Archives for 2004

Social advertising at InstantBuzz.com

This isn’t normally my kind of thing, but on the advice of my friend Paulie Sabol, I decided to check out InstantBuzz.com, the latest site/project/product from internet marketing gurus Mike Chen and Mark Joyner. With all the buzz about buzz marketing, the name alone caught my attention, and I was also pretty intrigued by the twists (keep reading).

In short, it’s a free advertising program, using a (spyware-free) toolbar (yes, you have to use Internet Explorer) that displays simple text ads. You get ad credits for ads you view, and when you earn so many credits, your ad appears. Simple enough.

The twist?

One is that they have a very active community of internet marketers, and yes, Mike Chen and Mark Joyner actually participate. I’ve found some pretty good conversation so far, although it’s just a very simple discussion forum. Don’t set your technology expectations high — it’s the people that make a community.

Another is that it’s multi-level, i.e., you get credit for ads viewed by people who sign up under you. If you’ve got a negative thing about MLM, it doesn’t apply here. Remember, it’s free. There’s nothing you have to buy (or sell) — ever.

Of course, there’s no free lunch, right? Where do these guys make their money (something I always want to know)? 1) When you sign up, they promo their “Make Your Own Software” product. I don’t know anything about it, so I can’t recommend it one way or the other, but I didn’t buy it. 2) The creators of the site get heavier ad rotation to advertise their products to this huge community. Heck of a way to build a receptive audience!

Bottom line, what are the results?

Well, I haven’t signed up anyone under me yet (I wasn’t about to until I’d checked it out thoroughly myself), but just off my own browsing, in about a week I’ve earned 2,174 ad impressions, and that’s translated into about 25 new visitors to our site. I’m not using any click-tracking, so I can’t tell you how many of these ended up as actual conversions, but since I’m also trying to build brand awareness for The Virtual Handshake, even those 2,174 ad impressions count for something.

Keep in mind that those are qualified visitors. They responded to my ad copy — they weren’t going to our site just to earn advertising credit for themselves. This is an important differentiator from many other traffic generator programs I’ve seen.

My friend Paulie, on the other hand, whose web site is a well-oiled internet marketing machine, monitored his results for four days, during which time he generated over $800 in direct affiliate sales of one product, sold 43 copies of the Credit Millionaire book, and set up $120 a month in residual income. Not bad. Now, he signed up over 100 people under him and has obviously had a lot more ad impressions than I have.

There’s one more twist. It’s invitation only, and there are limits on how many people you can invite. If you’re still reading, then maybe this is something of interest to you. If so, send me an email — be sure to include your email address (which I will use for no other purpose than to invite you into InstantBuzz). I’ll send you an invitation sign up for InstantBuzz.com and you can join me in the experiment.

UPDATE: Thanks to my friend Paulie Sabol, I finally figured out that I don’t have to send everybody personal invitations. You can join Instant Buzz here.

Social Software and Online Social Networks at the MIT Forum of Israel, Jan. 3

For any readers who are in Israel, I’m also appearing on a panel Monday, January 3.

The MIT Enterprise Forum of Israel

in cooperation with

The Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration

The Virtual Handshake: Social Software and Online Social Networks

David Teten & Avinoam Ben-Zeev

Monday, January 3rd, 16:30-19:00

Kess Hamishpat Hall (ground floor), Buchman Building- Law Faculty, Tel Aviv University

Free of charge parking available at the University if you register by January 2nd, 2005

Main Topics which will be discussed by David Teten:

· “Social software” – software that allows you to analyze, build, and leverage your social network. Blogs, relationship capital management software, social network software, web conferencing, email lists, chat, instant messaging, Internet telephony, and virtual communities.

· Why is this sector so hot? What is social software? Is there really a business in this? We saw some of this in the early days of the Internet, with PlanetAll, SixDegrees, and countless virtual communities; what’s different this time around? Who are the leaders in each sector? Who’s making money? How can you personally use this technology to become more effective?

Main Topics which will be discussed by Avinoam Ben-Zeev

Ben-Zeev is a philosopher who wrote a book about cyberspace behaviour. In his talk he will focus on the existence of fictional characters over the WWW, including business opportunities which emerge from new developments in cyberspace. These include

· Virtual characters’ legal status

· The economy of virtual characters

· Virtual economy and its impact on offline economic behaviour

· Economic behaviour of cyberspace characters

· Imaginary identities as a gateway to economic opportunities

About the Speakers:

David Teten is CEO of Nitron Advisors, LLC ( www.NitronAdvisors.com ), which provides venture capitalists and other institutional investors with access to frontline industry experts. He also chairs Teten Recruiting (www.Teten.com ), an executive recruiting firm specializing in the institutional investor, strategy consulting, and investment banking industries. The American Management Association will release in May the first book by David Teten and Scott Allen, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online (www.TheVirtualHandshake.com). David was formerly CEO of an Israel-based financial services company specializing in internet domain names. He holds a Harvard MBA and a Yale BA.

Avinoam Ben-Zeev is a philosopher and a lecturer in Oranim College. He served as head of the department of integrating the computer and the internet with education. He has published seven non-fiction books, all of which deal with the philosophy of social aspects of human behaviour.

Participation: Free of charge – MIT Forum paid subscribers

NIS 45 – Entrepreneurs in high technology

NIS 60 – Others

Online Registration until January 2nd at: www.entersymposium.com/mit-forum/cyberspace

Or at the MIT Forum office, Tel. 03-6405608

About us:

The MIT Enterprise Forum of Israel provides advice, support and educational services to innovative and technology-based companies of all sizes. The Forum is a not-for-profit organization and is directed by a volunteer board which donate its time and services to consult to entrepreneurs in high-technology companies.

MIT Enterprise Forum National Sponsors

Aladdin, RAD Data Communication, Bashan Communications

Social Software Talk at Tel Aviv University, Dec. 29

I’ll be speaking Dec. 29 in Tel Aviv. If you’re around, please join us!

Tel Aviv University/Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Alumni of Israel present

“How to Quadruple Your Sales with Social Software”

David Teten, CEO, Nitron Advisors
18:30, Dec. 29, 2004

Learn how to use “social software” to increase your sales:

• Overview of social network software, relationship capital management software, virtual communities, email lists, social networking sites, blogs, and so on.
• Learn how to use services such as LinkedIn, Ecademy, Jigsaw, and Spoke.
• Create a powerful virtual presence
• Start your own blog
• Meet the right people to help you close the right deals
• Master your email.

Location: Lahav Hall, Room 104, Recanati Building, Tel Aviv University
The university is located at the corner of Einstein St. and Levanon St. in Tel Aviv.

RSVP: Tal Mordoch, TalM at tauex.tau.ac.il

Benjamin Franklin on Recommendations

Thanks to Cynthia Typaldos & Victor Grishchenko for this priceless tidbit. As Cynthia said:

This is an amazing document. It should be the warning label on the home page of every social networking website. Franklin’s so-called “recommendation letter” is hysterically funny and reminds me of requests I used to get thru Spoke, where I didn’t know either person.

They posted it as an image, but I’ve taken the time to go ahead and transcribe it into electronic form (I couldn’t find it anywhere on the web):

On Recommendations
To a friend. Passy. [Date unknown.]

Permit me to mention to you that, in my opinion, the natural complaisance of this country often carries people too far in the article of recommendations. You give them with too much facility to persons of whose real characters you know nothing, and sometimes at the request of others of whom you know as little. Frequently, if a man has no useful talents, is good for nothing and burdensome to his relations, or is indiscreet, profligate, and extravagant, they are glad to get rid of him by sending him to the other end of the world; and for that purpose scruple not to recommend him to those they wish should recommend him to others, as “un bon sujet, plein de mérite,” &c. &c. In consequence of my crediting such recommendations, my own are out of credit, and I cannot advise anybody to have the least dependence on them. If, after knowing this, you persist in desiring my recommendation for this person, who is known neither to me nor to you, I will give it, though, as I said before, I ought to refuse it.

These applications are my perpetual torment.

You can have no conception how I am harassed. All my friends are sought out and teazed to teaze me. Great officers of all ranks, in all departments; ladies, great and small, besides professed solicitors, worry me from morning to night. The noise of every coach now that enters my court terrifies me. I am afraid to accept an invitation to dine abroad, being almost sure of meeting with some officer or officer’s friend, who, as soon as I am put in good humor by a glass or two of champaigne, begins his attack upon me. Luckily I do not often in my sleep dream of these vexatious situations, or I should be afraid of what are now my only hours of comfort. If, therefore, you have the least remaining kindness for me, if you would not help to drive me out of France, for God’s sake, my dear friend, let this your twenty-third application be your last.

“Model of a Letter of Recommendation of a person you are unacquainted with.”

Paris, 2 April, 1777.

“Sir,
“The bearer of this, who is going to America, presses me to give him a letter of recommendation, though I know nothing of him, not even his name. This may seem extraordinary, but I assure you it is not uncommon here. Sometimes, indeed, one unknown person brings another equally unknown, to recommend him; and sometimes they recommend one another! As to this gentleman, I must refer you to himself for his character and merits, with which he is certainly better acquainted than I can possibly be. I recommend him, however, to those civilities, which every stranger, of whom one knowns no harm, has a right to; and I request you will do him all the good offices, and show him all the favor, that, on further acquaintance, you shall find him to deserve. I have the honor to be, &c.”

So, contrary to some opinions, this is not a new problem suddenly brought on by social networking sites! 🙂

Your First Blog, Step by Step

Does blogging still have you baffled? Deborah and John-Paul Micek of Business Owner’s Coaching Club have put together a free 10-minute video, Setting Up Your First Blog with Blogger.com. This is step by step, keystroke by keystroke, and it still only takes ten minutes! If you’ve been putting it off, watch this video and see just how easy it is to get your blog started.

Dilbert Builds a Social Networking Site

Too funny…

Dilbert Builds a Social Networking Site (image)

Or, as my friend Cynthia Typaldos commented:

Great concept but I think it has already been done 🙂

Tribe.net ?

Kidding aside, I don’t generally recommend sites like Tribe and MySpace as the starting point for people who are focused strictly on business networking. Nonetheless, I must say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised at some excellent conversations on both of these sites. If you just want some occasional business conversation with all the trendy 20-somethings and 30-somethings you’re meeting there in a social context, the opportunity is definitely there. And if you’re in a pop-culture, consumer-oriented business (music, fashion, adult entertainment, theater, etc.), you may find these sites far more suitable than, say, Ecademy or LinkedIn.

Different strokes for different folks.

The A-List Bloggers

According to Newsweek’s article, The Alpha Bloggers, the following bloggers comprise the A-list:
Doc Searls
Adam Curry
Dave Winer
Dan Gillmor
Robert Scoble

Newsweek says these are the new thought leaders in the high-tech community:

The lesson is that there’s a new force—spearheaded by people who work for no bosses and whose prose never sees an editor’s pencil—that provides the water-cooler fodder for the larger high-tech community. Its power extends not only to high-tech cool-hunting but also to what’s politically correct, geek style. (Open source… gooood. Onerous copy protection… eeeevil.) And the significance of this phenomenon has some important implications for the way opinions will be formed in the decentralized world of Internet media.

Opinions are mixed among the A-listers regarding the business value of blogging:

And what do the alpha bloggers get in return? Certainly not riches. Though it’s possible to pick up a few hundred dollars if you enlist in the program that carries Google’s ad on your site, many A-listers don’t bother. “If you’re into blogs to make money, you’re into it for the wrong reasons,” says Searls. “Do you ask your back porch what its business plan is?” On the other hand, some alpha bloggers report better jobs, more lucrative consulting, speaking gigs and—if not groupies—a certain bit of glamour that comes from having people hang on your every word at the end-of-day reception at a tech conference.

How do you become an A-list blogger?

In order to crack into the upper strata, you have to post frequently to stay on the fickle radar of this ADD-infested crowd. You have to link prodigiously to other blogs, increasing your profile and increasing the chances for inbound links. And you must hold strong opinions about what you’re writing about—passion is required in a good blog. All of this takes time: Scoble spends two hours daily writing his Weblog and three more hours reading hundreds of other blogs in search of fresh ideas and nifty software innovations. “I want to be the first guy to spot the smart new guy or a cool new Windows app,” he says. Even then you have no guarantee of blog fame.

If you’d like some more details on how to become an A-list blogger, here are a couple of previous posts that may be helpful:

How to Become an A-list Blogger

How to Network with Your Blog, Part 2

Wall Street Journal on Investors' and Entrepreneurs' Use of Networking Sites

Major media is catching on that real business is being done via social networking sites. According to last week’s Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Making new business contacts is the third-most-popular feature of online networks — after contacting friends and looking for jobs — says Nate Elliott, an analyst at Jupiter Research, a unit of Jupitermedia Corp. of Darien, Conn. A total of 15% of all online users are interested in using networks to make business contacts, Jupiter’s research shows.

Using Ryze.com, a business networking site run by Ryze Ltd. of San Francisco, is “like going to a business networking party,” says Steve Vachani, managing partner of Serendipity Ventures LLC, a seed-stage venture-capital firm also based in San Francisco. “I’ve been contacted by many people for investments and partnerships through Ryze.”

The story features several success stories, mostly from LinkedIn, which now boasts 15,000 venture capitalists as members.

The article also featured a brief quote from yours truly:

A networking site is “not an electronic deal broker,” adds Scott Allen, Austin, Texas-based co-founder of the Web site TheVirtualHandshake.com, a guide to online networking. “It takes being engaged and being aware. It’s still networking.”

One piece of advice that I don’t completely agree with was this:

Similarly, it may not pay to join too many networks. “By the time you are on two or three sites, you’re too busy to be active on any others,” says InnerSell’s Mr. Elias.

I agree that you may not have time to be active on a very large number of networks, but there really is substantial benefit to being a passive member. These networks are still, generally, far more effective ways of finding people than a general web search engine, and there’s tremendous value just in being able to find people and be found. It takes minimal effort to set up your profile in a site. I recommend doing at least that in as many as possible. Low cost, high potential value.

Time Names Power Line Blog of the Year

In an intriguing turn of events, Time has named Power Line its Blog of the Year.

More like “Year of the Blog”. As Time’s Lev Grossman writes:

Before this year, blogs were a curiosity, a cult phenomenon, a faintly embarrassing hobby on the order of ham radio and stamp collecting. But in 2004, blogs unexpectedly vaulted into the pantheon of major media, alongside TV, radio and, yes, magazines, and it was Power Line, more than any other blog, that got them there.

In case you’re not familiar with Power Line, it’s the blog that was instrumental in breaking the Dan Rather forged documents story earlier this year. Interestingly, it wasn’t the blog’s authors that really drove it. As Time wrote:

The story of how three amateur journalists working in a homegrown online medium challenged a network news legend and won has many, many game-changing angles to it. One of the strangest and most radical is that the key information in ‘The 61st Minute’ came from Power Line’s readers, not its ostensible writers. The Power Liners are quick, even eager, to point this out. “What this story shows more than anything is the power of the medium,” Hinderaker says. “The world is full of smart people who have information about every imaginable topic, and until the Internet came along, there wasn’t any practical way to put it together.”

Welcome to the world of participatory journalism. Glenn Reynolds (of InstaPundit fame) is already calling this the Power Line effect:

Now there is. A phenomenon like ‘The 61st Minute’ is the result of the journalistic equivalent of massively parallel processing. The Internet is a two-way superhighway, and every Power Line reader is also a Power Line writer, stringer, ombudsman and editor at large. There are 100,000 cooks in the kitchen, and more are showing up all the time. Call it the Power Line effect. Conventional media may have more readers than blogs do, but conventional media can’t leverage those readers the way blogs can. Want a glimpse of the future of blogs? The more popular blogs are, the stronger they get. And they’re not getting any less popular.

Blog University

Another promising-looking event… New Communications Forum, aka “Blog University”, is being held January 26-27 in Napa, California, and February 7-8 in Paris, France. Workshops and sessions include:
– Corporate Blogging: Getting Started
– How To Pitch Bloggers
– Writing for Blogs
– Forming Communities Online: Group & Conference Blogging & Wikis
– Using Blogs to Enhance Employee Communications
– The Blog’s New Role in Crisis Communications
– Blog Publicity & Measuring Success/Tracking

Unlike BloggerCon, which is targeted more at the individual blogger and on politics, journalism, and academia, this event is definitely targeted at a more corporate audience, with an emphasis on blogs as knowledge management tools and PR vehicles.