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Sort of agree here, although like Marshall, I am sort of in the influencer business myself, and we aren't quite dead yet. We are doing pretty well having authors with followings create content for brands. This works well; our authors are essentially becoming tiny, one person custom publishers, without becoming shills.
The problem with the word influence is that paying for influence is the dictionary definition of bribery. Influence is fundamentally supposed to earned, not sold. Any approach to marketing or content that attempts to structure a kind economic quid pro quo/proxy for influence eventually fails. Partially because it feels dirty (Payola, Pay per post) and partially because the more one is perceived to sell one's influence, the less influence one ultimately has to sell. Nature abhors a shill.
I like the term authority (I am sure that both Google and Copyblogger do too, since they seem to be branding it) as well as reputation. But these are just synonyms for influence (as is "klout"), and are also not meant to be currencies. These qualities are fundamentally trust based, and resist commercialization.
Better and more traditional measures of economic value in marketing include words like: Reach, Audience, and Circulation. We don't think of these yet as terms we should apply to people yet but I think that is a better direction.
3 days, 13 hours ago on Is influencer marketing over? Here’s another pivot, this time from Wahooly
My company works with influencers to create content for brands. We are fascinated by Klout, and occasional check our writers Klout scores. But any statistic that tries to emulate something as intangible as influence is going to be gamed. Moreover, the underlying purpose of high Klout score is the monetization/ie. selling of ones influence. Which is the very definition of bribery. So Klout's rewards have always made me feel vaguely uneasy.
We are more existential in our approach. Existence precedes essence. What you do determines how influential you are.
How many people can Sarah Lacy get to view her own content? If she writes for a brand, how many of her audience will follow her there? If she writes a book, how many people will buy it? These are the statistics that actually matter, and I don't think they can be boiled down into a single number.
2 weeks, 2 days ago on Klout Experts: Has Klout finally come up with something users will love?
Completely agree. Video is hard, expensive, and doesn't scale. You have a nice two article hitting streak going.
3 weeks, 2 days ago on Online video is a pain in the ass
Is bamboozled really the word you meant?
Def. To take in by elaborate methods of deceit; hoodwink.
4 weeks, 1 day ago on The startup, the lawyer, the Quora question, and the $1.2M seed round
@sandman_va Agree. Pre-1900 most colleges were generalist, and focused on a core curriculum of divinity and the classics. In the early 20th century you saw the professionalized version of higher education emerge, led by German universities like Leipzig that began to offer PHD programs in liberal arts. Competition to build a massive, comprehensive, specialized liberal arts faculty is at least partially the root cause of the massive expansion of costs we currently see. If most liberal arts education isn't at all relevant to a professional career, maybe it is time to scale back the curriculum.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Should you pay $250K to go to college?
@DaveMcClure end of the day it comes down to what one investor told me when I first got funded. "Do you want to be rich, or do you want to be king?" This article is appealing in some ways, but it really only applies to to entrepreneurs in the second category. He is saying king is all that matters. That is a controversial, but valid view.
And investors like you prefer, probably require, entrepreneurs who either want the first, or ideally choose to maximize the outcome between both options.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on An acquisition is always a failure
Well I love this post, even though there are some pretty obvious flaws, which I am sure you see, or others will point out.
The biggest is that if youridea requires significant capital, and you take on investors, then their definition of success is going to involve liquidity within a time frame of say five years. You bootstrapped, which tends to be the exception, not the norm. So your lessons may not be applicable to most companies.
One might even argue that the minute you take outside capital as an entrepreneur ...you have gone a long way towards failing--at least the way you construe it, since an acquisition is a much more likely outcome.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on An acquisition is always a failure
Google Glass is an awfully easy target. As well it should be. Is the whole world really ready to turn themselves into Justin TV? I hope not. It is certainly kind of an ironic target seeing that Bruce Sterling was best known for an anthology called MirrorShades.
At the end of the day, the cyberpunk fiction that established Sterling, Gibson, and Stephenson in the mid 1980's was nearly always dystopian. Some of it turned out to be prescient, other parts (like Virtual Reality) just never really happened. But none of these guys were ever exactly technology optimists--they tended to see the glass half empty, partially because it made a better story.
We Americans may not be living better lives than we were fifteen years ago. Those times were good. But you would have a tough time making that argument to the average Chinese or Indian citizen. And nearly all of us are better off than we were 100 years ago. We aren't getting killed by stupid diseases like polio and small pox, for one. We survive heart attacks, and appendicitis. We have nearly universal access to information. And the folks in 1913 (on average) were much better off than folks 200 years ago. Technology does seem to make lives better in the long run, and humanity is relatively good at self-correcting when technology moves us backwards.
2 months, 1 week ago on “Disrupters don’t just play and experiment. They kill”
IMHO, the BadBeedi/Carr interactions are sublime. Forget Carr/Lacy videos --I want to see Carr/BadBeedi. It is like early Franken/Huffington on acid.
2 months, 1 week ago on NSFWCORP gets banned by Vegas distributors. Maybe this is why print is dying
@catfitz troll. Dao is arguing against entrepreneurship as a kind of cult of self-actualization. It doesn't logically follow that his statement about "how you measure yourself" in this context has anything to do his view on the important metrics of running a business.
You may have a point about the current crop of entrepreneurs lacking some fundamental business sense, but it is way better (trust me) than the funding bubble of the late 90's. At least the dollar values are low, and the prevailing ethos is "lean".
Finally, I'd maintain that VC bubbles are better than almost any other kind since it is frequently professional money that is lost, and failed entrepreneurs tend to beget lasting improvements in technology and infrastructure (for example, the South of Mission area in SF).
2 months, 1 week ago on The fake church of entrepreneurship
The conclusion one could draw(and I think you are right btw) is that most growth that is non-organic destroys value. Which is to say that most acquisitions offer a premium for synergies...but they perhaps should have a discount.
2 months, 1 week ago on When does something become too big?
@PatrickSF @aboerr thanks for the kind words. That flame war actually bothered me; I guess I don't have the temperament for it. Amazing to me that one might choose to engage in that kind of hostility on a regular basis, but I guess to each his own.
2 months, 1 week ago on How much is a piece of content worth?
For what it is worth, Denton was pretty much the first to offer writers compensation based on the audiences of their content almost a decade ago, which created a scalable model (for a while at least) for ad-supported journalism. He was also one of the first to turn the blogging platform into a successful content business. So to my mind, he is in the pantheon of ten or fifteen content innovators, who changed the face of journalism in the early 21st century. (I think the underlying tone of your piece tacitly acknowledges that.)
Bleacher Report innovated too... they were one of the first to take the Huffington Post/About.com/Associated Content contributor model and apply it deeply to a specific vertical. I think the greater contribution was how they identified and applied gamification principles to content creation in a deeper way than anyone who had come before.
Anyway, both of you guys "get it" and moved the ball forward.
From time to time, I feel both of you are needlessly puerile and provocative (like this piece) but then I keep reading you, so maybe there is something to that as well.
2 months, 1 week ago on Gawker admits defeat, tries to replicate Bleacher Report and Huffington Post
I remember there was a period in my life when I had got very lucky, funded, and sold my company. And yet everything I really *knew* was how to seize that particular opportunity at that particular time. I sat on panels, opined, and felt like a fraud. What could I really say? Today there are some substantive lessons about entrepreneurship ala Steve Blank....But these are pretty well known. The rest, as i think you point out here, is probably a need for affirmation and human connection.
Nothing wrong about that, really--I remember there was a bar in Palo Alto that kind of served the same purpose. Interesting to hear someone call it out for what it is.
2 months, 2 weeks ago on The fake church of entrepreneurship
"ball and chain" metaphor was a good one.
2 months, 2 weeks ago on Don’t laugh at Zuckerberg’s newspaper metaphor, it’s more accurate than you think
Curious, was the cat with glasses image created/sourced by 99 designs? That is a pretty clever way to source images. Or is the image created by Pando, and 99 designs are just a sponsor of the story?
2 months, 2 weeks ago on The sharing economy platforms would like you to know that it is not just for coastal hipsters, okay?
@paulcarr @aboer Two last words? Paul, I think you did miss me.
This was certainly not the debut in PandoDaily I had hoped for MovableMedia, but I suppose you did spell our name right.
To clarify, I don't believe what we do professionally is Journalism. We might call it "content marketing", but it is really just marketing. There are a few interesting examples of branded or patronage content that I think of that perhaps cross the line into Journalism, such as what Robert Scoble does for RackSpace. But we aren't there yet, and this debate (if that is what this is) goes well beyond the scope of my work.
Indeed, you are right that if I had read your piece more carefully (and now I have read a few other pieces as well) I would have realized that my observation -- that the value of content lies largely in the audience it attracts, including non-ad supported journalism like NSFWCorp, and that this audience should be explicitly compensated -- is anathema to the vision you are pursuing. I see why you thought I was tone deaf, or even trolling. Ok. My bad.
And yet we disagree. I believe the endgame for any journalist who wants to have a secure and providential career path is now entrepreneurial. It involves building and nurturing their own following. Consider Dan Primack (if you know him) and how much better he is positioned right now than any other Fortune journalist. The "twitter whore" part is, regrettably or not, I think now part of the business. If you hire young journalists and freelancers and tell them not to worry about the Chartbeat dashboard or self promotion, that the content is really the thing, and not to worry the money is there, and you will handle the distribution part-- well I don't know if you are really doing them or you a favor. I think it leaves value on the table, for one thing. That is just my opinion, and I am not a journalist.
My professional observation as a marketer is that it is hard to grow any new content business today without attracting influential authors who already have an existing audience, which means compensating them in some way. And we find that the traditional ways of compensating (ie, $ per word) don't do a good job of predictably approximating that value. This is the problem we are solve for some brands, some of whom are trying to become publishers of a sort. (which is again, not journalism)
2 months, 2 weeks ago on The future of journalism: It’s time to pick a side
Agree completely. Content itself is not that good of a container of value. The same article could actually be worth either $0 or $500, depending who wrote it, and whether that author can contribute eyeballs and measured reach to the site. The only way a freelance journalist is going to make $500/article is if they have their own audience and reputation, and some ability to get their audience to follow them.
Since authors are going to create widely different amounts of value, smart publishers (and brands) inevitably will learn to pay them partially for the content, but also for their ability to drive/bring an audience. Otherwise they can't predict value very well.
This was the point I recently labored to make to Paul Carr, (for which he concluded I was essentially an imbecile.)
2 months, 2 weeks ago on How much is a piece of content worth?
@paulcarr @aboer Paul, substantively, I thought your answer wasn't particularly compelling. Basically you justified the cost of a longer online piece by saying you would use it in other formats where length matters, like print, ebooks and audio. That was kind of cheating, in my view.
But to be clear, I really wasn't engaging with your comment at all. I was answering psimonk. I was happy to give you the last word (and you may have the last word again if you insist--we are really done here) since more words from you inevitably means another slew of vituperative assessments of my intellectual faculties.
However, it just so happens that Bryan Goldberg is making cogent, coherent and similar arguments about value and content on this very site. If you find you miss our tete a tete, perhaps you should go insult him?
@psimonk @aboer Psimonk, thanks for engaging. I am delighted to hear I have half a point.
My argument is that on the paid journalism side (not the free contributor model) it is worth rethinking per-word pricing. My observation is that costs are still a major part of the problem, and I am wondering if there could be an approach that might potentially create a professional wage for authors and still keep quality high for readers. I have also observed that most publishers on the paid side of the equation have failed to do this profitably, so maybe it is worth discussing.
Nor do I think a compensation scheme should generally be a single solution, like per word, or history of clicks, or unique visitors. Compensation, as Carr points out, should be appropriate to the goals of the publisher.
What I am saying, however, is that among the compensation schemes for digital content, per word pricing is the worst of the bunch and should be abolished.
My major beef with per word pricing is this:
1) No Correlation with Value The length of a piece online isn't correlated well with the value created from the monetization of the content, whether through sponsorship, advertising (even if you go the Forbes.com route and paginate the heck out of it) or paid subscriptions. Length may, or may not, even correlate with time spent, expertise, or anything else.
Simply put: do longer stories make more money for publishers than shorter stories in a linear fashion? If so, per word makes sense.
I think the per word model for freelancers in the digital world led many publishers towards preferring short form, 300-500 word spots over longer form pieces. While there is a trend now in the other direction due to social networks, and aggregators and curators, it isn't clear to me that long-form content isn't essentially serving as a loss leader.
2) Per word leaves value on the table Per word pricing doesn't take into account the value that freelance authors can now bring post-publication through their own distribution channels. It leaves a lot of value on the table. Nearly 50% of Forbes audience comes from the "author channel"-- the built up audience of the contributors.
My view is that any paid compensation scheme for online writers/freelancers needs to compensate for two separate things: a content and audience.
On the content side, the important inputs are expertise and time. Writers should be paid a piece-rate based on how long a story takes to write, and the level of expertise they bring to the table. You may argue that this is what a "per word" approach essentially approximates, but I think focusing on length leads to perverse incentives.
On the audience side, writers should also be compensated based on their ability to attract an audience to the content. Audience, unlike the content itself, is directly correlated with the value created for the publisher.
Now junior writers with neither an audience nor expertise will have a hard time earning a living with this approach. It doesn't bode well for a starting career in journalism. But I think it is the direction in which paid journalism needs to go.