Calculating a Blogs Success

Marketers are under ever increasing demands to justify the large amounts of money we spend each quarter. Even for those of us pushing new media initiatives we struggle with ways to measure success.

That’s the great thing about the web, there’s a lot to measure.

  • Unique page views
  • Page Rank
  • Inbound links
  • Comments
  • Subscribers

But what should we measure?

These are just a few of many possible measurements. Some people even get advanced and come up with a complex matrix based on many of these variables.

The truth is: All of the measurements matter and none of the measurements matter.

As a company you need to be looking at all of these and more. But in the end, what matters, are the metrics that you decide are important.

The main measurement for this blog has always been comments. I’d like hundreds of subscribers and thousands of daily visitors, but more than that I want feedback on my crazy ideas. I want a dialog.

For HP blogs that wouldn’t be a realistic measurement because the software we use doesn’t easily accept comments (yes, we are changing that). So we use a much simpler measurement of traffic and pageviews.

While some companies race to redefine what success looks like you need to have agreement within your company (even if that’s just you) on what success means for your efforts.

I’m curious to know how other people define success for their blogs.

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Web 2.0 Jumps the Shark

I’ve seen this happen with trends many times before. It doesn’t matter if it’s music, fashion or the internet.

  1. A small subculture adopts a new way to distinguish themselves from everyone else. Rappers, Skaters, Goth kids and Bloggers all started off this way.
  2. Eventually the trend begins to gain some traction. Said trend begins to adopt ‘rules’ or ’standards’.
  3. At this point the ‘cool kids’ jump on board and pretty soon trend watchers take notice and a few news articles start popping up.
  4. This is where the original subculture gets angry and starts complaining.
  5. Creatives start including the new trend in TV commercials and in the background of the current hot teen soap opera.
  6. The trend has now officially Jumped the Shark.
  7. The trend becomes watered down so that the mass market can stomach it.
  8. After this point the ‘cool kids’ have declared the trend “So 5 minutes ago” because it’s now being sold at Target.
  9. And then Your mom uses it.

At the recent Federated Media conference I went to I became a bit of a celebrity (I don’t know how to put this but I’m kind of a big deal). Ok actually it was just among the Federated Media employees and really it was just my business card. The title on my business card says “Web 2.0 Strategic Lead.”

Why is this a big deal? Because John Battelle, the CEO of Federated Media is one of the founding fathers of Web 2.0 movement and it’s proliferation.

To quote Jared, “When Web 2.0 shows up on an HP business card it has officially jumped the shark.”

Great, does this mean I killed Web 2.0?

Fortunately John felt that the term Web 2.0 jumped the shark a long time ago. Maybe that’s why he’s been using the term Conversational Marketing lately. Maybe I should change my card to Conversational Marketing Strategic Lead? Na, too long.

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Enterprise Software Creates Silos

Something that I hear over and over again is the difficulty in communicating in large companies.  This is especially difficult across departments (even in the same department sometimes).  Often the root of the problem is company silo’s.

Being geographically dispersed has little to do with it. I’m just as likely to communicate the same way with someone on the same floor with me as I am with someone in Cupertino or Vancouver.

Obviously size and scale have a lot to do with it. The issue is not the number of people, it’s the tools that we use.

Enterprise tools don’t scale the same way our networks scale.

Enterprise tools are developed in a parent child mindset.  Things need to be categorized as they are created.  Communication is expected to be orderly.

What’s the first line in an email?  Who it’s to.  Then two more lines of who will receive the message.  It is set up to push my message to the people I determine would be interested.  How do I communicate with people that need to know my message, but neither of us may know that. 

How do I send my message to one person who has to know what I have to say to get their job done?  How do I inform another who should be kept in the loop but doesn’t need to know right away?  Right now I push the message to them both at the same time.  One person appreciates it, one person has to deal with a clogged inbox.

Enterprise tools are best for communicating directly with one person.  Conference calls and web meetings are workarounds because we don’t have a better way to communicate.

It’s all about pushing your message as opposed to enabling people to find your message.  We’ve seen this shift in Marketing taking place all around us.  Blogging, wiki’s, tags, search, RSS all allow people to find my messages when it’s relevant to them, when they need it.

Informationon the Intranet is impossible to find.   I first have to find the person who has it or knows where it is and then signal to them that I need it.  Or if I receive information before I’m ready for it then I have to try and store it someplace that I can then later go and find it.  If it gets lost in my endless sea of folders it’s usually easier to ask the person for it again and hope they can find it.

On the Internet if I want to share my thoughts with people I post it.  I don’t send it.  People who care enough about what I have to say subscribe to my RSS feed.  People who need to know about the topic I’ve written about find my posts through search.  People who find my posts insightful blog about it and link to me or tag it on a social bookmarking site like which enable others to find it.

Now many of you may be thinking, “Tac, that works great on the Internet but how does this translate to an Intranet?”  Here’s a great example of what this looks like in a work environment:

If companies want to tear down communication silo’s in their companies they can start by using these new tools.

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Facebook Reality Check

I want to know how many bloggers who are touting the praises of Facebook had an active MySpace page 2 years ago? Come on, raise your hands.

Most of the people I see getting all hot and bothered about Facebook missed the MySpace craze. Most of the people I know who were actively using MySpace may have switched, or are also using Facebook, but they’re not getting all giddy about it.

“Having a Facebook strategy is like having a Hotmail strategy.”Anil Dash from Six Apart at the Office 2.0 conference.

While there are specific reasons to have a Facebook strategy (like if you’re developing a social widget) for most businesses it’s not necessary. What is necessary is having a social media strategy or a new media communications strategy or even a web 2.0 strategy. Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace should be incorporated into that larger strategy.

At the Office 2.0 conference Facebook was the elephant in the room. I didn’t attend a single session where Facebook didn’t come up. But for the last 2 years you couldn’t go to a conference that didn’t talk about MySpace.

The biggest reasons why MySpace is still relevant:

  • I have seen several business that don’t have a website but they have a MySpace URL.  These are real brick and morter businesses, not longtail widgets.  And I’m not talking about the ‘work from home” businesses.  I actually saw someone with their MySpace URL on the back of their car. 
  • The main reason I keep my MySpace account is because there isn’t a band in existence that I know of signed or not that doesn’t have a MySpace page.  I know there are some but I don’t know any bands who have Facebook pages. 
  • Not to mention many major Hollywood movies will have a MySpace page and not a real URL. I’m sure this comes with real Hollywood money.

The reasons why Facebook deserves the hype:

  • NO SPAM!!!
  • Open API’s

Ultimately I think we’ll have two or three major social networking sites and thousands of niche sites (of course Ning is trying to be both).  The social networking market is the new search market from 7 years ago.  The question is, who will be the *Google* of the industry?  It’s still too early to tell.  The market leader may not have even launched yet.

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Office 2.0 unconference

I just got back from the Office 2.0 unconference and I wanted to make a quick post on my highlights:

I met fellow HPer Jim Rawson and we dominated participated in a session on using internal Web 2.0 to collectively share and aggregate information across an organization. FreshBook’s Sunir Shah shared his work in progress wiki project with us (for bibliography wiki).

I then sat in on a descusion led by Socialtext’s Ross Mayfield on how to be a change agent inside a corporation. My main take away from that session was MANOPS: Meet, Aggregate, Network, Organize and Publish. There you go, the recipe for being a rebel rouser.

The final session I sat in on was initiated by Sara Bocaneanu (don’t ask me to pronounce her last name again) from SOPOLEC. She came all the way from Romania for the conference (and shopping) and led the discussion on Office 2.0 in emerging markets. Emerging markets are a prime area for the software as a service models, we even talked about some other potential business models that would work there that don’t work in the US. Maybe she’ll blog about it on their Business Ideas blog (don’t worry, they post in English).

I’ll have more later, I’m off to the reception.  For a preview of what I’ll be doing tomorrow, check out this article.

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What do you do?

I always get two questions from people: “What do you do?” I explain to them that I am the LaserJet Web 2.0 Strategic Lead at HP. This is always followed with the question: “So what do you do?” The second question is much harder to answer.

Mike Manuel has a great post about the “Messy Middle.”

The messy middle is where several historically disparate business disciplines are intersecting; it’s the place where marketers, communicators, product developers, customer support folks, and arguably other arms of an organization all meet and mix to maximize their efforts, thanks to the social web.

I’ve found that this is an especially confusing place to be in, the larger the organization. At HP there are literally hundreds of *Marketing* people just at the Boise campus. And if you’ve seen our big push into social media you might get an idea of how many people are all working on different pieces of the mess. And it isn’t just in Marketing. HR, Knowledge Management, Customer Service are all using different social networking apps to do their jobs better.

Managing this mess is turning out to be very exciting and very difficult (I guess that’s what makes it exciting). It’s difficult because there really is no *one person* managing it. For most people Web 2.0 is a component that they use to do their existing job more effectively. And that’s the way it should be. And ultimately, in another 3-5 years it will just be a standard part of your job if you’re involved in communications.

Until then there are people like me who specialize in just that aspect of communication.  As new media becomes standard in all areas of communication I wonder if someone like me, who is perceived as a specialist will eventually be perceived as a generalist.

BTW it’s really fun to listen to my wife try and answer the “What does your husband do?” question :)

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