I was reading this post by Ben Barren about the recent re-design of the WordPress homepage. I’ve been using WordPress for a little while now and am getting a feel for what it is good at and what it could do better (hint: mass recategorisation/tagging of existing posts). However, the fact that WordPress has redesigned its homepage is not significant, what is significant is this – if you want to get visitors to your site you need bloggers that others read and trust to link to you, and trust is subjective.
Subjective trust is a challenge for marketeers because while someone like Robert Scoble might well be one of the most well known bloggers in the world a referral from him to some site ranks lower than a referral from one of my co-workers on their blogs. The implication is that it is quite simply impossible to BUY mindshare, and it is certainly impossible to get critical mass in the blogosphere in any predictable way.
As an example, lets say you are launching a new product and you want the whole world to know about it on the launch date but not before (you are “controlling the message”). You decide that you want to generate some buzz in the blogosphere and so on the date you seed a few posts hoping that someone blogs about it – but nothing happens – why?
Well the blogosphere is a bit of a funny beast in that sometimes you can throw something into it and it gets picked up and is blogged about, but other times you can hurl stuff in and it falls flat initially and if you are lucky it gets picked up but not with the same aggression.
The lesson here for marketeers is that “controlling the message” doesn’t work with the blogosphere and that if you have something that is blog worthy, you need to start leaking it out early. You need to arrange your plans such that if it is an instant hit you can cope with it (were are in BETA screens etc). The more likely result however is that you’ll get a little bit of traction while you finalise your initial offering and you’ll slowly EARN a following – at which point you can launch V1 and be done.
Maybe the fact that so many online sites have a BETA phase these days is just a marketing necessity?