What’s New for Social Media
Michael Gray Atlas Web Service and Brett Tabke of WebmasterWorld at Blogworld 2009
Brett Tabke: Hey it’s Brett Tabke. We’re back here again at Blog World. Joining us today is Mr. Michael Gray of Atlas Web Service. Michael, well-known in this space, long-time webmaster, world moderator, Pubcon speaker, known far and wide on the circuit. Thanks for taking time to be with us.
Michael Gray: Thanks for having me.
Brett Tabke: We were just talking a little bit about what was hot in the space, in SCO, social media. What’s the deal with this blog poster? We were just talking about Sirgy.
Michael Gray: Yeah actually. Sirgy Brin, the founder of Google…. Someone else’s… one of the wives in Google, they started a company at Twenty-three and Me. And basically what they do is they do DNA testing to try and figure out if you’ve got any likelihood for diseases. And it turned out that he happens to have a higher-than-normal likelihood of getting Parkinson’s disease. And if you go through (and they put this on a Blogspot blog) and he actually links to the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Parkinson’s health group. And the interesting thing is both of those links are nofollow. Now the way Google set the nofollow up is they tricked us all that it was for blog and spam comments and then they came back and said it was for comments that weren’t editorially vetted but those two links he put there on purpose. They should have…
Brett Tabke: One of the co-founders of Google
Michael Gray: Right. He should understand the value of that link. He should be putting in a straight link. And again those are normal links. They should absolutely be getting the credit. This is just another example of how Google…the nofollow has just completely distorted the natural linking of the web. They’re trying to fix it and they ended up breaking it is what happened.
Brett Tabke: Right. And instead of trying to play just gotcha with Google on…you know you’re saying one thing with the left hand and doing different with the right hand, as you say they’re so distorted PR on the web. Linking is just…it’s a cluster.
Michael Gray: Yahoo Shine, if you read that, basically it’s a woman’s magazine type of thing that Yahoo runs. And they have editors that actually write stories and they link to things in there like fashion to lipstick or you know magazines and that sort of thing. And again all of the links inside of the articles that people put in are completely no-fallen and again it’s just another gross distortion that they created down there.
Brett Tabke: Right, agreed. So let’s kind of shift gears here. So SMO it seems like the last year, year and a half really two years, the new kid on the block is social media. Nice shiny you know twinkle. We’ve got Twitter, Facebook. Facebook is kind of, almost come and gone.
Michael Gray: It’s on its comeback. I think actually the biggest thing I think that turned a lot of people off of Facebook was Adspam. Everybody getting bitten by zombies and vampires and you know that sort of stuff. It took over your page and I think they kind of realized ok we kind of lost sight of things a little bit. And they pulled it back and they relaunched and they redesigned things a little bit and the apps are a little bit more hidden so you know your page looks a little cleaner now. It doesn’t look like a MySpace page with fifty million blinking widgets all over the place. So they’re starting to come back and again you know are they ever going to get back to where they were? I don’t know because they’ve introduced advertising into there and that’s always just going to turn off a certain sector of the population.
Brett Tabke: Right. Right. So the other big things have been LinkedIn. LinkedIn is very…
Michael Gray: LinkedIn has pretty much kind of locked the business market in and they’re doing some interesting things. If you’re on the iPhone. I don’t know if you have an iPhone, they’ve all got some really nice apps and they work really well as contact management systems so you don’t have to carry around ten thousand people in your contact address book anymore. You can just kind of use the app and it’ll mail and if the person’s actually gone through and put a phone number in it will actually dial it. It’s a pretty sweet little application.
Brett Tabke: And then of course Twitter, it went from being extremely useful to extremely annoying to extremely useful again.
Michael Gray: I know. Twitter’s an interesting thing. I guess it kind of depends on how you use it. You can completely use Twitter just for personal stuff and goof on people and have fun and that sort of thing. But you can also use it for a lot of business purposes. And again people kind of say, it’s a social thing. How do I use it for business? And to make a real-life analogy that probably people understand. If you have a client that maybe you do business with. Maybe you’ll go to the golf course and you’ll play with them. Maybe you’ll go out to dinner. Maybe you’ll go on a little mini-vacation and you’ll have some social interaction with them. And that’s why when you’re doing Twitter, it’s the little social things that actually make it that much more interesting.
Brett Tabke: Right. Right. And following along here at the conference. You’ve been very helpful in Vegas. You know knowing the hot spots, where to go, where to key up for tickets or get good deals. Now that kind of aside, SMO at the same time clearly matured. What’s next? Do you know?
Michael Gray: Social’s still going to be a bigger part. I don’t know that it’s going to completely overrun search. I know there are people that just say you know, “Social. That’s the way things are going to be.” But I still think search is still dominant. Social’s just going to be a part of it. Again you know reviews that sort of stuff. People still use Google to vet that kind of stuff because you know there’s sock puppets, there’s spamming, there’s all that kind of stuff. Wouldn’t know anything about that. [laughter] And again there has to be some sort of control. Just because you’ve got a bunch of reviews…You know you go to any of the travel sites, you’ll always find a couple kooky people that say, “I love this better than Cats. I’ll go twice more. And then there’s the other guy who says you know, “This is the worst site ever.” And basically you do what most people do and throw out the high and the low and you look for what’s in the middle and if the middle’s good, usually you kind of go with it.
Brett Tabke: Well you know we’re always trying to figure out what’s next, what’s coming you know get that twelve, twenty-four month…do you…
Michael Gray: Video. I really see a lot of people experimenting with video, doing a lot of interesting things. The search engines definitely have a hard time figuring out but there are transcription services out there. And there’s multilingual translation that’s actually kind of interesting too so you can pay services that do lots of different languages too so that’s something that a lot of people are trying. I see a lot of people going back to email newsletters. Going really really old school with that. And that’s an interesting little trend.
Brett Tabke: Um hm. Well you know I tried to do that with robots txt blog and that’s essentially what that was was a newsletter [laughter]. You know it’s text. I just don’t have time to keep up with it or you know how everybody starts blogging and they kind of lose interest in it too.
Michael Gray: Yeah. And again for a lot of people, blogging was an experiment and you know now if you’re running a blog, the thing is, you’ve got to keep updating it. And you know are people in it for the long haul? And if you’re not, you know then it just becomes this thing you’ve left to die on your site and it looks awful.
Brett Tabke: Well what do you think’s going to happen with SMO, search, SEM, say next twelve months? Once we get through this little downturn in the economy and things turn back up.
Michael Gray: Unless Yahoo makes some big internal changes, I don’t see them coming along and doing anything really big to Google. I’d say Google’s kind of got the lock on the market I think for the next two years or so. Unless there’s something out there nobody’s talking about I don’t see anybody getting their act together.
Brett Tabke: So do you see search marketing increasing, staying the same?
Michael Gray: I see marketing getting better. I think mobile. I know people have been talking about mobile for a long time but I think the iPhone has really changed that. I really was not a big iPhone supporter and it took me a long time to get there but browsing…it is the best browser that you could possibly carry in your pocket and I do more searches on it just because of it. You know I had a smart phone before but I use this more now just because the interface is that much better.
Brett Tabke: It’s so much easier. It’s got a ways to go. We all know that, flash all the [?], but it’s just amazing. It’s just amazing for now. What else is coming up just around the corner? Is there any real undercut buzz? It just seems like this year it’s been more of the same, more of the same, more of the same.
Michael Gray: Yeah. I don’t see too much new out there that’s going to come and like knock stuff off. I think people are just trying to refine what’s out there. You know realizing, How do I make a blog long-term strategy? If I’m not going to be able to update this, you know how can I make it so that I still use it but it doesn’t have to be maintained on a regular basis? How can I take advantage of reviews that people are doing? How can I add the user-generated content that people are out there creating? How can I make it so that people rate great things on my site, rate my post, or rate whatever we happen to be talking about. You know ways to engage that, again build some of the community on the site. You know, it’s funny how it comes back. You know forums were really big for awhile and everyone kind of went off and built their own blog. And people realized, hey, it was fun to be a content producer but I don’t necessarily want to be a content producer all the time. So, you know, have other people come on and give them a space to do that, and facilitate that. And if you can do that, that makes it really interesting. You’ve just got to make sure it fits your community.
Brett Tabke: Cool. Well, I appreciate you taking the time. We’re out of YouTube time so I appreciate you taking the time, Michael.
Michael Gray: Thank you.