Could your idea use a blob of money?

Social media sites are really funny animals and as such need really funny names.

A new site called Ideablob fits that requirement and is doing something that I find strangely intriguing.

Budding entrepreneurs are encouraged to join the site and submit their business ideas and for a chance to win $10,000 towards fulfilling them.

Other members cast votes that move ideas up the list toward qualifying for the prize. The real mesmerizing part of the site though is all of the comments that the ideas generate. Suggestions, praise, tweaks, add-ons and the like run down the side of each idea making for a really interesting stream. It has a bit of a virtual focus group feel to it.

Here’s a short video focused in ideas.

In addition, people can ask the community to weigh in on questions that have that may or may not be related to any of the ideas on the site.

Worth mentioning is the fact that the site is created and sponsored by a credit card company and the on-site branding is one of the lightest treatments I’ve ever seen. (Note the inspired by Advanta emblem in the header) This kind of hands off, low-key promotion is tough for some marketers to pull off, but I think it adds a level of transparency and trust that is key to the success of these types of sites. Nice work Advanta.

It’s a unique twist and worth a visit.

So, what’s your great idea?

The definition of branding – video version

I’m playing around with video blogging and using video in general in anticipation of launching my own small business social networking site called The WorkBench. (There will be more on that soon.) Here’s a post from a few days ago in video format. Let me know what you think. (I think!) You can embed this clip on your site or in your blog if you like by copying the code that comes up when you hit the steal this tab below the movie.

Bloglines Top 1000 blogs

BloglinesBloglines, the blog reader I have used for years, launched what it is calling the Bloglines Top 1000 blogs today.

This is a great way to find the most popular blogs based on subscribers. If you haven’t tried out the new beta version of Bloglines I recommend it.

You’ll find Duct Tape Marketing nicely sandwiched between 43 Folders and Rolling Stone.

Subscribe to Duct Tape Marketing via Bloglines.

If you can’t join them beat them

Google this week announced what seems like a great move in the social network application world called OpenSocial.

OpenSocialOpenSocial is a set of common APIs that will work on many different social websites, including MySpace, Plaxo, Hi5, Ning, orkut, and LinkedIn, among others. In addition, this allows developers to learn one API, then write a social application for any of those sites.

Today, MySpace also joined the Google sponsored party. So now we have a nice friendly standard to build all those social applications on, but wait, where’s Facebook? To date, the leading social network has not receive an invite.

So, is this just buzz stealing on the part of Google or is this Google (after a failed Facebook investment) and the other social sites gaining up to take Facebook on?

Rumors are swirling in this red hot category. Better pay attention small business folks, it’s not going away – fun may turn fundamental in this space.

Mobile friendly blogs the easy way

MoFuseMobile browsing hit the mainstream a few years ago with the introduction of Blackberrys and what were called smart phones. With the addition of the Apple iPhone and iTouch mobile browsing is set to finally gain the type of use that’s been projected for a while.

With that comes a whole new set of issues for web site owners. While mobile browsers are built to recognize the fact that they are showing content on a really small screen, (iPhone users get to blow it all up with that nifty outward pinching motion) the typical web site and blog is not very mobile friendly. And, scrolling all over while your screen refreshes is too much work for the mobile reader.

In a perfect world you could create two web sites – one for standard browsers and one just to cater to the growing army of mobile readers.

Or, you can check out a new service I was recently introduced to called MoFuse.

Mofuse takes blog feeds and turns them into mobile versions of your blog. There are other services that do this, in fact, I have written about and used a service called WinkSite for about two years, but MoFuse has some very cool functionality.

  • Mofuse lets you easily format the look and feel of your mobile pages including adding your own header art.
  • Mofuse allows you to use some DNS masking magic to create your mobile site on your domain. My mobile site url is http://m.ducttapemarketing.com – you can have a look by clicking on the link to get an idea of what mobile browsers will see. (It’s not much to look at here but on a mobile browser it’s stunning!)
  • The service makes it pretty easy to add mobile pages for your products or contact info through an online WYSIWYG HTML interface.
  • They have created a script that will detect mobile browsers to your WordPress, TypePad or Blogger blog and automatically show the mobile pages when a mobile browser visits your blog pages.

Posting relevant comments on blogs is networking

WordPressI happen to think that many small business folks would find networking on the web as valuable as networking at, say, the next Chamber event. There are many ways to do networking on the web but I happen to think one of the easiest is to participate in blogs you enjoy by frequently posting relevant content. Blog comment posting is very much like standing around chatting with a group of folks at a networking event (except you don’t have to balance the Swedish meatball plate on your wine glass.)

When you target blogs you enjoy reading and bloggers you would like to have a relationship with and participate appropriately in the conversation you will find that your writing improves, you gain access to thought leaders and you will likely receive the benefit of spillover traffic from some of the blogs where you leave comments. (Don’t post sales pitches and direct links to your site – the blogging software will point to your site much like a business card, let it do the work of linking)

Now, here’s a tip to make your commenting task go a bit easier. WordPress and TypePad, the two big blog softwares automatically throw off RSS feeds for comments as well as content. You can subscribe to the comment feed of any blog you follow and automatically get new comments in your RSS reader so that you can react to the ones that need your input.

Here’s the URL for mine and the format for any WorpPress blog – http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/comments/feed/

Content is a verb, content is a strategy?

video cameraIf content is king, and it is, then what, really, is content these days?

On the web, it’s simply not enough to write hard hitting sales copy and call it content. Content, content that educates and builds trust, has become much more active than that and requires a strategic view to be truly effective.

    To compete in the content is king world small business marketers must consider creating, aggregating and filtering the following forms of content:

  • Written content (blogs, articles, static web pages, RSS feeds and news updates)
  • Spoken content (podcasts, testimonials, case studies, core messages, press releases)
  • Video content (tutorials, case studies, testimonials, customer generated, company story, demos and stunning images)

The bar has been raised and your prospects expect to find information in the format they want. They expect to be able to consume this content in many ways, including on a mobile device like an iPhone. You can’t afford to sit this out.

And, guess what, Google, Yahoo and MSN think so much of the mixed media content strategy they have all begun some form of what is being called Universal Search. Now when a surfer goes to a search engine looking for content they may find local directory results, images and video mixed into the organic results. If you aren’t producing these types of content you may find it tougher to compete.

For a great primer on Universal Search look no further than this post from Lee Odden at TopRank.

Take the three song challenge

MoondanceEach week for about eight years now I’ve recommended a music album in my newsletter. I’ve often received more comments about my music selections than my marketing advice, but I just know that I spend a great deal of time rockin out in my office while working away. Based on feedback from readers I know I’m not alone on that one. (I actually sold a pretty significant piece of business one time and the person told me that when they saw I liked “The Band” they knew I was the right choice.)

A while back I asked you to tell me just 3 books that have made difference in your life and the list that came through your comments kept me busy for months.

So, here’s the new challenge. Name three (yes, just three) songs that make a difference in your life. It’s funny how important music can be in how we relate to things, remember things, enjoy and endure things. Even in business. But, the tough part is creating a list of only three favorites. Can you do it?

    Here’s my list:

  • Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen (The live version is my favorite)
  • Into the Mystic – Van Morrison (Hope, faith, connection)
  • Forever Young – Bob Dylan (My mom lived this one – check out Jimmy Lafave’s version)

Now it’s your turn, give me some new ideas for my iPod.