Tagblogging

I’m joining Iron Blogger Berlin

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Wired, laptop, lemonade. What more to ask for?

We should blog more. I want to blog more, and more regularly. So I’m joining Iron Blogger Berlin, which Michelle and Nicole just started. Iron Blogger is inspired by Joi Ito, who was in turn inspired by Mako. It’s quite straight forward:

Iron Blogger is a blogging and drinking club. The rules are pretty simple:

  • Blog at least once a week.
  • If you fail to do so, pay €5 into a common pool.
  • When the pool is big enough, the group uses it to pay for drinks and snacks at a meet-up for all the participants.

So, I’m in. And from what I hear, a nice small group is getting together to kick this thing off. If you’re in Berlin and feel like this is for you, you might want to get in touch with Michelle, she should be able to set you up.

That said, I should get back to writing a blog post – I’m determined not to botch round 1.

Livebloggers wanted in Germany

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Recently I’ve been getting more and more requests for liveblogging events. Since I rarely have the capacity to do this kind of stuff myself, I’m happy to pass on these requests. So I decided to start a little pool of folks who are willing to blog live from events. (I’m leaving this so vague on purpose since I get a wide spectrum of requests from minute-by-minute blogging to posting highlights to video coverage.)

So if you’re based in Germany and up for that kind of stuff, drop me a line. Best would be to include your conditions (voluntary or paid gigs, topics, etc.). Don’t forget to give me your contact details, too. (Of course I won’t sell this list, and won’t pass on your contact details unless you ask me to.)

Thanks, and happy liveblogging!

ps. Also, I’m organizing a blogger program for Deutsche Gamestage / Quo Vadis, if you’re interested in blogging from there (in German), drop me a line (peter at thewavingcat.com) and I can hook you up with a free ticket.

Zemanta: Semantic Blogging Made Easy

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Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...At Web 2.0 Expo Berlin I bumped into Andraž Tori, co-founder of Slovenian startup Zemanta. There here told me about Zemanta’s service: A plugin (for Firefox, or alternatively for several blogging platforms) that supports semantic blogging. Sounds trivial? It isn’t at all. Semantic blogging is great for both bloggers and the internet as a whole. Since then my life has been somewhat hectic, and as days passed I had it all in the back of my head, but never got around to trying out Zemanta.

For the web it means that the information is handled more orderly, and thereby becomes richer. If a service can figure out by itself that this file is a picture, taken at location X at time Y, you can build all kinds of cool things around those pieces of meta data.

For bloggers it means, as I’m experiencing while typing this post, some really helpful, easy-to-use extra features. More concretely – and I’m writing this as I’m looking at the Firefox plugin – I’m offered some images (like the one of Andraž and the company logo above) in a sidebar inside my WordPress. (Note: The image inserts look sort of code-heavy (lots of divs and stuff), apart from that it seems to be working a charm. Dragging and dropping the image seems to be a simple work-around here.)

Also, I’m offered “additional articles”, links from all over the web that seem to be relevant. With every semantically described post more data should become available here.

Some of the links offered to me for this post while writing it:

Again, in my editor the links get inserted somewhat awkwardly, but overall it works fine. Just make sure you know your WordPress. Below the textfield I’m offered all kinds of links to drag and drop. (I just inserted that last link because I was offered to. How cool is that?)

All in all, this looks really powerful, even though it might be somewhat overwhelming for

Images: Zemanta logo and photo of Andraž via CrunchBase.

Why Social Media Will Help (Not Suffer) in the Crisis

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Robot by Flickr user genewolf, released under Creative Commons by-nd 2.0Ever since the financial crisis hit the stock and real estate markets, there’s been a fair bit of discussion about its impact on the web scene. Venture capitalists Sequoia made some powerpoint slides that became quite famous. That was one month ago. (Others, more recently, have been way more positive. Describing the atmosphere at Web 2.0 Expo Berlin, Nancy Williams speaks of optimism, which would be my interpretation as well.) Ever since, I’ve been asked a lot by friends and colleagues if I felt a downturn in business (short answer: no) or if I expected to see one (short answer: not really). It got me thinking about the role of Social Media in times of crisis; here’s a brief summary of my thoughts.

Social Media, I think, won’t suffer through the financial crisis, not at all. Quite the contrary, really: Even if the crisis killed the ad market (which I don’t think it will), Social Media will at least stay very stable. Rather than that, I assume they’ll grow even quicker than before. This isn’t simple optimism at work here, but rather a mix of both the work-related requests I’ve been getting over the last few weeks and months, and of some very simple reasoning:

Where users/customers/guests are insecure, they are less likely to spend money on products, services and companies they don’t know. Instead, they turn towards trusted sources: Ones they know personally or that are recommended by trusted folks. Trust must be earned. And that’s the core business of Social Media.

I don’t know about you (but I’m curious, please share in the comments), but I base my purchase decisions on a mix of research, instant gratification and recommendations by experts and friends. (If you’re lucky, the latter two overlap.) My extended network plays a crucial role there. Yes, I’m speaking of the folks I interact with primarily online: via Twitter, Skype, my blog. This is where the mavens of the web world hang out, this is where I turn to advice (and am being asked for advice, too).

So, short and simple: If someone has money to spend, they won’t throw it at a random faceless company. They’ll turn to those brands who’re open and approachable. They might even speak to them before deciding. And you know what? That’s good for both sides.

Example? Before buying my beloved messenger bag from Alchemy Goods, I had some very specific questions about it. Within a few hours the owner himself, Eli Reich, had answered them in a brief, but informative and personal email. I got it right away, even though it meant ordering a bag all the way from Seattle to Berlin and picking it up at the customs office. And I couldn’t be happier with it. This might seem weird, but I don’t think I’m the only one thinking like this. Lesson learned #1: Listen and respond to your customers. Lesson learned #2: It doesn’t matter which tools you use (Alchemy Goods isn’t on Twitter) as long as you get the basics right.

So am I worried about the financial crisis? Not really. (Knock on woods!) Actually, I’m pretty psyched about the way Social Media will hopefully be embraced by companies outside the tech sphere now. Let’s see where it’ll all go!

Image: Robot by genewolf, released under Creative Commons (by-nd 2.0)

Berlinblase is back

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Berlinblase.deWith Barcamps abound and the Web2Expo just around the corner, it’s time to once more kick off a few side projects. One I’m particularly fond of is Berlinblase. (I hinted at it here.) Johannes Kleske was so kind to write up a neat brief summary, so please allow me to simply quote at length:

Yep, we’re back! After our first attempts with rather spontaneous group-mashup blogging for the Berlin web week (Barcamp Berlin 2 and Web 2.0 Expo) last year, we intend to take it to a new level this time. Tumblr is awesome and helped us to get things started but we want more. And WordPress looked so damn hot … that’s why we set up this new group blog. Content-wise we will cover a lot more then last year, starting today with the Barcamp in Stuttgart. Look to the top right for a list of all the main events we will be bubbling from. We will still aggregate all the interesting articles, pics and media bits about these events. But we will also bring you a lot more original content and personal opinions from our crew, flavored with tasty podcasts, spicy interviews and of course, delicious live twittering. As you know, we are very passionate about the various spheres x.0. We have met some of the most amazing people and found truly mind blowing ideas in ‘this thing’ we affectionately call “the bubble 2.0”. We love to hype the cool stuff like crazy. But we will also call you out if you give us BS ;-) So, a hot new season of conferences and barcamps is upon us and we will try to be your inside source. But most of all we’re looking forward to meet as much of you guys as possible. Because in the end, we’re in this for the friendships and yes, the cold ones with old and hopefully many, many new friends. Keep on bubbling! Peace.

State of the Blogosphere 2008 (brief summary)

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Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere is back, this time split up into five daily installments. (Start with the introduction.) What can I say? Some impressive numbers. Note that the data is a mix of stats gathered through Technorati and feedback gathered in a survey of some 1.100 bloggers (methodology).

First up, and hardly surprising, blogs are here to stay. Also, the lines between blogs and mainstream media (MSM) are blurring ever more. While top blogs are becoming more MSM, those mainstream media are adapting techniques of blogs. Fun fact: “95% of the top 100 US newspapers have reporter blogs (see The Bivings Group).”

Technorati also has some background on blogger demographics and motivations for us (Who Are The Bloggers). Sadly, the blogosphere is still strongly male-dominated: two thirds, globally, are male (that’s 73% for Europe, 57% for the U.S.). Bloggers are, on average, also well educated (70% have college degrees). Surprising to me: Nearly half are parents. Also, female bloggers are twice as likely to sell ads on their blogs.

In day 2, Technorati covererd The What and Why of Blogging. Not to go into too much detail here, one thing stood out for me and that’s the metrics bloggers stated to use to measure the success of their blogging efforts. The key success metric (for three out of four bloggers) is personal satisfaction, “with the average blogger looking at four distinct metrics. Personal satisfaction is by far the most popular measure of success, However, bloggers also track a variety of quantitative metrics ranging from revenue to number of subscribers or comments.”

Hardly surprising but worth mentioning anyway: The majority of bloggers stated to feel a positive impact of blogging on their professional life. (Like being better known in their industry or haveing used their blogs as a resume.) This is something I’m sure a lot of you would agree to. I sure do: even without actively pushing the topic, when speaking to prospective employers and clients my blog has always come up in the conversation, and never in a bad way.

Funny: About a third of bloggers received free products like DVDs, books or electronics. Personally, while I do get invites to services and the like all the time, I rarely get physical goods. In one somewhat absurd case a company offered to send me a laser printer cross-Atlantic from the U.S. West Coast to Berlin. (I didn’t accept.)

As I’m posting this, Technorati has made it to the third installment of the State of the Blogosphere, The How of Blogging. Here, you can find some info on how much bloggers invest annually (more if run ads, more in Europe), how they track their visitors (two thirds Google Analytics) and how they attract them (Technorati, Google, tags etc.). Nothing too surprising here. But only 17% of bloggers use mobile updating tools on their blogs, it should be interesting to watch how (or more likely: how quickly) that changes with iPhones, Android and other smart phones gaining so much traction lately.

So much for my very brief summary here. Over the next couple of days, there’ll be two more chunks of info. The two that are due should actually be quite interesting: The next installment will cover blogging for profit, the last one the role brands play in the blogosphere. For those updates, keep an eye on Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere page.

By the way, while Technorati gives you the rundown on what drives the blogosphere and looks back to the recent developments, there’s also a look at where we’re headed: Adam Ostrow of Mashable has a neat brief overview of trends and the future of blogging and social media as it was being discussed at BlogWorldExpo. (Buzzwords include such things as comment ownership, widgets, ad networks and Twitter.) A good, quick read.

How to pitch media, bloggers, the web at large?

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For PR folks, pitching to the web is a problem. Talking to a PR firm recently, we ended up chatting about the challenges traditional PR firms face online. You have experienced professionals who know the ropes, the tricks of the trade, and their journalists. But facing a diffuse mass of bloggers is a different story altogether. What can you do about it?

Enter the Social Media Release, a concept that has developed over the last few months, maybe a year or two. The short-short version is this: Provide bloggers (and other online media) with as much material in as many formats as possible. These folks want to pick the materials they use, comment it, mash it up, and stir it thoroughly.

Lego Blogger Picture by Flickr user minifig Are blogs like toys, fun but not professionally relevant? Not any more. (Image: Lego Blogger Picture by Flickr user minifig, released under Creative Commons.)

(For further reading I recommend: Brian Solis (read his stuff thoroughly, starting maybe with what he says about blogger relations, his definitive guide to social media releases and social media releases, everything you ever wanted to know as well as the evolution of the press release.) Also, PR-Squared has a well-maintained list of successful use-cases of social media releases in the wild. (Update: and they have a template, too.) Just to pick one of those examples, Ford knows how to work the web: Note how everything is embeddable and the tons and tons of topic-related RSS feeds?)

Of course, this means you lose control over how your message is used, adapted, changed. The old rules of traditional media don’t apply here. They just don’t, so don’t even try. This is a hard lesson to learn for both PR firms and big brands, i.e. their clients. It requires a whole new approach to interacting with your stakeholders out there, and to some degree a new company culture.

It’s also tough to identify which bloggers to pitch, which services to use, and mainly: how to react to negative reactions on the web. For every campaign, you’ll have to find a decent strategy that works. A few basics like what’s listed in the articles above sure helps (think RSS feeds, embeddable pictures and videos, information in as many formats as possible). Also, forget embargoes, but that should be clear anyway.

If you’re a PR firm: How do YOU address bloggers (or do you at all)? If you’re a blogger, what are your experiences with being pitched?