BlogHer: Women on the Move (And With Money)

There’s a wrinkle in the space-time continuum, in case you hadn’t noticed. It’s a very powerful horde (plethora, group, pack?) of women who are average bloggers like most of us, who are suddenly very present in the social media space.

To be fair, they’ve been here but many people simply didn’t realize quite how influential they were. In some cases, the oblivion stemmed from a general obliviousness in the blogosphere where bloggers and social media aficionados simply never stepped foot outside of their sphere of influence. In other cases, if rhetoric is to be believed, the oblivion has been an intentional misogynistic mentality.

I don’t quite think it’s as nefarious as the latter, but I do think that women have been taken for granted and probably not given enough credit in a world that is largely powered by geek boys of all ages and types.

In case you missed the news this morning though, this group of women under the BlogHer umbrella, made a pretty bold statement about their mainstream appeal with a $5M series B funding and content syndication deal with NBC Universal. (Press Release)

The content syndication deal would involve BlogHer content, written by over 2200 bloggers, being syndicated across three women-oriented NBC properties, iVillage, BravoTV.com and Oxygen.com.

In addition to content syndication, NBC Universal and BlogHer will collaborate on joint advertising sales, a space currently dominated by Glam Media.

And of course, BlogHer has their annual BlogHer Conference happening this weekend in San Francisco. Festivities begin tomorrow night and continue through Saturday. If you can’t be in San Francisco, the BlogHer Second Life Conference is happening in conjunction. You know… if you don’t have a first life. ;-)

If there’s one thing this deal accentuates, it’s that women are a force to be reckoned with on the internet. While I may not like the insular nature of BlogHer, and the inability to address the fact that never having any man speak at the main conference is off-putting, aggressive and offensive to some, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the hard work the women behind the site have put into organizing, instructing, and educating many women bloggers and providing a venue for their voices to be heard. And they have underscoed that by getting NBC to sign on.

So congratulations, ladies. Your hard work has paid off.

Identi.ca and the Art of the Launch

Ask any startup. The most difficult decision leading up to a public release is when and what? Some might argue that getting funding is the most difficult but a good startup avoids funding until later, if at all. Others might argue that the difficult part is getting the right mix of people and hitting milestones. That also is important, but not as important as the when and how.

Usually, a good launch product is the result of a perceived need. Or maybe a need not yet realized – it’s hard to say for sure. There’s some black magic involved in all that.

FriendFeed launched not long ago because there was an empty hole in Twitter – that was aggregation and conversation. FriendFeed figured out that, to be successful, it was going to target that emptiness in the highly popular Twitter experience.

Disqus and Intense Debate figured that, in order to be successful, they needed to target the missing piece in blog comments – that was reputation and reputation management across blogs. The two fight it out, post-launch, over which is going to differentiate it over the other.

In these cases, the timing of the launches was critical to the uptake. Twitter started experiencing significant problems and influential early adopters began getting itchy to be somewhere that scratched their itch.

Putting aside timing, the most important part of a launch is what. It’s feature-sets. It’s determining the balance between a fully developed roadmap of features and what is needed to “hook” early adopters and get them to stay.

Take Identi.ca, the new Twitter clone that is completely open source and is timely in that Twitter faithful are really, really close to burying the hatchet and simply abandoning it altogether. The timing could not be more perfect. Folks have been talking about distributing Twitter and relieving the strain of a centralized service at one time. Open sourcing the product does this, to a degree.

However, Identi.ca gets a big “FAIL” for its launch for a few very important reasons.

  1. There is no coherent way to deal with “replies”. Folks used to Twitter realize that when there is a river of content, and that’s what Twitter is, there must be a way to manage conversations. There must be a way to keep up with followers who are talking to you. In my working with Identi.ca, there is no way to do that and, while that might be coming, it wasn’t there at launch. Very conceivably, I’ve been lost forever and I generally have tons of followers as an early adopter. FAIL.
  2. XMPP doesn’t work. The one reliable way to reply that folks on Identi.ca were talking about last night was with XMPP, the protocol used for various IM clients including Google Talk. I could deal with replies that way if it worked but at some point, XMPP stopped working. I could receive, but I could not send. A one way conversation is a monologue. FAIL.
  3. OpenID integration must be seamless. I was pleased to see OpenID supported when I signed up. Unfortunately, today, I could not login with my OpenID account. If I can’t get in, I can’t use it. FAIL.

Some would say I’m being too hard on this startup. Screw that. Perform or get off the stage. There are very obvious and defined features that must be included in a microcontent site at launch. I’m not saying an entire roadmap needs to be worked out. No, get a working beta up and get testers in there. However, without replies, without reliable “offline” access (i.e. IM, SMS or client integration) I’m not going to stick around. Finally, direct messages would be a nice feature.

While I have high hopes for Identi.ca, I will remain there only to squat on the name “technosailor”. Bye, guys.

Marketing Plan Series: Part 4 – Objectives

In Part 4, we continue building out the goals that must be accomplished through the marketing plan. This section, called “Objectives” is usually only a page in length and are the milestones that you will achieve as you execute your business on a daily basis.

The KnowThis web site has a great explanation of the Marketing Objectives section:

“Marketing success is quantifiable using several non-financial market metrics. You want to show the underlying conditions and circumstances facing the company that are not easily seen within financial measures. The marketing objectives section should indicate targets to be achieved across several marketing decision areas. To add additional strength to this section include marketing metrics where possible.”

The Chamber of Commerce web site identifies three major areas for your objectives:

  • company definition (e.g., “to be a manufacturer of 100 percent all-natural snack food products”)
  • market definition (e.g., “to attain leadership in dollar market share and volume for the healthy, all-natural snacks segment of the salty snacks category”)
  • technology (e.g., “to become known in the industry as the leading developer of new vegetable protein products”)

KnowThis web site has a great breakdown and outline of how you should structure the objectives section:

1. Target market objectives

  • market share
    • total
    • by segments
    • by channel
  • customers
    • total
    • number/percentage new
    • number/percentage retained
  • purchases
    • rate of purchases
    • size/volume of purchases

2. Promotional objectives

  • level of brand/company awareness
  • traffic building
    • (e.g., store traffic, website traffic
  • product trials
    • (e.g. sales promotions, product demonstrations)
  • sales force
    • (e.g. cycle time, cost per call, closing rate, customer visits, etc.)

3. Channel objectives

  • dealers
    • total
    • number/percentage new
    • number/percentage retained
  • order processing and delivery
    • on-time rate
    • shrinkage rate
    • correct order rate

4. Market research objectives

  • studies initiated
  • studies completed

5. R&D objectives

  • product development

6. Other objectives

  • partnerships developed

Next time in the Marketing Plan Series, in Part 5 – Strategy we discuss how having a well written guideline that sets forth the business’s marketing strategy is critical to the success of your business.

Next time in Part 5, we will discuss the strategy section which lays out a plan for the situational analysis and the problems and opportunities must be addressed by the marketing plan.