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The cozy relationships brands have forged with bloggers have been controversial from the start.
Are marketing and PR initiatives that target bloggers smart strategy, or are they little more than a flawed "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" approach to social media?
Forget 'audience', 'unique visitors' and 'page views.' Thanks to social media, more and more brands are looking to base media buys on new metrics like 'influence.'
Take, for instance, the brands that are turning to the Influencer Network put together by Condé Nast's Vogue.
AdWeek describes the Influencer Network as "a panel of some 1,000 women deemed to have sway over other women, based on how active they are on social networks like Facebook and Polyvore, a fashion site where people create collages of outfits and share them with other members."
PR has always been a tough industry. At the end of the day, PR firms are in the business of selling stories in a world filled with stories.
But PR firms aren't without tools that can help their clients stand out. One: free product.
It's been a bad week for J.C. Penney, which found itself penalized by Google and scrutinized by the media after a paid link scheme apparently orchestrated by an outside vendor -- now fired -- was uncovered and detailed in the New York Times.
Not surprisingly, J.C. Penney isn't sitting idly by. It's defending itself.
Kuwaiti blogger Mark Makhoul recently wrote a very critical review of Benihana on his blog. The restaurant's reaction? It sued the blogger...
The reaction of the restaurant to this criticism provides an excellent lesson in how not to respond to criticism online, and it has seriously backfired so far, with the story spreading all across the Middle East and further.
Marketers have been paying celebrities to endorse their products and services for decades, so it's no surprise that there's a booming market for celebrity endorsements via their social media profiles.
With the help of companies like Ad.ly, celebrities and 'influencers' are reportedly earning thousands upon thousands of dollars for a single tweet or Facebook status update.
In the United States, marketers paying high-profile individuals to tweet and blog about their products worried the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) so much that it developed guidelines around the practice.
If you're the head of a struggling newspaper, The Huffington Post has an enviable business model. While content production is almost always the greatest cost in running a publishing/media business, it largely relies on the writing of an unpaid army of contributors. The value proposition the HuffPo offers them: exposure to a very large audience.
It's a model that has been the source of controversy. After all, the HuffPo is a for-profit business, yet it doesn't pay the vast majority of the individuals who labor for it. That's an especially interesting thing for a company founded by a person who wrote a book entitled "Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption Are Undermining America."
Prominent blog network operator Gawker Media paid only $5,000 for the biggest tech scoop ever, but the total cost is proving to be far greater for Gawker Media.
As has been widely reported, police raided the home of Gawker Media employee Jason Chen. Chen is an editor for Gawker-owned Gizmodo, and is the man seen showing off the next-generation that was left in a Silicon Valley bar by an Apple employee before making its way to Gawker.
Later today, Apple is expected to unveil what some believe may be its most important product ever: a tablet computing device.
The Apple tablet has been the subject of speculation for some time and in the lead up to Apple's media event today, the buzz has hit a fever pitch as just about everyone is talking about it. Obviously, the press and blogosphere will have plenty of information to feast on later, but I think the buzz about the Apple tablet is in and of itself worth examining. Why? I think it tells us something about...
I received an email the other day, which caused me some significant concern. It was a request, which came out of the blue, asking me to consider to be paid for featuring certain content on my personal blog.
For me, this is a very unwanted and somewhat scandalous approach and I sincerely hope other bloggers feel the same way. If you think about it, it is a very seedy means to encourage independent people who take the time to blog about subjects they care about, to succumb to the incentive of money.
Social media can be a great tool but there's an ugly side. Because of the nature of social media, its commercialization has raised a number of issues around subjects like disclosure and integrity.
The reality is that paying to play is an easy and effective way for brands to get into the social media game. The downsides of this were demonstrated quite well at this year's BlogHer conference.
Twitter is a publisher’s dream. It is a huge echo chamber that can drive a lot of quality traffic to articles, especially if the retweets take off.
Retweets are referrals. The 'RT' abbreviation is a strong call to action. People trust their virtual friends to steer them in interesting directions, otherwise they wouldn’t be following them in the first place. As such retweets can generate lots of clicks, and they can quickly go viral.
In addition, there are a range of websites orientated around retweets. Think Digg, but instead of ‘diggs’ you have ‘retweets’, and usually these links are displayed in order of popularity (and not buried / subject to a complex algorithm to determine front-page status). These sites can be traffic drivers too. One of my favourites is the excellent TweetMeme.
So, considering the opportunity here, how can publishers make the most out of Twitter, and optimise the retweet factor?