What You Can Learn From Guy Kawasaki's Model for Blog ROI
For those who are fans of Guy Kawasaki, there is a phenomenon he is fond of calling "Guy's golden touch." It is his own trademark reversal of a well known saying, where he likes to note that
"everything that turns to gold is what whatever is gold Guy touches." (Correction for the confusing structure I used before). One site that is definitely gold right now is Twitter, riding a wave since it's popularity at SXSW last year, the site steadily seems to be getting more and more users. Whereas the early reports on Twitter were that it was solely for uber-connected geeks and social media types who had nothing better to do all day than broadcast their latest feelings ... Twitter is getting unexpected enthusiasts. Guy is one of them, using microblogging to help promote his new site, Truemors ... and it is just one example of how he manages to use his personal brand to promote the brands and products that he supports (or invests in).
Truemors has an interesting mission - to allow people to share rumours that are true (as opposed to gossip) and accepts user contributed headlines similar to digg or any other content sharing site. The site's aim is to help sift through the cascade of content we all deal with everyday. The juiciest headlines from the site make it into the Truemors Twitter stream and are often irresistible stories to click on, such as "Hugo Chavez Offers to Pose Topless for Naomi Campbell." Guy also uses his personal Twitter stream to ask questions designed to build buzz about Truemors or to help make it better.
Most bloggers look at Adwords or Amazon affiliate links as their sole option to make money or get an ROI with their blog. Others limit their idea of "ROI" from blogging to their own personal brand and nothing else. Guy's example shows that these are not the only ways to see a benefit from your efforts in blogging. He builds trust and respect by continually offering content that is worthwhile and thought provoking, and along the way he integrates the experiences of the brands and companies he supports. In the end, he avoids coming off as underhanded or selling out and actually makes his blog a promotional platform that justifies the time he spends on it. The ongoing value is clear, whether it was talking about judging a contest for Slideshare, or including a rating widget from JS-Kit. It's not about the ad units that he sells through Federated Media. Guy's blog demonstrates the power of his endorsement. And it works too. Because of him, I have started using SlideShare, iStockPhoto, and now Truemors.
The point is, why have a world renowned blog that thousands of people read if you are unwilling to use it to promote the companies you support? Especially if you are a VC. Guy's golden touch may mean that he associates himself with the right projects, but the irony is that in the process he may just be building his own model to turn startups into gold once he endorses or invests in them.