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Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

What are blogs and such and why should I care?

June 24th, 2006

You’ve probably heard by now the new buzzwords like blog, XML, syndication, RSS, CMS, and wikis. You may have even clicked on some site’s little orange XML or RSS button only to have a screen full of code thrown in your face.

It’s ironic that these less than intuitive acronyms and geek birthed tags give many people the impression of added complexity to the Internet. These new terms actually represent a paradigm shift in the Internet in the opposite direction – towards providing ease of use, and most importantly, usefulness to the average Joe or Jolene-not just geeks.

Secret Meanings Revealed

So what do all these terms that help define this new generation of the Internet commonly referred to as “Web 2.0” really mean to you?

They mean that you now have the ability to provide the internet community a web site or web publication that:

  • Always has current and relevant content.
  • Facilitates two-way interaction with your audience
  • Responds intelligently to visitors actions
  • Is easy to manage without a technical expert or expensive software
  • Becomes a platform for exponentially expanding your client base

Compare these features to the ubiquitous old school web site that is often full of stale information, offers only one way communication, is non-responsive, and requires software and/or technical expertise to update…and ultimately is of limited value to its owner and the web community as a whole.

In case you’re still curious about more specifics, here are some brief definitions of terms associated with Web 2.0:

Web 2.0: A general term emphasizing the evolution of the Web to an environment of real time communication, collaboration, and community.

Content Management System, CMS, Web Edit: A web site that allows a non-technical user to easily publish text, photos, and links by logging into to a database and adding the information from the Web in an intuitive word processor like interface. The information is then instantly updated on the web site.

Blog (Shortened name for web-log): A type of CMS system (see above) that is intended for periodical publication of information, such as commentary, or news. The unique identifiers of a blog from general CMS include the automatic archiving of articles/posts, the syndication of the posts through XML (see definition below), and the ability for visitors to post their own thoughts or comments.

XML (eXtensible Markup Language): A widely used and versatile protocol for encoding information and sharing it between diverse applications.

RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication): An XML based broadcast of a web site’s selected content. RSS enable content becomes syndicated, available for subscription and display on other web sites or RSS news readers.

RSS Feed: Refers to the originating source of information published through RSS. Comparable to the broadcasting tower of a TV station.

RSS Readers: Utilities that allow RSS feeds to be converted and displayed on web pages or in news feed aggregators (software that displays RSS feeds). Comparable to TV set displaying the broadcast of a TV station.

For more definitions associated with Web 2.0 see our Web 2.0 FAQs.

New Media is the Answer

June 21st, 2006

I know that many of you have heard my mantra on why advertising is losing effectiveness in our society, but I recently came across a New Yorker article that brought about a new dimension as to why consumers are getting burnt as a result of mass media ads. To be specific, we consumers are the ones paying for the ads we don’t want to see. In fact, a good number of Fortune 500 companies allocate approximately 25% of their budget to advertising. For instance, Proctor and Gamble spent nearly $3,000,000,000 on advertising ~ and that was two years ago. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that those costs are passed along to the consumer. So, when you need to cure that scalp itch with some Head and Shoulders, just remember that a quarter of what you’re paying for goes to pay for commercials you don’t want to hear.

So by now you’re probably asking yourself why this blog is relevant to New Media marketing. Therefore I’ll get to the point … if you’re a marketing professional at your firm, think like a consumer and channel your message so as to communicate in a non-intrusive yet informative manner. In the old days, people would gather at the coffee shop to discuss life as well as business; and within their business discussions, they would give recommendations to their
peers over a friendly conversation. This might have cost the consumer a nickel for a cup of joe, but they actually enjoyed the fresh roast much more than having an obnoxious guy with a beard yelling at them through a screen about how some special soap will remove grape juice stains from their grandmother’s afghan. In other words, as a consumer myself, I don’t mind when a friend passes a recommendation along to me because 1) I enjoy my friend’s company, 2) I know my friend isn’t getting paid to provide this information to me, and 3) I myself am not paying for that information.

Furthermore, today’s coffee shop is virtual and the conversations are taking place, you as a marketer need to engage and infiltrate in order to build your brand from an organic level. For example, Apple is a forward-thinking company
that understands this concept of transparent community, so much so that they are willing to invite criticism of their own products. Recently I visited their site to purchase a new power chord for my PowerBook G4, I was pleasantly surprised to gather information – FREE INFORMATION – that wasn’t filtered by Apple that influenced my purchasing decision. I’d encourage you to visit Apple’s Web store to see for yourself:

In conclusion, this New Media marketing revolution must be looked at as a win-win for both consumers and companies because it is not only reducing the communication channel while increasing intimacy, but it is also reducing costs
for companies and bringing about the opportunity to lower pricing for the consumer. The only downside to this movement is that many advertisers will be looking for new careers in the near future.

Articles of Interest:

LinkThe New Pitch, Do ads still work? by Ken Auletta

LinkAdvertising Doesn’t Work – Part 2. by Mike Catherall

LinkFixing the Ad Agency Mess – by Joseph Jaffe

Blogs Will Change Your Business

April 5th, 2006

This is one of the best articles on the importance of blogs to business that we’ve seen. It’s a bit dated but still a “must read” for any business owner who plans on developing or maintaining a profitable business in the 21st century.

BusinessWeek – Blogs Will Change Your Business By Stephen Baker and Heather Green

If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, at least read these selected quotes:

“..you cannot afford to close your eyes to them, because…[blogs are]…simply the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself. And they’re going to shake up just about every business — including yours. It doesn’t matter whether you’re shipping paper clips, pork bellies…blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone, or delegate. Given the changes barreling down upon us, blogs are not a business elective. They’re a prerequisite.

“There are some 9 million blogs out there, with 40,000 new ones popping up each day.”

“The overwhelming majority of the information the world spews out every day is digital — photos from camera phones, PowerPoint presentations, government filings, billions and billions of e-mails, even digital phone messages.”

“Potential customers are out there, sniffing around for deals and partners. While you may be putting it off, you can bet that your competitors are exploring ways to harvest new ideas from blogs, sprinkle ads into them, and yes, find out what you and other competitors are up to.”

“They [blogs] represent power. Look at it this way: In the age of mass media, publications like ours print the news. Sources try to get quoted, but the decision is ours. Ditto with letters to the editor. Now instead of just speaking through us, they can blog. And if they master the ins and outs of this new art — like how to get other bloggers to link to them — they reach a huge audience.

“Any chance that a blog bubble could pop? The answer is really easy: no…the dot-com era was powered by companies — complete with programmers, marketing budgets, Aeron chairs, and burn rates. The masses of bloggers, by contrast, are normal folks with computers: no budget, no business plan, no burn rate, and — that’s right — no bubble.”

“‘Blogs are what’s causing the Web to grow,’ says Jason Goldman. He’s project manager at Google’s Blogger, the world’s biggest service to set people up as bloggers.”

“While the traditional Web catalogs what we have learned, the blogs track what’s on our minds. Why does this matter? Think of the implications for businesses of getting an up-to-the-minute read on what the world is thinking.”

“In time, [RSS] aggregators could turn the Web on its head. Why? They discourage surfing as users increasingly just wait for interesting items to drop onto their page or e-mailbox. Internet advertising, which traditionally counts on page views and clicks, could be thrown for a loop. Already Yahoo is packaging ads on the feeds. Google is testing the waters.”

Easy Inexpensive Ways to Protect Your Data-Part 4

February 1st, 2006

Today’s post is the last in a series of four. In Part 1 we reviewed the strategy of having two identical synchronized hard drives, in Part 2 we talked about the importance segregating the data on your hard drive, and Part 3 covered external hard drives.

This concluding post emphasizes archiving your vital data. I recommend creating a special folder within your data folder hierarchy that contains your most important data – something akin to the type of important information you would store physically in a safe deposit box. I protect this data two ways:

  1. First, I periodically burn it on a DVD and keep it in a safe deposit box.
  2. Second I use an encrypted automated FTP backup service that automatically updates my critical files every evening. My company sells this service for less than $30 per year. Search for “online file folder” at RisingLineWeb.com.

These are worst case scenario precautions, if my office burns down my most important data is still secure.

So, in conclusion, you’ve got to have the mindset that your system will crash. So many people who’s life and livelihood are based in the millions of 0’s and 1’s that they’ve created on their PC’s fail to realize the likelihood of a catastrophic system failure and the impact it will have on their lives.

The strategies I mentioned are the only solutions, or even necessarily the best, but if you implement them you will have a multiple redundant system in place to recover your most important data.

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