Posted on February 19th, 2006 No comments
I’m extremely happy to accept Bakotopia’s 2006 Digital Edge Award for Most Innovative Participation! We’re the winner for such sites that are run by newspapers with circulations between 50,000 and 99,999.
The “Edgies” are given every year by the Newspaper Association of America’s New Media Federation. Bakotopia is one of a handful of winners chosen from 187 entries by 42 experts from various media fields — including newspapers, broadcast, educational institutions and Classifieds. Rock on!
Everything about Bakotopia and the “Bakomatic” platform that powers it has been a team effort, so I would like to thank the following people from the team who helped make it happen:
Mark Jackson, Mick Martinek and associated software developers from Precision Technologies LLC in Fort Collins, Colorado. Mark worked closely with me to build the original architecture that powered Bakomatic 1.0. We have since grown our relationship with his company, Precision Technologies, to build future versions that support two other Web sites and many more to come.
Chris Ladd, an incredibly talented software engineer (and much more!) who we hired internally in October 2005. Chris is also a great product visionary, and you can expect to see more of his ideas in action in 2006.
Mary Lou Fulton, Vice President Audience Development, for accepting my wacky proposal to build an interactive Web site for 18-35 year olds in Bakersfield. Not only did she believe and trust me, but she convinced others to do the same. She has been a champion at the executive level for Bakotopia, and other similar leading-edge initiatives at the Californian that would otherwise never have gotten traction. It all starts at the top!
Matt Munoz, the lead singer of the band Mento Buru who joined as the new Bakotopia product manager only a few months ago. He is already making waves by recruiting dozens of bands and producing the very entertaining Bakotunes podcast each week. I’m sure all of this helped impress the judges.
Numerous others at The Bakersfield Californian who supported us in this effort. It’s not easy to look outside the box when you work in a company with just one product that has been around, largely unchanged, for over 100 years. In particular, our publisher Ginger Moorhouse, CEO Richard Beene and the executive staff that supports them are extremely progressive. Without their determination to embrace the changes that are rocking the media world, nothing that people like me and this team propose would ever see the light of day.
Congrats to all!
Posted on February 12th, 2006 No comments
So much for my promise to post more frequently — but this time I promise that I have a really good excuse.
On Jan. 24, my wife and I welcomed our latest new product into the world. Her name is Elena Raquel, and as much as I’d like to say more and post lots of cute photos, we’re keeping this one under tighter wraps than the first (and by this I mean the cushy blanky type of wrap, not marketing blackouts). Needless to say, I’ve had other priorities of late, and my three weeks of paternity leave started a little earlier than planned. I will be back to work on Feb. 15.
But I did want to quickly announce that last week, the Bakomatic team successfully launched what I like to call “true social networking.” Users of Bakotopia, Northwest Voice and Mas now see an “Invite Friends” link in the Welcome / My Stuff box. It lets them invite a friend to join them as a member of the site, and by doing so the invitee receives a free user profile that is linked reciprocally with the friend’s profile (something users of Tribe, My Space, Friendster and LinkedIn should be very familiar with).
You can see an example of Friends links on Spud’s profile. Scroll down to see the new “Friends” box there.
There are two immediate benefits to this feature.
First, it enhances the increasingly social nature of our sites. In fact, it turns them into “social networks” in the true sense of the word (so far, our sites have been primarily topical in nature).
Second, there’s an obvious “viral marketing” aspect to this. By inviting friends to join them, our users also market the site they’re using. It’s always nice to market something without having to pay the big marketing bucks.
But most importantly of all, this feature is just plain FUN! That’s something we don’t hear enough about when it comes to Web site strategy. When I was at AOL, I recall an executive saying something that I really agreed with:
“We succeed when we build products that people use and love every day.”
A successful interactive product is about more than just pageviews, frequency and ad impressions. And when it comes to newspapers and news organizations, it’s about more than just news. I think many consumers would agree with me that if newspapers can recreate the warm fuzzy feelings Apple users have when they lovingly cradle their iPods before they go to bed (and I’m not exaggerating there), we won’t have to worry about how we will manage the digital transformation. We will succeed because people love us.