Thursday, October 13, 2005

Help Bloggers to help you, for free

Kelly Abbott, the Technology Director of Red Door Interactive, posted an interesting article on IMedia Connection today, explaining what motivates bloggers, and how to reach them to further your marketing objectives.

He cedes the fact that blogging has long been considered a medium which has crossed the chasm into mainstream markets, and is exploding as a dynamic way for marketers to pull out their trusty rifle, and nail a target market with precise shots. The thing about targeting bloggers, is that you are targeting their entire audience at the same time; an audience, he posits, that could also form your customer base.

So you've gotten the idea that targetting bloggers could seriously help your business. Or could it?

I'd like to suggest that if you are considering targetting bloggers, you should first consider what it is that most bloggers are blogging about, and then decide if your product or service fits into that niche. Here are a few ways to do just that:

Feedster lists the Top 500 blogs of the month, every month, by the number of links to those blogs. This is a good judge of the popularity of a blog, but not necessarily of a blog topic.

A tool to discover what people are talking about you right now, is called Technorati. This site lets you run searches on keywords that you associate with your product or service, to see how popular they are on the blogosphere.

You may also want to check out the Top 100 folders that Bloglines users use to categorize their blogs of interest. (i found this earlier in the year on the O'Reilly Radar, which picked up the info on the Confusability blog ) Not surprisingly, the Top 5 were: Blogs, News, Tech, Technology, and People. Followed by Politics, Friends, and Comics. Java was 17th, Business 22nd, Sports 24th, and Knitting beat out Marketing by taking the 37th and 42nd spots respectively.

Now, just because only 16 people in the world are currently blogging about your product / service / interests, doesn't mean that they're not worth targeting. Instead, it means that you have a beginning audience from which to cultivate personal relationships and build a community around. These may be your biggest fans, so let them know that you're out there listening to them!

Of course, if you are targeting a larger audience, or want to automate your research and recieve notifications as soon as someone mentions you. Or if you want to organize your research, and all you information with a product that can replace your Email Organizer, Desktop Search Utility, RSS Reader, Personal Information Manager, Newsgroup Reader, Task Manager, Contact Manager, Bookmark Manager, and Instant Message History Manager. As well as read your Files in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Adobe Acrobat, and view your Pictures, in one Integrated Information Environment, then I can suggest a tool to help you. :)

Good luck with your targeting!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Interview Transcript: Efficiency, productivity, and organization

It seems that my list of projects to do is still growing, but I thought it would be a good idea to post the interview transcript from Steven Lubetkin's podcast about JetBrains' productivity tool for people who love to get lots of info and want to manage it better, Omea Pro.

So without further ado,

~~~~~

Tackling the information overload in computer technology has been a challenge for software developers for a number of years. Today on the CompuSchmooze Podcast we’ll talk to someone from a company that may have a solution. This is Steven Lubetkin, welcome to the CompuSchmooze Podcast.

Keeping track of the information on your computer is probably one of the biggest challenges that faces computer users today. We store information in a calendar program, in our email program, and of course many of us use Microsoft Outlook for both of those functions. We also store files in folder hierarchies, RSS feeds and newsgroup posts in our aggregators, webpage booksmarks in our browsers, and instant message conversations in our IM software. There are a number of software solutions on the market that attempt to integrate some of these disparate sources of information, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen one with the promise of the newest entry in this field.

A program called Omea which comes from JetBrains, a software productivity company, they began by developing software for programmers to streamline the development process. They are located in Prague, in the Czech Republic, and our guest today on the CompuSchmooze Podcast is David Booth. David is the Executive Marketing Manager for JetBrains’ Omea product line, and he’ll talk to us today a little bit about the Omea Information Environment which integrates all of your email, your contacts, your tasks, your files, as well as newsfeeds, webpage bookmarks, and also usenet newsgroups into a single integrated environment where you can search and organize more efficiently. David was educated at the University of Waterloo and also the Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. He’s worked in the international sphere for the last four years, first in Amsterdam for Sitraka Software, then in South Korea, and now he makes his home in Prague, in the Czech Republic where JetBrains is headquartered. He is highly interested in social networking software, information organizers, search technology, and the future of mobile technology, and he spoke to us over the Skype Internet Telephony Service.

Tell me a little bit about JetBrains and take me through to the process that got you to where we are now, launching an official release of version two.

JetBrains is focused on tools that help people improve their productivity when they are dealing with a lot of information. So the programming tools had intelligent organizers and a lot of shortcuts that help developers to work faster. The Omea project started in the middle of 2003. Our CEO, Sergey Dmitriev, was taking a hard look at information overload because a lot of people were complaining about it at the time, and still are.

See, people have problems finding the information that we really need, because there is just so much available all the time. By organizing, creating shortcuts, and adding intelligent features to their Java IDE, IntelliJ IDEA, JetBrains saved developers a lot of time searching for information, bugs, or code problems. So we decided to take some of these ideas, and open them up to a wider, less-technical audience: to people who are overloaded with information, who are receiving too much information, or just can’t manage all the information that they WANT to have, and WANT to access, as effectively as they would like to do it. We created a tool, Omea Pro, that brings all the information sources together that people use on a regular basis. Like their emails, their contacts, their files, documents, transcripts, spreadsheets, adobe pdfs, RSS feeds, tasks, and things like that. As well as their conversations on ICQ or Miranda, newsgroups… basically a large variety of resources, can all be pulled together, and found quickly with Omea’s Desktop Search functionality, and with Omea’s Organizing features, people can keep themselves organized, permanently.

JetBrains wanted to create a tool that made it easy to organize your information, and they did it in a way that other tools really didn’t, because most other tools only succeed in segregating your information. Emails are all kept in Outlook, instant messages conversations are stored in ICQ or Miranda’s history, your files are organized in a folder hierarchy, and the team thought, well, it’s just so much easier to bring it all together, put it into one environment, so that way you don’t really need to use a variety of other programs. You’ve got everything from your emails to your webpage bookmarks in the same place. And, that’s the idea behind Omea.

Is there a story behind the name? How did it get the name?

It was originally an abbreviation of “Omniamea”, which comes from Latin, meaning “All my things”. I’ve been told that it’s part of a proverb that says, “Omniamea mecum porto”, which loosely translated means, “I carry all my things with me”. And that’s where we got “Omea”

From the user’s standpoint, what are some of the advantages of the product? Obviously bringing everything together, it sounds good, but how would a normal everday user benefit from Omea?

I guess one of the worst case scenarios is when you know you have information, somewhere on your computer, but you just can’t find it. Maybe you had some research that you just saw once, saved it for later, and now you need that information, because would be perfect for the project you're working on right now. But you don’t remember where it was. You're thinking, "Was it in a conversation that I had with someone? Did I write it in an email? Was it in a file? Was it an attachment to something?" Sometimes you don’t really know, especially after 2-3 months, and you’re looking back for it now. Or if you’re looking for info about your client work that you’ve been doing. So, in Omea, you can just type a keyword and search, like a desktop search, and find any information in your entire computer that relates to those keywords. So if you want to have a temporary productivity boost, and you don’t want to spend 10 minutes looking for something, you just want to find it now, that’s where Omea’s search functionality comes in.

Now, if you want to have a permanent productivity boost, you can set it up so that Omea keep all your resources organized for you, the way you tell it to, given a system of rules. So you teach Omea what to look for, how to organize it, and then as soon as information arrives, that relates to your specific projects, or to a client that you work with, or to certain keywords, like the industry buzzwords that you’re following, or your competitors’ products, then Omea picks them up, organizes them into a nice little category, and lets you know "hey you’ve got some new information, and it’s about “this”".

One of the things that impresses me the most is the integration of things like usenet newsgroups, and RSS feeds from the various weblogs and podcasts. Talk a little bit about how you can use the Rules to manage those and to filter those into effective categories.

One of the ways is using keywords, so basically you could tell omea, “I’m looking for anything that mentions my competitors’ product”. You can tell Omea to search for the name of that product and have it filter anything, from a podcast, to a competitors website, so anytime the website changes, you get notified of it, every time the competitor sends out an RSS feed, or someone in the blogosphere mentions your competitor’s product, it would immediately go into your category. It’s the same with emails, anytime that you’ve written about that product, or your competitor with your colleague, or a user of the product, so, as soon as you need something that relates to that competitor’s product, it’s all right the for you, in one place, and you don’t need to look in all you different programs for it.

One of the things that I notice Omea does that is a weakness or shortcoming of MS Outlook, is the ability to link across the resources. You can link a posting to an RSS feed, or an email or a contact, you can link all of those within an Outlook-based task so that you have them all in one place is a task environment as well.

And from there you could send the task to other users of Omea, so they have all the resources and the links together as well.

That could be incredibly efficient as a way of managing information

Especially if you’re managing it as part of a team

Sure, in different locations as well. What about future enhancements David? One of the things that users will discover isn’t there pretty early on is a resource window for a calendar function. You pretty much cover everything else in Outlook, but not the calendar.

That’s the next thing that we’re working on.

Any timeline for that?

We haven’t really released a public timeline for that. We’ve been focused on the 2.0 release and as soon as we’re finished with this, we’re going to listen to our audience some more, check out their feedback, and then get right into the calendar.

Some of the other resources that you are already indexing and tracking are outside of the Outlook Environment, you’re tracking instant messaging,

With ICQ and Miranda

Are there any plans to expand that to other instant messaging environments?

Not in the immediate future, we’re focusing on things like the calendar first, and we’ll be looking at other IMs, depending on which companies are most open to the extra 3rd party functionality for their software, and which IMs our users like the best.

Alright! Thanks a lot!

Thanks for the call.

I’d like to thank David Booth from JetBrains for joining us on the CompuSchmooze Podcast today, to talk about Omea. If you have questions, or are interested in Omea the product, you can go to the Jetbrains website, and download a free 30 day trial, which integrates with Microsoft Outlook, and all the other information-related programs on your PC, and improve your efficiency rather drastically by allowing you to integrate information from disparate sources. If you have comments or questions about the CompuSchmooze Podcast, you can direct them to me at Steve@lubetkin.net. We’d also like to thank the Garage Band of the Week, Momma’s Rug, for the use of their instrumental tune “Wasted” as our theme music for this podcast. For everyone here at CompuSchmooze, this is Steve Lubetkin, thank you for listening, and we’ll see you on the net.

~~~

Well, after trying out this transcript, i've had the chance to really analyze exactly what I said, and I how i said it. I think something like this is going to become a regular item on my to do list, to help with future interviews!

Good luck getting things done!

Friday, September 30, 2005

GTD: Getting Things Done

Today is another one of those days. My list of items TO DO is staring at me, seemingly growing by the day, while I'm putting out fires as they crop up, from advertising to a user review section on our website, to finding out cool stuff about how Google's SEO bots work, and revelling in the fact that Omea Pro now holds the 4th spot when you search Google for Email Organizer.

It's also a day for analyzing the traffic of our website, and looking into the sites that are sending us a fair amount of visitors. One such example is Punkey, a blog focused on the Getting Things Done (GTD) principles of Dave Allen, the author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Punkey has a huge variety of resources on his blog, which focus on productivity in his personal and professional life.

One resource I particularly liked is called 50 Strategies for Making Yourself Work, and though it focuses on the perilous procrastination powers of writers in particular, it's easy to see how applying some of these techniques to the writing that marketers do could help almost anyone to be more productive.

For example, sometimes opposite strategies can work wonders:

Outline. Plan everything you're going to write, all the way through to the end. Do your research while you're outlining, so by the time you start writing the actual , you're already living in that world. With a detailed enough outline, the actual writing becomes a matter of choosing the right words to describe what you've already decided to tell. You can concentrate on style and let the work take care of itself, because you've already done that part.

Don't outline. Don't plan ahead at all. Feel the lure of the blank page. Trust your instincts and dive into the project, and don't look back until you're done.

I think I'll go apply some of these strategies right now, while writing a niche-focused contributed article for targeted e-newsletters.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Information Organizer for Marketers gets podcasted on CompuSchmooze

The podcast has emerged as one of the most relevant methods to spread information between knowledge enthusiasts on the internet. Not only do information seekers who are "in-the-know" have access to corporate websites, press releases, demos and magazine reviews, but now they can also get a glimpse behind the scenes, by listening to interviews with the people involved in their favourite technologies.

This helps people, who Emanuel Rosen refers to as "Network Hubs" in The Anatomy of Buzz, to spread the word about your technology from the enthusiastic supporter, to the skeptical mass market. Sounds like a tool that might interest those folks over at The Chasm Group.

And indeed they are interested. Geoffrey Moore, the author of Crossing the Chasm (the first in a series of books that describe how and when to target specific market segments to encourage the adoption of your technology), has been doing podcasts over at IT Conversations for quite some time now, though I'd like to hear his views on the podcasting medium, and its position in the Technology Adoption Curve.

Recently, I was interviewed by Steven Lubetkin, of CompuSchmooze, about the release of JetBrains' Information Environment Omea Pro 2.0. Steven and I spoke about the origins of Omea, the problems that it is designed to tackle, and the benefits for marketers, researchers, journalists, and busy CEOs. Steven made an interesting comparison between Omea Pro and Lotus Agenda, as well as a podcast of the interview (which Omea Pro can actually pick right out of his blog's RSS feed, and download automatically for you).

As the medium of podcasting takes off, marketers and network hubs alike will be able to cummunicate closer together, often without the carefully scripted and prepared content that audiences are so used to seeing on corporate websites worldwide. Even further along, this means that audience members can come together and share their views about products in a totally unscripted manner.. or in a "semi-unscripted manner" if they are being sponsored.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Omea 2.0 Released!

As a marketer, I'm proud to announce the release of Omea Pro 2.0. This tool has helped me immensely while tracking the changes in the Desktop Search and Information Organizer industries, keeping up with my competition, and organizing all my files, feeds, emails, instant message conversations, newsgroups for our products, and the 100's of websites that i track (who unfortunately don't yet use RSS technology).

By bringing all of my resources into Omea Pro's Information Environment, I'm able to organize myself by my projects, topic of research, and all the contact people involved in each, with one tool. That's major. For example, I have a specific category for each of my competitors, so anytime that we mention something about them internally... in an email, ICQ conversation, or strategy document, Omea automatically picks up that info, and puts it into my category. It does the same thing whenever the competitive firm puts out an RSS feed, and it keeps their websites in my category as well. So later, when i'm looking for info on them, it's all in one place.

Omea Pro's desktop search functionality helps me quickly find any resource, from any Information Source, in a few seconds... instead of looking through all my info for a specific fact. So I don't need the Windows Explorer to check out my folder hierarchies... Outlook to organize my emails... ICQ or Miranda to scroll through my message histories.. and a separate aggregator to track my industry update research via RSS feeds...

Frankly, this product saves me time, to focus on DOING more important stuff than just searching for information. And I look better to the CEO when I can show him a long list of the things that I've accomplished, instead of just saying "I researched this".

I should mention here that I work for Jetbrains, the makers of Omea Pro 2.0, and that fact makes me an early adopter for technology like this. It also means that I've got a competitive advantage when it comes to productivity, and THAT is translatable to any other marketer out there who knows what it's like to have a LOT to do, and something to prove to the development team.

Check out Jetbrains' Marketer Case Scenario or the demo!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Are social business networks effective for finding employees or finding a job?

I see these sites like Friendster, Ryze, and LinkedIn, and I just wonder… what is it that these people are actually using the site for? I especially wonder at the idea of connecting people only through their connections. Kind of like a six-degrees of separation thing. Frankly, if a friend of a friend of a friend recommends someone to me… it doesn’t get them any better chance of being hired, because frankly, they are as much as stranger as any other person out there. It does however, bring them to my attention. Though I don’t think this is the best way to do so.

It comes down to three things when I’m looking at a potential employee:

Attitude
Ability to learn
Ability to achieve.

That’s it. These social networking sites don’t help me determine any of these attributes, so therefore, they are not the best way to meet potential employees. What I need, is a list of developers who are interested in building mobile technology, with a focus on S 60 phones, and Bluetooth. And I don't want to pay for the list, nor do i want to pay just to make contact. Show me that list, and I don’t care how many degrees of separation they are from me; I’ll make it one degree in about 30 seconds.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Who are bloggers? The Blogosphere Series - Part Two

This is the Blogosphere Series, Part Two, a look into bloggers.

Who are bloggers?
What are their Interests?
Why do they blog?
What makes them different from non-bloggers?
What encourages them to keep blogging?
Are they willing to spend their money to blog?

In Part Three of this series, I'll try to answer: "How do I get bloggers to blog about me?"

1) Who are these blogger-people?

CNN Reports that the majority of blog-readers are internet users between the age of 18-29, however they did not poll people under the age of 18, so this data is less accurate than it could be. It does show a trend for young people to be the most common readers of blogs, but also highlights that if a user of any age category uses the internet, then there is more than an 28% chance that they have read a blog sometime before.



A survey of bloggers and readers of blogs that carry BlogAd advertising showed that among other findings, 70% of bloggers are over 30 years old, 43% had family incomes greater than $90000 USD, 75% are men, 50% said blogs are their most useful source of information, 4.8% listen to podcasts weekly, 28% use RSS to read blogs, and 20% of readers are also bloggers.

2) What are bloggers blogging about?

On Dec 9, 2004, Media Culpa stated that, “I have checked a sample of 50 important RSS feeds of traditional media in the Nordic countries in the Bloglines system and it is clear that IT and news are what interests most subscribers, 84 per cent of all subscriptions are for IT and general news. Business, sports, culture and entertainment have far less subscribers. This is of course an effect of both supply and demand.”



The O'Reilly Radar picked up this Confusability blog that lists the Top 100 folders that Bloglines users use to categorize their blogs of interest. Not surprisingly, the Top 5 were: Blogs, News, Tech, Technology, and People. Followed by Politics, Friends, and Comics. Java was 17th, Business 22nd, Sports 24th, and Knitting beat out Marketing by taking the 37th and 42nd spots respectively.

3) Why do bloggers... blog?

Defining exactly why people blog is not an easy task. Perhaps it is better to start by analyzing why people read blogs first, and then look at why people write them after.



In this blogads survey from March 2005, the timing and content of blogs (faster news, news I can’t find elsewhere) was important to readers, but perhaps more important was the source from which the news was delivered (Better perspective than a reporter, more honest, and with transparent biases). This supports the ideas of Jeremy Wright and Darren Barefoot that describe ‘objectivity’ as the currency of journalism, and ‘authenticity’ as the currency of bloggers. Perhaps the fact that 43.8% of blog readers are interested in “transparent biases” shows the decline of true objectivity in the journalist trade. This could either be because people are beginning to distrust the current level of objectivity in news-providers, or because people value opinions that support their own, and like to hear such information.

This begins to open the door into the bloggers mind, showing a glimpse of why they blog. The idea that their opinion is valuable and desired by other humans makes blogging an attractive social outlet. That they can also gain a reputation among a community of peers, build a business, interact more closely with their customers, and stay connected with their family and friends increases the attractiveness. A Feb 18th, 2005 survey of blogware users stated the reasons why people blog are:

40% - To let the world know what I think!
30% - To stay connected with family and friends.
15% - To build a better relationships with my customers.
10% - To share ideas and projects with coworkers/employees.
5% - To store and share photos online.

Though this survey had a low number of respondents (32), it had some other interesting findings, including the fact that 34% of the respondents had been blogging for more than 2 years (while 25% began within the last 3 months), and that these users would prefer to see blogware blogs listed by topic, category, author, and location of author rather than one of these individually. People who read blogs want them to be organized, and relevant to their interest. This is another reason why aggregators will be more popular.

This comes back to the number of people who are interested in blogs for the speed with which they can find information, and the fact that they can’t find that info elsewhere. An extension of this will be “semantic” tools that explain the web, based not on the hyperlinks throughout it, but by the information contained within the pages on those links. The condition implied on these semantic tools, is that they will need to be fast, simple, and allow users to pull desired information and information sources (eg via RSS).

Simply, users need fast access to important information that is easily searchable and organized. Participators need to feel like they are making a difference, to know that others are listening to them, and to gain respect or a reputation among their communities.

4) How are bloggers different from muggles?

Hepnar.org lists 15 traits believed to be common among all bloggers, but I’ve shortened his list and made comments:


3. Other people listen to what they have to say (on the net).

This inspires bloggers to build online presence

6. They read other people's blogs for inspiration.


7. They generally have a basic knowledge of CSS and/or HTML..
As blogging hits the mainstream, this is likely to become less important

8. They learn about other members of the blogosphere by reading that person's
blog.
They initially learn about other members via the comments that person makes on a blog, or as a recommendation from a blogger they respect.

10. A presence on the Internet is fulfilling for them.
Bloggers are spending time on the computer instead of in the pub or with their family. This online presence helps them to feel respected, intelligent, appreciated, and stimulated by their interactions with other people there.

11. They are generally a bit geeky.
12. Have a basic knowledge of computer skills.
13. Are proud members of the blogosphere and are passionate about blogging.

They may be geeky, but they are not ashamed of it (online at least)

15. Stand by their opinions and respect other members of the blogosphere and people in general.



People have learned that if they make stupid comments, or begin “flame wars” on blogs, then their comments will be removed. Once the thrill of irritating someone is removed, they cease the practice.

He goes on to say “I'll continue to look for similarities between members of the blogosphere, not only because I think it's interesting, but because it's like Social Studies (I have a point, I promise...). It's like learning more about your culture. It's fun!” His quote shows how #13 is applicable.

However as blogs progress into the mainstream, the trends of bloggers is likely to change. Some predictions include:

  • The mainstreamers will not blog obsessively, all day, every day. Blogs will be a tool and a facet of their lives, not their lives. I think most mainstream blogs will average annually ~2 posts/week.
  • They want convenience. The better the tools/software services, the more convenient it will be for them to blog and the more they will blog.
  • They are looking for the classic “whole product” and do not want to fuss w/difficult to use/unintegrated technologies.
  • There is no joy in perl scripting for them. Blogs will become, as Jason observed, the new business card/CV and also the new refrigerator door. People will update the world on their careers in the professional section of their blogs. They will update their friends in the personal areas.
  • Pictures/galleries and filesharing posts will become at least as important text-oriented posting.
  • As they post more and more of their lives online, they will start to demand ways to safeguard and secure all the work they have done.
  • Next-gen blogrings/community/affinity groups will become more important and will create their own mini-blogospheres, complete w/powerlaw distributions
  • Folksonomies will become a concept everyone can understand and will surprise everyone w/how they evolve.

The last two predictions seem the most interesting for the future. People are already listing “respected bloggers” on the sidebars of their own blogs. Because no one expects to be the next Scoble, people will form into their own groups, comprised of opinion leaders, thought-followers, nay-sayers, and passive readers, for topics that interest them most.

This blog has become incredibly long, so I'll save the last few questions for the next post in the series.
1) What encourages them to keep blogging?
2) Are they willing to spend their money to blog?
3) How can I get bloggers to blog about me/ my company/ my service?