Gary Vaynerchuk bares his passion — for communities

Kathy Sierra talked about creating passionate users earlier today, but Gary Vaynerchuk talked about creating passionate OWNERS.

Vaynerchuk, host of the popular Wine Library TV online video show, worked his way into the hearts of the crowd here at the Future of Web Apps conference by sharing his passion for his community (and boozing us up with a little wine passed out to the crowd).

You should pay close attention to what he has to say if you operate a news site. Vaynerchuk is not a computer expert (“I built a 15 million-dollar liquor store on Control C and Control V”); he’s a wine expert. And he’s passionate, passionate, passionate about his community:

“I fly all over the country just to drink wine with people.”

“You’ve got to have the DNA of your community.”

“There needs to be a face to your company. You have to take care of those people until your bleeding out of your f***ing g****mn face.”

“You need to love your community more than you love yourself.”

“You’ve got to have someone in the trenches. Someone people can touch.”

I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that perhaps doesn’t sound like your ombudsman — if your news operation even has one any more, that is. Some news sites have hired “community managers,” usually to manage message boards and community-contibuted content.  But is that person a visible presence on the site? Have people seen his face? Does the person have public conversations with readers? Does that person really love where he works?

And most important of all, are you making an effort to brand that person as being a community resource, or is he just another mysterious byline? Do people know this person exists? Vaynerchuk said it best:

“You always hear ‘content is king’. The fact of the matter is marketing and branding is the queen, and we know who runs the household.”

If people can’t name your community manager, if they can’t relate to that person or get an e-mail returned quickly –then really, what’s the point?

It’s become increasingly clear that tomorrow’s web is going to be shaped by openness — OpenID, open standards, open business practices, etc. Consequently, your news site is going to need someone reliable to whom people can go for answers.

Creating passionate users in the newsroom

Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users is on the mic right now talking about how to engage users and make them passionate about your web app.

While Sierra’s talking about software development, I can’t help but think that much of what she says also applies to print newsroom staff who are trying to embrace the online medium.

Sierra talks about a “suck threshold”, the point at which a person is unskilled with a particular tool, and a passion threshold, where a user really begins to understand how to use a tool and can really begin loving it.

In newsrooms, folks often experience lots of initial excitement about a particular web technology — usually things like  Flash, Soundslides, recording audio and video, working in the content-management system, Twittering or any other number of things. But what happens when they start getting into the nitty-gritty of Flash and realize how freakin’ hard it really is? Or they start using Twitter, don’t get followers and kinda wade in the dark on how to use it?

That “suck threshold”, as Kathy says, is the time a user is most likely to give up on any skill. It’s at that time that your Web staff and power users need to step in and really guide the print folks in becoming comfortable with a technology.

Oftentimes, we think selling them on using a tool is the biggest battle. It’s important, but it’s not the end of the war. Your staff must overcome that often-difficult learning curve before the battle is won.


-Once a technology is identified, have regularly scheduled training for it.  Do a monthly training with the tool or colaborate regularly with a mentor at another publication. The biggest sin I see is editors sending a staffer to this-or-that intensive two-day workshop to learn Flash. The staffer returns, starts playing with the tool, produces one quick project, and then eventually gives up when they don’t get practice and can’t advance their skills to the next level.

-Focus on creating a project, not on learning a tool. How many of you sit there and say “This is SO awesome; I’m going to spend my whole day learning how to use this power saw!” Using a saw is boring. Using a saw to create a custom cabinet for your house is awesome. Focus on the end result, and you’ll learn the skills along the way.

-Have patience. The first projects a new user creates are going to be pretty lousy (I know mine are!). Let your staffers know you expect them to fail sometimes, and that it’s OK; they’re learning. If you provide regular training and encouragement, you’ll reap the dividends.

local gay meet

The Orlando Sentinel Posse is here in Miami for the best lgbtq+ dating apps, where he hope to figure out how we can peer into the future of web technology and apply it to the media.

A few quick tidbits: Josh Hallett of Hyku is at the front of the room snapping away, so catch his new gay dating appsand many others tagged international matchmaker throughout the day. Sentinel tech writer Etan Horowitz will be blogging today on the new Etan on Tech blog. And, catch Sentinel designer and Twitterholic extraordinaire Bill Couch’s feed here.

More in a bit.

BarCamp Orlando is on!

barcamporlando.gifA heads-up, mostly for fellow Floridians: FREE registration for BarCamp Orlando is open today!

What is BarCamp? Event organizer Gregg Pollack says it best:

BarCampOrlando is a community building event, which happens twice a year to bring together people from different backgrounds to share and learn from each other. There will be people who know Java, .NET, Ruby, PHP, and other technologies coming together for Dev Day, and there will be people who know film, music, photography, graphic design, podcasting, and even other new Media coming together for Media Day.

Yours truly was there last year, and it was uber cool. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet local tech folks and learn about cutting edge stuff, some of which you’ll soon be seeing in newsrooms. And best of all, it won’t cost you a dime.

So seeya at BarCamp Orlando!

[NOTE: Speaking of nerd conferences, I’ll be at the Future of Web Apps conference in Miami tomorrow, along with Bill and Etan.]

Snapshot of most popular social networks by country


Think MySpace and Facebook are the be-all and end-all of social networking? Well, that’s not the case if you live in France, Brazil, Russia or any other number of countries.

French news site Le Monde has put together an interesting infographic on which social networks are most popular in which countries. While MySpace and Facebook are clearly the most popular, other sites such as Orkut, Bebo, Cyworld and Skyblog are more popular elsewhere. You can visit to increase your instagram followers. Social media is exactly as the name suggests. Getting to know your subscribers and giving them what they are looking for in a friendly non-pushy way, this is the best path to develop your community. Here you can find that jarvee was reviewed all about the traffic boosting tools.

Social networks are important because they allow people to develop relationships with others with whom they might not otherwise be able to connect. It also helps boost business productivity when used for public relations, marketing, and advertising purposes. The main types of social media include big names like Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter. These are the most popular social networking sites in the United States. Others include Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube.

And, on a sentimental note, my old blog service LiveJournal is the most popular in Russia. Folks, my pals and I in high school were using LiveJournal back before blogging was called “blogging” (come to think of it, what DID we call it back then? Journaling? LiveJournaling? *shrug*). Ah, we all dispersed so much teenage angst out on the Net…

The Importance of Social Media for Business

Facebook — the social media network that forever changed how individuals, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and even government agencies communicate and relay information — celebrated its 10th birthday this week.

In the last 10 years, social networking has revolutionized online marketing for businesses, and many businesses (one study suggests as many as 90 percent of small businesses) are making use of social media. Some have found great success with social media, while others are still floundering in the sea of online marketing, struggling to make sense of it all. And then there are the businesses that are holding out and have yet to take advantage of social media for one reason or another — not enough time, lack of understanding, or disbelief that social media can actually work for a business.

If your businesses is in that last camp (not utilizing social media), or if you’ve set up social media but aren’t convinced it’s truly worth your time, let’s take a look at five reasons social media is important to your business.

Reasons Why Social Media is Important for Your Business

  1. Low Cost

    There is no entry cost to social media marketing. Targeted messages and advertising on Facebook and Twitter do come at a cost, but a small one compared to traditional marketing methods. Any business could conduct baseline social media marketing at virtually no cost, but many business owners simply don’t have the time to invest in managing social media. You’ll get more reach and more “bang for your buck” if you work with an experienced social media marketing agency to manage your online marketing strategy and content, check out the following article for more info on marketing automation.

  2. Easily Connect with Existing and Potential Customers

    Your existing and potential clients and customers are already on social media, why not meet them where they are? Social media serves as an outlet for you to offer customer service, and engage with your customers, perform market research, and much more. Your industry may determine which social network holds the most potential value for your business (for example, if you are in the home improvement, decorating or food business, Pinterest may be more valuable than other social networks). Simple market research can help you determine which social networks your target audience uses most.

  3. Low Barrier to Entry

    In addition to social media marketing being far more affordable than traditional marketing, it is also easy to get started. In just a few simple steps, you can easily set up social media profiles for your business on any social networking platform. Again, when it comes to managing your content, it may be better worth your resources to invest in a working relationship with an online marketing agency that is experienced in social media marketing and search engine optimization.

  4. Key Factor in Search Engine Ranking

    A solid SEO strategy is about producing quality content that generates a lot of inbound links to your website. Social media is a primary form of content consumption and with the click of a button, users can share content across their social media channels, thus increasing the number of inbound links to the content on your website. “Social signals” are becoming more and more key to boosting search engine rakings.

  5. Social Networks Provide a Unique Platform for E-Commerce

    Interactive videos on YouTube allow your customers to make a purchase decision directly through the video itself. Using Facebook apps, you can even build a sales portal directly into your business’ Facebook page. Alternatively, you can also use social media sites like Facebook to get in touch with successful entrepreneurs like Cortney Fletcher. Social media can be as powerful as a word-of-mouth referral, especially on Facebook where users are more likely to have offline, personal relationships with their Facebook friends (as opposed to people they follow on Twitter). If an existing customer has something to say about your products and services, chances are high they will share their opinion with their friends and followers on social media.

Digitial Edge Award winners announced

The Newspaper Association of America announced the winners of the 2008 Digital Edge Awards. (Hopefully an Edgie for PolitiFact will help my ol’ pal Matt Waite get over his recent Web host meltdown). And the winners are:

This year’s Online Innovator Award went to Dan Shorter for his work at As of this week, Dan is moving to the Star-Tribune in Minnesota.

The winners of the 2008 Digital Edge Awards are:

Best Overall Newspaper Web Site, The Lawrence Journal-World/The World Co. (circ. < 75,000), Knoxville News Sentinel (circ. 75,000 – 250,000), St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly (circ. > 250,000)

Best Local Guide or Entertainment Site, The World Co. (circ. < 75,000), Austin American-Stateman (circ. 75,000 – 250,000), Minneapolis Star Tribune (circ. > 250,000)

Best Local Shopping and Directory Strategy Marketplace, The World Co. (circ. < 75,000)

Mobile Shopping Directory, The Palm Beach Post (circ. 75,000 – 250,000) Shopping Channel and Metromix Boutiques, Tribune Interactive (circ. > 250,000)

Best Digital Advertising Program

I Lassoed Lance, Amarillo Globe-News (circ. < 75,000)

Online Carousel, Dayton Daily News (circ. 75,000 – 250,000)

Homepage Experience Campaign, Minneapolis Star Tribune (circ. > 250,000)

Best Digital Classified Innovation

No winner (circ. < 75,000)

Increase Renewals with Automated E-mails, The Palm Beach Post (circ. 75,000 – 250,000)

Real Estate Video Tours, The Dallas Morning News (circ. > 250,000)

Most Innovative Multimedia Storytelling

24 Hours in Lawrence Lawrence Journal-World/The World Co. (circ. < 75,000)

BrokenTrust, Sarasota Herald-Tribune (circ. 75,000 – 250,000)

A People Torn, Minneapolis Star Tribune (circ. > 250,000)

Most Innovative Use of Interactive Media, Amarillo Globe-News (circ. < 75,000)

Ultimate Local Band Site and Text Voting Contest, tbt* Tampa Bay Times (circ. 75,000 – 250,000)

The Issues Tracker and HD Video Podcasts, (circ. > 250,000)

Most Innovative Visitor Participation

Creating a Two-Way Conversation with Our Community, Morning News (circ. < 75,000)

School Matters News Sentinel (circ. 75,000 – 250,000), Cincinnati Enquirer (circ. > 250,000)

Best Design and Site Architecture, Naples Daily News (circ. < 75,000), Knoxville News Sentinel (circ. 75,000 – 250,000), Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (circ. < 250,000)

Keeping online projects on target

If you’re not careful, “feature creep” can cause a project to get buried under additional requirements, resulting in big delays and a lousy outcome. Photo by wilderdom

Web development and design blog Six Revisions has a fantastic article on how to prevent “feature creep,” otherwise known as the tendency for managers and clients to tack on additional features to a project at later phases, resulting in significant delays, broken code and –often– an overall crappier result.

The number one solution, according to Six Revisions: Dedicate enough time to requirements gathering and making sure stakeholders understand what the outcome of the project should be. If something is an essential feature, it should be documented from the get-go.

From one of the tips:

Be clear on what it is, exactly, you’re developing for them. Don’t promise a grand, exciting, but ambiguous/ambitious end result. Instead of giving broad generalizations such as “I’ll be developing a search engine optimized website”, try to outline the deliverables that you will provide

Along with my previous post this morning about Jakob Nielsen’s top 10 usability sins, this is another article you should read if you have anything to do with projects for your news site.

Six Revisions: Eight Tips on How to Manage Feature Creep

[Via Digg]

Microsoft to give away development software for students

visualstudio.pngFor all you aspiring journo-programmers, Microsoft has a treat for you: free software! Woot!

Microsoft is launching a new initiative, DreamSpark, to offer up development and design software free to students, probably in hopes of weaning them from open-source solutions. The following expensive software will be offered free to students as part of the program:

It doesn’t get any better than pricey software for free, my friends, especially if ASP.NET (Microsoft’s flavor of Web development) is your bag. Kinda makes you want to go take a community college course for that student ID just to take advantage of this free stuff (plus 2 bucks off movies, of course).

Jakob Nielsen’s top 10 application design sins

Usability guru Jakob Nielsen published an article yesterday outlining the top 10 mistakes one can make when designing a Web application. Nielsen says:

Usually, applications fail because they (a) solve the wrong problem, (b) have the wrong features for the right problem, or (c) make the right features too complicated for users to understand.

The last one, (c), is most often found on news sites. One culprit (among many) is editors’ desire to spell out as many details as possible to reade…er…users, often resulting in a clunky and convoluted user experience. Folks, a web application is not an A1 news package.

Nielsen covers such usability sins as standard elements (radio buttons, dropdowns) behaving in unexpected ways, small click targets and not having progress bars or other elements to indicate something is going on.

Even if you don’t personally get into the nitty-gritty of designing Web apps, you should take a look at this article. Nielsen’s article will increase your usability IQ and help you provide more insightful feedback on projects that cross your desk.

More from Nielsen here:

Angry journalist? Let it all out

Photo by Constantelevitation

Do you ever get upset at the long hours, low pay, public contempt, pinheaded editors or any other tomfoolery that goes on in the newsroom? Well, now you can finally let it all out guilt-free (that is, unless you’re already one of those anonymous Poynter message boarders) at

There, you’ll find such gems as the following posting:

[Exchange with a newsroom recruiter]
Me: “I just want to be a newspaper man.”
Recruiter: “Oh, don’t say that.”
Me: “What?”
Recruiter: “When you say newspapers people think dinosaur. Let’s not even call it a newspaper, let’s call it a data center .. You know we have a TV studio in our newsroom.”

Go f*** yourself…

Or concise gripes such as these:

bosses sans grammar

And the postings from the students are quite a gas too:

I had to do a story on the janitorial staff in my school and it was a profile. At first they were okay with it, and then they weren’t. I don’t understand why it was so complicated for one thing. JEEZ

Young’un, you don’t know the half of it. Check out for more entertaining rants.

[Hat tip to Will Sullivan]