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Did You Notice a Change in Your Google PageRank?

Something changed the past few days in the Google PageRank of this blog. Posts that were getting a predictable average number of hits each weekday are suddenly zooming up in terms of views. I don’t know what my PageRank was before (being a blogger n00bie and all), but it’s a 5 now. Perhaps a new round of the Google dance?

I’m not alone in seeing this. Here are a few others who have noticed the change recently:

Frederic of the Last Podcast tweeted:

just noticed that my pagerank must have increased from 4 to 5 in the last few days – nice :)

Mark O’Neill of Better Than Therapy wrote:

I got a pleasant surprise today when I noticed that my Google pagerank has been increased by one. I am now a 6 which is nice.

And on Search Engine Land, Barry Schwartz noted:

Over the past few days, many webmasters and SEOs have been noticing an update to the PageRank score found in the Google Toolbar. Usually PageRank updates aren’t that noteworthy, but it seems something is different about this PageRank update.

I’m no expert on search engine optimization, but it is interesting to hear Barry say that something is different about this PageRank update. Click here for a post on Court’s Internet Marketing School discussing the PageRank changes, along with a ton of reader comments.

One Example: Farewell Email Post

I have a post on this blog that’s been up for nearly two months now. How to Write a Farewell Email to Your Co-Workers provides a humorous look at that ritual of leaving companies, the farewell email. Given that people tend to leave on Fridays, the page views of this post follow a predictable path, increasing each day to a weekly high on Friday.

This Wednesday’s views were the highest ever for a single day, and we’re not even at Friday yet. The chart below shows the daily views for the post, with the Wednesdays highlighted by arrows.

I normally wouldn’t note the increase in views, as it risks coming across as some sort of bragging. But the magnitude of the change is pretty significant. And here’s why it’s happening. The post has now risen to the #2 position in a Google search on ‘farewell email’. It wasn’t that way before. I’d check on how the post ranked periodically, and it tended to be around the 10th or 12th result. So a jump of 8 or 10 places in search results is worth 3 times the hits. Now I see the SEO industry in a whole new light!

Of course, this blog isn’t about ad revenue. And the blog’s heavy Web 2.0 content may not appeal to the search engine visitors. But, I decided to add a message for my farewell email visitors:

Welcome to the blog. I know you’re here for tips on writing farewell emails. If you’re at all interested in Web 2.0, I invite you to look around the blog a bit. Use the tag cloud below, or the recent posts on the left-hand side to find info. Also, let’s connect on Twitter and FriendFeed: twitter.com/bhc
friendfeed.com/bhc3

From an advertising perspective, there’s a mismatch between the farewell email post and most of the blog’s other content. So I’m not ‘targeting’ the right audience. But if any of those visitors decide to stick around, I hope they get enjoy the blog.

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/e/a8133912-d2e9-f680-6592-a66e08abb717

Social Media Identity: Personal vs. Professional

I recently had to engage social media not using my personal identity, but under my professional identity. A bit clueless how to proceed, I sent this out on Twitter:

Facing an interesting decision about mixing my personal and professional online personas. I think I need to establish a “professional” ID.

Brian McCartney brought up a great point in response:

A “professional” ID is a good idea but there are things on my personal ID that I might want to share with the professional world…

Which got me wondering about social media identity. By that, I really mean these three things:

  • What subjects do you cover
  • What “voice” do you use
  • How does your social network perceive you

When it comes to developing professional identity in social media, a key consideration is the size of your company.

Company Size and Social Media Identities

The graph below depicts where the professional and personal identities diverge.

The idea in the above chart is that the smaller the company, the more closely your personal and professional identities are tied. As the company size increases, the more separate your identities become.

Where can these identities come into play?

  • Blogging
  • Posting on blogs
  • Twittering
  • FriendFeed
  • Etc.

Entrepreneurs and Small Companies

For entrepreneurs, your social media interactions are your marketing. How you think. What you care about. What insights you can deliver. And employees of small companies are the company. So their identities are very closely tied to the company.

Sam Lawrence, CMO of Jive Software, is a good example of someone blurring professional and personal identities. Here are his social media identities:

  • Twitter: Sam mixes a heavy dose of Jive-related tweets with interesting tweets on other subjects. He ain’t afraid to keep it real out on Twitter.
  • Go Big Always: This is his personal blog, covering the social and enterprise software market. Jive gets plenty of attention, but it’s not the focus of every post.
  • JiveTalks: The official company blog. Sam can be found here, and the posts are product-related.

Here’s what Sam said about his multiple social media identities:

Up until now, I’ve been blogging on JiveTalks. But a corporate blog is just that – a corporate blog. I wanted to have a place where I could more freely voice wider observations and thoughts beyond Social Productivity and Jive’s business.

That being said, you get Sam, you get Jive Software.

Big Corporates

Employees working for larger companies will tend to have separate professional and personal social media identities. It’s tempting to say there’s the the “authentic” you and the “corporate” you. I think that oversimplifies things. The work you do is part of your authentic identity – if it wasn’t, presumably you’d quit the job.

But there are important differences when it comes to your professional identity. Here are a few that apply when using social media on behalf of a large corporate:

  • You write about things that are part of your identity only while you work for the company
  • You have to err on the side of “corporatism”, with language consistent with that of your company
  • Your company’s stuff is great, all competition sucks (of course, this applies for entrepreneurs as well!)
  • You’re likely in “sell” mode

The separation between personal identity and professional identity is the greatest for employees of large corporates. Whereas Sam Lawrence’s social media identity is very much a personal and professional combination, I decided to create a second identity for engaging social media professionally. My handle became Hutch@[company name]. You see that, you know I’m doing things on behalf of my company.

Final Thoughts

There’s a notion that someday all of our social media identities will be blurred. “Your personal identity is your professional identity in Web 2.0.” If we’re talking “professional” in terms of your career and talents you can bring to a company, then yes, that statement is true regardless of where you work.

However, if “professional” is the identity you assume on behalf of your company, then that statement really only applies to employees of small companies. For employees of big corporates, managing your social media identities is more complex than that.

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

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Early Adopters: Attention Is Migrating to FriendFeed

Based on the reaction to a recent post about Twitter early adopters, it’s clear there’s an appetite to understand when trends emerge and applications migrate across the technology adoption lifecycle.

To that end, there are important updates about FriendFeed.

FriendFeed has been out for a few months as this cool app that lets you look at what your friends are doing across social media. If you were to stop there, it sounds nice, but somewhat useless to everyday activities. “Yeah, I check it every so often to see what my friends are up to.”

But, it is so much more. FriendFeed is emerging as the one lifestream platform to rule them all. The ability to see and interact across a range of services is proving addictive. And it may inadvertently disrupt a few other services along the way.

Four recent comments show that a trend is emerging. People are consuming updates from their social apps not directly from the apps themselves, but primarily from FriendFeed. FriendFeed is starting to get the lion’s share of attention and page views, to the detriment of other services.

Here are the quotes.

Robert Scoble tweeted about his declining use of Google Reader due to FriendFeed:

FriendFeed has replaced much of what made RSS cool to me. I’m still reading Google Reader, but less.

Thomas Hawk messaged on FriendFeed about his declining use of Flickr due to FriendFeed:

I find that I’m going to Flickr’s most recent photos from my contacts much less than I used to and going to friendfeed to view my contacts and imaginary contacts flickr photos much more.

Steven Hodson commented about potentially leaving Twitter altogether due to FriendFeed:

FriendFeed as for me it is a much better resource than Twitter will every be. It has gotten to the point where even now I’m seriously thinking of moving strictly to FF.

Jason Kaneshiro blogged about his declining use of Google Reader, due to FriendFeed

FriendFeed is replacing Google Reader as my information aggregator / filter.

If you’re trendspotting, you’d do worse than to look at the comments of those four to see where the early adopters are moving.

Finally, the compete.com graph below shows March 2008 had a huge spike in visitors to friendfeed.com:

How about you? Are you feeling it?

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/e/0b9e5d3f-e644-6105-5e28-7b4a95e1b34a

How Do Solo Bloggers Break into the Techmeme 100?

26% of US internetters have started a blog
Stat from Universal McCann study, courtesy of the blog 3008

A couple weeks ago, Steve Hodson at Winextra wrote a post that caught my eye. In Why today’s solo bloggers may not see Scoble-like fame…, he observes that the emergence of investor-funded professional blog networks (e.g. TechCrunch) will be the dominant industry structure going forward. Breaking the top end of that oligopoly will be tough for any solo blogger.

However several solo bloggers are regularly in the Techmeme 100, as Steve notes here. It got me thinking about how someone’s blog goes from a little experiment to achieving a large audience and becoming influential. The stat above about 26% of Web users starting blog strikes me as high, but let’s assume there’s a large number of individuals starting blogs.

From where I sit (far, far outside any kind of Techmeme rankings), I can envision three ways the influx of solo bloggers can break into the Techmeme 100. To be sure, there are other rankings beyond Techmeme. For instance, the Technorati 100 is a big deal. Political blog Huffington Post doesn’t show up on Techmeme, but it dominates the Technorati 100. The paths below apply to non-tech blogs and non-Techmeme rankings.

The three paths to the Techmeme 100 are:

  1. Long Slog
  2. Big Events
  3. Celebrity

Long Slog

Slow and steady wins the race. This is the most accessible to a the solo blogger. Through a lengthy amount of time, you accumulate readers. It’s a ground war, where you need to be “good enough” most of the time with flashes of occasional brilliance. Here’s what the growth chart would look like:

Patience. Quality posts. Devoted long time fans.

Big Events

This blog experiences a series of big events that give it jumps in subscribers. Each events attracts a flood of new visitors, some of whom decide to subscribe.

What might these big events be?

  • Recognition by bigger bloggers with huge followings
  • Freakishly popular posts
  • Specialized area of focus that suddenly becomes hot

I think that if a blogger emerges on the other side of these big events to have a wide following, there’ll be this sense that they burst on the scene. But like an actress who suddenly gets hot, you’ll never see all the bit parts and ‘B’ movies that she was in before.

‘Big events’ is the one that’s most likely to get solo bloggers into the big time. This is the path that requires the most luck.

Celebrity

This is a path open only to a select few. Celebrities who have made a name for themselves in other realms, and then turn out to have talent in blogging as well. Celebrity blogs attract subscribers almost from day one:

Marc Andreessen has proven to be quite talented at blogging. And it didn’t hurt readership that he had already achieved legend status based on Netscape. Imagine if Microsoft buys Yahoo and Jerry Yang decides to start blogging on his own. I guarantee that will get subscribers (I know I’d subscribe).

Final Thoughts

Celebrities go right to the front of the line, but they’d better have blogging talent. Long slog blogs are testaments to the love of blogging. Big events seem to be the most likely path for the next Robert Scobles and Louis Grays to emerge.

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/e/d7b6d330-9c38-f5cf-f6f2-1de1582c0153

Are You a Twitter Early Adopter?

Are you a Twitter early adopter? You know, the kind of person who’s “in the know”? If you’re not using Twitter right now, apparently you ain’t!

As noted earlier, Twitter saw a remarkable surge in visitors in March 2008. The hockey stick growth says Twitter’s moving into the mainstream.

And apparently, we have dates for when you were “in the know” and when you were “following the crowd”.

From Jeremiah Owyang, it’s April 25, 2008.

April 25th, 2008 1:06 pm

******************************************************************

I’ve noticed an influx of new users, there’s clearly a change now. I consider everyone above this line to be ‘early adopter’

From Robert Scoble, it’s April 9, 2008:

Anyone who joins Twitter after today is not an early adopter. So, not interesting for me to follow.

So there you have it. If you joined on say, April 16, 2008, you’re in a tough spot. “Sorta” early adopter?

And we’ll leave open the question of why the hell it matters.

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/e/f059c0b0-12f3-c761-f53f-d51c70cc3167

Proposal to Clean Up the FriendFeed Clutter

FriendFeed is wonderful for giving you so much interesting information. But there are times where the flow of information is excessive and redundant. This occurs when the same the link shows up multiple times for the same user:

  • Post it to your blog
  • Share it on Google Reader
  • Bookmark it to del.icio.us
  • Post it to Reddit
  • Etc…

Eric of Internet Duct Tape blogged about this. And a really good discussion about the clutter occurred here…on FriendFeed. A couple different perspectives:

FF could make this easier and ‘collapse’ multiple items into one i.e. if I share something from Google Reader and bookmark it on delicious, only one item should appear in FF. I wonder if FF is too focused on where we doing things rather than what we’re doing? – Andy Davies

what I’m saying is that, if you add the same links to 2 different services, there’s no need to add both services to FF. Just one would be enough. Of course, if there are things that are unique for each one of them, it’s understandable. – Alejandro S.

Andy wants a technical solution, Alejandro is looking for a change in behavior. I lean toward the technical solution because there is information in the service that the person uses. A save to del.icio.us means the person has a personal interest in it. A save to Reddit means the person is explicitly putting the page “in play” for others to pick up interest. I don’t want to lose that.

I propose two alternatives for reducing the clutter of same-link feeds:

  1. Person-centric: if a user has the same feed more than once, the same-link feeds are aggregated together under a common link for the user
  2. Link-centric: all same-link feeds for all friends appear under a common link

The two alternatives are really different. #1 amounts to a small clean-up mechanism. #2 is more radical. It changes the FriendFeed experience. But perhaps in an interesting way.

Is it more important to track action around the link or the person?

Person-Centric: A Lightweight Cleanup

The “parent” consists of the user + web page title . All user actions that relate to the parent URL are aggregated, as shown below:

Each time a new feed with the same URL is posted by the same user, it’s just added to the list. Note that Tweets with the link are added as well (even with a URL shortener).

This would clean up the feed, but retain the current person-centric nature of FriendFeed.

Link-Centric: Centralized Comments,FriendFeedmeme,

In this scenario, the web page is the “parent” All user actions fall under a common web page link:

A couple things happen with this approach:

  1. For a given item, all comments are centralized in a single place. This makes the conversation easier to follow. Comments can still be attached to a particular person’s action to retain specific conversational preferences.
  2. The combining of all actions for a single item creates a visual meme, showing how much activity surrounds the item.

These are all feeds and comments you’d see under your ‘friends’ tab. They’re just aggregated.

Person-Centric or Link-Centric?

Is it more important that John found a bunch of different links interesting (person-centric)? Or that John, Susan, Mike, and Cheri found a single link interesting (link-centric)?

What better defines the experience of FriendFeed?

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/e/f08cbf30-129c-11dd-b613-003048343a40

Video Blog Comments (Ironically) Aren’t Conversational

TechCrunch has added video comments to its blogs, courtesy of Seesmic. Oh lordy. Think you’re feeling overwhelmed by social media? Try following video comments.

Online video has gotten traction as a one-way communication and entertainment vehicle. Is it ready to add “conversation” to its portfolio of uses?

Where Has Online Video Worked?

YouTube is undeniably the success story of online video. And what has been so successful there? Entertainment. Selected hits from amateurs have become mega hits, like the guy playing Pachelbel’s Canon on his electric guitar. The most popular videos on YouTube are professionally produced music videos, as reported by Michael Learmonth at Silicon Valley Insider. My 4 year old is a huge fan of Feist.

This entertainment is very much a one-way experience. They play. You watch.

Online video has also been useful as a communication tool. Google has been particularly active on this front, such as with this video explaining Google Apps.

The training video, again, is a one-way communication.

Seesmic’s Mission: Make Online Video a Conversation

Seesmic wants to turns these one-way communications into conversations among two, three, heck even dozens of people. You post a video, someone posts a video in reply and you post back. Kind of an asynchronous conversation. From the Seesmic site:

Until now, online communication has lacked personality as it’s been limited to text (IM, SMS, email). Now, Seesmic brings conversation alive through video. See and hear people share their experiences straight from their webcams, join in live conversations, and engage in real interactions with real people.

The concept is pretty innovative. As always, the question is whether it makes sense in real world usage.

My Rant About Online Video

I personally do not watch videos online much. If I land on a page that has video instead of text, I usually hit the browser’s ‘Back’ button pretty quickly.

Why? I don’t have time to wait on whether the video will be interesting. After the video loads, you then sit through its latency to see what the person is saying. It’s a crap shoot as to whether the time was worth it. Thus, the Silicon Valley Inside story about professionally produced videos YouTube dominating doesn’t surprise me. You know what you’re getting ahead of time.

Which brings us back to online video comments.

The Blog Video Comment Experience

The implementation on TechCrunch seems to be well-done, based on the video comments of several people. Kudos to Seesmic for making that happen. This is an innovative idea.

Three issues make video comments less conversational overall than basic text comments:

  1. You have no idea what you’re getting when you click a video
  2. It’s hard to reference someone’s comment
  3. It takes too much time

Video comment quality: Variance in comment quality is a well-known dynamic on blogs. It will apply to these video comments as well. This comments here and here on TechCrunch intrigued me…

The big difference is that with text, you can pretty quickly size up the quality with a quick scan. You have to endure much of the online video before realizing it won’t serve up nuggets of insight.

This is a turn off, and it undermines the participative quality of comments. If people aren’t watching your video comment, then you’re not really participating in the conversation.

Referencing comments: Say someone leaves a 60-second commentary on a post. You’re going to have to remember that interesting thing that was said 27 seconds into it. And then you’ll have to rewrite the interesting thing to properly reference it in your text comment. Or in your video reply.

The burden of tracking an audio commentary for response purposes hurts the conversational aspect of video comments.

Too much time: Keeping up with the entire thread of a conversation may require viewing several videos. On the TechCrunch post, I found the time for each of 43 video comments. Average run time = 29 seconds. Median = 24 seconds. The typical text comment doesn’t take 25 seconds to read. So your time investment just went up to stay on top of videos.

And that detracts from the conversation.

Final Word

I’ll admit to sticking through several of the 43 video comments on the blog. There is something to the idea of watching a person speak their comments. The hard part is to know which ones will be worth it. I assume over time, some people would just have a flair for the medium. Regular blog visitors will consistently click their videos.

But the majority of video comments will just be time sucks. There’s probably a real opportunity to implement some sort of rating system on comments, and on people who comment that will help filter out the video noise.

Still, I prefer text comments for the conversation. Learning on my time, not the video creator’s.

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/e/11b7e37d-c97f-e35c-b7fe-9f1588e3876a

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