Saving the Open Web?

Source: Can we save the open web? | Dries Buytaert

My comment:

I remember pre-Google. The Internet began shrinking when business became involved. Personal and hobby sites, especially those on Blogger or GeoCities were sneered at. Web mail for email became a reason to block or ban people. Funny how that attitude never seemed to touch GMail.

AOL began the filtered Internet. If AOL was your ISP you didn’t get on the Internet and see everything as everyone else did. AOL blocked and filtered the user experience to suit themselves. Now AOL is seldom heard of. I assume they were swallowed up by some other company.

I miss the Internet before social media. Though I do like Twitter, most of the rest are clutter, popularity contests and marketing extravaganzas where no one is really listening any more. Fifteen years ago we had blocks for pop up ads and frames. Now pop ups are back and almost no one gets into a ranting fit about them. Ironically, I wasn’t bothered much by them the first time around. But they really do bug me now. Especially those which descend as soon as you move your mouse to your browser bar.

There are far less personal or hobby sites now. People want to use information to make a buck. That’s not terrible but it does make everything less trustworthy. I review sites with dmoz, still. I see a lot of garbage. The interesting thing is noting how the garbage has changed over the years. There are always new schemes cropping up. Some good sites get drowned out just because they are personal sites, don’t look sleek and professional.

Marketing, content selling and so on isn’t a bad thing, so much. I think it’s more an issue of intentions. Too many sites are focused on SEO, keywords, marketing and they have forgotten people. Not so different with business, retail, commercial offline. Customer service is something they promote but don’t really care about. (I worked as a department store cashier, I heard all the pep talks in between being told how to sell/ market and smile). Meanwhile customer service people are paid minimum wage, like a lot of sales people. The Internet could hardly avoid this same phoniness.

I hope they can find a balance, but I don’t think we will ever get there. Twenty years ago people came online for different reasons. It really was social then. The Internet was about communication with IRC, BBS, etc. How many of those are still active – spam doesn’t count as activity. Now we have social media but it is flooded with marketing. Facebook is full of meaningless games built to scam people in small cash amounts over time, addicting, like gambling but legal.

I don’t think we can get back what the Internet was, it doesn’t even have the atmosphere of being friendly any more. It’s a business, impersonal but with a smile.

Modern Blogging is too Limited

Modern bloggers are limited by caring too much about other stuff – Google, SEO, readers who might or might not come back, advertising, and so many other business and marketing related things. Since blogging became a business and a marketing scheme, it has limited itself. Blogging stopped being really creative, innovative and inventive. It lost that loving feeling.

When did you last feel excited about your site? The day you started it? Over the holidays when you added some Christmas images? When you took that week off and came back to it?

We should be feeling excited, happy or at least interested in our sites all the time. Modern blogging has taken that away. If you blog to make Google happy, to make your readers happy, or to perform marketing tricks, when do you blog to make yourself happy? Don’t start telling me you blog to make money – it’s your business. If you really believe that why are you here? Go away. Yes, go, leave… now.

Creative blogging is about doing something you can love, enjoy, value beyond dollars and cents.

What do you really want from a blog? When you got the idea did you visualize something fabulous, in full colour, a showcase for yourself, your ideas and your path to fame and popularity as a celebrity of your own making!

Sure you did. I don’t know anyone who didn’t start a blog with the idea of becoming a web celebrity, even if they didn’t (and would never) tell anyone else or admit it to even their best friend and most trusted brother or sister. At one time people were calling themselves a web or Internet personality. It was a way of saying they were someone other people knew online. Setting yourself up as a celebrity tempts people to pop your bubble. So, the best way to be a web personality is to just do it and not talk about how famous, well connected and popular you are. Just be and let the chips fall where they will.

These days the blogging celebrities seem to be people who tell us they are celebrities – they tell us how to make money and market our blogs/ sites. Most of them, if you do the fact checking, have not had a site for a full year. Maybe they have an attitude, a way of writing, which people listen to. That does not mean they know what they are talking about. It does not mean you should listen to them and believe all they say or do anything they tell you to do.

Blog your own way. Be creative. Be inventive. Discover your own way to blog and be happy with it. Have fun. Creative something you really like rather than something you feel obligated to work towards.

You can be a happy blogger. Just stop caring about what what everyone else is doing.

Yahoo! Profiles (and Avatars) are Going Away

Yahoo! is phasing out their Profiles. You can’t look up someone else and, I couldn’t even find my own to see what I had written about myself. (Though Yahoo! recommends I save anything in my “About Me” and “My Interests”, I can’t even get my profile to load up at all).

yahoo profiles

I thought I would look up my Yahoo Avatar but that put me back on the “Going Away” page for Profiles. So, it seems the Avatars are also going away.

Maybe Yahoo is using logic in removing things which have not been greatly used. But, I think they have it wrong.

Why not bring the Yahoo Profiles and Avatars into the new world of social media instead?

Connect Profiles and Avatars to Tumblr and Flickr. How much more colourful and interesting they could have made those sites/ services with the addition of the Avatars and an expanded profile. Yahoo Profiles (with it’s long running database of users) could have rivalled About.me for giving people a profile page to connect all your accounts and people in one place.

yahoo avatars

So why didn’t anyone at Yahoo do this?

I don’t know. But, it does seem Yahoo prefers to buy and then bail out on a lot of sites and services. There must be some business or marketing sense to it, I hope. I don’t see it. I do see what could have been wonderful as a web profile being lost instead. For no great reason other than taking the slow road to nowhere.

I looked at Yahoo Groups this week, just out of curiousity. At one time I ran email lists and newsletters through Yahoo Groups, when they were called something else and before then when they were MailCity and eGroups which were bought by Yahoo. But, the Groups are pretty silent now. Why aren’t bloggers using Yahoo Groups to run email lists? It’s free. It’s easy to set up and work with. It’s reliable… isn’t it? Hard to be sure when it looks so stagnant and neglected.

Why Yahoo!. Why?

I don’t want to see Yahoo! die. I’ve been watching them slip away for years though. No one seems to be excited about the possibilities any more. They almost seem content to slip into obscurity.

Telemarketers on Twitter

Do not do this!

I’ve been noticing a trend in Twitter following. Not the usual types who want to grow the amount of Twitter followers by following anything for no reason. But, businesses with Twitter accounts who then follow people as a way of introducing/ marketing/ spamming their business or service.

See below for an example. I blocked out names because it seemed the right thing to do. I’m sure you can find them if you really want to, but, why would you want to?

twitter spamvertising

I don’t often check who has followed me. There are always new followers and no one seems to say whey they followed me. (I often send a note when I decide to follow someone – because I actually do have an interest in them).

Why did this company, selling food products from the US, choose to follow me? No reason other than marketing themselves. They don’t know anything about me, what I like, where I am located and if I like gluten-free processed food products. This is no different from telemarketing which still plagues home phones no matter how long you have been on the Do Not Call list.

Just like telemarketing, this Twitter spamvertising is annoying, aimless and meaningless.

Aimless because they target Twitter, no filtering for location or anything else. Meaningless because this does not build goodwill even if it does randomly get their product attention – it’s not good attention and it will not bring good intentions.

Of course, I do not follow them back. Within a few days or weeks they will unfollow me so they have room on their account to follow another batch of a thousand or more Twitter accounts.

Maybe they make a sale from all of this. Which is why they do it. Someone will be followed and actually be local and interested in their product. This person may assume the business deliberately found them and chose to follow them in particular.

However, even if they do get one sale, is this technique worth the animosity it causes and the precedent it sets for others to use the same scheme? I think not. Why? Because the very people who use this sort of telemarketing/ spamvertising are the very people who pitch a fit about spam in their own personal (or business) accounts on Twitter, email and the old home phone too. If they don’t like it why do they feel justified in causing it?

Are you Sure your Site is Readable?

CaptureOutbrain Inc | 5 Creative Marketing Ideas for Your Smal….

I found a link to this post on another site. I went to the source to read more… However, it is almost unreadable.

I actually did not even try to skim this. Yes, I am no longer reading with the eyeballs of a 20 year old. A site should be readable for anyone, of any type of vision. (Blind people use technology to read on the web so they may find it easier to read this post than I have).

For me trying to read this post is a chore.

If you hope to get your ideas read make them easy to read – readable. Even if it seems a bit too far for you, it may be just what someone else needs. You already know what you wrote but someone else is starting from scratch.

Blogging 101: Introduce Yourself

ASCII artistI still like blogging, publishing and writing on the web. But, I have seen it change so much from the early days when I began online in 1996. A lot of it is disappointing. Once we had free creative energy and the only rules were those we gave ourselves. There was no marketing, or SEO or keywords. I was an editall (meaning I could edit the entire directory) for the Open Directory Project. I stayed with it for just over ten years. We were the first to fight spam – before anyone started calling it SEO and giving it credit for being “marketing”. It still seems  a lot of spam to me, but I am seeing it can be used and necessary too. I’m trying to change after all these years of spam fighting.

That is pretty much why I bought this web domain (years ago, far longer than some people have been online). I wanted to create an oasis where creative blogging still flourished and was celebrated. Something where marketing was a discouraging word and SEO could be booed and hissed at.

I may never have my oasis but I can write about blogging from the other side. Try to show people there is more to blogging than money making schemes and SEO. Remember and create great blogs with clever writing, gorgeous images and creative arts of any kind you can fit into the virtual/ digital world of the blog.

So that’s my purpose here. I’m a bit off track at the moment and things have been slow to start. Not that I lack passion, just the focus has gone a bit wonky and I’m working on fixing it. I’ve spread myself a bit thin and now I’m simplifying things and getting my focus back into perspective. Any site you start you need to sustain. I’m finding my feet with this one so I can have the drive and passion to sustain it (and my other sites too).

Read more about me and my other sites.

Social Media Marketing Strategist

Social Media Marketing Strategist — Work at Medium — Medium.

Medium is looking for a social media marketing strategist to help support the engagement efforts of the platform’s five digital publications (Matter, Re:Form, among others). He or she will manage the creative, analytical, technical, and relationship aspects of all five publication’s social media channels. The role will involve creating measurable goals and conducting social experiments on a regular basis. This is a 3-month contract position with a competitive salary based in San Francisco.

This person’s daily responsibilities will include:

  • Building specific target audiences for all five publications using distinct voices and tones for each
  • Writing and managing all social media content for each publication
  • Creating and monitoring Facebook and Twitter ad campaigns, as well as other special engagement campaigns
  • Tracking and analyzing social traffic data
  • Optimizing strategy, content, and ads based on performance
  • Creating monthly social media content calendars for each publication
  • Crafting each publication’s weekly newsletter
  • Experimenting with new ways to increase engagement on the platform
  • Liaising with Medium’s User Happiness team on all support queries
  • Working closely with @Medium’s social coordinator to promote these publications across the platform and the web

This person should have previous experience with:

  • Managing social media content and campaigns

  • Experimenting with, tracking, and analyzing social data

  • Implementing online marketing strategies focused on community content engagement

  • Developing voices for brands

  • Copy-writing

Content Designer/ Writer Job Post

Found this posted to FreshGigs.ca

Content Designer/Writer Full-Time

Our philosophy is and yours should be ‘people using our products come first’.

We’re working to create marketing products that people want to use and words play a big part in that. Join the Trade and Marketing Division of the Ministry of Economic DevelopmentEmployment and Infrastructure where you will write, design, develop and produce marketing content, materials and products to market ministry programs and initiatives to target audiences through multiple content formats.

What can I expect to do in this role?

In this role:

  • you will create marketing products to market ministry programs and services using the written word, digital technologies, graphic design and other media
  • you need to be user-focused and know how to write and create with a real-life person not a department in mind

How do I qualify?

Marketing and Communications Knowledge and Skills:

You are able to:

  • create marketing content using a wide variety of media including written, digital, video, graphic design, etc.
  • take complex language, concepts and processes and make them easy to understand
  • clarify and communicate content objectives and bring a broader perspective to a topic so that it can focus on the right information for the user

Technical Knowledge and Skills:

You have proven experience:

  • writing for the web and creating marketing content that is clear, accessible and usable
  • developing marketing material in a variety of mediums and formats
  • choosing the best format for communicating information to the user
  • using existing content and repurposing it into alternate formats for additional uses
  • implementing content marketing strategies
  • using metrics and user feedback to define/refine content
  • marketing in a B2B setting

Analytical and Evaluative Skills:

You can:

  • analyze client needs and target audiences and recommend the most appropriate approach/medium/format, etc.
  • plan and design user-focused content
  • identify content gaps and overlaps and map out content strategies for different audiences using different formats
  • work with a multi-disciplinary team to understand user behaviours and feedback and develop effective content

Content Shock

Let’s fast forward one more time to 2014 and look at the two factors that impact the economics of content marketing — the amount of content available and the amount of content consumed (supply and demand).

Of course the volume of free content is exploding at a ridiculous rate. Depending on what study you read, the amount of available web-based content (the supply) is doubling every 9 to 24 months. Unimaginable, really.

However, our ability to consume that content (the demand) is finite. There are only so many hours in a day and even if we consume content while we eat, work and drive, there is a theoretical and inviolable limit to consumption, which we are now approaching.

This intersection of finite content consumption and rising content availability will create a tremor I call The Content Shock. In a situation where content supply is exponentially exploding while content demand is flat, we would predict that individuals, companies, and brands would have to “pay” consumers more and more just to get them to see the same amount of content.

Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy – Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

My comment:

You’re talking about what is mainly regurgitated content, repeated from one blog to the next and the next and then shared on social media too. There is still a “market” for fresh and original content – something which has not been duplicated and repeated and made to suit the almighty Google.

Niche blogs from people who actually are a source of information, an authority on their topic and artists who still create something of their own will still have readers.

The problems will be copyrights, not having content ripped off (shared without permission). With so many content marketers, content curators, social media and Google rank obsessed people it is not so hard to get original content picked up and shared around. The hard part is keeping the source link (the artist’s link) with the content.

There is a lack of original content and the marketers are quick to dive in when they actually find something unique because it is becoming harder to find something that hasn’t already been shared and overshared.

It’s Not a Gift if I Have to Pay for It

As much as I like AVG (have used it for years) this kind of annoyed me this morning. It came as a pop up window when I turned the computer on. I don’t mind the pop up so much, because it is from them. I really don’t like the new marketing idea being pushed – that a coupon is a gift. A coupon is a sales tactic, it’s not a gift. A gift is something freely given.

You may argue the coupon was freely given and yes, it was. However the product is not being offered as a gift. It clearly reads “Get your gift now”. I’ve already got the coupon so what is the gift?

In this case the gift is AVG because they do have a freeware version which I rely on and am very happy with. If I were making more money than I’m paying out for the Internet and my writing and publishing, then I would consider supporting AVG and buying their premium version. However, that isn’t practical right now.

Anyway, what do you think when you see coupons offered as free gifts?