Sunday, March 29, 2009

Will the real social media expert please stand up?

Let's say your company wants to hire a social media consultant to launch a blog for you. You're down to two candidates, one has a list of 12 different clients that they say they have helped developed blogging and social media initiatives for. The second consultant doesn't list any clients, and appears to be brand new to consulting.

So you naturally want to go with the first consultant, right?

But what if you check the consultant with the multiple clients, and notice that their blog has almost no comments, and the newest post was 27 days ago. And their SiteMeter link says their blog averages 29 visitors a day.

Then you check out the consultant with no clients, and see that their blog has an avg of 4 new posts a week, every posts gets at least 5 comments, and their blog averages 500 visitors a day.

Now who do you hire to create a vibrant blog for your company? The consultant that claims to have done this for multiple clients (but that has a dead blog), or the consultant that has no clients, but who also has a vibrant blog?

Who's the real social media expert here? Do we place more importance on client list, or what the person has actually done with social media?

This post is partly based on this post by Josh Hallett. Josh's main point is that if a social media speaker can't produce a list of clients for their work, then there's no reason why we should listen to that person. The big problem I have with this stance is that it implies that a list of clients is all the social media speaker/consultant needs to then be credible. In fact, I often see people speaking on blogging and social media that claim many well-known clients, yet you scan their blogs and presences on social sites, and virtual tumbleweeds are flying by.

But the MAIN reason for this post/rant is this...

Over the past several months, I have had the 'why aren't you consulting/speaking?' talk with several incredibly SMART people in the social media space. People that are clearly experts in creating social content that resonates with others. People that have vibrant blogs, people that have hundreds/thousands of engaged Twitter followers. People that truly understand why social media works, and that could make a good living teaching companies why social media works.

But most if not all of these people are/were hesitant to start consulting. Often because they didn't have a client list, and felt that people would think that they shouldn't be hired as a result. Nevermind that these people knew more about creating compelling blog content than most of the so-called 'experts'.

And then there's the whole issue of self-promotion. I had this talk with one friend and they told me 'but if I promote myself as being available for work, I am afraid that people will think I am calling myself an 'expert'.

This is how warped our idea of who a social media expert really has become. We are so scared to death of self-promotion that the REAL experts are afraid to promote themselves at all. Lisa Hoffmann is exactly right.

Can we stop the insanity? Having a list of clients you have performed social media work for doesn't mean you know the first thing about the social media initiative that my company wants to launch. And not having a client list shouldn't mean that a potential client would automatically eliminate you from consideration. Social media being utilized by businesses as a tool to reach their customers is still very new. Yes having a robust social media client list is VERY important. And perhaps even more important, is whether or not you actually understand why these tools work and can demonstrate that.

Pushing my soapbox back under the bed. I hate to launch into a rant, but when I see really smart people that are afraid to start consulting/speaking because of how they feel they will be viewed, or if they will be accused of claiming they are an 'expert' (and not if they are talented enough), then something's amiss.

Pic via Flickr user jgarber

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Three chances to catch me at Marketing Profs events and how YOU can benefit!

I wanted to give everyone a heads up about three upcoming events from Marketing Profs that I'll be involved in. The first two are a pair of blogging webinars that I'll be conducting tomorrow and Friday at 12pm EST. Tomorrow's webinar is entitled "Not Blogging Yet? What Marketers Need to Know to Get Started." As the title suggests, it is very basic blogging 101, aimed at marketers that are curious about blogging, but not sure what it's all about. We'll talk about the basic components of a blog, and look at several examples of superior company blogs. We'll also cover some of the most popular blogging platforms, and how companies can decide if they should be blogging, and which of their employees would make the best bloggers. It's $129.00, unless you are a Premium Plus Marketing Profs member, in which case it's free!

On Friday, I will be doing a second blogging webinar, that will build on many of the points I cover in tomorrow's webinar. Friday's webinar is entitled "Next Steps With Your Blog: Building Excitement, Readership, and Community". In this one, we'll look at:
  • What readers are looking for from your blog
  • How to create content that is valuable to your readers
  • Why commenting is so important, both on and OFF your blog
  • How to put the spotlight on the readers that are the most active on your blog
  • Why pictures are so important in helping readers connect with you
  • How to change your blogging mindset from ‘what’s in it for me?’ to ‘what’s in it for my readers?’, and why this is key for creating a blog that’s a growth vehicle for your business
As with tomorrow's webinar, Friday's webinar is free to Premium Plus Marketing Profs members, and $129.00 otherwise.

Finally, I've just committed to join Marketing Profs at their B2B Forum in Boston in June to provide one-on-one blogging sessions. We first did these at the Digital Marketing Mixer last October, and they were a big hit with attendees, so Marketing Profs decided to ask me to come back and do them again in Boston! Attendees will have 15 mins with me and we'll either go over their existing company blog, or talk about ways that they can get their blogging strategy off the ground. I had a blast doing these, and I think the attendees got a lot of actionable ideas for how they can improve their blogging efforts.

Now as an added bonus, Marketing Profs is giving a special $200 discount on registration to the B2B Forum, for The Viral Garden's readers! If you want to get this discount, you need to register via this link, or by clicking on the speaker badge in this post, or on the sidebar. These are affiliate links, meaning that I get compensated for everyone that registers for the B2B Forum through my links, and if you register via those links, you get a $200 discount!

This is the first time I have ever attempted to monetize the content I've created here. I always said that if I did, there would have to be a clear benefit for both me AND my readers. I think this program does exactly that, I am paid for each registration, and everyone that registers gets a special discounted rate. And besides that, I would be promoting this event even if I wasn't involved in this, or even if I wasn't attending. As you can see, I've blogged about several of Marketing Profs previous events. Marketing Profs always produces stellar content, and their conferences are among the most well-respected in the country. So the end result is that the content I create here will be the same as it would have been anyway, but we'll all potentially benefit.

So hopefully I will get the chance to interact with you at one of the two webinars I will be doing for Marketing Profs tomorrow and Friday. And if not there, hopefully we can meet in person in Boston in June at the B2B Forum!

Pic via Flickr user LiveWorld

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is your blog's 'Bigger Idea'?

One of the themes I'll be hitting on early and often during the webinar I am doing for Marketing Profs on Friday, Next Steps with Your Blog: Building Excitement, Readership and Community, is creating value for your blog's readers. People simply won't get excited about a blog unless there's something in it for them. But the big stumbling block for many bloggers, is how do they create that value?

As @KathySierra's tweet above suggests, a great way to find that value is to tap into your blog's 'bigger idea'. Blog about the benefits of your products/services, not the product/services. For example, if you own a pet grooming store, don't blog about dog grooming products, blog about dog grooming. Don't blog about 'The Ten Best Shampoos for Your Dog's Bath', blog about 'Ten Steps to Giving Your Dog the Perfect Bath'.

Kodak's A Thousand Words blog doesn't focus on Kodak's products as much as it does photography. Graco's blog doesn't focus on Graco's products, it focuses on parenthood. Patagonia's The Cleanest Line doesn't focus on Patagonia's products, it focuses on the environment, sustainability, and environmental activism. In each case, these blogs understand what content would be relevant and valuable to their readers/customers, and they tailor the posts they write with this in mind. By taking a step back and focusing on wider topics and issues, these blogs become far more relevant and valuable to their readers.

If you are a company wanting to use social media to reach your customers, the key to doing so successfully lies in creating value for these special people. Is your blog tapping into the 'bigger idea' that makes your content valuable to your readers?

Monday, March 23, 2009

What I learned from last night's #blogchat

One of the themes I heard last week during SXSWi was that people didn't necessarily want more social tools, they wanted better ways to organize the available information. If you've read this blog for the last few months, you know I was a big fan of the ability of Plurk to allow threaded conversations, and the 'Plurkshops' that resulted. Of course the problem was, as Twitter corrected their instability issues last summer, many people that had tried out Plurk, left the site to return to Twitter. And I was among them. But while Twitter has a much larger community, the format makes it more difficult to organize tweets and track an ongoing conversation.

Yet recently, users have started getting smarter about organizing conversations around hashtags. I believe this was started by @prsarahevans with #journchat and a few others have started. As I've been wrapping up my PPT decks for this week's blogging webinars for Marketing Profs, I've had several blogging questions bouncing around inside my head. Last night I decided to ask Twitter if everyone thought that personal bloggers did a better job of connecting with their readers than company bloggers do. And as an experiment (and way to later track any replies), I added the #blogchat hashtag to my question.

What resulted was a very vibrant and informative conversation for the next 2+ hours about company blogging and how companies can better use blogs to connect with their readers. It was fascinating, and due to the #blogchat hashtag, the conversation was better organized. And it was interesting to watch how the participants helped each other, members such as @conniereece were telling others how to follow the conversation, and how to properly mark their replies.

And yet one of the overarching themes of the conversation, was how companies can create value for their readers, via their blog. I was thinking about this as the conversation unfolded, because at one point I told myself that 'I need to make sure I am following everyone that's participating in this chat'. And I did, I followed about a dozen people during #blogchat, and was actually disappointed to find that I was already following most of the participants. On the flipside, I picked up about 30 new followers in the 2+ hours that #blogchat lasted. I'm sure others were doing the same thing, we were all creating value for each other, and we were cultivating and growing our own personal Twitter networks, as a result.

As I said, last night's #blogchat was purely sponetaneous, I simply added a #blogchat hashtag to a question, and it snowballed from there. At one point last night the #blogchat topic was the 4th most popular on Twitter. You can check out the conversation here. This has also gotten me thinking about how I'd love to see other people hosting similar #chats around other topics. I think we'll see more of this moving forward, and I think that's a good thing.

So thanks to everyone that joined us for last night's first #blogchat! We'll do it again next Sunday night at 8 pm CST.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SXSW Recap - The People

Everyone knows this is why you come to Austin for SXSW, because EVERYONE will be there. This year's event didn't disappoint, as I reconnected and met with literally dozens of great friends. The networking at SXSW is always a big draw, and this year didn't disappoint. In fact, I made a huge mistake in not scheduling more time in Austin. I alloted myself the same 2 days and 3 nights that I had last year. But this year, I knew far more people than I did in 2008, and far more people knew me. The end result was that I didn't have enough time to meet everyone I wanted to meet, and really didn't have enough time to spend with anyone that I did meet.

And this brings up a great point about companies and how they can participate in events such as this. In the weeks leading up to SXSW, I had several company reps either email me or reply on Twitter asking me to stop by their booth or find them during SXSW. But in almost every case, I never got to meet any of them.

But I did get to spend a TON of time with reps from two companies; Dell and Radian 6. Why? Because instead of setting up a booth, Dell hosted two events, All Hat No Cattle on Sunday, and then they were involved in a social media panel on Monday night offsite. Radian 6 reps were present at both events. The key was, guys like Richard Binhammer, David Alston, John Pope, and Marcel LeBrun were out and mingling with SXSW attendees, instead of waiting for them to come find them. In fact, the very first person that greeted me when I arrived at the Austin Convention Center on Sat night to get my badge, was Dell's Lionel Menchaca. And being around the guys from Radian 6 often gave me the chance to get David to demo their monitoring service for me. If they had been set up in a booth, I probably wouldn't have had time to come find them. And being around the Dell guys, I got to see their mini notebooks, which would have been much easier to lug around than the Vostro I had ;)

Now if your company came to Austin and set up a booth, I still think that was a great move. But next year, don't focus your efforts solely on your booth, also make time to get out and mingle with the guests. Don't assume that people will come find you. I had every intention of finding the companies that had invited me to come see their setup, but I just never had time.

What about you? Did you get to interact with company reps at SXSW? If so, where did you talk to them? Their booth? Hallways? Sessions?

Pic via Flickr user David Alston

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SXSW Recap - The Sessions

There's a popular saying about SXSW; "You don't go for the panels, you go for the people." While the meetings in the hallways and at offsite events are priceless, there are still a few excellent panels/talks every year. I only attended three sessions at SXSW, but they were all very good.

On Saturday night, as soon as I touched down in Austin and snagged my badge, I raced to the Hilton to attend the Is Friendship Dead? talk by Russ Unger and David Armano. The topic itself was interesting enough, as the duo walked us through an exploration of what 'online friendship' really means. When we say we are 'friends' with someone online, do we mean literally, or simply that we are connected to them.

But what I loved about this talk was how the room was organized. In many talks/sessions/panels, you have the audience, then the speakers at the front of the room behind a podium, or up on stage. In either instance, they are isolated from the audience. But in the Is Friendship Dead? talk, the audience was organized in a circle around the room. At the start, David and Russ were at the outside edge of the circle, but they eventually moved to the center of the room, and bounced ideas and questions off the audience the entire time. What resulted was a vibrant discussion where the audience was totally engaged throughout. Armano even remarked at one point that he looked around the room and saw his social graph. This was one of the most enjoyable SXSW talks I've ever seen, and a wonderful example of how to engage and encourage the audience to participate in a way that greatly improves the quality of the talk.

The next session I attended was on Sunday. And the audience again participated, but it wasn't in as constructive a manner. One of the great things about SXSW is that the audience feels empowered to share their viewpoints and challenge the speakers with tough questions. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of this to either use the Q&A time as a chance to directly promote themselves, or to 'make a statement'. This happened a few times in the How Social Networks Are Killing the Revolution talk with Steve Swedler, Jeremy Tanner, Shannon Paul and Todd Huffman. The panel discussion itself was pretty interesting, and as a whole, I thought the panelists handled the flack from the audience fairly well and kept the discussion more or less on topic. I also thought Shannon made several brilliant points, especially about how when we share information online, we have to accept that we are foregoing privacy. That once we share that pic on Flickr, that it's out there.

Finally, on Monday I got to see Kathy Sierra. And upfront I must apologize to Kathy, because after her talk I made a point to come up and introduce myself. I can't remember exactly what I said, but I think it was little more than 'OMG I LOVED YOUR TALK!' about ten times in a row. I was a total fanboy, but I had to do it, Kathy is amazing. And I did love her talk, which was entitled Change Your World in 50 Minutes: Making Breakthroughs Happen. It was so good that I decided not to Twitter it, and actually (GASP!) paid attention and took notes. Here's some key takeaways:

  • Practice and hone your strengths, that helps you kick ass
  • Spending 4 hours a day on something for 4 days is better than 1 hour a day for 16 days
  • Don't make a better (X), make a better (user of X)
  • Change the EQ, add new sliders. Look at someone that had a breakthrough and think about the sliders they added. EX: How did Gary Vaynerchuk change the way wine is sold?
  • Find the 'Bigger Idea' behind your product. Why are your users using it? What do they get from it?
  • If you could give your users a superpower, what would it be?
Just an amazing and inspiring talk from Kathy, which is exactly what I expected.

Overall, the biggest talk I heard from other SXSW attendees about panels focused on how few really 'must-see' talks they were, and how they were all at the same time. I have no idea how SXSW is organizing the talks, but it doesn't seem to be by topic, perhaps it's by expected audience size and when certain speakers want to speak? I'm not sure, but the scheduling of talks was a big disappointment to myself and many other SXSWers I talked to.

At any rate, I attended only three talks, but was very pleased with what I learned from all three. If you went to SXSW, which sessions were your favorites?

Pic of Armano and Russu via Flickr user Mattanium

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Are we meeting at SXSW?

Guys I want to apologize for the lack of content here the last few days. Unfortunately, this will continue for the next few days as I gear up for SXSW.

But the good news is, that while in Austin I will hopefully get to meet many of you! I'm arriving on Sat evening, and will be there through Monday before leaving early on Tues. There are a LOT of you that I want to make sure I meet, and probably our best chance to do that would be on Sunday.

First, I'll be at All Hat...No Cattle on Sunday, starting at noon. If you are coming to SXSW to meet people, and can only make one event, this is THE event to make. Everyone will be there (no seriously, check the link). Later that night, there will be a tweetup that looks to be pretty packed as well.

On Monday I will be around the conference center most of the day, and have a few client meetings scheduled. So I have tried to set aside Sat and Sunday for meeting everyone I can, and the business portion of this trip will mostly be on Monday. But if we don't connect on Sat or Sun, absolutely look for me in the conference center on Monday, and I will also be there a bit on Sunday afternoon.

So let's connect if you are in town! And I want to apologize in advance, because I know this will happen. Someone will introduce themselves as 'Hey I am Mark D, I'm following you on Twitter!'. And I will look at Mark D's badge, not see his Twitter avatar, and have no idea who he is. Because I recognize people from Twitter by their avatar, not their names. So if you have the same Twitter avatar on your badge as your pic, I should recognize you immediately. Otherwise, I will be lost. This happened often last year at SXSW as most people did NOT use their Twitter avatar as their badge pic! So if I do this to you, I apologize, but I can keep up with pics easier than I can names.

BTW make sure that you are following me on Twitter if you aren't already, as I'll be constantly updating on where I am at during SXSW, and where I am headed.

So who is going to SXSW? And more importantly, where will you be while you are there? I definitely need to know where to go on Sat and Mon nights. See you there!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Being successful with social media = creating value for others

Whenever I talk to companies about using social media, I always tell them to think about how they can use social media as a way to create value for others. If they are blogging, they should think about how they can use their blog as a tool to create value for their readers. It's the same thing with any social media tool, you have to give people a reason to want to interact with you.

Take Twitter. Everyone wants to know how to get more people to follow them. I did a little experiment today to show how if you create value for others via social media, that it will resonate and lead to more people becoming interested in what you are doing.

One way that many people create value for others on Twitter, is by sharing links to content that they find interesting. I am constantly finding and bookmarking tools that increase the utility and productivity of Twitter. So as an experiment, earlier today I decided to take 10 of the most useful Twitter sites/tools I have bookmarked, and over the course of an hour, link to one every 6 mins.

During the course of that hour, I picked up 15 new followers (one every 4 mins), and 32 times my links were Re-Tweeted (once every 2 mins). That's just for the hour, I had several more RTs and follows afterward, but I wanted to only focus on the hour of this experiment. During this hour, I only posted ten tweets, each one was a link to a different Twitter site/tool.

Notice that none of the tweets were self-promotional, they were all highlighting content that I thought my friends on Twitter could find VALUE in.

And this is the key to being successful in social media. Always think about how you can create value for others. That's how you build awareness and influence in this space.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Can we figure out what the rules are first before we start breaking them?

This has been a pretty interesting week to sit back and observe the blogosphere/twittersphere/socialsphere.

First, we had Skittlegate. I blogged about Skittle's new 'social' strategy here Monday. By now, the Skittles' homepage has switched to having its Facebook fan page be the default. MediaPost even claimed originally that this move was prompted by backlash from internet users, but they later acknowledged that the site was simply switched and that the Twitter page was still on the site.

Then we had Forrester issuing a report on what it calls 'Sponsored Conversations'. This also led to backlash in the blogosphere.

As I was mulling over these two stories, I thought about the label of the 'social media expert'. How many posts have been devoted to those three words? How anyone that claims they're a social media expert is a snakeoil salesman, and that no one can claim to be an expert in social media. That the space is too new, and that we are all still learning. And for the most part, I completely agree with that position.

But then there's this...

If no one is a social media expert, how can so many people make definitive judgments on this space? On Monday, a mere handful of hours after news of Skittles' new homepage hit Twitter, I saw several people on there claiming that 'this campaign is a disaster/failure'. After 12 hours?!? We constantly preach about how there are no social media experts and how we want to see companies experiment with social media. Then as soon as a company does, we put on our 'social media expert' cap and claim that the company that just started experimenting with social media, totally blew it.

Then with the 'sponsored conversations' debate it was the same thing. I saw people that accept advertising/sponsorships around their content, claiming that the idea of a sponsored post was wrong. How is one form of monetized content acceptable, and another isn't? Who gets to decide that? And who SHOULD be able to decide that? Again, if there are no 'social media experts', then who is qualified to act as such?

My take is this; this space is still growing, and still evolving. I applaud companies that are taking risks and joining this space right now. Do I think Skittles is doing a great job with their current campaign? No I don't, but I also know that this is a work in progress and that we are only seeing part of the final picture. Do I think that we are making too much of the label 'social media expert'? Yeah I do. It's a label, and I have to think that there's more important things to get upset about than what someone calls themselves (Besides it seems that almost all of the people that others claim are positioning themselves as 'experts' of social media, have never claimed they were). Lisa has a great post on why the 'don't call me a social media expert' stance might be completely wrong.

I think we all need to just chill a bit on accusing others of breaking the rules around social media. Like, until we first determine what those rules are.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Help someone win a free ticket to Online Media Bootcamp!

The Online Media Boot Camp Economic & Brain Stimulus Package: A chance to win a FREE Ticket!

Customers and prospects searching the Internet for products, services―and conversation―and the world of marketing has changed forever. Your company, brand and industry are being discussed online… Are you prepared? We know times are tough, but we also know that business owners and marketers/communicators need to get a leg up on competition (whether you are competing for business or that new job). Now is your chance! We have three tickets available…will you be the lucky winner?

Online Media Boot Camp is April 9th, 2009 in King of Prussia, PA. The three lucky ticket winners will be picked on March 20th!

For more details visit:

1. Want a chance at winning a free ticket to the Online Media Boot Camp (a value of $349), you have to be nominated by someone else.

2. A person can be nominated in one of four ways:
a. A blog post
b. A video
c. On Twitter
d. Via an e-mail sent to OMBC (beth [at]onlinemediabootcamp [dot] com).

All four must include: Who you are nominating and why. You must include a link to the Online Media Boot Camp ( in your post. If you tweet it, use the #OMBC hashtag.

3. If you nominate someone, you can buy a ticket for $349 after 3/16. A savings of $100. (Code: OMBCFTW)

4. If you are nominated for OMBC and you want to go to OMBC, you must do one of the following to accept the nomination:

a. A blog post
b. A video
c. Or send an e-mail to OMBC accepting the nomination (beth [at]onlinemediabootcamp [dot] com),

You must state that you will cover all travel costs, that you will attend and why you deserve to win. You must include a link to the Online Media Boot Camp ( in your post. If you tweet it, use the #OMBC hashtag.

5. All posts, videos and e-mails of those nominated will be posted to the OMBC blog too.

6. The three winners will be selected by the OMBC speakers. Criteria includes: creativity, passion, honesty, statement of how online marketing/social media will help you as a business owner or marketer/communicator/etc. and any other items that you think make your case to win a free ticket.

7. If you are nominated for a free ticket, but don’t win, you can buy a ticket for $349 after 3/16. A savings of $100. (Code: OMBCFTW)

8. If you win a free ticket and have already purchased a ticket, we’ll refund your money. Or, if you are feeling generous, you could give your purchased ticket to a friend…

It’s that simple! Have questions? Contact Online Media Boot Camp on Twitter: @onlinemedibc or leave a comment!

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 139

Here's the standings for Week 139:

1 - Duct Tape Marketing - 132,000 (No Change)(LW - 1)
2 - Church of the Customer - 120,000 (No Change)(LW - 2)
3 - CopyBlogger - 53,399 (+472)(LW - 3)
4 - Web Strategy by Jeremiah - 20,533 (+368)(LW - 4)
5 - Chris Brogan - 20,244 (+396)(LW - 5)
6 - Search Engine Guide - 13,026 (+125)(LW - 6)
7 - Logic + Emotion - 12,632 (+89)(LW - 7)
8 - Daily Fix - 8,818(+197)(LW - 9)
9 - Influential Marketing - 8,809 (+22)(LW - 8)
10 - Brand Autopsy - 8,691 (+126)(LW - 10)
11 - Jaffe Juice - 4,816 (+28)(LW - 11)
12 - Conversation Agent - 4,414 (+102)(LW - 12)
13 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 3,938 (+27)(LW - 14)
14 - The Viral Garden - 3,920 (-15)(LW - 13)
15 - What's Next - 3,825 (+94)(LW - 15)
16 - Social Media Explorer - 3,742 (+472)(LW - 19)
17 - Converstations - 3,620 (+55)(LW - 17)
18 - Debbie Weil's Blog - 3,616 (-13)(LW - 16)
19 - Being Peter Kim - 3,405 (-154)(LW - 18)
20 - The Social Media Marketing Blog - 3,356 (+204)(LW - 20)
21 - Techipedia - 2,900 (-6)(LW - 21)
22 - Brand and Market - 2,266 (+76)(LW - 22)
23 - Emergence Marketing - 2,109 (-15)(LW - 23)
24 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 2,105 (+9)(LW - 24)
25 - Techno Marketer - 2,062 (+33)(LW - 25)

The Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs are ranked by the number of subscribers, according to FeedBurner. The number you see after the blog name is how many subscribers accessed the blog's feed, according to FeedBurner. FeedBurner (and I had to look it up to make sure) tracks the number of times your blog's feed is accessed, and matches it against the IP address of the computer making the request, to approximate the number of subscribers that access your feed, and report this as the number used in the Top 25. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many readers the blog gained or lost from last week's Top 25. The final stat tells you what position the blog held in the Top 25 Last Week (LW). If you see this; (LW - UR), it means the blog wasn't ranked last week.

Another interesting week for the Top 25 with plenty of jostling and bumping happening. Chris Brogan inched even closer to Jeremiah Owyang's blog, but Web Strategist held onto the #4 spot. But the news wasn't as good for Influential Marketing, as Daily Fix was powered by another big week and took over the #8 spot. Conversation Agent continued to close the gap on Jaffe Juice at #11, and now less than 600 subscribers separate blogs #13-20.

Remember if you want to have your blog be considered for inclusion in the Top 25, make sure you add the Feedburner feed count chicklet to your blog. And if you redesign your blog, make sure to keep the FB chicklet on there, or I can't track you for the Top 25.

Next update is next Wednesday.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Skittles surrenders its homepage to social media

In a move that has everyone's keyboard waggin', Skittles has ditched their homepage and incorporated related pages from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube into their site. When you now go to, you are asked to provide your DOB, then you are greeted by the Twitter search page for 'skittles'. If you click on Media in the box to the top left, and then Videos, you get their YouTube Channel. If you click on Pics, you get search results for Skittles on Flickr. Finally, clicking Friends takes you to Skittles' Facebook fan page.

Not surprisingly, this bold move has Skittles as the top trending topic on Twitter, and it will probably be at or near the top for at least all of today. This move presents two obvious questions/problems for Skittles:

1 - Since Skittles is now pulling content from social sites, that means some pretty unflattering tweets and pics could be prominently displayed on Skittles site. As Li found, this is already happening.

2 - Skittles is now getting a TON of buzz for this move. Good for them, but there needs to be a payoff to doing this. Does the company have a strategy in place where this move is the first step in a larger process that will successfully leverage this buzz? We'll soon find out, but if this was a one-shot move, my feeling is that the buzz will turn into backlash. And to be fair, a lot of the chatter about this move is already negative. So for Skittles' sake, I hope they have a plan in place to build off of the attention they are getting now.

Will be interesting to see what happens next. Maybe I am giving Skittles too much credit, but I think this is just the first step of a larger strategy. What do you think? What should Skittles do next?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Are Twitter members more likely to comment on blogs?

As we know, I obsess over my blog's traffic. I've kept a close eye on the traffic that Twitter sends here for a while, and I've noticed that it's been growing every month since last September. I've also noticed that there seem to be more comments here in the past few months, and my guess is that as more traffic is coming from Twitter, that more of those people are commenting.

So I decided to dig in and see if the stats supported this theory.

Here's the traffic that Twitter sent to my blog for each month since September, and the average number of comments per post I had for each month(in parantheses):

September - 162 (10)
October - 342 (7.6)
November - 554 (7.5)
December - 1,079 (14.7)
January - 1,349 (11.8)
February - 1,377 (13.2)

Now when I first looked at these numbers, I wasn't that impressed. If you look from September to February, traffic from Twitter has increased about 800%, but comments per post only increased by about 30%.

But then I remembered that the avg comments per post figures include the Top 25 posts. This is important to note for two reasons: 1 - The Top 25 posts get far fewer comments than the rest of the blog (around 4 comments per post, compared to 11 per post for all of the blog), and 2 - I rarely promote new Top 25 posts on Twitter, while I do promote almost all of the remaining posts there.

So I decided to remove the Top 25 posts and comments from the totals, and see what the stats looked like then:

September - 162 (8.7)
October - 342 (9.7)
November - 554 (9.9)
December - 1,079 (18)
January - 1,349 (14.5)
February - 1,377 (15.5)

Now you see traffic from Twitter is up about 800% since September, and avg comments per post have almost doubled.

Is all this enough to suggest that Twitter members that come here are more likely to comment than other visitors? I'm not sure, avg comments per post is definitely increasing, but referral traffic from Twitter is increasing at a much faster rate.

What have you noticed from your blog's traffic? Does it seem that people coming from Twitter are more likely to comment on your posts?