Matthew T Grant


Tall Guy. Glasses.

Do You Have a Sidewiki Strategy?

You might want one ‘cuz I just posted the first comment on your homepage!


If you don’t know what the Google Sidewiki feature is all about, you can get the low-down straight from the horse’s mouth, or read what Beth Harte and Mack Collier have to say about it in this review on MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

To my febrile mind, Sidewiki highlights what has always been true about the web: control of your site and its content is as illusory as the Buddhist’s conception of being. In other words, this control is contingent, transient, and, given this intensely provisional quality, the root cause of suffering.

Of course, Google is upping the ante by creating a parallel quasi-parasitic universe in which all commentary, critique, and praise of a web page is aggregated as a communally-generated contextual supplement to it.

Aside from reminding everyone that the browser is only by choice but not by nature a neutral, indifferent frame coolly serving up whatever the web has to offer sans editorial intervention or additives, the introduction of the Sidewiki creates one of those increasingly rare web moments when you can be in on the ground floor.

You’d be surprised, or perhaps not, to discover how many sites are virginal, from a Sidewiki perspective, patiently awaiting the first comments on specific elements thereof  – highlight a portion of a page and comment specifically on that –  or their pristine entirety.

So where are you going to start?

Internet Marketing and The Numbers Game

This is a post I wrote for the MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog. Read it here, or read it there.

3570992970_f2a81936cf_mI met a consultant who was helping a company build out and reinvigorate one of the sites they used for lead generation. Among his goals was this: Add 1000 new pages of content  to the site within a year.

To get to a thousand pages in one year you need around 80 posts a month, so he picked 5 appropriate topic categories, hired 5 writers, and charged each with producing 4 posts a week (reportedly at a cost of $50 a post).

5 x 4 = 20; 20 x 4 = 80; 80 x 12 = 1000(ish). Boo-yah!

He then designated a site manager whose job it was, in part, to ensure that the writers were meeting their weekly/monthly quota and that each post was optimized for search.

Finally, to help drive traffic, he was having links to each post placed on relevant (and reasonably trafficked) Facebook and Yahoo! group pages as well as sites like Digg,, reddit, and so on.

With regard to the actual content of the pages he told me, half-jokingly, “As long as the posts are optimized, I don’t care what’s in them.”

That really caught me up.

While I’ve been blogging for a long-time, both personally and professionally, I had never thought about this activity in such black-and-white, bluntly numeric terms. Being old-fashioned (I’m a digital immigrant, not a digital native, alas), I fear I have too frequently agonized over the quality, novelty, and readability of my posts and almost willfully refused to play the numbers game. Naturally, having the above approach laid out for me, I felt somewhat the fool.

After the bruises to my tender ego had faded (somewhat), I had to admit that, given the nature of the business in question, this “by-the-numbers” method made sense.

Here’s the thing. The company’s success was built on relentless and ubiquitous television ad campaigns in which the main message was essentially, “Call 1-800-…. to see if you qualify for $$$.” The reason this has worked is almost purely statistical. The people they are looking for constitute a tiny fraction of the population (for argument’s sake, let’s say .1%, though the actual number is far smaller). Assuming that these folks are fairly evenly distributed but otherwise difficult to locate, odds are that if you expose one million people to your message, then you will reach 1000 of them (at least statistically).

You can essentially do the same thing online (or can you?) by churning out pages of optimized content and aggressively cultivating off-page links. The beauty is that via judicious selection of the sites where your links appear, you can more effectively target your efforts and, ideally, shift your odds from 1 in 1000, say, to 1 in 100, for example, and at a cost far below that of broadcast media.

Does this mean that the quality of content, it’s relevance to the needs and interests of prospective consumers, it’s “intrinsic value” in other words, doesn’t matter? Yes and no.

If your message is simple (“Do you have problem X? If so, call this number to get $$$”) and customer acquisition is mainly a question of getting that message in front of as many people as possible, then what’s actually on the page, content-wise, might not matter as long as it has gotten them to the aforementioned page in the first place.

If, on the other hand, content is what you are selling (rather than whatever it is your content has led the viewer to see), then then this content does matter and should probably be “good” in the sense of, “informative, instructive, useful, entertaining, etc.”

Now, I do believe that given the importance of link-building to this strategy quality will determine whether or not your posts get Dugg by other Diggers or picked up by a site that has tons of traffic or actively shared by interested humans. This will also especially be the case if you are competing for links on a particular site.

Nevertheless, if you can propagate links cheaply or for free, and you just need to attract clicking eye-balls, then that is all your content needs to be good at.

Image Courtesy of Search Engine People Blog.

PodCamp 4 Boston: My “Me Too” Thoughts and Reflections

1. Step Up

The presenter didn’t materialize at the first session I attended, “How do you measure the impact of social media?” I stepped up and ran the session. Most of the people stayed. (Thanks everybody!) Together we created a schema, based on some theory and a bunch of real-world examples, which I sketched out on the whiteboard. People actually took pictures of it at session’s end! I couldn’t have done it if people weren’t primed to participate and more focused on the topic than the facilitator.

2. Overnight Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight

During the impromptu session on the future of work organized by Tamsen McMahon and Mike Langford, Chris Brogan said something like, “My overnight success has taken about ten years.”

3. There’s Always Something Else Going On

The nature of a multi-tracked conference is that you are always missing another session. Since the organizers encouraged folks to vote with their feet if a particular session wasn’t what they’d envisioned (which people readily did), and since Twitter allowed people to share their experience in real-time(ish), it was easier not to miss things. In any case, since you couldn’t be everywhere, it’s cool that the media at the center of the conference allow people to document and share their particular experiences. Here are just two examples of that from Beth Dunn and Dave Wieneke.

4. If You Are Talking about Monetizing Something, You’re Not Sure How to Make Money with It

This idea came from Rich Sands over lunch on Sunday. The formula he was using (which he got from South Park) was:

Collecting Underwear + ? = $$$

The key to making money is figuring out what’s behind the question mark. If you say you are going to make money by monetizing something, you are basically saying, “I’m gonna make money by making money,” just as people used to say, “Morphine induces sleep thanks to a sleep-inducing property.” [Note: There is at least one way to monetize money, it was called “the green goods swindle.”]

5. Peoples, Peoples, Peoples

On Sunday morning during Amber Naslund’s session, someone said, “You have to learn to manage the data because it’s all data. You’re data!” The technology we are immersed in relies on our ability to translate objects and experiences into complex informational models which can then be recreated and explored in the everywhere/nowhere of digital space. I understand that the power of this technology can obscure the fact that it is “a way of seeing things” and not “the way things are.” Every time that I’m able to interact with people I’ve first met on the interwebs or continue interactions begun in meatspace in cyberspace, I’m reminded that these interactions represent the (use, not exchange) value of the technology for me.

New Podcast Episode: Let It All Hang Out. Or Don’t.

807903622_77f3e49efa_mI’ve posted the 3rd installment of Matthew T. Grant’s Smallish Circle Podcast. Although the original concept of this thing was to feature my amazing friends and amazing stories from their amazing lives, this episode actually focuses on the trouble I’ve had convincing the aforementioned friends to “appear” on the podcast.

I understand that I’m more extroverted than others and generally more willing to share the embarrassing and even dodgy aspects of my life and character in public or semi-public forums. At the same time, I recognize this willingness as a psychological tick, a residual trace of the adolescent need to express oneself in hopes of being accepted for “who you are.”

While I appreciate it when people are open about themselves, I do not view openness as a moral imperative. I think it’s fine, even commendable, to be discrete and save one’s private revelations for one’s more intimate relations. At the same time, I really need juicy material for this podcast or it’s gonna go nowhere at the speed of light.

If you’d like to hear me talking about this and much more more, the latest episode of the p’cast can be found right here. If you would like to catch future episodes of Matthew T. Grant’s Smallish Circle, subscribe via iTunes.

Errata: This episode begins with me explaining the idea behind #onewordwednesday. As it should quickly become clear, I’m actually talking about the idea behind the Smallish Circle Podcast itself.

Image Courtesy of thefuturistics.

Matthew T. Grant’s Smallish Circle Podcast

Timothy LearyI’ve officially launched my latest podcast, “Matthew T. Grant’s Smallish Circle,” in which I interview people I know and people I’ve met and, sometimes, talk about people I’ve known or met.

The first official installment finds me recounting a strange afternoon I spent with Timothy Leary. It will make you laugh, then cry, then sort of giggle like when some one cheers you up after you’ve been crying.

To get the ball rolling, I re-uploaded an interview I did with Dr. James Intriligator, consumer psychologist and polymath, which I recorded as part of The Talent Blog Podcast. I will be adding a few other choice morsels from that adventure in DYI social mediation but, in the main, this podcast will feature never-before-consumed conversations with my remarkable friends and acquaintances about the remarkable things they’ve done and seen and the remarkable lessons they are willing to share with you as you strive to attain your own personal levels of remarkability.

You can subscribe to “Matthew T. Grant’s Smallish Circle” via RSS or through iTunes.

If there if someone you’d like to hear me talk with or talk about, please let me know!

Image Courtesy of F3video.

The Medium Is (still) the Message

Anyone familiar with Marshall McLuhan, and even those who aren’t, have heard his famous line, “The medium is the message.” What this one-liner says in a nutshell is: the content of any particular medium matters less than the impact it has on the people and societies using it.

McLuhan effectively reiterates Heidegger’s perspective on technology which insisted that the essence of technology was nothing technical, but, instead resided in a tendency to view the world, human beings included, in terms of resources. This tendency is best illustrated by the Anglo-American habit of referring to forests as “woods.”

While McLuhan’s theories were rightly associated with mass media like radio and television, it’s important to note that his thoughts on media were first formed through consideration of the “Gutenberg Galaxy.” As Clay Shirky recently pointed out, to describe the world prior to or following a completed revolution is relatively easy – describing a society, a community, or a technology in revolution, is exceedingly difficult.

That’s why I was interested in in Greg Verdino’s comparison of Twitter and Second Life. While I agree with him that there are a lot of similarities in these media as well as the hype surrounding them (I myself called Twitter a “one-dimensional Second Life”), I found it far more illuminating to read, “As marketers, business people and just plain old people, we need to look beyond the story (“hey everyone, shiny new thing here”) to find the story behind the story (“we are staring into the eye of a significant new truth.”)”

The medium is still the message. Twitter isn’t about the people on it or individual “tweets” or even the platform. Verdino seems to think it’s about presence and instantaneous connection. That sounds right to me, though I don’t think it captures the entirety of Twitter as “a signficant new truth.” To get at that, we need to resort to old science of hermeneutics and ask, “If Twitter is the answer, what is the question?”