–as well as keep their attention span.
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Elemental Launches Social Media Portal; Social Networks Mapped

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In line with ad:tech London, UK-based media consultancy firm Elemental has announced the launch of Social Media Portal (SMP), which is an application that maps the global landscapes created by various new media networks. SMP maps cross-country linkages among social networks, blogs, podcasts, intant messaging clients, and the like.

smp-map.png

SMP maps networks and the landscapes they create from around the globe, and is the creation of UK-based media consultancy Elemental (http://www.elementalcomms.co.uk), specialists in integrating traditional and digital marketing, media and PR.

Designed and developed by Australian-based web agency C2 (http://www.c2.net.au), SMP encompasses the role of social networks, user generated content (UGC), blogs, podcasts, search engines and other technology like instant messenger. SMP’s Landscape will continue to grow on a daily basis, as social media companies and blog owners are encouraged to add their sites.

According to Elemental, this new application “highlights the relationships between organisations, business and people within the Landscape and how they intertwine and connect with each other using social media.” Currently, there are about 55 new media sites that are part of SMP, and bloggers and other users of new media are encouraged to sign up.

Elemental says SMP lets marketers and brand owners know where online audiences are and how to engage with them on their own level. Meanwhile, the service can also help social media sites bring in elements like advertising and promotions that suit their users better.

SMP is also running a month-long contest, where various prizes like a Nintendo Wii, a Squeezebox and iTunes vouchers are at stake. Entrants only need to answer the question What is your favourite social network and why?

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September 27, 2007

Are You Blogging What You Should Be Blogging?

Recently, there were two incidents that had me asking myself, “Are you blogging what you should be blogging on your blog?”

The first one came from an emailed request to blog about something. I get requests all the time, but for this one, my instinct was to say no. It wasn’t a topic I was interested in, and I really didn’t think my readers would be interested in. Still, the request came from someone I respect and really want to please. I’ve sent “business” their way and they’ve sent plenty to me, so in a way, this would be a favor to blog about their topic requests.

I thought about it, checked out the links they sent me, and finally said yes. From that moment on, I had an upset stomach and “nerves”, as my mother called them. I couldn’t think. My brain locked up. I couldn’t concentrate.

When I finally stopped to consider the reason behind the queasy and distracted feeling, I emailed them back and said no. I apologized, and told them I would still consider it for the future (easy way out), but that I was just too busy right now to take on the request.

Whew!
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WordPress Wednesday News: WordPress 2.3 Released, WordPress Podcast, International WordCamps,

The news this week is almost all WordPress 2.3. The latest release is out with built-in tags and a lot of other improvements. WordPress.com continues to be banned in Turkey and elsewhere. The WordPress Podcast is out with a new episode. There are new tag WordPress Plugins for WordPress 2.3. The international WordPress community is setting up WordCamps around the world. WordPress.com gets tags, and many are only semi-happy. More “bad” WordPress Themes reported. And I share a few rumors and more WordPress news.

WordPress News

WordPress 2.3 Released: WordPress 2.3 is available for download. With more than 351 tickets in the WordPress Trac closed in time for this release, and the great new features, this is one of the most anticipated and welcome releases of WordPress in a long time.

There have been some thrilled folks who have had successful upgrades, and some disappointed WordPress users who find the new built-in tagging feature to be less than stellar, though there are new Plugins which promise to enhance the basic tagging feature. I wrote a summary of news on WordPress 2.3 and here are more of the highlights, tips, and news on WordPress 2.3:
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September 26, 2007

Creating A Blogging Schedule

After a year of blogging, I’ve established a “blogging schedule” that has enabled me to post twice daily, while avoiding burn-out or writing too many pointless posts.

To create a blogging schedule, I’ve organized my content into three basic types.

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September 25, 2007

Seven Ways Microsoft Can Gets Its Blog Groove On

When it comes to the blog world, Google is king. Whenever the search engine giant makes a move of any kind, bloggers (like the media) are quick to echo their praises, or their rebukes. All this free advertising makes Google one of the most popular names on planet Earth, with one father naming his kid after the company (how weird is that?)

If there is one company with the desire (and ability) to dethrone Google as the topic of the century, it would be Microsoft. Having lost important employees, and business deals, not to mention threats against its bread and buttertwice, Microsoft is probably eager to gain the eyeballs to show the world what it can do.

And what better way to do this than to get some positive attention from the blogosphere (for a change)? So, without further delay, here are seven tips for the software juggernaut.

1) Avoid buying Facebook: Huh? Why would anyone avoid purchasing a company that even Google feels threatened by? Aside from the fact that Mark Zuckerburg is not interested in selling it (which must tick Google off), it would be much easier for Microsoft to maintain its ad presence on Facebook than to shell out $10 billion for the social network.

Not to mention the fact that they would avoid the legal messes of running a social network, something both Google and MySpace are all too familiar with.

2) Purchase Digg: With Google launching its own social linking service and Yahoo! purchasing Del.icio.us two years ago, Microsoft may find itself with its pants down if they waste too much time deciding what to do in this field. Digg is already popular with many (if not most) bloggers, and an early buyout could ensure Microsoft’s dominance in this arena.

Since they are already running Microsoft Ads, why not add it to the family?
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Are You Helping the Searchers Find Your Blog?

Searchers aren’t looking for your blog, they are looking for your content.

Did you realize that?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people complain about not getting enough blog traffic. Not enough readers. Not enough reading their blog through their feed readers. They ask me what they can do to get more traffic.

Folks, people aren’t looking for your blog. They are looking for your blog’s content. Are you providing what they are looking for?

If you want to get found, you have to have something worth finding.

It’s as easy as that.
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Google Introduces Social Linking with Shared Stuff

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Google gets into the social bookmarking/linking game with Google Shared Stuff. More of a social linking app than a bookmarker, the new app gives users an easy way to share links and other online content via email, other social bookmarking sites, and their own Shared Stuff page.

From the Shared Stuff info page.

The Google Email/Share button allows you to easily share or email any web-page with your friends. Your shared stuff page is publicly visible and allows you to share stuff with your friends and on the web.

Whenever you see the Google sharing button, on our sites or any other, click it to share the current webpage in whatever way you prefer!

Google is still quiet about this new service, but Google Blogoscoped has posted a short guide and some commentary on Shared Stuff. There is also speculation that this service is a peek at the “Maka Maka” social infrastructure mentioned in a leaked developer video a couple of weeks back.

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