From the category archives:

Session Notes

John Battele, Search and the Future of Media

by Teresa Valdez Klein on October 27, 2006

The following are my notes from John Battelle’s keynote speech.

  • The Internet economy is the third wave of tech and culture. 1970′s, the back office was being digitized. People used a command line interface to interact with the information. Then the front office was digitized in the 1980′s with the advent of the PC. Now the customers are digitized, and that’s Web 2.0.
  • Command line is how we navigated the 1970′s. The Find command is how we navigated the 1980′s. Now search is the way that we navigate Web 2.0. The command line is natural language. “We are starting to use computers the way we talk to other people.”
  • If search is an interface, then it’s our navigational device. It’s our steering wheel.
  • Customers make the business better and build the business for them. “If you can figure out how to get your customers to help you build your business, you’re in.”
  • Search is the driver of Web 2.0 businesses. It’s our cultures entire point of inquiry.
  • Search has an average of $8.5 per customer acquisition. Audience declares intent, then content finds an audience. “Every business is a content creator now, if you’re not, you don’t exist.” Intent drives your content, what do your customers want? If you want to create content, you must understand the intent of the end user.
  • Conversations are links. Link love drives search. The audience’s attention matters. You have to get into bed with the search engines.
  • How can you employ your customers in the conversation around your products? How do you take advantage of those moments when your product is criticized. Invite users’ input. Your end user tells you what your brand is.
  • Target your advertising to the readers of the sites you’re advertising on. Microsoft advertising on Glenn Fleishman’s blog about the WiFi features in Windows. Dice advertising on sites for IT professionals: “Does your Tech Job suck?”
  • He’s excited about Vox from Six Apart because of its approach to integrating social networks, blogging and more. He’s also thinking there should be an application that allows developers to mashup RSS with structured search.
  • What I see in great blogs is a great publications with a great audience and a passionate editor.

By the way, I’d like to thank John for putting our logo at the top of all his slides. That was very thoughtful of him :-) .

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A Great Rundown of the Scoble’s Talk

by Teresa Valdez Klein on October 27, 2006

I was running around doing logistical stuff during Robert and Maryam’s talk, but I loved what I did get to see.

ConversationRater has a great rundown of their 15 points for a killer blog.

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Why I Disagree with Jason Calacanis about Blogger Junkets and Pay Per Post

by Teresa Valdez Klein on October 26, 2006

Our keynoter Jason Calacanis told me today that if a blogger has to have a conversation with herself about the ethics of taking a product for free and then writing about it, or going on a blogger junket and writing about it, she has already lost the battle in terms of her credibility.

I vehemently disagree. Things are rarely that black and white, and I think there’s room to develop best practices surrounding pay-per-post.

Obviously, lack of disclosure is not an option. If someone pays you or gives you something for free, you have to say that. If there’s a black and white rule surrounding this, that’s the one.

#1: Is this product potentially harmful?
One of our sponsors is Plymouth Gin. They make alcohol. Alcohol has ruined some people’s lives because they are alcoholics. If you drink, do so in moderation. I think the folks at Plymouth would absolutely agree with that.

That said, Plymouth makes a damn fine gin. I’m not an alcoholic, and I’m not allergic to alcohol. I can and do enjoy a good drink. During our dinner last night, the gin expert had us taste three brands of gin in a blind test. I liked the Plymouth best, and far better than I expected I would, even before I knew it was the brand that was sponsoring us. I am genuinely a fan of Plymouth gin. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t say so.

Which brings me to…

#2: Can you genuinely say something positive at least constructive about this product?

If you can’t say something nice constructive/positive about someone’s product and be telling the truth, then don’t engage with the people evangelizing that product. Just don’t do it.

If I’m talking positively about something, money or not, it’s because I mean it.

#3: Do my readers care about this product?

If I blog about high-end lingerie and someone approaches me and asks me to talk about how much I love Plymouth Gin, I might do it because there’s some overlap between the luxury of fine underoos and the luxury of fine gin. But if someone wants me to talk about stock car racing, I’ll say no. My audience cares more about stockings than stock cars.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but I’m really really tired right now, and I’m sure there are more guidelines I haven’t considered. Feel free to bring stuff up in the comments.

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Jason Calacanis: From Weblogs to Netscape

by Teresa Valdez Klein on October 26, 2006

The following are my notes from Jason Calacanis’ keynote speech about authenticity and integrity within commercial social media.

  • Business is about finding incredible people, trusting them, and supporting them.
  • Blogs can help you to clarify what you actually said if your remarks are taken out of context by the press.
  • If Robert Scoble, who is a major outsider, can become such a powerful person within Microsoft in such a short time…this really illustrates the power of blogs.
  • Good bloggers criticize the people who pay their checks.
  • Some people are great bloggers, some people suck at it. Some people make great products, some people suck at it. People who make great products don’t have to fight for their reputations.
  • Want to be an A-list blogger? Anyone can do it. Here’s how: look at Techmeme and write something halfway intelligent about the top story of the day every day for 30 days, come to one or two conferences every month and you’ll be an A-lister. The blogosphere is a true meritocracy. “That’s why I love this medium…how well you do is up to you, nobody else!”
  • If you write intelligent comments on other people’s blogs, people will know who you are.
  • Pay-per-post is evil. It “takes a piss” all over authenticity and integrity. Companies that use it are loser companies. They attract the bloggers who are frustrated with building a business out of blogging. The whole basis of the blogosphere is that it’s based on transparency and authenticity. If it were transparent, it would be different. But if you’re going to take money to talk about something and don’t disclose it, that’s not innovative…it’s lying.
  • Debate is good, do it with a smile.
  • Covert marketing is wrong. He called out Tim Draper for investing $3m in a company that does covert marketing. “Does anybody here like to be decieved?”
  • This podcasting this is going to be big. I didn’t think so two years ago, but I’m frequently wrong. About 20% of what I write is wrong. If you get out there and debate things, you’re going to be wrong sometimes.
  • CalacanisCast will be on PodTech, PodTech will be putting two impoverished children through private school as Jason’s compensation.
  • Jason says he was wrong about YouTube, they “threaded the needle” by convincing companies to put copywrited content out there and make money off it later on.

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So What IS Next in Online Communication?

by Teresa Valdez Klein on October 26, 2006

The following are my notes from the special breakfast session about the future of online communications with Jeremy Pepper of Weber Shandwick, John Starkweather of Microsoft and Jeanette Gibson of Cisco Systems.

  • John: Cell phones are on track to become like wristwatches, you take them everywhere. Any phone with a browser will be able to read all kinds of social media. This will give companies powerful, portable ways of reaching people. If you’re writing a blog, be thinking about small screens and how your blog renders on people’s cell phones.
  • Marketers can add functionality to traditional advertising to enhance relationships with customers. Someday, you’ll point your cell phone at a billboard and be able to purchase the product it advertises automatically. When you go to the ballpark, your cell phone will be able to tell you where you’re supposed to sit and which entrance to use.
  • Q: How does blogging add value for a company? A: Qualitatively, it’s about reaching influencers and customers in a human way. Most executives want an older metric like traffic, PageRank and Alexa ranking.

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Our Legal Eagles

by Teresa Valdez Klein on October 25, 2006

The following are my notes from our legal panel of Phil Mann, Buzz Bruggeman and Kevin O’Keefe at Day One of the Blog Business Summit.

  • What do you do when you get the letter from the lawyer? Phil says, not to contact the other side. Tf you call the other side or call the other lawyer, everything you say may be written down or taken out of context. The intention may be a letter to scare you, or they may be deadly serious. You don’t know which.
  • It’s best never to send a cease and desist letter to a blogger if you’re not prepared to back it up with legal action, and especially if you don’t have a case. It could seriously backfire on you. Kevin used the Warren Kremer Paino case as an example of a time when threatened lawsuits backfire. The bloggers went crazy and the lawsuit couldn’t be dismissed fast enough. It’s always better to try to communicate. The bottom line is: the best thing is to try to communicate with the blogger rather than sending them a cease and desist letter as a first step.
  • If you stick to facts, it’s hard for anyone to win a defamation action.
  • The laywers link to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s overview of legal liability issues for bloggers.
  • What about getting fired for being a blogger? Buzz has looked through all the cases where people have been fired for blogging and never found a case where people were fired for simply blogging. He says they got fired for being stupid and disclosing inappropriate information about salary, proprietary information, etc. “You’re not smart enough to realize that you got fired for being stupid.” You get fired for being stupid, not for blogging.
  • Smart business follow simple practices: hire smart people, give them good guidance, motivate them, give them good tools and get out of the way.
  • Good corporate blogging policies help define protocols that help employees to avoid pitfalls of overlap between personal and professional life in the blogosphere.
  • How are lawyers blogging vis a vis their business? There are a number of examples: Rethink (information about intellectual property), LegalMojo (employment opportunities for lawyers), This Week in Law
  • One particularly great example of Web marketing is a bankruptcy attorney who found her audience where they live. She created a MySpace account because her primary audience was between 20-30 years old. She got lots of clients and her innovation got her radio interviews, and an article in Pittsburgh newspaper. Soon, her story was all over the blogosphere and she had more business than she knew what to do with.
  • Buzz uses the s*** word from the podium…
  • If you want to create controversy on your blog, great. But measure it and write about what you know.
  • Phil says he has recieved more business as a result of his blog in the last two years than he did in 20 years of traditional marketing strategies.

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A little liveblogging at the BBS: Getting Started with Podcasting and Videoblogging

by Jason Preston on October 25, 2006

This latest session has been a bit more in depth than I would normally call “getting started,” but the side-effect of that is that it’s fantastically interesting. There’s been a lot of discussion about:

  • Are you better off doing video or audio? Scoble says it depends on what your message is. If it’s told easily with pictures, you should look into video. But don’t underestimate the reach of good audio – you can listen to something while you are driving, hiking, or knitting.
  • The process of making (recording) a podcast is getting simpler and simpler.
  • Be careful of hosted upload services, like YouTube, because they can end up owning your content.
  • Formats are an open issue still in many ways. If you’re doing audio, mp3 is the most solid choice, but there are all kinds of specific formats for specific devices, and you can tailer your podcast or your videoblog to the kind of device you’re aiming for.

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Dave Taylor: The Future of Findability

by Teresa Valdez Klein on October 25, 2006

The following are my notes from Dave Taylor’s keynote speech on the future of findability. Our fabulous Tris Hussey is also liveblogging this conference over at the Tucows blog.

  • Every business will need to be findable in order to survive. If your clients find your competitors before they find you, you’re out of business.
  • Dave Taylor has the pink Motorola RAZR Phone a purple snap-on cover for his RAZR…phones will soon become as much of an interface for findability as the PC. You can ask your phone, “where’s the closest __________?” and if your business isn’t in that directory, it doesn’t matter how good your product is. You’re out of business.
  • You must read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point because he talks about how people are always influenced by thought and opinion leaders. Every market segment has them, and the first thing you need to do is identify which ones are relevant to your business. You need to get your product in their hands, and you must accept that you don’t control the message.
  • Homepages are obsolete
  • Companies aren’t organizing themselves to create the best, most relevant and most findable content.
  • Companies are holding press conferences, news bureaus and meetings in Second Life.
  • You must be on social networks like MySpace.
  • Put your URL on your schwag and bills to draw people in to your website. Have a sense of whimsy. Perhaps you could have your CEO sing a silly song and advertise that on your invoices…
  • Find your next great employee or joint venture partner online, take a look at LinkedIn or Facebook (for up and coming hotshots)
  • Find bloggers and get them involved in the beta testing of your product.
  • Whether or not you are blogging, the blogosphere exists. You must be aware because bloggers are more likely to be the thought and opinion leaders. Even if your customers don’t read your blog, the journalists at the trade magazines they do read are reading the blogs.
  • Your computer, telephone and television are going to be interchangeable. You must reinvent your business to fit into that space. Your competitors are. The companies that rise to the surface tomorrow will be the ones that are thinking and acting on these issues today.
  • Your content must be fresh in order to stay relevant in the search engines. Google “dances” and changes its algorithms all the time.
  • Transparency is a little bit of a red herring. How transparent do you need to be? It’s a wild and wooly world out there. You need to find what the thought and opinion leaders in your space are doing and find the people who are creating the best practices on transparency.
  • “A blog is just a tool.” Subvert it to your will and the needs of your company. You don’t need to have comments. There are consequences for those choices, but you can make them.
  • Blogs are really cool because they’re cheaper, more search engine friendly, easy to manage and fun to produce, establishing a dialogue with your customers (think “focus group”), you can schedule publication in the future of posts you have written in advance, and you can work with others to produce your content.
  • Q: Is there a place for offline advertising and marketing, especially when you’re launching? A: Of course, but print ads are not enough anymore. You must have an online presence. “We will always have offline. We will always have Paris, but the world is moving online…I have the world’s biggest focus group and it doesn’t cost me a dime.”
  • Write about what you know to become THE person to quote in your industry when the press come looking for a quote.
  • If you can send an e-mail you can blog.
  • Pinging search engines to let them know you have new content. Make sure all those pings are in your defaults. Letting them know they should index it.
  • The reading list. The Tipping Point, Influence by Robert Cialdini. Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail and Dave’s own Growing Your Business with Google.

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