SmoothSpan Blog

For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

Viral Blogging 2: More Ideas

Posted by Bob Warfield on September 22, 2007

I couldn’t agree more with Chris Brown when she says that the puzzle facing companies who want to use Web 2.0 for marketing is solved when they start thinking of how to collaborate with the people they’re trying to reach.  This is true for outwardly facing marketing applications for Web 2.0, and its also true for inwardly facing Web 2.0 solutions that try to improve productivity or morale within the organization.

In part 1 of this Viral Blogging Series, we talked about some simple features that could be added to blogging software to promote more linking between blogs.  It basically boiled down to some dedicated blog search features to make it quick and easy to find articles related to a post you are drafting and link to them.  Let’s continue to brainstorm some ideas together (and I do want to collaborate on this, so please use the comments to add your own ideas to this list!) for collaboration using Web 2.0.  Collaboration is, after all, the “viral” aspect here.  If folks don’t link to your blog articles or comment on them (or you to theirs), we don’t have that collaborative frenzy going.

Given that we have the “Find Related” button to help us identify related blogs, the next thing I’d propose is the ability to automatically track and interact with related writings that come out on your article.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a little feed called “Related Articles” that you could add to the bottom of a post?  You may have seen me do this manually from time to time, but it’s way to time consuming to keep up with it by hand.  And yet, the life of a blog post is just beginning when we first put it out there.  Yes, there are trackbacks and comments, but often there are also other articles that are related that don’t have any linkages.  I want to make easy to find those and designate them for the “Related Articles” that appear below your post.  Perhaps you have to do a bit of editorial work to select which articles should appear, but that’s okay, you don’t want to just spam a bunch of search results up there.

Now what about making it easy for other non-blog platforms to tie into your article?  There’s a whole raft of these, and you can get various plug-ins to help out, but it makes more sense to have one single widget provided by the blogging platform vendor that covers all the bases.  The blog owner should be able to customize which of these platforms appear.  For example, I often show del.icio.us, Stumble Upon, and Digg.  Someone else might like Reddit.  These are all good sources of traffic and community and it should be made easy to tie into these.  They also provide more ways for people who like to participate (collaborators!) to use the tools they’re used to.

This brings us to a huge point that’s being made by Fred Wilson:  your social graph is not necessarily inside a Social Network.  Your email has a social graph and so does your blog.  Blogging platform guys, you need to enable this!  Xobni shows the way for email.  What does it mean for blogging?  Well, we can certainly extrapolate Xobni very literally and see some interesting possibilities.  If nothing else, I want to see my Social Graph in a meaningful way:

  • Who regularly links to my blog?  Who used to link but hasn’t in a while?  Can I add these guys with one click to Google Reader?
  • Same with comments.  Who comments on my blog, do they still comment, do they have a blog, can a start reading it?
  • What Love have I shown these folks?  Have I reciprocated by linking back to their blogs?  Have I commented on their blogs? 

Now what about tying into larger communities?  Having identified the Social Graph associated with my blog, I want to:

  • Invite the folks in the Graph to join other communities I’m a member of:  LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace.  After all, we’re interested in the same stuff, we’re conversing on our blogs, let’s get involved elsewhere too!
  • I want to pump my blog’s content into these other communities as desired.  Perhaps just News Feeds announcing when I make a new post.  But it has to be super automatic and easy.

What else can we do?  Well, the world of widgets comes to our aid here.  In short, we can try to engage the audience more fully.  I see two easy avenues worth trying.  First, we may try to appeal to more of the Web 2.0 Personality Styles.  We have to get away from just medium-sized textual posts (and I’m a self-confessed offender on this!).  Try these on for size:

  • Kyte adds a Twitter-like conversation to video.  Can I add a Twitter conversation to a blog post?  The idea is to encourage real-time back and forth with readers.  Perhaps it needs to be scheduled to make sure the blogger will be online at the appointed hour.  This is all stuff that could be done as a widget that’s inserted into the post to support doing this.
  • Let’s publish some video sometimes, and try to work photos in often. 

Second, there are lots of Widget possibilities that encourage collaboration:

  • Polls encourage people to express themselves.
  • How about being able to switch from a chronological view of the blog to a “votes” view.  People can vote on every entry the way they do on something like Dell’s IdeaStorm.  Is it still a blog if you do that?  Who cares!  Haven’t wanted to go to some new blog you discover and see all the older articles that were really good?  Isn’t this a way of giving them new life?
  • How about IdeaStorming new blog article ideas with your audience?  Heck, run a contest for the idea you like the best.  Wouldn’t you love to be able to convince Scoble or TechCrunch to jump on your idea, research, and write about it?

While we’re on the subject of contests, I think they’re a wonderful way to generate content for corporate blogs.  Go to your employees and ask them to submit articles to the corporate blog.  Let them guest author on the CEO’s blog and give prizes for the articles selected.  You may want to guide them with a list of appropriate themes, but remember, blogging is not so much about just staying on message, its about giving valuable content and encouraging collaboration.  Wouldn’t you like an occasional guest blogger on Jonathan Schwartz’s blog?  There are a ton of really bright people inside Sun, let them share the soapbox once a month.

What are your ideas for injecting more collaboration into blogging? 

Related Articles:

Noah Brier sees improved community features as the next logical step for blogging.

5 Responses to “Viral Blogging 2: More Ideas”

  1. bunreasonable said

    How about linking to presence and IM. And then having a share feature – like Office communicator. Be crap on you’re productivity but you would get real time collaboration.

    Porting a coverstation into an open forum, let the crowd run down the topic…

    I want to be able to see who in feedburner has take my RSS feed.

    I want to be able to port a comment into an IM conversation too, and potentially have that eventually go out in my Comment RSS feed…

    Or it could be really simple, you and I have posted on similar topics over the past couple of weeks. We could just agree to do a joint artical…offline and post it out on each site….

  2. smoothspan said

    “crap on your productivity but you would get real time collaboration”

    Yep, all the real time stuff suffers from that criticism. But, people like real time feeds and they have their place. I like to think of people as being responsible for their own productivity.

    The open forum port idea is very cool. You could almost take a view that if there are more than a certain number of comments it happens automatically, or your could just thread the comments as some blog platforms have done.

    Being able to see who in feedburner has taken the feed is fascinating. Feedburner creates a dark space in your Social Network. That’s kind of unusual. I wonder if it is an unintended consequence?

    Great ideas Bunreasonable!

    Best,

    BW

  3. […] the Love? (Viral Blogging, Part 1) (Part 2) – This 2 part series describe the concept of viral blogging. Once your post gets viral, you […]

  4. deansguide said

    Hi Bob,

    It seems that internal blogging would provide a platform for any employee to add value to the company goals, technology, or business processes.

    Yet the push back, in the case of real estate, has been liability issues. Of course this is driven by concerned or paranoid HR dept unwilling to spend the time to learn blogging.

    I was a participant in a marketing group that was hired by a very prominent blog platform. The comments and suggestions we presented centered around the total lack of connectivity between this site’s sub domained blogs.

    We posited that if this firm connected it’s bloggers via links to similar blog posts, the SEO benefits to the company and individual bloggers would increase exponentially.

    Magically this tactic was employed over 2 months ago and my traffic, from sub domained sites with this platform, has helped to increase my readership by 20%.

  5. smoothspan said

    Dean, I assume the platform is WordPress, so I’ll look forward to similar benefits.

    As to the problems of real estate, I’m not sure what you can say about industries that are so afraid to put anything in writing that you can’t blog, use email, use Instant Messenger, or any of the rest. We both know these are rules put into place by their attorneys and are not hard and fast regulations. At some point some other organization’s attorneys will take a different tack and provide a competitive advantage through the web.

    Cheers,

    BW

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