October 17, 2005

  • Silly Names Are Back — And That’s A Good Thing

    Have you noticed all the funny names these Web 2.0 companies have?

    Take a look at a few new companies that are either on or about to hit your radar:

    • Squidoo
    • Flickr
    • Yuku
    • Meebo
    • Skype
    • Rollyo
    • Writely
    • Qumana
    • Memeorandum
    • Gada.be
    • Zvents
    • Joyent
    • BunchBall
    • Pretty much anything Techcrunch writes about

    Now before you start giggling and saying “another sure sign of bubble 2.0”, let’s consider why having a silly name might be a good idea. In fact, I’d say these companies are some of the smartest on the Net and trendsetters rather than dotcom wannabes.

    Fact is, a unique name has gone from affectation to necessity for building an online brand. As we’ve moved to word-of-mouth marketing and building buzz via the blogosphere, the ability for people to find us (and maybe more importantly) *the ability for us to find out when people are talking about us* has become essential. Do a Technorati search on Seth Godin’s “Squidoo” and you’ll find that pretty much all of the results are about his new start-up. Whether you love or hate the name, you have to admit that you’ll be able to track it online with great clarity. Compare that to the super-hyped “Flock” social browser. A Technorati search on “Flock” does give us lots of posts related to the yet-to-be-released application, but it also gives us a ton of noise (“flocks of children”, “preaching to the flock at church”, “flock of geese”, “people flock to it”, etc.). Pity the Flock evangelist doing an ego surf!

    And being clever and picking a non-English term doesn’t help much. Compare a Technorati search for posts about feed reader “Rojos” to “one for competitor “SearchFox” — Rojos is buried in non-company-related Spanish pages (rojos is Spanish for “red”).

    Interestingly enough, while I had this post in draft mode Seth Godin blogged on this very topic. Seth adds a lot of nuances to my thoughts here and I highly recommend you read his post as well. My guess is that all those companies with “funny names” had no trouble at all finding this post while Flock and Rojos might never see it.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on October 17, 2005.

October 14, 2005

  • Google Toolbar Is A Blogger’s Best Friend

    Here’s your tip of the day: If you are doing a lot of blogging, or commenting on blogs, you really need to download the Google Toolbar.

    Along with the usual easy searching and auto-filling of forms, you also get spellcheck added to all your forms. So if you were to, say, add a comment to this post while using the Google Toolbar, you’d be able to hit the spell-check button, catch your typos, and hit post knowing you’ll look just a little bit more literate. How cool is that?

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on October 14, 2005.

October 7, 2005

  • Clever Headlines Don’t Pay In A Web-centric World

    This image is from a recent Globe And Mail article entitled (as you can see) Snow Storms The Big Apple. Now I’ll admit that this is damn clever copywriting. But as a headline for web-based content, this just doesn’t fly.


    Well, if you read this out of context (just the headline and a link in an e-mail, search results, or a feed for example) it is really hard to pick up that it is an article about Canadian artist Michael Snow’s new Museum of Modern Art one-man show in New York City. So lots of people who might find this interesting will skip over it. Worse still, the headline might confuse search spiders (although the body of the article certainly has lots of relevant keywords that people might search for). And I guess there is a chance that people searching on snowstorms might also end up getting this article when it really isn’t a good result for them. Take a word of advice and go study what Nick Usborne preaches about online copywriting. And leave the clever puns for those poor folks stuck in print.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on October 7, 2005.

October 2, 2005

  • The Blogosphere Is Talking About You Mitch Joel

    Occasional One Degree Guest Contributor Mitch Joel of Twist Image was one of the “participants” in our “One Degree Calling challenge. Our post listed ten Canadian Internet companies with links to their home pages. My goal was to see who was paying attention to the blogosphere and how quickly they would respond if someone “pinged them” with mention and/or link in a blog post. Mitch did well, replying in less than a day (I think that’s great). But he took a bit of exception to my methodology:

    Here’s why One Degree is kind of off. It actually took me no time at all. I get the One Degree RSS feed as soon as they are posted, I just don’t read all of it right away — specifically postings with titles that seem to have little immediate relevance to me or are ambiguous (like One Degree Calling). If you’re into the Blogosphere (like I am), then you’ll have hundreds of feeds (like I do).

    And a bit later he says:

    If anything, One Degree Calling was a better example of how fast word-of-mouth can spread online as I probably would not have even read a post with a title like that unless someone had specifically told me to. Getting beyond the little One Degree “experiment,” what it made me realize is how much great content is out there, and how much care has to go into making every word count. Especially the call to action — which in this case was the title. If it does not resonate with me, no matter how much I like everything else that has come out of there, I am just ambivalent towards it (maybe One Degree could have done multiple postings for each company, so one could have been titled, “One Degree Calling Twist Image” — that I would have read fast).

    I appreciate Mitch’s feedback and I know he gets this blog stuff more than most in Canada, but I think this shows that our methodology was perfect. My goal was to see who monitors the blogosphere, not who reads our feed.

    I’m happy that Mitch gets our feed (told you he was smart) but I certainly wouldn’t expect him to read everything we post and I certainly didn’t mean to imply that all ten agencies should have round-the-clock monitoring of One Degree in case we mention them in passing.

    What I would expect is that all these agencies have set up multiple ego-searches on their names, their company names, their client’s names, and all the associated URLs using all the blog and feed search tools like Technorati, PubSub, BlogPulse, Google Blog Search, Bloglines, Feedster, etc. The name of the post was intentionally cryptic and intentionally mentioned all agencies at the same time — my goal was to see who would find their company and URL mentioned in an obscure post and respond to that. Since we put all the agency names and URLs in the post and in the feed, it should have been picked up by all the search engines within a few minutes of us sending our pings. So anyone monitoring the blogosphere should have got wind of this the next time they checked their ego feeds.

    I’m okay with people checking these once a day (once an hour may show signs of addiction!) so Mitch’s response-time was perfect, even if it was based on word-of-mouth. In June I mentioned Technorati in a post and within a few hours of the post going live, David Sifry founder and SEO of the blog search firm had added a comment to the post. I’m sure he didn’t know we existed before we posted about his service, but as soon as we did, he was there. That’s what I’d like to see from all Canadian web agencies now, and eventually from all Canadian companies.

    Oh by the way Mitch, I’m posting this 4 hours after you posted and that’s only because you posted at 5:30AM on a Sunday morning! I hope the title of this post got your attention!

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on October 2, 2005.