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Archive for September 2011

The freemium flaw: The challenges faced by freemium – TNW Insider

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Close your eyes, and cast your mind back to the first dotcom boom in the late 90s/early 00s. What’s your overriding memory of that whole crazy period? Or if you’re too young to really remember, what do you immediately think of when you hear dotcom bubble or dotcom boom mentioned in relation to Silicon Valley at the turn of the millennium?

I’m going to take a stab and guess that it has something to do with over-inflated valuations of ill-conceived, kooky ideas. Okay, that may be wide of the mark for some of the companies that are still plying their trade today, such as Amazon, eBay and Google. And of the many ideas that didn’t work out, not all of them were inherently bad, they were simply ahead of their time.

We’ve discussed this subject before, looking at why the original dotcom boom of a decade ago isn’t the same as today, and why we won’t see the same widespread collapse of the digital industry. In the intermittent years between the two dotcom booms, technologies, attitudes, skill levels…everything, has caught up. So even if companies such as Groupon were to fall flat on their faces tomorrow, the bubble would probably still remain intact, simply because the Internet ecosystem is far more robust – companies rise and fall as they have always done, but e-commerce is here to stay.

One of the reasons why so many companies failed before was that there was a broad lack of understanding about monetizing the Web.

Continue via The freemium flaw: The challenges faced by freemium – TNW Insider.

Written by Kees Winkel

September 30, 2011 at 14:38

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Social networking enters the dreaded “It’s Complicated” stage — Tech News and Analysis

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What do Bill Belichick defensive schemes, Tom Clancy novels, Google+ and Facebook have in common? The answer is that all are so byzantine that they leave many people scratching their heads to figure them out.

For NFL playbooks and spy novels, such intricacies are the norm. Social networking should not be that way. The trouble is the latter is rapidly descending into a black hole of complexity that you now really do need one of those Missing Manuals to figure out the basics.

With all of the news coming out of Google and Facebook this week, our relationship with social networking sites has entered the dreaded ”it’s complicated” stage. That’s a shame, since it’s simplicity that attracted us in the first place.

Google’s minimalist interface and ability to execute a search exceptionally well is what catapulted it to the forefront. It made us quickly see just how bloated other services like Yahoo had become as they aimed to become portals. Now Google is a complex portal.

Facebook, much the same, rose to prominence because it was just so simple compared to others. Back in 2007, author/pundit Jeff Jarvis praised its “elegant organization” as the nucleus of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s genius.  Now, however, the interface has grown a lot more complicated. It too is a portal.

Somewhere along the way both Google and Facebook lost sight of keeping things simple

Today Google+ and Facebook are locked in a features arms race the likes of which we haven’t seen since Microsoft Word defeated Wordperfect back in the early 1990s. Both are rapidly adding buttons and gizmos to keep a fickle public in their grasp.

On the one hand, some might see this as a smart move. History has shown us that no single community or social platform has had staying power more than a few years. Users get bored, new platforms emerge and there’s churn. Features encourage tighter connections, more sharing and increase the emotional switching “costs.” It can keep users in their fold – even the disgruntled.

But there’s a balance, and both are starting to go too far

via Social networking enters the dreaded “It’s Complicated” stage — Tech News and Analysis.

Written by Kees Winkel

September 25, 2011 at 19:51

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People on Facebook

  • More than 800 million active users
  • More than 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends

Activity on Facebook

  • There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages)
  • Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events
  • More than 2 billion posts are liked and commented on per day
  • On average, more than 250 million photos are uploaded per day

Global Reach

  • More than 70 languages available on the site
  • More than 75% of users are outside of the United States
  • Over 300,000 users helped translate the site through the translations application


  • On average, people on Facebook install apps more than 20 million times every day
  • Every month, more than 500 million people use an app on Facebook or experience Facebook Platform on other websites
  • More than 7 million apps and websites are integrated with Facebook


  • There are more than 350 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices
  • There are more than 475 mobile operators globally working to deploy and promote Facebook mobile products

via Statistics (6).

Written by Kees Winkel

September 25, 2011 at 12:23

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The social in ‘social media’

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I found this article in The University of Utrecht’s New Media Studies group pages, right here and decided to share it with you.

by: Mirko Tobias Schäfer

The so-called Web 2.0 and social media are enthusiastically embraced as enabling technologies turning alienated couch potatoes into active producers of media content. But what is actually so social about ‘social media’?

A plethora of publications frames web applications such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and others as ‘social media’ to describe the dynamic interaction and massive participation of large audiences. However, ‘social’ receives here an overly positive connotation, something like ‘nice people are collaborating nicely with each other in order to create nice things.’

Three aspects are remarkable about the popular framing of ‘social media’:

a) Claiming that users belong to a community. Drawn from the notion of collective intelligence and peer-based production, the ‘social’ in ‘social media’ receives a positive connotation as a community experience. It is perceived as a social phenomenon rather than a commercial one.
b) Claiming mediated communication equals publishing. The simple use of technology that mediates communication and facilitates interaction is presented the replacement of established media production with user generated content.
c) Claiming that these practices are specific features of the Web 2.0 and distinctive from earlier media practices online.

The commentary on Web 2.0 constitutes a ‘rhetoric of community’, emphasizing aspects of togetherness, equality, collective production and democratic decision making. Turning users into media producers is only one part of the promise the ‘social web’ bears, the other is changing the world for the better through collective efforts facilitated by ‘social media’ (e.g. Leadbeater 2008, Shirky 2010). Social progress is considered as collective effort achieved by simply using advanced technologies properly.

In his programmatic text We think. The power of mass-creativity, Charles Leadbeater dreams of a way to amplify the collective intelligence of the plurality of users who then, in a joint effort, provided technology is used ‘wisely’, could “spread democracy, promote freedom, alleviate inequality and allow us to be creative together, en mass” (2008:6). Through this repetitive positive connotation of ‘social, the ‘social media’ acquired’ a public understanding that goes beyond the original denotation of social interaction and organisation. Actual events of using Web 2.0 applications, such as during the Obama Campaign in 2008 or in response to the Iran elections of 2009 constituted a strong belief in the revolutionary potential of media technology. However, this image is mostly shaped by not telling the entire story and therefore creating media myths.

Web 2.0 platforms or ‘social media’ established themselves successfully as community driven platforms committed to public weal. And while the enthusiastic promoters celebrate their potential to empower passive consumers, entrepreneurs have long realized that the ‘social media’ users are not only yet another audience for advertising, but also a crowd of helping hands in distributing the commercial messages. A plethora of marketing oriented books promises to provide strategies on how to employ social networks for commercial success and how to boost a company’s image by appearing friendlier and more committed to customers communicating through ‘social media’.

Recently some critical voices are pointing out problematic aspects about Web 2.0 platforms (e.g. Lanier 2006 and 2010; Zimmer 2008, Scholz 2008; Petersen 2008; Mueller 2009; Schaefer 2009). Critical perspectives can be divided into three accounts. The free ‘labour account’ draws from post-marxist critique of labour in media consumption (Andrejevic 2002; Terranova 2004; Virno 2004).

The critique aims at the  the unacknowledged implementation of user generated content for commercial ends (e.g. Scholz 2007a, 2007b, 2008; Petersen 2008). A joint effort in revisiting participatory culture as unpaid labour for corporate companies has been initiated by Trebor Scholz on the mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity and a conference with the programmatic title ‘The Internet as Playground and Factory’ (Scholz 2009).

Another branch of critique emphasizes the violation of privacy in online services (e.g. Zimmer 2007, 2008; Fuchs 2009) and the power structures facilitating means of control and regulation (e.g. Galloway 2004; Chen 2006; Deibert et al. 2008; Zittrain 2008).

A third thread of criticism considers Web 2.0 platforms as emerging public spheres (Münker 2009; Schaefer 2010) and the new socio-political quality of user-producer relations in governing software applications and their users (Uricchio 2004; Kow and Nardi 2010). This is exceedingly important to consider since ‘social media’ platforms are indeed becoming something similar to traditional “third places” where conversations take place as much on private issues as on socio-political concerns.

In expanding the traditional private and public spaces and increasing the possibilities for socio-political organization and debate the actual social quality of online media is revealed. The function and role online platforms occupy in daily social life are still subject to negotiations between the various stakeholders ranging from common users over corporate producers and public administrations. These debates result from the technological qualities of the new media as well as from the media practices that are eventually transforming social interaction, markets and politics. Drawn from a deep-rooted idealism for participatory societies, democratic decision processes and freedom of expression expectations are formulated for potential use and regulation of the new technologies. Currently social media platforms constitute an area of conflict where platform providers and users negotiate possibilities and limits of corporate governance. While users attempt to make a difference through petitions requesting consumer rights, the platform providers seek ways of communication and negotiation in setting up policy blogs. The social in social media is recognizable in how these platforms increasingly constitute semi-public spaces and how they turn users into something similar to mini-societies while their corporate providers find themselves in the roles of governors.

Mirko Tobias Schaefer is assistant professor for new media and digital culture at Utrecht University. He is co-editor of the recently published volume Digital Material. Tracing New Media in Everyday Life (2009 Amsterdam University Press) and author of Bastard Culture! How User Participation Transforms Cultural Industries (forthcoming at Amsterdam University Press, December 2010).

Andrejevic, Mark. 2002. The work of being watched. Interactive media and the exploitation of self-disclosure. Critical Studies in Communication, Vol. 19, No. 2:230-248.

Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. 2006. Control and freedom. Power and paranoia in the age of fiber optics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Deibert, Ronald, John Palfrey, Rafael Rohozinski and Jonathan Zittrain (eds). 2008. Access denied. The practice and policy of global Internet filtering. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.

Galloway, Alex. 2004. Protocol: How control exists after decentralization. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.

Kow, Yong Ming  and Bonnie Nardi (eds). 2010. User creativity, governance, and the new media. First Monday, Vol. 15, No. 5.

Lanier, Jaron. 2010. You are not a gadget. Alfred A. Knopf: New York.

Leadbeater, Charles and Paul Miller. 2004. The pro-Am revolution. Demos: London.

Leadbeater, Charles. 2008. We think. Mass innovation, not mass production. Profile Books: London

Müller, Eggo. 2009. Formatted spaces of participation. In Digital material: Tracing new media in everyday life and technology, eds. Marianne van den Boomen et al., 49-64. Amsterdam University Press: Amsterdam.

Münker, Stefan. 2009. Emergenz digitaler Öffentlichkeiten. Die Sozialen Medien im Web 2.0. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt a.M.

Petersen, Søren, Mørk. 2008. Loser generated content. From participation to exploitation. In First Monday, Vol. 13, No. 3, <http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2141/1948&gt;

Schäfer, Mirko Tobias. 2009. Participation inside? User Activities between Design and Appropriation. In Marianne van den Boomen, Sybille Lammes, Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Joost Raessens, Mirko Tobias Schaefer: Digital Material. Tracing New Media in Everday Life and Technology, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009, pp. 147-158.

Scholz, Trebor. 2007a. A history of the social web. Collectivate.net, <http://www.collectivate.net/journalisms/2007/9/26/a-history-of-the-social-web.html&gt;.
— —. 2007b. What the MySpace generation should know about working for free. Collectivate.net,  <http://www.collectivate.net/journalisms/2007/4/3/what-the-myspace-generation-should-know-about-working-for-free.html&gt;
— —. 2008. Market ideology and the myths of Web 2.0. First Monday, Vol 13. No 3 <http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2138/1945&gt;.

Shirky, Clay. 2008. Here comes everybody. The power of organizing without organizations. Penguin Press: London, New York.

Shirky, Clay. 2010. Cognitive surplus: Creativity and generosity in a connected age. Penguin Press: London, New York.

Terranova, Tiziana. 2004. Network culture. Politics for the information age, Pluto Press: London, Ann Arbor.

Uricchio, William. 2004. Cultural Citizenship in the Age of P2P Networks. In European Culture and the Media, eds. Ib Bondebjerg, and Peter Golding, 139-164. Bristol. Intellect Books.

Virno, Paolo. 2004. A Grammar of the multitude. Semiotexte. Los Angeles

Zimmer, Michael. 2008. The externalities of search 2.0: The emerging privacy threats when the drive for the perfect search engine meets Web 2.0. First Monady, Vol 13, No. 3, <http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2136/1944&gt;.

Zittrain, Jonathan. 2008. The future of the Internet, and how to stop it. Yale University Press: New Haven, London.

Written by Kees Winkel

September 23, 2011 at 11:24

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Disney bolsters revenue via commerce-enabled iPad app

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Taken from Mobile Commerce Daily on September 21, 2011

A screen shot of the Disney Store iPad app

Disney is continuing its plunge into mobile with a commerce-enabled iPad app that lets consumers buy products on the go.

The app resembles the company’s Web site with a similar design and functions. The Disney Store app is the company’s latest effort to beef up its mobile strategy, which also includes an mobile-optimized Web site, mobile partnerships and SMS programs.

“The importance of an app for a retailer is dependent on several things,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta.

“At the very least, a mobile app presence is critical for any retailer to market to the largest reach of consumers,” she said.


Ms. Troutman is not affiliated with Disney. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

Disney did not respond to press inquiries.

Mobile magic
The app marries commerce and mobile to let consumers shop via their handsets.

Disney fans can shop by category, price and product name.

Shoppers can browse price, category or popularity

Consumers can add items to their carts and buy products after creating a Disney account.

To speed up the shopping time, credit cards can be saved to a user’s account.

Consumers can also find nearby Disney stores and view their account history.

Design-wise, the app mimics Disney Store’s Web site with a carousel at the top that showcases new products and offers.

Consumers can buy items directly through the app

“With an app, additional features to enhance the site can be added for a more interactive experience, but for shopping there isn’t a need to change the site on this form factor,” Ms. Troutman said.

For example, the app is currently running a promotion for free shipping on Halloween costume orders.

Once placing an order, consumers can track packages through their account.

The app also lists other Web-based information for shoppers, including helpful phone numbers, shipping information, sizing charts and access to Disney’s loyalty program – the Disney Redemption Card.

Wish on mobile
Disney’s launch of the commerce-enabled app is far from the company’s first attempt at mobile.

The children’s media conglomerate also tapped sales with the ToyHopper app in 2010 that let parents buy Disney toys on their iPhones, iPod touches or iPads (see story).

Additionally, Disney recently rolled out more than 50 mobile-optimized comics to Apple devices that targeted fans of the brand’s classic comics (see story).

“Mobile commerce adds the quick ease of searching product and information in the stores, catalog purchases while buying for holiday and much more,” Ms. Troutman said.

“With mobile being such an important marketing arm for Disney, being able to start and finish a transaction on mobile is pretty important,” she said.

Written by Kees Winkel

September 21, 2011 at 13:58

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Associated Press Debuts “iCircular” to Push Coupons to Mobile Users of Newspaper Apps | Mobile Marketing Watch

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It was announced recently that the Associated Press (AP) has debuted a new service aimed at serving up coupons within mobile apps developed by participating newspapers around the country.

Dubbed “iCircular,” the new feature began appearing in mobile apps today as part of a pilot phase of a project announced nearly a year ago by the AP that aims to boost revenue for an industry that’s quickly being replaced by digital content.  iCircular is meant to be the digital equivalent of coupons and other promotions that are inserted into the print editions of weekend newspapers. Those ads are among the most popular parts of Sunday newspapers.

A study by the Newspaper Association of America found nearly three-fourths of readers check advertising inserts, mostly to find out about sales, which falls in line with America’s continued love affair with coupons.  Expanding on this trend and doing so in a collective fashion is a smart idea.  The initial group of 40 newspapers adding iCircular to their phone apps includes the New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News and San Francisco Chronicle.  The phone apps of the newspapers that have agreed to use iCircular so far reach a combined audience of about 5 million people.

The AP says roughly 20 retailers have committed to running ads in iCircular so far, with the likes of Target Corp., Macy’s Inc., Kmart, Toys R Us and J.C. Penney Co topping the list.  As this is just an initial pilot to see how things go no fees are being collected by advertisers, but the AP said it plans to negotiate the fees it will collect if the concept ends up paying off for both newspapers and retailers.  Also, the AP wants to study user behavior before figuring out iCircular’s ad rates and possible service fees, said Mary Junck, the chair of the revenue committee on the AP’s board of directors.  Junck is also CEO of Lee Enterprises Inc., the publisher of the St. Louis Dispatch and other newspapers. If it’s successful, iCircular will likely be expanded to work on the iPad and other tablet computers, Junck said.

via Associated Press Debuts “iCircular” to Push Coupons to Mobile Users of Newspaper Apps | Mobile Marketing Watch.

Written by Kees Winkel

September 20, 2011 at 14:31

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Google Wallet launches for Sprint Nexus S 4G phones, enabling tap-and-pay transactions – Mobile Marketer – Payments

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Google is releasing the first version of its Google Wallet app to Sprint Nexus S 4G phones and offering a $10 free bonus to users who sign up before the end of the year.

Google Wallet was first announced in May and is the result of partnership between Google, Citi, MasterCard, Sprint and First Data. The app lets mobile consumers use their phones as a wallet via a near field communications chip embedded in phones enabling them to tap and pay for items in stores.

“Our goal is to make it possible for you to add all of your payment cards to Google Wallet, so you can say goodbye to even the biggest traditional wallets,” said Osama Bedier, vice president of payments for Google, in a post on the commerce blog for Google, Mountain View, CA.

“This is still just the beginning and while we’re excited about this first step, we look forward to bringing Google Wallet to more phones in the future,” he said. .

Easy peasy

The Google Wallet app is being rolled out to all Sprint Nexus S 4G phones through an over-the-air update.

Citi cardmembers can store offers on their mobile wallet, and will soon have the option of saving loyalty cards and gift cards.

The app lets user pay at participating retailers with a Citi MasterCard credit card or the Google Prepaid Card, which can be funded with any existing credit cards.

Google is adding a $10 free bonus to the Google Prepaid Card to early adopters to set up the app before the end of the year.

“This new technology makes paying with a Citi MasterCard on your smart phone as easy as making phone calls and sending text messages,” said Paul Galant, CEO of global enterprise payments for Citi, New York, on the company’s blog.

“Bringing this exciting innovation to market with our collaborators is a significant step forward in making our vision for mobile payments a reality, and is the latest in a series of initiatives that further our drive to become the world’s digital bank,” he said.

Participating retailers at launch include Champs, CVS, Duane Reade, Foot Locker, Jack in the Box, Peet’s Coffee and Tea, Radio Shack, Sports Authority and Sunoco. Others are expected to be added soon.

Google also said that because Visa, Discover and American Express have made available their NFC specifications, their cards could be added to future versions of Google Wallet.

Google Wallet is expected to be available on additional mobile devices in the near future.

“Sprint is thrilled to be the first U.S. carrier to offer Google Wallet,” said Fared Adib, vice president of product at Sprint, Overland Park, KS, in a statement from the company.

“Nexus S 4G is the first to receive new versions of Android software, and today’s upgrade puts the near-field communications, or NFC, chip in the phone to work so customers can have a secure virtual wallet on their phone. NFC capabilities on smartphones open the door to a new level of convenience and security,” he said.

via Google Wallet launches for Sprint Nexus S 4G phones, enabling tap-and-pay transactions – Mobile Marketer – Payments.

Written by Kees Winkel

September 20, 2011 at 13:11

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Apple to reset iCloud backup data on Sep 22; iOS 5 launch imminent

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Apple posted an announcement on its developer boards on Sunday, warning existing users of the beta builds of iOS 5 and Mac OS X that the backup data on iCloud will be removed from its servers on September 22, according to a report by 9to5Mac:

On Thursday, September 22, the iCloud Backup data will be reset. Backing up to iCloud or restoring from an iCloud backup will be unavailable from 9 AM PDT – 5 PM PDT. If you attempt a backup or restore during this time, you will receive an alert that the backup or restore was not successful. After this reset, you will be unable to restore from any backup created prior to September 22. A full backup will happen automatically the next time your device backs up to iCloud.

iOS and Mac OS X developers have been testing the cloud-based service since June this year and are currently on its tenth beta. The company has stated that iOS 5, along with iCloud, will be launched in the fall, and it looks like we’ll be able to lay our hands on the OS before the end of this month.

via Apple to reset iCloud backup data on Sep 22; iOS 5 launch imminent.

Written by Kees Winkel

September 20, 2011 at 08:29

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Those who know me also know that I bear Nokia in my heart. Finally, I believe Nokia is striking back from bad reputation. Bad reputation is what a company does to itself; an audience can never be blamed. Here’s my old friend and colleague Marko Ahtisaari, today head of Nokia’s design with a Ted-like speech. Enjoy (taken from Vimeo), 

Written by Kees Winkel

September 19, 2011 at 19:04

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These tips will help define your blog’s target audience

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Some bloggers might be a bit disillusioned when it comes to what sort of content they should be writing. When comparing themselves to some of the larger names out there who sometimes don’t appear to blog about anything in particular (thebloggess.com comes to mind), some bloggers believe it’s a simple case of mimicry that will lift them into the limelight. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

A big part of running a successful blog, especially for those who aren’t already table-names, is the strategy behind getting up to speed. It can go far beyond merely picking a topic and rolling with it, and the better prepared a blogger is, the more likely he or she is to get results. Apart from delivering fantastic content, a blogger must also understand who exactly it is that they are writing to.

Assuming you are planning to run a successful blog and achieve sensational results, this thorough guide to defining your blog’s target audience is sure to send you in the right direction.

Who is your target audience?

Perhaps the most critical question to ask yourself before beginning your blogging journey (or perhaps even well into it) is who exactly are you writing to? Be as specific as possible.

Let’s examine The Next Web’s audience for a moment.

Our audience here is oriented to quality, accurate, speedy and original news. Our readers come to The Next Web to find the sort of content that they won’t see regurgitated across any other digital publication because they know we are striving to bring them something of value — something unique that they won’t be able to dig up in quite the same entertaining or readable format anywhere else. Our audience has come to expect that our editorial team is comprised of a knowledgeable and hard working set of writers who regularly engage with our readers and are polite and courteous with our exchanges.

The description above is sort of our “Dear Diary”, where rather than writing to some unknown entity online, we always have our audience in mind. Not only does it set the tone for how we approach our work, it also helps us separate what is bloggable from what is not. In that sense, we are constantly evaluating our work to speak to the right readers.

Continue via These tips will help define your blog’s target audience.

Written by Kees Winkel

September 19, 2011 at 07:30

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