12.28.2007

Announcing The New Mediology Podcast


My friend Nathan and I have been talking about launching a podcast together for a long time and we finally did it. You can check it out at TheNewMediology.com or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

The New Mediology is a podcast for new media marketers and web designers. We'd love to hear your feedback. In 2008 we'll have a new one every other week. Here is a rundown of our first podcast:

0:00 - 8:09 -- Thoughts on a few minutes with an Amazon Kindle.

8:10 - 11:15 -- Oprah's recent discovery of YouTube.

11:16 - 16:58 -- Review of Utterz.com.

16:59 - 27:54 -- Discussion of the iPod Nano's video feature and the opportunity for marketers in 2008.

Video of the Week: Never Seen Crayons Like This

When I was a kid I would draw things with my crayons and imagine what it would be like if they came to life on the page. Now, we're just a little bit closer to that...



Link for the feed readers:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=QsTqspnvAaI

12.27.2007

My Top 10 Web Tools

This will be one of my final posts for 2007 so in keeping with the top 10 lists from the year, here is my own top 10 list. These are the top 10 web tools I have found make my online life and work much better. If you aren't familiar with some of these I wholeheartedly recommend you check them out...and in case you were wondering, each one is free for use.

  1. Gmail - Without a doubt this is my number one web tool. It's the hub of my online existence.
  2. Del.icio.us - I love this site. It's my primary source for bookmarking websites. My page is at Del.icio.us/fourthbill.
  3. Twitter - This is becoming a new favorite. Twitter is a microblogging tool that's one part messaging system, one part social network, and one part addictive. I'm finding it a great additional outlet to this blog and a new way to discover emerging ideas and connect with new people of similar interests. You can find me at Twitter.com/billseaver.
  4. TinyURL - Once I got hooked on Twitter I found this to be an invaluable tool for referencing links and keeping my character count below the maximum.
  5. Google Docs - If I ever have to collaborate with people on docs or spreadsheets this is my go-to resource.
  6. Google Reader - I've only switched over to Google Reader in the last few months. I used to read my feeds with Sage but I'm really liking Google Reader and have made the full conversion.
  7. Ping-o-Matic - Every time I write a blog post I ping a number of different services just to let them know it's out there. Ping-o-Matic makes that possible in mere seconds and that's why I like it.
  8. Feedburner - Feedburner continues to emerge as a necessary tool for me. I use it to track both my feed stats and site visitors but it had me at hello with the blog post email feature that lets readers get these posts via email rather than coming to the blog or subscribing with an RSS feed reader. I think I can personally account for fifteen bloggers using Feedburner for that feature alone.
  9. Facebook - Facebook has been my social network of choice most of this year and it's allowed me to connect with people that MySpace never did. Not sure why, but it did.
  10. Picnik - Picnik is still one of my favorite websites. It's photo editing made easy and was actually integrated with Flickr recently as well. That's a double dose of goodness.
BONUS: Firefox - None of the above sites would be nearly as enjoyable and useful to me without my browser, Firefox. If you don't use it, quit using Explorer or Safari and get on the Firefox bus. It really is as good as everyone says. Now go download it.

12.21.2007

Video of the Week: 12 Days of Christmas...sort of

Merry Christmas from MicroExplosion! Here's a great a cappella group called Straight No Chaser from the University of Indiana performing their own version of the 12 Days of Christmas. Very well done and quite funny too. Can you name the song they break into at the end? It's totally 80's!



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fe11OlMiz8

12.20.2007

New Media Marketing Is Word of Mouth Marketing

It struck me recently that I've assumed something about new media marketing that I had never really expressed. That realization was that I assume word of mouth marketing is the most effective form of promotion. Everything I advocate when it comes to new media marketing is based on the premise that word of mouth marketing works and is truly effective. The entire content as the new promotion strategy series I did had word of mouth marketing at its very foundation.

Here's why I say this: word of mouth marketing is people telling others about something. That's the core of new media marketing and a content promotion strategy. You want to use content (see here for definition) that people will find valuable and then pass along. The new media tools simply let this happen exponentially faster than the old word of mouth marketing. It's still word of mouth...just at hyper speed.

Two weeks ago Ketchum released the findings of a new study that verifies this. Here are two interesting quotes from the study:

"Advice from family and friends is the No. 1 source that consumers turn to when making a variety of decisions – ranging from purchasing consumer electronics to planning a vacation."
"Communicators rank their companies’ own Web sites as the most effective way to share corporate news or issue a response to a crisis, but consumers rank company Web sites sixth and seventh among places they turn to for corporate news and crisis response, respectively."
What we see here is verification that people telling other people about things is the best promotional tool and that despite any company's high regard for its own website, the people are looking many other places first (including search engines as the study later shows.) This isn't really new news, it's just the latest in a line of validating information along these lines. Kind of makes me glad I'm not doing traditional marketing anymore.

12.19.2007

What is proper Twittequette?

I recently rejoined Twitter after many months away from my initial infatuation with it. As I've been in it heavily now for a month and have observed a culture unto itself but haven't found anything that talks about proper Twitter etiquette. With something this new there are always a lot of opinions but there seems to be some consensus around the following areas:

  • Ad value to the conversation. Don't just plug yourself, your blog, your product, etc. all the time. Twittequette: The occasional plug seems to be accepted but there should be a balance between other tweets and the purely promotional tweets. I credit Mitch Joel for pushing this idea.
  • It's okay to be random. Consistence on a regular topic from any one person doesn't seem to be expected. A person you follow may link to an interesting story with one tweet and then talk about a movie he just watched with the next tweet followed by a really helpful observation or question in the third tweet. Twittequette: The randomness and even the mundane can sometimes be the most interesting.
  • Don't have too many more people following you than you're following. There is a sense that it's bad form to have significantly more followers than those you are following. Twittequette: If you're not following the people who have chosen to follow you you're not part of the conversation. You're just a diva giving a lecture (albeit a lecture with 140 characters or less.) I credit Jeremiah Owyang for this idea.
  • Don't carry on lengthy conversations. If you follow two people who are also connected to each other they can send messages between them. You'll see both sides of the conversation. That's interesting to a degree but the downside is that they can also dominate you Twitter stream with a lengthy conversation. Twittequette: If you know it's going to be more than a single question and response conversation it's better to jump over to email, instant message, phone, or some other non-Twitter means of communication.
I'm sure there are more items for proper Twittequette. If you have one (or more) to add I'd love to see them in the comments.

12.17.2007

Tech Review: Utterz.com



This audio feed posted automatically and I've gone back in to put a post title and some text with it. Listen above to the Utterz.com review.

Mobile post sent by BillSeaver using Utterz. Replies. mp3

12.14.2007

Video of the Week: The Nutty Buddy (not the food)

Was the "do not try this at home" disclaimer really necessary? Besides, how many of us have a pitching machine sitting around anyway? You gotta admit, this is a great promo video for a company's product. I wouldn't have heard about it otherwise.



Link for feed readers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMgWui4XTBM

12.12.2007

Looking for a local volunteer opportunity this Christmas?

This time of year we're reminded that we need to focus less on ourselves and more on others. I recently learned of a great site called ChristianVolunteering.org. It's a free directory with over 2,000 volunteer opportunities. The site’s partners include the Salvation Army, GospelCom, World Vision, the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and over 1,000 ministries serving under-resourced communities. In addition to volunteer opportunities for individuals, you can find needs that might be appropriate for church groups and short-term missions trips. I found about 30 opportunities just in the Nashville area with positions ranging from website designers and computer teachers to mentors and job skills teachers. Check out ChristianVolunteering.org for volunteer needs in your area.

12.10.2007

Top Google Search Terms of 2007

Last week Google announced their top 10 search words of the year:

1. iphone
2. webkinz
3. tmz
4. transformers
5. youtube
6. club penguin
7. myspace
8. heroes
9. facebook
10. anna nicole smith

For an interesting comparison check out Yahoo's top 10 for the year.

12.09.2007

Google's power in your text messages

Mobile messaging is expanding rapidly and will only continue to do so. If you're like me you still don't quite know how it impacts your daily life much yet beyond the standard cell phone text messages to people you know. Sure, I could turn on my Twitter updates via text message but I don't really like that. I was recently reminded of Google SMS (Google's text message service) which essentially harnesses the power of Google from your cell phone's text message service. This is a mobile service worth getting excited about.

To use it is as easy as any other text message you may send. Just send a message to GOOGLE (466453) and get the information you're looking for. Maybe you just want to know the weather in your town. If so text the word "weather" and your zip code. This works with movies, restaurants, and even sports scores. Next time you want a quick bit of info on the fly you might want to text Google for a little help.

12.06.2007

Video of the Week: New Dance Moves

Sometimes you just have to make up your own dance moves...



Link for the feed readers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMf7vA0tYuc

12.05.2007

Content is the new promotion strategy, part 3: Why content for promotion?

This is the third installment of the content as the promotional strategy series. Here are the first and second parts if you haven't seen them already. In this post I'm going to answer the question:

"Why choose content as a promotional strategy?"

So, why look at content as the new promotion strategy? It's simple actually. Content as a promotion strategy forces a marketer to think about the consumer. When a marketer thinks about the consumer, she thinks about what will be valuable to that consumer rather than what's valuable to her (or her company or her client.) This shift may seem subtle but it's huge.

There are somewhere between 3000 and 5000 marketing messages aimed at Americans every day and each of them is standing there saying “hey, look at me!” or “check this out” or “you need this really bad.” What none of these promotional messages says is, “here's something for you” without a hook. They may give something away but they're going to ask for something in return like buy one and then get one free. What's understood but not spoken is that if you buy now, then you'll get one free now. You may get the consumers attention with the deal but you also lose it as soon as the transaction is complete.

A content promotion strategy changes the model because you're A) giving away something of value to the consumer without an immediate hook and B) extending the length of their attention for you. A content promotion strategy takes the long view of a consumer's time and attention (two very valuable commodities) knowing that the valuable content you're providing now earns their attention this time and likely their time and attention a next time with even more valuable content. The strategy is to give now so that you can get later.

Advertising is about the advertiser. Content is about the consumer. Promoting with content forces you to put yourself in the consumer's shoes and therefore deliver something to them they will value. It's not about you. It's about them. They already know that. When you know that and when they know you know that, then you're just beginning to connect with your best customers.

11.30.2007

Video of the Week: Dancing to Dave Ramsey

Of all the videos of the week I have ever posted this is one that defies logic and explanation. I really like Dave Ramsey. I'm down with interpretive dancing I guess too, but combining the two is something I could have never imagined. And one other question...what does a raccoon have to do with any of this?



[HT to Chris for this video.]

Link for feed readers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIIT89juQYM

UPDATE: After watching it again I still don't get it. I'm trying but I don't. I find myself making strange faces as I watch this video trying to understand what in the world is trying to be conveyed here. Here's me watching this video...

Gmail Chat releases group chat feature

I'm logged into my Gmail all day long and love Gmail chat built into it. I've wished on several occasions that a group chat feature was available to have a discussion with more than one person at a time. I saw today that group chat is now available. Now we're talking!

11.29.2007

Content is the new promotion strategy, part 2: What is content?

Earlier this week I started this series called "content is the new promotion strategy." Today I'm going to begin with the first question some may have for understanding this promotional paradigm shift...

What is content?

The Wikipedia definition for content is: "information and experiences created by individuals, institutions and technology to benefit audiences in contexts that they value."

For our purposes I expand on this definition a bit to say that online content for promotion is any information, idea, experience, or digital good that will have value to the consumer without the perceived primary objective being an advertisement, offer, proposition, or call to action.

For instance, a series of videos on the website of a home improvement magazine with short "how-to" videos would be content. A banner ad on the same site that simply says, “Order now and save 30%!” is not. This is not to say, however, that at the end of the how-to video there couldn't be an offer to order now to save 30%. The difference is that the content (in this case it's a video) is primary and the offer is secondary. The content earns the attention for the offer. In essence you've given them something now so you can ask for something in return that benefits you (even if you ask it in such a way that you're telling them it's a good deal for them too...like 30% off.)

Content is only as good as its value to another person. High value content is therefore considered high quality content so the opposite is true as well. Low value content is low quality content. The correlation between value and quality is inescapable. The million dollar question then is this: “What is valuable content?”

Valuable content will mean different things to different audiences so an understanding of your target audience is paramount. I was recently talking with a photographer friend about this concept of content as a promotion strategy. At first he wasn't sure it applied to him. He thought it meant he might start a blog about photography tips or something along those lines. Though that's one route he could go (and it may very well be a good one) he could also look at creating digital goods or showcasing his photographs in a form that would be valuable to people who may later be interested in his services. For instance, he could use his pictures as a series of free custom desktop images or inspirational e-cards. Maybe he could take some pictures of children and put music to it to create a funny and touching video about kids. If the video is done well I can just think of all the moms and dads who will want to pass it along to friends/family/coworkers and all the while be promoting his photography in the process. Any of these ideas would be viewed as valuable to people who are potential customers for him and he's promoting himself by giving away content. By giving any of these away, he's not asking for anything in return yet. He just knows he's credited with each photograph that goes out and for now he knows it is more valuable to gain people's attention than to make a hard sell. After all, it's a promotion strategy not a sales strategy.

There are three easy categories to remember for valuable content that can be remembered with this question: Is the content helpful, hopeful, or humorous? This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the types of content that could be beneficial, but I've found it to be a quick reference to gauge whether something will be perceived as valuable.

  • Helpful - Is the content you're going to create going to help someone in any way. Maybe it's going to help give them knowledge or perspective they didn't have before. Maybe it will teach or train them to do something they want to learn. Helpful content helps people. It's not a difficult concept to understand but it could be easily overlooked as a content option. It's not an accident that Lifehacker is the sixth most popular blog in the world.
  • Hopeful - Content that is encouraging, touching, or in some other way has an emotional appeal more easily lends itself to being appealing to your audience (assuming this is appropriate for your audience) and then being passed along as well. It's the same thing Hallmark has done for years and more recently Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been successful with this approach. Kleenex's Let it Out campaign was all over this too.
  • Humorous - Let's face it, we've seen more than our fair share of funny online videos, stories, or pictures and we've probably recommended a bunch too. Whether it's some guy dancing around or a baby laughing, humor is one of the easiest ways to create valuable content. Making people laugh is valuable. Last summer eMarketer studied this topic and showed that the most watched online videos are humorous. The band Ok Go got the break of a lifetime with this approach.
The next part of this series will talk in depth about why content is the new promotion strategy.

11.27.2007

Picnik's Photo Creator - Holiday Shapes

I'm a huge fan of Picnik, a free online photo editor. I use it often and love it. I saw they have released a bunch of "holiday shapes" (little icons and images really) to add to any photo you upload to Picnik. This is a nice touch for someone who wants to add a little festivity to their photos...or perhaps someone (like me) who wants have some other fun. Below is a picture of my friend Chris Thomas with a few of these shapes added for a bit of Christmas cheer...though after looking further at it seems kind of like a gangster gangsta Christmas to me....

Some Pi after Thanksgiving

It's been a while since I talked about MySliceofPi.com so if you're not familiar with it, you may want to get yourself a little post-Thanksgiving Pi. The Pideas page will give you some thoughts on how to use your slice (or slices) of Pi. If you want to follow the Pi message through your RSS reader, just subscribe to mysliceofpi.com/rss.

One funny slice I saw today was digit 114. I don't know who Rom's Mom is but that's a funny picture. I also see that Denver and the Mile High Orchestra got a free slice once. If you're not familiar with them check out Fox's The Next Great American Band.

As of this posting, the next available digit is a 3 followed by a 0...so someone's going to get two digits for $3 if they move fast enough.

11.26.2007

A del.icio.us tip discovered by accident

I've been using the social bookmarking site del.icio.us for a long time. One thing I've never really done was use the notes feature on the bookmarks because I didn't want to take the time to write the note. I would tag it as I wanted and move on. Today I discovered by accident that if I highlight a section of text on the page I'm going to tag with my Firefox del.icio.us add-on it will automatically import that text into the notes field. Maybe this is common knowledge to del.icio.us users but it wasn't to me. I think it's fair to say I'll be using the notes feature a lot more from now on. It's a great little shortcut.

11.25.2007

Content is the new promotion strategy

For a year and a half now I've been talking about web 2.0 to people with varying levels of understanding about the term and the technology that it represents. In August, 2006, I posted for the first time about the six categories of web 2.0. I've used the "massive Volkswagon" many times to help give a basis for understanding in personal meetings and in seminars to groups of people.

Several months ago, however, I began to see a flaw in what I was talking about. My focus was totally on the technology, and as a marketer talking mostly to marketers, I found that the technology discussion was really only one part of the true shift in new media/web 2.0 marketing. It's one thing to start talking about fishing with nets, it's something else entirely to talk about why fishing with nets is important and strategic. That was the piece I was missing and as a marketer focused on new media, I was only talking about the technology without taking an important step back to explain the strategy for using it. If the mindset shift comes in forgetting the big fish, then the strategy to accompany it is this: content is the new promotion strategy. The technology (the nets...to stay with that analogy) simply lets content spread faster and go further than ever before.

This week I'm going to dig further into the idea of content as the new promotion strategy. After all, what is content and what makes it so special anyway?

11.24.2007

Video of the Week: Free Eric Volz

This is one of those weeks when I'm going to depart from the usual funny video. Instead, this video is a mini documentary for Eric Volz, an American named who was put in a Nicaraguan prison for a crime with no evidence against him one year ago this week. More information can be found at Friends of Eric Volz site.



Link for feed readers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YChhOHrFA4

11.20.2007

I'm back on Twitter

Several months ago I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon with a slew of other people. I thought it was a pretty cool micro blogging platform, but to be honest, I really just checked it out because I saw a lot of other people doing it. After a week or two I kind of lost interest but over the last few weeks I've found myself going back to it. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It's a great way to promote your blog to people who have willingly shown an interest in you. The thing about Twitter is that people who are "following" you will see every time you post so they have elected to receive your updates. What else can you ask for than notifying people about a blog post when they've already shown an interest. I think that's what Seth Godin calls permission marketing.
  • There's a Twitter application for Facebook. I like Facebook. I like Twitter. Combining the two is doubly good.
  • I like to keep up with people informally and I'm happy to let people keep up with me the same way. From a micro blogging standpoint, there are a lot of people who I'd be interested to know what their doing and for the ones using Twitter, I like to see what they're into.
If you're on Twitter, let me know. You can find me on there under the highly creative moniker billseaver.

11.18.2007

You May Not Need A Website, Just a Web Presence

Do you remember the good old days when someone wanted to promote their product or company online and some intrepid individual would say, "we need a website!" Once approved, that would start the ball rolling to find the right person or company to build that site for them. Until the last few years that was really the only option you had for an online presence. Now, however, that's not the case at all. Blogs have emerged as a free (if you choose to get a free one) and easy to use tool that gives you a web presence in many ways equal to traditional websites.

What got me thinking about this was that I met a guy this weekend who said something similar to what I've heard many times over the last few years. He's looking for an inexpensive website and, as I've done several times in the past, I told them it wasn't necessary. What he's really looking for is a web presence, not a full blown website. He just wants an online destination where people can find out about his business. In my view, a blog is a great alternative for his web presence rather than getting a website.

So, when do you need a website and when could you use a blog instead? Here is a short list of items that would likely require you have a website:

  • You have a lot of information to communicate (whether in volume of information or complexity of information)
  • You want a highly visual and/or Flash driven web presence
  • You need an ecommerce engine/shopping cart
  • You need a secure login area for some people but not everyone
  • You want a fully customized web presence (in design and function)
If any of the above apply to what you're looking for I recommend you talk to my friends at Anthology Creative or New Fangled Web Factory. Both companies can give you any of that (and much more too.)

If, however, you're just trying to get an online presence so people will learn something about what you're selling, know, or offer, a blog is perfect for you. Blogs now do many of the things people have only thought could be done with websites. For instance, if you wanted a website because you were looking to incorporate video or audio, a blog can do all of that. If you wanted a website that's branded for you, a blog can do that. If you wanted a website you can control instead of paying someone to update it for you, a blog can do that. If you wanted to show pictures or a variety of other visuals, a blog can do that. If you wanted to be found in Google searches, a blog can do that (and in many cases better than traditional websites too.)

The idea here is that getting a web presence is no longer just for the people who can pay to have a website built. A blog is available to anyone. You can have one up and going five minutes from now if you choose to. You own web presence is no longer an issue of accessibility or price, but is really an issue of strategy and convenience. Strategically a blog may be all you need so you can save the money you would have spent on a site and put it elsewhere. From a convenience standpoint, you may just prefer to pay someone to take care of you online presence for you, and if so, that's really what you're paying for.

The bottom line is that if a blog will do, why get a standard issue website built and pay the $3,000-$10,000 to do it? A blog may very well be your best strategic choice. It will almost always be the cheaper choice.

11.16.2007

Video of the Week: Drive Thru Order - The Rap

Next time you go through the McDonald's drive thru try ordering like this...



Link for the feed readers:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=FLn45-7Pn2Y

11.14.2007

Online Video Views Surpassing Expectations

I've been doing some research the last few days around online video usage by Americans. Earlier this year I came across these online video stats:

January 2007 Report: U.S. Online Video Viewers
(sources: eMarketer; U.S. Census Bureau)

  • 2003 – 52 million (32% of U.S. Internet users; 19% of population)
  • 2004 – 69 million (41% of U.S. Internet users; 25% of population)
  • 2005 – 89 million (51% of U.S. Internet users; 32% of population)
  • 2006 – 107 million (60% of U.S. Internet users; 38% of population)
  • 2007 projection – 123 million (67% of U.S. Internet users; 43% of population)
  • 2008 projection – 137 million (73% of U.S. Internet users; 47% of population)
Today I found these stats which show that by July of this year the actual American online video usage was far surpassing the late 2006 projections. In fact, the ComScore stats below show the actual online video views surpassing even the 2008 projections above....

July 2007 Report: U.S. Online Video Views
(source: ComScore)
Nearly 75% of U.S. Internet users watched an average of three hours of online video during the month. More than 9 billion videos were viewed by online during July, 2007. 2.4 billion of the video views occurred at YouTube.com. Yahoo! sites ranked second with 390 million, followed by Fox Interactive Media with 298 million, and Viacom Digital with 281 million.

What's the takeaway here? If you thought online video was a fad or even a slow trend it's actually quite the opposite. Besides, you know when she's jumping on board it's full-fledged mainstream.

11.12.2007

Off topic: A Daddy's Dilemma

My friend Chris finds himself in a potentially precarious position and is needing some help. Here's the gist of the situation:

We have a boy on the way, due December 19. It dawned us during the lunchtime conversation that none of us have had to deal with the naming of the boy part yet, due in large part to my uncanny “shielding” ability. Here’s the deal though: With this boy on the way and a curious big sister sure to be lurking over every diaper change, we are going to face the question of “What is that?” sooner rather then later. How are we to answer? Do we teach her the proper scientific term now? Do we assign a nickname like “Winky” or “Doodle” or “Wee-Wee?”
Any of you moms or dads have a little help for him? If so, leave a comment on his blog.

11.09.2007

Video of the Week: Bad Days At The Office

If you've had a bad week this might ease things for you a bit. It's a very funny montage. I'm pretty sure several of the videos are staged in some way but it's still quite funny. My favorites in the video are (in no particular order): the bathroom smoker, the old man's reaction to the paper airplanes and subsequent reaction to boss, and the final guy on the video who uses his keyboard into a baseball bat.



Link for the feed readers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4a1z7NLnNk

11.07.2007

Yes, Blogging Can Launch A Non-Tech Business

A little over a year and a half ago I met a guy named Scot Justice. He was working as the CFO of a company but had dreams of starting his own CPA firm. I was just beginning to put legs on all I was learning about new media/web 2.0 at the time and Scot was the first person I'd shared this new perspective with formally. I didn't know much but I was already convinced there was something significant to be had leveraging the new media.

As we talked I told him what I was learning he got really interested in the possibility of blogging as a basis for starting his business so he launched the Virtual CFO blog right away. It was a way for him to begin establishing an online presence and building a base of credibility and validity to distinguish himself from all the other online competition and it worked. A few months ago Scot had the opportunity to formally launch CPA for Small Business and he's up and running now with clients who are finding his site and blog and choosing him as their virtual CFO. Here's part of a note he sent me so you can hear it in his own words:

By following your Web 2.0 advice, The Virtual CFO Blog is currently ranked number one under the Google search for “virtual cfo”. Having our blog ranked this high has allowed us to demonstrate our expertise in small business accounting and financial management to a larger pool of prospective clients than could have been reached through traditional marketing means.

Last month, we gained two new business clients who have a large online presence. Both told me that they chose CPA for Small Business as their public accounting firm because our website and blog demonstrated that we were tech savvy and would understood the accounting and financial management needs of e-businesses.
I should note that I'm going to start doing business with Scot when tax time rolls around. It only seems natural that my accountant is a blogger. Congratulations on the early success Scot.

11.05.2007

Case In Point: How Feedburner Responded Via Blog

There are few organizations that shouldn't be blogging. Yes, I know that last week I said there are five characteristics of organizations that shouldn't blog, but I firmly believe every organization should do it and then deal with the other issues they have. That being said, Feedburner is a great case in point of why an organization should have a blog:

Over the weekend there was an issue with Google's Feedcatcher service and it basically messed up everyone's Feedburner subscription numbers. For bloggers who use Feedburner (like me), it's a constant gauge to see how how many people have chosen to track what you're talking about.

Now if you don't use Feedburner or aren't a blogger you may be thinking this is no big deal. The fact of the matter is, however, that tracking RSS feeds is one of the only reasons Feedburner exists, so when it can't track feeds their main service isn't working right and all the people who expect it to give them timely and accurate stats are going to see something vastly different. That's a big deal to many bloggers because they (and I'll include myself here) want accurate stats at all times. In this case it wasn't even Feedburner's fault, yet it still was their company who would be getting all the questions so they recognized the issue and wrote a blog post about it Sunday morning as a means to communicate to people what the problem was.

This was a win for Feedburner because they showed they're attentive to people's needs and proactive in giving information. The blog was simply the most logical place to get the message out. If your organization doesn't have a blog yet, how would you have responded? Would you have been able to proactively communicate the issue on a Sunday morning just as easy as any day of the week? Feedburner did.

11.02.2007

Video of the Week: 15 Lateral Touchdown

If you're a football fan you've seen a lot of touchdowns but you've never seen one like this. It's from a game between two Division III schools, Trinity and Millsaps. Bottom line: Don't doubt the Trinity.



Link for feed readers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkR9D4W1g8A

BONUS:
Thanks to Brea I had to share this with you too...

An office had a going away party for one of their employees and called Walmart to order the cake. This is what they wanted on the cake:
"Best Wishes Suzanne" and underneath that write "We will miss you".

This is what they got:

10.30.2007

PR folks don't get it yet

I found this interesting post from Chris Anderson (author of The Long Tail and Editor-In-Chief of Wired Magazine.) He's tired of getting hammered by PR folks who don't know how to pitch to him via email so he's banned them from his email. To take it up a notch he posted all the banned email addresses on a blog post. Yes, the deer have guns. Here's another example of a PR firm that struck out. Darren Rowse at ProBlogger was providing some insight on this topic recently too.

Forget the Big Fish

Imagine we're in a deep sea fishing contest. You and me. It's a fishing contest for a full day. At the end of the day the winner is the one with the most fish by weight. Though we're in the same contest we have two different approaches. You have assembled the best deep sea fishermen you can find. You have expert marlin anglers since the marlin is one of the biggest (one marlin can weigh over 800 pounds...here's a 560 pound marlin) and most prized fish you can catch. You have the best boat and technological advances for finding the marlin. Catching a marlin is hard work but you've hired the best in the business and you know when you come in at the end of the day with several big marlins everyone is going to be very impressed with your catch.

My crew has decided to take another route. We're going to fish with nets. Our boat and crew is smaller and less impressive than yours and we're going to catch salmon. Salmon are considerably smaller than the marlin weighing anywhere between 6 and 100 pounds each. I know, however, that salmon swim together and a good catch could put us in contention for the prize.

At the end of the day we return with our catches. You had a great day with nine large marlins with a total weight of 5,300 pounds. We only had one catch with 400 salmon. As we offload our salmon on the scales we estimate the average fish in our catch is 28 pounds, much smaller than your large marlins but our team's total catch weight is 11,200 pounds. It turns out the cumulative weight of many smaller fish is much heavier than a few really big fish. We win.

New media marketing is a small fish strategy. I think that's why traditional marketing mindsets are unsure of it. They've never considered a small fish strategy because it's the exact opposite of their focus. Big fish are traditional promotional strategies. Big fish marketing tactics include magazine ads, television and radio spots, billboards, newspaper ads, direct mail campaigns and the like. Small fish marketing includes new media tactics like blogs, podcasts, social networking, online video, social media, etc.

Big fish know they're prized and know everyone wants to catch them which makes them harder catch. They require more effort and more expense with less yield. Small fish are numerous and concentrated. They're cheaper and easier to catch with a higher cumulative yield.

Marketers are fishing every day. Most are going after the limited supply of big fish. A few are going after the hundreds of thousands of smaller fish. Sure, it's great to catch a big fish if you can. Catching big fish is what the industry was built on. Sometimes a really big fish gets you raises and recognition and may even bring a high return.

A funny thing is happening now though. There are more and more small fish all the time and the means to catch them are widely available, easy to use, and often free. Once you know how to catch a lot of smaller fish why would you ever try to catch a big fish again? Forget the big fish.

10.29.2007

Five Organizations That Should Not Blog

I find myself recommending blogs on a regular basis. I think it's a great idea for almost every organization but I have also realized there are organizational characteristics that would lead me to say they shouldn't blog. Here's my list of those who should not blog (or use other social media for that matter):

Organizations that don't trust their employees.
If your organization doesn't trust employees then a blog strategy will constantly be plagued by the legal department's involvement or management trying to control the message. If the organization doesn't trust the employees to represent them well without micromanagement, don't start blogging.

Organizations that don't want to hear bad news.
Blogging and other forms of social media are inherently interactive and conversational. Once you decide to jump in you should prepare to respond as needed. If a corporate blogger gets negative feedback or criticism on a service, product, strategy, etc. the right thing to do is respond truthfully and candidly. That doesn't necessarily mean a concession either. The organization's blogger can totally disagree with the the feedback without being disagreeable. What this interaction shows is that the organization isn't afraid to hear and engage people even when it can be negative. If you're not ready for this, don't start blogging.

Organizations that want absolute control over their message and reputation.
Organizations can't, and never have, been able to control what people say about them. To think otherwise is foolish. New media tools allow those conversations that may have previously been private to be more widespread and more easily discovered. If your organization is determined to control every message about it and is under the delusion that it can also control what other people say about it, don't start blogging, it will only create frustration when the facade of control begins to crumble.

Organizations that create by committee.
I have been a part of numerous "writing by committee" situations and almost every single time the final message is so diluted from the original intent it becomes a shell of what it could have been. Blogging by committee is not good for at least two reasons. First, it will take forever to get a post done by the time you get everyone involved and consider their revisions and debate what should stay and what should go. Second, it will very likely not be a candid, fully engaging post, but rather something diluted. Contributors to a blog are good, committees are not. It's not a bad thing to have multiple bloggers for a single blog as long as it's clear to all that the blog was set up that way. If your organizations writes by committee, however, don't start blogging.

Organizations that are slow. One of the true benefits to blogging is that you can create a post in a matter of minutes so there is a wonderful opportunity to respond quickly to a situation in the event that it's necessary. Depending on the industry, response time can make or break how a something is perceived. For instance, if an company had some negative press they could use the blog to respond quickly and provide their perspective. By doing so, the blog post will be part of the news and balance the original negative story. Without the blog the organization will issue a less timely press release if they respond at all and possibly miss a window of opportunity. If the organization isn't prepared or comfortable with a quick response then they will not be fully utilizing the blog. If your organization is stuck on slow, don't start blogging.

10.26.2007

Video of the Week: Uh, yeah, that's a good ladder.

The Internet is afire with Gabe and Max's Internet Thing video but I'm going to pass on it as the video of the week. Instead, here's a television shopping channel blooper. It's classic. Just remember: "You have to lock it."



Link for the feed readers:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=6ZhMfzc9RbU

10.25.2007

Off topic: Denver and a Highway

Two things here...

Last week my friend Denver Bierman and his band Denver and The Mile High Orchestra (D&MHO) made it through to the top 12 bands in the new FOX show, The Next Great American Band. The show is on Friday nights so this is my official get out the vote post for Denver and the guys. Tomorrow night is your first opportunity to vote. If you know of Denver and band or like what you see/hear join the D&MHO Facebook group too.



Second thing...this just in from Greg Atkinson of Church Video Ideas :

If you're interested in exploring how ministry videos can enhance your worship services or happen to be a pro at integrating film into your services and would like to expand your existing media library, Highway Video is offering an amazing sale. From now until October 31st, Highway is offering all their DVD's for 50% off.

Also, as a "Thank You" from the Church Video Ideas blog and Highway Video, you can pick one free download of your choice. Visit HighwayVideo.com, select a film, and then enter the coupon code: AFF1A9 at check-out to take advantage of this offer.

10.24.2007

Video Conference Five Friends Free with ooVoo.com

Last week I mentioned TokBox as a new, browser-based video conferencing tool. This week I discovered ooVoo (via JaffeJuice via Mitch Joel's podcast) and it's exciting to see a tool launch that can allow live video conferencing with up to six people. I've thought for a while that one of the hindrances with other services was the limitation for only two people to conference. ooVoo will require you to download and install their software but this a great next step in online video conferencing. I can certainly see the benefit for friends, family, and business so it's worth checking out if you use (or have an interest in) online video conferencing...and it's free too.

10.22.2007

Successful forumula for Google AdWords

Google AdWords are one of the most simple yet mysterious forms of advertising you'll ever find. On the one hand it's so simple and accessible because anyone can create an AdWord campaign. It's not as if you need to go through an advertising agency or marketing firm to do it. Just visit the site, set up your campaign, and determine what your maximum daily budget will be. It's that easy.

On the other hand, it's a little mysterious how Google determines things like an AdWord quality score (meaning how much you should pay for your AdWords and what position they'll be found in on the search pages) and cost per click. There are some factors that certainly play into things like a high quality score such as a high click thru rate, text relevance between the ad and the page you send people to, and historical keyword performance.

All that being said, there are some things you can do with your AdWords to help your chances. Here's a here is a formula for Google AdWords I've seen work well with several clients:

Headline: Use a descriptive title for your product/service
Line 1: State a benefit or additional description of the product/service
Line 2: State a call to action
URL: Link to a page with text that upholds any claims in the ad

Most people understand the headline and line 1 aspects pretty well but stumble on the call to action. Use words like try, buy, order, find, or browse in that line. A sample call to action line might be "Try a free sample of our product." The only catch here is that if you're going to say this you need to make sure there really is a free sample on the page you send people to or Google will recognize that as a misleading (they refer to it as irrelevant) claim which at best raises your cost per click price and at worst will void your ad altogether.

10.19.2007

Video of the Week: David Crowder Rocks with "Guitar Hero"

A few months ago I had my first opportunity to play Guitar Hero on the XBox 360 with Chris. It was a ton of fun and I've heard that some people are starting to modify the guitar controllers for actual real music use. Turns out David Crowder has one he's using in concert...



[HT to Greg Atkinson on the video.]

Link for the feed readers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiXMrIoUn1E

10.16.2007

Two Tools You'll Want to Use: TokBox & Zamzar

I'm always on the hunt for new helpful tools and I discovered two great ones yesterday...

TokBox (pronounced "talk box") is a free video conferencing service that would be a great alternative to Skype should you want a browser based video system. I've used services like this in the past and they're handy alternatives. In addition to the live conferencing feature you can also record a video and email it to someone from within the TokBox system. That feature alone would be great for personal messages for fundraisers or any organization that wants to take personalization to a new level. If my alma mater's alumni association decided to send me a personal video from the president rather than a postcard, I would certainly be impressed and would be much more likely to consider giving.

I was very excited to discover Zamzar, a free file conversion tool. If you've ever wanted to convert a file from one format to another but weren't sure how to do it, this is the site for you. If you've ever received a document in a format that won't work with Microsoft Word, just upload and convert it here. The conversion also works with audio, image, and video files. I was most excited to discover Zamzar's online video conversion. It's as easy as typing in a link from a YouTube page or any number of other online video sites and loading them into Zamzar and selecting the format you want. I tested it last night with this YouTube video to see if it would work with my new (thanks Fosters!) iPod Nano and it worked perfect.

10.15.2007

Big News: Announcing microEXPLOSION media

Well, I guess it was bound to happen. I have officially formed my own new media consulting and development company. The company, microEXPLOSION media, is now officially up and running.

Though I will not be employed through White Post Media I will continue to partner with them and its clients for future new media projects. I'm also planning to do some more writing though it won't all be specifically connecting new media and Christian ministry as this blog has been since its inception. I'll also have news about a podcast starting in the coming weeks.

This blog will also be changing over to a new one for the company and I'll announce that when it's ready to go. Of course, if anyone is looking for new media help I'm available. In fact, here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself.

Do you know...
...the best way to pitch an idea to bloggers?
...how to get thousands of blog readers for your product or service?
...the four things every online video should have?
...how to respond to attack blogs?
...the best formula for effective Google AdWords?
...three things bloggers hate about many websites?
...four things every podcast should include?
...how to distribute your content with widgets?
...which social networking site is the best for your business?
...the best mindset for a new media marketer?
...how to leverage the six categories of web 2.0?

If you don't feel good about your answers to these questions maybe we should talk. My phone number and email address are here in the sidebar of the blog.

10.11.2007

A branding expert - David Russell

I had the opportunity to have lunch yesterday with branding expert David Russell. David's an advertising industry veteran who's worked with some of the biggest names in the business. We were talking about new media verses traditional media and the new promotional outlets verses the old promotional outlets. One of those old promotional outlets we were talking about was newspapers. He had a great one liner that I had to share here...

"You'll find newspaper readers every day in the obituaries."
The point was, obviously, that if you're still looking to newspapers (and many other traditional media) to reach your audience, you're promoting through a declining medium. It's declining in reach which means it's declining in focus, impact, and effectiveness. David spoke of the old promotion paradigm where advertisers could place an ad on television or in newspapers and know it was reaching a large percentage of their target audience. David knows that world no longer exists and it was extremely interesting to talk with a guy who's lived in the old advertising/marketing world but recognizes the new one filled with niche markets, new media, high interactivity, and narrowly focused promotional strategies. I believe he's a rare exception to the rest of the industry which is in many way digging in and trying to push the old methods as if they are still as effective today as they used to be.

Additional note: David certainly didn't ask me to do this but I feel compelled to mention that if you are looking for branding development or clarity, David is absolutely your guy. He has a method and perspective on branding that is both simple and profound and applies to just about every organization whether they realize it or not.

10.08.2007

Don't Kill Your Blog

I heard recently of an organization that created a blog for a large event they were having. The blog drew a significant audience quickly in the weeks leading up to the event and also saw a surge of traffic and comments in the days following the event. It was a successful blog in almost every way possible, but three weeks later the blog was dead (meaning taken offline and totally inaccessible.) Why? Apparently since the event was over the organization decided it wasn't worth keeping around.

Never mind the fact that the organization just created a valuable asset to communicate about future events (not to mention this was a quick and cheap way to do it.) Never mind they created a great platform for conversations and feedback about the event which didn't exist previously (and now doesn't again.) Never mind they had a huge opportunity to engage the readers with other product offers that they would almost certainly be interested in. The fact is, when they killed the blog they killed multiple opportunities with a highly focused and interested niche of their customers who were prepared to give them their undivided attention. They killed a feedback opportunity, a sales opportunity, and a promotion opportunity.

The bottom line is this: don't kill your blog. It's too easy to maintain even if only at a minimal level and almost always too valuable to kill.

10.05.2007

Video of the Week: The NASCAR Coach

I recently discovered my good friend Chris is a new NASCAR fan. This is a fairly recent love for him so I thought he might be interested to see this interview with a NASCAR coach. Just remember...the key is to drive fast and turn left...except when you drive straight.



Here's the link for the feed readers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-4f-x1bSGE

10.03.2007

How to Seth Godin Yourself

A while back someone asked me if I knew of Seth Godin to which I responded with something like, "Heck yeah, I think he's remarkable." After we talked a bit he asked me how I thought he could "Seth Godin" himself...meaning he was wondering about the secret to Seth's seemingly widespread success through unconventional means and how could he replicate it. The person I spoke to has developed himself as a brand in his area of expertise and sees Seth as a model to follow for further growth. I agreed with his take and gave him the following thoughts on how he might be able to Seth Godin himself (without shaving his head):

Seth leverages his blog. Blogs are unique for many reasons:

  • Blogs have tremendously positive effects on Google rankings because the content is updated regularly and therefore shows Google it's more active than a static website thus ranking it higher.
  • Blogs allow your ideas to be easily distributed by allowing people to reference specific posts and talk about them on their own blogs (thus beginning the word-of-mouth marketing).
  • Blogs give you an immediate forum to expand your base of readers, post new ideas, coordinate a meet up on the fly, get feedback on an idea, or respond to critics quickly and informally.
  • Blogs let people connect with you through comments (though Seth actually doesn't do this on his.) With a blog people get to talk back to you and you can listen but don't have to respond to every comment. It allows you to get valuable and immediate feedback in a way you can't (and won't) get on a standard website or email newsletter.
  • Blogs give you an opportunity for greater to . If a well known blog posts about your blog it will take the awareness to an entirely new level. Though it's possible one could do that without a blog, it seems like bloggers prefer to link to other blogs because they want to reference something specific most of the time and blogs make it possible.
  • Blogs are accepted as more authentic than traditional marketing. With so much marketing today people have natural filters and defenses up to deflect the barrage of ads. Those defenses drop when reading a blog that they respect so if a blogger talks about you, people are more accepting of the idea and more willing to respond or research it further. They're taking the blog post as a personal recommendation from the blogger rather than a professional promotion by marketer.
Seth leverages his audience. He knows he's making the most of his base by always giving them something. He knows that if he gives away valuable ideas long enough he buys the person's attention, respect, and time. He then strategically asks the audience for things from time to time but not in a pushy way, but more like "Hey, I'm doing this and if you want to participate here's what you do..." He displayed this recently with a good idea to promote his new book, The Dip. In essence he told people he would fly to speak to them if they coordinated groups that would purchase five books each for admission. He made the offer and left it up to his readers to take him up on the offer.

Seth limits his accessibility (but is highly accessible in other ways.) Seth is interesting in that as a high profile guy, he answers all of his own email and does it rather quickly. He writes numerous blog posts a week as well. People feel like they know him and he accomplishes that through both his personal email responses and frequent blogging. To see Seth, however, you have to be part of a select group but that doesn't mean he selects you, it means you select yourself. He uses exclusivity to his advantage by teaching seminars to small groups and charging a premium for those seminars. That creates the best possible opportunity for him to make money off the event yet also create demand for those who didn't get in on the seminar and want to get in next time.

Seth focuses on quality. Seth believes that if anything is remarkable (reference Purple Cow) it will be talked about (reference Unleashing the Ideavirus) and then people will buy it. Quality is the key rather than a mediocre product or service with a razzle dazzle marketing plan.

So to sum it up: You can Seth Godin yourself by building an audience, leveraging that audience at key times, limit some forms of accessibility, and wrap the whole thing up in high quality and remarkability.

10.01.2007

NeSmith Named Director for Tech Ops at ConnectivHealth

I just saw the official announcement this afternoon that my friend and former colleague, Steve NeSmith, has accepted the position as Director of Technical Operations at ConnectivHealth here in Nashville. Steve is leaving the Broadman & Holman Publishing Group as their Director of E-Business.

I've known Steve since I first came to Nashville six years ago and have always looked to him as a guy who combines a great knowledge of marketing and new technology. Steve really displayed this a year ago as the creator of RealVerse, a weekly video blog that got widespread attention around the country and was even a 2006 Weblog Award nominee. At B&H he put it to work most recently with the Holman TV campaign and strategy. ConnectivHealth seems to be hopping so it will be interesting to see what Steve does there as he gets back to his health care industry roots.

Top Online Video Types - Funny Videos Win

A new study out today shows that the top types of online videos people watch are. Here are the top five:

  1. Jokes/funny videos
  2. News/current events
  3. Amateur videos
  4. Movie trailers
  5. Music videos
I wasn't surprised by the top category because it seems like people are more likely to share the funny videos beyond anything else. The one that surprised me most was down the list at number nine: Full length TV shows. As almost every major television network is now providing most or all of their shows online, this is an interesting stat in my view and further validation that online video will only increase and the new Nano was a significant announcement as these videos get converted over to the iPod.

Here's the rest of the list:

9.29.2007

Video of the Week: Efficiency, Bangkok Style

Efficiency defined: Productive without waste or the use of space in a Bangkok, Thailand market.




Link for the feed readers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aZFetrUEo0

9.27.2007

New Apple Nano - Most Significant New Product

A few weeks ago Apple released a new series of products. The major headlines seemed to go to either the new iPod Touch and the price reduction in the iPhone. Though this news may have overshadowed the update/name change about the iPod Classic, the new iPod Nano, and iPod Shuffle colors (which was hardly news, but still...), I think we will look back at this product release and see that the most significant announcement was new Nano.

The new Nano now plays video and the prices are at a level that lowers the barriers to entry so virtually anyone to get a personalized video player. Apple clearly dominates the MP3 market and the new Nano solidifies them in personal video players. Sure, the screen is small (2 inches) and the Nano moniker seems a little less applicable with this short and stocky version, but it doesn't matter. For $150 (4 GB) or $200 (8 GB) you get a video iPod.

So who should care about this? Well, video content creators to start. By January there will be loads of new and eager new Nano owners looking for good video content to fill their iPods. If you were ever thinking about starting a video blog/video podcast, now is the time more than ever. If you create video of any form and don't allow people to subscribe to it, you're about to miss out on a new wave of potentially interested people. Get some RSS feeds tied into your existing video and register with iTunes so people can subscribe.

If you have video that you sell, start promoting the heck out of it this fall. If you can bust up your video so it can be sold off in smaller parts, give that some consideration as well. Again, there's going to be a new group of consumers for your content.

If your business is trying to find a new way to regularly engage existing clients, consider this option: this Christmas send your clients a Nano and start a weekly five minute video podcast from your organization. Have the first video podcast ready for subscription by the time the clients receive their gift and you'll be giving them something with a high perceived value but also be handing them the vehicle to further you ability to connect with them. After all, now there's a little video for everyone.

9.26.2007

Don't Pay for Blog Comments: The Deer Now Have Guns

A few weeks ago I was speaking with a publisher about how they can work with bloggers to get more exposure for some upcoming books. The publisher quickly dismissed the idea of using bloggers because "they tried that once before and all our authors got was a lot of bad feedback from the bloggers because they were accused of being spammers." When I inquired as to what they actually did I was told that the publisher hired a company which has a staff to post comments on blogs that may fit the book topics. Instead of the positive feedback and awareness, the authors were hammered with negative feedback that they were spamming these blogs. Those authors in turn hammered the publisher and the publisher has been wary of bloggers ever since.

What happened here is that the publisher had no idea what it was paying for. In essence they were duped into thinking that comments on blogs through any means necessary are a good thing. They had no idea how their vendor's strategy fits (or actually doesn't fit) into blog culture. The end result was a disaster where the authors got blamed and the publisher lost major credibility with some of their top authors.

I first realized that comment spam is an issue back in February but didn't dream that it could go to the level of paying a company to post comments on blogs. That simply shows both a lack of awareness of blog culture and a pressure that companies now feel to be using new media in their marketing strategies without a proper understanding. This publisher's vendor is preying on the sense of urgency companies have to "just be doing something" in new media. You must have a proper understanding of new media before you launch into a marketing strategy with new media elements. You cannot carry over the same old mindset, methodology, and cultural approach of traditional marketing. If your organization views bloggers like deer and you're just going out to hunt for the biggest one, you're missing a very crucial shift in the hunt: the deer now have guns too...


9.25.2007

Tech Review: SketchCast - online whiteboard

I took a little different route today on a tech review and decided to use the actual tool for the review itself. This new tool is called Sketchcast and is an online whiteboard with an optional audio recording feature. I've embedded my review below or you can click the link to check it out.



Link for the feed readers:
http://sketchcast.com/view/0e75T59

9.21.2007

Video of the Week: The Kanye West/Rainn Wilson - The Great Rap Challenge

I didn't see this when it originally aired but it's very funny. Rainn Wilson is one of my favorite actors on The Office so pretty much anything with him in it is going to get me hooked...



Link for the feed readers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9ygY17VsXg

9.19.2007

Doing online video? Keep it under three minutes.

A recent report by the New York Times says the average online video duration is 2.7 minutes. The report also said that 75% of Internet users watch an average of three hours of online video a month and that YouTube had 2.4 billion video views in the month of July. Yes, billion. That's a lot of video viewing. So what are the takeaways from this?

  1. It's a great time to do online video for your organization. People are already there looking for the good stuff. It's not new anymore so you should have an easier time convincing someone that it's a good idea.
  2. Keep the videos brief because an unspoken expectation has now been established, namely that online video viewing is not a major time commitment. People are more likely to give you three minutes rather than five minutes.
  3. The online video world will become increasingly competitive. It's not enough to just do online video. It needs to be remarkable in some way to stand out from the other billion videos.

9.18.2007

Crossway seeks bloggers to review new book

Christian book and Bible publisher, Crossway, announced last week that they are giving bloggers the opportunity to review an upcoming book (John Owen's Communion with the Triune God) through a free download. The announcement came via Justin Taylor's personal blog. Justin is an associate editor for Crossway.

The fact that Crossway is using bloggers this way is a great step for them and one that more publishers will likely pursue in the future. Crossway isn't trying to force bloggers to do anything (which indicates an understanding of blog culture) but is simply providing them with an opportunity to get something early in exchange for a review. Crossway can also look forward to the positive Google search results that will ensue. I commend Crossway for taking advantage of Justin's blog readers. It's a great (and informal) way to promote the new book to the very people who are most willing to talk about it. Justin's readers fall right in line with the types of books Crossway produces so they've got a marketing advantage that many publishers can only dream of.

As good as this idea was I think there are two things that would make Crossway's free download promotion even stronger:

  1. Seek to identify and target bloggers with larger numbers of readers. It's great to get bloggers talking about your book. It's even better to get bloggers with a lot of readers to talk about your book. If Crossway identified ten bloggers with significant numbers of readers, it will have a more immediate impact on book awareness and will lead to even more blog posts from the readers of those select blogs but don't forget there's a right way and a wrong way to pitch the idea to the bloggers too.
  2. Don't quit sending out the PDFs after October 1. I expect there's concern within Crossway that they will hurt sales by sending too many digital files of the book. Though that's an understandable concern, I don't believe it should hinder more free reviews of the book. In fact, I would recommend they give the book away as a PDF regardless of whether someone is going to review it or not. I heard Seth Godin say once that he gave a book away as a free PDF and it was downloaded over two million times. It went to #5 on the Amazon.com Best Seller list and he said he made more money on this book than his previous book that was marketed more conventionally. The hard back version was what people wanted after they read a few pages of the free download and decided it was worth the $40 price. Though it's counterintuitive to give it away, what's really being given away with a free download is the initial impression of the book not the book itself. If the reader likes the impression the book makes they'll be sure to get the real thing.