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Smash Summit 2010: Rethink the Blog


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A talk given at Smash Summit on using WordPress to build web sites quickly, with a case study about the 5X savings WNET 13, the New York City public television station, has seen since switching to WordPress.

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Smash Summit 2010: Rethink the Blog

  1. 1. I’m Paul Kim and I am the VP of user growth for Automattic. Today I’ll be sharing with you a look at rethinking the blog for your business.
  2. 2. Automattic is best known for, one of the most popular ways to blog. We’ve been in business since 2005 and currently host over 11M blogs and generate revenue through a combination of paid upgrades and VIP hosting and support services. I joined Automattic from Mozilla, where I was the VP of marketing and part of the team that grew the Firefox user base from 10M to over 300M users by the time I left last year. I got my start working in the Valley in technology marketing with Adobe.
  3. 3. Before I jump into my case study on blogging, I wanted to set some context and give your a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of your current content development tools and processes. To do that I’m going to make a couple of assertions about social media.
  4. 4. The first assertion I’ll make is that social media fundamentally is an amplification of well established methods of human communication. There’s a direct line between basic communication activities like conversations for example and tweeting, between gestures and retweeting. This connection helps explain why sage advice seems just as effective delivered in 140 characters as handed down around a campfire. I think this should feel intuitive to this group, after all many of us make a living as professional communicators. I think this also explains in part the tremendous adoption social media have seen over the past five years. We like social because we have evolved to communicate. It’s part and parcel of what it means to be human.
  5. 5. My second premise is that the benefit delivered by social media is greatly improved speed, frequency & reach in our communications. In this respect social media is just like many other technologies - it extends our natural abilities, in this case to get ideas out to others. Part of this is down to the user experience of our new tools: it’s so easy to use Twitter, Facebook, or WordPress, that I am able to create content very quickly. The corollary is that it’s so easy, many more people can use these tools, and when you have more participants frequency rises. The last part is the audience. The web hit critical mass in terms of users on the desktop in the early part of the 2000’s, and now we see mobile at mass.
  6. 6. So with this framework of speed/frequency/reach as background, let’s look at one core part of the social media loop that hasn’t kept up, and that’s the web site. In 2010, it is still way too hard and takes way too long to build, deploy and update full sites. For those of you in enterprises, how long does it take to make changes to a product site? Do you have to fill out a form days or weeks in advance? (These are all things I remember having to do at bigger companies.) What if it didn’t have to be that way? What if you could update your site as easy as updating a blog post? Let’s look at what WNET, NY’s public television broadcaster, was able to accomplish working with WP and Tierra Innovation, an independent WordPress consulting shop.
  7. 7. WNET is the largest public broadcaster in the US, with a $160M annual budget. Their wheelhouse is storytelling and video, not web production. They wanted to build a flexible, low cost content management system (or CMS). Over a four month period Tierra Innovation built a WordPress-based system that has since been used to build over 50 full sites in just 10 months. These are not blogs, they are full sites with rich media, social integration, the whole modern package.
  8. 8. When WNET broke the data down after implementation, they were seeing basically a 4-5X improvement across the board, whether in time to build, cost or capacity. I think this is tremendously exciting for marketers. Think about what your organization could do and how excited your management team would be at this increase in productivity and reduction in cost. So consider WordPress for your site needs, not just your blogs, and remember to evaluate how your current web publishing system affects your speed, frequency & reach.
  9. 9. Resources for marketers
  10. 10. Thank you!