Books…check. CDs…check. eReaders…check. Newspapers…?

Today Amazon’s Jeff Bezos announced his purchase of The Washington Post for US$250 million.

Bezos obviously sees the value of a well-respected masthead as he gradually builds up content options and value for Amazon’s Kindle services.

Strong brand loyalty, simple automated payment processes through Kindle/Amazon, with useful hardware is a nice combination that Bezos obviously feels he’s building here.

His move is also a respite for many journalists as the newspaper industry sees its margins and core values being squeezed in every which way.

It’s the value of the newspaper’s brand that’s got me thinking about which newspaper brands are of real international value.

The Guardian is a personal favourite of mine and there’s the likes of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald. All very much established, well positioned and respected newspapers and brands.

So what have we got in New Zealand that stands up internationally? The NZ Herald and Stuff are the standout news services. And although Stuff is my local digital offering, the New Zealand Herald is a clear winner IMHO.

Stuff’s branding is one dimensional without an actual hard copy and its brand gets too fragmented across its many small regional mastheads. For international audiences I also think they would favour the NZ Herald too for the simple fact it has “New Zealand” in it’s masthead.

“Be the first, be the best, be different” is a long-running quote on successful Internet ventures. Bezos levered this formula with books and CDs…now we wait to see how different he’s going to make newspapers.

Say it all it all in your URL

Sharing news and content on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter is something I do very rarely these days. Instead, I have a couple of friends who I share content, articles, videos etc with. Usually this is through Skype chat or Messages. They’re not professional contacts, just people who enjoy a bit of humour or a new POV.

Today I stumbled on a terrific bit of TV featuring Russell Brand promoting his live show on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show. (If you’ve got 8 minutes, I highly recommend viewing it!)

To share it I copied the link and flicked it on through Messages. In doing so I realised the URL does a great job of peaking curiosity.

http://gawker.com/russell-brand-destroys-msnbc-talk-show-host-for-treatin-513992493

“Russell Brand Destroys MSNBC Talk Show Host…” says it all.

This is a smart move by Gawker. It instantly simplifies what I need to do to share this content.

Youtube, who actually host the video, use http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ADJhErmJuoQ.

If I were to share this URL, I’d have to do an intro to friends to get them to click and view it. Not really hard, but avoidable.

With the Gawker link I can just say “Read this  <insert link>” to my friends and they will be able to see precisely what the article is about and, if they’re like me, kind of want to see how Brand destroys a US talk show host.

These little details make all the difference when you’re trying to up page impressions and should be something the likes of the NZ Herald have on their to do list.

Holding on to your friends

I’ve got a set of bookmarked websites I call ‘timefillers’. They’re sites that are regularly updated and contain gee whiz content that stirs up emotions. One of my timefiller sites is twistedsifter.com. It features a range of filtered image lists eg 10 best, 15 most etc that make you generally feel good. What I also like about twistedsifter.com is its cross promotion to other content lists with “if you liked this you’ll probably like…”

Now this is not new thinking. In fact it is very old. But doing this well, is still something too many corporate and gevernment sites seem to ignore. They invest in remarketing their websites once people have left their website, but have ignored the user just as they’re about to leave their site.This is surely a lost opportunity.

That particular moment of cross-promotion must be the best possible behavioural marketing offer websites can deliver. People are already on your site, they’ve shown you what they like, it’s up to you to now present additional content that they’ll like.

Two posts a year is twice as good as one…

In a week it will be a year since I last posted on this blog. A year. Wow. It’s moved fast. In that time we’ve completely rebuilt our house, seen my blog get hacked and saved, watched our youngest move into ‘the school years’ and continued to provide ongoing digital advice and support to our core clients and three new ones.

We’ve seen Facebook float and turn its community into a product. We’ve seen Instagram’s owners profit, stuff up and recover.

Google’s continued its march into behavioural marketing and is slowly using its various verticals to build Google+ into a colossal tool.

Apple, sans Steve Jobs, has continued to own the smartphone and tablet device space, although their app centric OS is starting to wear down its appeal as Windows (yes Windows!) launches a more useful mobile product and Samsung and Nokia find the right size and features for their hardware.

We’ve watched local player Trade me slow as people start buying goods directly overseas or simply dismiss the need for buying and selling books, DVDs or CDs.

Groupon and its various pretenders have seen the light and we watched them burn out as fast as they came.

We’ve watched the newspaper industry whittle down its profits as advertisers place their dollars where the eyeballs can be measured and better understood.

We’ve seen Pacific Fibre slide underwater and take with it a potential windfall of benefits for Kiwis.

We’ve seen NZ be a pawn in Hollywood’s attempts to remain in the past with their business models.

We’ve seen NZ journalists really start to understand twitter and its potential. If only they stopped exclusively talking with each other on it and started using it to connect with new audiences.

And we’ve seen the rise and rise of Pinterest. As of yesterday the company has a market valuation of $2.5 billion. Well played.

Heaps of other things happened too. But if I list them all, it’ll be another year before I actually post some opinion here. And who knows what will happen in a year…

Pin the tail on a winner

Four years ago I remember talking with some friends about twitter. I was adamant that it was going to be a gamechanger. Oh they did laugh…I’m not getting high and mighty, I just want to present some context to social media’s new best friend…Pinterest.

Pinterest is an online pinboard where you can ‘pin’ images on any site you like and add them to your own personalised Pinterest page. Your pinboards are self-titled and other Pinterest users can follow them – just like you can follow any other member’s pinboards.

And oh, is it addictive. At the moment it’s really succeeding with design, fashion, architecture and the like but I think, when people start to really understand how it can be personalised to every individual’s taste, it’s going to take off.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I tend to agree.

Register now and start working it out for yourselves.

Tunnel vision

Earlier today I watched a terrific TED presentation from Eli Pariser. He explains how Google and Facebook are using algorithms based on our past site viewing patterns to give us all different search results and newsfeed updates.

As well as Google and Facebook’s algorithms, I think there’s also a natural pattern evolving with twitter whereby we’ve started building our own silos of self-confirming opinion. During the 2011 Election I’ve seen this quite clearly.

I’ve followed people on twitter over the years because I found their insights interesting. But what I also found in the Election was that most people I follow are left-leaning liberals who had little time for John Key and his approach to media. Kind of like me looking in the mirror.

I found that a little boring and ended up ignoring a number of people and looking for some new folks to follow to give my view on the Election a bit of balance.

As Eli Pariser points out in his presentation, news editors of TV, radio and print media may have had particular left/right leanings, but at the end of the day their position has only been sustainable if they offered a bit of professional balance. Just look at Fox News in the US. Widely viewed, but only by a limited audience.

To really create or write a good news article it’s important that the “other side’s” view is articulated, read or viewed and understood. Then people can make up their own opinion based on both sides’ arguments. That’s a democracy.

If we all just see the same old information from a select few with similar views, how will we grow?

Twictionary

After many years on twitter I’m still surprised (and sometimes confused) by new twitter abbreviations and their meaning. To help simplify things I’ve decided to note a few common terms…

RT – Retweet. Used to share another person’s tweet with your followers. Can be done with a simple click of the ‘retweet’ link under each tweet.

Reply – Under each tweet you have the option to respond to a person’s tweet. To identify the person a “@” sign and the person’s address will appear at the beginning of your response.

Favourite – If you like a tweet you can ‘favourite’ that tweet. It won’t be shared directly with your followers but the person who posted the initial tweet will be advised of your action.

HT – Heard through. Requires the user to copy and paste another person’s tweet. Often used when additional context or opinion is required.

MT – Modified tweet. Used if someone has adjusted a person’s tweet but still needs the person’s twitter address included to provide context.

Via – Similar to HT. Again context or additional comment from the sender may be added.

@ – At. The prefix to a twitter address.

Twitpic – A comment photo sharing add-on for people wishing to share photos.

# – By placing a hashtag in front of a term eg #zumwohl people can create an indexable term that others can repeat to form a ‘trend’.

Trend – For various countries across the globe twitter categorises ‘top trends’. These vary with common terms eg John Key or Richie McCaw and various irreverent hashtag terms eg #ifyouwanttodateme

#lazyweb – If you are looking for a solution to a problem, by adding #lazyweb to a tweet, you are effectively asking the twittersphere for a solution. You may be surprised at how many people are happy to help.

bit.ly/ow.ly – These are URL shortening services that help you share news of the web with your followers. They also let you track the number of people who click on your tweeted message.

This list is evolving and I would offer folks the chance to comment on more twictionary definitions but my comment spam is out of control. If you do have more, why not put them on twitter with #twictionary so others can find them.