Blogging Is Working As A Marketing Force For Microsoft

Sometimes you’ve really got to read the small print. Steve Rubel was taking a pretty expected line in his posting yesterday, “Microsoft Office Marketing is Stuck in the Prehistoric Era“. Then in the comments, someone reacted to Rubel’s apparent over-boosting of blogging.

Posted by: David Scott Lewis | March 7, 2005 12:42 AM

“The company’s army of 1200+ employee bloggers do more to market Microsoft’s products/services these days than anything the corporation has done in years.” Steve, you can’t prove this. What influences the IT and purchasing departments? If it’s bloggers (and perhaps it is), then prove it. Do NOT assume it.

Then we get a very interesting reaction from a celebrated Microsoft blogger.
Posted by: Robert Scoble | March 7, 2005 01:13 AM

one datapoint? Channel 9 http://channel9.msdn.com got more than 1.2 million unique visitors last month.
By the way, we have some confidential customer satisfaction numbers that show that blogging +is+ having a pretty sizeable impact on marketing.

It really is intriguing when the Microsoft Internet Marketing Strategy is being discussed in public. What a far cry from the old days.

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Networking or Réseautage and the Blogosphere

Mitch Joel has some useful commentary on Networking in his latest blog entry. As he says, the benefits of getting involved with others working in your field can be extremely valuable. Here in Montreal, Francophones can turn to Lise Cardinal, an expert in R?seautage or Networking, for advice on how to do effective networking. She is getting more and more known both here and in Europe. Her website is a useful portal in French for a whole host of advice and resources on Networking. As far as I know, there is no English equivalent, although I would love to be proved wrong on that.

I then got to pondering on how well you can network on the Internet versus physically meeting people. Physically meeting people is very costly and, if it involves major travel, brings all the additional irritations caused by concerns on security. The Internet is the best possible medium for promoting communication between individuals, and can almost be the equivalent of being together with the latest technology. So isn’t that the vehicle through which to network.

In fact it’s not all that easy. There are infrastructures available. Such mechanisms as Usenets and now Yahoo! or Google Groups are one way of doing it. This has now got more sophisticated with processes such as Google Orkut. It would seem to have exactly the aims we would look for:

Orkut is an online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends. We are committed to providing an online meeting place where people can socialize, make new acquaintances and find others who share their interests.

However it doesn’t seem to have taken off as a preferred route for networking.

Blogging is growing rapidly and exponentially so isn’t that perhaps where we could see some networking naturally occurring. In fact the blogging process is not at all suitable for networking, although networks may develop among people who blog. Blogging is more akin to those speakers on Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, London. Each stands on his or her small stand and spouts away into the air. Some speakers manage to attract a crowd and some may get feedback (comments) from their listeners. However each speaker is always a little above their audience.

Networking on the other hand is peer-to-peer communication. It requires a suitable venue for peers to meet and interact. The right Forum, and there are thousands of them on the Internet, may well be such a venue. The Cre8asite Forums is a good example of how such Forums can become the meeting ground for peers to meet. Its core reason for existing is indicated by its slogan “Building Better Websites”. However when the peers get together, discussion can wander over other related and unrelated topics that attract their interest. Cre8asite is a good illustration of how networking can work on the Internet.

Why would folk congregate in such a cyber-spot and “network”. A current Cre8asite discussion may give part of the answer. Usability is the whole topic of how to design websites so that they “work” for their users. Website navigation is only one small part of this topic. The whole topic is one that seems to attract the largest number of divergent cliques, who insist that their take on the whole subject is the best. The discussion was on whether some other word than Usability could better describe the field. One participant suggested the word “Habitability”. In layman’s terms, that could best be interpreted perhaps as that a website should “make you feel at home”.

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Montreal is a focus for web-related conferences this year

Montreal is a great place for conferences and a hive of activity for web-related activities. So it’s not surprising to see a number of conferences this year drawing together in Montreal experts from around the world.

Here are just two examples of these world-class conferences. This weekend, the American Society for Information Science and Technology is starting its Conference, which runs from March 5 – 7, 2005. This is a really high-powered group discussing some very complex issues. The motto of the Society is suitably challenging: ?Leading the Search for New Techniques and Technologies to Access Information, Since 1937?. As is indicated on the website, Information Architecture is more widely applied than ever. Decisionmakers now accept IA as critical to well-designed electronic information spaces.

Then in the summer we have a bigger gathering as the Usability Professionals Association meets for its Conference, “UPA 2005: Bridging Cultures“, which runs from June 27 – July 1, 2005. The conference notes that:

Contrasting cultures can create rich learning experiences, but they also create the potential for miscommunication and misunderstandngs. Growth happens when we are able to bridge the cultures and utilize the strengths of each.

What a great place to visit to see how well those principles can be applied.

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Forget Having A Website – Go For A Blog Instead

The over-crowded Internet is a tough place for mid-sized and small companies to stand out. Google is indexing over 8 billion web pages now. That’s an awful lot of web pages competing for attention.

The Wall Street Journal in its StartupJournal.com has some good advice. It points out that Small Firms Find Blogs Useful for Recognition. Indeed if Blogs had come along before websites, then you would certainly have gone for a Blog. The software is easy to use. The format of Blogs is perfect for the search engines. They have lots of content and links to blog entries seem to grow like magic. Once you have a blog, you’ll wonder whether you still need that website.

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Belgian Beer Rocks

A Montreal Gazette article this morning tells us about the world’s biggest brewer. Perhaps you haven’t heard about Inbev. That’s the combination of Interbrew of Belgium and South American Ambev. They had a great year in 2004 unlike Molson who suffered in South America and with Coors now form the fifth largest brewer in the world. Inbev owns Labatts.

So have you had any Inbev beer lately. They also are the makers of Beck’s and Stella Artois. Where’s the best place in Montreal to sample Belgian beers? Perhaps you’ll find it in a list of the best beers in Montreal or in the Montreal Beer Guide. There are quite a number of locations, both in and around the city.
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Congratulations, Yahoo! … and thanks for the free ice-cream

Yahoo! is celebrating its 10th anniversary today. In a number of countries including Canada, you can get a free ice-cream from Baskin-Robbins. You just go to the Yahoo website and print out your coupon. That certainly is an indicator of just how tough the Search business is becoming.

P.S. Since the offer was only for March 2nd, you will now find the link takes you to a great 10 year retrospective of Yahoo!s history.

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A Great Montrealer, Carlo Oronato Catelli

The CBC this morning was suggesting that following a recent Greatest Canadian contest, it was appropriate to have a Greatest Montrealer contest. Dr Victoria Dickenson, Executive Director of the McCord Museum, here in Montreal, had a slightly surprising suggestion. She nominated Carlo Oronato Catelli. He established Canada’s first pasta plant in Old Montreal in 1867. That was the year of Canadian Confederation, Canada’s birth date. Catelli’s first products were hand-made vermicelli and macaroni.

There have been many Great Montrealers, but this suggestion is very appropriate. Montreal is the most multi-cultural of cities with a very strong Italian component. Mr. Catelli created a supreme example of the interesting mix of businesses, very many of them over 100 years of age, that are here. These complement well the multitude of successful high-tech businesses that are added every year.

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Oscar-winning "Ryan", a tribute to a real Montrealer

The headline says it all, “Montreal Panhandler Inspires Oscar-Winning Film“. Chris Landreth, the animator who created “Ryan,” describes the film as an animated documentary. It depicts the damage that life has wreaked on the creative spirit of Ryan Larkin, a pioneering Canadian animator. He was himself honored with an Academy Award nomination in 1979 for his short animated film “En marchant.”

To me this story is symptomatic of the richness of Montreal. There’s so many real people here, and sometimes with very human faults. However it’s not surprising that Montreal is such a fertile breeding ground for creativity and an envigorating home base for so many creative people. So congratulations to Chris Landreth and also to Ryan Larkin. We’re proud of your accomplishment.

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YesMontreal, YES Montreal, Yes Indeed

I see from Mitch Joel’s blog that the 8th YES Entrepreneurship Conference is taking place on March 12, 2005. Full details can be found at the YES Conference web page. This is a very worthwhile activity and should receive all our support. Getting young people into the work-force is a tough challenge and it’s toughest of all to do it by setting up your own business. YES has the following mission:

Youth Employment Services is a non-profit community organization that delivers English-language job search and self-employment services to Quebecers.

Previous versions of this Conference have been fully subscribed and there seems no reason to think that this won’t do even better.

I think Yes Montreal is a great name for this endeavour. I think there’s a lesson there for all those budding entrepreneurs. Try to get your company name so that it clearly expresses the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that you’re offering to your clients. Don’t go for some neutral word like say Monday, as happened in one of the biggest corporate name blunders I’ve seen. Your company or agency name can do wonders in selling your company.

YES – Youth Employment Services. That’s an excellent acronym. Although it’s tough to “own” YES on the Internet. Google knows of over 76 million web pages related to the word, ‘Yes’. YES Montreal came #27 this morning but that means you’re a bit lost in the crowd. However the name of this agency is YES Montreal and they come up #1 for that. They also have the domain, www.yesmontreal.ca, That’s as good as it gets. Chapeau to those who thought up that name. I would also encourage all to use the full name, YES Montreal, whenever you talk about it. You don’t want to run the slightest risk of getting lost in that huge Internet crowd.

So all best wishes to this year’s event. I trust next year we’ll see an even bigger 9th YES Montreal Entrepreneurship Conference.

Related Books:
For information on interesting Montreal places to visit, see
Frommer’s Montreal & Quebec City 2009 Guide (Frommer’s Complete)
or
Montreal & Quebec City For Dummies (Dummies Travel)

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Think Globally, Act Locally

The very first post in a new blog is somewhat like that poor old centipede’s problem. Which leg do I move first? Which event is enough to push me over the tipping point to start recording my thoughts and reactions. Some may already have visited BPWrap, a blog now running for almost a year on Internet Marketing. That takes a global view of the Internet and Business. It often presents issues from a different point of view than is appearing in the mainstream. In a sense, it reflects the real nature of the Internet. The Internet is international, without boundaries. Ms. A can communicate with Mr. B half way around the world. At the same time, such a blog suffers from the same failing as all Internet-based websites. In a sense it is everywhere, but at the same time in a sense it is nowhere: it is not tightly tied to any one physical place.

In reality, most of our every-day activities are linked to a smaller corner of the world. In some ways the Internet is tremendously efficient at economic communications. However it seems like overkill if I’m trying to communicate with someone two city blocks away. Indeed that is the irony of the Internet but also the challenge. That person two blocks away may have their website hosted 2,000 kilometres away. So what does ‘Local’ mean in Internet terms. The Search Engines are illustrating the difficulty of that ‘Local’ term as they all seek to create some credible form of Local Search.

The challenges of ‘Local’ in Internet terms are one of the key reasons why this new blog sees the light of day. It will be firmly anchored in Montreal and will bring out issues and happenings in Montreal as they affect Business and the Internet. Montreal is a rich, cultural milieu with many resources and, like anywhere else, many challenges.

The best blogs are always the personal reflections of folk who are alive to what is happening. They are often most illuminating when they take a 360 degree view of all that is happening. That 360 degree view is the commitment standing behind this blog.

It’s called ‘The Other Bloke’s Blog’ because that captures the essence of what this blog is about. There is at least one other person calling himself the Blog Bloke on the Internet, so that explains the ‘Other’. Other also reflects the determination to examine issues carefully and bring out what may be missing in the popular views. Bloke is defined rather unkindly by Google as another word for “geezer: a man who is (usually) old and/or eccentric” Be that as it may, it’s used here to signal the author is an ex-Brit who has now been living and working in the manufacturing and services sectors in Montreal for over 35 years.

Montreal is a great place to do business and that will be revealed as future postings are made. So many exciting things happen here that it has been frustrating to wait to get the whole package correct before starting the interesting part: making postings.

For example, there were three triggers that might have been suitable starting posts in the last 14 days. On the 10th of February, we had the great news that the Mayor, G?rald Tremblay, had succeeded in retaining the FINA 2005 World Aquatic Championships to be held in June. It is perhaps the biggest sporting event in Montreal since the 1976 Olympics. On the 16th, the Prime Minister, Paul Martin, announced that Montreal would be the host city for the 11th conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2005. Then more personally on the 17th, the Montreal Gazette had a major business article on one of my favourite clients, Frank Ralphs, a composite panel manufacturer for the transportation industry. There are some interesting aspects to that company’s name that will be discussed down the road. Most days there’s something of note that often has important business ramifications. Montreal is on a roll and here you’ll find my take on what a businessperson may find of interest.

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