Robert’s topic is “The Blog Advantage”
Brought in wine, cheese, and food, all bought over the internet, showing its importance.
Bootstrapping, blogging is a tool to build momentum, to create movement. MSN spaces has 1.7 million blogs.
How did he get started? 4 years ago Dave Winer and Dori Smith suggested that he cover blogging at a conference that he was planning. Original page at weblogs.com. Dave was refreshing the page every 15 minutes, looking for things to write about. During 9/11, everyone was watching that page, lots of linking happened, network built. Same for recent tsunami.
What’s a blog? Just a web page in reverse chronological order, any stronger definition would cause lots of problems. FrontPage, DreamWeaver would be way too hard for “Mom.” With a blogging tool you sign in, type, hit Post, and it is live. It is easy to publish and this is bringing millions of people in to the blogging world. This is changing how we relate to each other, and how we build networks.
Write text, publish it, pings happen, everyone knows about it. Discovery happens by connectors, journalists, others looking for information.
Death of distance. Buzz Bruggeman blogged about being in a tornado, was then called upon for live reports by 3 different journalists.
Linking behaviors, building momentum, avoiding PR crises.
Why? Permalinking. In old days you would go to a page at, say, CNET, full of micro-stories; they had no URLs.
Syndication, 1020 feeds in Outlook. We used to watch just a few sites, but syndication lets us watch many more, listen to more voices. Netscape, Winer, others invented RSS. His aggregator loads a bunch of stuff automatically, then he starts reading, all the data is local. he only reads changed sites, which makes things a lot faster. So he only reads 200-400 sites per night, not 1000. The reader doesn’t have to parse and scan the page to see what’s changed. His aggregator shows the new stuff in bold.
Passion concentrator. Watched Howard Dean build a movement. People concentrated on the candidate’s blogs. Blogs build concentrations of passionate people. Press watches this little world for ideas, and sees them spin up. Podcasting. When something happens and a lot of people go “oh, that’s cool”, the journalists can spin that idea out into the mainstream. Passionate people chose a product. iPod. Cycle between early adopters getting shorter and shorter. This portends some change for companies, including his employer. Within a few hours you know if the product is good or if it sucks. Halo 2, 2 hours after release, aready hundreds of blog posts. 6 million copies sold.
Why should I blog? Reach! 3 hours / day on blog and he gets to talk to 10,000+ people, don’t need to go to a conference. This is the way that new business is done. How do you get known, how do you differentiate yourself?
Channel 9, using Technorati to quantify his results to his boss. Lots of wine blogs.
Needed a plumber, looked for people who have the passion and the knowledge, and who is authoritative. Are there many plumbing blogs?
Share your knowledge publicly, get good Google ranking, people will find you. Link out to stuff, even to competitors. Raise their profile, but use nofollow to avoid giving them any “search juice.”
Hoaxes are found out quickly, there are always smarter people in the audience. Referenced his corporate weblogging manifesto, don’t lie.
Building momentum around technologies. Most of what Winer invents isn’t fully baked, he’s full of it. But he evangelized and bootstrapped. He’s a connector. Don’t just pitch one person, pitch the people around him, the people who he reads and who he trusts. That’s the way to get on EnGadget. It takes just 5 blogs talking about something to get Robert’s attention. Repetition works; use this to build a movement. NY Times or press tour works for Apple or Microsoft, but not for everyone else. Build that movement. ICQ, TypePad, Firefox. Word of mouth makes stuff successful, even before email, IM, and blogging. Now they are more efficient and it takes a lot less time to build a movement, a new store, a new product.
Fear of blogging. Could get fired, could look stupid (“Hasn’t hurt me yet,” he says). Fear of being ignored. Shel Israel, working to get some attention, it will happen some day. The long tail is important. Fear of being too transparent. Sonoma Winery wine evangelist buying wine futures. Fear of being embarrassed by stuff you did in the past. He told Bill Gates to split up the company a few years ago. Being provocative is a good way to get traffic. Conflict between two opposing viewpoints can make a good story.
Get the right buzz, get the exponential sales growth. Word of mouth networks, e.g. for the Incredibles.