Archive for 'zing'

Obamas Propaganda Machine?

ObamawithblackberryPresident elect Obama has been heralded before on HouseBlogger for his net savvy ability to get the grassroots to come out and vote. Now, politics is always a polarizing issue so please put away any bias you may have and please come with me as we appreciate his marketing ability. Because thats really what matters is the marketing and how we can mimmick superior online marketing of others for our purposes.

Obama took his original website and changed it to http://change.gov in an attempt to keep the buzz happening. The site recently released a new application that to me kind of shows the limits and also the manipulations that are possible with social media.

The newer system is a Digg.com like system whereby visitors can vote and deny commentary.  I will let Politico.com explain what has happened:

President-elect Barack Obama’s Transition today launched "Open for Questions," a Digg-style feature allowing citizens to submit questions, and to vote on one another’s questions, bringing favored inquiries to the top of the list.

It was suggested when it launched that the tool would bring uncomfortable questions to the fore, but the results so far are the opposite: Obama’s supporters appear to be using — and abusing — a tool allowing them to "flag" questions as "inappropriate" to remove all questions mentioning Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich from the main pages of Obama’s website.

The Blagojevich questions — many of them polite and reasonable — can be found only by searching words in them, like "Blagojevich," which produces 35 questions missing from the main page of the site.

"Given the current corruption charges involving Blagojevich, will ‘serious’ campaign finance reform that takes money completely out of politics through publicly funded elections be a priority in the first term?" asked Metteyya of Santa Cruz, California.

"This submission was removed because people believe it is inappropriate," reads the text underneath it….

…. Community reporting systems like this are often vulnerable to abuse from committed partisans — YouTube has wrestled with a parallel problem — and the only solution is conscious efforts to remedy it.

Some call user generated content and the new media the Democratization of the web. Maybe, but it also can be a giant propaganda machine. Intended or otherwise.

Other interesting articles:
The Webs Influence and Social Web: A New Thing?
Pat Kitano on Social Media Podcast
Social Distortion
Interview With a Social Media Pioneer
Twitter
The Obfuscation of the truth…….& The Orgy of Free:The CIA owns part of Facebook?

Blogging Questions & Answers 27

questions and answers

Happy Thanksgiving for you guys that celebrate it (I know it was yesterday…). Another set of questions and answers is live.

If you want to ask a question you just need to leave a comment below with it.

1. James asks:

I run a podcast via a blog. I just started moving into video and I am now concerned that I have to many images, too many icons, and too many videos on the blog. Is there a chance I’ve overcrowded my blog?

I took a brief look on your blog and it does not look overcrowded to me. I think expanding beyond articles is interesting, especially if you have the time and skills to make cool podcasts and video posts. Very few bloggers do that, so it can become a unique selling proposition too.

The only thing that I would make sure is that your navigation clearly separates the three things. For example, you could have 3 main navigation tabs, one for “Blog”, one for “Podcats” and one for “Videos.” That one a visitor could reach the part of your site that he likes quickly and effortlessly.

2. Satish asks:

Is there a way to build automated link exchange system?
Ex:- If A and B exchange link.
A’s link on B’s website will be there until B’s link remains on A’s website.

I would like to do link exchange with some people, but I can’t keep monitoring whether they remove my link at any time, it should be handled automatically. Th

First of all I recommend exchanging links only with relevant websites, and for the purpose of adding value to the user experience and not to manipulate Google’s rankings.

If you follow that route, therefore, you would find yourself partnering with a handful of websites at most. On that case it becomes easy to monitor them once a month (even if you have 10 sites to check it will take 5 minutes).

The only scenario where you would need an automatic system is where you trade links with dozens or hundreds of sites, but this is something that might get you in trouble in the end so I would avoid.

Finally, I am not aware of any automatic system, but it should be possible to build one with PHP.

3. Transcriptionist asks:

What should be the optimal bounce rate? What is the minimum bounce rate that you think can be achieved? What were the bounce rates at the beginning of your blogs and what are the numbers now? How much did you target for your blogs at their inception, and have you been able to achieve it and if yes, how?

Apart from your own experiments and results in this regard and compelling content, what are other tips and techniques that you would suggest to bring the bounce rate down? Elaborate every little aspect in detail by dedicating a separate post for this topic please, as we all know the significance of controlling bounce rates arises from user behavioral tracking by major search engines and its subsequent effects on SERPs.

An optimal bounce rate is below 15%, but keep it in mind it is very hard to achieve that. The minimum that you could have without needing to spend a huge amount of time and energy on the tweaking process is probably around 25% is 30%.

I am not sure what my bounce rates were on the beginning of my blogs were because I didn’t use to check on them. Even today I don’t check bounce rates that often or for the blog as whole. Usually I just work with bounce rates on commercial projects, sales and landing pages.

As for optimizing sites for low bounce rates, I am working on a long and structured article on the topic. It will be part of my next project, so stay tuned for that.

4. Rick asks:

What’s your take on having a companion newsletter for your blog? (You don’t seem to offer one so perhaps that speaks volumes.) People swear by it, but I’m trying to understand why you wouldn’t just put all your content on the blog and skip the newsletter.

If you have the time available I think that having a newsletter to complement your blog is a great idea. Internet marketers swear by email lists because they are the most responsive channel you have, and it has been proven time and time again.

Additionally, I find that a newsletter allow you to build a closer relationship with some of your readers, because an email is more personal than a blog post.

Why not just put all the content on the blog? Well, because some of the content that will be suitable for your newsletter will not be suitable for the blog and vice versa. Suppose you want to give people a sneak peek into your latest project. A blog post would broadcast it beyond your control, while with the newsletter you could be sure about how many people would get to known your news, how they could share or act upon it and so on.

5. Ad Pr New York asks:

What are the best traffic stats to use?

Looking for one that is full featured and accurate.

Detailed referrers and demographics are important

Google Analytics is definitely the most robust and feature rich web analytics program out there. It is also free, so you can’t go wrong by giving it a try.

Sometimes it will report underestimated traffic numbers, but the difference will be small, and much more realistic than the rest of the trackers out there that always over estimate numbers.

6. Simon asks:

1) How do I block an IP address that is spamming my blog frequently and consistently with useless comments and links to non-Google approved sites? It seems like there is some bot auto-posting spam comments.

2) Is there a way that in the page navigation of a blog we can make a link to an outside page? Would this be done through altering the header.php to include another link or through the manage pages section in admin?

1) You can block his name internally on WordPress. Just go to “Settings,” then “Discussion,” and you will find a blacklist box there. Alternatively you can also block his IP with a .htaccess file if your server runs on Apache. You just need to insert the following code on the .htaccess file (changing the IP address obviously):

order allow,deny
deny from 200.20.2.1
allow from all

2) Yes you can do this. Basically you would need to delete the code that calls the page links automatically from WordPress and add the links manually. Once you have that you can add a link to whatever site you wish.

7. Netpreneur asks:

I have a plan to make a blog with forum inside, what are characteristics of content for blog and forum?

The blog content will be generated by you (or by other authors that you will hire), while the forum content will be generated by the members. You might be present and active on the forum, but unless many other people are too, it will become a ghost forum.

What I recommend is to work first on the blog, make it popular and build a community around it. Once you have that accomplished, then you launch the forum to support the lateral discussions that might arise from the blog posts.


Copyright by Daily Blog Tips.

Blogging Questions & Answers 27

An image is an act of communication. Images play an important role in the presentation of ideas. Worth more than a thousand words, they encapsulate meaning by both simplifying and embodying conceptual theories.They make information more appealing, more persuasive. In the realm of art or activism, images reflect the underlying current of collective feeling by vocalizing both public consensus and private desires.

On the internet, you can see the same popular pictures in websites of every language. Russian, Chinese, French or English. Images transcend linguistic and cultural barriers faced by text. There is no need for machine or human translation. No need for mediation.

Like videos, images can spread very quickly online with little artificial push. Are they inherently more ‘viral‘ than textual content? It is difficult to say with certainty if it indeed has a higher potential for popularity. But images have undeniable value in spreading ideas. Especially when they are elegantly integrated with the use of text to present information.

Unique, original images can attract an audience. They are not only high quality content for an interested readership but they can be useful promotional tools for anyone interested in gaining more attention. A particular form of image is relevant to this purpose: the infographic.

Visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics are used where complex information needs to be explained quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. They are also used extensively as tools by computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians to ease the process of developing and communicating conceptual information.

You’ve seen infographics everywhere. In books, magazines, newspapers, instruction manuals, maps, public signs and business reports. Visually, they come in many forms as well: charts, graphs, emblems, cartoons, diagrams and illustrations. Any image is suitable as long as it effectively works to convey data in a way that fulfills a specific or general purpose.

These graphics seek to inform. They can be a supplement to existing textual content or a hermeutically sealed construct, a stand-alone presentation which covers a subject in full. A complete statement and explanation that everyone can cite as a reference.

Infographics are a form of concentrated nutrition for data consumers. They are multi-vitamins, fulfilling basic info requirements in a simple hassle-free way. Like a pill, knowledge is condensed into essential components, enough to satiate your basic informational needs. They give you a general overview, one you can convert into talking points and social currency.

The amount of information they convey and the style used will vary depending on its purpose. Who is the intended audience of this piece? What specific frame or idea angle do you want to emphasize? How much abstraction and simplification is necessary for data to make sense?

Here are some examples from Princeton University’s International Network Archives. These infographics each give you a brief overview on a topic. See this page for full images and more.

The finished infographic is often beautiful to behold. Swirling gradients of color form into tangible shapes, contextually arranged to demonstrate quantifiable meaning. It’s easy to take it all in at one glance. Your eye darts around the numbers and skirts between the illustrations. You interact with it. You are thoroughly absorbed in its display of coherence.

And after looking, you’ll often think of sharing it. Maybe save the image, attach it to an email and fire it to a friend. Maybe you’ll include it in your latest blog post or tweet it. Or you’ll log into your favorite forum, drop the link and see what everyone else thinks.

There are many ways to propagate these images once they are produced. Apart from the usual social media channels, you can provide link codes by hosting the images and providing the html which points back to your site. Or you can package it into PDF formats along with other similar infographics to make a mini-report.

Unlike textual content, these images often do not include much text: you can consider pre-emptively translating them into other major languages so they can be shared more widely among different audiences.

They can also be produced on a regular basis as feature content. As a pictorial representation of information, infographics are often considered to be unique even if the data shared as already been elaborated elsewhere in text articles. Therein lies its appeal to a readership that might be jaded by the repetition of ideas in the content of other media sources/websites.

Good Magazine is an excellent example of a site that recently started creating infographics (known as ‘Good Sheets’) as regular online content. The print editions of these images were also given out free of charge at Starbucks. The combination of online and offline distribution is something that is suited to the nature of one-page documents like infographics.

Next time when you’re planning on sharing specific ideas or data, consider using infographics. They are a terrific way of making information accessible and a useful primer that will pique the interest of your intended audience. When created and marketed effectively, they can be part of a powerful viral strategy to magnetize attention to your website or business.

P.S I intend to write more on the topic of information design specifically as it relates to marketing. This is something I’m recently interested in and hopefully you’ll find it entertaining and useful. And by the way… Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers and friends!

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Infographics Can Help You Spread Ideas and Attract Attention

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Personal Branding is its own reward

Picture_9
Each year, Dan Schawbel’s organization recognizes some of the standout brands with Personal Brand Awards. Last year, Rohit Bhargava won the gold award, and this year Jeremiah Owyang was presented the 2008 gold award. An esteemed panel of judges made the selection and people were graded based on a few factors, such as value proposition, differentiation, and marketability.

I’m humbled to tell you that I was one of the 6 people honored with recognition.  It’s quite an honor and even more so, when you see the other recipients.  I’d like to take a minute and introduce you to each of the honorees (well, except me…you know me!)

Gold Award:  Jeremiah Owyang

Jeremiah is probably one of the most trusted and sought after experts in the social media space.  As a researcher for Forrester following media trends is his day job.  He’s very generous with his time and knowledge and the judges wisely selected him unanimously.

Silver Awards:  Daniel Scocco and Laura Fitton

Daniel is certainly a go-to-guy for blogging, people trust him and he constantly rewards his community.  He offers up tips and strategies on blogging and currently holds the #29 spot in terms of popular blogs (according to Technorati).

Laura’s focus is on social media consulting, specifically "microsharing" which is all about harnessing the power of tools like Twitter, Pownce, Plurk and Jaiku.  She’s often quoted on and offline about where the world of social media is headed.

Bronze Awards:  Jim Kukral, Wendy Piersall, and little old me

Jim’s thing is all things affiliate marketing,
social media and internet marketing each and every day. He communicates
his brand through both video and written entries and is a common face
at industry events.

Wendy introduced herself to us as eMoms at Home which has now evolved into SparkPlugCEO.  Wendy’s message is about the power and possibilities of working for yourself and from home.  Her personal story inspires many to take the leap.

Me.  Enough said.  If you want to read what Dan and the judges said…(this link is for you, Mom and Dad!)

Congrats to all the recipients.  As you can imagine, it’s heady stuff to be among them.

If you’re wondering who made the call, the judges were:

 

Read more about the award in the most recent edition of Personal Branding Magazine.

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BlogRush: RIP

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Here is an email that I (and a lot of other people) received from BlogRush John Reese:

After careful consideration, we have decided to shutdown the BlogRush service.  If you have the widget code on your blog you will need to remove it.

When BlogRush launched in late-2007 it spread like wildfire all over the Web.  Thousands of bloggers were talking about it and the service exploded to become one of the fastest growing free services in the history of the Web.  During the first year of the service it successfully served 3.4 Billion blog post headlines and the BlogRush widget could be found on blogs all over the world; even up until the moment we closed down the service.

BlogRush didn’t grow without its fair share of problems — from security issues to abusive users trying to ‘game’ the system to much lower click-rates than expected.  We also had some problems with trying to fairly control the quality of the network, and in the process made many mistakes in deciding what blogs should stay or go.  All of these issues, ultimately, limited the service’s full potential.

Our team worked very hard to try and build a service that would truly help bloggers of all sizes get free traffic to their blogs.  This was our primary focus.  Not once did we ever try to monetize the service with ads or anything else.  BlogRush never made a single penny in revenue.  We wanted to be able to help our users FIRST and then worry about monetizing the service later.  Unfortunately, the service didn’t work out like we had hoped.  (It happens.)

I want to say “Thank You” to all of the great bloggers that at least gave BlogRush a test to see if it would work for them.  We sincerely appreciate you giving the service a try.

We have received several offers & inquiries about acquiring BlogRush, but we are choosing not to go that route.  While many might think this is crazy, we truly feel it’s the ‘right’ thing to do for our users.  Believe it or not, it’s not always about the money.  In fact, BlogRush will have lost a small fortune when it’s all said and done, and it was by choice.  There were many things we could have done to monetize the service but we wanted to make sure it was going to benefit our users first.

Last but not least I want to say that I hope the failure of this service doesn’t in any way discourage other entrepreneurs from coming up with crazy ideas at 4AM (like I did with this one) and from “going for it” to just try and see if something will work.  Without trying there can be no success.  And as we all know, ideas are worthless without action.  The Web wouldn’t be what it is today without entrepreneurs trying all sorts of crazy ideas.

On behalf of the entire BlogRush team, we wish the best of luck to everyone with their own blogs, ideas, and crazy ventures.

Sincerely,

John Reese
http://twitter.com/johnreese

RIP (more…)

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