Hiogi Q&A Community

Hiogi is a pretty interesting service, basically a Q&A site based in Berlin that gives stuff that isn’t worth much to people who successfully answer submitted questions. Lot’s of growth and apparently a hot company right now.

Wish I could tell you more but the site is in english and all the Q&A is in German so I only got so far.

Facebook Suckage Syndrome

I guess Facebook really is just for college kids to poke themselves on. Oh well.

[From Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger » Blog Archive Facebook continues to suck «]

Yeah, pretty much. I don’t know anyone doing “serious stuff” on Facebook, and vampires and food fights are so last year. This is a real problem for Facebook and not only is it in their interests to do something about it, but they also have an obligation to all of the companies that are basing their future plans on Facebook becoming a true utility service. Robert may have a bone to pick with Facebook but that doesn’t make his comments any less valid.

As a nice contrast to my previous post about LinkedIn CPM rates, check out this data on Facebook CPM rates which more or less triangulates to other datapoints that suggest social ads just haven’t had the impact that proponents had hoped for. But hey, they are generating, apparently, an impressive revenue number and have plenty of cash in the bank so do have time to work it out.

There’s still a big opportunity here, but I will certainly admit that in my case aspirations got ahead of reality. In retrospect it is clear that many of the bullish Facebook commentators, like yours truly, were painting Facebook with expectations based on what we wanted to see as opposed to what they were capable of doing. Fair or not, Facebook still benefited from a huge push upward as a result of this, but the problem with leverage is that it works going down equally as well as on the upswing.

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LinkedIn: We’re Selling Ads For $75 CPM

Yeah, I don’t doubt that LinkedIn is selling such a high CPM, but the problem for them is that I just don’t spend a lot of time in LinkedIn so the opportunity to lever up that CPM is limited. I’d bet that the average time spent when compared to other social networks is low, which means there is less ad inventory. This is something they should be concerned about because I’m right in their sweet spot for a target market and I rarely spend but more than 10 minutes a month in LinkedIn. How much you want to bet that LinkedIn acquires a social networking company in the next year?

Having said all that a $75 CPM is really impressive.

Since LinkedIn knows the professional histories of its users, and can target sales execs, c-level managers, or certain industries, we can imagine high ad rates for advertisers looking for a business niche. Still, we have a hard time believing this is an average CPM for LInkedIn. But we don’t have a hard time believing that LinkedIn’s average CPM crushes that of Facebook, MySpace and other social networks who routinely struggle to get CPMS above a buck.

[From LinkedIn: We're Selling Ads For $75 CPM - Silicon Alley Insider]

Kalex Systems, Turning Waste Heat into Power

I met the CEO of a Kalex Systems recently, really neat guy with a fascinating company. The company’s technology is based on the Kalina Cycle, a method for recovering heat and converting it into mechanical power. I get excited about technologies like this because so much of the available energy at our disposal is thrown away as waste heat, everything from the exhaust your car produces to industrial processes.

What Kalex is doing is building small scale power plants that convert a variety of heat sources into power. For example, in China the company is building power plants that convert waste heat from cement factories into electricity. Concrete doesn’t dry, it cures as a result of a chemical reaction, and a major by product of that chemical reaction is heat. Up until now there hasn’t been an efficient method to capture heat, consolidate it, and convert it into power.

It’s often said that reducing our dependence on fossil fuels will come as a result of incremental innovations across a portfolio of solutions. Kalex is one such innovation that makes possible the development a wide range of industrial power plants, whether from the methane produced by a dairy farm (biomass) to waste heat (municipal waste) to geothermal.

Marvel Moves To Shut Down TechCrunch Iron Man Screening

UPDATE: Mike writes that this has all been worked out. Apparently it was Oracle who was the bad actor, pun intended, in this movie drama for they are hosting a similar screening and didn’t like the TechCrunch competition. The lesson learned, if any, is that it pays to aim first before firing a shot, had Marvel/Paramount’s lawyers taken the time to investigate the facts before firing off a CAD, well it would not have blown up so spectacularly in their faces. As for Oracle…

Just one more reason why corporate lawyers should be hermetically sealed and only allowed near a keyboard with prior approval of someone with actual common sense. Mike bought every ticket to the Metreon’s showing of Iron Man, then offered it to TechCrunch’s community for $1 a ticket, clearly taking a loss to host everyone. BTW, Mike is also a lawyer.

Just to be clear, we paid the full ticket price for every seat and are fully authorized to do this. This is unbelievable and stupid in so many ways, and goes right to the top of the list of moronic legal moves against us. And he even ends the note with a “please don’t print” message.

[From Oh. My. God. Marvel Moves To Shut Down Our Iron Man Screening]

Newspaper Audience Decline Again, No End Till Zero

This is hardly surprising or unprecedented. Newspaper’s print audience is literally dying off and they are pulling the plug on all the free copies they give out, all of which means circulation numbers are terrible, again. But make no mistake about it, while print circulation tumbles, online traffic grows by impressive jumps which makes one wonder what the intersection of business model transition is going to look like… more on that later.

Print circulation continues on its steep downward slide, the Audit Bureau of Circulations revealed this morning in releasing the latest numbers for some of the country’s largest dailies in the six-month period ending March 31, 2008. When a full analysis appears it is expected to find, according to sources, the biggest dip yet, about 3.5% daily and 4.5 for Sunday.

[From New FAS-FAX: Steep Decline at 'NYT' While 'WSJ' Gains]

Amazon Kindle or Bezos’ Windmill?

Amazon is highlighting the fact that Kindles are available for immediate shipment following long delays following unprecedented early demand. That Amazon is devoting the choicest real estate on their site to the Kindle, as well as publishing their shareholder letter, underscore the commitment that Amazon is making to this device.

I’ve been watching the Kindle with a high degree of curiosity, fully aware that no electronic book reader has ever gone mass market despite some impressive technology achievements. It has not been lost on me that the reason why the Kindle is different is that Amazon is not a consumer electronics company, they are a retailer that has an enormous amount of clout in the content side of publishing and that is exactly what is required to drive success in electronic books.

It’s clear that Bezos sees a day when any and all content can be delivered to a Kindle and not only won’t Amazon have to store inventory, they also won’t have to ship anything but the Kindle itself to support their book business. In that light, the Kindle totally fits and is an impressive disruptive strategy to boot. Having said that, we have 550 years of mechanical printing to overcome and in terms of simplicity and cost, it’s hard to beat a hardcopy book.

I’m still skeptical that in the next 10 years we will be able to displace print but in many categories not only will this be success but it could be transformative as well. Can you imagine the capabilities that would be made available in classrooms if textbooks were available electronically for the Kindle and then integrated with social network capabilities? Take magazines and other periodicals as another example of a category that could be transformed with electronic delivery.

Still, even though I’ve had one on backorder for my wife, I think I’ll hold out for a little while.

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Community Managers and Managing Communities

I wonder how most organizations are handling the role of community manager. I’m curious where a community manager reports. Marketing? HR? Customer service? I wonder how organizations are justifying the cost, and what they believe the role entails for level of effort. How are companies using the role in either direction?

[From On Managing A Community | chrisbrogan.com]

NewsGator has a new community manager. I hired Josh Larson a few weeks ago to take on this newly formed role. The truth is that we were all doing some measure of community management before Josh came on board, we just were not focused on it and a lot of stuff fell through the cracks.

As you can imagine given my background in corporate blogging, this is an area that interests me greatly, but it’s not just about blogging on behalf of a company. I think that is where a lot of companies go wrong on this front, they think that just getting someone to “go blog it out” is enough when in fact community management is like marketing like customer support is to engineering. All are critical functions but community management is about advocacy more than promotion, just like customer support.

This is also why Josh reports to me instead of to our marketing group. I want this role to represent marketplace advocacy and I thought that ultimately I am responsible for that so it makes sense for the role to report to me. I also happen to care alot about the tactics by which we manage community, an outgrowth of my now many years of experience in corporate social media.

Our community manager has several distinct but interconnected roles. The first is easy, establish and grow a meaningful blog presence through which we expose and highlight our activities AND connect directly with influencers, power users, early adopters, customers, and many other groups of individuals who are relevant to our market space.

A blog is just a tool, which means that we will use many tools at our disposal to reach out and with an authentic voice talk about what we are doing and listen about what we could be doing. What we are doing with Twitter is another example of how we are taking advantage of social media tools to connect to our marketplace.

Communities are about networks and as such the community manager is responsible for building out and maintaining networks related to the above groups, and like a pilot who’s hands are on many levers apply leverage to various constituencies as determined by what our objectives are. The important aspect of this is that for a network to remain vibrant and active, we have to give back as much as we take.

There are probably a dozen other responsibilities that fallen within the scope of community manager but in the final equation it comes down to the commitment of the company to support that person in his/her role. I think we have a well earned track record at working with our community and not just talking to it, which hopefully means we are prepared to amp up those efforts with a person who is dedicated to the task.

Like all things that are on the forward edge there is an element of learning as we go, but this type of role is not so new as to suggest it’s all experimentation. We, as an industry, know from recent experience that the marketplace is demanding a richer interaction with companies so I think we’re on the forward edge of mainstream as opposed to on the bleeding edge.

DMA Irony

Is it not fantastically ironic that the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) puts their news site behind a registration page? If anyone should be aware of the bounce rates when registration is required, it should be the DMA. But it gets worse, when you actually do click on create a visitor account you are presented with a process straight out of the 1990′s, first doing a database search and then asking you to create a “new customer record”. I haven’t seen descriptions like that since I worked at SAP.

And they ask you, actually they require, your email… like I’m gonna give my email address to the DMA.

It’s really quite disappointing because they have some really good content, it’s too bad their web team never quite made it into the 21st century.

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