A blog by the Brick Factory The Brick Factory

Attack of the Digg Clones

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen the news aggregation site Digg expand its’ focus beyond Technology news in an effort to reach more eyeballs. We’ve also seen Netscape launch a Digg competitor that is also aimed at a wide audience, covering just about every topic you can think of. The macro approach of Digg and Netscape is a pretty clear attempt to compete with large, traditional media websites. Digg is no longer a niche website aimed at a small community of users. It has grown beyond that and is trying to go big time.

What’s interesting to me is that while Digg and Netscape go macro, you have new super-micro Digg clones popping up every day. There are now Digg clones for sports fans, women, marketers, alternative rockers, American Idol freaks, Spanish speaking astronomy enthusiasts, Mozilla addicts, celebrity gossip fans, the MySpace generation, web designers, medical news junkies, soccer fans, environmentalists, video karaoke enthusiasts and PR 2.0 types.

Anyone reading this can use sites like Crispy News to create their own Digg clone in a few minutes. For free.

This space will be interesting to watch in the coming months and years. For Digg, I guess the question will end up being is bigger really better? By expanding its focus and presumably bringing in lots of new, potentially less savvy users, will Digg end up alienating its’ core community? Will people migrate to more focused, micro communities?

I don’t really have an answer here, although I think it is inevitable that Digg will lose some of its soul by expanding so aggressively. We’ll see.

<Came up with the idea for this post by reading this blog entry by Rohit Bhargava.>

Wal-Mart's Certain Something

Those polling maniacs over at Rasmussen Reports released a study today that claims that 69% of Americans still have a positive opinion of Wal-Mart, while 29% do not like the superstore. The report revealed the following:

  • Americans who are in the lower or middle income brackets are more likely to have a positive opinion of Wal-Mart than those in the upper income bracket.
  • Of the 25% of Americans who claim they rarely or never shop at Wal-mart, 35% percent think positively of Wal-Mart.
  • Those surveyed say that if given a chance to shop at either Wal-Mart, Target or K-Mart, 48% would prefer to shop at Wal-Mart, 30% would go to Target and only 9% would go to K-Mart.

I’m curious to see if there’s a difference in category. For instance, if someone was asked if they would prefer to buy clothes from Wal-Mart, Target or K-Mart, would they still choose Wal-Mart? Or, if they were given the chance to have a shopping spree at either Wal-Mart, Target or K-Mart, would they still pick Wal-Mart?

UMass Releases Study on Business Blogging

Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, a Professor of Marketing at the University of Massachusettes, recently published an excellent study on the habits of 74 business bloggers. Here are some stats from the survey:

  • 49% of the bloggers surveyed said that the time blogging take is the major drawback to having a blog
  • 66% of those surveyed spent less than 1 hour a day writing blog entires; 31% spent between 1-3 hours
  • 95% of those surveyed felt their blogs were successful at achieving their goals
  • 58% reported that their blogs were llinked to from their company’s homepage
  • 89% of bloggers said they got less than 10 comments on their blog a day

If you work at a company thinking of starting a blog, the study makes for an interesting read.

Via Micropersuasion.

Doing the (Market) Research

So now that we’ve all agreed that The World is Flat and also that we’re a nation of people drowning in debt, Boston Consulting Group senior consultant Michael Silverstein has a new theory for us: Middle class consumers are on an eternal treasure hunt, looking for an emotional connection to our purchases, from mac and cheese to the kinds of pens we write with. So how does all of this effect the way marketers, advertisers and PR people communicate to consumers? Silverstein says this, “If your offering isn’t exciting enough to inspire trading up, but not enough of a bargain to satisfy the treasure hunters, you’ll have no emotional connection with your target audience.” (Keep in mind, this book focuses strictly on the consumer goods category.)

Having seen various “strategy” forms (these are forms that make a PR person answer, in short form, what their goal or vision is regarding messaging and product positioning. For instance, a public relations team member might write something like, “We want consumers to think of Sprinter’s Flavored Beverage as a way to live a healthier lifestyle.” Unfortunately, that’s generally the bulk of it sometimes. They build their powerpoint slides around that pithy wish list.), there is a noticeable lack of actual, thought out market research or connection to the consumer in these hollow, easily replicated messages. Somehow, many PR firms without research arms, think that market research isn’t necessary, outside of skimming through a few articles here and there. (more…)

Warren Buffett Doesn't Need the Internet

I recently visited the website of Berkshire Hathaway, which is the holding company controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett that ultimately employs 190,000 people. I was looking for video clips of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual board meeting, which are famous for Buffett’s pronouncements on a variety of economic subjects. It became clear pretty quickly that Berkshire Hathaway doesn’t do multimedia. The site doesn’t even do images. See the homepage below:

The entire website is text based and could be built in under a day by anyone with some basic HTML skills. It is actually sort of refreshing that Berkshire Hathaway doesn’t have some slick website. The site is a reflection of Warren Buffett himself: completely lacking pretension.