Over the past few weeks I have been noticing a few additional incoming links related to the Z-list. There have also been a few comments and emails. Now, I am a fan of the Z-list … it has been a great way to get to know a few other blogs that I would not normally visit and I do tend to check out the new additions as they come through.
The Z-list is like a wave, it ebbs and flows, comes and goes … and with it comes links to new and sometimes interesting websites. Most of the new additions have very limited content and the Z-list has been used as a way of boosting awareness, readership and links.
But, as always, awareness and links (or even traffic) don’t make a community. When the hapless Z-list visitor follows the links through to your site what will they find. Is there:
Interesting and engaging content
A depth of topics devoted to your specialisation
Posts that invite your readers into a dialogue
A spirit of transparency in your writing style
An emerging sense of your personal brand
You see, the Z-list can be a great opportunity but it could also be your worst nightmare. It may just generate traffic for you, it may succeed in boosting your Technorati ranking … but all this fades quicker than the click of a mouse. It is like inviting someone to your home but then not offering them anything to drink — no nibbles, no entertainment or conversation.
So rather than simply jumping into the Z-list, take the time to get your house in order. You will be remembered for being a charming host, an affable conversationalist and we will all talk about how good your party was. Isn’t that the point?
Update: If you are a new Z-lister and want to see some examples of good blogging practice, you can start with those sites on my blogroll. I ONLY list sites that I read regularly, and those that make it are consistently good! And, really, the best way to learn is to participate … you will find the authors and sites listed are all generous, spirited and intelligent. Enjoy!
As you have probably guessed, I love television from the 80s. In particular, I love shows that have an over the top, silly feel to them … and when it comes to OTT, you can’t go past Mr T and the A-Team. So when I saw this great ad on Brent’s blog, I couldn’t resist sharing it.
When I first heard about Geert Desager’s experiment I wondered whether it would work. I liked the idea and I liked the title and I liked the passion behind the project, but I felt like I was still grasping for the through line … for a story that I could sink my teeth into. I suppose it didn’t help that the work was being done for Microsoft, raising my eyebrows and activating a strong in-built scepticism.
As a piece of technology marketing, this is a nice change of pace (plenty of lessons for other technology mass marketers). The story is framed as a breakup in the relationship between advertiser and consumer … and by exposing the way that we, as marketers, aggregate, segment and analyse data, it is easy to see where the disconnects between brand and consumers lie. It also provides, by comparison, a clear reason as to why "social" marketing has has such a positive adoption across the consumer landscape.
Social marketing brings brands and consumers together in a relationship in a way that harkens back to the local-shop ethos. And as markets and marketing has evolved, the one-to-one relationships that once were possible have proven to be unsustainable. Geert’s movie brings the nature of this relationship back into focus — showing that where there once was love there is now only suspicion, impatience and scant regard. So will this effort bring back the love for Microsoft? Perhaps not straight away … but at least we are talking …
I remember when David Armano first started talking about the circles of influence and how that spread and developed quickly into follow-on posts, presentations and so on. It was a fascinating demonstration of HOW influence actually does work. But equally interesting was the manner in which the comments came back from David’s original post and how those, in turn, influenced the evolution of his thinking.
Karl Long had left a comment explaining that the problem he had with ripples was that they disappeared. The fact that I am writing this now shows that blog ripples can last quite some time. I remember thinking at the time that there must be a more chaotic element at work and that the best of plans could easily be disrupted.
Enter Scott Monty. He has a great post on "accidental influentials" where he discusses new research by Duncan Watkins at Columbia University (check out the links to the audio — episode 29). This research is interesting because it does, in part, challenge the way that Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Points occur. Rather than social networks being activated by influential individuals, the research suggests that the activation can start anywhere and with anyone. Such a random/chaotic potential certainly appeals to me.
For brands and marketers working in social media, this has interesting implications. While the influencers will have an impact on the VELOCITY with which an idea/communication will spread, the idea does not have to be seeded or start with a particular person. So rather than seeking out the influencers, we should focus our times on ENABLING execution — providing the tools and content in an easy-to-use format that puts the brand back in the hands of consumers. In this instance, I would go so far as to suggest that Digg and its ilk are also influencers.
So then, coming back to David’s ripple diagram … influencers become more like acceleration touch points. If the message/idea is a stone skimming across the surface of the blogosphere, then it doesn’t matter where the stone comes from … but how fast it moves across the network depends on the influencers.
One of the great things about collaborating is that it takes you outside of your personal zone … it makes you work and think in different ways. It exposes you and your ideas in (sometimes) quite confronting ways.
The Age of Conversation eBook has been an interesting exercise — through it I have come into contact with many more marketers, social media writers, activists and thinkers than I otherwise would have. One of these is Jim Kukral. And today, as I was reading through his site, I found a very interesting post on the Top 25 Marketing Blogs that Mack Collier puts together each and every week. I have been lucky enough to take out room and board in the Top 25 over the last couple of weeks so was included in Jim’s analysis … and here are my answers to some of his questions:
Names and branding — I don’t brand my name — in fact, my blog is more about the connection of ideas, stories and people than me, Gavin Heaton. I suppose I could have a blog about myself, but I would probably get bored writing it. Oh and I didn’t have a photo of myself here until I started contributing to The Daily Fix — and once it was available there I no longer had a reason to hide over here!
Seth Godin — yes he is in my blogroll. One of my early blogging delights was receiving a short, personal message from Seth saying "Hi Gavin, thanks for reading". Goes to show how a little encouragement can make us all bloom!
Advertising — there aren’t ads running on my site, though I did experiment with them for a while — mostly just to understand how they worked. I think I made a total of $7.
Typepad — I started out running my own WordPress server but then got sick of it. Typepad seemed like a nice, stable and easy to use option. Now I am too deeply entrenched here to ever think about leaving … not a bad business model, huh? Goes to show those SixApart folks know a thing or two!
Phone numbers — I don’t have my phone number listed anywhere. But you can email me easily enough — servant [at] servantofchaos [dot] com. I guess if you had a project that you needed help with you might want to call … but email is always a great first step.
Does the word "blogger" sound dirty to you? I must admit that it sounds unattractive to me and I much prefer to talk about my website about marketing "Servant of Chaos" rather than my efforts at "blogging". So it was interesting to check out David Armano’s excellent Conversation by Design deck delivered this weekend at SOBcon where he announces that we should STOP calling ourselves bloggers!
And for those of us who were not able to make the trek to Chicago, David points us to Jason Alba’s fantastic blow-by-blow description of what must have been a GREAT weekend.
For the past few weeks, Sean Howard, Paul McEnany and I have been trying to hook-up via video conference for a discussion of all things social-media. We have met with varying degrees of success … but have had some great fun along the way.
Normally we start by bagging each other and then move onto more serious topics. This week the lads went ahead without me — I was (truly) unable to connect to the Internet — and the result is now available for your viewing pleasure. As you can see, there was no need for me to be there in person as Sean was able to "channel" me …
One thing is clear is that the technology to do this — to collaboratively vidcast/vodcast — has some way to go. And because of the variety of issues that can arise with this technology — from firewall and security issues through network/connection problems to peripheral quality — it requires a sense of humour and a great deal of goodwill to continue to persist. Luckily, Paul and Sean have both of these in spades.
Wonder how to take your blog to the next level? This is your last chance to register for SOBcon. It is going to be a festival of smart bloggers with plenty to share — and it will be a great chance to put a face to the names of the sites that you read!