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45 posts categorized "Reputation & Ratings Systems"

Monday, May 21, 2012

How To Be A Better Entrepreneur, Friend, Parent, Marketer & Human

NOTE FROM ROHIT: Likeonomics is now AVAILABLE - if you read my previous post and decided to wait to buy it because I asked you to, thank you!!

Please purchase your copy of Likeonomics RIGHT NOW!

About four months ago I was sitting at home during an unseasonably warm evening in late January. It was the night of the State of the Union address, and was feeling that unshakeable mixture of happiness and sadness that happens usually on the last day of an amazing vacation. That day I had just delivered the final manuscript for Likeonomics, but as I read the news online that afternoon I found a story that was still bothering me hours later. 

The media was reporting on comments from politicians delivered in something called a "prebuttal." A prebuttal (as opposed to a rebuttal) is based on the idea that you can talk about all the ways that you disagree with someone before they have even said a word. Welcome to politics in 2012. In fact, welcome to the world itself. 

I have written before about how we are in the midst of a very real believability crisis and to find our ways out of it and build a more trustworthy world will take a new philosophy.  Along the path to writing Likeonomics, I researched (and wrote about) many interesting nuggets from history, such as the moment when Microsoft almost bought Pixar to the moment almost exactly thirty years ago when two guys with a crazy idea started The Weather Channel. From the story of Nelson Mandela in South Africa to the surprising tourism policies of the Bhutanese government, the process of writing the book also took me to some unexpected places.  Ultimately, what I learned was about far more than marketing or even business.

Likeonomics is really a book about how any of us might become better people. How likeability might be the real secret to trust AND success ... and most of all how BEING more human could help any of us be better in every part of our lives.  

This week is launch week for Likeonomics. A chance for me to FINALLY share everything about the book with you. A chance for me to tell you NOT to wait anymore and to go out and buy the book and buy as many copies as you can! 

So every day this week I'll be sharing a different story and exclusive excerpt from the book here. Each day will be from one of the chapters featuring a different principle of Likeonomics:

  • Monday - This Post!
  • Tuesday - Truth
  • Wednesday - Relevance
  • Thursday - Unselfishness
  • Friday - Simplicity
  • Saturday - Timing

My goal is simple. The more I can share about the idea of Likeonomics and offer some value back to you and your daily life, the more likely you are to see what the book is about and perhaps decide to pick up a copy. 

To give you a head start, here is a password free, no-email-required, completely FREE download of the Prologue from Likeonomics, starting with the interwoven stories of a Lard Salesman, an NFL Agent and a YouTube Star: www.likeonomics.com/excerpt  

If your interest is peaked, or even if you are just up for doing something to support me and my efforts this week because you may have found some value in my blog over the years, PLEASE consider buying a copy of Likeonomics RIGHT NOW.  

Not only do I hope it will help you become a better entrepreneur, friend, parent, marketer and human ... but I look forward to sharing some real stories and lessons from the book with you throughout this week to show you exactly how!

 

 

 

Thursday, April 05, 2012

How Whiskey Inspired The Making Of Likeonomics

IMB_talisker-labelThe "fourth best island in the world" (according to National Geographic) isn't warm and rarely sunny. Yet the Isle of Skye is a celebrated part of Scotland and a popular tourist destination. If you ever happen to find yourself traveling there, one of the most popular places on the island is a unique distillery that produces some of the world's finest whiskey: the Talisker Whiskey Distillery. 

Though it has been more than a decade since I first visited there, I can still remember the tour that I took. A few months ago heading through the duty free store at an airport, the memory of that experience inspired me to purchase a bottle to take home. I do love a good drink ... but when I drink from a bottle of Talisker, it is still a different experience. And it doesn't have anything to do with how it tastes, or how it is aged, or what kind of barrels they use.  In part, I love the whiskey because I've been to where it was made.  

IMB_TaliskarWhiskey1The reason it matters is a powerful one, and it explains a lot more than my love of one brand of scotch. There is a reason that Zappo's has a standing offer to pick up any of their customers from their hotel in Las Vegas and bring them out to their headquarters for a tour. It is the same reason that Intel has a museum on their main campus in Palo Alto. The more personal connections you have to something, the more likely you are buy or recommend it to someone else. Personal experience matters.  

This, in a nutshell, is the strategy behind a pretty unique virtual web chat that I am going to be hosting on April 19th called the "Making of Likeonomics." I partnered with a company called Shindig to use a brand new virtual chat platform to create an introduction to my new book that goes beyond your usual webinar.  

Likeonomics_Evite_MakingOfWebinar

Using a two way video session (where you can see me and interact directly from your browser without any downloads or signups required), I will take participants through my process for actually researching and writing Likeonomics. Here are just a few of the things you'll learn:

  • Why you should write a book (and why you shouldn't!)
  • How to come up with a big idea for a book
  • Who really came up with the title Likeonomics (hint: it wasn't me!)
  • What it takes to sell a book to a big publisher (and why you should or shouldn't)
  • Do's and don'ts of research
  • Mapping your story flow and chapter outline
  • How to produce quality writing (it's different from writing a blog post!)
  • Pitfalls of book writing and what I struggled most with
  • Working with an editor (and picking a good one!)
  • How to build a content based marketing strategy
  • And anything else you'd like to know about writing, marketing and publishing a book ...

Whether you have ever aspired to write a book yourself, you are already a published author, or you just want to hear the real and whole truth about the ups and downs of being an author and writing a book ... this event is my chance to take you behind the scenes and answer all of your questions. I want to build a personal connection by giving you an unfiltered and VERY personal look at Likeonomics, directly from my home office where I worked to write it.

As a bonus EVERY REGISTERED PARTICIPANT WILL GET AN EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT OF THE BOOK (whether you manage to make it to the LIVE virtual conversation or not). In case this event looks interesting, I would love for you to register here (the event is completely FREE):

Registration Link: http://makingoflikeonomics.eventbrite.com

There may even be a guest appearance of some Talisker Whiskey. So now you really don't have a reason not to join me! :-)

 

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

5 Marketing Lessons From Fast Company's Influencer Project

IMB_FastCompanyInfluencerProject1 Who is the most influential person online? That is the tantalizing question behind the Influencer Project, a brilliantly conceived marketing campaign from Fast Company magazine dedicated to getting people to engage with the idea of online influence and pass along their participation to their entire social networks. The Influencer Project is a simple site that gets you to register with a few details, include your photo and then spits out a custom URL for you to use in all your influential efforts online. The more people you get to click on your URL, the more influence scores you can generate for yourself. (Note - the link above is to my personal URL)

IMB_FastCompanyInfluencerProject2 The payoff, as with many of these types of campaigns, is personal reputation and bragging rights - but for the growing ranks of people for whom social media offers an additional limb upon which to balance their virtual identities this reputation is more important than money. It could be considered a simple journalistic effort to do this, but if you look at how the project has been executed, it offered a great case study on how to use the power of the Internet to engage people and build an audience online.
  1. Have a strategic message behind your campaign. The idea of seeking the most influential person online could have been done by any publication, but the fact that Fast Company has chosen to do it sends a strong message about how they want to be perceived: as the magazine that people who are highly influential online read. There are plenty of choices to fit this category, but Fast Company has long been one of my favourite printed publications that I actually subscribe to in print format and read every copy of cover to cover because of their dedication to merging the worlds of online and offline together to paint a picture of the future of business. It is why I have written for them before and why I often recommend the magazine to colleagues.
  2. Make it easy to spread the word. Core to this idea is the fact that every participant gets a shortened URL to use for their own bio. This URL is what anyone can use to pass along the promotion to their social network and is also the primary way that the site can measure your influence. You can also integrate your Twitter and Facebook profiles, but unlike other promotions that can turn into popularity contests through the number of friends and followers you have - the Influencer Project is focused on actual action. The more clicks you generate, the higher your influence score.
  3. IMB_FastCompanyInfluencerProject3 Support your promotion with your core business. In the case of Fast Company, their business is producing editorial content. Instead of just sticking a banner on their site and sending out some emails to their subscribers, they are also integrating the Influencer Project into their editorial by releasing a series of interviews with influential people online. The first was with Gary Vaynerchuck and presumably the others they do will help add more context to the idea of influence online and take advantage of Fast Company's editorial voice as a way to bring more people into the Influencer Project.
  4. Have multiple payoffs to attract more participants. The ultimate payoff, as I noted above, is the ego stroke that having your photo appear larger will give and that will likely drive many people to participate. Fast Company will also publish a large photo in their magazine with a spread of all the participants as well - which adds a dimension to the reason for participating and likely will attract people for whom the online credit may not be enough.
  5. Integrate long term brand assets with a short term campaign. One mistake many marketers make is to drive a lot of attention and engagement around a short term effort without generating any longer term value for their brand. Fast Company has the Influencer Project, which will have a definitive start and finish, but they also integrate it with their branded Facebook and Twitter pages, which are longer term assets for the brand. By doing so, they can use the spike in activity around the Influence Project as a way to build greater long term value for their brand and a bigger base of engaged people that they will be able to promote content and activities to in the future.

Rohit's Custom URL for the Influencer Project: http://fcinf.com/v/a7en

Update 07/07/10 - For more context on this campaign and how it attempts to track influence, check out Amber Naslund's great post countering Fast Company on how they are confusing ego with influence. She has a great point about how this is an overly simplistic and ego driven way to track whether people have influence online. Though I agree it is an incomplete metric in terms of influence, I still think there are many marketing lessons you could take from this effort as I talked about in my post - but I found her alternate take on the campaign made me think more deeply about it and I highly recommend you read her post and decide how you land on this campaign for yourself.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Twiangulate Lets You Follow Your Followers' Followers

IMB_Twiangulate1 Let me go on the record to say that if you happen to be a vendor of some type of social networking solution or software that would be useful for an agency like Ogilvy, hands down one of your most effective methods of advertising has to be to target the Ogilvy network on Facebook with a customized ad. I have seen several ads like this for solutions and find myself always clicking on them - not because they say Ogilvy but because I presume that someone has done their homework and identified that whatever they are promoting is particularly relevant for someone who works at an agency like ours. So I'll give the the benefit of the doubt and click further. That's how I found Twiangulate.

Though I could just as easily have gotten an email from Henry about it, the fact that the ads were properly targeted already tells you something about the thinking about creating and promoting the site. Recently a few influential folks whose opinions I respect, like Sree Sreenivasan also profiled the site and talked about their own experience of finding it highly useful. So that initial ad coupled with the validation that comes from seeing someone in my network using it was enough to get me to try the site ... and now I'm hooked. I've tried lots of similar Twitter-Finding-Following-Ranking type applications. They always seem to spit out a number or list at the end with relatively little context and everything is ranked by volume. More Twitter followers equals a higher influence in general.

IMB_Twiangulate2 Twiangulate (a brilliantly named site) is from the folks behind BlogAds, and features similar smarts to help make simple sense of a big problem ... who you should actually care about reading on Twitter. It's not a sexy site, just as BlogAds isn't - but there are at least three reasons why you'll love Twiangulate:
  1. Uses the most common sense metric for influence. In life, as the saying goes, it's not who you know but who knows you. Twiangulate uses this principle to help you find out how influential someone's follower base is. If they command a large number of followers who have high influence, chances are they will to. This is a page from Google's book about how they rank web pages as well, but for some reason has been notably missing from many Twitter apps designed to help judge influence.
  2. Designed to spotlight intersections. It's not hard to find a list of the top marketers on Twitter, or the top fashion bloggers, but it can be tough to narrow down the list of bloggers who also talk often about fashion. You can do it with Twiangulate if can find one Twitter username for each category and then just highlight the people they commonly follow. Finally you have a way to find new people on Twitter that doesn't rely either on their username or them putting an accurate description into their bio.
  3. Lets you focus on the small too. As Sree noted in his piece, there is much insight you can gain by looking at the opposite end of the spectrum for Twitter followers ... who are the followers with the lowest influence that those with the highest follow. This method would likely help you uncover people like Kim Kardashian's aunt, who have relatively small accounts but may be important to the influencers you might be interested in reaching as a marketer.
Chances are I'll uncover a few more interesting ways that the site could be used to help find the most interesting and influential people to pay attention to on Twitter. In the meantime, good luck doing your own twiangulating!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Can Domino's Turn Around Their Cardboard Reputation?

IMB_DominosPizzaTurnaround1 What would you do if you surveyed your customers and they all said you suck? It may seem like a worst case scenario, but companies are faced with this challenge more often than you would think. It is not easy to hear, and in part it is the reason many companies simply don't survey their customers that often. It is easier to look just at metrics like sales or growth and use those to measure success. After all, why bother to ask customers what they really think if you are making money? The problem with this logic is that it doesn't help you to spot threats to your business and plan for the future. Making money is a temporary state ... and one that can be more fragile than you realize.

For Domino's, their business has been built not on the quality of their food but on the promise of their service. Anywhere in America (and many other parts of the world), you can pick up the phone, order food and you will get it delivered to your house in 30 minutes or less. This convenience spurred a growth rate for the brand that made it (at one point) the fastest growing franchise in the world. The only problem was, people thought the pizza tasted like cardboard. This was one of only a few revelations that were revealed through some customer surveys and testing the brand completed.

Usually, the only way I would have known about something like that is by working on the brand or having been part of the surveys. In this case, I know the same way that you might ... because Domino's has been featuring these testimonials as part of their new "Pizza Turnaround" advertising campaign:



As someone who has written often about authenticity and personality in business, I love this campaign. It uses real Domino's employees as spokespeople, talks about how much they care about their product (and how hurt they were to hear criticism such as their sauce tasting "like ketchup.") More importantly, it offers a backstory on how the brand is trying to be different and delivers it in a believable way. The microsite they created even features a live Twitter stream of conversations mentioning their new Pizza, including both good AND bad reviews right on their homepage.

IMB_DominosPizzaTurnaround2 While the reviews, which are pulled directly from Twitter, are mixed - the message from Domino's is clear: we listened to our customers, improved our product and now we stand behind it. One recent tweet they featured (unedited) on their homepage said "tried new dominos pizza with the cheesy base, it sucks, too much cheese means a change of shirt and way too sickly."

Whether or not you like their new pizza, you have to appreciate a brand that is willing to stand behind their new product so much that they can allow direct criticism on their own site without feeling the need to shut it down. Despite having some negative reviews, if you look at the conversation both on their Facebook site and on Twitter - the majority of conversations either share a positive review, or an intent to try the new pizza. There are, as usual, a small minority who are pleading to have the old pizza back (which have been met with the mocking suggestion to spread ketchup on the box to recreate the old pizza) - but the new pizza is clearly winning many fans online.

The real lesson to watch for anyone in marketing, though, will be how Domino's weathers the negativity in a campaign like this where they put their customer's thoughts and opinions front and center. It's a bold experiment in actually standing behind your product and letting people have their own opinions about it.  If it works, perhaps we'll see more brands willing to take this approach.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

6 Ways To Protect Your Brand With Social Media

Just about every week I see an article or have a conversation with a client about the potential risks of social media and how to manage them. Quite frankly, there are many ways that social media can go wrong and cause problems for a brand, and as someone who shares advice on using social media for marketing - I can readily admit that. What I haven't seen as much discussion about is how social media could be used to protect your brand. Not fighting back after a crisis happens, but proactively as a tool to prevent people from hijacking, corrupting or negatively impacting your brand. What if you were to see social media as a way to prevent these effects instead of a potential conduit to increase them? Here are a few ideas for how you might use social media to protect your brand:
  1. Register domain names and usernames. Among the most long standing of brand protection "techniques" - typically this involved registering branded domain names and ensuring that people couldn't register words or brand terms important to you and then use them without your consent. In the world of social media, where it seems a new site pops up nearly every day, how can you best manage your brand not just on the obvious social networks or popular sites like Facebook and Twitter, but the many sites that are just beginning and might be big one or two years from now? One way is to use services like NameChk or Knowem - which both allow you to check on username availability and bulk register on multiple sites. This doesn't mean you need to use every site, but sometimes just having your own terms registered so no one else can have them is half the battle.
  2. Spot problems/crisis before they happen. By now it is probably not news to tell you that social media can be a great way to track conversations that matter to your brand. More and more companies big and small are realizing that watching the conversation online through real time tools like Twitter or by putting a social media monitoring program in place with a software based solution like Radian6 can help to identify potential issues before they expand into full blown crisis.
  3. See who's copying your stuff. One of the things that can cause major problems for any brand is the ease with which anyone can cut and paste your information into their own site or reformat it for any purpose. This may seem nearly impossible to track when it comes to the vast expanse of the web, but tools like Tynt can help to find content that is being used without your permission. Once you find it, the ideal way to deal with this content is to not go after every "unauthorized" use, but to have a smarter policy to determine whether the use is significantly harming your brand. That way you can avoid going after the customer who illegally used your logo to start their own fan club, and focus on the real usurpers of your brand who are trying to harm it in some way.
  4. Have your own place to respond. If you have ever heard the saying that the best defense is a good offense (or maybe I have that backwards), you'll understand the point of this suggestion. Often when it comes to responding to attacks or negativity in social media, the best way to respond is through your own social media sites. A press release will never be able to counter a blog post. Matching the communications channel puts you on an even playing field with those who might try to negatively impact your brand and gives you a soapbox from which to share your own point of view that can be the most effective way to get your message across.
  5. Get verified and trademarked. More and more social media sites now are allowing real brands to pass through some sort of validation process in order to demonstrate that their accounts are "official." Facebook lets brands protect trademarks and Twitter has their verified accounts feature. In both cases, the sites are allowing companies a way to demonstrate to their audience on that site that the account they have is real and official. Don't underestimate the value of having your official presence on these sites as a way to have trusted interactions with your customers.
  6. Find and support your biggest fans. Through sites like Ning customers can create their own online communities that relate to your brand. These are activities that your customers will likely do anyway, so why not offer them some tools and support for these communities? Doing so will not only help you to protect your brand by having some involvement in what they are doing, but often you can end up with better branded assets if you help because you are not forcing a real fan to go and grab assets from a web search and use them to create a substandard experience.

Monday, November 17, 2008

4 Ways Social Media Could Save The Arts

Imb_nampconference

Last week I had the fortune to be part of an event that we should all care about. It was a meeting of the National Arts Marketing Project, a conference sponsored by the Americans for the Arts and designed to help art based organizations around the country use marketing to drive more engagement, subscriptions, and attendance with patrons (a much better word than consumer, by the way). To understand the vibe of the event you need to look no further than a colllection of titles from some of the sessions put on during the three day conference:

  • Are You An Urbanite? Attracting Young Ticket Buyers and Donors
  • Hacking Copyright: Making "Free" Work In The Arts
  • She Says Pithy, I Say Prissy. Let's Call The Whole Thing Off: How Marketing And Development Can Sing In Harmony
  • I Can't Do That! How To Make The Big Ask For A Major Gift
  • Release Your Organization's Inner Blogger
  • Strategies For Countering The Reasons Patrons Resist Subscribing

My own session was called "Embracing Your Accidental Spokespeople: How Obama Let His Best Supporters Speak For Him, And Why You Should Too" and in the roundtable format, we talked about how to find the voices that are passionate about what you do, and unlocking them to share their experiences more widely online and through social media. Over the course of two round table discussions, I learned a lot about the unique challenges that many arts based organizations are facing, as well as discussed several engaging ideas for solutions. Here are a few of the creative solutions that we all came together and discussed as a group about how social media and interactive marketing techniques might help arts based organizations to better promote themselves:

  1. Create a sonic brand. Though more specific to groups that create or promote music, one idea that we collectively talked about was what it might be like if every venue or group had a sonic brand. So, for example, like you might hear the Intel jingle at the end of an ad, you would hear a signature piece of music to signal the end of intermission. Something that offers a recognizable brand for a music based organization, while offering an apt extension of a brand based on something that is inherently a part of it.
  2. Offer creative material openly for mashups. As more and more people create content online, they will need material like music, still images, and video clips to incorporate. One of the marketing tactics I am fond of at istockphoto.com (a site I use all the time to purchase images to use in my posts and presentations) is having an image for free download each day. What if an arts organization created their own collection of content and offered it for free reuse, dependent on giving credit back to the organization? It could be a great way to spread some brand awareness, as well as offer something viral and useful to content creators.
  3. Invite social capital donations. Many people using social media tools are supporters of the arts, but not necessarily donors or people to go to art events. Though it may be difficult to convince them to open their wallets, it may be much more acceptable to have them donate their influence. One brilliant example was a campaign run across both parties during the recent election where you could "donate your Facebook status" to remind people to vote for your guy on election day. It's an example of letting people donate their social capital instead of real money.
  4. Allow patrons to share their experience. This topic raised some concerns among the group for a variety of reasons. The two most vocal were that sometimes performers have union contracts that prevent any recording, and that sometimes the artists are afraid of negative criticism that may come with letting their work be freely shared. Still, there are other ways to let people share their experiences - perhaps through live Twittering, or making a cast available after a performance for flipcam interviews with video bloggers. The point is that every arts group needs to find a way of helping word of mouth about what they are doing to travel.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Great #080808 Beijing Olympic Twitter Campaign Catches Fire

Anyone who has been to enough events with social media creators knows that it is inevitable that people will find a way to connect and find one another. To a degree, Twitter first caught on from this need a year and a half ago at SXSW in 2007. I have witnessed it over and over, through examples like attendees of four conferences finding one another to share an evening of Korean BBQ in NYC a few months ago, or finding someone to hang out with as you are travelling to a foreign city for business. Social media creators are not just creating content, they are becoming experts at connecting with one another.

So I wasn't surprised to see that the tag 080808 is catching on as a way for all of us in Beijing at the Olympics to find and connect with one another. Started by three Chinese bloggers (Flypig, Webleon and Babechloe) and described on http://tag080808.com/, this campaign is already bringing together not just everyone here in Beijing who is creating social media content, but is also becoming a brilliant way to follow all these live voices of the Games in a real time stream. As the Olympics kicks off tonight, this tag and the resulting conversations on Twitter will accelerate dramatically. For my part, I have already started tagging my content with this and will soon revise my Twitter icon to use the 080808 template created for the campaign (the image below is a compilation of current icons from a post about the campaign on Read Write Web).

In addition, I just sent out a Tweet about a blogger meetup that will be sponsored by Ogilvy and Lenovo where we can try to get some of the many diverse bloggers here in Beijing together for a drink and chat. If you happen to be here, send me a message at @rohitbhargava and let me know if you can make it to The Bookworm in downtown Beijing on Sunday, August 10th at 7pm. And even if you're not in Beijing, you'll want to start using this tag to find the best content and impressions from social media creators here at the Games. This is a case study in the making ...

Official Image from the Tag080808 Site:

Monday, July 14, 2008

The 4 Big Problems With Blog Metrics And How To Solve Them

Like most bloggers, I struggle with true metrics for my blog. The problem isn't so much about technology as it is about understanding what is useful to know about my blog to make it better and attract more of an audience. I've got lots of metrics that I can look at today, from my Technorati ranking to where my blog is on the Power150 list. I can check the number of comments I get, or look at the number of daily or monthly impressions. There are several big problems with any of these approaches, though:

  1. RSS skews most metrics - When readers are consuming your posts through RSS, most of the time they don't need to visit your site. While this may reduce your page views and monthly visitors, it can often lead to a greater engagement and wider distribution. 
  2. Inbound links aren't all equal - Perhaps the greatest injustice of many metrics systems today is that they reward "linkbait listing" (the activity of listing a large number of blogs and links in the hopes those sites will also link back to you). As a result being part of some of these lists, some blogs can be propelled to higher numbers of links and authority without producing any quality content to earn it.
  3. Content expires though it may still be relevant - One of the most frustrating things about Technorati as a tool is that it expires older content. There is lots of good content that is getting ignored simply because it was written over six months ago.
  4. There are multiple ways to measure engagement - Looking only at links to a post or comments are incomplete measures. People use different sites and different ways to engage with content, from commenting to saving it.

In a sentence, the real challenge for blog metrics is to find a more comprehensive way to see if people are really connecting to the content on your blog. Melanie Baker, the community manager at yet another smart Canadian startup called AideRSS emailed me last week with a very interesting solution to this challenge of measuring "social engagement." They have created a system using what they call "PostRank" to measure the engagement of any individual blog post. Posts are ranked from 1.0 to 10.0 with the top score going to those posts that generate the most activity. Instead of just focusing on inbound links, their ranking system looks measures such as comments, number of saves on del.icio.us, number of Tweets mentioning the URL, and how many Diggs a particular post gets. Then an aggregated score for your blog is calculated based on the individual performance of your blog posts. This is brilliant for a number of reasons:

  1. It separates metrics into blog posts instead of one big number. This means that you can get a better sense for which blog posts are really working and driving engagement and which aren't.
  2. By allowing you to view your entire blog in terms of your top, best, great and good posts, you can start to spot trends in what content is the most viral.
  3. As the name suggests, the site can be used to make your RSS subscriptions more useful by helping you to filter all the posts you get into just the top posts which are the most discussed.

There are only two slight limitations in their model that I can see. The first is that it only looks at a small subset of sites where engagement can happen so some large sites (such as a social network on Ning, or a Facebook group) where there may be lots of discussion can get ignored. The sites AideRSS uses are also very US-centric, which means that significant international discussions could often get ignored. The second limitation is that some of the blog-wide metrics that could complete the picture of blog influence, such as number of RSS subscribers or affiliations of a blogger are missing - so it's not a complete picture of blog influence.

Still, the idea of using PostRank to filter posts and judge the quality of a blog overall is one worth taking a look at. Particularly if it could be easily combined with a tool like Alltop which pulls in RSS feeds by category to make reading blogs and finding the highest quality blogs in a particular category easier.  Any service that can give bloggers a better idea of how to produce higher quality content AND help readers to more effectively decide what content in their flood of RSS subscriptions is most worth reading http://gr.aiderss.com/ should be a big hit.

If you haven't visited this site yet, you need to check it out. A great place to start is with Melanie's blog post where she remixes Viral Garden's list of Top 25 marketing bloggers in order of "social engagement."  Also, in case you're curious, here's what AideRSS came up with as a list of my top ten posts from the last year:

My Top Ten Blog Posts:

Monday, June 09, 2008

Why Sprint's New Campaign Wins Only 50% Of Their Battle

As I tour around at events talking about why brands need to have a personality, a question that comes up often is about which brands don't have a personality and suffer from facelessness. One of the most obvious categories that has built a dreadful reputation for itself is the wireless phone industry in the US. On the whole, people are distrustful, disloyal, and generally suspicious of just about anything these carriers do. The reasons are fairly obvious, from their cruel pricing structure designed to charge you for every kilobyte or nanosecond of use, to their requirement that you lock yourself into long contracts before they will give you service. In my own experience, my last month's wireless bill was 18 pages long (and I don't even have a teenager at home).

There have been a few pioneers that are trying a different model, such as Virgin Mobile with their prepaid solutions ... but the world of the wireless carriers still promises much more flash than substance. For examples of this, just look at any recent advertising campaign by these carriers, from the fanfare behind launching the iPhone for AT&T or the wierd city name mashups used by T-Mobile to illustrate how their network would work in places where they vast majority of their customers will never travel. So while watching my DVR last week, when I saw a TV spot featuring the new CEO of Sprint talking in a more human voice about how they are simplifying their service, I stopped to pay attention. Here's the ad:

This is not the approach we are used to in America from our cell phone providers. He comes off as genuine and the plan they are offering is as simple as you can imagine. Taking this human approach certainly sets them apart from their competitors. The reason why this is only half of their battle is because alongside this declaration by the CEO and new direction are two other telling videos.  The first is a clearly scripted YouTube video read by an uncomfortable employee talking about what Sprint is "really" like, and the other is from an irate customer who received a bill for $14,000 from Sprint and tried unsuccessfully to get it resolved:

Now in the second case, the customer did ultimately get her problem resolved thanks to it getting reposted on the Consumerist blog, but the damage for Sprint was already done. I love the simple plan they have come up with for customers and the authentic way the CEO is trying to tell the story. The problem is that consumers are likely to see it alongside other examples of exactly the opposite. It seems to be a case study in how advertising alone cannot reshape an industry or a brand. Without combining it with a smart strategy for social media and word of mouth, the best laid brand messages will likely fall on deaf or disbelieving ears.