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feedforward: New Blog Traffic Driver? Lucien Burm Believes So

feedforward: New Blog Traffic Driver? Lucien Burm Believes So


We caught up with Lucien Burm, founder of Kimengi, which has created an interesting new tool for bloggers called feedforward (see demo). Here’s the interview.


1. How do you explain what feedforward and Kimengi do to people who have never heard of them before?

The first thing I say is that we create a more lateral web, but most of times I need to explain two things first: recommendations and widgets.

Everyone knows about recommendations that webshops provide, such as ‘people bought this, also bought…’. So at first I explain to people that this is the functionality we provide. Then I talk about our widget as a very smart website within a website that can create the same kind of recommendations on your blog/title and even better. It is better because all widgets on all participating sites can work together creating cross-site recommendations. And then, the recommendations are not only based on what other people liked, we look into context too.

Finally, I explain that the widgets working together enable you to create your own dynamic blog network and start to create preferred recommendations between the members of your network. I sum it up as a widget based recommendation network using social and semantic technologies enabling a more lateral web, which means that surfing the web becomes a flow of socially and/or semantically arranged content.

As an important encore, I’ll try to make people see that calculating recommendations on a network scale is something that the usual algorithms cannot do without loss of realtime quality. So we are working on a whole new kind of recommendation engine as well. It is something that we don’t talk a lot about yet.

2. Where are your team members located?

Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It’s that little European lowland country with a history of invention, trade and exploring the world. In fact, just last month we were celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Dutch hitting Manhattan on their west-bound quest to Indonesia. Amsterdam nowadays is still the capital of our international corporate orientation and not surprisingly brimming with internet startups at the moment. We have a lovely office with a distinct wall paper and canal view. You should come and visit if you have the chance.

3. What tools do you use regularly to help you develop and promote your widget?

Our technological environment is mainly java applications that spawn smart javascript applications that spawn html. It makes for a very versatile widget platform that offers a lot of flexibility and few limitations. And all of that runs on Amazon Webservices, which is great for a growing a network of course. At this point we are still somewhat passive in promoting and like to have it grow organically for a while. We do reach out to blogs now and contact them directly if we feel they fit the network and ask if they would like to try it out and write about their experiences, but we are mainly trying to work out the best way to have the widget promote itself because of its main qualities. Though the widget is open to anyone and free for use, we still check for unsuitable or pure commercial content and filter that out. We don´t want this kind of content to mix with the quality stories that bloggers and publishers provide.

4. What has been the biggest challenge to you so far in trying to grow your company?

What we found most difficult is to explain the many options that f»dforward provides. We try to narrow it down now. The most hidden one so far is the ability to create your own recommendation networks. We are trying to bring that forward. Creating networks will increase not only traffic to your site, but it will also provide you with more insight about your audience through our unmatched social analytics. We can help you become a better blogger and make your blog more successful in general.

5. Can you think of a crowning moment of victory that you’ve experienced over the past few months?

There are some crowning moments I can´t talk about yet, but when we first started to test our social analytics this summer we were stunned by the click through rates of some recommendations. They are way above your average Ad CTR´s. And with the data on your best recommendations and the best recommendations of others (in your network and outside), we might be able to just show you in any given timeframe what to write about or what angle to use to improve your readership right now.

One of the first things we noticed was that the main news is not always a smart thing to write about in the sense of being it a good recommendation. Different angles on any current topic that provide interesting insights are apparently more attractive to people than the main news. News seems to be very personal in the end.

6. How does your product help the person who uses it – what’s in it for them?

I assume you are referring to readers this time. We want to help improve two kinds of reading and they are probably interwoven usages:

  • 1. having an interesting, up-to-date read and
  • 2. researching some more about a given topic.

f»dforward is all about following people around the web. So for the first usage, you can follow people that (have) read about the same topics as you. For the second usage, you can follow people around who might be an expert on the current topic you are reading about. So f»dforward recommends articles as well as people to you, based on both social and semantic technologies. With a growing network, we believe that with f»dforward, you will get what suits you (now) from the web. And that is what it is all about, optimizing your web experience: Creating a more lateral web that can give you a personal, linear experience of the current web. The best web experience, we think, is a flow of properly tuned information.

7. How is feedforward unique?

Most importantly, f»dforward is unique because it recommends both people and content and secondly it makes a new kind of web out of the social, semantic and read/write web hopefully providing the fabric for a more lateral web.

8. What kinds of partnerships with other business or organizations are you guys trying to create?

At this point we are looking for blogs and publishers that add to the network and expand it in a quality way. Secondly we are about to test with some corporate sites to see how we can provide companies with great insights about their products audience and thirdly we talk to online retailers that are interested in creating a smarter affiliate network for example.

9. What’s your revenue model?

We now focus on providing some launching professional publishers and companies those ‘unmatched’ social analytics.

10. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Yes – you, reader, please try out f»dforward and let us know what you think. We are deep in the process of improvement and getting it right, so we would like to know what works for you and what doesn’t and how else we can help improve your blogs and titles and general web experience.

Thanks again to Lucien Burm for providing these details on feedforward.

Have you tried feedforward?

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