Using YouTube as a Social Network

  • October 29, 2008
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Web 2.0 is all about sharing, and the role that Youtube dot com played in increasing communication between people has been invaluable. We all know that videos consume a lot of bandwidth and computer resources, but a service like youtube made viewing videos online easy, fun and effortless. It also inspired people to be creative. Have something to share to the world, take your cam phone and create a 2 minute video; upload it to youtube and tag it in such a way that people will find it.

I have seen evolve from being a video depot to a video sharing site, and I am not at all surprised at the transition was encouraged by the millions of youtube users who continue to make friends with other video enthusiasts. This service has definitely improved the way people interact online. Instead of just photos, people have been taping their daily endeavors and sharing these with people.

Accessibility is the main thing that made youtube popular, and I think the no-porn rule helped a lot. Reporting porn is very easy, and more often than not, Youtube management will listen to users’ views of what is unacceptable and lewd. Our families and friends watch youtube, and I don’t think there’s an easier way to show people videos and discuss them together. If we wanted to tell our friends about a particular clip that we made, we can just invite them over to the page by sending them the link. Putting the video up in  youtube is easier than mailing the big video file to a person.

It has also become a repository for online tutorials. Demonstrating how well you know your blog topic through a video or talking about an interest and showing how it should be done increases credibility. There are many marketers who have used the service to increase their audience size. People who would ever have known about them see their videos, comment and subscribe. Building friendships is also easy, and there are certain advantages to “friending” other people. People can limit access to their videos to their community. The best way to help people find your videos is to tag them well. Appropriate tagging, putting in relevant titles, and descriptions are skills that every “Youtuber” should know.

There us no doubt that video sharing helps bloggers and web entrepreneurs create new connections and develop networks. A video is very personal and sharing a part of yourself and your knowledge with others becomes an experience that they don’t easily forget. You can use your youtube profile to boost company sales, promote products and even services. The potential for collaboration is limitless. People who were not friends with each other in the past collaborate and create videos together.  Some even claim to have found long lost friends through communities in youtube. It’s like facebook, but a more creative and fun.

Is Plurk Better than Twitter?

A good idea is a curious thing. The one who came up with it will get the chance to test it, and if it works, he will stay complacent and try to smooth the details out. In some instances, someone else comes along to improve things and sets up a similar service with bonuses. Now, let’s talk about Plurk and Twitter. Two web 2.0 services that are free to join and extremely addictive. Twitter was “it” until Plurk arrived. I’ve noticed that Twitter use has decreased among my own circle, while Plurk has been attracting more members. Both sites ask users a question, which basically means “what’s up with you.” You can tell the world what you’ve been doing, what you’re crazy about as of the moment, or what you plan to do today. You can start a conversation within your circle and read what others have to say in small windows.

•    In Twitter, updates (called “twits”), yours and others, are posted on your profile. People can follow you and they will see your updates, as well as your current followers, and people you have been following. You, in turn can follow the individuals that your followers are following, until you form a complicated community when everyone can see what everyone else is doing. It’s fun! In Twitter, you can send private messages, presented in the same way as updates, to others. Other systems have evolved as a result of this Twitter fandom, one of which is Twhirl. Numerous plugins have also been created to put your twitters on your blogs.

•    In Plurk, when other users want to read your updates, they may add you as a fan. They stay as your fans until you add them back, which will turn them into friends. A private plurk (message) may also be sent to a user you want to talk to privately. Like Twitter, there are many applications for plurk that you can use to enhance your messaging and community building experience.

The Main Differences Between Twitter and Plurk

•    The Update Management. We hate spammers, and we hate how updates at Twitter move off the list so easily in just a few hours because of some spammers.  Twitter displays updates one after the other, and place the newest items at the top, and the older ones at the bottom. How about if we want to view the older ones, do we have to go through the numbers at the bottom just t view this morning’s twits? Plurk presents user updates in a timeline, putting the newer items on the left. This timeline can be dragged across your screen to display other dates. You can even customize your viewing of messages and only show new comments, An option to not see a discussion about an update is also available and you can do this by “muting” if you don’t want to read any further comments on an update.

•    Discussing an update also becomes confusing in Twitter because you can reply to an update by typing the at sign before a user’s name and clicking reply. In Plurk, you can isolate one discussion (read: further comments) to one update, so that those who want to join in may do so.

The Above-the-Fold Power Spots and What Should Stay There

  • October 27, 2008
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The Above-the-Fold Power Spots and What Should Stay There

Do you notice how magazine covers are laid out? There are headlines and taglines that are bigger and more colorful than most, and there’s a very good reason for this. They realize that people view a page a certain way, and that’s from top to bottom. Blog advertising is not much different. You can control what your readers see first. The first things that they see without scrolling downwards should reflect your priorities on your blog. When you place advertisements on top, it tells of your blog’s purpose. Those who are focused on getting readers place their subscribe buttons or banners at the top spot, and around this is the link box pointing to their recent posts, most popular posts and categories.

The term “above the fold” is usually associated with newspaper, and this refers to the main headline, main photos and main issues that aim to make the reader pick up the paper and buy it. This is the most important spot on a news page, and your blog functions the same way. What you write about is news to others and so what you deem will catch their attention and continue reading will have to be placed above the fold. You will notice that popular sites place self serving ads above the fold, or widgets that get them the most traffic.

Some other sources delineate the most important spot on a page according to the way a reader browses. We are trained to read from left to right, and so the most valuable place above the fold seems to be the left hand corner. Web 2.0 themes are designed to show the content first (left side) and then the ad banners or the subscribe button.

What to put on your power spots?

1.    A tasteful header image which tells people exactly what your blog is about. Something that doesn’t cover the whole screen, maybe 100 px or so in height.

2.    A link to the homepage, so that readers who might have arrived on more obscure pages on your blog have a means of getting to your front page with minimum hassle.

3.    If you don’t mind placing a photo of yourself on your blog, you can place this inside your About Me box at the top spot, adjacent to your latest post.

4.    Links to your best posts (using the Most Popular WordPress plugin)

5.    Top commentors plugin widget. This is for those who believe that rewarding their blog’s most avid commenters will encourage participation in others.

6.    Your community banner. I have seen blogs with Twitter, Stumbleupon, MyBlogLog, Blog Catalog widgets above the fold and have always asked: what’s the logic behind the placement. Now, I realize that getting people to join their communities in these blog directories and social networks so that they can have a long term traffic source.

Using Squidoo Lens to Increase Traffic and Earnings

  • October 24, 2008
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Using Squidoo Lens to Increase Traffic and Earnings has become very valuable to webmasters, in terms of building traffic to their blogs. A squidoo page or a lens can be a place to aggregate a webmaster’s many interests all over the web. These lenses are user-generated, and you get to decide what to put there. Think of it as one page that asks you a single question: What are you about?

You can place RSS feeds from your blog, which could be a good way to build traffic. You can also enhance your credibility by showing a side of you other than that they see on your blog. Think of it as your about page away from your blog, or another place over the web where you can self-promote. This can be your personal announcement page, where you tell your fans and squidoo community that you are connected with a particular blog, your accomplishments so far and why you do they things you do. This could also be your poll place, if you don’t have much space for a poll on your blog. Other stuffs you can place here include youtube videos and photos. A squidoo lens is particularly useful if you have an offline business and you just want a page on the net to inform your customers about your travels, favorite food, and recent activities.

How does one monetize a Squidoo lens? Here are several ways:

Keep your topic relevant and get extra adsense earnings from the traffic your lens attracts. Remember that lenses can be about anything, such as ideas, people or places, hobbies and sports, pets or products, philosophy, and politics. Squidoo splits the adsense earnings with their lensmasters, and donates a portion of your earnings to charity. The earning scheme is co-op style and 5% goes straight to charity first; 50% goes to the lensmasters (you) and 45% goes to Squidoo.

This isn’t a content place, and people do not expect to see articles. Just an introduction about you or a topic; and other things related to you that you want to announce. In this sense, it is ok to recommend products from ebay auctions, amazon and other companies that you are partnered with The second earning option is relevant to us because we can have an additional free place on the web to place links to sales pages or ebook downloads.

Of course, build your lens with your visitor in mind. Do not build a lens that contains ONLY links to affiliate or sales pages. The best way to do this is to alternate your links and lens parts. Your affiliate links may go in between videos, RSS feeds and photos. This way, you dictate how a reader browses your page. First he sees something interesting like a travel photo, then he sees a recommendation from you to try a new camera, then he sees summaries of your blog posts (as RSS) or links to your other blogs. Use your lens to tell a story about what you do online and offline, by pointing your viewers to relevant sites.

Why a New or Established Blogger Should Join Technorati

  • October 22, 2008
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Why a New or Established Blogger Should Join Technorati

Several sources all over the internet say that technorati has becomes a mandatory thing when building a new blog or increasing a blog’s community. Simply put, it is a blog directory that helps a blog gain exposure. Apparently, when a blog becomes added to someone else’s favorites and tags, its traffic increases because those who are friends with the other blogger will be able to access your post feeds too. I am impressed by technorati’s authority in the blogosphere and looking around the system alerted me to more opportunities to interact with other bloggers. It is basically a popular search engine for blogs, and if you are an avid bloghopper, the technorati free service is for you .

It’s more than a feed aggregator, It’s a vote of confidence. Having your feed in another person’s technorati page means they are telling their own circle to visit you and also add you to their favorites. Web 2.0 is all about interaction and building communities and technorati makes introduction to a wider audience possible.

Tehnorati tags and why you should take Tagging Seriously

A Technorati tag is a keyword or category name that you associate with a blog post, an article or a whole blog. When you add someone else’s blog as a favorite on technorati, you can assign an appropriate tag that represents the blog. There is an option on a technorati member’s page to “search their favorites”, and this is where the role of tags come into play. Anyone searching for “culture” will find the posts or the blogs of those you assigned to this tag. The algorithm for this is not clear to me but as far as looking for posts about a certain topic is concerned, efficient tagging is useful. There are technorati widgets available to allow your site visitors to explore your site according to the technorati tags you assigned. Joining Technorati is easy. You just have to sign up, claim your blog (through 2 simple processes) and categorize your blogs by putting in keywords that you want your blog to be associated with.

What is technorati authority? This authority is the number of blogs linking to your blog during the last six months. The higher the number, the more Technorati Authority you have. It simply means that your blog is being talked about in other places. Every time someone mentions you in a post, or puts your link on the blogroll, you gain technorati rank. Aptly given the term “blog reactions”, this ranking system simply tells you how popular you are in the blogosphere. These system is one of the reasons why other bloggers post linkbait content, which are simply blog posts that contain strong opinions, funny stories, astounding facts and even fallacies. Sensationalism is a good way to increase your technorati authority, as more and more bloggers mention you as the source of the news.

How to make your Traffic Stick Around and Do More

  • October 17, 2008
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How to make your Traffic Stick Around and Do More

Don’t you just wish people would stay on a page on your blog longer? May be click a few more links to your best posts and subscribe? One thing I learned is that when you want something, ask for it. As long as it’s within reason and in good taste, why not ask? Requesting subscription is common, it’s the way the blogger asks that differs. Some use a plugin called “What Would Seth Godin Do”, a wordpress plugin that shows a small box to a visitor who arrived on your blog for the first time. The box contains a request to subscribe as well as links to your subscription links. I like the idea, actually, but I would rather have a nice image attached to my request. It really depends on what the blogger’s style is. Yes, it’s perfectly ok to flatter the reader a bit, and post an attractive photo (maybe of yourself) near the subscribe box or link.

Encourage your readers or visitors to comment by adding a text after your post. There may be some internet users who do not know that they can participate in the discussion and could communicate their opinions to you through comments. It doesn’t hurt to ask a leading question after a post, and it will get your readers’ mental gears turning. Having said that, it is of equal importance to answer each comment promptly and thank the commenters accordingly. Doing this will make them feel welcome and will encourage them to comment again.

If you are running a blog contest soon, it’s just proper that you put a prominent link to a pre-launch blog post describing what the contest will be about, who can join and when it will be launched. This could make people subscribe because they have something to look forward to on your blog. You can also do this for particular blog posts or series of posts on a specific topic that you will publish in the future.

Give away a free item. A good ebook or a short report tackling the main topic of your blog could attract anyone. Remember to reiterate to your readers that the ebook is free. Having people own a piece of your blog in their hard drives will remind them to visit your website again. This free giveaway is also for those who would like to read more articles on a specific topic without having to wait for the next ones to get published.

If you’re tackling a sensitive subject, be ready to put out flames and remember to not say anything that could fan the flame that’s already burning among your readers. The attention that a comment fight attracts could be heady, but bear in mind that bad words, even when said by someone else, will be a bad thing for blog owners. On the other hand, do not be too strict with comments and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If someone directly flames you for the post and your opinions, the best option is to stay quiet and filter the bad words on the comments.

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