April 11, 2007

Now Using Google Reader, Able to Share More

Posted in Blogging, Me at 8:32 pm by mj

So, I finally did it. In the past, I’ve tried a most of the popular feed aggregators, but found them cumbersome to use. The most promising were Google Reader and BlogBridge.

The latter still has some deal breakers (no web interface being one), but Reader has come a long way. It’s really much slicker than it used to be.

So, this weekend, I imported about 200 or so feeds into Reader, and made a commitment that I’ll stick with it for at least 2 months. I hope I will become a better blogger and just generally more in-touch. Right now, of course, I’m just feeling overwhelmed.

Anyhow, Reader has a nice little sharing feature, which gives me a pretty good link blog.

In fact, it was because I’d grown addicted to Scoble’s link blog that I decided to check out Reader again.

So, check out my link blog. It’s a hundred times better than this thing here, mainly because there’s no inane rambling from yours truly. 🙂

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September 17, 2006

Responding to Your Users: How Does Webshots Fare?

Posted in Blogging, webshots, Work at 2:01 pm by mj

The recent Facebook controversy brought out a few more good posts on how to engage, learn from, and respond to your users.

Teresa Valdez Klein at Blog Business Summit reiterates the standard advice: ask what your customers want, admit when you screw up, and, most important, don’t sneak back into your shell once the immediate crisis is over.

As usual, Robert Scoble has the best advice on corporate blogging. He takes it all several steps further: publish a video blog, meet with a cross-section of your users in person, link to blogger criticisms “out there”, and post responses on others’ blogs.

That’s quite a bit to take in for any business.

I am happy to say that Webshots has been improving on its communications.

The Webshots blog has been a growing source of communication between members and staff. Anne, Amy and Jessica have been doing a great job.

Anne put together an invited group of members on a separate blog, with whom we communicate about new ideas, demonstrate new features, and so on. It’s quite a different kind of feeling.

We also have a staff picks blog, which, while not truly a communications avenue, is a volunteer-run blog of Webshots employees who pick and write about our great members. It’s also a different kind of feeling, and puts even more of a personal touch on things.

Gone are the days when Webshots shunned communicating with its users, and avoided catering to the tech-savvy crowd. We’re now open with our failings, and when we do something wrong, Anne and Amy take a lot of flak so that we engineers don’t have to. 🙂 (Which isn’t usually fair to them.)

Going back to Scoble’s advice, probably the biggest struggle we’ve had is putting together a true cross-section of our users with whom to interact. Every group thinks they’re the target audience. And why not? Without a site that individualizes the content it features to each member, everybody has a claim. That’s a problem with pushing the same content to 20M+ members.

After reading Scoble’s post, I realize how far we have left to go. Webshots never links to other blogs (I don’t think it’s a policy, maybe just an oversight or unspoken fear). And we’re never officially commenting on others’ blogs, or promoting Webshots in our own blogs.

The latter point merits some extra thinking. Posting on others’ blogs in discussions about your employer blurs the line between “offcial company activity” and “personal opinion.” The opportunities for screwing up are pretty numerous. It’s easier if you’re the CEO.

Even this post blurs the line. (Obviously it’s all personal opinion and my employer will disavow just about everything I write. But the average reader might not see it that way.)

Is it good if your employees are blogging about you, even if they sometimes say stupid things, or criticise your management, or leave for a competitor? It’s been good for Scoble. Does it work for everyone?