The A to Z of New MediaThis is a free form notes on 80 things that I have learned about New Media with a teeny weeny look into what works (and at times, what doesn't). I am sure there is a book somewhere in this short list but being a man of a woefully short attention span, I will have to say no.
I am sure I will start with New Media and get myself lost in M is for movies. Meanwhile, read on.
The media version of the ‘Superstar Economy’ where a few people tend to dominate the conversation.
The “Techmeme 250”, (not like the “300”) a group of ‘I will link to you, you link to me in return’ bloggers broadly working in or around San Francisco, whose posts are aggregated by default by aggregators such as Techmeme or Technorati, both of which supposedly boast of some unique ranking algorithm.
Some of these A-listers are genuine pioneers (like Dave Winer) or excellent commentators (like Nicholas Carr) who enjoy a following on merit. Other will do everything to ensure that they stay there.
The term also applies to the A-list commentators like Thomas Friedman of the New York Times.
Aggregation – a vital play for online news sites because distribution has always been a big play in media.
All Devices strategy – making sure that your content is available on all sorts of devices – Personal computers, handhelds, mobiles...
Adsense – Because it is there.
Online publishing was never this easy.
Entities which want to become the next generation of newspapers. Thanks to Google Adsense, some Blog networks are SEO savvy and exist only to rewrite existing news stories and getting on top of Search Engine results.
People like Robert Scoble (erstwhile Microsoft blogger), Steve Rubel (PR blogger), Hugh Mcloed (draws wonderful drawings), Seth Godin (Marketing), Guy Kawasaki (of Apple fame), Matt Cutts (Google blogger), Darren Rouse (blogging tips), Aaron Wall and Rand Fish (SEO) have built a following largely due to five reasons
1. being among the first,
2. being unique,
3. being useful,
4. being entertaining and
5. having a voice.
Businesses using blogs to reach out to customers, potential customers, suppliers, media in general and other target groups.
The free from discussion forums on topics ranging from Battlestar Galactica to LOLcats on 4chan.
Business model (for news outfits)
1. Non profit trust like The Guardian,C
2. Free online content with pay option for exclusive and valuable content (The Economist),
3. Fully ad supported (like most of the blogs),
4. Free daily paper for young readers plus weekly/daily editions with exclusive analysis, stories, special reports,
5. Free news supported by an ad network,
6. Citizen-funded investigative journalism (E.g. spot.us)
The site that Craig Newmark started and duly sent Newspapers into a deathly downward spiral.
The easy classified business is no more to be taken for granted.
Communities - News sites and other websites exist to serve existing communities – e.g communities of people who hate Obama
Citizen Journalism – start by having a prominently displayed section on your site inviting inputs from citizen reporters, aka users.
Comments for everything – start by having comments for all articles on your web site.
Crowd – another name for users of all the social media sites.
Cabal – a name for a group of users on a social media site working behind the scene, pushing up or down stories they like, mostly used for users of digg.com.
Clones – because it is so easy and cheap to come up with copies of successful web sites.
Celebrities – cover them, because the average adsense clicker is someone with too much free time (jobless?) and does not discriminate towards ads like savvy users such as yourself.
Contrarian – examples of what works are fine but occasionally do something different. If you write a column, look deeper into a story rather than merely rewriting a post.
(The) Cloud: A realm ruled by Google. It is useful in many cases to have all your data on servers elsewhere.
Remember, the machine are looking at everything you have online.
It made Tagging, sharing bookmarks a popular and useful online social activity.
Is your news site as fun to browse as del.icio.us?
Digg – pioneering social news site with vote feature.
Presently, decaying under the influence of a select group of smart users (read cabal above)
Because, Citizen Journalists need editors to polish their offerings.
Economy of scale – online vs. print, cost wise.
Earnings – Adsense, banner ads, sponsorships, ads in RSS feeds, ads from ad networks, organizing events…
Economist.com – a site that still manages to get people to pay for a freewheeling content coverage style.
What extra does the economist.com site have?
Useful, unique and entertaining analysis, for starters.
The New York Times (nytimes.com) went free. There is money in the archives of News companies. Just tag them appropriately and make them free.
What will users pay for online?
Something that is exclusive and offers something new, something that cannot be found elsewhere.
Easier said than done.
The new reporter has subscribed to hundreds if not thousands of feeds.
For photo sharing.
Also for the fun way the founders interact with the community.
For time wasting.
Because, Google is God. The 10-year old wunderkid started with Search – added Adsense/Adwords – making billions of dollars- now, getting into Cloud-based computing.
Make sure your pages are indexed quickly by Google and displayed prominently for search results.
Also, make sure you use free tools from Google, including alternatives to Microsoft office.
The #1 Blog Network.
You can build a formidable online news property if you have a unique voice and a faith in the power of pageviews and pageviews only.
Generation Y – the ‘Always On’ generation.
The Generation, which is yet to join the work force.
The eternal time wasters. The kind that can’t differentiate between Georgia and Georgia.
At some point of time in our lives, we were all Generation this &that.
Because this is where the adsense and other forms of ad money lie.
A smart lady has just shown us how to do “celebrity + hype of the moment + aggregation” and ensuring huge pageviews without having original content to show.
Because everyone is talking about but no one has succeeded at it so far.
There are empty towns online everywhere.
Some people are betting on a hybrid model of “online + offline+ events”.
However, this requires people and time.
In short, Money.
Going for the tough but important stories.
Take the help of citizen reporters.
E.g. Assignment Zero
Established News Brands can do it posting a basic entry on story and then let citizen journalists and editors take charge.
Jeff Jarvis says –
“(in the future) there will be more news and more reporters.”
Journalists, who adopted New Media tools, went solo and made it big.
Rafat Ali – Paidcontent.org – sold to The Guardian Group for in excess of $30 million.
Om Malik – Has his own flourishing blog network headed by the famous gigaom.com website.
Jeff Jarvis (buzzmachine.com) – one of the most brilliant minds on New Media going around.
Because it is very important that your web page/mobile page loads AFAP (As Fast As Possible)
The new e-reader device from Amazon ay be the best alternative to print so far and Amazon can create a Google-competitor if it gets all the major publishers on board and throws in an Ad Network.
Links are the currency of the New Media.
Something that the Associated Press did not understand.
The Long tail – you can cover any obscure topic and someday, yes someday, someone will indeed read that and hopefully, click on the ads.
Covering events as they happen.
Because, people like sharing their listening preferences.
Because, people like reading lists and as a result, there are too many silly lists flying around.
Because, social news sites like Digg.com have made it possible that you can hope to get page views if your story, and most importantly, the headline is as edgy as possible – make it controversial.
Because, most people do not have the time (and skill) to post more than 160 or so intelligent characters.
Also helps spread interesting new information and links quickly.
Main Stream Media – a term coined by bloggers for all those clueless people in TV and Print media.
Sometimes, used in pejorative sense alluding to shenanigans including ‘vested interests at play, lazy reporting…’
Because, there are far more advertisers in this category than many others.
The Dream Factory never stops working.
Imageboards like 4chan.org have made a name for themselves for being responsible for internet fads like Rick Rolling and LOLcats.
Start a meme. Now.
The New York Times - along with The Guardian and to a lesser extent, The Washington and some papers in the Scandinavian countries, it has understood the importance of online information.
Proof: it bought About.com way before many of us could get the importance of online advertising for reference content.
The Times has great blogs.
Love the blog by Errol Morris.
The Guardian has a web-first news publishing policy and its ‘Comment is Free’ section is a joy to read.
Network – create a network of partner websites for various topics.
Start with aggregating data from partner sites.
Glam.com may be the way to go but what if everyone starts building his or her own network?
Open up your publishing system. Allow others to do stuff with your data.
Give out your API.
I see Citizen Enthusiasm gone wild.
Others see messiahs in form of Facebook groups, Obama Online, Hillaryisaman.suck and IhateSarnPalin.rant.
“Where is the promise of instant customer service/redressal?”
Photos – it is obvious, isn’t it?
Photo profiles/photo essays will be a big thing.
We still love to read in Print. Craig of the Craigslst fame recently subscribe to the print edition of the New York Times.
Profiles – on all social networking sites.
Let your people create their profiles along with links to your domain on many sites as possible.
Let your people create groups around important/controversial stories on all the social networking sites and spread the link love.
Tip: beware of what you post online. Your future employer, girlfriend, one night stand, wife, kids…will be watching and searching.
Because, Quality will out all the easily cloned data on the internet on any given day.
There is too much commoditized data on the internet.
Sites such as Digg have shown that people like to rate/vote for stuff they like.
(Or what others have liked – they call it ‘homophilly’)
Rob Curley – because, he has done good things with news web sites.
Everything is so social nowadays.
Social Media – a collective for all those websites where people share news, links, photos, videos, playing lists…start by submitting your stories to as many social news and bookmarking sites as you can – use mass submitters such as the “Share This” icon.
Social Media Marketing
Selling your message to people on all sorts of social media sites – starts with actively participating on these sites or employing people who will do.
Some call it “professionally created SPAM”.
Search Engine Marketing – making sure your site pages rank high on search engine result pages – a time consuming process - meta tags, H1 and H2 tags and so on.
Basically, make sure you come up with interesting stuff with appropriate keywords that describe the article are mentioned multiple times on the page
- starting with the headline for the story, and following that up with a summary of the story below the headline, again with the keywords included.
Essential SEO reading list:
Seomoz.org, SEObook.com, searchengineland.com, sphinn.com
SPAM – the scourge of the Internet.
On Social Media sites, Spam consists of the meaningless and mostly idiotic comments and emailing users links about supposedly Adult content.
Elsewhere, Spam also refers to blogs hosted on blogger.com and other free hosts filled with adsense-ready copied web content.
Because, if used intelligently, Tags give meaning to web content.
Smart news sites are hiring people to tag all their content pages.
A pioneering search engine for blogs – now languishing because there is no money in day-to-day blog content and hope rests on aggregating as much long tail (niche, sub-niche etc.) content as possible.
Because it proves what my hostel warden used to say - given the right occasion and right location (in this case, the Silicon Valley) a smart lawyer can move in, start covering the umpteenth new web site and make it big.
Or, clean URl, because the collective wisdom of the search experts suggests that Google (and users) understands clean URLs.
Video is big, very very big.
Fuelled by better bandwidth and 3 G mobile networks.
The promise - Videos by citizen reporters, and more how-to do-stuff videos.
Wisdom of the crowd
Vs. wisdom of a few/one
Question 1. Is the crowd always smarter/better than a group of editors who supposedly have biases?
Question 2. Is a story voted onto the top of Digg.com better than a story currently on the front page of The Guardian or The New York Times? Depends on whom you are asking - It is all so subjective.
Widgets – essentially a few lines of code that help to spread your content onto other sites.
Presently, sites are suffering from a diarrhea of widgets.
Wikis – alternative to blogs where a group of people, in case of media companies, group of reporters can collaborate on a project (story).
Wikipedia – a phenomenon. Despite some controversies about vested interests editing entries, the Wikipedia is a Gem of the web.
Still manages to get people to pay for content about business topics.
What extra does the Wsj.com site have?
Riding on the coattails of name brands and fads.
Successful blogs and news sites ride on the success of the latest celebrity or web fad.
How? They cover the subject to death.
E.g. the hype for Twitter.com
How to X-surf?
Make sure you cover the latest sensation as often as possible. Go creative – create widgets for that Application, create photo galleries about exploit of the latest celebrity rising to the top in internet searches.
XSS exploits – most news sites are actually databases.
Hackers and all those who have time to waste are lurking out there to look for security holes in your web site. The more successful your site is, the more danger there is.
In words of the campaign for a popular brand of condoms – “Play Safe”.
Pioneering hassle-free Video hosting.
Fast on its way to becoming a verb.
Great tool for citizen journalists.
Yellow Journalism 2.0
More and more unverified, under-researched and biased stories are published online for the sake of pageviews.
Bloggers who are on their way up by religiously linking to the so-called A-list blogs.
The man behind the “Ask a Ninja” videos – showing that funny works (after sex, perhaps) best in online video.
Your turn: what have I missed?
Here is a link to my ugly presentation on"The A to Z of New Media"