A Connection is Made

by Dan Blank on December 29, 2008

What I like most about this time of year is not the gifts or the food, but having a universal excuse to focus on what I love most: my friends, family, and the many people who I get to share my life with, and whose lives I get to share in.

In that spirit, I want to share three little stories of connection, and reflect on what they might mean for publishers and other businesses:

  • A Connected Life.
    I help in managing our blogs across RBI, which now consist of more than 200 blogs, and 300 bloggers. While there are many examples of amazing communities being forged through our blogs, few show the potential of blogs and online community more than Publishers Weekly’s Barbara Vey. I have told you her story before, yet I am constantly amazed at how her community continues to grow.

    A quick recap of the past 2.5 years of Barbara’s life: Barbara was retired and living in Milwaukee, with no experience or credentials in writing, books or publishing. And yet, let’s take a look at Barbara today:

    • Blog Readership: Tens of thousands of page views each month, and growing all the time.
    • She now writes blog entries 7 days a week on most weeks.
    • Comments on every post, sometimes well into double digits.
    • Building authority: She regularly attends industry events, and has been interviewed by print and web media.
    • Videos: 92 videos on YouTube.
    • Twitter: 720 followers, with 1,237 updates since April.
    • Facebook: 815 friends.
    • MySpace: 1,585 friends.

    Her world is now filled with like-minded people – book fans – from all over the world. She communicates to people in a variety of media, and to put it simply, her world has changed. It is important to note that Barbara does not have a tech-savvy background, is not 20 years old, and has seen every step in this process as an opportunity. She cares nothing about Twitter, and everything about connecting with those who love books. That makes all the difference.

  • A Connected Community.
    LEGO has quite a big following with adults – those who love the brand, and push the boundaries as to what you can build with LEGOS. One of my favorite LEGO blogs is The Brothers Brick, where they share a constant stream of cool things that fans have built out of LEGO.

    This website recently took a look back at two years with their own domain name, and three and a half years online. They reflect:

    “I believe that 2007-2008 was the year that The Brothers Brick truly became more than just another LEGO blog. All of you out there make this a community, with LEGO Ambassadors representing the tens of thousands of you who visit the site.”

    Some stats:

    • 1,059,789 visits
    • 3,377,860 page views
    • 411,634 unique visitors
    • 1,200 new posts
    • Visitors from 181 countries

    And not only that, but the LEGO company is embracing them as well. In this post, the company asks readers to contribute ideas for future LEGO sets.

    As you browse the blog, you see contest contributions, reader submissions, in-person events, and the many ways that many individuals became a community.

  • A Connected Generation.
    In his new book, “Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World,” Don Tapscott looks at “Net Geners,” those in the age range from 11-31. From a recent NY Times article on the book:

    “But what really makes Net Geners different, Mr. Tapscott says, is their lifelong experience in using the Internet. Their parents were a television generation that watched the tube an average of 22.4 hours a week. Net Geners watch TV only 17.4 hours a week on average, but they spend 8 to 33 hours on the Internet. Whereas TV is basically a one-way broadcast medium that requires only passive participation, the Internet is a collaborative medium that invites simultaneous participation from multiple users all over the world.”

    Again and again I have heard businesses and brands tell me about their demographic, their customers, and the many reasons why they are not online, and won’t be online anytime soon. While I have seen this debunked time and time again, even assuming that only a small percentage of a business’s current audience is now using the web for their business needs, one has to realize that there is only so long they can hold back the floodgates. A younger generation has grown up connected in ways so implicit that it would be baffling if it weren’t so common.

    Ignoring this not only puts short term needs over the long term health of a business, but disregards the expectations and needs of future customers.

Okay, back to connecting with those I love, but first, I am going to connect to some breakfast.

Have a great week everyone.

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