Despite there being many layoffs in the startup space. I’ve started this post series (see archives) to recognize and congratulate folks who get promoted, move, or accept new exciting positions. Please help me congratulate the following folks:
George Moser joins Ripple6 in the new position of SVP of Field Operations coming from Vettro Inc. where he was SVP of Worldwide Sales. Ripple6 is seeking several qualified sales people for it’s white label social media platform check their careers page.
How to connect with others (or get a job):
Several people have been hired because of this blog post series, here’s how:
Submit an announcement
If you know folks that are moving up in the social media industry, leave a comment below, or if you’re feeling shy (it’s cool to self-nominate) send me an email. Please include a link to your announcement, and ensure you’re really living and breathing in the social media world –this is not a small aspect of your role.
Seeking Social Media Professionals?
If you’re seeking to connect with community advocates and community managers there are few resources
Hiring? Leave a comment
If you’re seeking candidates in the social media industry, many of them are within arms reach, feel free to leave a link to a job description (but not the whole job description, or I’ll delete it)
I’m seeking folks that are related to full time hands on social media strategy and community managers, to be on this list, so let me know if you see these folks, and please submit them –try to include links to announcements on blogs or on the wire. Also, I probably will not include executive management changes on this list at social media companies, as the list would go on and on, but you can feel free to express yourself in the comments!
The economy is sinking, consumers, bloggers, well everyone, can use extra cash in the hand.
Pay Per Post did not require disclosure, Izea requires up front disclosure –this is ethical.
It’s doubly attractive as each of the bloggers can hold a contest, offering additional prizes to their readers, this spread like wildfire in Twitter –reaching a large audience.
I learned from Ted that the bloggers that would participate would receive traffic, as the advertising network within Izea would point to the blogs that are sponsored.
Click through rates will be far higher than banner ads, Ted shared me some numbers, and if he’s right, they are significantly higher. This makes sense as the source is higher trusted than an ad.
It’s inexpensive for the brand, while I hear of many soical media campaigns for Fortune companies being 50-100k, the payout to bloggers and community is a mere 5k, although I’m sure there’s many service fees going to the marketing team at Izea.
But what are the risks?
With every benefit comes a risk to each party, and this one is no different.
Risks to bloggers and their communities
Bloggers will simply have to ensure that they are delivering trusted content to their audience (transparent), and it’s relevant to their current topics (authentic). If readers are going to a tech blog, and expecting tech content, they may be surprised if the content shifts to a different medium –like consumer goods. Ted explained that the bloggers will choose the content they will write about, so in theory, this will work. The good thing about the blogosphere is that it self corrects, the community members will let the blogger know what they do and don’t like –it happens every day. Update: Julio Fernandez notices that the tweets are generating spam, and takes a screenshot.
Risks to Izea
The other risk is the inventory may not be sustainable (long term). What’s the inventory? The bloggers. Izea will need to ensure that the blog posts are spread out so the sponsored posts. If bloggers continue to do sponsored only posts, they do run the risk of losing editorial trust from their community, and then losing audience. As Izea gains popularity, expect the demand to increase for these campaigns.
Risks to Brands
For brands, they should realize that this is not the only way to reach customers, many brands are reaching customers in social networks, building online communities, and using corporate blogs. Brands shouldn’t put all their resources into sponsored blog posts.
Bottom Line: Sponsored blog posts to proliferate
Getting bloggers paid is good, word of mouth for brands is also good, as the prizes and content spread to the readers of the blog they win too. The only risk is if the editorial becomes trusted, but we should expect bloggers to self-police themselves. Two years ago, I never imagined that I would write a positive post for anything coming out of Pay Per Post, but I think this model is getting refined.
Twitter is in an interesting beast, information flies so quickly, that some may misunderstand or distort what really happened in the first place. For some reason, people think that I was against sponsored blog posts or specific bloggers, that’s not true, you can read from my tweets, that I was asking questions to learn and did due diligence to get on the phone with the parties involved, any of the risks I mentioned in the tweets, I’ve also outlined in this post.
The tweets are listed in chronological order, so the first is at the top, I removed any tweets not about this topic.
Kmart paid Shoemoney $500 resulting in buzz from paid blog post 300+ comments http://snipurl.com/7yi5w “Buying” social media is effective 4:37 AM Dec 13th from web
This may not be a scalable model however, as buying placements could reduce credibility of bloggers, reducing marketing inventory. 4:38 AM Dec 13th from web
Bottom Line: Expect more brands to ‘buy’ bloggers and tweeters as the economy dips, this truly is cost effective marketing 4:39 AM Dec 13th from web
@moon Yes, I’m fully aware of Ted, and Izea. Paid product placements are nothing new, what are impacts to individual bloggers and tweeters? 4:49 AM Dec 13th from web in reply to moon
@tedmurphy (Founder of Izea/PayPerPost) have you considered the brand damage this could do to your inventory (bloggers)? 5:06 AM Dec 13th from web in reply to tedmurphy
@moon @tedmurphy is this true? @Chrisbrogan used a seperate blog for the paid Kmart post? What’s the URL? 5:21 AM Dec 13th from web in reply to moon
Here’s @chrisbrogan ‘s paid post for Kmart http://snipurl.com/7ynb1 Transparent, Yes. Authentic? Debatable. Sustainable? No. 5:26 AM Dec 13th
Got off the phone with @centernetworks discussing and debating IZEA paid blog posts. More news on that soon. 5:59 AM Dec 13th from web
@RevzNexus I need to learn more, I requested meeting with Ted Murphy and also with Chris Brogan, I may try to talk to Kmart too 6:02 AM Dec 13th from web in reply to RevzNexus
Just talked to @tedmurphy, asked him many questions, I’ll blog my analysis if brands and bloggers should to this on Monday. 6:30 AM Dec 13th from web
Had a good call with @chrisbrogan He’s on board of advisors for Izea. They model is getting refined. More brands will certainly use Izea. 7:19 AM Dec 13th from web
Expect more bloggers to sign up for sponsored posts as the economy takes a downturn, this is just the start. 7:22 AM Dec 13th from web
@chrisbrogan Thanks Chris and @tedmurphy, I’m trying to understand all sides of the issue (short and long term) before advising my clients. 7:28 AM Dec 13th from web in reply to chrisbrogan
I highly respect @chrisbrogan as usual, he gives a thoughtful and transparent post explaining Advertising and Trust http://snipurl.com/831w6 about 15 hours ago from web
I hope this shows why Izea is going to grow, and explains my stance.
Related Posts: (I’ll be updating this)
I’ll be adding links to posts that add to this discussion, on both sides of the fence.
To some, this topic is going to be controversial, but before you leave an emotional comment, please understand I’m approaching this challenge from a business perspective and have thought this through from multiple angles.
“Spec work” is a proof of concept design that a designer may provide to a prospect. If it’s accepted they get the deal, if not, they are usually unpaid for this spec work.
Backlash Against Spec Work (Proof of Concepts)
Recently, my former colleague Charlene Li received some negative flack for her choice to crowdsource logo design for her unfunded startup. She used crowdSPRING which resulted in many logo designs that were created for her that she could then choose from and refine. Obviously most of the designers never got paid for this, yet one designer received the payment of a few hundred bucks. This was the right choice for her, given her focus on social, and her very young startup, she goes on to rightfully suggest that the larger sized design firms would never be in this space, and that crowdSPRING serves the need of the untapped long tail.
Designers: Why Spec Work Is Not Going Away –How You Should Respond
Spec Work and Proof of Concepts a Common Business Practice. Buyers of designs are often buying creativity and flexibility, as a result, buyers will want to see this demonstrated. Furthermore, spec work occurs each and every day in the market, software, agencies, and beyond not only submit their existing portfolio and customer references, but also provide proof of concepts to brands –this is an expected behavior. Take for example the community platform space (one I cover as an analyst) they often provide proof of concepts for their prospects at no charge, often they have to also demonstrate their flexibility as they may integrate with the prospects website or systems in an unseen ‘sandbox’.
Crowdsourcing isn’t anything new, and will only increase, especially during recession. We’ve heard this same argument against the crowds before, towards journalists, encyclopedias, photographers, music artists, classified ads, retailers, service professionals, towards recruiters, and on and on. While these social technologies allow for innovation, they do cause disruptions to many, what remains is the higher quality services, they don’t go away. This is progress, and it’s not going away, As the market dips, designers will go the extra mile to get business, expect an increase in spec work
Crowdsourced Design Meets the Needs Of Long Tail Market –But May Lack Quality. Like every other industry I mentioned above, the ‘amaterurism’ of media and knowledge results in an increase of demand, but increase in lower quality work. As a result, the need for higher end services will continue to be in demand, as buyers want to stand out. In theory, there is enough room for each. Read this long post by 37 Signals that suggests that most designers cannot live on Spec Work. In the comments you’ll read that those that participate in spec work may be looking for work, just starting off their design career, or are amateurs looking to get hired.
Designers must realize this increases demand for their services. Crowdsourcing designs injects new revenues into the industry that previously were not there. Now that many can create a blog using free or cheap software, you should expect an increase in demand for personal brands. Those that truly want to stand out will find low cost design alternatives. The web has created a new market for design, increasing demand, and growing the pie. Disparaging crowdsourced design is counter intuitive as it’s meeting an increase in demand.
Designers should not embrace No-Spec –instead know the right and wrong time to do spec work. An org called “No!Spec” which is much like a union for designers is rallying professionals not to do unpaid spec work. They’ve an active blog, have grassroots movement, and are gaining steam. Considering the economy is getting worse, designers will be hungry, yet the demand for personal brand projects will increase, designers should not join the no-spec movement. Instead, they should make the decision when it’s appropriate to demonstrate their creativity and flexibility with their prospects, and know when to walk away.
As a result, designers just getting started will embrace crowdsourced design and specs, they can reach a larger prospect base, and will get more exposure. Designers that deliver on strategy and long term relationships will continue to engage in high value engagements shouldn’t shy away from specs –esp as the economy tightens. Of course, focusing on existing portfolios, customer testimonials, will be a great starting point, but demonstrating creativity and flexibility through spec work will set them apart from competitors.
My Experiences With Web Design and Spec Work
I started off my career as a UI designer, I understand the challenges, thrills, and passion to this career and craft, believe me, I have empathy for the job. Recently, I have decided to redesign my blog, and have sought after web design services. I chose to hire a web designer that can give me soup to nuts design and implementation, and really understand the strategy of my blog rather than crowdsource it in pieces. I had two designers in the running, who both provided specs (non paid to me) this makes sense, as I was hiring them on their creative and flexibility. Of course, I reviewed their existing work and portfolio but decided not to go with one of them, they were certainly experienced and professional, but I needed a specific focus, as a result, I voluntarily wrote him a check for his time, this is just as a professional courtesy as he worked so hard on the specs. It wasn’t a huge amount, but certainly enough for a steak dinner for one or two. Keep in mind, all of the money for the redesign, and tribute check for the comps is coming out of my own pocket, this is a personal project.
I hope you found my perspective and recommendation to be balanced and fair, I’ve tried to look at this from all viewpoints. Still, I’d love to hear your opinion, knowing that the increase in demand for personal brands will increase, and that more social software will appear to make crowdsourcing design possible, and the recession causing designers to seek more work –how should designers respond?
Above: It took me a few days to post it, but here’s a very brief clip from the Tweetup, it was a bit packed.
Just got back from the Silicon Valley Tweetup (135 said they would come, 226 people saved it), last time this year, Tweetups were just about a dozen people or less, but the growth of the service has really demonstrated it’s popularity, I estimate 150-200 folks there. Unlike blogs, microblogs can have a greater rate of adoption as the barriers to entry than blogs as it’s easier to get started, and the ubiquitous mobile device makes it easy.
Some of my friends who came desired a more intimate setting split off to private dinners, and that’s fine too, the event is relatively organic, and we certainly want to keep it that way.
Tonight was a success, and I’m pretty sure we were able to connect people to network and find jobs in this tough economy. Thanks for coming out, the #svtweetup became a ‘trending topic’ on twitter search, suggesting it was a top used tag for the evening.I polled the audience and asked folks to raise their hands if they were hiring, and about a third of them were hiring. I encouraged those who were hiring to stand near the bar, there candidates could quickly get their business card, and perhaps buy them a drink. There were a lot of folks looking for jobs, and quite a few people who were consulting, and a few who just were recently laid off. Strangely, there were people that came that never even heard of Twitter, which demonstrates how viral the event was –people passed the invite around on email.
Had a few offers to get the event sponsored, something I’ll have to think about, but I’m generally steering away from that as this is testament that a community can self-organize without institutional influence. On a more social note, we did entertain each other by singing karaoke, seriously, what is more ‘social’ and ‘media’ than that? Joel Postman awarded his latest book SocialCorp to those who could really belt it out best.
Was asked several times when the next one is going to be held, and saw similar queries on Twitter. How often do you think we should hold such a community event? I’m sure folks will create smaller ones from time to time, but I’m thinking of other ways to help people that are seeking jobs connect with employers.
If you’re hiring in Silicon Valley, please leave a comment
Normally, I direct brands that are hiring to post on my job board, (A new job was posted for Vice President DialogueMedia MWW Group, NY) but given the state of the industry, I’m going to suggest that if you’re hiring (or seeking work) to leave a comment below with a brief description to your job post. Don’t post the whole job req (I’ll remove it) instead just give a summary and link to the job posting.
I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an industry analyst. By creating this digest (I started this over a year ago) it really helps me to stay on top of the space I cover.
I’ve created a new category called Digest (view archives). Start with the Web Strategy Summary, then quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read text for my take, and click link to dive in for more.
Web Strategy Summary
This was a very busy week, so focus on this summary to get the highlights: Facebook connect extends, Google friend connect in hot pursuit. Bebo relaunches with new design encouraging social sharing, promises upgrades in near future. Ning removes adult content from website, leaving opportunities for others. The big trend? many systems are connecting to each other, data, and influence spread
Trends: Is Social Networking Sinking?
This contrary view is an important one to revenues, layoffs and valuations, social networks may be waning. The other key measurement to look at should be adoption and usage –I expect them to increase during a recession.
Redesign: Bebo’s Redesign Encourages social sharing
Much akin to the trend of newsfeed designs that were initially lead by Facebook, Bebo ads new features in their overhaul, perhaps most importantly is that they made promises to improve the major features, applications, and to integrate with AOL.
Vision: Where is Facebook headed?
In a classic Techcrunch style, Arrington interviews Mark Zuckerberg on his vision for products, revenue, developers, and valuation (oh and profile pics). With Facebook focused on so many different areas, this leaves questions in the minds of brands –as they are unsure where to focus.
Products: Physical Meets Virtual
At some conferences in Amsterdam, a new physical tool called a ‘Poken‘ has emerged that allows people to connect and trade information. What ever happened to Palm Pilot beaming?
Culture: Drunken Photos Cost Women her College Degree
This poor soul made a bad choice in uploading photos and patronizing her teacher –resulting in her loosing her college degree. Takeaway? Use permissions, realize that uploading is publishing and don’t be an idiot.
If you’re a social network, or widget company, I want to know of your news, send me an email, or leave a comment below. Help me stay up to date.
Today, I’m going to play doctor, in fact, I’m a specialist: A corporate blog doctor. Most corporate blogs aren’t trusted, and here’s a very simple heuristic health check to gauge whether your corporate blog is going to be trusted by your readers.
This is a quick and dirty scorecard, if I was going one for a real Forrester report, it would be far more conclusive, weighted , detailed, quantitative, and scientific, but today, this is just a quick example, to illustrate a point we already know, let’s get to it, please, turn your head and cough:
Health Check: How Trusted Is Your Corporate Blog?
1. Writing style:
How you write indicates how real you can truly be
Great: Blog is written in a human voice
Bad: Content looks vetted by corp comm
Horrible: Rehashed press release
What does the blog talk about? does it matter to marketing –or customers?
Great: Discusses the lifestyle (or workstyle) of actual customers
Good: Discusses the wider industry topics
Horrible: The corporate blog exclusively talks about the company
Perhaps one of the most important attributes, how human and real is this blog, or is it giving lip service?
Great: Admits when wrong and discusses in open the short comings of the company and product and demonstrates in public how it will be improved
Good: Admits shortcomings but combats and defends the criticism, also known as spin
Bad: Only discusses the company in the best possible light, and may link, but not take on critics
Horrible: Never discuss the short comings of the company on the blog
4. Linking Behavior:
Links are the currency of the blogosphere, it indicates you respect someone else’s opinion so much that you’re willing to send them away from you.
Great: Links out to other sources, even competitors or critics as well as the next listed
Good: Links out to other sources, where other discussions are occurring
Bad: Primarily links to corporate created content 25% of the time
Horrible: Primarily links to corporate created content over 50% of the time
5. Customer Inclusion:
Do corporate blogs allow their customers to partake? or are they only second class citizens
Good: Allows for customers to guest blog, or includes snippets of their experiences
Bad: Content is only published by employees
Allowing for feedback can instill more trust
Great: Comments enabled and published instantly
Good: Comments enabled but reviewed causing time delay
Bad: Trackbacks only
Horrible: No comments allowed
7. Comment Moderation:
Blogs that allow for disagreeing comments are more real –and interesting.
Great: Comments (other than spam or off topic) are allowed, including direct disagreements
Bad: Negative comments are censored or altered
Horrible: No negative comments allowed
While more isn’t always better, having a steady rhythm of content is important
Good: A steady publication rate of posts appropriate to the speed of that market
Bad: Posts appear at a random rate, often starting off with apologies for not posting
Horrible: Posts appear to either promote the company during an announcement –or to combat a competitor
What’s missing? leave a comment
What other categories do you think should be criteria? Leave a comment and I’ll add it in, and credit you.
Update: Joe Wilcox from Microsoft Watch suggests that ‘story telling‘ be an attribute to consider. He makes a good point, but I could add that under the content, or writing style. Not all blogs need to tell stories, some are blogs for product updates, or even support, but I get his point, thanks Joe.
The Doctor’s Diagnosis:
Strong specimen, keep at it: If you’re tallying up your corporate blog (you should ask your readers to help, so you’re a bit more unbiased) and you find that your blog is receiving many good or great scores, in fact over 75%+ of them, you’re on the way to be one of the 16% of trusted bloggers.
On the way, but go back to the gym: If you’re getting borderline at 50-75% , with only about half the criteria being good or great, you’ve got some improvements to make.
Minor Illness –but needs treatment: If you’re getting 25%-50% of the scores in good or great, you really need to evaluate your efforts and think if your corporate cultures is right for this, or if you even have the right bloggers on staff.
Terminally Ill: Lastly, if less than 25% of your criteria is good or great, you really need to consider shutting it down –you’re not getting it and your culture, strategy, or team should focus elsewhere. Giving you the advice to take two in the morning ain’t going to cut it, it’s time for euthanasia.
If this were a report, I would construct a scoring mechanism to help provide a sense of direction for this heuristic evaluation, or even more accurate, I would poll the actual readers of the blog to find out their opinions, but for the most part, the writing is literally on the wall.
Physician heal thyself: I guess I should also ask, how trusted do you think my web strategy blog is?