January 25, 2006

Santa Clara University Campus Notebook: blogSCU

In an interesting strategy to attract prospective students and parents to Santa Clara University, SCU is documenting the lives of 5 freshman as they voyage through the college life. How? Blogs...blogSCU allows prospective parents/students to read the "Campus Notebook" of five individuals as they complete freshman registration, orientation, and classes. But that is not all, you also get a look into their personal lives as some chose to live on and off-campus.

Why is SCU doing this? Easy, what better way to let the whole world see what it's like to be a freshman at SCU? The blogs serve as an indirect marketing strategy aimed towards "prospective" parents and students. Why didn't they have this when I was in high-school looking for the "right" university? I am curious to see how this blogging program will evolve, especially as a Jesuit University.

So, SCU is doing this, but can businesses use the same concept? Absolutely, its almost like an online public focus group. It's a good way to work out the kinks in a product or service. It also builds trust between the business and the customers since the businesses are turning to the customers to perfect their product. I would definately try this...anyone else agree?

Anyone know of other colleges that have a blog?

How about businesses that are following this type of plan?

January 23, 2006

Library 2.0 = Web 2.0 + Library

Library 2.0…
“The Library Without Walls”

The internet has brought several innovations that were unheard of 25+ years ago, and they keep coming. From Web 1.0, to Web 2.0, and now to Library 2.0, the internet is vastly changing our everyday lives. With the popularity of Google and other search engines, its no wonder Libraries are beginning to feel a bit wounded. What are libraries good for anyways when you have the powerful Google? Ah ha, perhaps the model that will save Libraries is *drum roll* “Library 2.0.”

Library 2.0 uses the resources of Web 2.0 technology to make information to users available wherever and whenever and for free.

How does this work?

One major component of Library 2.0 is RSS Syndication which enables the user to have the information readily available in real time in any application. Information delivered at the door step of the user.

Here are some important components of Library 2.0:

1. The Library is everywhere
Library 2.0 is available everywhere (anywhere there is internet) and will continue to reach more and more people as RSS becomes mobilized. In many cases this has already happened, many are texting Google to find information sent to their mobile devices. Google is succeeding, it sounds logical for Libraries to follow.

2. The Library has no barriers
Library 2.0 information is available at the point of need and available for re-use. No need to worry about missing books, special equipment to read past-time newspapers…if linked with Google and Amazon, the information is readily available at your convenience. In fact with the help of Google, we can create a world-wide catalogue of info encompassing local, regional, state, national, and world news. How about that?

3. The Library invites participation
Yes, this is one of the main components of Library 2.0 that will drive its success. The ability to create a community of library users. Using the likes of Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, and RSS), users can rate resources on a scale from 1 to 10 and submit suggestions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Users needs are changing, Libraries need to capitalize and utilize Web 2.0 technology
  • Library 2.0 offers information anywhere and everywhere
  • Web 2.0 technology allows for an online community of library users enabling reviews, comments, suggestions
  • RSS syndication can deliver information from Library 2.0 to any mobile device (info at your fingertips)

January 18, 2006

The 10 Commitments of an Exemplary Blog

In my last post, The 5 Practices of an Exemplary Blog, I introduced some practices that can be used to run a successful blog. However, that is NOT enough, a publisher must remain committed and strive to be better. So to help with this, I am introducing another set of guidelines that can be used to enhance your user's experience and inspire conversations. These commitments have been introduced by Barry Posner, Dean of the Business school at Santa Clara University, but in a student-leadership context...instead, I am relating these ideas to Blogging.

The Ten Commitments of an Exemplary Blog

1. FIND YOUR VOICE by clarifying your personal values and including your expertise. All publishers must have their own unique voice that sets them apart from all others. Whether its with humor or language, defining and exemplifying your own voice is key.

2. SET THE EXAMPLE by aligning actions with shared values. (GO FIRST!) Exemplary Blogs are leaders and need to model the way for others to follow. Set the example for everyone else and let them drive their own experiences, then allow them the opportunity to reflect and converse.

3. ENVISION THE FUTURE by imagining exciting and emerging possibilities. Most successful bloggers are "early adopters" and are constantly searching for the next opportunity. While some are just starting to blog, others are moving on to podcasts/audio conversations, and soon few will be moving towards video conversations.

4. ENLIST OTHERS in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations. Publishers know their audience and should always write with them in mind. Appealing to their needs heightens the experience and enriches the conversations.

5. SEARCH FOR OPPORTUNITIES by seeking innovative ways to change, grow, and improve. An exemplary blog is always changing and finding new ways to both attract new readers and fulfill needs. There is always room for improvement, but those blogs who embrace the idea of positive change and run with it succeed.

6. EXPERIMENT AND TAKE RISKS by constantly generating small wins and learning from mistakes. Never be afraid to challenge the common belief, after all the worst that can happen is you are wrong. But in some cases, the "minority" belief is right, as we have seen in Why Blogs are NOT Important

7. FOSTER COLLABORATION by building trust. (Let the user's drive the conversation). Allowing the user to take control builds trust. This is why RSS Syndication has been generating some hype among many online companies. In short, RSS gives users complete control over what they want to read, which establishes a sense of trust between the reader and the publisher/coporation.

8. STRENGTHEN OTHERS by sharing power and discretion.

9. RECOGNIZE CONTRIBUTIONS by showing appreciation for excellence. Recognize those who are thought-leaders and provoke interesting conversations.

10. CELEBRATE THE VALUES AND VICTORIES OF OTHERS by creating a spirit of community. Ah Yes, building a community is important and perhaps an important goal for every blog. Exemplary blogs build communities where everyone is NOT afraid to speak and everyone has a voice. This voice is what drives the conversations and enhances the reader's experience.

If you had to make your own list, what would you have?

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The 5 Practices of an Exemplary Blog

I recently attended a presentation by the Dean of the Business school at Santa Clara University, Barry Posner, and he introduced 5 simple leadership practices students can use to be successful. However, I believe these practices are universal and I am going to apply them to leading a successful blog like Scobleizer and Web Strategy by Jeremiah

The Five Practices of an Exemplary Blog

Practice #1: Model the Way
Successful blogs exemplify thought-leadership. They add-value to current, basic knowledge and introduce their own perspective. They carefully turn "data" into "information" by adding knowledge and this is a vital step in creating an audience. Exemplary blogs lead by example by showcasing their knowledge and revealing it for the whole world to learn and follow. Successful bloggers are not afraid to take risks, even when their thoughts are controversial.

Practice #2: Inspire a Shared Vision
Exemplary blogs not only lead the way, but they inspire others to join the conversation and provide value-added information to the world. There is no such thing as “my” vision, it is “our” vision and our conversation. In fact, the joint enthusiasm for a shared vision provides just a spark of inspiration for others to join the conversation amongst an emerging community—community of experts, leaders, and evangelists.

Practice #3: Challenge the Process
Perhaps one of the most difficult of the Five Practices is being able to challenge a common belief and take a stand for what you believe in. Although this creates controversy, challenging the common beliefs and supporting your own is the way to go. In fact, just recently Jeremiah Owyang posted a blog about Why Blogs are NOT important. With all the buzz surrounding blogs, he wanted to make the point that the conversation taken place in the blog is what IS important. And now…other experts are adapting his beliefs and sharing them to their audiences.

Practice #4: Enable Others to Act
This may be one of the most important practices… “Enabling Others to Act.” Exemplary blogs welcome others to take part in the conversation and provide both negative and positive comments….this is the whole purpose of a blog! Blogs are not just another PR medium to attract customers, they serve a much more significant purpose, which is to converse with your audience (publisher to user, and user to user). The conversation that takes place between all users is rich in itself and sometimes is most beneficial, but it cannot happen if the blog does not enable others to act...so ask questions in your blog, ask your audience how they feel. <>

Practice #5: Encourage the Heart
Successful blogs should always “Encourage the Heart” by “recognizing contributions and celebrating values.” There are thousands of thought-leaders in the Web and when you come across one, publicize it. Let your readers know, tell them you have come across an interesting article/blog and you encourage them to read it. This does two things: first, it allows your readers to learn from others, and second it recognizes a “job well done” of another publisher. Nonetheless, the simple acknowledgement motivates publishers to continue their work and continue their conversations.


So what do you think about these practices? I want to here your thoughts and even additions…

January 12, 2006

NEWS FLASH: How To Record Your VoIP Conversations

Just when I thought things could not get any better with Skype, I come across yet another genius idea. I've been having some great conversations on Skype, yet I am left trying to take notes and remember everything. Often I find myself struggling to write notes, listen, memorize, and talk all at the same time. But, fear no more..."HOTRECORDER" is here!

HotRecorder is an awesome tool that allows users of Skype, Google Talk, Yahoo Messanger, AIM, or any other VoIP.

Here are the capabilities:
  • Records individual conversations and conferences
  • Includes "Emotisounds" (like laughs, cries, claps, etc)
  • Send recorded conversations to ANY other HotRecorder user
  • HotRecorder VoiceMail
    • Automatically answers calls and record messages
  • It's FREE
Yet another software to experiment with. Wow, who thought we would have these capabilities?

Has anyone tried this program? How are your experiences using it? How about Skype?

Search for me on Skype: Christopher.Salazar

January 09, 2006

"The Whole Word Can Talk For FREE"

"The Whole Word Can Talk For FREE"...this is the tagline for a new program called "SKYPE"

There is an interesting service out on the net that offers registered users the opportunity to talk to other users for FREE anywhere around the world. It's just like talking on the phone, but instead you are using the internet.

In a bold statement, a reviewer noted:

"Skype is going to change the world. People are going to be including their Skype on their business card. "
url = http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1402336,00.asp

I think everyone should try this out. Just download the program and set up your username at www.skype.com. Once you are set up...search for me: my SKYPE name = Christopher.Salazar or you can search for my full name = Christopher Anthony Salazar

When you are set, call me and let me know what you think.

Quick Thought: I cannot wait for this to be implemented in cars. *dreaming*

January 07, 2006

The Blogosphere and YOUR company

Lately I’ve been thinking about if corporate blogging is for everyone? In fact, a recent article by the Harvard Business School talks about this exact point in Does Your Company Belong in the Blogosphere?.

Here are the key takeaways (taken directly from the article):

  1. *Influence the public “conversation” about your company: Make it easy for journalists to find the latest, most accurate information about new products or ventures. In the case of a crisis, a blog allows you to shape the conversation about it.
  2. *Enhance brand visibility and credibility: Appear higher in search engine rankings, establish expertise in industry or subject area, and personalize one’s company by giving it a human voice.
  3. *Achieve customer intimacy: Speak directly to consumers and have them come right back with suggestions or complaints—or kudos.

The first thing that comes to my mind is thought-leadership. A company must exhibit leadership in their field and invite others to take part in the overall conversation, this is very important.

However, the second point of enhancing brand visibility and credibility scares me a bit. Companies must not take this the wrong and start advertising their blog in the Google Sponsoring section just to appear first. In fact, companies should do the opposite…just sit back and be patient. YES, they should take the lead in the conversation, but encourage others to engage. In addition, it is important for a corporate blog to have “important links” that enable the user to learn more about a particular field. Again, the blog becomes a place where users go FIRST for information. (this all enhances the company’s visibility and credibility)

Lastly, speaking to the users is very important. The company must not only encourage comments, but they must listen and take action. Listening and taking action are keys for a successful blog.

Other takeaways from the article are as follows:
  • *Have a distinct focus and goal for the blog’s content.
  • *Feature an authentic voice of the company. CEO is a good idea.
  • *Be open to positive AND negative comments from the readers.
  • *Update the blog regularly, at the very least once a week.

This is all good advice for both corporation and personal blogs. I encourage blogging for both upper management and employees.

In fact, Sun Microsystems is a company that has fully engaged the concept of blogging as they have compiled all 2,000 individual employee blogs into one index…visit here: http://www.blogs.sun.com/roller/main.do

Interesting, isn’t it?

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January 06, 2006

RSS Syndication: The User's Vehicle

I've been doing a lot of thinking about syndcation, Jeremiah and I have had quiet a few discussions. Below are just some thoughts I have, but the most important is the questions I raise later. I'm really thinking about RSS and how it can benefit each aspect of business from the customer to the employee..

Syndication is often thought of as “News feeds” or RSS (Really Simple Syndication). RSS allows users the opportunity to locate information in real time, instantaneous, without much effort. The content comes to the user, no need for the user to search through the several million Google searches just to find the right info. RSS brings the right content at the right time and at the right place. This is important!

RSS is a “vehicle that contains both links and content.” So why is this important? Because RSS is “100% Opt-in.” This means businesses are no longer charged of being intrusive by invading email campaigns and users have the flexibility to control whether or not they want the content. Yes, the users are in CONTROL now. Beware of the user!
What does this mean? I want to look at this from a business perspective…more of a business opportunity:
  • *By giving all the power to the user in the form of RSS, it builds trust, and thus a community is formed; a community that is informal and on the customers’ grounds. No fancy sales pitches and certainly no marketing gimics.
  • *RSS allows a company to exemplify thought leadership. Now businesses are FORCED to write quality and enticing information. If not, it only takes a second for the user to opt-out. This is good for the competitive market, now companies will raise their game to attract the users.
  • *RSS is only the beginning and sets the stage for many more tools companies can use to not only gain new customers, but retain existing customers.
So RSS is a very good tool, but it’s a rather new concept that several companies are either embracing or completely ignoring. Perhaps they do not see the ROI in RSS. And they may have a good point since there is really no way to judge success and gauge how this helps a company grow in profit, sales, users, and customers.

My question is…When using RSS, what should companies measure? What stat should they be focused on? Number of clicks? Number of subscribers? No! No!

Companies should focus on the time each user spends on each page. Sure, a company can have 1000 clicks a day, but if the users only stay at the page an average of 10 seconds, then something is definitely wrong. However, if a company experiences 30 clicks a day, but the user stays on the page for an average of 20 minutes, then something is definitely right. Yes, the company may not have many clicks, but that is easy to fix. As long as the company has relevant content that is enticing enough to keep users reading, users will definitely keep the RSS feeds going.

Key Measure = How long each user spends on each page

Another very intriguing question is: How to increase a user’s willingness to opt-in without being intrusive?

I have not developed a full answer for the question as of yet. If RSS does in fact become the new trend, ALL companies will be faced with the same dilemma. Sure catch page titles can do the trick, but I want something more useful. Why follow the next company?

A while back I was talking with a colleague about competitive strategies in the photography industry. He is a very successful photographer and I asked how? His response was simple, yet very important:

While everyone else was copying the next company’s moves, I looked for something else. Yes, whatever they were doing worked, but why follow them? I searched for a strategy that was unique, yet still effective. I wanted to be successful… This strategy has worked for over 10 years, and people still ask what my secret is.

<>Just in case you were wondering, here’s a link to the photographer’s website: StudioMark.Com <>
I agree! So, what is the differentiating strategy that can be used with RSS?

…remember RSS is a vehicle, so sit in the driver’s seat and drive!

I want to hear your thoughts…do you agree? disagree?

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January 03, 2006

Community Marketing: Let's Make a Favor!

How many of you need favors, but cannot find anyone to help you? Well, perhaps your favor can be fulfilled with a new company called FavorVille. Although this new company is gathering little traffic, I am anxious to see how it will grow. Already it is gathering some international hype.

This company really encompasses the idea of community marketing. The company is letting the users take charge and collaborate with other individuals. Anyone can create a new task and anyone can answer. Let's keep an eye on this company and see if it expands.

Key Benefits FavorVille:
  • Need a Favor? Just post it on FavorVille's site and hope that someone will have the necessary resources to help you.
  • It's Free. You can't lose when it's free.
  • Get stuff you need, give away stuff to another deserving person. Need song lyrics, need a mattress, give away an extra tv or bike...GO TO FavorVille
This seems like a really useful service that has the opportunity to benefit people around the world. And with the recent hype with blogging, I wouldn't be surprised if something does come of this idea. Time will tell.