Two More Attention Strategies

Since I’ve noticed a fair amount of interest in blogging publicity strategies, :) here’s a couple more to study.

First up is The $39 Experiment: Asking Random Companies for Stuff. Started by a guy named Tom Locke, the site is about Tom using 100 stamps to send 100 letters (total cost, $39) asking major corporations for free stuff. His letters are humorously patronizing, and it’s worth a visit just to read some of his faux allegiance to consumer products.

Bashing and exposing the poor marketing and customer service practices of big companies is a no-brainer in the blogosphere. So Tom has picked up two links from Steve Rubel and one today from Seth Godin. Not bad. Let’s hope Tom has bigger plans than the AdSense Ads he has slapped up there.

By the way, I just checked . . . bigcompaniessuck.com is still available, so go start that killer corporate-bashing blog before Wal-Mart ties up the domain (this is a joke, but I expect the domain to be gone by end of business today).

Next up is John Scott’s new blog. Scott is no stranger to online promotion — he’s the man behind the v7ndotcom elursrebmem search engine competition. He launched his blog with a somewhat ambiguous $10,000 prize for his readers, which has morphed into a campaign to encourage linking to non-A-List blogs.

The money’s nice, but it’s the potential meme that’s the juice here. Liz Strauss of Successful Blog and I had a similar discussion about harnessing the power of the so-called Magic Middle, a huge group of bloggers with more collective power than the A-List could ever dream of.

The trick is, how do you get us all together? C-List, M-List, Z-List, and every other letter there is. We’ll even let nice A-Listers play. :)

Well, to start, we link to everyone that we read and that impresses us. And there’s a growing movement (which John Scott is a part of) to bring back the blog roll, after the trend seemed to be going in the other direction.

I’m going to add one myself just as soon as Chris Pearson, my talented but currently swamped template designer, comes up for air. Remember people, it’s up to us to write our own scripts. We don’t need the A-List and we don’t need the mainstream media. We only need to cooperate and recognize those with something to say, regardless of their Technorati rank.

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  1. I have been known to call blog rolls incestuous and no one has yet convinced me otherwise.

    What’s the point of recycling readers around the same old tired sites again and again?

    Isn’t it more important to reach out to new readers and encourage them to come into Blogland to see how good things are here?

  2. I am trying something out on one of my blogs, wotyougot.

    I am as yet, unconvinced of the civility of the “community nature” of Web 2.0 thinking so I am using my swap blog to see what levels of trust bloggers have between each other and also the effectiveness of word of mouth as a tool for promotion.

    I have not used any other promotional tools and will be posting my “findings” on another marketing blog I run.

  3. The $39 experiment is a riot, and a helluva bit of linkbait to boot. If you didn’t follow that link, quit reading my tripe and go there instead.

    Anyhoo, Brian, I can bust up your blogroll in seconds. Being the savvy planner that I am, all the code for your blogroll is in place; I just need to un-comment it in your template. Easiest thing I ever did. $200. ;)

    On a separate note, I’d actually like to add some quality content here for once. With regard to you and Liz and the “Magic Middle,” I have been doing some thinking about this topic all week.

    On Monday’s episode of The Apprentice, the teams had to get as many people as possible to text message a special keyword in order to promote Gillette’s new (and overhyped) Fusion product line. Obviously, this is essentially an experiment in viral marketing, and it provided me with an interesting bit of thought fodder.

    What if a few of us “Magic Middle” bloggers came up with a viral meme of our own? Maybe a tagline that we include in our posts to identify results on Technorati? Can we go to #1 on the search list? Can we start something that temporarily breaks the monotony and brings more exposure to sub A-listers?

    How many people could we get involved? The winning team on The Apprentice got 637 people (or somewhere around there) to text message their special keyword in one day, but their approach involved face-to-face, direct techniques.

    I dunno, maybe it’s because it’s 5:21 am EST, but I’d like to hear what everybody else thinks of this.

  4. Much as I would like to go with Chris (inspite of his diabolical plans of setting you back by $200) I would not.

    Why?

    Because I believe we would be no different than them. It saddens me to note that it has now come down to ‘us’ and ‘them’. No one’s to blam for this really. Or may be everyone’s to blame.

    Blogs were meant to be conversations. They were meant to reduce the distances between two people sharing similar thoughts but unable to communicate. Blogs were meant to help you discover your co-thinkers.

    Sadly, somewhere along the way, a few ‘capit-A-lists’ took over and converted the Blog meme to a AdSense meme.

    Linking, Blogrolling became a matter of status and not interest. You know something is going down when you hear words like ‘sucking-up’ and ‘oral-sex’ being associated with it.

    But, it has happened. And we have to change that. I agree with Brian. We gotta provide value to get our traffic and not some shitty link-baits and memes. (Sorry Chris)

    Honest opinions, anyone?

    Regards,
    Shri.

    $200 for a Blogroll? I made mine all on my own. Say Chris, you looking for a partner?

  5. Chris is joking about the $200, or he’s fired. :) Because I’m pretty sure I can do it myself.

    As far as blogrolls and other linking strategies being tired just like the A-List, there’s a difference. There’s only 100 of them. There are millions of us. Unless we revert to narrow herd mentality (which is possible) we should have hugely diverse blogrolls that allow for the introduction of unknown bloggers to others, based on our various niches.

    It’s a personal recommendation system, not a popularity contest. Show your eclectic taste and populate your blog roll with truly unique selections.

    Just some thoughts. We’re making this up as we go along.

  6. Brian – that $39 experiment can be adapted a bit and turned into a tutorial on comment spam or something, hehe ;-)

    Chris – wasn’t there this brrreeeport thing (or whatever it was called) going on just recently?

  7. Irish Wonder – everybody knew about that. I’m talking about something a little more understated than a really obvious keyword. I dunno, I guess the idea is crackhead, but my point was that we ought to try and come up with a linking scheme that’s supposed to focus on the guys in the middle.

    Experimentally, we can see how long it takes for the A-listers to get ahold of it, too. Of course, talking about things here is hardly safe anymore…have you seen the Technorati jump since Feb. 20? *cough* 200K spots *cough*

    I vote that we link our favorite “middle blogs” under a unique keyword phrase from within some of our posts, something easily searchable. Remember, I’m not suggesting that this go on forever – I’m suggesting it as an quick experiment in viral blog interconnectivity. Right now, I vote we conjure up some linkage under the little-used phrase “The Indie Virus,” as Google shows zero perfect matches for this term. Oh, and it’s slightly appropriate.

  8. Chris – sounds interesting indeed, and in this world where everyone seems to be on their own fighting for themselves we could certainly use each other’s help to gain more visibility and tell the A-list guys to move over a bit. Not everyone of us can come up with a sort of linkbait worth the precious attention of A-listers every day – and even if we do come up with something – it still needs help getting noticed, so it all works in a bundle. And “The Indie Virus” sounds great to me ;-)

  9. So how do we spread the word about the “Indie Virus” without telling the whole world? That’s the problem, right?

    And as far as my rise in Technorati goes, the only thing that’s great about that is quite a few people have been nice enough to link to me (and some not so nice :) ). And that’s brought me more regular readers, which is what I care about.

    I think that’s all any of us really cares about. The trick is, making sure the cooperation level stays high. A purely competitive environment will only hurt us all.

  10. Chris: I like your idea. Sorry, Shri :) See ideas below.

    Brian: I’m actually going to disagree with you for once :) The Magic Middle couldn’t be one million bloggers. But that’s just my opinion, following the theory behind LongTail (Chris Anderson).

    I think that it also depends on how you define the Magic Middle. Here’s mine nebulous defn: Those bloggers not on the A-list nor the B-list, but who are working towards becoming professional bloggers. It’s not about how many blogs they currently have or how much traffic they currently have. It’s more about intent. JMO (Just my opinion), as this is the only way I can fit into the Magic Middle :)

    Chris: My brother, who runs his own ad agency and is a copwriter, had a long conversation with me yesterday. We talked about how a lot of people want to be introduced to something different and interesting, so websites like allmusic.com and print mags like CMJ (College Music Journal) do well.

    Amazon does it as well. In fact, Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Mag, talked about this in some of his LongTail writings. For example, he said that because of the “if you like this, you may like that” type of comments that “editors” at Amazon.com often write for book and music reviews, more obscure stuff is starting to sell. Chris A gave an example of how people that bought Brittany Spears albums somehow ended up buying reggae music. Here’s the thread: If you like Brittany, you like Gwen Stefani. Gwen ==> No Doubt ==> Ska music ==> reggae music. Damn cool.

    Well, I don’t have the traffic, but I tried something similar a couple of weeks ago. I called a hiatus on my BlogSpinner blog. What I also said was that if you are looking for moral support, go to BloggersForHire and Blogging.wurk.net. If you are looking for great tips about writing via copywriting advice, go to CopyBlogger. Etc.

    So instead of a blog roll (I’m not big on them; I prefer inline linking), how about some of us start doing this IYLTYAL (If You Like This You’ll Also Like) type of referral. I like your “Indie Virus” idea. I’ve always felt like an “indie” in all my creative endeavours. So maybe we start a categorized Indie Blogger directory – sort of like a Yahoo for bloggers? Is there something like that out there? I’m not talking another directory. I’m talking we all contribute to a structured list with our own small reviews. But carefully, so we don’t make it seem like we’re all blowing smoke up each other’s arses.

    The term IYLTYAL isn’t easy to remember and doesn’t have any results in Google. I’m going to start using it as a Technorati tag in any post which I refer a blog, preferably in the Magic Middle.

    Anyone want to collaborate on something like this, flesh it out about it, define how to go about it?

  11. I just want to include the phrase “The Indie Virus” as the anchor text in my links to other awesome, smaller blogs. That way, I can do a Technorati search for the term and see just how many times people have used the phrase….In doing so, I can get some idea of how many people have “the virus.”

    I want to be able to monitor the metrics involved, because essentially this is just an experiment.

  12. Raj, I’ve struggled with your very point since I wrote this. Of course, I didn’t invent the term “magic middle,” David Sifrey of Technorati did.

    And here’s the rub, Sifrey has managed to segregate the blogosphere once again! He and his cohorts started it, with the “links matter most” top 100 ranking system. Now he’s allowing us to become even more divided by the glut in the middle being somehow better than the end of the tail.

    Maybe if Technorati worked better, we wouldn’t complain as much, but I doubt it. If Technorati actually worked, our disparities would become even more pronounced.

    I’ve come up with an idea tonight that might just help all of us non-A-Listers to moblize when needed. I need to give it some thought, but it may well work.

  13. Sorry, Brian. I just started reading David Sifry’s post. My bad, opening my mouth before knowing :)

  14. Sifry actually says that the Magic Middle consists of 155,000 bloggers, who have between 20-1000 people linking to them. Because my efforts are spread out over many blogs, I don’t even think I qualify :(

    I keep thinking of Six Degrees of Separation and how the concept applies to blogging and linking.

  15. Forget the middle… I want to be friends with the 26,999,900 others out there! :)