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On the Web

Year 3 Kick Off: Build/Buy/Partner Analysis – 3 of 3

With 2 parts out of the series down and the market research in place, I completed my last item of reviewing items starred in my feed reader and bookmarked pages – basically the final input which ultimately represents the functional equivalent of a 360 review of  last year’s content.  There are several key things I learned which will influence what I do going forward:

  • Search is a really quirky thing.  Odd really how it all works out, not only do I still own giggly quotes on google – it accounts for the majority of new visits – imagine that.  Hmmm, search drives where people go online, while intuitive and logical, it’s always interesting to look at the metrics for a fact based approach.
  • People share and engage just because they got something to add. I’m not sure I have any better an idea than before the effort, but just like the twitter network audit I did last year, I know a little more about the ‘shape’ of things.
  • There are a bunch of real smart people doing cool things out there. Through the interviews I did, the feedback, the links and articles other people wrote which I read, I’m just humbled by cool people I know and the stuff they did last year.

After reviewing all the metrics and content, I’ve been able to identify 3 key persona’s which I think happen to find this place.

Product Management/Brand Marketing Type: A little too busy to really read or surf and is looking for a technology product management filter.  Main value drivers is “quick hit content” and they appear to come back more so than not – I think.

Randoms: Some vaguely relevant search term got you here, but only like 3% show back up. So not sure there is a value driver for this group, but I think they just are out looking for random stuff/questions to be answered.

People I know: This is the most fun group and since you are people I know, you probably don’t have an opinion one way or another, but still chime in on topics every now and again – either on facebook or through comments.  OK, perhaps they have comments, but are polite enough to stay nice and say something in person.  This group is also more or less technology wonks, product marketing types and brand enthusiasts who I may have met at a tweet up, the panic show or some other random career activity.

So since I think I might have this persona thing for Spatially Relevant down, I’m off to putting a plan in place to:

  • Encourage More Conversation
  • Identify a Better Way to Understand the Readers
  • Link more cool people up together

Achieving the Plan: Build or Buy or Partner?

There are many things I could do to drive forth on these initiatives on my own – commit to 2 pieces a week which aren’t random business slides to see what richer metrics I could get which could allow me to meet more cool people.    If I wrote more, I could potentially work towards achieving them on some sort of incremental YoY scale.  Not that interesting to me, since this blogging stuff is tough stuff and I think it makes you gain weight.  So I need a different option.  The option I settled on was partnering with some cool people I know to help build out content, 2 which currently blog, 1 one that hasn’t and 1 that continously says she will.

John Mecke – A technology operator, product management type who really prefers to browse Hoover metrics more than anyone I know. Full disclosure: I worked for John, with him and previously written with him before most recently on a piece to be published in November.

Keith Finger – Met Keith randomly thanks to Erik Wolf, the lead principle at Zero G Creative.  He’s been a very interesting cat whom I really starting to like.  He focuses on brand’s and how integrating a nurturing initiative can dramatically increase a products position in the marketplace.

Sheryl Altschuler – She say’s she’s going to blog, not sure she will.  But one of the best writers I know and she continuously providing feedback to me via email and phone on stuff I write.  I wouldn’t call her a luddite, but she does definitely prefer real life activities.

Stephen Smith – I’ve known Stephen for just over 2 years and he is just one of those cool people you find in life.  Smart guy, motivated and genuine – oh the people you can meet on the internet.

Many thanks for your patience as I worked through this years strategic plan with y’all and let’s see if the 3rd year of Spatially Relevant is as much fun.

If you want to find out more about these folks, just visit the contributors page – did think about calling it the partners page, but wouldn’t really make sense outside of this post.  I also have some random guest posts on the way as well.  Cheers!


I’ll trade you 3 lifestreams for 1 blog

With all the bluster around blogs being dead AGAIN, I thought I just might approach the topic from a personal perspective. The theory being floated around is that blogs are being replaced by lifestreams or at least something smaller than blog, if it is not a lifestream.  A lifestream is a series of links, short content and general real-time communication which represent your life.  Think Facebook wall post and Twitter.

The premise of the latest death knell is that things are going real-time and there isn’t much real-time about blogs, so they must be dying.  At least that is a theme which appears to be developing on the demise of blogging.

Real-time communication while interesting, ultimately doesn’t allow for true synthesis or analysis, it is clearly good for witty retorts alike, but seldom is something I come up with in real-time as valuable to share in the long run.  Think about those great ideas you have when you are brainstorming and the next day when you come back to the list the next day or think about it for a while it just doesn’t work.

Net-net – An idea or comment could be good for the moment, but longevity of something requires a little more thought – even if it is retweeted a bunch.

It’s All About ME Anyhow

I started my blog to have a central repository of ideas and content which I could refer back to and if it happended to be of interest to others, then cool.   Over time I’ve been using my blog for both content I create and for sharing content from others, so I may be sorta lifestreaming, but never really thought of it as such.   Although, I see sharing folks content in the purist form as providing access to others who may not otherwise fish it out of a twitter stream or their increasingly clutter RSS reader.  If you are like me, I have every blog I ever added in Google Reader and way too many tweets in under 5 minutes to stay on top of what is really out there or what might be hidden in a lifestream.

While this blog may at times have a lifestream feel, it’s not like I’m really going to integrate Twitter or move everything over to my Tumblr account, but over time, I’ve found myself sharing more morsels of good content, than creating my own. This is a function of time, not interest or relevance.   Jeremiah puts it best around the latest uprising:

It seems as if blogging is becoming old hat, or at least evolving into something smaller, faster, and more portable. I’m with Louis Gray, (who has finally blogged his stance –great graphics) I’m not going to give up my blog, instead, I think of it as the hub of content, and the rest of the information I aggregate (notice the Twitter bar up top and the Friendfeed integration below). To me, joining the conversation is certainly important, but it doesn’t mean the hub (or corporate website) goes away.

Over the last 30 days I’ve been integrating my life more and more with my blog, but that’s not to say I’m going to quit blogging, like Ruebel, but I’ve made the decision that if I find good information that I want a repository for, then my blog is as good as anything and hopefully others will see value in it.  During one of the last turns at the blogs are dead crank, Brian Clark indicated:

the early bloggers who gained pseudo-celebrity status because they were, well… early, are dwindling in relevance, at least in blog format.

I think it just might be the whole pseudo-celebrity thing which is dying, microblogging is an equalizer for the masses and allows more people access to pseudo-celebrity, if there really is such a thing.  I’ll take cold hard cash over a celebrity and debt any day. What am I saying? Well celebrity is interesting, but doesn’t pay the bills.  I’ve been at dinner twice which two different “celebrities” in the past 6 months whose credit cards wouldn’t support an <$50 bill – ouch!

Twitter and other platforms are changing the shape of the conversation and the number of participants and if you want a larger audience, then perhaps you should change it up a little, but abondoning a platform is probably not the best way to go.  If you want to remain a pseudo-celebrity then you might want to declare blogging dead, it just might sell some books and increase your relevance by citing the obvious – people have limited attention spans.  That doesn’t mean that blogs are dead, just that more people are participating.

Novels are SO DEAD!

Well ok, maybe not, clearly the bound book is getting challenged, but even those aren’t dead.  That of course begs the question how can novels survive if bits are what folks want to consume, must be that it takes all kinds or another way to look at it is that your target market might be different.   There is only so much content a person can come up with which may be why some are moving to shorter venues.  If I focused on 140 characters at a time, I’m fairly sure I’ll never run out of things to type, but maybe things to say.

  • At a conference #conference
  • Just saw X speak, can you believe he just said blogs are dead?
  • Having dinner with @importantpersonA and @importantpersonB
  • I’m so NEVER going to see a cold play concert again!
  • Crappy weather, but at least I have an internet connection

While it might seem that blogging is less relevant among the 140 character crowd, not sure that real time does it justice.  So here is Steve Ruebel’s declaration:

Blogging feels old. Publishing today is all about The Flow. Posterous, my new home, feels more like flow and where the web is going so it’s time for me to do the same with my publishing, which will become daily once again!

It seems more like Steve is trying to publish daily more so than anything or I may be getting it wrong.  I wasn’t aware that daily publishing is what made a blog or even weekly, if that’s the driver then perhaps one should re-evaluate the decision criteria.  Louis Gray nails it:

In the last two years, the rise of microblogging tools and lifestreaming services has given blogging a less-prominent role on everyone’s tongues, but it, in my opinion, is as important as ever. One just needs to make a conscious decision as to what type of data is most appropriate where. Longer, more thoughtful pieces with graphics and type style should go on blogs.

The interaction on Twitter, FriendFeed or other services while interesting, it’s not about critical thinking per se, which is why I try to blog and share ideas.  If all we cared about what the headlines, then we should all just get our news from the “newticker” on the bottom of CNN.

Key Takeaways

  • There has been a population explosion on key platforms which are not long content friendly, but that doesn’t obsolete ideas which should be shared in a more verbose form than supported for status updates.
  • Attention is getting to be a scarce commodity, but that doesn’t mean folks don’t want to read good stuff.
  • Brands, products and people need a home base to drive folks to.
  • New toys, trends and opportunities will continue to present themselves and just with any market you have to pick your channels and target market.

The Social Media Mountain Not Coming to You? Go to the Mountains!

So after attending a good deal of quality events over the last 18 months, regionally and nationally, few outside of SOBCon focus on delivering ongoing value after the conference.  Most conferences are “over and out”, except for the recap posts.   Ultimately you end up with a bunch of business cards, new twitter adds and some swag which probably doesn’t even make the plane.  So Mountain Social is a concept I’ve been working with friends on for about a year, exactly a year in June when I first spoke to some of the planned speakers and the real event planner, Emily.   The event became real after others were willing to share the risk and do the work, so with risk mitigated, commitment in place and folks signed up to help this is now a reality.  Mountain Social 2009 kicks off in the Mountains this fall.  A place which allow communing with nature, wireless, newly made friends and even family.

Many thanks to the folks which are making it happen and basically doing the work – John, Leti and Em.

So What is Mountain Social Focusing On?

The main focus is connecting people, enjoying the environment and providing an place for open discussion.  Each session, panel or workshop will provide real-world use cases of things that worked, didn’t work and those which the results aren’t in on.  With the increasing scrutiny on marketing budgets the group at Mountain Social will explore participant situations and collaboratively work scenarios as a group to help drive meaningful takeaways for the participants.  Below is the not-so-elevator pitch from the site:

The 2009 Mountain Social Media Summit focuses on the 4 P’s of Social Media: Personas, Problems, Projects and Profits.

Personas: Who leverages social media, what are the opportunities and why is social media important in a personal, professional and commercial context.

Problems: What challenges exist for social marketers? What problems does media address? What problems exist for social media.  Understand the opportunities, obstacles and value social media can bring to your business or your personal growth.

Projects: Understanding use cases and case studies which highlight key lessons and themes which are important.

Profits: Where is the market opportunity, revenue channels and process improvements.  Can social media increase customer acquisition, drive cost reduction and improve customer/market awareness?

Why a conference in the Mountains?

Why not?  Because the site works – scenic, wired and more to do than just geek out and drink, of course most will geek out and drink, but there are options and your headache is you own fault.  The facility rocks and so does the community, at least this time of year.

Nestled about 95 miles outside Hartfield Airport and equally drivable from TN, NC and SC, Helen is about one of the most scenic place in the whole state – Alpine Splendor and the Appalachian Trail.  The city of Helen also kicks off it’s biggest event of the year, Oktoberfest which is very similar to Alpenfest which was the local festival in the place I grew up, Gaylord, MI.

Rationalization: Helen’s Oktoberfest is like 3X the size of Alpenfest due to it’s closeness to other population centers and in a much more scenic landscape.  Unicoi also offers options for every budget (rooms on resort, cabins, and camping), level of comfort and general interest in things like mountain biking or hiking the water falls which may be of interest of others you know, who otherwise might not consider traveling with you on one of these events.  It is after all about relationship and building a sustaining community of folks to call on, get insights from and work with in the future.

Reality: Emily and I basically dig the mountains and sharing experiences and developing relationships is critical to succeeding in the marketplace.ustry over a weekend and carrying forward the relationships.

The first Mountain Social should be a great time, hope to see you there.

The Facts

What: Social Media Conference

Topic : Social Execution and Branding.

Type: Panel

Date: 9/11/09-9/13/09 – I think I’m just taking the 10th-14th to relax in the mtns.

Price: $495 through 6/20, after $545 to $595

Would be cool to catch up with y’all.  Cheers!

SoCon09: Oh the people you meet outside the perimeter

#SoCon09 basically proved it was Atlanta’s premier Social Media event yesterday without question.  The event however was not located in Atlanta, much to the chagrin of Andrew Wilson, who just might understand that Atlanta has a brand identity issue.   The conference had record attendance of like 325 folks.

Some of the highlights from my perspective:

  • KSU got a $1.5M grant to research journalism in context of social media
  • Chris Carfi rearranged the room and lead the engaging keynote discussion on markets
  • basically STOPPED due to refreshes for those on the KSU network
  • #SoCon09 sustained as a trending topic right up until the end of the day
  • Met at least 6 people from Twitter I hadn’t met before – real life can be fun
  • Met EVEN MORE people who I will now get to know better on Twitter
  • Learned about really cool stuff people are doing in Atlanta – where are you people the rest of the year?
  • Jeff Haynie reaffirmed that Your Idea Sucks and it is about execution!
  • I met a person more theoretical and conceptual than myself, ok I met Greg Bond before, just didn’t realize it.
  • Plenty of pictures shared in real-time
  • I learned that facilitating a discussion is far more rewarding than giving a presentation
  • I figured out you can go to a conference and make it to baby shower without issue, even if you start your day in Kennesaw

So who was there? A bunch of people, but to highlight a few and create pseudo blog roll:

At the end of the day, a big thanks has to go out to Leonard Witt, Sherry Heyl and all the folks at KSU.  The event clearly shows that technology interest and expertise isn’t in short supply in Atlanta.   As a follow up, I started trolling through the event tweets and the tweet below made me ask myself a question: So why would we wait until next year to synch up?


We shouldn’t!  Every month ATL Tweeters and Social Media Club Atlanta meet to share ideas, discuss things we are seeing in the community and try to find ways to get just a little more social in ATL.

If I left you off the “blog roll”, I apologize, I recreated via hash tags and cards I had in my pocket – so leave a comment and your link so everyone can read other folks out there in the Greater Atlanta Area.

Great meeting y’all and see you at either ATL Tweeters or the next Social Media Club meeting.