Use technology to avoid mistakes others have made

Over the last month, we’ve been spending a lot of time updating the technology behind our blog and adding new features to make it more informative and more usable. We added Twitter and dedicated ourselves to posting to it regularly, we embedded a feed from Facebook, we created our own custom-branded short URL service (similar to TinyURL.com), and we upgraded to WordPress 2.7 (which was actually very simple). We also built a system to let people pick their own background for our site. None of these things make our writing any better, or help us post articles that are more interesting, but they (hopefully) make our blog more fun to visit, and visit frequently.
But that’s only how we’re using technology to build out our place on the new, social Internet. It doesn’t speak to the process we go through everyday, and the research we do, to avoid mistakes and to try to perfect the specific things we take on. If you spend just a little bit of time finding out who else has already done what you’re starting, you’ll save yourself a lot of hours and probably a headache or two. For example, a Google search of the term “blog” yields 2.9 billion results. If you refine that search, you can begin to see the decisions that successful bloggers have made and the mistakes that the unsuccessful bloggers have committed. That’s how we came to the decision to use WordPress as our platform. It might not be right for everyone, but it was right for us, and for what our long-term objectives and strategies are. We’re four months in, and we’re completely satisfied so far.
The bottom line is that there are a lot of resources available and there are tens-of-thousands of sites that collect and filter the best and the worst. And since you’re here reading a blog (definitely a form of social media), we thought we’d start the conversation by providing a list of what we believe are the most important social media technologies and marketing channels (but not platforms or companies) currently available in 2009:

  • Blogging
  • Microblogging
  • Podcasting
  • Videocasting
  • Mobile (SMS + Bluetooth)
  • Social Networking + Application Development
  • Widgets
  • Virtual Worlds + Gaming
  • Public Relations
  • Content Syndication (RSS)
  • Content Aggregation
  • Bookmarking + Tagging
  • User Generated Content + Sharing
  • Mashups
  • Contesting
  • Crowdsourcing + Surveys / Voting
  • Online Community (Boards, Forums, Wikis, Ratings / Reviews)
  • Sponsorship + Branded Content
  • Experiential (Events + Meetups)
  • Behavioral + Contextual Targeting
  • Search Marketing + S.E.O.

This is certainly not a concrete list, but simply a place to start your research and planning. The best marketing campaigns will make use of multiple technologies and you will begin to see crossover within and between these categories. Once you decide what you want to do, find out how to be successful and use the proper technology for your goals. Let us know what you think and if you agree or disagree with our list, or if you need help or support, contact us.
By the way: Happy Groundhog Day! Since Phil saw his shadow, it looks like we’re in for six more weeks of Winter. We’re hoping for lots of snow on the East Coast…