Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Let me clarify: Should CEOs blog?

Summary: Well, Should CEOs blog? — Steve Rubel answers the question on BNN — Business Week and Godin’s take on it — My take on CEO blogging and my forecast for the future of corporate blogging

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz pens one of the most popular CEO blogs [Source: Duncan Davidson]

Maybe! Well, this is the million $ question; isn’t it? My friend, Debbie Weil, who has written one of the two definitive books on Corporate blogging (the other being Shel and Scoble’s Naked Conversations) referred an opportunity to be interviewed on CEO blogging to Edelman and then Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion.

The Place: Canadian News Network – BNN! (Shouldn’t it be CNN?)
The Interview: On Squeezeplay, a program on money, power and politics
The Topic: CEO Blogging! (Not again)

The Question: Should CEOs blog?
Steve’s Answer: Not really.

My take: I agree with Steve. It’s a “No”, given the monumental task that every CEO has to steer his/her organization. I think this is just the wrong question. The right question is: what are the right qualities for a blogger?

Let’s ask a few more smart people

Dave Taylor argues that Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz shouldn’t blog. Why? He’s got a big job to turn around Sun–too much work to spend time composing posts, battling trolls, and making sure that the blog conforms to the onerous disclosure regulations of a publicly traded company. [Source: Business Week]

Godin defines the essential attributes of blogging and asks if CEOs can afford to do that?

Here’s the problem. Blogs work when they are based on: Candor, Urgency, Timeliness, Pithiness and Controversy (maybe Utility if you want six). Does this sound like a CEO to you? [Source: Seth Godin]

I think that settles this question. However, Godin’s questions now lead me to another question on Company blogging. Should all companies blog? As more and more of us realize (check out Jeremiah’s Death of a Corporate Website post), corporate websites will have to morph into more easily accessible buckets of content. Want to know how the future of corporate websites will be like? I think 2/3rds of Godin’s attributes will suffice to describe the future of corporate websites.

Candor, Timeliness, Pithiness, Utility (Urgency and Controversy)

I’d like to think a company blog is a great way to achieve that. I’m working currently on defining the contours of LinkedIn’s corporate blog and as we make updates, you’ll get to read about the rationale for those decisions right here on this blog. So stay tuned. Subscribe to Marketing Nirvana’s RSS feed.

Check out my other posts on corporate blogging and CEO Blogging, which you may find interesting:

* ROI of Corporate Blogging
* Would Jack Welch have blogged as a CEO?
* Top 10 CEO Blogs (Redux) | March 2007
* 3 Resources on Corporate blogging
* The original Top 10 CEO Blogs (a year ago – July 06)

Filed under: Business Blogging

Difference between a community blog, corporate blog & discussion forums?

Summary: What’s a community blog? Give me an example – Check out Netflix’s Community Blog run by Michael Rubin — List of other kinds of community blogs

w/ Michael Rubin at the Web 2.0 Expo

I’ve always spoken about corporate blogs, ranging from a ranking of the Top 10 corporate blogs to running a corporate blog for the company I currently work at – LinkedIn. There’s also a different kind of blog that I’d like to define today, using some examples from the larger community evangelism world.

What’s a community blog?

Community Media: Community media is described by Rennie[1], in a broad sense, as “community communication (p. 7).” Fundamentally, it is elusive to define the term in an absolute manner because it can take so many forms, be applied by so many different groups of people, and be directed at such a wide range of issues. The premise, however, that community media is a facilitative tool for discussion and engagement of the ordinary citizenry has some inherent implications. (Source: Wikipedia)

I’m going to take some liberty in extending the above definition to a new sub-group of corporate blogs, which you can think of as a more public form of Discussion Forums (e.g. SimplyHired’s Simply Forums). A great example of one such community blog, would have to be the one recently started by my good friend, Michael Rubin, the Director of Customer Community Experience, the Netflix blog seems to be a BIG hit if you just count the engagement (# of comments) with the readers/users.

One of the primary differences with the community forums of the past, is that it reduces or removes the barrier to entry of participation. Users don’t need a user name or password to participate in the conversation about product features or feedback for improvement. As can be evidenced from the Netflix blog, the engagement (measurement by comments) is rather high. My only quibble (and this with the Blogger platform) is the way I have to be taken to a new page to display comments is really slow and this is something that I’ve noticed on Mack’s blog as well.

Readers probably know that I’ve posted many reviews of my Netflix user experience, my experimentation with Flixster, and looks like I’ll be participating in the Netflix community blog – moving forward. Even “Hacking Netflix”, seems to have noticed.

List of other community blogs
A cursory viewing of Google search results (for “community blog”) yields a rich diaspora of different communities using blogs — ranging from cities to events. The success of these blogs totally depends on the implementation and as Michael shows, if done right, it could be a worthy replacement for your discussion forums. Here are my Top 5 favorites for community blog examples:

1. Fortune 500 – Microsoft Small Business Community Blog
2. Events – SXSW Interactive community blog
3. Microsoft Community Blogs
4. Cities – Vancouver Community Blogs
5. Countries – UAE Community Blogs

Filed under: Business Blogging

Bringing the “Wisdom of the community” to blog comments; SezWho?

Summary: MyBlogLog meets CoComment in SezWho? — What is SezWho? — How do services such as these impact online communities?

SezWho’s created by Jitendra Gupta – a contributing blogger at Read/Write Web

Read/Write Web, a popular weblog run by Richard MacManus launched this past week, SezWho, “a comment rating, reputation and filtering” plug-in for any blog. Currently, this feature is easily adaptable to WordPress and MovableType. The downloadable app was developed by Jitendra Prasad, a contributing blogger at Read/Write Web. He also,

writes at his blog, Karmaweb, which is dedicated to discussing issues related to on-line identity, trust and reputation from user & business perspectives. He is also working on a startup in the area of social media infrastructure.

Wat’z SezWho?
SezWho is a first step in a tool that enable an easier way to monitor conversations generated by your community on blogs, based on the reputation of the commenter. And, what’s interesting is that it takes into account not only the reputation of an individual on your blog, but also takes into consideration their behavior across different blog platforms.

How many community managers have had to deal with trolls? I’m sure most community managers’ hands went up when I asked that question. Here’s a first step in letting your own community decide the reputation of such trolls. It’s democratizing the whole process of tracking user feedback on community blogs (which I’ll get into shortly), based on who said it.

How does it work?

1. Rate
: Anyone (w/ an email address) can rate comments on any blog that has installed the SezWho plugin (WordPress/Movable Type). Interestingly, when I rate the comment as a “No” it didn’t ask me for the email address. Now, I’m not sure if this is the way it works, because that won’t be good. Imagine a troll marking the moderator’s comments as not useful. So, I’m sure there’s got to be an explanation here.

That leads me to the reputation of the commenter. I believe based on the email address being provided, you’ll be able to build a database of commenters/raters, which in the long run will allow you to better diagnose the reputation of raters. I guess that the rater themselves will have a reputation, which will be factored in as well?

2. Filter: Once these comments based on readers ratings, other readers can then sort the comments based on reputation (assigned by readers). This would be useful when I’m trying to read the “best” comments from a blog like TechCrunch, which has 50 – 100 comments on some posts. However, I’m still not sure how the ratings of the raters works.

3. Build Reputation: Provided the raters themselves are rated, in the long run, your reputation is tracked across the different sites/blogs you comment on.

Here is the value proposition for readers/contributors explained by the team at SezWho.

In comparison, the other blog comment management site is co-comment whose mantra is “track, share and explore”. But, I don’t think there’s a comment rating/reputation system in place yet.

As a community manager do you see any applications of these services?

Filed under: Business Blogging

Community Evangelism is buzzing…

Summary: The Community Evangelism paradigm — 3 other posts that talk about it; Web Worker Daily, Jeremiah Owyang, and Isabel Wang

Communities can be colorful and noisy; moderators can help

I was pretty stoked that Web Worker Daily (a part of the Giga Om Network, one of my favorite reads on productivity and a perennial Top WordPress blog) bookmarked my earlier post on Community Evangelism on their Weekend Reader column. As you probably know, my post was viewed through the prism of Seth Godin’s writing; he calls it Online Community Organizer.

The job of the future, community evangelism — Call it Online Community Organizer, Online Community Manager, or Community Evangelist, lots of people are doing it. And talking about it. [Marketing Nirvana]

Through Anne’s post I stumbled upon a couple of other community/evangelism posts that are worth sharing. I’ve also included another post on community by my friend Jeremiah, who continues to innovate at Podtech as Web Strategy Guru and shares his community management experience as well.

Below are the three posts that provide unique insight into community management attributes w/ great examples:

1. Susan Heid (Web Worker Daily) has written a post on the evolution of community management:

Many sites, especially those catering to niche audiences, use the skills of online community managers to nudge the conversation, seed chat forums with threads, recruit others to take a lead in various topics, and monitor the dialogue to follow site policies. Pay varies from highly compensated to totally voluntary.

Susan then gives us two examples of online community managers, Claudia Linh (Director of online programs for Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation) and Kanoe Namahoe (Namahoe acts as a moderator for Starbright World, a chat room for sick kids), which shows you that the one factor that brings all community managers together is a enthusiasm and passion.

Read the rest of the insightful post by Susan here (via Web Worker Daily)

2. Isabel Wang, “a marketing consultant who focuses on the web hosting industry” describes the four attributes of an evangelist’s job, in addition to the “art of listening”.

* Build online networks (irrespective of the platform)
* Participate in local developer groups
* Attend relevant conferences
* Track and monitor appropriate blogs (community blogs? more on this in an upcoming post)

Read Isabel’s complete post here (via Isabel Wang’s blog)

3. As Isabel mentions, attending and organizing events is a key attribute of an evangelist. LinkedIn, recently kicked off the summer series of Lunch 2.0 and had incredible success in that space. We’d had over 200 Bay Area professionals show up and we ended up receiving job applications from those who attended!

My friend Jeremiah from Podtech was the community manager over at Hitachi before he solidified his reputation as web strategist at Podtech. He has blogged about community concepts and was the host (while at Hitachi) of another blowout Lunch 2.0 and he draws on that experience, by defining both (i) things to remember and a (ii) checklist that would come in handy when you organize such community events.

Read Jeremiah’s entire list of to-do’s (via his Web Strategy blog)

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Will I be fired if I blog? And you just told me corporate blogs were safe?

Summary: Companies are beginning to fire employees for blogging? (w/ stats) — larger picture is “communication tools” not just blogs that should concern employers — what are corporate blogging guidelines?

Statistics (Poll — 308 U.S. companies with more than 1,000 employees):

10% of companies fired an employee for violating corporate blogging or message board policies
19% of companies have disciplined an employee for the same infractions

33% of companies employ staff to read or otherwise analyze outbound email
15% of companies hired people whose primary function is to spy on outgoing corporate email
25% of companies fired an employee for violating corporate email policies
30% of companies had been ordered by a court or a regulator to turn over employee emails
(Source: Wired study)

While all of us corporate blog evangelists (including me, my friends — Mack, Jeremiah and their friends) go about evangelizing the benefits of corporate blogging and how imperative it is to be a part of the conversation, some of us are getting fired … for blogging! Let’s set the facts straight. The above stats refer not solely to blogging but rather to a diaspora of communication tools available to corporate America. So, what are possible ways that employees communicate with one another and to the world in general:

1. Email
2. Discussion forums (Yahoo! Groups, Facebook groups)
3. Blogs (corporate and personal)
4. Instant messaging tools (Y! IM, MSN, Google Talk)
5. Twitter, Jaiku (mini-blog/broadcast tools)
6. Tomorrow, it could be another tool.

What should I do? (employer/employee)
Start a corporate blog! Ha ha. You almost fell for that one.

Most large organizations, I’m sure have a concerted corporate communications policy to deal with infractions that could hurt their billion dollar brand. As far as a corporate blog is concerned, if you decide to allow corporate blogging either within your websites or if you allow your employees to blog, the best way would be for you to craft the guidelines and let them know about it beforehand, so you won’t have to take the extreme step of firing them. Let’s face it, hiring is probably one of the most time consuming and critical decisions you take as a manager and you wouldn’t want to undo all that hard work by not implementing effective guidelines. I wonder what my corporate blogger friends from large corporations like Dell (Lionel Menchaca) and Intel (Ken Kaplan) think of all this.

Here is a perfect guiding principle as far as corporate blogging guidelines are concerned

All of the 8 most well-known corporate blogging policies agree — corporate bloggers are personally responsible and they should abide by existing rules, keep secrets and be nice. Those four principles are the core of today’s corporate blogging rules. (Source: Corporate Blogging Info)

Update: Nate Anderson from ars technica points out the cultural/international differences in corporate blogging perceptions across the globe

That study also revealed intriguing cultural differences between continents. Only 2.5 percent of the included European companies use a corporate blog, a number that was more than doubled in Asia, where 5.5 percent of companies use them. In the US, that number jumps to a whopping 14 percent. Clearly, American executives have gotten the memo that customers and shareholders like to know what’s going on with the firm, and like to see a human face instead of a corporate facade.

Liked the post? Interested in themes of corporate blogging, social networking (I work for LinkedIn), community evangelism, subscribe to Marketing Nirvana’s feed.

Filed under: Business Blogging

Is Community Evangelism the job of the future? (Updated)

Summary: Godin predicts jobs of the future — #1 choice: is he talking about the job I have today? — List of top community evangelists I know

Well, Seth Godin just said so. Well, not exactly, because he calls it by a different name! Apparently, he likes to call it, Online Community Organizer. In a rather ambiguous post (if only he allowed comments, he could clarify?), he outlines what the job requirements for this role entail:

Someone with resilience, passion, persistence and excellent interpersonal skills.

What if you want to hire someone to build an online community? Somebody to create and maintain a virtual world in which all the players in an industry feel like they need to be part of it? Like being the head of a big trade association, but without the bureaucracy and tedium…

It would help if that person understood technology, at least well enough to know what it could do. They would need to be able to write. But they also have to be able to seduce stragglers into joining the group in the first place, so they have to be able to understand a marketplace, do outbound selling and non-electronic communications. They have to be able to balance huge amounts of inbound correspondence without making people feel left out, and they have to be able to walk the fine line between rejecting trolls and alienating the good guys.

Since there’s no rule book, it would help to be willing to try new things, to be self-starting and obsessed with measurement as well.

Sounds like my job. I like the distinction he drew, though. I’ve always maintained that communities cannot be managed, but in some cases they may need to be built and organized. There are a slew of community manager/evangelists (myself included) that are popping up everywhere nowadays, particularly for social media companies but I’m still a bit confused.

Now, when he says virtual world, is he talking about Second Life like worlds, or is he talking about community management on online forums, discussion boards, et al.? Because if it’s the latter, then it definitely is more of a job of the present since apart from me, there are so many of my friends who’re currently in similar jobs. Actually, Joshua from Bocardo, through whom I stumbled upon the definition lists community management as a mandatory requirement a long time ago.

Here are my favorite 10 15 20 (feel free to suggest others I’ve missed) community managers/evangelists whose present or most recent job could be what Godin predicts:

1. Damon Billian – SimplyHired, formerly PayPal Damon
2. Michael Rubin – NetFlix
3. Jeremiah Owyang – formerly at Hitachi
4. Jeremy Toeman – Sling Media
5. Robyn Tippins – MyBlogLog
6. Chris Brogan –, and Lifehack blogger
7. Scott Brooks – ConceptShare
8. Alex De Carvalho – Scrapblog
9. Betsy Weber — TechSmith
10. Tara Hunt — formerly at Riya
11. Will Pate – Flock
12. Craig Newmark – Craigslist
13. Guy Kawasaki – formerly Chief evangelist, Apple
14. Thomas Hawk – Zooomr
15. Robert Scoble – formerly Microsoft
16. Josh Bancroft – Intel Software Network (Thanks, Jeremiah)
17. Colin Devroe – Viddler
18. And, my good friend and developer evangelist over at Microsoft – AI
19. Jeff Barr – Amazon Web Services
20. Dan Theurer – Yahoo!

Updates: Forgot to mention my friend Will Pate (Flock) — Jeremiah adds to the conversation, recalls his favorite community folkChris Brogan suggests starting a group for community evangelists (to-do this weekend:) — looks like Jeremiah just started one on Facebook. Awesome!

What do you think Godin is talking about? What are other essential prerequisites for a community manager?

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Should FedEx have a community blog?

Summary: Mark Colombo (VP at FedEx) is averse to corporate blogging — understanding FedEx’s philosophy of customer satisfaction — could blogging help foster that marketing philosophy?

My good friend and web strategist, Jeremiah, is in Portland attending the Internet Strategy Forum, along with his colleague Scoble.

Scoble speaking at the Internet Strategy Forum (Picture by Jeremiah Owyang)

Scoble describes the reaction of FedEx’s marketing executive Mark Colombo and his aversion to corporate blogging per se. Here is a first-hand account from Scoble:

Mark Columbo, VP of electronic channels and strategic marketing at FedEx, just gave a speech at the Internet Strategy Forum in Portland, Oregon. He took quite a bit of heated questioning from the audience because he came out strongly as being anti-blog and anti-participation in online communities.

So, I did a little google search on Mark to elicit his thoughts on marketing per se and here are a few comments from him speaking on previous occasions about marketing:

Mark Colombo explored the challenges of maintaining a strong brand reputation and customer loyalty while driving growth. Both presenters recommended that marketers need to regularly test and measure marketing ideas and actions such as pricing and positioning to understand how they effect consumer beliefs and perceptions.

Mark Columbo pointed out that you need to “measure what you treasure”, integrating customer behavior analysis with customer attitude analysis. Fedex decided to follow a mixed growth approach while continually measuring the effectiveness of their brand promise of providing an outstanding experience every time a customer interacts with Fedex. (Source: Cymfony’s Influence 2.0)

Why Mark may actually find blogging adaptable to FedEx’s marketing ideology?

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not the blog evangelist, who advocates blogging for blog’s sake since I realize this may not be a perfect solution for all companies, at at all times. However, this little analysis is based on Mark’s earlier presentations.

In the quotes above, Mark says that FedEx:

* regularly test and measure marketing ideas and actions such as pricing and positioning to understand how they effect consumer beliefs and perceptions.

* integrates customer behavior analysis with customer attitude analysis.

* continually measures the effectiveness of their brand promise of providing an outstanding experience every time a customer interacts with Fedex.

Keywords: measure, customer behavior analysis, customer attitude analysis, outstanding experience, customer interaction

Let’s search: Google “FedEx sucks” and you get a total of 669,000 results – mostly from blogs. I don’t know how FedEx currently measures customer satisfaction but let’s not forget that the blogosphere is not only a great way to converse with your customer but also to monitor and respond (loop back) into the customer attitude and behavior analysis mechanisms that FedEx passionately pursues. Do they need a blog to do that? No. But the blogosphere is a rich compendium of information that’ll enable their pursuit of perfection. In Mark’s own words, it’ll help FedEx

measure the effectiveness of their brand promise of providing an outstanding experience every time a customer interacts with Fedex.

If anyone knows how FedEx measures customer experiences currently, please feel free to leave a comment.

Filed under: Business Blogging

Sony gets corporate blogging… right…

Summary: Sony Electronics (SEL) launches company blog with the voice of PR lead Rick Clancy (via Charlene Li) — 5 Step evaluation of said SEL blog — eliciting response from fellow bloggers

As a matter of fact, they’ve gotten in right, twice by launching two not one company blogs (Sony Electronics and Sony Playstation). Those are the two new Sony corporate blogs that I discovered today, via Charlene Li at Forrester Research, who writes:

Sony’s blog is written by Rick Clancy, head of corporate communications for Sony Electronics. I know Rick pretty well, having worked with him when I was a TV analyst and he is the ideal choice to blog for Sony.

First of all, he’s a straight shooter — not something you take for granted with PR people. Look at the first post: Sony No Baloney.

Second, he has something to say. Rick has been at Sony a long time. He understand the company and all its parts. This should make for interesting posts.

Third, he has authority. Everything important Sony Electronics says goes through him. If Rick wasn’t Sony’s top blogger, whoever was would have to go through him anyway.

What I think? (These are my 5 simple rules to evaluate any company blog)

1. Engagement: Yes, it allows comments (I’m not sure if they’re moderated, well they are) and they do have a slew of comments for the first two posts (30 – 50). The goal is to maintain that level of comments. As we saw at LinkedIn’s blog, we started off with over 70 comments and then the comments ranged between 5 and 30, depending on the interest level of the post itself.

2. Style: The blog is written in an informal and entertaining style and given who Rick Clancy is it’d be great to find out more about the internal workings of a premier electronics company. More interestingly, I admire the candor with which Rick writes:

Like many people, I like to be No. 1. I think it stems from those earliest of Shrub Oak, N.Y. Little League days at age eight when I got a kick out of leading the expansion Cubs with six base hits. (Doesn’t sound very impressive looking back on it, but I still remember.) In any event, while we did not come in on top, there are a couple of recent surveys where Sony ranked No. 2 that I feel pretty good about as well

3. Comment Policy/Privacy Policy: Yes. I’d definitely recommend a comment policy for any blog. Sony nails it with both a comment policy as well as a privacy policy.

4. Search: Yes, it does have a search box on the top right hand corner

5. Categories and tags: No, it doesn’t have these set up. This is something I’m working on for the LinkedIn blog (which I edit and author at times) and I realize the importance this feature assumes as you grow and populate your blog with content. It also is a great way to define your blog calendar itself. At this point, the Sony Electronics blog doesn’t seem to need these but as they start adding newer posts and maybe adding fellow guest contributors this may become a necessity.

Check out:

Sony Electronics blog
Sony Playstation blog

It’ll also be interesting to see if Katie Cotton (from Apple) or other electronics companies follow up with blogs in the future. The question is, what purpose do these blogs serve? And, how do you go about creating a corporate blog for your company? For a primer on corporate blogging, check out my 10 easy steps to start a company blog that I wrote for MarketingProfs where I share my experiences doing the same for LinkedIn (I’m the Community Evangelist at LinkedIn).

I’d also love to find out what Mack Collier thinks of Sony’s corporate blogs. This would be a great company blog for Mack to dissect, on his weekly (i think) Company Blog Checkup series. Mack, what do you think?

I’m hoping my recent spate of blog posts in topics I’d promised I would focus on, is helpful. Please feel free to leave any comments or let me know if there are other topics you’d like me to cover.

Filed under: Business Blogging

Did Zuckerberg just say Facebook’s working on News Feed Optimization?

Summary: Zuckerberg hints at a new way of monetization through news feed — Flashback: Dave McClure’s hard hitting post on optimizing Facebook’s news feed for marketing — Justin Smith’s theory of Facebook’s News Feed Optimization (NFO) — prophecy fulfilled?

Mark Zuckerberg (Source: TIME Magazine; Photo by Paul Sakuma / AP)

Check out Mark Zuckerberg’s response to a question from Laura Locke (TIME Magazine) on the future of monetization within Facebook (see quote below – entire TIME Interview here)

TIME: Beyond Facebook’s exclusive advertising deal with Microsoft, which gives the software giant the right to sell ads on the site, what are some of your ideas about monetizing your 30 million users?

Zuckerberg: Advertising works most effectively when it’s in line with what people are already trying to do. And people are trying to communicate in a certain way on Facebook — they share information with their friends, they learn about what their friends are doing —so there’s really a whole new opportunity for a new type of advertising model within that. And I think we’ll see more in the next couple months or years on that.

Flashback: Just 1 week ago. Anyone who reads TechMeme the past few weeks have surely stumbled upon Dave McClure’s interesting meme where he makes a stunningly confident observation of where he saw marketing on Facebook evolve – the News Feed

#4: Spend time optimizing the feed notification messages & app events that generate News Feed & Mini-Feed messages? ABSO-MOTHAF**KING-LUTELY. people check out feed info all the time, and when they do they see what their friends are doing. and they see what their friends’ apps are doing too.

i’m 110% convinced that consistent & creative app marketing & event notification via the Feed is the key to unlocking the viral power of Facebook, not the wham-spam-thank-you-ma’am app invites that everyone is whining about Facebook dialing back down. the available inventory of feed notification messaging for your app — that is, your advertising inventory — is essentially limitless AND free, assuming people actually keep your app installed and use it. as long as users have your app running, their actions combined with app events will create feed messages & notifications that serve as constant marketing opportunities for your app. let me say that again: AS LONG AS YOUR APP REMAINS INSTALLED AND IN USE, YOU HAVE A LIMITLESS SUPPLY OF FREE ADVERTISING INVENTORY VIA THE FEED. get it? got it? good.

Justin Smith from Inside Facebook made an interesting and detailed observations on Dave’s premise that reads likewise

Welcome to the new world of News Feed Optimization (NFO)–the new SEO for Facebook marketers. Optimizing your product’s News Feed items is the single most important thing you can do as a marketer on Facebook. Not only should Feed items be designed for optimal conversion, but they should also be invoked by your application in ways that will maximize their distribution.

Back to the TIME interview money-quote:

Zuckerberg: And people are trying to communicate in a certain way on Facebook — they share information with their friends, they learn about what their friends are doing.

I would expect the user base will grow [and there will be] more ways for advertisers to reach people and communicate in a very natural way, just like users communicate with each other. All these things will just get more and more evolved.

That certain way of communication is the infamous Facebook News Feed. Didn’t Pete Cashmore (Mashable) get tipped on something similar in September 2006 and called it (then) the worst idea ever?

So, what do YOU think of the evolution of NFO? Prescient observations?

(Disclosure: I work for LinkedIn, the professional networking site, am a social networking connoisseur; and I’ve no clue what special powers keeps me up, blogging at 3 in the morning!)

Filed under: Facebook

Who let the community in… to rate Facebook apps?

Summary: Jeremy Toeman puts together AppRate, a facebook community rating site — Top 10 community rated apps on Facebook — features of AppRate

from l – r: Justin ( and Jeremy Toeman (Source: Brian Solis)

My good friend Jeremy Toeman, over at Live Digitally, just created a community based Facebook Application rating system at And, he’s also created a nifty little Facebook app that allows you to display the Top 10 community rated apps on Facebook as well (requires Facebook sign-in).

Last week I rolled up the sleeves, dusted off the old PHP memories, and got a little down and dirty to take a swing at a new site called While watching people like Scoble, Mario Sundar, and Dave McClure add and remove about 40 applications per day (just kidding guys) on Facebook, I was getting curiouser and curiouser as to which were the “good” applications, versus the bad and the ugly. But Facebook’s “review” system is really just a meaningless comments board.

So I decided to build my own, and distribute the power back to the community. On our side, we add the applications to the site, throw in a screenshot, a little blurb, a link, and our rating. The rest is up to you. Voting is totally open with no registration needed – I’m hoping that empowering the community will overwhelm anyone’s urges to game the system. The site automatically calculates the top scoring and most voted-on items. In addition, anyone can easily add comments, although first-comments need moderation due to the power of the spambot world.

I’ve been dabbling in quite a few of these entertaining social apps over on Facebook. As I’d blogged before, I find their movie, music and some of the random leisure apps quite fascinating. Jeremy’s initiative, AppRate, reminds me of a cross between Appsaholic (a Facebook stats app) and All Facebook (a blog which chronicles the various fast growing apps on Facebook, which also allows Apps rating since 7/17) with the difference in the fact that not only does AppRate throw in community rating but also allows for the collective vote displayed on Facebook. Basically, AppRate democratizes the process of ranking Facebook apps and announces the results on Facebook. Sweet!

Let’s take a quick look at the highest rated community rated apps on AppRate right now. From Super Mario to Strippers and Pirates! “Why I like this app?”, after the jump…

Free NES 4.67 out of 54.67 out of 54.67 out of 54.67 out of 54.67 out of 5
Honesty Box 4.29 out of 54.29 out of 54.29 out of 54.29 out of 54.29 out of 5
Urbanspoon 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5
Graffiti 3.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 5
Sentence Game 3.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 5
Causes 3.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 5
Sonic Living 3.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 5
Pirates vs. Ninjas! 3.4 out of 53.4 out of 53.4 out of 53.4 out of 53.4 out of 5
Compare People 3.33 out of 53.33 out of 53.33 out of 53.33 out of 53.33 out of 5
What’s Your Stripper Name… 3.25 out of 53.25 out of 53.25 out of 53.25 out of 53.25 out of 5

Synopsis of AppRate features:

1. Allows the community to vote (Outside of Facebook)
2. Gives you a quick view of what the community has rated (Inside of Facebook)

The good news is … you can vote for Facebook apps outside of Facebook. The bad news is … you can’t vote for Facebook apps inside of Facebook! (Correct me if I’m wrong, Jeremy). Another area for consideration, is the pace with which app reviews are added on AppRate. If they can beat the pace of addition of reviews as All Facebook or similar sites then it’d be interesting to watch this space develop.

Filed under: Facebook