[I’m Reading] ‘the view from nowhere…isn’t the natural tone and register of people on the internet’

This, from a piece that’s mostly about Ampp3d’s approach to data journalism, jumped out at me (emphasis mine):

We all understand what data journalism from a broadsheet looks like, and it is very good. We’re trying to find out what data journalism from a tabloid looks like. I want Ampp3d to be fast and funny and popular as well as being factual and accurate.

I don’t think it should have “the view from nowhere”. That’s great for where it is appropriate, but it isn’t the natural tone and register of people on the internet. And it isn’t what makes stories resonate with people, or makes them compelling to share.

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[I’m Reading] The Community Manager’s Checklist for a Smooth Product Launch

This list of community manager responsibilities for a product launch overlaps considerably with what a strong product marketing manager would do in tandem with support from comms, customer relations, and analytics – which reflects that it was written by someone working at a startup in a resource-constrained environment.

None of which detracts from the utility of the list itself, summarized below:

  • Update your art and messaging on all social media platforms
  • Publish a comprehensive blog post with all the information that your users, journalists and
  • other interested parties need
  • Respond to any and all Tweets, comments or emails in *real time*
  • Embed yourself in all areas of your company so you are functionally able to answer any and all questions
    Report back to your team

[I’m Reading] single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites

This is from Benedict Evans’ Mobile Newsletter No. 48. The comment is about Facebook’s launch of its “Paper” app; emphasis mine:

Facebook launched a new combined newsfeed and ‘clipboard-like news aggregator, ‘Paper’. This is the first output from Facebook Labs, which aims to produce more standalone apps. Paper is an interesting attempt to make Facebook’s core product on the desktop work properly on the much smaller canvas of mobile. But the more important thing is that Facebook is embracing unbundling in a systematic way. On a smartphone, it’s almost always easier to press the home button and launch another app than dig into an app’s own menu system – single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites. It’s also striking how aggressive and flexible Facebook is in response to mobile disruption (much like Google). Facebook will never have the same monopoly on mobile that it has on the desktop, but the opportunity may be so big that it doesn’t matter.

[I’m Reading] single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites

This is from Benedict Evans’ Mobile Newsletter No. 48. The comment is about Facebook’s launch of its “Paper” app; emphasis mine:

Facebook launched a new combined newsfeed and ‘clipboard-like news aggregator, ‘Paper’. This is the first output from Facebook Labs, which aims to produce more standalone apps. Paper is an interesting attempt to make Facebook’s core product on the desktop work properly on the much smaller canvas of mobile. But the more important thing is that Facebook is embracing unbundling in a systematic way. On a smartphone, it’s almost always easier to press the home button and launch another app than dig into an app’s own menu system – single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites. It’s also striking how aggressive and flexible Facebook is in response to mobile disruption (much like Google). Facebook will never have the same monopoly on mobile that it has on the desktop, but the opportunity may be so big that it doesn’t matter.

[I’m Reading] ‘customer service in the social media era needs to be radically decentralized’

Posts with the label [I’m Reading] will be about articles I’m finding interesting. I often find things interesting even when I completely disagree with them. No lawyers approved this message.

Further to this reflection on social proof and disgruntled customers, a timely piece over at the WSJ’s Accelerators blog. Their audience is startups and smaller organizations; the lessons and points-to-think-about for larger companies are no less interesting:

Whether your business is a startup scrambling to build a customer base or an enterprise-level company with tens of thousands of clients, dealing with consumers online is a new – and daunting – challenge. Rather than having to obediently wait on help lines or for email support, consumers can now shout on social channels and be heard by a mass audience, instantly…

Customer service in the age of social media, however, needs to be everyone’s job. This doesn’t mean every employee has to be glued to Facebook and Twitter streams all day. Social media listening tools make it easy to track brand references and mentions, and these functions can still be handled ably by a small, dedicated team. At my company, for instance, we have a 17-person customer service team which uses our own social media product to handle 8 million users. But at the same time, as social media becomes more integrated into the corporate workflow employees in general are spending more of their day on social channels. And they’re inevitably coming across tweets and posts that require, if not their own attention, then the attention of someone else in their company.

[I’m Reading] Try Everything

Posts with the label [I’m Reading] will be about articles I’m finding interesting. I often find things interesting even when I completely disagree with them. No lawyers approved this message.

The topic du jour among media pundits and pontificators: the new Glenn Greenwald venture, backed by the considerably deep-pocketed Pierre Omidyar.

The best commentary I’ve seen on this so far (as of this post, anyway) comes from the folks at The Monday Note, who have some thoughts on how the venture’s product portfolio might be developed.

Highlights:

Mobile should primarily be a news updating vector. In a developing story, say hearings on the NSA scandal, readers want quotes, live blogging, snapshots – all easy to grab while on the go. Addiction must be the goal.

Newsletters deserve particular attention. They remain an excellent vector to distribute news and a powerful traffic driver. But this requires two conditions: First, they must be carefully designed, written by human beings and not by robots. Second, they must be run like an e-commerce operation: a combination of mass emailing and heavy personalization based on collected navigation data. For an editorial product, this means mapping out granular “semantic profiles” in order to serve users with tailored contents. If the Omidyar-Greenwald project lives up to its promise, it will deliver a regular stream of exclusive stuff. A cleverly engineered email system (both editorially and technically) stands good chances to become a must-read.

And:

On the product side, the motto should be Try Everything – on multiple segments and platforms.

[I’m Reading] Why wasn’t I consulted (or, the web is a customer service medium)

Posts with the label [I’m Reading] will be about articles I’m finding interesting. I often find things interesting even when I completely disagree with them. No lawyers approved this message.

One of my all-time favourite pieces of writing about the web is by Paul Ford (perhaps better known as @ftrain). It is so good you might want to stop reading this and go check it out. It’s cool, I’ll wait.

Good right? Totally.

Paul proposes a framework for media that operates in terms of “questions answered”:

Here’s one question: “I’m bored, and I want to get out of the house and have an experience, possibly involving elves or bombs. Where do I go?”

The answer: You could go to a movie.

Here’s another: “How do I distract myself without leaving the house?”
You might turn on the TV.

“I’m driving, or making dinner. How do I make a mundane thing like that more interesting?”
Radio! Especially NPR or talk radio. “

The question for the web, according to Paul, is this:

Why wasn’t I consulted?

Ever led a redesign? Launched a new feature? Changed the design of an email? This might sound familiar:

Brace yourself for the initial angry wave of criticism: How dare you, I hate it, it’s ugly, you’re stupid.
The Internet runs on knee-jerk reactions.
People will test your work against their pet theories: It is not free, and thus has no value; it lacks community features; I can’t believe you don’t use dotcaps, lampsheets, or pixel scrims; it is not written in Rusp or Erskell; my cat is displeased.
The ultimate question lurks beneath these curses: why wasn’t I consulted?

Most important for any media types considering paywalls and/or membership models (emphasis mine):

Create a service experience around what you publish and sell. Whatever “customer service” means when it comes to books and authors, figure it out and do it. Do it in partnership with your readers. Turn your readers into members. Not visitors, not subscribers; you want members. And then don’t just consult them, but give them tools to consult amongst themselves. These things are cheap and easy now if you hire one or two smart people instead of a large consultancy. Define what the boundaries are in your community and punish transgressors without fear of losing a sale. Then, if your product is good, you’ll sell things…If you don’t want to do that then just find niche communities who might conceivably care about your products and buy great ad placements. It’s a better online spend.

BONUS! Here’s what got me thinking (again, because I reflect on the principle of #WWIC at least once a week) about Paul Ford’s piece:

53% of customers who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within one hour. However, if a customer makes a complaint to a brand using Twitter, that figure goes up to 72%.

And more:

brands that provide customers with a timely response can expect the following benefits:
34% of customers are likely to make another purchase.
43% are likely to recommend the brand to their family and friends.
38% are more receptive to the brand’s adverts.
42% are more likely to recommend the brand through social media.

[I’m Reading] Dealing with freeloaders

Posts with the label [I’m Reading] will be about articles I’m finding interesting. I often find things interesting even when I completely disagree with them. No lawyers approved this message.

Here’s how Philip Kaplan’s music distribution service deals with users who get ‘free’ access by creating bogus accounts for referral credits:

It’s possible some of the musicians who want free DistroKid access can’t afford it. Or maybe they’re unable to get a credit card. I’m happy to give these musicians the opportunity to get their music into stores. And maybe they’ll even earn a living from it — the best art comes from struggle. So today we’re launching “Scholarship” accounts. When the system detects that you’ve just created 5 bogus referrals, you’ll be presented with a notice that we caught you, but here’s an option: Either pay the $19.99/yr, or sign up for a free Scholarship account if you can’t afford it. I think musicians will give these options some thought and choose the one that’s right for them.