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Maintain Multiple Blogs at Different Hosts August 28, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, CEO blogs, emergency communications channel.
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After publishing my latest post at Vaspers the Grate web usability/videocasting blog, I attempted to navigate to it. For the first time in my life, I got a DoND (denial of navigational destination) from Google, who hosts the Blogspot server at which Vaspers resides:

[QUOTE]

Server Error

The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request.Please try again in 30 seconds.

[END QUOTE]

This is one of my reasons for maintaining blogs at different hosts. If Blogger goes down, is unaccessible, for scheduled maintainence or unexpected technical problems, I have an alternate location on the web.

I have told my Vaspers the Grate blog readers to come over here if there is any access problem at Blogger. Well, here I am again, using this blog as an emergency communication transmission platform.

Let this post be a lesson for you. Maintain multiple blogs, even if you use one as flagship and primary online community hub. Try to update the other, alternate host blog at least once per week so it doesn’t appear to be abandoned.

Be sure to encourage your flagship blog readers to jot down, make note of your alt blog address. If the flagship blog server goes down, obviously, your readers will not be able to click on the alt blog link in your flagship blog sidebar.

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Brand Loyalty Online August 27, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, blog business tools, blog debate, blogocombat, brand loyalty online, CEO blogs, ecommerce blogs, online marketing.
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Brand loyalty can occur online when your web presence satisfies real user needs and interests. If your brand is represented online by a site that enables customers to interact, to ask questions, voice complaints, and offer suggestions, your customers will experience increased devotion to your brand.

As consumers flock to such web attractions as video sharing at YouTube or the blogging platform of MySpace, Blogger, and WordPress, they expect more functionalities at all sites. Plain text digital journals are giving way to multi hyper media blogs that feature photos, podcasts, RSS syndication, email alert subscriptions, customized search engines, surveys, video player embeds, and video VoIP chat.

To build brand loyalty online, keep providing frequently updated information, relevant news, how-to tips, simple explanations, interesting data, and advanced interactive functionalities.

The sooner you begin experimenting with multi hyper media blogging, the faster you’ll establish a strong position of communication technology leadership in the mind of your customers. Vision, zeal, and expertise are conveyed by harnessing the new tools with great boldness, tenacity, and exploratory passion.

Begin now to harness the power of these new tools. If you do it with relevance, benefit, finesse, and strong entertainment value, you’ll gain substantial competitive advantage by increasing your brand loyalty online.

new marketing practices and attention scarcity August 25, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, CEO blogs, Miserably Servile Customer Pampering, online marketing.
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In his Edge Perspectives post “Mastering the New Marketing Practices“, business book author John Hagel III (co-author of Net Gain), says there are 3 major business economic shifts changing the marketing environment.

New marketing practices need to firmly based on the following upheavals:

(1) From scarce shelf space…to scarce consumer attention.

(2) From economies of scale in production…to economies of scope in customer relationships.

(3) From passive indoctrination and compulsive consumption to active participation and informed negotiation.

Consumers are aggressively informing, and defiantly arguing with, each other about products, rather than obediently absorbing ad messages.

Consumers are providing massive input into the production and distribution of goods they used to have no say about. Choices are based on vendor comparisons and user reviews, more than official marketing and sales promotions.

User generated content and consumer-producer-distributor hybrids are ruling the waves of commerce, turning the tide away from mass unilateral marketing to customized need sastisfaction.

Attention is now the commodity that is an endangered species. Web surfers, blog readers, video posters…everybody is busy moving and creating and consuming as fast as they can. We have all engaged in simultaneous online chat, blog commenting, mp3 downloading, and music listening.

Now the challenge is to stand out in the midst of competitive enticements, user-environment distractions, and extreme multi-tasking.

We must meet Scarcity of Attention with Rarity of Relevant Content. Astonish. Over-gratify. Satiate. Shock your market and industry with extreme excellance, unimaginable creativity, and super profound professionalism.

In other words, we must work to produce, based on customer needs and opinion input, a product that goes off the scale with style, sensibility, and satisfaction. A valuable and desirable enhancement of the user’s life, safety, productivity, prestige, ease, and pleasure. A must have for the clued in. A mandatory accessory for the enlightened.
[QUOTE]

While there is a broad recognition among marketers that attention scarcity is becoming a big issue, the response has been increasing desperation to get some of that scarce attention. Intrusive ads are appearing in more and more places – projected in lights on the sides of buildings at night, plastered on the sides of farm animals in fields and running on video displays above urinals.

Rather than just focusing on how to get attention, vendors might also want to consider how they can help their customers receive attention that is important to them and not just from the vendor, but from others that matter to the customers.

Vendors also tend to commoditize attention, viewing attention as a fungible good that can be bought and sold.

Successfully attracting attention requires an understanding that attention is highly context sensitive – it is both deeply personal and social at the same time. Attention is deeply embedded in, and shaped by, relationships. These relationships are not static, but increasingly dynamic. The key challenge and opportunity for vendors is how to participate in, and enrich, these relationships in order to construct more value for their customers and to amplify the value of attention.

Vendors also narrow the focus very quickly from attention to intention, asking “how can we more effectively intercept people who have already formed an intent to buy?” The missed opportunity is how to engage the attention of customers at a more fundamental level in ways that create more value for the customers and for the vendor.

Finally, vendors tend to develop a narrow focus on new, network-enabled marketing tools like blogs, wikis, virtual communities and social networks, treating them like a checklist to be deployed like artillery in a military campaign – “yes, we’ve set up some blogs.”

Few of them systematically ask how these tools might be used to increase return on attention for customers. Even fewer ask who else already has deployed these tools and how they might help their customers find and connect to these resources and perhaps where they might participate in existing environments in ways that provide more return on attention.

[END QUOTE]

It takes more than setting up blogs, podcasts, and video to generate attention and build customer loyalty. You need to have an underlying reason for all this new technology. “Because XYZ Company is doing it” is the worst reason on earth. You better be doing it for the benefit of your customers.

Complaints. Suggestions. Advice. Requests. Questions. Insight. Anecdotes.

Your customers can provide all this great input for the advancement of your corporation. But you have to be willing to listen, learn, and implement.

How To Compose Hypertext Links August 23, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, CEO blogs, hypertext, link strategy, web usability.
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Hypertext links!

They take you to further elaborations and substantiating sources. They transport you to new, connected ideas. They fling you into strange, hopefully beneficial, environments.

And all you have to do is click on (select) them.

Click.

Bang!

You’re gone.

Hello!

You’re somewhere else.

To return to where you were before, usually all you have to do is click on the Back button of your browser.

Hypertext: text that lifts you off one spot, and carries you to another.

The new internet location is called the link destination. Links are subject to change and cannot be considered permanent, even though permalink is the term used to refer to the URL (web address) of a specific blog post or article.
Link rot is a term that refers to broken links, links that no longer lead to the same destination, due to a page or file being moved or deleted.

Linking strategies are based on how the mind operates by associating one thing with another. Actually, any thought could theoretically be linked to any other thought.

Good linking means connecting ideas in a way that’s beneficial for users and relevant to the topic of discussion.

So, how do you compose them?

What text should be “linked verbiage”?

How do you decide what words and phrases should be make “clickable”?

(Actually the better term is “selectable,” since some users don’t use a mouse, but enter keyboard commands, voice activation, etc., to select an item.)

Guidelines for Composing Hypertext Links:

1. Write your regular text. DO NOT add keywords just to boost search engine rankings. Forget about SEO as you create your post.

2. Look at key words and phrases in your text.

3. Determine which key words and phrases should be clarified for your readers. Or what ideas your readers might want to pursue further.

Or which words and phrases carry vital information that users can skim and understand in a hurry.

4. Turn those key words and phrases, or those ideas, into hypertext links.

5. Try to keep phrases short, two or three words, if possible.

6. If you want people to find your blog or web site by typing key words and phrases into a search engine, your hypertext links must be made according to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) principles.

SEO can help your site appear at the top of the heap of search engine results when users seek web sites in your field of endeavor.

7. Search Engine spiders hunger for fresh, dense, relevant content, with quality inbound and outbound links.

Make sure the wording contained in the links is relevant to the content of your site, and the language and interests of users.

Don’t overdo it, because the Search Engine spiders don’t like fraudulent attempts to trick them. If fact, they are repulsed by “keyword spamming,”  or “spamdexing”: using a word or phrase repeatedly in a ridiculous, too frequent manner, on a web page.

In this site, I could turn words like “usability,” “hypertext,” “blogs,” and other industry terms, into hypertext links.

8. NEVER use “click here” as a link. These words contain no relevant content for users or SEO spiders. Your links must be scannable, so people in a hurry can glance at your text and surmise what it’s about.

“Click Here” contains no information about what the link is or where it goes.

Instead of “click here”, ask yourself: “click here for what?” The “what” is the link text. If the “for what” is, for example, comparisons of web cams under $300.00, what I put in bold is the link text.

Check out the chart of comparisons of web cams under $300.00.

Learn how to improve web text scannability.

There are many more examples of linked verbiage that can guide your content writing.

CEO can create personalized contact with customers via video blogging, or vlogging.We must learn to prevent comment spam.

A related story on business podcasting success is at Podomatic blog.
Check Usability of Your Hypertext Links

Once you’ve converted key words and phrases of regular text into hypertext links, click on (select) each one of them, to make sure they work.

Never assume you typed in the URLs correctly.

Never assume the URLs will never be altered (by webmasters changing the archiving system, for example, though URLs as a rule should never be changed for any reason). Click on those links and see if they take you to the desired destination.

CEOs and blogocombat: an introduction August 8, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, blog debate, blogocombat, CEO blogs, CEO Videos, deep blogology, Video Blogging.
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As a hardcore blogger and web consultant, I have to engage in a variety of online debate. I call it “blogocombat”, even when I enter discussions in phone conversations or email. This contending for a point of view or set of facts is mandatory behavior. You cannot forge into the future with a paranoid or passive attitude. You must be aggressive.

But how aggressive? In what styles?

A CEO cannot do his or her company any favor by appearing to be a wimp, chump, or weakling online. The opposite extreme would be a bellicose bully, an arrogant jerk who pummels anyone who comes close.

The best, and perhaps only, way to master diplomatic but strong online debate is to spend some time observing the seasoned pros who already have the battle scars and missing limbs to prove they are veterans of the digital realm wars.

There are controversies galore in the blogosphere and vlogosphere. Google a few search terms like Net Neutrality, Comment Moderation, Fictional Character Blogs, or any aspect of blogging you are interested in right now. See what kinds of argumentation are going on, for you will surely see web pages with confrontational titles.

Watch how Mark Cuban, Seth Godin, Richard Edelman, Shel Israel, Tom Peters, or Robert Scoble respond to harsh critique, unfair assumption, and wild accusation. Study their tone and word choice. Watch how often they jump into heated discussions within their blogs or at the blogs of others.

Some say a blog is a party that anyone can join and do whatever they want. Others caution us that a blog is a livingroom of a home, and you better be polite, civil, and calm. I think CEO blogs must be prepared for intelligent, sophisticated criticism as well as more emotional, less dignified attack.

Don’t shy away from the blogosphere, due to fear of flamers.

Show courage and visionary leadership, a credibility based on brave experimentation, by juming into the blogosphere, come what may. The simple act of just starting a blog will be seen by many in your industry as being forward thinking and technologically savvy.

Better yet, start a vlog or video blog.

I’ll try posting a couple of my better videos here, as an example. Most of my video experiments are failures, but I have a fine comedy video and a neat professional instruction film on CEO video blogging.

CEO blogs, risk, failure August 6, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, CEO blogs, deep blogology, Uncategorized.
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A CEO must be cautious and visionary, modest and inspiring, transparent and trustworthy.

As a CEO looks at the blogging phenomenon and the blogosphere, what should be the verdict? To many CEOs, blogging seems “too risky”, “time-consuming”, “vulnerability hole”, “pipeline to lunacy”, “imprudent exposure”, i.e., blogging is a bad idea.

But most CEOs stand to realize tremendous benefits from candid, courageous, controversial blogging.

“Life is always a series of ups and downs, triumphs and failures. You may be successful if your triumphs simply outnumber your failures. But, in order to be successful, you must experience those failures and you must learn from them.”

— Erroll B. Davis, Jr., Chairman, President & CEO, Alliant Energy. (Wisdom for a Young CEO, Douglas Barry, Running Press 2004, p. 40)

CEOs need not fear blogging, any more than the telephone when it was first invented.

Why fear your voice will not sound strong and authoritative, in a blog or on a phone? Why fear a blog will make you look bad, when you are comfortable on television and video conferencing? Why fear to write a blog, when it’s much the same as composing email?

Why fear you will interact with bizarre trouble-makers? Your sales and service staff deal with such annoyances every day. Your cashiers and IT guys confront unexpected kooks as a standard routine, and have much they could tell you.

Now, blogs and videocasting are your opportunity to take a calculated risk, and enjoy the lessons of failure or the glory of success.

Either way, you win.

atomic unit of the web: from site to page to tag? July 30, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, blog business tools, deep blogology, information architecture, tagging, web usability.
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Jakob Nielsen once said, in his Designing Web Usability book, that the atomic unit, the smallest coherent unit of the web was the web page.

At first, people linked to static, or infrequently updated, web sites. Then, as web sites became more complex, requiring site maps, site indexes, and clearly, relevantly labeled tabs, the exact page of a site grew in importance.

Weblogs made linking even more page oriented, with frequent posting on more varied topics. While site search and sidebar post categories were a step in the right direction, they were often unsatisfactory, hit or miss, and time-consuming.

We link, ideally, in most cases, to a specific post we are quoting, rather than to thehome page of a site. Linking to the site’s main index or home page forces the user to navigate to the specific page containing the quote or image or whatever is being referenced. This enables users to go immediately to the specific information, audio, video, photo, or art image we want them to check out.

This is why hardcore bloggers will keep a notebook with post URLs (web addresses) for each post they publish.

Now, tagging each post is all the rage, especially for what is called Web 2.0 designers and advocates. Adding tags to posts is a way to provide a context or keyword identification of a post’s content, prior to actually reading the post. Tags also enable users to see other posts, at other sites, that are tagged with the same words, thus, hopefully, relevant to the same topic.

Many problems arise with tagging. You rely on the honesty and intelligence of the site author who adds a tag or tags to a post. Plus, who knows how relevant and information-rich the posts are going to be, the posts all tagged with a specific word?

Worse yet, and you can see this in YouTube as an example, some sites that you provide content to will not have a good tagging system.

What I mean is this: say you want to tag a post “vaspers the grate”. If the site tells you that the tags must be separated by commas, or put in quotes, you’re alright. You can type in the tags “vaspers the grate, web usability analysis, blogology” (excluding the quotes) for example. Or just “vaspers the grate” (in quotes).

But wait. At some sites, like YouTube (and I’m not picking on them), your tags can be only one word. That’s why my own videos are tagged “CEOblogs” and “vaspers”, rather than “CEO blogs” and “vaspers the grate” (excluding quotes). Because the tag “CEO blogs” are two words, two separate tags, “CEO” and “blogs”, and NOT “CEO blogs”.

This distinction becomes absurd with something like “vaspers the grate” (excluding quotes) as a tag. The tags, plural, become “vaspers”, “the”, and “grate”. I jam two or three words together, as a workaround.

How to make a New Super Blog for Web 2.0 March 9, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, blog business tools, CEO blogs, deep blogology, ecommerce blogs.
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(1) Focus & Expand: get a dominant purpose, but go off on interesting or instructive tangents to keep readers in suspence and to spice up with exotic flavors that make you *memorable* and eminently *re-visitable*, perhaps even blogrollable and RSS/Atom feed subscribable.

(2) Benefit your blog readers with more than just your charisma, personality quirks, and goofy products, unless that’s all you have…but those are not enough.

Gain new marketable skills, or test new open source software offerings and freeware network enhancements, that you can pass on to your readers who wish to have fun and succeed.

(3) Interact kindly with your blog community/family via rapid replies to comments and emails and Skypes and Google Chats.

(4) Provide state of the art widgets, as deemed appropriate and effective, without distracting, bewildering, or seeming too techy: polls, custom search engines, online games, digital art, staff photos, company picnic video, audio CEO welcome message, mascot chatbot for the kids (like “subservient chicken” or “toby” but way way better), RSS/Atom feed URLs displayed and subscription mechanisms, web contact/feedback forms upfront, upfront Contact and About pages, relevant link lists, podcast links, Odeo podcast creation mechnanism…

…provide fun, interesting, provocative, wild, cool, hip, entertaining, educational, fun, easy, easier, easiest, fastest INTERACTIVE doodads, amigo!

more on Web 2.0-ready blogs next time, friends!

How to Evaluate Your Blog: part 1 March 6, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology.
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How to evaluate your blog is a big mystery.

Try doing an internet search on “blog evaluation”, “judging a blog”, and similar phrases. If your experience is like mine, you’ll get just about nothing worthwhile from the search results.

Even such phrases as “effective blogging” provide little in my searches. I just got back from a visit to Debbie Weil’s Blog Write for CEOs article on effective blogging. She focused on 7 aspects of the writing of a blog, starting with “write about something you’re passionate about”. Good article for beginners and clueless business protons. She explains things in a way that even managers can understand.

But let’s roll up our sleeves now, and really get to work on this.

What I will say here will strike many as bizarre, and definitely unconventional. I can’t help it. This is how I think, and I think my thinking can benefit everyone, from teenagers with personal blogs to CEOs with professional blogs.

The only true measurements of a blog’s value to a specific reader, audience, customer, client, colleague, family, friend, or market will revolve around knowing what they need and providing it.

Do you know what your blog readers want?

Are you providing it?

Then you’ve got a good blog, an effective blog.

Now, I must qualify, and say as long as that blog is also passionate, well-written, easy to read, full of relevant content, authentically the real you (and not a ghost-writer), honest, candid, enabling readers to post comments, and all the other Core Values and Deeper Principles of New Super Blogging.

“What the hell is he talking about?” some may think. “I’m not investing any time or money in a blog for my organization — if the only budgetary justification for it is a vague, subjective feeling that I’m probably meeting people’s needs.”

Why is my simple statement so controversial, contrarian, verging on anarchy? Because this is the one thing businesses need to pay more attention to. And because many blog consultants think they can justify their services by pointing to other benchmarks for blog success.

What criteria are more popular than my humble, simple little: “meet their needs”?

False Evaluation of a Blog

An untrue, or unrealistic, evaluation of a blog occurs when it is judged according to:

1. Increased traffic to commercial site

2. Increased sales at commercial site, attributable to the blog

3. Large number of comments on blog posts

4. Large number of search engine references to the blog

5. Large number of links to the blog

6. Large number of textual citations of the blog

7. Large number of visitors to the blog

These seven (7) criteria are not relevant to the actual, intrinsic, inherent worth of a blog. Now, I must state that these may be worthy goals for a blog, but they are not useful for evaluating a blog.

My back is killing me, so I can’t go into the depth I want here, nor will I stupidly hire a “ghost blogger”, nor will I dictate my text to my wife, because it’s Friday, and she works at a computer all day.

I’ll post more on this later. I’ll go into details about why each false criterion is invalid.

Just take this thought with you for now: Your blog, personal or business or military, is worth the time and trouble if you are providing benefit to potential or actual readers.

“Now he’s saying you can benefit merely potential readers”, someone might proclaim ironically. “What madness is this?”

You’ll see…later. Stay tuned. I’m going to develop this with some complexity and a higher degree of completeness than you’ll find elsewhere, I imagine.

Definition of “blog” March 2, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology.
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[NOTE: this post will be updated as I continue to add more definitions, or viewpoints, of what what a “blog” really is.]

Blog = “web” + “log”

Blog = a frequently updated, author controlled, simple mini-web site.

Blog = A “log” or journal, or better: series of entries (“posts”), that exists on the web.

Blog = the democratization of web content, the tool that allows even non-tech, newbie computer users to quickly and easily publish content (text, images, audio, video, etc.) to a simple collection of web pages.

Blog = the vanguard of the New Share Economy, the elite stormtrooper of the New Social Media Revolution, the next step in the evolution of online marketing.

Blog = the new “business card”, “resume”, “pitch book”, “sales seminar”, “project collaboration platform”, “intranet communication vehicle”, “professional journal”, “PR tool” … or however you wish, and need, to use it.