Where’s the Love? (Viral Blogging, Part 1)
Posted by Bob Warfield on September 16, 2007
I recently came across a great post on building blog communities over at longstride. You should go read it, but get ready for a little disappointment, because it doesn’t really tell you how to get love. In this case, the article is lamenting that WordPress doesn’t do more to help bloggers collaborate with one another to form a more cohesive community. It’s a shame really, because it isn’t that hard to do, and it just might be a killer feature for bloggers. It isn’t just WordPress either. The blogging platforms should all be looking into this.
It’s all about thinking deeper Web 2.0 thoughts. Blogs are relatively Web 2.0 all by themselves–they facilitate collaboration by letting you comment or trackback. They make it really easy for someone to have a soapbox from which to express themselves. The Web 2.0 is all about getting involved.
But let’s think for a minute. Those are pretty passive features. How do we kick it up a notch? To do that, we need to get much more back and forth between blogs. That will really drive some traffic and a sense of community. You’ll get to know more bloggers and hear their points of view. My suggestions to WordPress and other blog outfits for how to accomplish this are really simple: increase awareness of other blogs and make it one button simple.
Increasing Awareness of Other Blogs and Making It One Button Simple
I don’t know about other bloggers, but I get a ton of inspiration reading blogs. Many of my posts start out as this one did attributing the spark for that inspiration. That’s a good thing, but wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a button (making it one button simple) that would find me all the other blog posts whose content is related to the article I’m writing? So I can hit that button as I’m writing and get a list not unlike the Tag Surfer, but much more finely tuned to what I’m writing about at the moment.
This “Find Related” button does two things. First, it makes it easy for me to link to more blogs as I’m writing. Second, I may just learn something while I’m writing that informs the article I’m writing. It’s a research tool, in other words. How many of you, like me, keep a Google Blog Search window handy at all times while this is happening?
Here’s another thought for those out there who build blogging platforms and like this idea: break out of the blogosphere a little bit. Make the Find Related button search a few more places such as del.icio.us. If you don’t want to insert the results inline, at least make it easy to get them. Wikipedia is another great one I use all the time.
Speaking of Wikipedia, this brings me to my next one button gadget for bloggers. We need a “needs a link” button. The idea is I would mark text, hit the “Needs a link” button, and a couple things would happen. First, a link would be established to the “Needs a link” results page. This is just temporary (or maybe not, might be kewl to sometimes leave it that way). That results page is just our old friend “Find Related” but focused on what I marked for the link. In keeping with one button simplicity, I want to be able to take anything on the results page, hit a button next to it, and the spot in my blog article I had marked as needing a link will now point to that location.
Are you with me so far? We’re making it tons easier to find related content in other people’s blogs and link to it. Call the feature “Link Rocket” or some darned thing, I don’t care, I just want one to make my life easier.
Last thought. Your article is all written, you’re happy with it, it has lots of splendid links and you’ve published it. Now you still need to press “Find Related” one more time, this time for a published blog post you’ve written. In that context, “Find Related” brings up its usual cast of suspects, and now it’s your job to go through those posts and see if there are any you’d like to comment on in light of your shared interest in what they’re talking about. Of course if these are WordPress posts, you could comment right inline and let WordPress deal with it.
By the way, Technorati, you could provide some of this too. Not quite as easily or as slickly as the owners of a blogging platform, but you could help out. You need a way to help bloggers find “kindred spirits” based on their posts. It would be cool to find kindreds for one post or for your whole blog’s flavor.
So what have we accomplished? By implementing these features, we will have dramatically reduced the friction in the viral loop. We make it easier to find one another, and to use the traditional blog tools of linkbacks and comments to close the loop. If you like thinking along these lines, check out Andrew Chen who writes a lot about the Viral Loop. There’s nothing evil about it, so long as you don’t abuse it. It’s just trying to make it easier for folks to hook up.
Next installment, we’ll look further at the Blogger’s Viral Loop to see what else could be done.