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Vishen Lakhiani of MindValley on the top blog stories

Typically, a new communication tactic emerges before anyone knows how to measure its value, and blogs have been no exception. You can look at your Technorati rank, or use FeedBurner to measure your subscriptions, but you should expect more metrics to emerge in this new field. One such emerging metric is from SocialRank, whose badge I display on my site. (My blog breaks into the top 100 marketing blogs now and then.) SocialRank is self-described as the new Web 2.0 network to discover the top stories of the blogosphere within your areas of interest. To learn more about SocialRank, check out this interview with one of its co-founders.


I recently sat down with Vishen Lakhiani, co-founder of MindValley, the Internet marketing company behind Blinklist and SocialRank. Well, I didn’t really sit down with him. Um, I spoke with, uh, well, I didn’t really speak with him, either. Look, I sent him some questions in e-mail and he sent back the answers, OK? Geez, it sounds so much better to say I sat down with him…
Me: What is the purpose of SocialRank for bloggers and for readers? What is your business model?
VJ: The Net has become a popular place where we are completely overwhelmed with information. Imagine you are looking for articles on entrepreneurship. Well there are hundreds of blog posts going up daily on that topic. But this causes a problem….YOU have limited time. Out of the hundreds of new posts on entrepreneurship that went up today – which ones do you pay attention to?
Here’s where SocialRank helps. Now if you’re looking for today’s top news on entrepreneurship—just visit StartupSignal.com and it acts as a filter to make sure that out of the hundreds of new posts—only the best ones get to you.
But we are launching hundreds of SocialRank sites, covering such diverse topics as Internet Marketing, Productivity, Cats, Atheism, US politics or Gossips. Bloggers will get to know what others people are writing about entrepreneurship, and readers will get to expand their view. Relying only on one source of information is quite limited.
Me: What is the story behind the implementation of SocialRank?
VJ: We started out running a blog network. I owned several blogs on marketing and personal development, including blog.mindvalleylabs.com and mindhacks.com.
But as the owner of a rapidly growing company, I was finding it harder and harder to maintain blog postings. A lot of people were coming to Mike Reining (our co-founder) and I for marketing advice and we felt we could not keep up. So we wondered if there was a way we could automatically identify the hottest marketing stories of the day and serve these up to our fan base.
We played around with multiple options for a whole year. We owned a popular social bookmarking site called BlinkList.com and we owned around 9 blogs, so we had some room to experiment.
Nothing worked. But accident we happened to have a mathematician on our team. A bright guy from Delhi IIT, one of the most prominent engineering schools in the world. Talat tried to solve the problem with math and SocialRank was born.
Me: How does a blogger increase SocialRank? Do you have any stories of how SocialRank has helped bloggers gain attention?
VJ: Well there is a large number of factors that influence your SocialRank. But here are two of the biggest.
First, backlinks. How many other bloggers in your field point to your post? This is usually a sign of a good post.
Next, comments. We actually “read” your blog and make a note of how many comments you’re getting in a given time period. The comments are a good indicator of quality content.
There is a lot more to it than that, of course. But we have to keep the actual algorithm a secret to avoid spammers gaming the system.
SocialRank scores are extremely dynamic and updated every day. SocialRank actually seeks to level the playing field and give newer bloggers a chance to catch up. Everyone gets a chance to be noticed and gain new traffic to his site.
Me: How many bloggers are displaying SocialRank badges?
VJ: So far, more than 400 bloggers are showing their support to us by displaying our SocialRank badges.
The feedback we received was extremely encouraging and useful for us. We did launch new communities, improve our content, and launch new features, such as weekly and monthly views.
Me: What are you planning to do next?
VJ: For many of our niche categories we may eventually launch non-English versions. We’re already doing this for regional sites like the SocialRank site for Belgian bloggers, Belgique. DailyVoices.com. We are also working on facilitating the top stories discovery flow. We all have multiple interests in our life. For instance, I want to know the latest news on Internet marketing, but I also enjoy discovering new photography tips. In the future, I will be able to get this in one location, instead of visiting MarketingLens.com and PhotoTipsDaily.com.
Me: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Vishen.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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