What are the tech bloggers missing? Your business!

I’ve been watching the tech bloggers quite closely for some time now. Here’s a database of more than 17,000 of my favorite posts, Tweets, and videos from them. But I’ve noticed a few things.

1. They are AWESOME at covering news. For instance, watch how TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Steve Gillmor, Louis Gray, Hutch Carpenter, and a variety of others ask questions at the friendfeed press conference (part I, part II, part III, part IV, part v).
2. They are pretty good at explaining how to use a particular technology. For instance, here’s Marshall Kirkpatrick explaining how to use Yahoo Pipes to build an RSS and news site for your project.
3. They are really good at aggregating attention. Louis Gray even noticed that TechCrunch is making sure its headlines work well on Twitter. Why? Because lots of people hang out on Twitter and click on links.

But what don’t the tech bloggers do well?

Bring home all these new shiny objects and explain why they matter to a mainstreet business.

Yes, there are a few that are trying, like this blog that focuses on social media and your business, but notice the difference between that one and, say, TechCrunch. The headlines are boring. The text is uninteresting. There aren’t very many videos or graphics. And very little engagement on comments.

Or, on the other side, are “pro” sites like About.com that also try, but notice how bad their layout is and how much color and advertising there is surrounding their content.

It’s to the point where I’m wondering if I’m missing something. Is anyone doing a good job of explaining how to bring a business into the modern age?

Last week I was talking with Graham Weston, chairman of Rackspace (I now work for Rackspace) and I asked him whether he knew of anyone looking out for regular everyday businesses. I showed him the Web site of KSCO, a small radio station in Santa Cruz, and noted that it sucked, but that it is emblematic of a whole raft of businesses. Most of whom really don’t get the Web and understand how their customers are using it.

Heck, just yards from Facebook’s main building on University Ave is a great restaurant, Junoon. Do you think they get the modern Web? Absolutely not.

They have tons of Facebook employees as clients. Do they have Facebook Connect built into their Website? No. Do they have any real people on their website? No. Do they have any real interactivity? No. Do they have a mobile client? No. Do they have a community, er, forum? No. Do they have Twitter integration? No. Do they have a way to get people into the restaurant during dead times? No. Did they have any SEO help so people can find them easier? No (their site is largely Flash).

Now, if the business right by the front door of Facebook isn’t getting it right, what are the chances that any of the other millions of businesses around the world are getting it right?

And why aren’t the tech bloggers helping them?

On the other hand, this shows the opportunity open to Twitter, friendfeed, Google, and Microsoft.

Facebook has NOT sewn up the business market yet. Heck, they haven’t even gotten the business right by their front door to use its Connect technology yet.

This market is wide open for anyone to snatch it away from Mark Zuckerberg.

Is anyone showing businesses like Junoon or KSCO why they should use social media and how to do it? I keep thinking I’m not following the right bloggers.

Who should I be following that’s helping out real businesses figure this stuff out?

150 thoughts on “What are the tech bloggers missing? Your business!

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  2. Conrad,

    You just defined your ideal client:. “…clients who dont care about anything but how much can I pay you to get me more customers”.

    I guarantee you there are people out there who want to put $1 into Conrad and take $2 out.

    Talk about what they care about, not what you care about.

    Mark

  3. Hi Robert -

    Excellent observation… and really a major problem/issue if you step back and think about it in terms of the billions of dollars companies large and small spend on technology.

    I’m not a regular blogger (which hopefully doesn’t disqualify my comments) but what you’ve experienced is why I left the corporate world 12 years ago to start a consulting business around helping people and organizations make better use of the technology THEY ALREADY OWN.

    The truth is stuff doesn’t have to be brand new or the latest gizmo to be of value. Individuals today have more power at their fingertips (courtesy of a PC loaded with Microsoft Office and has high-speed access to the Web) than entire Fortune 100 companies had just a generation ago. But they’re only taking advantage of a sliver of its potential because most of what could be really helpful to them is talked about in technospeak… something the majority of business people don’t understand, and are too busy to learn.

    It may be simplistic, but I think what you’ve (accurately) described is something I called the “culture” of technology in my book “Winning Clients in a Wired World” (John Wiley). Back in 2004 I described it this way…

    “If you’ve ever felt as if you’re missing a technology gene, or that you just don’t get what everyone else does, let me put your mind at ease: It’s not you; it’s the “culture” of technology. Developers focus on *features* (what the program does); users care about *benefits* (what the program can do for them).

    “To be fair, the people developing these tools are only responding to user demand for more and more functionality. But in the process, programs have been loaded with layers of labyrinth-like menus whose features, in most cases, remain undiscovered and unused. Left to themselves to figure it all out, most users get confused and frustrated.

    “That said, you don’t need to become a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, you just need to master a few processes and procedures—and then implement them. As you do, realize you’re not alone. Everyone wrestles with technology. Others have faced your problems and found solutions. Later on, I’ll show you how to connect with them.”

    More than a decade of working with business people, mostly in sales and marketing roles, has proven to me that given clear direction and described from that perspective of “here’s why what we’re talking about matters to you”, most people are eager learners.

    It could be something as basic as understanding how to navigate Google and limit your search to exact phrases, titles, or certain web sites. That may seem incredibly old hat to your readers, but I assure you the majority of the Internet-using public does not know that they can do those things… much less how. And when you show them, it’s like turning on a light in a room that’s been forever dark.

    If you’re interested, I’d love to explore this subject further with you. There’s a tremendous opportunity to help lots of folks at the core of what you’ve surfaced. You are welcome to contact me at the email included with this post. I’ll reach out to you separately with an email or phone call early this week.

    Hope we can connect.

    Kind regards,

    Kip Gregory

  4. Hi Robert -

    Excellent observation… and really a major problem/issue if you step back and think about it in terms of the billions of dollars companies large and small spend on technology.

    I’m not a regular blogger (which hopefully doesn’t disqualify my comments) but what you’ve experienced is why I left the corporate world 12 years ago to start a consulting business around helping people and organizations make better use of the technology THEY ALREADY OWN.

    The truth is stuff doesn’t have to be brand new or the latest gizmo to be of value. Individuals today have more power at their fingertips (courtesy of a PC loaded with Microsoft Office and has high-speed access to the Web) than entire Fortune 100 companies had just a generation ago. But they’re only taking advantage of a sliver of its potential because most of what could be really helpful to them is talked about in technospeak… something the majority of business people don’t understand, and are too busy to learn.

    It may be simplistic, but I think what you’ve (accurately) described is something I called the “culture” of technology in my book “Winning Clients in a Wired World” (John Wiley). Back in 2004 I described it this way…

    “If you’ve ever felt as if you’re missing a technology gene, or that you just don’t get what everyone else does, let me put your mind at ease: It’s not you; it’s the “culture” of technology. Developers focus on *features* (what the program does); users care about *benefits* (what the program can do for them).

    “To be fair, the people developing these tools are only responding to user demand for more and more functionality. But in the process, programs have been loaded with layers of labyrinth-like menus whose features, in most cases, remain undiscovered and unused. Left to themselves to figure it all out, most users get confused and frustrated.

    “That said, you don’t need to become a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, you just need to master a few processes and procedures—and then implement them. As you do, realize you’re not alone. Everyone wrestles with technology. Others have faced your problems and found solutions. Later on, I’ll show you how to connect with them.”

    More than a decade of working with business people, mostly in sales and marketing roles, has proven to me that given clear direction and described from that perspective of “here’s why what we’re talking about matters to you”, most people are eager learners.

    It could be something as basic as understanding how to navigate Google and limit your search to exact phrases, titles, or certain web sites. That may seem incredibly old hat to your readers, but I assure you the majority of the Internet-using public does not know that they can do those things… much less how. And when you show them, it’s like turning on a light in a room that’s been forever dark.

    If you’re interested, I’d love to explore this subject further with you. There’s a tremendous opportunity to help lots of folks at the core of what you’ve surfaced. You are welcome to contact me at the email included with this post. I’ll reach out to you separately with an email or phone call early this week.

    Hope we can connect.

    Kind regards,

    Kip Gregory

  5. “I don’t go anywhere unless I can a) FIND the place on google (etc) and b) Find out more about the place on google (etc).”

    He may be 100% correct as far as your buying patterns go. Still uncorroborated if he is correct as far as the other 6+ Billion people in the world goes. Show me the data beyond anything anecdotal.

  6. “I don’t go anywhere unless I can a) FIND the place on google (etc) and b) Find out more about the place on google (etc).”

    He may be 100% correct as far as your buying patterns go. Still uncorroborated if he is correct as far as the other 6+ Billion people in the world goes. Show me the data beyond anything anecdotal.

  7. Great post and fantastic replies.

    I run a business search and local microblogging site in the UK. I totally agree with JS. Most are time short so unless you can show them what the ROI for using your service they won’t stay long.

    Many ‘Social’ services are precisely that and as such don’t translate very well to business.

    Yes many businesses use sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter etc but how many of those can honestly say that they receive significant new customers from those sites.

    The two quesions most businesses want your site to answer are

    1. How will your site help me find new customers.
    2. How will your site help me retain existing customers.

    I think social networks need to innovate around those two questions in order to convince businesses to invest their time (and Ad spend)

  8. Great post and fantastic replies.

    I run a business search and local microblogging site in the UK. I totally agree with JS. Most are time short so unless you can show them what the ROI for using your service they won’t stay long.

    Many ‘Social’ services are precisely that and as such don’t translate very well to business.

    Yes many businesses use sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter etc but how many of those can honestly say that they receive significant new customers from those sites.

    The two quesions most businesses want your site to answer are

    1. How will your site help me find new customers.
    2. How will your site help me retain existing customers.

    I think social networks need to innovate around those two questions in order to convince businesses to invest their time (and Ad spend)

  9. I think you’re right Robert. I work as a project manager in the Digital Media department of Europe’s largest conservation charity and I notice a real disconnect between the the ‘geeks’ and the business itself.

    The reason I started selfwinding.net was to try and address that disconnect. There’s such a wealth of knowledge here that can be applied to business and the more they (the business) understand, the more they want to do and the more we have to do. All good for everyone.

    It’s a very new project and I’m looking for other digital media professionals to contribute – you’d do at a push. :)

  10. I think you’re right Robert. I work as a project manager in the Digital Media department of Europe’s largest conservation charity and I notice a real disconnect between the the ‘geeks’ and the business itself.

    The reason I started selfwinding.net was to try and address that disconnect. There’s such a wealth of knowledge here that can be applied to business and the more they (the business) understand, the more they want to do and the more we have to do. All good for everyone.

    It’s a very new project and I’m looking for other digital media professionals to contribute – you’d do at a push. :)

  11. Robert, you are talking about how to help a restaurant like Junoon. But the majority of tech bloggers, media, analysts do not focus even on the larger enterprise tech buyer like a Citi or a GM – it is largely a vendor driven world. Vendor pr around new products, their earnings releases etc drive most reporting and blogging.

    I have long felt the CIOs and CTOs and IT directors are the unsung heroes in our industry. They get none of the stock options or the fame, but make tech work…the more we can write from their POV the better it will be for the industry

  12. Robert, you are talking about how to help a restaurant like Junoon. But the majority of tech bloggers, media, analysts do not focus even on the larger enterprise tech buyer like a Citi or a GM – it is largely a vendor driven world. Vendor pr around new products, their earnings releases etc drive most reporting and blogging.

    I have long felt the CIOs and CTOs and IT directors are the unsung heroes in our industry. They get none of the stock options or the fame, but make tech work…the more we can write from their POV the better it will be for the industry

  13. I’m gonna add one thing to that. By not interacting these Mainstreet Companies are giving the impression to potential new customers that they’ve something to hide. That helps cement that wall in the customers mind (if they’re even thinking of them at all, which they probably aren’t) which is why businesses need to use these tools to constantly be interacting, creating awareness and credibility.
    Leo Laporte certainly is no “ordinary” business but if “ordinary” business’s just watched was he was doing, get that vibe into their own businesses, they wouldn’t even have to be so interested in tech to get into what he’s doing, to take cues from it and apply it to their own success.

  14. I’m gonna add one thing to that. By not interacting these Mainstreet Companies are giving the impression to potential new customers that they’ve something to hide. That helps cement that wall in the customers mind (if they’re even thinking of them at all, which they probably aren’t) which is why businesses need to use these tools to constantly be interacting, creating awareness and credibility.
    Leo Laporte certainly is no “ordinary” business but if “ordinary” business’s just watched was he was doing, get that vibe into their own businesses, they wouldn’t even have to be so interested in tech to get into what he’s doing, to take cues from it and apply it to their own success.

  15. This is a great post. It hits the heart of the matter. These tools are just crying out to be used by “ordinary” businesses to create extraordinary returns. It’s unbelievable the blindness we can have. We pay to much money to have a TV ad, and yet every company in the World can have a virtual TV network with Worldwide reach for almost nothing. Wal-Mart has thousands of stores, one in every town, but today, even the smallest business can have, not just a store, but a cash register in every house in America, and get the customer to be their own sales clerk to boot! And why aren’t they blogging everyday, new pictures, the latest things happening at their store, restaurant, creating interest, creating energy, twittering, facebooking, and all these incredible tools, most are free! Peter Drucker would say they are too busy solving problems to create opportunities. “Don’t Solve Problems. Create Opportunities.” he famously said. There is so much dead energy. These sites are silos at best, most are just fliers just so they can say they have a website. When it comes down to it, business is primarily social. You do business with who you like, with who woos you, who’s fun energetic and makes you feel good. If they only knew how their websites are subconsciously doing the opposite, telling visitors almost to stay away and don’t come back, and most people never do nor think about the business again. You’ve hit the nail on the head. This is the crucial missing link in the system, how to bring this whole thing together, and as Drucker famously also said, “All the money goes to the company who provides the crucial missing link” Too many people are also doing stuff they hate just for the money. That’s the definition of the Wasteland mentality, a slave mentality. So I hope this new era ushers in a wave of energy to unlock that old paradigm and give people fresh hope, fresh lives, new awakenings on every level, in other words, what has been termed in the past a new “Golden Age” sorta, well not sorta, like the Renaissance and that Ionian Greek period.
    If this were a horse race, the runners are entering the gate!

  16. This is a great post. It hits the heart of the matter. These tools are just crying out to be used by “ordinary” businesses to create extraordinary returns. It’s unbelievable the blindness we can have. We pay to much money to have a TV ad, and yet every company in the World can have a virtual TV network with Worldwide reach for almost nothing. Wal-Mart has thousands of stores, one in every town, but today, even the smallest business can have, not just a store, but a cash register in every house in America, and get the customer to be their own sales clerk to boot! And why aren’t they blogging everyday, new pictures, the latest things happening at their store, restaurant, creating interest, creating energy, twittering, facebooking, and all these incredible tools, most are free! Peter Drucker would say they are too busy solving problems to create opportunities. “Don’t Solve Problems. Create Opportunities.” he famously said. There is so much dead energy. These sites are silos at best, most are just fliers just so they can say they have a website. When it comes down to it, business is primarily social. You do business with who you like, with who woos you, who’s fun energetic and makes you feel good. If they only knew how their websites are subconsciously doing the opposite, telling visitors almost to stay away and don’t come back, and most people never do nor think about the business again. You’ve hit the nail on the head. This is the crucial missing link in the system, how to bring this whole thing together, and as Drucker famously also said, “All the money goes to the company who provides the crucial missing link” Too many people are also doing stuff they hate just for the money. That’s the definition of the Wasteland mentality, a slave mentality. So I hope this new era ushers in a wave of energy to unlock that old paradigm and give people fresh hope, fresh lives, new awakenings on every level, in other words, what has been termed in the past a new “Golden Age” sorta, well not sorta, like the Renaissance and that Ionian Greek period.
    If this were a horse race, the runners are entering the gate!

  17. Robert, technology overall, in regards to small businesses is divided three ways:

    1. Those who lead in technology and/or are quite advanced. These small businesses have web sites (that look good, blogs, CRM, etc, etc). Often times they lead like this due to management that gets it on a personal level but also sees tech as a way to advance the company overall.

    2. Those who use technology out of a necessity. Sure they do email marketing – but that’s about it. They do it maybe 6 times per year and they put 100 images of their latest product in the newsletter as well. They try – keeping customer records in MS Access or Excel – but that’s about it. They are always trying to keep the water from rising too fast in their “boat” of business. Know what I mean.

    3. Then there are those who really can get by as they are with no or litle tech. Maybe the local pizza shop or old school accounting office. 1MB of memory on an old computer, no network. The on button is filled with dust.

    Millions of us are on Twitter – but guess what it looks like many people are twittering about twitter. I don’t think there are that many businesses – “succeeding” using Twitter. WSJ says so, in finding ONE success story, but it’s hype.

    There will always be a digital divide. PERIOD.

    Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com

  18. Robert, technology overall, in regards to small businesses is divided three ways:

    1. Those who lead in technology and/or are quite advanced. These small businesses have web sites (that look good, blogs, CRM, etc, etc). Often times they lead like this due to management that gets it on a personal level but also sees tech as a way to advance the company overall.

    2. Those who use technology out of a necessity. Sure they do email marketing – but that’s about it. They do it maybe 6 times per year and they put 100 images of their latest product in the newsletter as well. They try – keeping customer records in MS Access or Excel – but that’s about it. They are always trying to keep the water from rising too fast in their “boat” of business. Know what I mean.

    3. Then there are those who really can get by as they are with no or litle tech. Maybe the local pizza shop or old school accounting office. 1MB of memory on an old computer, no network. The on button is filled with dust.

    Millions of us are on Twitter – but guess what it looks like many people are twittering about twitter. I don’t think there are that many businesses – “succeeding” using Twitter. WSJ says so, in finding ONE success story, but it’s hype.

    There will always be a digital divide. PERIOD.

    Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com

  19. I will try once more since the first response got deleted, maybe because I referenced bloggers who **do** attempt to do this (myself included.)

    With the SME space – the biggest issue is that too many people ‘don’t know what they don’t know’

    And yes there are many of us trying to convince them, verbally and in writing.

  20. I will try once more since the first response got deleted, maybe because I referenced bloggers who **do** attempt to do this (myself included.)

    With the SME space – the biggest issue is that too many people ‘don’t know what they don’t know’

    And yes there are many of us trying to convince them, verbally and in writing.

  21. Excellent way to look at this. That could be a great way to help these business owners understand and embrace the opportunities that exist with social networking.

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