commit: 6b2ca8a - #414 (2014-03-05 12:54:44 -0500)
Links to the discussions in the slidedeck
1. Help Inbound.org Find a Great Designer
2. How do you use Inbound.org at work?
3. Inbound.org Mobile App: Yay or Nay?
4. Ask Inbound: How can we make user profile pages awesome?
5. Help us create Inbound.org/events
6. How can we make Inbound.org/jobs insanely useful?
7. What do you think of an Inbound.org marketplace?
8. How to Celebrate Inbound.org's First Year?
Good work putting this together. I like the scale of your ambition and I think it's going to be interesting to see how positively we in the community respond to your call. I'm hopeful.
I feel the same way as Iaian. Great vision with appropriately ambitious goals. I dig it.
Love the storytelling and vision in this deck. Fantastic job, Ed. I don't believe I have any ideas that you haven't already thought of, but the thing that stuck out to me most is the idea of community. Having seen SEOmoz has achieved business objectives by building a loyal community and by hiring people to care about their community, I think it's the way forward.Community are your marketers, they are your SEOs, and they are your PR team.
The weird thing is this sort of leverages the SEOmoz community. This was seeded by Rand and Dharmesh who's followings came from their respective ventures. Goes to show the community is *everywhere* and chooses where best to settle. Twitter is a tool, just like Inbound.org is a tool. My vision is to serve the community best by becoming the best "swiss army knife" for the inbound marketing community so this becomes the obvious choice. :)
I'd love the community help promote Inbound.org more, especially to influencers who don't (and should) use Inbound.org regularly already.
Hey, Ed. I'm interested in this.
"I'd love the community help promote Inbound.org more, especially to influencers who don't (and should) use Inbound.org regularly already."
Why do you think these influencers don't currently use Inbound? Why should they in the future?
Most likely don't know about it. If not that, lack of submissions that appeal most to them (we're very heavy on SEO-type content. Too heavy probably).
If people have submitted an influencers content to inbound then they would have been made aware by a trackback or link checking tool? I'm guessing it's more likely that they're aware but don't see it as a relevant resource to them (as you've mentioned.)
How can we create it into a resource that they want to use? Is it possible that people don't add content from other marketing areas because they don't know where to look? Would a list of resources for different parts on online advertising (email, inbound, ppc, seo, social etc) help people find new content and dilute a overly heavy SEO site?
I'm sure the community would be happy to add recommendations for sites within each niche. This will mean that the community as a whole will be improving their knowledge and be more likely to add content that is a little more varied. What you think?
You mean like "here's the best UX websites on the internets" "here's the best CRO blogs on the internets" by community upvoting? etc. ?
That, I like... we should do that :)
It flags the sites to the community and could make influencers notice the site a bit more. Personally I'd use Inbound more if there was a resource like that (especially if it was updated...)
Hot, Incoming and All Time domains would be really useful, and relatively straightforward. Nice idea Sean!
It's up to you but I think it might be worth adding sites that are decent that haven't had content added to inbound before. Maybe a recommended list? This might require a bit of homework though!
As an aside have you looked into creating a small social button for sites? (you may have mentioned it in the slideshare, I didn't make it the whole way through...) Could be a decent foot in the door with unaware influencers?
Embeddable upvote buttons are in the pipeline. Embeddable widgets so you can grab a combination you like of top/latest/all time articles/discussions/tools/jobs of whatever category you want are also coming. Embeddable comments possibly as well.
Great work Ed!
This presentation just reminded me that I need to be more active in this community. After all, inbound.org is the most educating platform on the web for me (pushing Ted.com to second) and I have something to give in return. Thank you Ed for this great presentation. It's a wake up call.
My jaw genuinely dropped when you compared Inbound.org to TED. I'd say the two are very different, but it's flattering to hear that :)Looking forward to your future contributions!
Actually comparing was not my intention. Being a marketer, Inbound is just more educating for me, which I wanted to mean. Ted, in its own terms, is incomparable. Thanks.
You're going to get my upvote just for saying that inbound.org nudged aside ted.com. Awesome!
Lots of potential here to get the world's best community of inbound marketers together in one place.
Awesome slides and you get my vote for every goal you've set, especially "making it more useful within companies" and "knowledge sharing". Inbound.org is already my favorite place to find the best stuff on everything inbound marketing related.
Love the site, spend a ton of time here, and have enjoyed watching my profile climb onto the first page of users :)The only critique I see here is that SEO related stuff seems to dominate the shared content. We need more articles related to the other topics that are presented. Not sure how to solve this since the users are going to upvote the content they think is the most important, just my two cents.
Ed, I think you're doing some great stuff there at inbound.org. I love laying out vision and goals in a thorough, creative, engaging slide deck. It definitely gives a lot of food for thought.
I'm a bit torn on your point about covering events. While it is important for community engagement, this would seem to take away from the user driven nature of the site. Perhaps create a real news site sort of like the Blaze (for all you left leaning SEOS) and cover industry news, events, and opinion in a separate site that also feeds into inbound.
On events, the idea would be it would be entirely user driven, but structured much better. People could "submit an event", and then submit content relating to that event like liveblogging streams, slidedecks, photo streams etc. if that makes sense?
First off, I want to say that I thoroughly enjoy inbound.org and visit it every day. I think it has huge potential and definitely fills a void that exists in the inbound marketing world right now.
That said, this slide deck worries me. A lot. It screams that we're going to try to do everything in 2013, instead of doing one thing, and doing it well. And that's REALLY scary, because that's the way that startups (and I'm considering inbound.org a startup) die and communities dry up.
So what is the one thing to focus on? You touched on it in your deck, but seeing as how it's not even #1, I don't think it has the priority that it absolutely has to have, which is building and fostering a community.
Honestly, that should be the single thing that you devote everything to in 2013. Don't worry about redesigns (have you seen Hacker News or Reddit?), iphone apps, user profile pages, etc. Those are all nice to haves. What you absolutely must have is a thriving community, unless you want this to continue to be just a crowd-sourced news site.
And honestly, that's what it is right now. Take a look at the front page of the site. Look at the top ranked items right now and count the number of comments. How many articles have double digit comments? How many have zero or one comment? This is a site that's been around for a year and has 10k+ members, and that's the level of discussion that the hottest articles garner? That has to change.
On top of that, the quality of comments is for the most part abysmal. I know that's going to offend people, but it's the truth. They aren't well thought out pieces that add value, but rather a verbal thumbs up, good job. They aren't written to foster discussion, share tips, or explore ideas in more depth, but they should be. That has to change as well.
And that all can change, but it takes effort. In the early days of Hacker News, PG would post articles, comments, and participate in discussion constantly. If you talk to Alexis, when they started Reddit, he and Steve submitted most of the content themselves, but were also on the site commenting and discussing all day, every day, and the community grew and thrived around that. Inbound.org luckily already has a great audience and people who have the knowledge and expertise to contribute huge amounts of value immediately...but you have to make that happen.
So, if it were me (and of course I'm only one data point), I would focus solely on fostering discussion. Tap Rand and Dharmesh to discuss more. Tap other industry leaders to comment, start discussions, and participate in discussions. It's in their best interest to have a vibrant community who love to discuss and share information. Make people start thinking more about the comments that they're leaving. Change where upvote arrows are to follow normal conventions and put them to the left of the comment, not lost in the upper right. Add downvote arrows for comments. Set examples with the types of comments that are left by top contributors and make the community raise the bar on discussion, and police itself with upvotes and downvotes.
Make inbound.org the place people go, not just to discover new things about inbound marketing, but to discuss with their peers about a countless, and ever changing, array of topics. Once that is thriving, then you can begin to think about the other things.
Jeff, I think you absolutely smashed it with this post.
When you think about social media campaigns and their goals of trying to attract new followers and then to engage with them in order to improve their service, more often than not nurturing the discussion is the most important (and time consuming) part of the process. Countless LinkedIn discussion groups have fallen by the waste-side because of lack of engagement, for example. Similarly, when we think of Twitter campaigns, specifically customer service twitter handles, many of us know how damaging it can be to start an online conversation with someone aggrieved with you/your business, only to abandon it half-way through.
Like Jeff said (without wanting to put words into your mouth), Inbound.org could benefit from being treated in the same way. In terms of way of discussion, it's definitely lacking. Ed's own threads on here are perhaps a testament to that. I do fear that some people sort of treat this place like a karma house (look at all my upvotes, ma). I also wonder whether Inbound suffers a bit from people visiting a website via here, but then contributing to the discussion on that website, rather than here.
Where I think that Jeff is especially right is the real crux of the matter: Inbound is definitely not a community yet. To be honest, I think more people see it as a traffic and link mule than a community. Bit of an abstract example, but let's say someone produced a great infographic on something. On reddit, I'd say 80-90% of the users there would whack the image on Imgur and link that to their post. How many people here would honestly do that over, say, hosting it on their own website and generating a ton of traffic that way? (Let's be honest, I wouldn't).
I'm with the Morin fully on this one - above all else, the community element of Inbound needs to be nurtured. Discussion fostered through more engagement by all of us is a great place to start. If/when I awaken from my half comatose, let's-drink-before-the-end-of-the-world hangover and can think of more ways to do this, I'll get back to you.
Jeff, I hear what you're saying and totally agree.
The drive for discussion is something we're actively working on as a team here. Funny, you picked up on the lack of discussions on the homepage at the moment but with last weeks team roundup on Friday you had to scroll and keep scrolling before you saw a post without multiple comments.
There are peaks and troughs.
However, this is the primary mission (to grow the community on Inbound) and discussion is a key part of that. Encouraging people to come back, new influencers to come in, submissions of better content (remarkable stuff, worth talking about) is part of that. Our aim and "conversion" is a community of highly-engaged members who each comment and upvote several submissions a day.
What I'm trying to outline with this post is the community needs Inbound.org and more. There's more we have to offer and should be offering, and I believe by putting that together we'll be able to draw more of the community in. We need to become absolutely invaluable, and there's various parts of that which will help.
Email notifications for instance are coming due to popular request - I'm looking forward to observing the different behaviour of people on the site.
Reading this response Ed, it's clear to see that you are fully focused on the points Jeff raised - not that it was ever in doubt, really (besides, who am I to judge).
I'd also agree that discussion is picking up - a good example is the content muse's 'technical SEOs' discussion.
I'd just slightly err on the side of caution as I feel there is still a way to go and you've made an awful lot of proposals for one year. No doubt I'd love to see them all, and undoubtedly having more avenues for discussion should invariably increase the amount of discussion itself.
To me, it just seems that the core of Inbound, certainly at the moment, which is the submission part and room for discussion, still needs to come a lot further forward, in order for the community of Inbound to kick on and really make the place the active, influential hub it really could be (and it really could be). My two coppers would be to postpone a couple of the ideas and focus on how we can fuel and encourage more engaging discussions.
So I've probably phrased the deck badly...
Essentially, I'm picking up on what's missing in the community and what we (the Inbound.org team) need to work on. But at the end I've tried outlining this won't happen fast because lack of time, cashflow and the dilution effect new features and ideas have on the engagement on the site.
What I should have said to be more explicit - "we're not going to add anything until engagement gets back to a certain "feels right" level."
The likelihood is some of this won't materialize for a long time. The imposed constraints of time, cash and onsite engagement mean we literally can't.
Worst case scenario and the only limit is engagement, and say we choose to ignore that, and we roll out everything tomorrow, likelihood is we'll get a bunch of press (links! woohoo!), a spike in engagement as everyone looks at what's what, followed by a long term depression in onsite activity. That might recover over time, but we'd probably choke the system.
When it comes to prioritizing new features and ideas, it's based on what the team wants (building to scratch our own itch), the kinds of emails/tweets I get and how well we can define something to build it. These ideas are each at very different stages of development and concept. What I felt was important is showing them all off to give you all an idea of what Inbound.org is trying to become - the best community for the best marketers. Sure, it's overwhelming to put them all together at once, but I guess that's part of the fun...? ;)
Definitely will be fun and I have nothing but admiration for the ambition shown.
Sorry if I came across as abrasive here - I was probably reading between the lines/looking for something not there, rather than you necessarily phrasing the deck badly.
"we're not going to add anything until engagement gets back to a certain "feels right" level." - that warms the heart.
If anything, these discussions you've added definitely make me feel like Inbound is in the hands of a great general manager. Roll on 2013 and let's hope the next year is as fun as the last, Ed!
No no, no offence taken. It's awesome when people in the community do the "whoa, hang on a second..." piece. It's a failure on my part not to communicate this properly, so thanks for bringing it up.
Ed and Tom, great thoughts and discussion here. This is much more along the lines of what I was looking for in my original post...discussion and exploration. Couple of quick thoughts on some of the things mentioned:
Tom - Lots of great points. Looks like you and I are on the same wavelength. LinkedIn is a great example of groups which just don't have the level of engagement that they need. LI is trying to solve this with roundup emails of discussions and posts which have occurred over the past week, but those just cause quick traffic spikes, and then engagement falls back down. It's important to realize that fostering a community and creating great engagement is not just a technical problem, but one that requires people to grind it out initially to foster discussion and get people engaged, until the community is to the point that it does that naturally.
Ed - Thanks for explaining how you and the team are evaluating what to work on next. I think scratching your own itch is important, but that sounds like the itches are more along the lines of features and functionality still. You mentioned that last week you had to scroll to find an article with less than a couple of comments, which unfortunately tells me that a couple (or a few) comments constitutes an acceptable level of engagement. I think the aim here has to be much, much higher, both for number of comments (which is really just indicative of conversation) and for the quality of comments, which really hasn't been addressed yet.
I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on specifics for actually increasing engagement and fostering the community here at inbound.org. I for one am going to make more of an effort to comment and discuss the content found here, rather than lurking like I have so far. I have a feeling Tom will also fall along those lines, based on his previous comments, but won't put words in his mouth. It would be great to get some of the thought leaders in the industry to agree to be more active and spend some time engaging with the community here, in addition to their own properties on the web, as well.
All of that said, I think you're doing a fantastic job and really admire you for being so responsive to both praise and criticism. All of these comments are obviously from the outside in and I realize the landscape can look a lot different on your side than it does ours. Thank you to you and your team for all you've done in 2012 and I'm looking forward to what 2013 has in store both for inbound.org and for the inbound marketing community as a whole.
LinkedIn communities are interesting to look at from an engagement perspective, and what's being done on there to drive interactions.
The "features and funtionality" stands out because there's a lot to talk about. The simple strategy for increasing engagement now and in the future is for people to submit more diverse but highly relevant 'haven't seen that before' content on Inbound that's worth talking about. Discussion drives increases in unique visitors which drives growth.
Sean's post higher up in this thread has some great ideas on that...
One thing that I think would help is a requirement for substantive comment on submission of an article. After all, why submit an article if you have nothing to say about it?
Too often it seems to me that there is a race to submit an SEOmoz, distilled, Jonathon Colman, John Doherty or AJ Kohn blog the second it is published, with the winners of those races watching their karma tick up without contributing anything meaningful.
This is actually in the dev queue and being built at the moment :)
Totally agree, and there is certainly a degree of karma gaming going on in that aspect. I also suspect some people are adding posts as a reminder to read them later (so are using Inbound as a bookmarking service which it isn't).
Also adding posts without reading them is crazy risky. What if someone high profile wrote a post with a neutral title and then half way through started being racist? By sharing it you're endorsing it and saying you like the content. If I saw someone share a post like that then I'd negatively associate those views with them too.
TBH, it's not something that massively concerns me. "First submitter" is hardly a long term strategy for standing out in this community. Adding meaningful and insightful comments regularly does. You get more eyeballs that way :)
The site's listed above where folks "auto-submit"... surely we trust them enough to make sure they don't post anything slanderous/racist/offensive?!
They probably wouldn't but there's always a risk in endorsing something you've never read.
E.g. This time where Robert Schoble was wrong and Rand called him out (http://www.seomoz.org/blog/i-used-to-respect-robert-scobles-opinion). What if Rand had just shared Robert's post without reading it because he respected him?
Suspect Rand wouldn't, but I hear what you're saying... there's nothing stopping people from doing that. Maybe there will be some sort of calamity one day (!!), or maybe we come up with a list of "trusted blogs" who's content is auto-submitted. But that opens a whole horrible can of worms...
Yeah, that will always be a problem/challenge with a crowd-sourced news site. I don't think forcing people to comment when they add a piece will help significantly, since if they're just motivated by karma, the urgency will still be there to create a quick comment and get the article submitted.
One thing that could be done would be to weight comments more heavily than submissions, so people who are interested in karma will be more motivated to contribute well thought out posts, but ultimately I think the solution is going to be provided by a community which values commenters who routinely contribute well thought out comments, over karma whores who are the first to submit an article.
What we're looking at is prompting optional comments after people submit. Currently it asks people to tweet which is working okay... but discussions are the source of growth. We'll be switching to that shortly :)
Comments are highly weighted. We've been playing around with the weightings, but I agree heavier weightings are more helpful.