Goats Rounded Up!

I posted the other day about an issue I had with some stray goats… Looks like there was some strange happenings in the tag department. But the WordPress guys have come good and fixed the problem. I do not feature in the goat tags on WordPress any more

There has been some interesting and very funny communications with WordPress support the last day or so. I am sure that they won’t mind me publishing this last email I got from them:

Hi,
We got rid of the goats  🙂
It’ll probably be some other farmyard animal soon, but for now you are a goat free zone  🙂
Sorry!

They have been extremely apologetic and helpful regarding this issue. I am sure it took them some time to get to the end of the goat problem. I had a chuckle when I received the email. I hope they know I can see the funny side. This is another demonstration of why the WordPress community is a great place to be.

Thanks guys I am glad the pesky goats are gone they were starting to gag on the transistors. Weird how this stuff happens, but I guess this is a massive database and anything is possible.

Skype Notifications

If you are like a lot of other users of Skype you may have noticed some strange happenings with your notifications. For the last month or so I have had no notifications when a contact comes on-line. I put it down to a glitch in Skype. But there is more to it than that. Don’t be alarmed though if you are one of the many affected, they know of the problem.

I have all my alerts on, although I don’t get any for contacts coming on-line. For that reason I miss people and that is really starting to drive me nuts. So about a week ago I tried to reinstall Skype. No luck. So I started digging in the notifications. I tried turning them all off, saved it. Then switched them all back on again. Nope. I also tried various combinations of logging on then off in between changing settings. Absolutely no go.

In my explorations I also noticed that some of the sounds had been switched off as well. I had not made these adjustments so it looks like this might be related to the bigger problem as the sounds directly correspond to the loss of features.

These sort of problems pop up every now and then in Skype. I had an issue with my Web Cam not being available during a call. It resolved itself using one of the above measures. The other thing that can happen is that it is fixed in an upgrade of the software or just spontaneously resolves. Who knows why or how. This issue has however been persistent. So I took further measures.

Usually when you “Report a Problem” to Skype you either get nothing back or you get the standard support response: make sure you are using the latest version, ensure that you your drivers are up to date and that your operating system is updated. Very useful. This time I said that all of the above was in place, I am glad I did.

It turns out that this issue is a known problem and that the Skype team is working on the problem and that it should be fixed in a coming build. They recommended that I keep an eye on the download page and apologised. I thought that was nice of them. Keeping an eye on the download page is a good tip. As regular users of Skype may know updates have been built into the latest versions of Skype. But they are slow to remind users that there is a new version. Perhaps the two problems are related given the advice? One other thing I did not do and should have is check the forums and this has come up, although it took some digging to find it.

Since I have had this problem for a while and that I know I am not the only users affected I thought it valuable to pass on. While it still bugs me a lot, not having a program that works properly; I am glad that they are working on it. Patience I guess. It is also great that I got a response that is useful and informative.

I have a Problem with Goats

So I was looking at my stats page this morning and I came across a refer tag that has me stumped. This is all about goats, something I have never said in a blog entry (until now), I have never used the tag in a post. So why am I getting referrals for the tag: mocks-goat-farm?
Here is what I see in the dashboard it is the start of the stats day so it may have slipped my attention before but today it is the top referrer:

mocks-goat-farm tag screenshot

This page has the tag references for mocks-goat-farm on WordPress. As you can see the posts listed have nothing to do with goats or farms and who the heck is “mock”? The other thing is that they are all my posts. Who is the real blogger that used the tag? This is driving me absolutely round the bend so I have started to unravel the goat mystery, so far without success.

A search for the tag on Technorati got one blog in the result. The result was one blog post which appears to have been removed. It might have something to do with a screw up in the database or something like that. Either that or someone is playing a big joke at my expense.

As everyone knows that has a blog here on WordPress the support is taking a break so right now I am hoping that some of the users on WordPress might have some answers. This problem is definitely a WordPress issue as there are none of my posts showing up on Technorati for the tag.

So there you have it, my goat problems. But this is the only post that you will find anything to do with goats so sorry to the disappointed the tag surfers that might be here looking for them.

I refuse to use the tag in this post, that would not be cool… Although in posting this I will successfully be indexed by Google, but what choice do I have? I might laugh when it is all sorted out.

UPDATE: The goat problem has been resolved.

Marketing Podcasting

I was reading Don Thorson’s Blog today and he was talking about “Whole Product“. Marketing he says:

“…come[s] down to a few basic rules. They’re basically the same rules we were taught in our first marketing class.”

I am not a marketer, nor have I studied it in any great detail. I would however say that I do marketing. I have been marketing The Global Geek Podcast since it’s inception as well as this blog and the brands associated with them. So given Don’s formulae I thought that I might try to apply them to podcasting and see what I come up with.

The rules of marketing are simple enough:

  1. Does it solve a problem?
  2. Is it easy to understand?
  3. Is it easy to get?
  4. Is it easy to use?
  5. Is it easy to share?

Does Podcasting Solve a Problem?

In my opinion podcasting is an audio or content delivery system. So I would answer yes to this question. You have content that you want to share and “casting” it is a solution. Syndicating your podcast is a method that makes it available to your listeners. Although that statement is a bit of a weird one because podcasting is syndication of audio content.

Podcasting also solves the problem that radio does not always deliver the content that I want to listen to. More often than not the radio is terrible and contains content that I have no interest in at all. The radio also demands that I listen to it at a certain time in order to listen to the content that I am interested in.

I can listen to podcasts when I want to for how long I want to. So podcasts are “on demand” they do not dictate to the listener, the listener gains more control over what they listen to. That in my opinion means that podcasters need to remember that they have an audience that knows these things and that they should “target” their audience.

Is It Easy to Understand?

You say “podcast” to someone and more often than not you will get a dumb look. The dumb look is not their fault. Podcasting is a new media delivery method, it has not become mainstream. This presents a problem, does that automatically mean that it is hard to understand just because it is a new “product”? I don’t think it should be.

I try to explain podcasting as: A radio show on the Internet. That at least fits into the category of a product that can be explained in five words or less. It would probably pass the “Mum test” as well. But I do think that seriously undercuts what podcasting really is and because of stereo types causes the other person to make some inaccurate assumptions.

This is especially true when you look at the Wikipedia definition of a podcast which is 123 words long! But it does take into the account the special attributes that make podcasts very appealing.

However, John Dodds in his “Geek Marketing 101” Post makes me feel a little better in that he states that:

“Reductive marketing that simplifies ideas does not undersell your complex creation.”

In other words, just because you describe something simply does not mean that you are selling your idea short or degrading it’s potential. So maybe my very simplistic definition is a good one for people that have never heard of podcasting. The idea and the medium itself is not a difficult one to understand but the fact that it is wrapped up in “geekology” and “tech” does cause a block. They think that because it uses a computer and the Internet it is hard to understand. Which means the delivery is important.

Is It Easy to Get?

This is where I think the idea of podcasting is a failure as far as a marketing is concerned. No, I do not think it will fail but the current state of podcasting means that there are issues with accessibility, especially for the new listener.

The simplist way to listen to a podcast is a flash player on a website where a podcast calls home. Any podcast should have one for this reason. Vist the page and hit play, it could not get any simpler right. But, this type of listener is not taking advantage of podcasting especially if you are applying the strict definition where according to Wikipedia:

“Though podcasters’ web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their content, a podcast is distinguished from other digital audio formats by its ability to be downloaded automatically using software capable of reading feed formats such as RSS or Atom.”

So someone listening off the web page is not listening to a podcast, they are listening to streaming media that calls itself a podcast. Strange but true according to the definition.

For a listener to subscribe to a podcast via an RSS reader or aggregator that supports enclosures is; in my opinion is one of the biggest failures of podcasting. Podcasts or any feed for that matter are not easy to understand or subscribe to. This needs to be simplified in a big way for podcasts to “take off”.

I have managed to get one friend that I know of to understand how to subscribe to feeds and podcasts and use it regularly. He is a fairly smart person and computer literate, even then on more than one occasion I had to assist him to subscribe to a feed or understand something about RSS feeds, or his aggregator. What hope is there for the person that just uses their computer to email and look at a few [add interest here] sites? Or the person that has no help at all, who I can almost guarantee will give up soon after clicking a feed button and they see the raw RSS feed and write it off, who wouldn’t?:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<rss version="2.0">
  <channel>
    <title>Liftoff News</title>
    <link>http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/</link>
    <description>Liftoff to Space Exploration.</description>
    <language>en-us</language>
    <pubDate>Tue, 10 Jun 2003 04:00:00 GMT</pubDate>
    <lastBuildDate>Tue, 10 Jun 2003 09:41:01 GMT</lastBuildDate>
    <docs>http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss</docs>
    <generator>Weblog Editor 2.0</generator>
    <managingEditor>editor@example.com</managingEditor>
    <webMaster>webmaster@example.com</webMaster>

etc…

Once a user has got this far they need to either listen to the media on their computer or transfer the file to an MP3 player. This for some people is put in the “too hard basket”. Listening to it on the computer negates the “on demand” concept I talked about earlier in so much as they are restricted to listening to it when they are on their computer. It also makes a podcast a less attractive product.

There are moves however that are dealing with the complexities of subscribing to content. As much as I loathe iTunes I think part of it’s success has to do with the fact that it makes this process easy. Subscribing, downloading, transferring to a portable player – it is all done seamlessly. I am sure that some iTunes users have no idea they are subscribed to an RSS feed. You can get up in the morning, the iPod is charged with new content and off you go.

Firefox 2 that launched this week is also a step closer to making RSS feeds more accessible, one click subscribing to an RSS feed with the aggregator of your choice. At least when users click on the RSS feed link they get a note at the top of the screen explaining what it is and what they can do about it. IE 7 also has better RSS management as of the latest release. This makes podcasts that much easier to get. Although Windows Media Player is yet to see the light, which is poor to say the least and little wonder Apple has the market wrapped up, at present anyway.

Podcasts and RSS feed subscription has to become seamless and invisible for it to hit mainstream. Otherwise podcasts and feeds will just remain a neat geek technology trick.

Is It Easy to Use?

I think most people can play a music file now, or an .mp3 file. Here is one of the powerful aspects of podcast marketing, if you can double-click or press play then you can listen to a podcast. The fact that even a basic install of a computer recognises file types and associates the appropreate application to play it with. From a listener’s perspective once you can get your hands on the file it is easy and accessible. Even vidcasts would fit into the easy to use category.

Don says that at Apple they had a rule:

“”1 minute after they start to use it , they feel like calling their friends”. ……” You will not believe what I just got””

I am sure that given insight into the powerful medium, a listener would see the advantages of the medium. That is of course assuming they have downloaded a quality podcast and not something that has awful production and content. Podcasters, you are ambassadors for podcasting and it’s future, indeed your own future as a podcaster. I am sure there is a marketing rule that says something like: “make sure that you have a product that people will want”. If I have described a listeners first experience of a podcast and that is you, please just try again there is some great, great content out there of any topic you care to name. There is a pile of rubbish as well, like anything.

Is It Easy to Share?

I had to think about what sharing is within the product of podcasting. Can I easily share an .mp3 file? Yes, I could do that but but it is not really sharing the “concept” of podcasting. That is the key, podcasting is not a thing, it is a concept. How do you convince people that you have a concept that is worth having? You become a podcasting evangelist; that is how.

I talk to people when ever I can about podcasting, blogging and whatever else might be associated with it. I have found that you don’t have to sit people down and give them the Podcasting 101 talk (unless they want it, then great).

I am reminded of someone that I work with, about as much of an anti-geek as you could find. More of a “hippy” than anything geek. She has heard me talking about podcasting and she has even asked how she could listen to a show. Yes she has listened to a show. I have mentioned small things about the show or how things have been going to her. The other day she come right out of the blue and asked me how the new co-host was working out! Blew me away. No, she is not a podcasting guru now, but she knows what a podcast is and she won’t give you the “cow in the headlights look” if you said “podcast”. That in my opinion is marketing podcasting, moving it from the geek arena to the mainstream at this present time involves word of mouth education and enlightenment of everyday people to the medium.

This is not about marketing a specific show, that is a another mega post it is about podcasting and marketing the concept. Making the medium understood in the public. Understanding leads to acceptance, use and finally demand. Understanding exerts pressure on developers to overcome the “Easy to Get” problem.

“Marketing is a conversation, but most people don’t speak geek.”

– Rule Number 2 of Geek Marketing

So yes podcasting is easy to share. Do you know about podcasting and subscribe to some yourself? If you can answer yes to this then tell people about it. You might have a podcast in your iPod, people ask you what you are listening to, offer them a listen. Get them interested in wanting the content then they will want to know how. Why not assist someone to set up an aggregator to subscribe to podcasts? Once you have got someone hooked on podcasts they will want to tell others as well. Demonstrate by example how it is done. Something that I do is to wear my “The Podcast Network” T-Shirt as soon as it is washed and ironed! It is a great way to start a conversation.

This is really my take on Geek Marketing 101 Rule Number 10:

10) Marketing demystifies.

“As the conversations develop, the users comprehend your products better and you better understand their needs. With increased confidence, they utilise more and more of your geekiness and, with increased awareness, you are better able to adapt to their behaviours. They feel more warmly about geeks and you may get the chance to buy them a drink. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?”

Nope.

My conclusion is that podcasting is a marketable product or concept but there are significant blocks to it becoming a successful one. Given the rules of marketing it fails. Podcasts solve a problem, are relatively easy to understand, use and share but they are hard to get. Four out of Five is not bad for a new technology medium. But for it to be a successful whole product it has to make five out of five. The main hurdle is that software remains relatively complicated and detailed and the user requires some assistance to set up. For podcasting to be a “whole product” we need to make the process of accessability one that is seamless within the user experience. They should be able to subscribe and listen to podcasts without needing to know anything about an RSS feed or an enclosure. It should be as simple as clicking “play”.

I am not sure how I have done as a marketer in this post, but it has made me really think about podcasting and viewing it as a product. Any real marketers out there have an opinion?