Of Course There Is a Social Media Backlash Coming

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There is an interesting discussions among the early adopters last night into today on the topic of blogging and FriendFeed that has spilled out into the rest of “social media.”

Scoble kicked things off last night when he asked (on FriendFeed) if he had harmed his blog by investing so much time there.

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch gives perhaps the pithiest but most accurate response on that thread:

HELL YES YOU HARMED YOUR BLOG THIS YEAR.

So the question becomes, is there a backlash coming from the early adopter influencer crowd towards the rising tide of noise on platforms such as Twitter or FriendFeed or even Facebook? Sure, they are great for “conversaton” but does it do harm to contribute too much content there and not enough on your blog?

Steve Rubel chimes in with an interesting point:

Micro Persuasion: Andy Beal on Investing in Social Media Spaces: “Could a backlash be coming? Maybe if Twitter builds an ad revenue model and shares it with the audience they can stem the tide. Interesting notes about how Pownce is no longer with us and how some invested time there. The same could be said for Jaiku perhaps since Google has done nothing with it since they bought it.”

The answer is that there is no answer (how Zen of me).

Each case of social media usage vs blog usage is an intensely personal thing. Sure, there are marketers that see social media as “the next gold mine” (duh…talked some about that fallacy last year), but there are many of us that see these platforms for what they are… tools. They aren’t gold mines or “platforms to be leveraged.” They are communication tools. Sure, use them for data, trend watching, tracking, etc… but at the end of the day, know where you hang your hat.

Of course there is a social media backlash coming amongst the influencers, the tech savvy and the people that realize in a down economy you have to focus on what is most important to your company, your ideas or your “brand” (I’m beginning to loathe that term even more than I used to).

As Andy Beal points out, we “own” our blogs in the sense that we (unless we are using wordpress.com or Blogger, etc) write the content, pay for the hosting and are in charge of their upkeep. It’s great to play in the Twitter commons, but it’s nice to have a place to lay our heads when it gets dark. And the economy is dark now.

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Get Your Blog on My Kindle

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I love my Kindle.

So much. Probably a little too much, actually. Kindleholics Anonymous, here I come. But that’s for another post.

One of the things you might not know about a Kindle is that you can read blogs on the device. Yes, it costs $1 a month to subscribe, but it’s a neat service if you’re already reading books, newspapers, etc there. Plus, you can read everything “offline” (plane), even though the Kindle has persistent EVDO connection through Sprint (I frequently check GMail or Google Reader on mine… works great in a pinch).

But how do you get your blog listed with Amazon so people can subscribe in the normal Kindle interface (w/o having to go the Google Reader circumvention route)? Here’s a great tip:

For Bloggers: How to Distribute Your Blog through Amazon Kindle Store: “Almost all famous blogs are available for subscription through Amazon Kindle but if you are just a small publisher and like to get your own blog listed on the Kindle store, here’s what you may do:”

I’m guessing most Kindle owners are people who have a little geek bent, some disposable income and travel a great deal. If that’s your demographic, give it a try. I’m headed to sign up now.

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Blog Comments Suck

I agree with Scoble here on the “broken” nature of blog commenting on the social web (especially when you have a blog that deals directly with social media):

Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger » Blog Archive Why blogging comments suck «: “How do you fix this? Not easily. I wish there were a system where I could tell my readers when a comment came in that deserves a lot more attention than the others. Also, I wish we could see the social network of the people commenting (I’d love to have their Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed networks show up linked into their comment somehow and also have warnings when people leave me comments that have a huge amount of social capital, like Gary does).”

Comments have been a frustrating part of keeping this blog going since 2006. Things were great when this was a “small” blog with just a few subscribers, but with time and growth, spammers, spam queues, etc quickly get out of hand.

This isn’t just because of spam. Actually, spam is the least of my frustrations (it blows, but dealing with spam is like going to the dentist…you can avoid both, but your teeth will fall out). As Robert says, it is completely ridiculous that comments from all over the web aren’t better aggregated into our blogs. If we’re going to run these things and put out content that elicits responses on a number of platforms, it is reasonable to assume that there would be a way to keep everything at least organized on the originating blog itself.

When I installed Disqus in Fall of ’07, I prayed that a solution had been found. Things are getting better between Disqus and Intense Debate, but commenting is still a painful thorn in the side of any blogger.

I’d love just to close comments here and shift everyone to use FriendFeed as a place to discuss the contents here. Alas, not everyone is on FriendFeed. I’m still considering it, though. Late adopters and luddites be damned.

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Disqus Now Gives Option of Requiring Verified Emails

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I first implemented Disqus here in October of ’07. Despite all the ups and downs, I’m still a Disqus fan.

Glad to see this new feature and I think it’ll go a long way in curving curbing (sorry, Jangro) some of the spam problems we’ve been seeing pop up:

Disqus Blog » Admin Feature: Require verified email address: “Now, you can also choose to only allow Disqus users with a verified email address. This is ideal for sites that want the most administrative control over the participants of the discussion.”

I would make a Jangro crack (even though he got a tshirt and I didn’t), but I’ll refrain.

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TwitPwr vs Bit.ly: No Contest

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Speaking of Joel Comm, he recently launched a url shortening/vanity service focused on Twitter called TwitPwr (to accompany his book, Twitter Power).

Jim Kukral and I went back and forth over the service on last week’s GeekCast. Basically, my point is that Joel’s service doesn’t add much for users besides the vanity factor. I argued that bit.ly is a much much better product, has an API, and is more robust for serious users who don’t need the ego stroking.

But this morning, after trying to blog about Joel’s Twitter study in the previous post, I realized something else that is a deal-breaker for me when it comes to TwitPwr:

Once someone uses TwitPwr to link to a post or site from Twitter, you can’t get the original URL of the site. The TwitPwr wrap or frame stays on top of the site. And the TwitPwr wrap or frame stays with you whereever you go past that point (until you close that Tab or Window). So, whether you’re blogging or passing on the link, you’re stuck with the TwitPwr shortened URL if you’re clicking around. Not cool.

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That might be kosher for a few of you, but for most affiliate marketers, that could be a big deal since the URL has a great deal to do with conversions in terms of link names.

On the other hand, bit.ly immediately drops off after it does its original job… shortening the linked URL from Twitter or an email or a post, etc.

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Not to mention, bit.ly has a very nice API. That’s a big difference.

If Joel is going to keep pushing TwitPwr and if influential people in the affiliate marketing space are going to use the service, I hope they are aware of this pretty serious flaw in the service. Otherwise, this is more MLM than affiliate marketing.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Joel. He’s a nice guy and I consider him a pal. However, I also have a big place in my heart for Twitter and have to speak up when I see goofy things like this happening.

The TwitPwr “How It Works” page includes this language:

WHAT IS TRUE TWITTER POWER?

Is it really the number of followers you have, or is the ability to get your followers to Take Action?

When you use the TwitPwr short url service, we track the number of clicks that you drive via the Twitter API, and give your account a Power Rating.

Your Power Rating is not only the unique traffic that you generate, but it’s also based on how many Twitter users you refer to our service.

Those referrals you generate will also play apart in driving even more traffic to your site.. Stay Tuned!

If that is Twitter Power, then blessed are the meek.

I’m sticking with bit.ly for my url shortening and spreading needs.

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4-for-1 Theme Sale from WooThemes

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WordPress themes are generally free, but as has been discussed in numerous posts around the affiliate blogosphere, having a custom or premium theme really makes your site stand out for both potential customers and merchants.

Working on the affiliate management side, I can tell you that having a premium theme goes a long way towards making me want to do special promotions with affiliates, etc. It’s just generally a good idea.

For the next seven days, WooThemes is having a pretty awesome sale now where you can get for of their themes for normal single price of $70:

The 4-for-1 Special | WooThemes: “Ho Ho Ho! Santa has arrived a week early here at WooThemes headquarters, bearing lots of gifts and instructing us to dish them out to you in the form of a 4 for 1 special for all our WooTheme visitors!”

I’ve been using Ambiance, Gazette and Busy Bee on random sites over the last few months and really enjoy the ease of use and customization options in the WP Dashboard. I wouldn’t recommend these things if I didn’t enjoy them myself.

So, if you’re shopping around for a new premium theme for your WP affiliate site or blog, check these out. In fact, I’m going to pick up some more now…

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Ir-Relevantly Speaking

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Sad. I really enjoyed the Relevantly Speaking blog. It is not common that an affiliate network is willing to blog about things besides “company news and offer promotion.”

Mediatrust Blog: “First, Relevantly Speaking as you know it today will change drastically. First, the blog portion will cease to exist. As proud as I am of the work we’ve done on it, we just don’t have the resources to continue writing two blogs for our company. That said, all of our blogging will be done here at blog.MediaTrust.com. The focus of that effort will be performance marketing, company news, and offer promotion. The goal is to really concentrate on our brand and make sure our blogging efforts really support our core business of performance based marketing.”

I really don’t see how it costs anymore to keep up a high quality blog rather than one focused on telling a (what will probably be dwindling) reader base about the HOTTEST NEW OFFERS! in a network.

And the interviews from places like the last Affiliate Summit were top-notch.

Oh well. Economy sucks.

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Tweet the Vote

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Since 2000 with the infamous hanging chads and Palm Beach liberals who “voted” for Pat Buchanan, presidential elections have become something of a circus sideshow in themselves. Both Republicans and Democrats fiercely fight over every vote (as they should) and the media loves to chum the waters with tales of voting irregularities.

Thankfully, web2.0 has given us a couple of tools to sort through the impending (and already present thanks to numerous states like my own NC doing the early voting thing… which is terrific, btw) carnival.

Time’s political Swampland blog has more on how voters can “Tweet the Vote” by following special accounts that voting activists groups have set up as well as Time’s own Twitter account:

Swampland – TIME.com » Blog Archive Tweet the Vote! «: “Stepping up to the plate this year to make reporting concerns as easy and as public as possible are two organizations: the grass roots group Twitter Vote Report and the more corporate-y (they have consultants!) Election Protection, who is also partnered with a ton of other organizations, including NBC.

Both groups are encouraging voters to use Twitter as a kind of panopticon of the polling process. I assume you’re following all the right people already, but interested parties should also follow 866ourvote to for real-time poll watching. After the jump, a memo from the group, noting the specific conventions for how to report your own observations and how it works.”

Time also has their own account set up for real time poll watching (which should be awesome). Or you can follow along here.

There’s even an iPhone/iPod Touch app (pictured above… search for “votereport” in the App Store on iTunes).

This is really exciting stuff. I’ve been a political junkie since the Dukakis/Bush ’88 race (I was a dorky 6th grader, ok?) and could only dream of being able to really take part in the political process with tools such as an iPhone or Twitter.

Whatever your persuasion, it doesn’t take much to realize that web2.0 is good at breaking down boundaries and providing both a voice to people and a check on the political corruptions of the past.

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