Nominations are now closed! – To vote for your favourite see here
The Open Web Awards are now open for nominations until the 6th December, and this stage of the proceeding is quite open plan.
The current 30 blogging partners (increasing daily) have been provided with a list of categories to accept nominations for, and it is down to each blog to decide how to proceed with collecting nominations, whether to make individual posts for each category, or to handle things from a single post.
Voting will take place in a much more refined manner.
Emphasis here is going to be placed on other categories, but that doesn’t restrict you nominating in multiple categories and you are allowed to make nominations on multiple blogs taking part, so you make the same nominations here, on my solo blog, and on the other 28 blogs taking part, though some may have less friendly guidelines.
Has the exponential growth of Sphinn impressed you?
Are you a Stumbleupon addict?
Are you Stirring it up on Mixx?
Are you a devout (or immoral) Digger?
We just can’t stick to social news however, don’t forget how important Facebook, Twitter, Pownce etc are becoming in your daily online lives
How do you fire up your day?
How To Nominate
We are going to make this easy to avoid multiple comments
I am going to allow up to 3 nominations for each category, just add an additional line with a nomination if you want to nominate say more that one widget or niche social network.
Just because someone else has already nominated a site doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also nominate it. If they end up with nominations for 100s of different widgets, I am sure there will have to be some filtering, so your additional votes will be important.
I have made it easy to copy and paste the code.
If you don’t want to nominate a service for a particular category, then just delete the line.
With me today is Chris McGill, founder of the latest and greatest social news site, mixx.com. Mixx, only a 7 week old community that’s still in beta, has really taken off as of late, and has been featured in TechCrunch and other prominent blogs.
1 – You’ve got an impressive looking background. Can you tell us a little about your experience with Yahoo and USA Today, and perhaps how these experiences prepared you for the foray into making a social news site?
My experiences at Yahoo and at USA Today were pretty different. Yahoo, back in the day under Mallet and TK and the crew, was pretty much the Wild West. We were told to do what we thought was right. And there were literally dogs and an assortment of other critters running in the hallways. I’m proud of what we did with Yahoo News. We took a different approach—rather than producing news we simply empowered the user to customize what they wanted to look at, ignore what they didn’t, take action, share, see what was the most popular and go to the source if we didn’t have the content on Yahoo itself. Mixx is just a natural extension of that.
Working in a traditional press corporation like USA Today is very different. There is a certain way of doing things and while there are many people vigorously trying to adapt, long-standing culture and infrastructure (like big expensive iron presses) make it difficult to change rapidly. My time at USA Today gave me a huge appreciation for what the traditional press does for all of us. I’ve met reporters who literally walk into battle zones and risk their lives (usually getting paid very little to do so) to bring back information vital for all of us to make political, financial and moral decisions.
Taken together, my experiences with Yahoo News and USA Today gave me some understanding of what people want out of information and how they use it.
At Mixx, our mission is to bring together users and publishers (whether that’s a Mommy Blogger or big media) who are interested in the same topics. If we succeed, then everyone wins.
2 – What made you decide to start a social news site in the first place? Mixx doesn’t really seem like a niche site, so it appears to be direct competition with the major players (Digg, Reddit, Propeller, StumbleUpon, Newsvine, Del.icio.us)? I suppose though that Mixx’s personalization aspect makes it a different experience – is this the plan?
First, I like all those other sites and they certainly served as inspiration. But I wanted to take what these other sites do well and then be able to focus it on the things that I’m interested in. For example, sure, I want to know what people in general are interested in (text, photos, videos), but I also want to know what people in Bethesda, MD, are telling me I should look at, what Red Sox fans are raving or complaining about, and what people who are tracking research on Alzheimer’s (a family legacy I would prefer to avoid) are telling me is important. I wasn’t able to do that with any of the existing sites.
On Mixx, I’ve set up a private group for my co-workers, as well as one for the parents of my daughter’s pre-school classmates. I’m guessing that those groups wouldn’t be of much interest to many other people. Look, the reality is that we all have different interests; a one-size-fits-all recommendation board isn’t going to be very helpful to a diverse group of people. So a mom in Des Moines who comes to Mixx to find information relevant to her life and interests is just as welcome as our community of hard-core techies who use tags to drill down into tech topics. And it’s important to note that anyone who comes to Mixx can create topics of interest if they do not already exist, by using tags.
There are four ideas that drive us:
1) Personalization: We take as our example the likes of MyYahoo, Pageflakes and Netvibes.
2) Democratization: Obviously Digg and Reddit blazed the trail here.
3) Personal contact only when the user wants it: LinkedIn and Facebook were our standards.
4) Marvin Gaye: Because in Marvin’s words, “We’re all sensitive people with so much to give.”
3 – If I may, would love to share some ideas for improvement with you.
a. Many successful social sites have useful browser plugins to increase your ability to interact with the community, even when you aren’t directly on the site. Any plans for a toolbar release?
We absolutely have plans to do a toolbar. Giving our members a constant touch-point to Mixx is a great community builder—not to mention just good business.
b. Any plans for an open API? I’m sure that more developers could take the community to the next level.
Ah, someone’s been sneaking a look at our roadmap! APIs are one of the projects we’re working on right now. Our initial plan is to use them to build a Facebook application, but by opening up, we’re certainly hopeful that the community will step in and create cool applications that we never envisioned.
c. If I friend a user, they get an email that says that
<user> thinks you are a really cool person who knows your way around the web.
If they friend me back, I get a message saying:
<user> thinks you are a really cool person who knows your way around the web.
With the current growth rate of Mixx, I would find it easier to keep track if a friend back message said
<user> has returned the favor and friended you back.
This is a great suggestion, and probably something we should have been doing from the start. We’ve been working on our email communications, so we can definitely add in this idea.
d. How about giving users the ability to private message each other?
This is also on our roadmap. Allowing direct communications between users is a wonderful community-builder and something we want to move on as soon as we can. Unfortunately (or maybe it’s a good thing), we have a very long roadmap, and we’ve had such great feedback from the community that we want to give priority to some of their most-requested items.
e. How about making a Mixx button similar to Digg, Reddit and Sphinn that shows the number of votes an item has received?
A gallery of Mixx buttons is on the way. We hope to have some available on the site within a couple of weeks. But our first priority is to complete the APIs that we talked about earlier.
Let me start off by saying that we have a lot of respect for what Digg has created. They’ve provided their users with an amazing set of tools to recommend content to each other. They also have a very strong community, and they have obviously been very successful and a key part of the Web 2.0 movement.
As far as Greg getting banned…I have no idea what happened. All I know is that Greg is a fabulous and active member of the Mixx community and we are very happy to have him.
5 – There are some good looking signs that Mixx is on the move. Some users have created the mixxingbowl, a forum site for Mixx, and stats show Mixx increasing fast. How many users are in the system now, and do you think that this rate of growth can compete with other social news sites?
The things we are seeing in the community just blow us away. Seriously, it is just incredibly heartening. People we had never talked to went out and set up a site called mixxingbowl.com to discuss what they like and what they don’t like about Mixx, as well as ways they can help us. I have been in the digital information business for nearly a decade—never seen anything like it. I think it does two things: 1) It shows that what we’re trying to do has struck a cord out there and people really appreciate it and, 2) it makes us want to run to work every morning to try to execute for these people. It is crazy fun, really. Emphasis on both the crazy and the fun.
As for our growth, we are seeing some encouraging trends. Visits and page views continue to rise on a day-over-day basis. Time spent on the site is increasing. We’re seeing a lot more voting and commenting. The photos section is really taking off. I could go on (and on and on!), but we know that we have a long way to go, and want to keep working with our users to build a friendly, vibrant community where people come to find content in their areas of interest.
6 – Do you see Mixx as an acquisition target? Something like Reddit or Newsvine?
I know some people will find it hard to believe, but we don’t even think about that right now. Maybe someday, but right now what we think about it how to make the product better and what the community is telling us they want.
7 – Are you pleased with the usage and turnout on Mixx so far? What are your goals?
We’re thrilled with the turnout—who wouldn’t be? We’re still really little because we’ve only been out for seven weeks, but as we continue to grow, we’re going to keep working to maintain the small community feel—we think the way we’re structured will allow us to do that. Our goal is to have a happy, engaged community that people will want to make a part of their daily routine.
8 – Why did you decide not to have any category of online marketing stuff, they have Apple but no Microsoft = back to the old Digg setup.
For a while we had Science and Tech in the same bucket and were limited by space as to how many sub-categories, or topics, we offered there. When we split those categories in two, we were able to create specific topics that people had been asking for—like Linux and Design. One of our next upgrades will include a few more topics that folks have been requesting—Microsoft and Software are two that come to mind.
The thing to remember is that categories are just plain old stock… users can set up tags to create ANY category they want.
9 – Does Mixx discourage or encourage submitting your own content? Communities such as Digg are not very big on having users submit their own content. Whereas many niche communities such as Sphinn actively encourage self-submissions of quality content by an author.
10 – Will there be a way to distinguish between friends, followers and mutual friends? I look at my page of followers and don’t know who I have friended back.
Great suggestions keep coming. We absolutely should do this, and will be part of what we’re doing as a general theme to encourage more community features to the site.
Thanks so much for your time, Chris! You’re really well on your way to building a great community. I’m glad you and your team are receptive to the feedback within your users.
<rant> The sheer propensity of mainstream humans to congregate in targetable, virulent, and roaming electronic social packs has resulted in spawning a beautiful new breed of working class public relations heroes: “The Social Media Czars.”
A social media Czar is a true, brilliant, and presumably selfless influencer whose authority was born out of peoples’ revolt, acute intuition, and holistic intent. Nobody questions him or her. Nobody would dare question them. The problem is that some (not all) social media power brokers are mob-bred mercenaries who are at least partially full of shit. (more…)
Aim for targets within your reach, thus if you don’t have a strong enough hook, don’t try to land a big fish.
Random Activity vs Planned Method of Attack
Whilst it is possible to become a bridge between online social circles and to target multiple niches simultaneously, it is certainly a lot more time consuming to do successfully.
Defining a single core audience and becoming a thought leader in that single marketplace is ultimately a better long-term strategy than trying to become “all things to all men”.
Random Stats vs Accountable Statistical Measures
This one is a hard one to pin down – lots of aspects of social media are extremely difficult to track accurately, especially things like RSS Subscriptions or votes on social voting buttons.
Try monitoring things like open rate in your feed stats, compared to number of comments and the number of links your receive on your blog. Surprisingly they do not always correlate.
One of my most read posts in my RSS Feed on Andybeard.eu has but 2 comments – it is actually quite recent. Conversely my discussions relating to Google’s PageRank updates in October are poor performers in my RSS stats, but bring in a lot of links and traffic.
Random Content vs Planned Content Strategy
Plan your content strategy around your previously defined goals, not what is happening in the blogosphere. Look on discussions and events happening outside of your niches as opportunities if they are related to your goals, or can be leveraged.
Random Encounters vs Optimized Role Management
This is more on the corporate front. When you enter social media marketing channels, there will be a need for 2-way conversation – with customers and clients, members of the press and bloggers, raving fans and detractors in the public eye.
A decision needs to be made on how you will react to different instances, preferably in advance with multiple options and a “plan B”. People do go on holiday, and things will not always go as you plan.
Random Pathways vs Defined Traffic Funnel
Again an enigma – traffic will be coming in from multiple sources and often they will have different preferences in how they can be treated whilst visiting your website.
If you have ever done PPC advertising with multiple landing pages, think of how that can be applied to Social Media Marketing by offering a different landing page to traffic from different sources.
Traffic vs Targeted Traffic
Ultimately you are looking for people visiting your site who have some value, though that doesn’t necessarily mean direct financial value. A popular stumbler or digg user who likes your content but would not be looking to buy from you would be a good example, or possibly potential link partners in a similar niche.
Even people visiting your site who ultimately just click away on some advertising are valuable, not just with PayPerClick advertising but things like site sponsorships. Bringing value to your site sponsors is also important in brand recognition and traffic.
Topical Linking vs Strategic Linking
Link to a regular reader in your niche who doesn’t get much traffic
Link to someone in your niche who has never read your blog
Promote someone’s niche ranking list to get included
Included someone in your niche ranking list to get traffic
Link to like minded dofollow blogs because you get a link from their trackbacks
Think out of the box with your linking
Use tools such as Technorati, Google Blogsearch, Techmeme & Megite to your advantage – use them strategically.
Reporter vs News Epicentre
If there is a large conversation about a topic related to your niche, do you want to be a spoke on the wheel or the hub of conversation?
Whilst it might not initially be possible to become a source for explosive stories, it is possible to become an acknowledge filter of the conversation.
Services such as Techmeme and Megite allow you to identify hubs of conversation, and also to identify other bloggers who are also hubs of the conversation. Hubs of conversation are more likely to write followup articles on the same subject, and in general are link friendly, thus if you offer insight along with links to other sources of information, the chances of being brought into the conversation increase.
Techmeme is itself a hub, but has the disadvantage of not offering commentary, and does get criticism for not covering niche bloggers as well as a human.
Self Orientated vs Customer Orientated
Social media is just that… social – if your motive for getting involved is purely for personal gain, you are wasting your time.
Social media site users are smart, and opinionated. If they feel they are being manipulated or gamed, they are going to call you out on it, and there can be negative ramifications.
The best way to demonstrate to future subscribers and hopefully customers why they should be reading your content, or doing business with you is to interact with them.
In some lines of work you must be prepared to “move the free line” thus you will be giving far more of yourself than you might initially receive in return.
I will be addressing each of these topics in much greater detail in future posts, but I would love to ask you which aspect of your social media marketing strategy you find most difficult to pin down?
Greetings all – thought I would start off by setting the record straight and rebut the post from Brian that Twitter is just for useless cat updates. Even Mashable seems to poke fun at my brethren.
The nerve! You’ll find my not so useless Twittering activity here, as I am regarded as a thought leader in feline social media. People and cats alike are attuned to the microblogging that is Twitter.
The concept of Twitter is sound, as are most projects started out by Evan Williams (Blogger, Twitter, Odeo), giving folks the ability to write as a quick stream of thought. It’s all about quick notes to self, dropping subtle hints, and bookmarking.
You can’t write more than 140 characters by design – anything beyond that is a blog post in the works. The thing I like best about Twitter is that it gives the ability to keep direct and constant communication with your friends, blog readers, and customers without needing to divert off focus with your blog.
Twitter might at first be perceived as noise when there is more than enough signal to keep you busy. There’s value in noise. Lots of value – and Twitter is a raw base for doing some very interesting data mining.
If you’re new to Twitter, check out the Newbie’s Guide to Twitter. Once you’re done with that, here are some other helpful pages to help you can acclimated to Twitter:
Some people are hopelessly late. Are you one of them? Many people still think that
search engine submission
meta tag optimization
and similar SEO anachronisms straight out of the nineteenth century will get them website traffic and make it an authority. Wake up, you have been asleep for more than a century. Stop practicing steampunk SEO tactics and start dealing with the future or rather the current web, web 2.0
In web 2.0 we also speak of the social web. The social web is not a web of spiders anymore, it’s a web of humans. Yes, people like you and me. Webmasters, bloggers, social media users, readers, people who seemingly do not contribute anything but click.
Something radically changed. And you were asleep. You didn’t notice it while you were exchanging links in your footer, watching your pagerank bar and adding three different synonyms of the same word into your page title.
Maybe you have been on Digg, Flickr or YouTube already and you read some blogs like BoingBoing.
If you want to succeed in todays web memorize some more of these names:
Just to name some of my favorites and some sites you just can’t ignore anymore…
But it’s not just about the sites, the brands, the latest hypes.
It’s about you. But it’s not only about you. It’s also about your peers, about your neighbours, your friends or even your competitors!
While you depended on the new deity, Google, the world has moved on.
While you removed links to other sites so that you do not loose PageRank others have been linking generously. While you did not sleep at night watching your PageRank bar in anxiety others uninstalled the Google toolbar. While you were determining the ideal keyword density others were socializing with their peers. They were creating relationships, building up power profiles, connecting with their colleagues around the globe.
They rank in Google above you, as a side effect, some of them do not even have PageRank but they not only outrank you but their traffic is ten or hundred times bigger than yours. They even link their own competition as you call it. Either you do it too or you’ll be forgotten and marginalized. Start now. Read on. It’s not too late yet. Be friendly to your peers. You depend on them.
I don’t know about you but I often find myself wanting to do more with social media sites, I want to know when posts on my sites are submitted, what my friends are up to, who’s going hot, who I should be begging to submit my posts because their submissions always go hot. Like many I’m fascinated with social media and the mechanisms behind them.
RSS – Backend of the social web
Most people will be familiar with RSS (really simple syndication) and the concept of feed Readers, sites like Digg, Stumbleupon and Pligg sites like Sphinn all have RSS feeds for their up and coming and Hot posts. Many also offer additional feeds with perhaps Digg going the furthest by even offering an RSS version of search results. RSS provides a simple clutter free version of the site making it much easier to manipulate and combine several feeds providing a single source for you social fix.
Yahoo provides just the tool for the manipulation of feeds in the form of Yahoo pipes, there are others including tools from Microsoft and a much more advanced Mashup tool by Google. However Pipes is probably the best known and most used. Rather then provide step by step instructions on how to use Pipes I have found a selection of good tutorials to get you started. Remember to view sample pipes, rather then just the results you will need a Yahoo ID and be logged in
If you want to play with any of the example pipes then simply visit the pipes home page, and click the clone button this will create a copy in your account, just remember to hit save when you are finished.
Once you have your pipe sorted you will want to import it to your favourite application, on the published pipes page you will find several ways to get your data, via email, phone or as we will more likely want by RSS.
To get the RSS simply choose the more options, then the RSS option, copy the URL and your there.
Pipes for Socialites
With the basics of Pipes sorted lets jump into a useful pipe. This simple pipe which is a modified and simplified version of one of Engtechs provides a list of submissions on Digg for a given site. With it you will not have to worry if your site is on Digg without your knowledge.
As you can see the pipe has just 5 components, though to be fair only two of them are of any note, the source which is the Digg search RSS feed and the Regex, of all the things that people are afraid of Regular expressions has to be high on the list, but in reality they are nothing to be scared of.
This example only works with Digg but to modify it for use with Reddit is not hard or any site which offers RSS version of their search which sadly most Pligg sites do not.
Demo Pipes for socialites
seeing your Digg submit is not the only thing you can do people have been coming up with hundreds of uses:
When I became a Webmaster in 2001 the Web was so different than it is today. Becoming successful was much easier. I started making money fairly quickly. My rules were pretty simple as a Webmaster back then.
Create a beautiful site,
keep up with SEO and tweak my site often,
create fresh content.
But, what wasn’t included in my rules for success back then was personal relationship. And, for me, that is what I found was the biggest change between the original World Wide Web and Web 2.0. Yes, the above is still true. Having a beautiful website that is constantly being optimized and fresh content added often is still extremely important, but it is not enough anymore. Personal Interaction with readers and other Webmasters and Bloggers in your Business Niche is a must.
Times have changed. If I had continued down that Anti-Social path I would have lost everything I had worked so hard to create. With the evolution of the World Wide Web into Web 2.0 came Social Media. Social Media is the way we converse with others over the internet. And, all Webmasters should be adding Social Media to their Business Plan immediately.
Here are some of the ways a Webmaster who is stuck in Web 1.0 can start using Social Media.
Commenting (on other blogs and responding to comments on your blog)
Social Media brings back human Relationship to a standard Website. In order to be successful you need to add personal relationship to your business equation. Without adding Social Media I promise you that you will not see the true ability of your site.
“If you’re not participating, you willingly give up mindshare and fail to influence.”
There is no room for Anti-Social on the Web today. So, if you are not a “people person” then you need to look inside yourself and figure out if this truly is what you want to do. If it is, move past it. The fact of the matter is that anyone can have a Website or be a Blogger. But, not every Webmaster or Blogger can be a Success.
There is only one Equation for success on the Web today. And, that equation includes Social Media. If you want Online Success there is no room for AntiSocial!!
When I started looking at my latest blogging performance, I noticed that my posts have been much shorter lately on social media. Much less than when I would primarily write about blogging tips and starting a blog.
Then, I started to look at some of my daily social media activities:
Reading RSS feeds of my favorite blogs (I hate RSS, even full feed – but they are a necessary evil. Still, I try to actually read blogs that I like)
Wow, all these activities are really fragmenting. Not super time consuming, as you can multitask, but fragmenting. Like 20 tabs up in Firefox and other apps all over the place fragmenting.
Can we really multitask as well as we think? Kathy Sierra, one of my favorite bloggers ever, would argue that we cannot multitask effectively. (By the way Kathy, if you read this – please, please return to blogging. The world needs you).
So, does this mean that I’m out of the social media space? No way! In fact, expect to see much more from me social media wise very soon 😉
What’s the plan then, you ask? Easy. Instead of suffering from social media overload, look at a few other disciplines and tips for help:
1 – Focus. Getting hit from different IM’s, especially from offline ones when first signing in can really send you off in different directions. Actually turn off IM once in a while. I’ve tried this off and on over the last week or so, and some people were actually concerned 🙂
2 – Sleep. Whenever I get tired, but always wake up at the same time (for me, this is 6am). I first saw this on Evan Williams’ blog but it’s originally from Steve Pavlina
3 – Balance. Whether you have a physical / sports, religious / spiritual, art, or whatever outlet – use it. I’m personally a very religious person, and am glad that I am.
4 – Stop talking about social media to people that don’t care about it. Try not to talk everyone’s ear off about social media that isn’t in the space. My apologies to all family and friends that still don’t know what I do, but see that I’m clearly excited about it 🙂 You know that guy that walks around with the hands free that looks like he’s talking to himself? Annoying, right? Don’t be him.
5 – Family time. Whether you’re an 18 year old social media pro or someone with a wife and kids, your family likes you. Walk away from the computer for a few minutes. You might notice that your kids have grown since you last looked at them 🙂
6 – Cross pollinate your brain. Find something opposite of social media to do for a while to let the social media parts of your brain recharge. You’re an SEO? Go do SEO (non-social media) work for your clients. You’re a zookeeper? Well, feed those seals already. They can’t live on Diggs alone! 🙂 Learn some new skills or enhance ones that you already have.
7 – Unplug. Do something that’s not in front of the computer (since you’ll be tempted to Stumble it if it is something good). Read a book, watch a movie, do some knitting, cook, eat, play a game, jump out of a plane – whatever. A friend of mine even went so far as to go into an underwater cage where folks from above throw food down so that Great White Sharks try to get into your cage. He says it’s a rush, but I think I’ll read a book. 🙂
Welcome to the new wisdom of crowds. Each member of Collective Thoughts is here because not only are they a known or rising star in their own field, but they also have a passion and unique understanding on social media. Together, we make up Collective Thoughts. More