How to be successful on the internet – part 4

Content, conversation, context and:


Yes. It is important that you have control. NOT! It is important that your users have control. Let them paste your video player on to their own pages. Let them link directly to what you publish. Give them RSS feeds. Let them add your content to their pesonalized start pages. Let them mash up. Let them remix. Give your users an API so they can have fun with your content. People will do that anyway. Through hacks and technologies like greasemonkey.

Use creative commons. Of course you should not allow other commercial companies to simply take your content and use it for whatever they want, but through creative commons you can put restrictions without locking out all kinds of positive and traffic driving use on peoples blogs and pages.

But, never underestimate the power you’ll give your audience:

Link to article in Wired: Commercial Break

In a risky experiment, Chevrolet asked Web users to make their own video spots for the Tahoe. A case study in customer generated advertising.

…sorry. Now we’re all just confused. Yes, give away control, but not too much!

How to be successful on the internet – part 4

How to be successful on the internet – part 3

We’ve been through content and conversation. Today I have a short note about:


In this world of infinite content you need context. In the form of metadata describing your content. In the form of tags. RSS feeds, widgets. All possible tools you can think of so that people find you and understand what you are up to.

On YouTube you are not even allowed to choose the file to upload before you give it a title, description, tags and a category. A video on YouTube with no metadata is wasted space on their hard drives.

Context makes it easier for people to find your content. On your site. And through Google.

And context is extremely important when you want people to find you down the long tail. Remember, “90 percent of everything is crud“.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you why you should loose control.

How to be successful on the internet – part 3

More on the conversation and the content

Atle b has a comment on my article about the conversation society that deserves to be read:

Well, you’ve upped the ante – the Google count now stood at 54 – with three of the top five referring back here. How is that for instant visibility?

If you change the viewpoint slightly, there is already a term and a discussion – namely “conversational media” clocking over 56 000 hits. I view it partially as a spin-off from “participatory journalism” and other ways of saying user-generated content.

Which brings it back to your current topic of content – is it “content” when I say to my co-worker “Gee, it’s raining outside. Again.”? Does it become content if I post it to a MySpace page? Then how about if I type it in MSN? It is saved, it is visible and there are ads making it a commercial “channel”

The main problem I have with YouTube and MySpace is that they take ‘traffic’ from everyday actions, and make it into “The Next Big Thing”:

zapping the channels on the tv you can scan the 20 channels twice in five minutes – does that mean you have just had “40 video views”?

talking nonsense to a friend to pass time – is that debate and commitment?

Like Bruce Springsteen said – 57 channels and nothing on – so why not spend time mindlessly looking for that one great video on YouTube? While posting the best links to your friends MySpace page?

Having a blog and a couple of very intelligent readers is a nice thing…

More on the conversation and the content

How to be successful on the internet – part 2

As promised. Part two in my series of posts on why content, conversation, context and control is important issues on the net. Today, it’s all about…

Shouting to the world


I have mentioned Cory Doctorow and how he question that old saying that content is king. It seems like the people that combine content and conversation is on to something.

Have that in mind. MySpace and YouTube is about the combination of content and conversation. They use the internet as a communication channel. MTV is still mostly about content. And they still think about the internet as a distribution channel. If your bosses talk about this new distribution channel and the information society you should tell them about this new communication channel and the conversation society.

People still want professionally produced content and huge hits, but it must be made available and it must be possible to discuss it.

Yes, I know. 90% of the pages on MySpace are crap and 90% of the comments on YouTube are crap. Still it is important. It makes people feel in control. We feel like we own a part of it. We feel important. And we are. Even if 90% of the stuff we create and discuss is crap.

And the conversation gives you google juice. You know. That magic that makes your stuff hit on page one in Google. Because the discussion is not only taking place on your page. It is all over the internet. And people are linking. My readers have discussed my pretty detailed list of media center alternatives on their blogs. Currently it is among the first ten hits of 70 million if you search for “free media center software” in Google. The conversation got it up there.

Other stuff:
How did I make that ugly illustration? Like this.

How to be successful on the internet – part 2

How to be successful on the net – part 1

This is part one in a series of four articles about content, conversation, context and control. Put that on a yellow sticker and cross check your ideas towards these four words when you design your next big hit for this new communication channel. First out:

The Long Tail


Yes, we still need content. And you should make it available. When people want all their music on a small player in their pocket you should give them that. The music industry is in a big mess partly because they did not understand the concept of availability.

They wanted to keep pushing plastic when people wanted hard drives and availability. Mr. Jobs came to the rescue. Maybe too late.

So you have made your content available. Then you should think about the long tail. The concept of how behaviour change when the amount of choice gets closer to infinite. 57 million blogs. 100 million MySpace users. Millions of videos on YouTube. Insane amounts of content.

On the internet you don’t have the benefits of being the only one with an expensive license to reach out. Or being the only one with a printing press and a huge system for distribution.

On the internet your million dollar content have about the same priority as that video about people having fun with Diet Coke and Mentos on YouTube.

So, you need to read the next three articles. About conversation, context and control. “Conversation” will be out tomorrow.

How to be successful on the net – part 1

Make yourself heard

The mobile phone manufacturer Ericsson used this slogan for a couple of years. The main point of their devices was that you should make yourself heard.

Nokia, their worst competitor told us then, and are still telling us: “Connecting people“. Their devices are used to connect people.

I think this difference is similar to how main stream media utilize the internet. They want to make themselves heard. But the whole Web 2.0 thing is about connecting people. Making communities. And, very important: connecting the author and the audience.

It’s not the death of professional publishing, but they have to learn to listen. And like Ericsson have done, get rid of the idea of just making yourself heard.

Make yourself heard

The conversation society

I just quoted Cory Doctorow and his interesting conclusion about the fact that content isn’t king. It’s all about the conversation. Yes, of course you need both content and conversation, but he’s on to something.

100 million MySpace users and 57 million bloggers have joined the conversation. The internet is slowly showing one of it’s best strengths as a media channel. Two way communication.

In the ninties we talked about “the information superhighway”. More information. Easier available. Big media companies wanted to enter the highway and talk one way like they always have done.

Here you are. Our content. Our judgement. The truth and nothing but the truth. We rule. We’re journalists. You listen.

As we’ve always done with new media we simply put existing media into it. We have newspapers, let’s print the stuff on web pages. We have TV, let’s play the stuff in nice web based players.

MTV plays the stuff in nice web based players. MTV used to be pop culture. Important for young people. Setting the agenda. Showing the teens what to wear, do, listen to and like.

Here’s MTV compared to MySpace and YouTube, two sites that are full of teens, pop culture, music and rebellion.

The chart is from Alexaholic and shows two years of traffic on the sites. YouTube is the red one, MySpace is the green one and MTV is the blue one at the bottom that you barely see…

If the internet is an important distribution channel to reach young people and the Alexa charts are even close to the truth it seems like MTV have a problem.

This conversation thing is interesting for sure. Just for fun I googled an exact search for “the information society” and  got more than 2 million hits. I figured that someone out there had already started talking about “the conversation society”, but that one gave only 24 hits. None of them used the term in the context of social media. You read it here first.

The conversation society