The Blog Circle

by Lisa Picarille
February 18, 2009

I spent all day Thursday at the New Communications Forum 2006. The conference, held in Palo Alto, Calif., focused on new strategies for PR, marketing, advertising, the new media and the new face of journalism. Translation – lots of discussion, debate, hype and “inside baseball” references about blogs, blogging, bloggers and the blogosphere.

You would think all that enthusiasm would have me all fired up to write today’s blog entry; just the opposite. Instead of looking forward to sharing some thoughts and ideas with you, I’m worried. Will whatever I write below be “authentic” enough? And, is this a truly a real “conversation”? Am I really engaging you?

It’s hard to just let it flow, like I usually do, when I have so many constraints and bloggy things to fret about. But I’ll give it a shot anyway and try to point out any issues or bad blogging behavior where they might occur.

Despite, my previous emphasis on the blogging aspect of the conference, the bulk of sessions that I actually attended focused on marketing and advertising. One of the sessions, “Engaging the Audience: From Listening to Co-Development”, was moderated by Rob Key, CEO of Converseon. It touched on whole bunch of interesting points – most related to big brands and how they engage customers.

The idea is that with the web and blogs and other methods of mass communication by individuals, companies no longer own their brands. Word of mouth marketing and social media was a huge focal point of the discussion, which included other knowledgeable panelists; Dan Buczaczer of Reverb, Per Hoffman, founder of AdCandy, Owen Mack of co-BRANDIT, and Cory Treffiletti of Carat Fusion.

Not surprisingly, buzz marketing has generated quite a buzz at this conference and beyond. In fact, Revenue has a fascinating feature article on word of mouth marketing in the issue that is due on your desk in just days (promotional/corporate voice).

A panel on “RSS as an Advertising Platform” also sparked some interesting debate and some rambling that wasn’t helpful or easy to follow. But here’s what I could get from this session. While most agreed that RSS is poised to be a huge delivery platform for a variety or things (from feeds to creatives to ads) Stephan Spencer, founder and president of NetConcepts, claimed there were issues regarding ads in feeds. He said that clicking directly on ads in feeds loads a 302 redirect that gives affiliates their due commissions, but robs the merchants of the click tracking (Google juice) needed for much coveted search rankings. He claimed that is a huge issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Louis Moynihan, director of strategy and development for Pheedo, promised to look into it.

One of the best parts of the day for me was lunch. The food was great (fake voice), but the best part was sitting with a great group of people that were all from the corporate world and had some reservations and trepidation about the hype surrounding blogging and podcasting. Two of the folks from Plaxo talked about how their corporate blog was sort of a huge sore point and that despite the hard work in creating the blog and the effort to engage customers – especially disgruntled ones – there didn’t seem to be a big or even little pay off.

It was a nice reality check to chat extensively with people that were questioning blogging rather than just drinking the Kool-Aid.

However, after hours and hours of talking about blogging and now writing this blog about blogging, I need something a little stronger than a fake juice drink. Let me know if you’ve got a blog or are thinking of creating one.

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