Archive for December, 2007

Open Web Awards: Judge’s Choices Winners!

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Open Web AwardsOpen Web Awards: Judge's Choices Winners!

Hello everybody who voted in the Open Web Awards hosted by Mashable.

Back in November Mashable presented their Open Web Awards and invited Collective Thoughts to be one of the Judges. The Open Web Awards is the first ever online, open collaborative awards event, to recognize the best online communities representing web 2.0

We would like to anounce the overall “people’s choice” winners.

Mainstream and Large Social Networks = Facebook

Applications and Widgets = Flock

Social News and Social Bookmarking = Digg

Social Search = Mahalo

Sports and Fitness = ESPN

Photo Sharing = Flickr

Video Sharing = YouTube

Start Pages = Netvibes

Places and Events = Meetup

Music = Last.fm

Social Shopping = Woot

Mobile = Twitter

Niche and Miscellaneous Social Networks = FilmCrave

Thank you to everyone who participated with us in this event.

Keeping Up With Your Blog Visitors: An Interview with MyBlogLog

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

MyBlogLogWe at Collective Thoughts are big fans of the MyBlogLog service, and went out to interview Ian Kennedy, Product Manager for MyBlogLog at Yahoo. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Ian.

1 – Tell us a little about your background, and how you’ve found the experience of being with Yahoo vs. running Product Development for MyBlogLog.

I got into blogging in 2003 when I was working at Dow Jones as a Product Manager. Blogging allowed me to reach out directly to my customers and get feedback on new features. I’ve been blogging ever since, and working with bloggers at MyBlogLog is a natural extension of my interests. I’ve been at Yahoo! for just over two years and joined the MyBlogLog team last summer after stints with Corporate Development and the Yahoo Publisher Network. Working with the MyBlogLog team has been great. I particularly enjoy the ability to release more often and try out new features. While a more established Yahoo! product with hundreds of millions of users may only do a release every couple of weeks, MyBlogLog usually does several minor releases a day while and we try and push out a user-facing feature once a week if possible.

2 – Mybloglog has been working on an API for months but have yet to release it. Could you give us a hint as to when is the API coming?

Thanks for asking. I know I sound like a broken record but our beta release is literally around the corner. We’ve been working with Yahoo Developer Network to ensure the API conforms to the highest quality standards. The good news is that we’re going to be ready to go with the invitation-only beta in January. If you’re interested in being considered for the beta, there will be an opportunity to submit an application in January when the beta is launched.

3 – Google’s OpenSocial has been all the rage lately, as far as social networking platforms go. Any plans to join the fray?

We’re looking at OpenSocial carefully and feel that we may potentially have a lot to contribute once the API is fully baked and OpenSocial has matured a bit. For one thing, as one of the few services out there that can map your various service identities together, MyBlogLog can bring a lot of value to developers. For example, via the “services” tab our users have the opportunity to share not only their delicious ID but also their YouTube ID. The API will allow you to look these up and cross reference them with each other which could be useful to any OpenSocial application looking for broader appeal.

4 – Any plans on including a way to have tagging related to content rather than a whole blog in the future?

Yes. That’s about all I can say at this time. Stay tuned!

5 – How has the migration from a small company to a department in a large global business that is Yahoo gone?

It’s been a balance of payoffs. On the one hand we can’t move quite as fast as we’d like, but on the other hand we now have MyBlogLog servers in two colos on each US coast. There’s been more overhead in code review, but at the same time we have at our fingertips all sorts of internal tools that have been built to help manage large, dynamic databases. MyBlogLog on its own moved quickly to gain attention from the innovator crowd; and Yahoo!’s core expertise is taking something innovative and re-packaging it for broader adoption by the mainstream so we feel like we’re set up for success.

6 – What, in your opinion, makes Mybloglog stand out from similar services? What is the value proposition for a blogger to install yet another widget in their sidebar given the vast landscape of products. Places like Blog Catalog come to mind.

Our focus for the past several months has been on infrastructure to make sure that MyBlogLog can scale to meet the needs of a Yahoo!-scale audience. To that end, existing users should notice that performance of our widgets has gotten better and some of the bumps of the past are gone. Secondly, we have now tied the MyBlogLog login with Yahoo!’s login so each MyBlogLog account will automatically be associated with a Yahoo! ID. This will allow us to do some useful things going forward like making your MyBlogLog profile information available for use elsewhere on the Yahoo! network and make any Yahoo!-specific information available to the MyBlogLog community. In both cases the options for personalization of our users’ experience should improve.

7 – What plans if any do you have to expand your premium services such as stats?

We have no plans to extend the existing solution, but we are looking forward to using the API to make stats more broadly available on other platforms. We think it’d be cool to see your stats in a desktop widget or via your cellphone, which would make premium features such as intraday stats that much more compelling.

8 – How does MyBlogLog get its message out to users and has the channels of communication changed now they are part of Yahoo?

Our channels are pretty much the same as before. We primarily use our blog but also use other Yahoo-specific channels such as the corporate blog and we also printed up a bunch of stickers to hand out to people we meet. The world tour and guest appearence on Good Morning America have been put on hold for the moment 😉

9 – We used to love the monthly updates in MBL growth during the early days, how many members, how many widgets installed, and widget displays – will we ever see such openness again in the future?

Sure. We have over 350,000 members with our widgets consistently generating over 19M daily impressions. The number of widgets installed is an internal stat we’re not sharing at this time.

10 – Do you think Mybloglog reached its critical mass in terms of growth?

No. I think we’re still a pretty niche product. There’s no real reason to use MyBlogLog unless you have a website. We have a number of features in the hopper that will change that and make MyBlogLog interesting for anyone who uses the web on a regular basis, which we think will lead to broader adoption.

11 – Many people reacted critically to the broadcast feature how has MyBlogLog policed this feature and should they be the ones policing?

We did two things related to messaging – back in June, we enabled the ability to message all members of your community, which is the controversial feature to which I think you’re referring. By giving our users the power to message their entire community we may have opened the door to compulsive messagers that feel the need to tell everyone they know about everything they learn. In the end, the controls that allow people to get these updates are in our user’s hands. If you don’t want to get these messages via email, then you can turn off email updates. If you don’t want to get these messages period and feel that they do not bring any value to you, then, just as you would remove an RSS feed from your reader, you need to re-consider the benefits of being connected to such a chatterbox anyway. We have not resorted to heavy-handedness in managing the messages as we think joining or leaving a community should be feedback enough to keep all but the most egregious offenders at bay.

(Note that there if anyone has any thoughts on what they would like to see on MyBlogLog in the future, there is a suggestion area on Yahoo to leave feedback.)

Time to vote – Open Web Awards

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

It’s time to get those fingers ready and to get voting in the Open Web Awards 2007, you helped us choose who we would put forward to the various votes and now its time to see who you want to go on to San Francisco.

“You are voting for your favourite in the various categories in the Open Web Awards, a distributed contest to find the best sites on the web. The top three sites in each category will proceed to the final round starting December 17th, and there will be an awards ceremony at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco on January 10th, 2008.”

To Vote – http://mashable.com/openwebawards

You have until 16th of December a run down of all the nominations and for more information please visit the Mashable recap page.

To all the nominations good luck from the Collective Thoughts team, and if your blog is not one of the nominated why not try your luck as one of our social ninjas.

Become the news source

Friday, December 7th, 2007

social media HackTim looks at why becoming a news blogger is hard work and how simple changes to page layouts and designs can attract and promote your news blogs or any site even if he doesn’t use all the tricks himself.


Most bloggers dream of becoming a major source of news and information, millions of visitors and loads of links when you break yet another story. The pace is fast and furious with near daily race to be the first to get the scoop much like traditional media journalism. A vast quantity of front page traffic on Digg and other social sites is from the same websites time and time again but breaking into the exclusive group of true news bloggers is hard work but I hope some of these handy hints will help.

Why do it?

Before we go further you need to stop and take a step back becoming a news blogger is not suitable for all but a minority, go back to those top sites and you will realise nearly all of them are run by a team. With 24 hours in a day a single person can only do so much, and such sites rarely pay for themselves until they reach a certain critical mass. That said the one page tips I’m presenting will help any blogger interested in attracting the social media visitor.

Getting the page ready

How you present your exclusive story will often make or break your site above all you want people to know what the story is as quickly as possible, using stumblers as our basis you have 5.5 seconds to impress or they are gone.

Images

In many ways are the secret weapon of the news blogger and bloggers in general they add something to the story but they are also a useful social media tool.
Primary Image – this is the main image to accompany the article for maximum effect you want to turn this image into a promotional tool, when people photo blog a review on StumbleUpon the chances of a visitor clicking through from the reviews home page is 25% more likely then a standard review. To maximise people using the image as a photo blog picture make sure the image is under 250k and less then 500px width. Include some sort of identifier and don’t be afraid to include words (just make sure you use your alt tags correctly). When it comes to picture nearly all social media users like BBS big bold and simple a slightly risky strategy is to place the primary image just on the fall of the page to force the user to scroll down to see all the image.
Logo Image – A logo image is an image that appears near the top of the post to help categories and give a post a sense of identity, this further helps to cement in the visitors mind what the article is about as well as providing another promotion point. Google news has for a while now been using an algorithm to select suitable images for use within its site for relevant headlines, this sadly may not interest most wannabe news bloggers who don’t make it onto the Google news pages but the use of such images on Digg certainly will. Since the release of the new picture enabled Digg, users when selecting stories have been offered the option of including a picture from the page if and when a suitable image has been found. 160x120
The important thing here is getting the scale right Digg currently is resizing images to 160×120 pixels and is only presenting users with the option of JPG so the ideal logo image should be 160×120 JPG, of course you need to make it interesting enough for the submitter to include it and remember to keep it inoffensive to avoid moderation.

Extract/Summary

Many Stumblers and Diggers simply copy the first few lines of an article when reviewing/submitting so make those lines count. Present an interesting and complete first 2 sentences be it a summary or some sort of opening statement. Just remember to keep it short and sweet otherwise the submitter or the site they are submitting you to will cut it off mid flow.

Typography

I am not a designer but subtle use of modern design concepts such as the use of grids really helps a story along. Don’t let a bad design or typography let your story down because it makes the process to hard to read. One technique borrowed from traditional magazine I find extremely useful is pull out and block quotes. While block quotes have a dedicated tag in html pull quotes do not but there are plenty of Javascript pull quote scripts you can use.
printer icon

Printing

People still like something tangible so along with good typography a clean way to print the article out is essential at minimum a print.css but also think about promoting printing through a print button.

Social media buttons

social bookmarking icons
Adding pretty icons and badges has been all the rage for a while now even the BBC have got social media badges on some of their pages, but there is no real evidence that this “bookmarking” buttons actually increase the number of people bookmarking sites and can have a very negative effect. On the whole social bookmarking do not cause any ill effects with possibly two exceptions
Digg0 Diggs – Nothing says newbie who can’t fix their template then a Digg button with 0 Diggs, it’s a complete turn off. Social media users tend to flock or hunt in packs a button with a low score can put people off, If you are going to use Digg buttons then only place them on your post at the 20+ mark and make sure you remove them after a few days or immediately after your article is buried no point wasting your users time which could be spent viewing more of your content. You will of course point to the bottom of this page and scream hypocrite what else can I say but bah!
StumbleUponStumble Me buttons – When StumbleUpon produced a series of buttons people raced of to use them on their blogs without thinking through the consequences. Call it a bug or a protection feature if you like, but Stumble Me buttons are worthless. Every time a user uses your stumble me button to leave a review you lose a potential thumbs up. This is because when you leave a review it does not also thumb up the page as well, so while you might get a couple of hits from peoples home pages on StumbleUpon you will not receive any additional toolbar traffic.

General tips for news blogging

Apart from on page issues some simple things make a large difference in News Blogging

  • Work in a team
  • Be quick but accurate
  • Moderate your comments
  • Let others promote you, concentrate on getting the stories
  • Don’t be afraid of scrapers always include good full internal links
  • Be consistent unlike other forms of blogging news bloggers need to post regularly

Do you have what it takes to be a news blogger, and what type of news blogger are you a broad sheet or a tabloid?

Wow, Social Media is a lot like High School!!

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

High School

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Social Media. Love, Love, Love, Obsessed, Love Social Media. I’ve been very serious about Social Media and the amount of time I’ve spent doing it daily for the past 6+ months. It didn’t take me long to realize that Social Media has a lot of similarities to High School.

Popular Crowds

Every High School has their popular crowds and Social Media is no exception. Getting into the Popular Crowd can be tough, but we all have heard of the Perks of once we get accepted into it.

Clubs

We all remember Drama Club, Ski Club, Chess Club, Math Club, Wrestling Club, blah, blah, blah. Social Media has Clubs too…. Digg, Reddit, Sphinn, StumbleUpon. Some clubs are more popular than others. We might like all of them, but we don’t have the time to participate in all of them. So, we pick our favorite Clubs and participate in those Clubs the most.

The Bad Boys

Oh boy, did my School have some Bad Boys!! I’m positive all High Schools do. These were the guys who were rebels. They would push the limits. I was always fascinated with the bad boys. Sure, they made me nervous, but there was something about them that made me want to get to know them better. Social Media has the Bad Boys as well. These are bloggers that write whatever is on their mind at the time. They are not out to hurt anybody, but you can feel their emotions in every single one of their controversial posts.

Rule Breakers and Goodie-Goodies

I wish I could say that when I was in High School I was popular, but I can’t…. I was a total Goodie-Goodie. Mostly out of fear of my mother, but whatever. I was a total Nerd!! The Rule Breakers were those kids who, well, broke the rules. They smoked in the bathroom, they were always in detention, and most often they were skipping classes. Well, in Social Media we have the Rule Breakers and Goodie-Goodies too. But, in Social Media we call them Black Hats and White Hats. Social Media wouldn’t be the same without them.

Parties

High School Parties…. the closest I was ever to one was seeing them in movies. I told you…. I was a total Nerd. But, I heard High School Parties rule!! Ok, I went to High School in the 80’s. Do they still say, “Rule”? In Social Media there are Conferences. There is a Major Party going on right now, PubCon, and I’m totally missing it. Can’t blame this one on my mother, but I am totally going to get to one of these Parties, Mom!!

Peer Pressure

I don’t think I have to explain to any of you that there is a ton of Peer Pressure that teens face in High School. We have all been there. I vividly remember the amount of pressure that I was faced while I attended High School and for that reason, among others, I don’t think I would ever want to go back to High School again. Social Media has there own Peer Pressure as well. The pressure surrounding the Social Media community is a bit different, but the pressure feels the same. The Emails, Instant Messages and Shouts to Vote-up, Thumbs-up, and Submit posts are insane.

It can be intense. I’ve reached my 200 friends limit on StumbleUpon and I started to clean house. You couldn’t imagine the emails I received asking why I am no longer a friend with whoever? Are you kidding me? I only got rid of people that hadn’t produced activity in a long time or that I no longer had anything in common with. UGH!! Peer friggin Pressure!!

Gossip

Ahhh, High School Gossip… The who’s dating who, who skipped school to meet their boyfriend, who cheated on who, who has been accepted to the 50 best colleges, or wasn’t accepted at all!?! Standard Gossip from all High Schools. Well, Social Media has their own gossip….. Facebook, baby!! Gotta love it!! In one day’s time on Facebook I can find out who body slammed who, who got dry humped, where someone is right now and what they are doing, and who drunk dialed who. I can get my fill of gossip and not even feel guilty for it. Well, maybe a little…. after all, I probably could be doing something much more productive. But, it’s called social networking for a reason, right?

Just as with High School we are all trying to find our spot that we fit into with Social Media. It’s a ton of fun, a bit stressful at times, the pressure can be intense, but I wouldn’t change it for the World.

Do you Have What it Takes to be a Social Media Ninja?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

In honor of the Annual Day of the Ninja, we here at Collective Thoughts wonder if you, the reader, have what it takes to be a social media ninja.

So, don’t just sit there. Tell us. Comment in 250 words or less why you think that you’ve got the stuff. Mind you, this is not for the easily intimidated or faint of heart.

We’ll keep comments open for a week, giving time for all our friends as PubCon Las Vegas and SES Chicago a chance to recover and get back into the swing of things.

The Collective Thoughts team will select the 10 most worthy, and will open it up for democratic voting for the 2 finalists. Rest assured, the winners of this contest will have something worthy of social media ninja awesomeness at the end of the day. Details to follow.

Social Media Marketing is Similar to a Fishing Tournament

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Today I would like to address the similarities of how social media marketing is like a fishing tournament with an emphasis on the social voting sites. Many of you already know that I am somewhat of a fishing fanatic. Everything I do has some relation to catching the fish of my dreams!

DiggFirst let’s look at who the players are and what they compared to, starting with the main prize winner. If you want fame and fortune in the fishing world you want to land the monster Blue Marlin. The winner of a Blue Marlin tournament will often bring TV and newspaper coverage; if you’re lucky enough to catch that tournament winner you will also qualify for many endorsements with offshore fishing equipment companies.

Blue MarlinIf you’re looking for the same effect online, what site do you want linking to you that compares to winning a Blue Marlin tournament? Digg! Getting an article on the home page of Digg can make your server scream just like the drag screams when line peels off your reel from an acrobatic Blue Marlin racing off toward the horizon. Everyday I see sites go down from the “Digg Effect.”

They’re many fish in the ocean that I can compare to social media related sites; of which we have the major offshore pelagic species. The “pelagic” species live in midwater or close to the surface and commonly the top of their food chain. They include swordfish, tuna, dolphin wahoo, swordfish and many others. These compare to the larger social media sites that are all the rage recently. These social media sites include Digg, Propeller, StumbleUpon and Mixx just to name a few.

Breaking down the list of species and what sites they compare to, starting with Digg. I like to compare Digg to Blue Marlin. Blue Marlin are often very elusive to reach, but worth the effort to seek out. One Digg home page post may bring ten’s of thousands of visitors to your site, but the main prize is the all important backlinks created when other bloggers review your post.

SailfishNext up is the newly updated Propeller.com. Until recently you could find them on the Netscape.com domain. They have been renamed their social news voting site to Propeller and are steadily creating a quality traffic stream. Propeller is the Sailfish of the internet. Sailfish are a highly prized fish that produce spectacular runs, just like Propeller can produce spikes in traffic which make them a popular social media site to marketers.

Dolphin also known as Mahi MahiStumbleUpon is the Dolphin that are everywhere offshore. Dolphin, also known as Mahi Mahi, are favored by the weekend warriors because they can catch them with limited fishing experience. Dolphin grow fast but have a limited lifespan so they do not reach the size of Marlin or Sailfish. StumbleUpon creates sustained traffic for up to a week from just one good Stumble. Although this traffic is not as heavy as Digg StumbleUpon traffic is easier to achieve.

Cubera SnapperNew to the scene is Mixx. Mixx is the Snapper of the internet. Mixx is a new social voting site that looks like it will grow into a valuable community with lots of potential. With a little research users can obtain some nice backlinks and targeted traffic. Snapper are one of my favorite species to fish for in a tournament. They can vary in size from small Mangrove Snapper to the very large Cubera snapper that can reach over 100 pounds. If you are looking for a site to market a variety of niches, Mixx is the one to use. Mixx

Once you see the similarities of how social media marketing is like a fishing tournament you can start looking at how to approach them to gain the most benefit. For the newbie to social media marketing I recommend you begin with the smaller social media sites. Once you are familiar with how they work you will progress up to StumbleUpon and then finally on to Digg.

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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

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