NY Times Declares Blogging Over, Doesn’t Know What Blogging Is

On Monday, the New York Times ran an obituary for blogs. However, in doing so they may have revealed how little they know about blogging. The headline should have been the first hint.  It reads, “Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter.” Now, I’m not saying the NY Times doesn’t know what Twitter is. All I’m saying is that the first sentence of Twitter’s wikipedia entry identifies the site as a microblogging service. But I guess, the headline “Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites That Are Also Basically Blogs” doesn’t have as much punch.

The piece goes on to talk about Tumblr, cause Tumblr is what kids are calling blogs these days, and the New York Times is a cool place that totally understands kids, internetting and the twitter. In their words:

“The blurring of lines is readily apparent among users of Tumblr. Although Tumblr calls itself a blogging service, many of its users are unaware of the description and do not consider themselves bloggers — raising the possibility that the decline in blogging by the younger generation is merely a semantic issue.”

Hang on. If this is “merely a semantic issue” then why dedicate 1,00o words to it? This leads me to think Dan Riehl may be on to something when he says, “The NYT’s wants blogs to go away so badly, they consistently look for ways to suggest that’s the case…. The medium is simply maturing.” And while we’re getting into semantics, who are these “many unaware” users of the Tumblr blogging service who don’t know they’re actually blogging? Just because I’m unaware that I’m driving a car doesn’t mean there’s one less vehicle on the road.

Oh, and another thing, the word “blog” appears in the first sentence of Tumblr’s wikipedia entry, too, so maybe it is merely a semantic issue.  And in contrast to what the Times purports about the state of blogging, Tumblr’s growth rate is off the charts. According to this piece in TechCrunch, “Tumblr is growing by a quarter billion impressions every week.” Regardless of what the old grey lady may say – or wish – that hardly sounds like the death rattle of self publishing.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Social Media Week in New York

Last week was Social Media Week in New York. The events were not all in one place, but rather spread throughout Manhattan.  This week would require a MetroCard, a new notebook and some comfortable shoes.

On Monday, I took the 1 train to 5oth Street and walked over to the Time/Life building for the Content and Conversations panel. This panel was particularly informative as it provided case studies for how brands like Nokia, Oreo and People Magazine have leveraged social media for their success.

It was particularly interesting to hear Oreo’s story. Did you know they’re the third largest brand on Facebook? Did you know they have over 16 million fans? I didn’t know either of those facts. In real life (I.R.L.), I’m a fan of Oreo cookies. (I have some in my pantry to prove it.) And I’m not a lone. It’s that sort of ‘nostalgic currency’ that Oreo uses to push their message and brand forward. They not only engage their ‘fans’ but they keep them engaged.

Tuesday was a very busy day starting with a panel on “Getting to the Meat of the Tweet” at Google. It was a cool panel, sure. But it was way cooler to be at Google.  The security guard out front told me I wouldn’t need to give my g-mail password to get in, and assured me that nobody inside was reading my g-chats.  The panel touched on the notion that there’s ‘no way to predict what the conversation will be,’ but stressed that ‘if you’re too noisy, people will learn to ignore you.’

After Google, it was further uptown on the 1 train to Columbus Circle for a case study examination on how “The Rally to Restore Sanity” used social media to promote the Washington, D.C. event. I felt like I was sneaking this one from my boss, and only going cause it was personally interesting to me. However, this proved to be one of the more informative sessions of the week. One point that particularly resonated with me from this panel was that in the past social media duties fell to an intern. However, these days social media needs to ‘be a part of everyone’s job.’ And also, would you look at the view from this room?

Wednesday was another busy day, beginning with The Power or Collaboration at the JWT office on 47th and Lexington (courtesy of the F train).  And from there it was across town (on the 7 train) and back to the Hearst Building for a panel on WikiLeaks and Online Civil Disobedience. These speakers sought to define how to digitally throw oneself in front of a tank.  They also weighed in on the legitimacy of attacking a website (or hactivism) in the name of civil disobedience.  The panel also discussed the benefits of sites like WikiLeaks and the dangers of groups like Anonymous and 4Chan. In my opinion, this was one of the week’s better sessions. I particularly enjoyed hearing Micah Sifry saying, “Wikileaks doesn’t change everything. It highlights everything.” True enough.

They then cleaned the room out, did a 180 degree turn and began the Celebrity Spokesperson in the Digital Age session starring Denise Richards. There was a lot of fluff in this one.  It was interesting, however, to see how these individuals brand themselves and how that trend will more than likely persist moving forward. Denise Richards offered this advice, “Say nothing, or say the truth.”

Thursday’s highlight was The Future of Real-time Publishing hosted by (and at) the New York Times. First off, it was awesome just to be at the New York Times. The energy and legacy of this storied publication were nearly palpable. Ann Curry, Andy Carvin, David Clinch and Joshua Harris made up the panel, but even the crowd itself was a who’s who of online publishing, with representatives there from TechCrunch and AP to name a few. What’s more, the news on Egypt and Mubarak was breaking during the session with the panelists live tweeting from their seats about the day’s top issue. To say that it was an exciting and lively session would be an understatement.

Friday’s day began back on the east side with a session on the Rise of Mobile Publishing. I particularly enjoyed the story MB Christie relayed of her grandmother clipping newspaper articles to send to her grandchildren, and how, really, grandparents were the world’s first news aggregators, distributing news items to their exclusive network of grandchildren.

The week wrapped up for me back at Google for a great discussion on The Role of Social Media in Egypt and Activism. The panelists were energetic to say the least as the news of Egypt’s revolution kept streaming in. One of the panelists actually grew up in Egypt and was moved as an observer, but also as a former citizen. One panelist relayed a message a friend of his in Cairo said, “We have the oldest civilization in history, and we just had history’s most civilized revolution.” There was some debate on whether or not it was a revolution ’caused by’ Twitter and Facebook, or if it was just aided by those platforms. Everyone agreed that it was an exceptional moment.  And speaking of Twitter, Glynnis MacNicol offered that she’ll see something “bubble up on Twitter, and six hours later it’s on the evening news.”  Another panelist had this to say, “Twitter’s not about access to information. It’s about access to each other.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

World’s Largest Blog Bought by Your Grandparent’s Internet Provider

Yesterday, AOL (remember them?) bought the world’s largest blog, The Huffington Post. The acquisition cost AOL $315 million, of which $300 million was in cash. With this splashy acquisition, AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong is doubling down on content being the wave of the future and positioning himself alongside the first name (ok  it’s technically her last name) in blogging and content delivery.

Ariana Huffington will oversee all editorial content at AOL, which aside from HuffPo will include TechCrunch, Moviefone and various other content providers. AOL on the other hand is betting – what some experts say is half their available cash – on Huffington Post driving their brand into the future.   

This deal is no doubt note worthy. But it might also be puzzling. AOL’s stock fell with the news and some suggest that Armstrong overpaid for the site. There’s also a concern how the Huffington Post, which for all intents and purposes is a left leaning news source, will play with AOL’s subscribers who may not want to hear the news through a liberal lens. 

But ultimately, Armstrong and AOL had to do something. Dial up is dead or at the very least dying. And while the AOL brand is heading down that same road, Facebook and Google are skyrocketing ahead of them. Armstrong may have overpaid, but surely he had to do something.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When the Internet Was in Egypt Land

As recent political unrest grew in Egypt, government officials there sought to quell the uprising by shutting off the country’s access to the internet. This tactic was not only regarded as wildly unpopular and foolish, but also ineffective. For one thing, when the government pulled the web’s plug they also did some serious damage to Egypt’s economy, effectively shutting down business for key industries in the country. (Turns out it’s difficult to run a stock market or a bank or even an international carrier like Egypt Air without some internet.) Furthermore, the ruling regime’s hope was that by shutting down blogs, Twitter and Facebook, protesters wouldn’t be able to organize.  However, and this is where the foolish part comes into play, the government sought to shut off access to the web AFTER the people had already gathered. What’s more, even with the hammer dropped on national internet providers, information continued to flow out of Cairo. So how did this happen?

The answer is that like bloggers everywhere, the Egyptian protesters got resourceful. One simple tactic included citizens simply calling their friends internationally and having them post information for them. This process is slightly more cumbersome than blogging or tweeting from a smart phone, but it worked. Internet superpower Google also got involved, rolling out a service earlier this week allowing users to send messages to Twitter via voice mail.  According to a senior Google official, “We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone there.” It appears one thing to learn from the terrible events of the last week in Egypt would be that ‘not only can you NOT shut down the internet, but nor should you.’

Regardless of what technologies can or can’t be used, the situation in Egypt is dire. Blogs nor Twitter are going to make things any easier for the people of Egypt this week. But quick and effective access to information will always ultimately prove beneficial. When protests broke out in Tehran in the summer of 2009, micro-blogging sites like Twitter proved instrumental in bringing these events to the world’s attention. And while change or justice may be slow in these places, at least the world has a better glimpse into the full story.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Timing Blog Posts: Synchronize With Your Readership

Staying up late and finishing up that blog post for the day can be a great feeling- nothing like accomplishing everything on one’s daily list, including maintaining that pesky blog that requires regular updating. If you’re like me, you’ll often enough find inspiration and focus in the late-night hours. The mind expands and the tasks at hand whittle down until it’s only me and the blank page. Whether by discipline or inspiration, a blog post is soon enough generated.

But wait- are you posting your blog right after finishing it? Is there a “best” time to post your newest entry to maximize views and increase traffic? The momentum generated for each blog post can be maximized, ensuring it’s reaching the most people possible, if one bears in mind certain details about when people view, comment and spread the word.

According to Dan Zarrella, social media scientist at Hubspot (link: http://www.hubspot.com), the timing of your blog post is going to define the traffic results to your post. Beyond initial readers, however, you can use the timing of your blog post to generate return traffic via retweets and Facebook sharing. Zarrella generated an infographic to represent traffic to 170,000 blog posts. It allows you to examine what type of traffic (views, links, comments) occurs in highest frequency throughout the day.

[reference link: http://cot.ag/dLtS5O]

Throughout the week, late morning tends to be a consistent time slot for reading blogs- even on the weekend. This increase in views can be traced to the heavy commenting and linking that occur throughout the morning, with views fluctuating prior to the late-morning swell. Note how the strong linking activity in the morning is followed by strong commenting activity in the hours following. The late morning swell of views follows both of these high-frequency activities and time slots every day of the week.

This trend is supported by another Zarrella survey (link: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2010/12/06/whens-the-best-time-to-publish-blog-posts/), which indicates that up to 80% of responders read blogs in the morning. By 3-4PM, blog links are experiencing the highest level of retweets and Facebook sharing of the day.

So maybe the late night post is not such a bad idea- like a fresh, warm copy of the morning paper, it’s ready to be viewed by the daytime masses as soon as blog-viewing activity picks up in the AM.

Of course, it’s never enough to just post your newest entry. Tweets and Facebook sharing should occur early in the morning (schedule your tweets ahead of time using HootSuite or another social media tool to catch an extra few winks after your late-night blogging session) to instigate the first wave of views, which will, provided the content is compelling enough, trigger a second wave of late-morning views with the ensuing comment and linking activity.

Beyond the time of day, Zarrella also discovered that even though media and corporate blogs post regularly during the week, entries that are published on the weekend experience an increase of Facebook sharing activity, likely due to increased access to the site (aka, no Facebook access at work!). Saturday afternoon also wins at commenting- it’s the single most frequent time and day slot for people to review blogs and add their two cents.

Ultimately, as Zarrella points out, the best way to increase traffic to your blog goes beyond timing the occasional blog entry correctly- it involves remaining active and posting regularly. The most viewed blogs online post multiple times a day, and multiple days a week, creating an expectation of available content for the reader base to return to.

Since we can’t all quit our day jobs to blog full-time, however, and often relegate the duty to after-hours, timing a blog’s posts to adjust for general internet reading & sharing activity is a great strategy for increasing traffic to your blog. Most blogs allow one to schedule a blog entry to post at a specified time, and this feature, combined with well-timed tweets and Facebook links, can increase the profile of your blog significantly.

Ruth Cisneros is an Online Content Distribution Manager for PR Newswire. She’s a delinquent blogger and an avid Tweeter @RuthECisneros. Need content for your blog? Find out more about becoming a content distribution partner: http://www.prnewswire.com/content-partnership.html

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tracking Food Trucks Through Twitter

Twitter is a lot of things. It’s a news source. It’s a soap box. In some cases, it’s a waste of time. But used properly, Twitter can propel a message to the forefront of a consumer’s mind. What’s more, it can be done for seemingly no cost at all.  One industry that is using Twitter to their advantage quite well is gourmet food trucks.

If you live in a city, you’ve seen some of these trucks. Outside the Blog Briefs headquarters in New York, a schnitzel truck can be found, as can a dumpling, a falafel and a frozen yogurt truck… just to name a few. (My personal favorite is the Belgian Waffle truck.) These trucks don’t stay in one space, though, and rely on rotating neighborhoods to keep their businesses robust. More and more they’re using Twitter to announce their arrival in different parts of the city. In essence, Twitter is the equivalent of the bells on an ice-cream truck when you were little. They let the hungry know – en masse – that something delicious this way comes.

And with a product as delicious and beautiful as this strawberry and Nutella monstrosity above, wouldn’t you follow, too?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Jog Briefs: Run Virtually Anywhere

At CES last week, Panasonic tricked out a treadmill with projected images from Google Earth, thus allowing joggers in New Jersey to run in Las Vegas…. virtually speaking. You’ve probably seen the commercials. A husband’s running on a treadmill approaching the Eifel Tower. The wife exclaims, “Paris without me? How dare you? I’m running in Boston next!” It seems like the perfect antidote to the drab, otherwise nondescript domicile and – let’s face it – existence in which they live.

On the one hand, this seems great. Who doesn’t want to go for a run along the Nile River? Who doesn’t want to break up the monotony? But on the other hand, doesn’t this sort of make us hamsters?  I prefer running outside; most probably do.  And while I recognize they’re a necessary evil, I just can’t help thinking of Beck (the singer) when he says: “On the treadmill, you’ll be running forever.”

What do you think?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment