One True Fan – Next Generation MyBlogLog Empowers Marketers

As the Alpha of One True Fan currently stands it is just a fun game – a little like Foursquare where you can become the “One True Fan” of websites based upon a number of factors. I say that having never used Foursquare or any kind of location based social network. For me locations are the web pages I visit :)

  • Daily Visits
  • Unique page views
  • Promotion of a link by Twitter Delicious & Facebook (currently)
  • The traffic you send by a specific channel

One True Fan Toolbar

The main interface for One True Fan currently is the toolbar.

Here you can see the toolbar on my screen just as I have become One True Fan of Techmeme – actually quite a hard challenge because Techmeme isn’t really a site with 100s of pages that you might normally browse.

You can gain more points by linking there, which I assume Louis has done a few times over the last couple of weeks as well as daily visits. I did manage to catch up though it is not something I could normally maintain as I don’t use Twitter.

Techmeme One True Fan Louis

The toolbar can get a little annoying – quite often I have forgotten to switch it off when taking screenshots, and for hardcore SEOs access to footer links can be impaired. Having to hide the toolbar on every page view when doing some work can be a pain, plus at times you are looking at lots of client sites which you might want to not permanently block, but turn off temporarily.
During the last month of alpha testing I even uninstalled the toolbar for a whole week due to these problems, and I know a few others have done the same. It is something that will hopefully be fixed soon.

One True Fan Profiles

The profiles provide a nice record of where you have been, which sites you have “captured” and which have fallen to your enemies or friends.

Andy's Profile - OneTrueFan

You can see I have been having a few small battles over various sites… well at least that is what some normal useage patterns can look like – I suppose if I was really “invested” in one of these sites then that would matter.

Being the One True Fan of Google will no doubt make a few readers LOL.

MyBlogLog Roots Empowering Marketers

3 years ago I explained why social media marketing sucks. I realise that monitoring of social media has improved a lot in the enterprise space over that time.

The team behind One True Fan are the original team members of MyBlogLog – all of them as far as I can tell. They have been off doing their own things for a few years. Eric was a co-founder of Gnip which is still doing well, but they are back to take another bite at the cherry.

MyBlogLog started off life as a tracking application – Eric wanted to see which links were popular on his blog. The widget came later as did the social graph, the collation of data etc.

I don’t think they have any plans with One True Fan to tackle content in quite the same way, though the questions I have asked have admitedly been focused on marketing features. I am a marketing geek after all.

Those still at Yahoo… please forgive me… I am going to refer to MyBlogLog in the past tense. There isn’t an indication what Yahoo will do with MyBlogLog.

One of the unique features of MyBlogLog was the ability of the widget to tell a site owner who was visiting. I am not referring to just looking at a widget, or an expanded list of the last 127 visitors that people played around with.

You could grab their user id as a javascript variable, and then use that to mine their social graph – only recently I discovered a WordPress plugin that works with that feature for some data mining, though it was a little bugged.

Big things are made about how Facebook is now expanding their special partnerships with a few sites to provide them with data about visitors before they have even logged in. MyBlogLog could do this 3 years ago, linked with lots of social graph information if a visitor included that on their profiles – you would also get a list of all their favorite blogs, and those in most cases were automatically added to after 5 or 10 visits.

You could also use the data to see what individuals were doing on your site, in some ways like expensive CRM systems such as Infusionsoft can tag people.
My friend Rob had a cool little tracking script that would log all the visitors to each page, so you could determine who were your biggest fans – I tested it for a little while. One day I was shocked to see one new visitor… a human not a bot read 52 pages of my blog in a single very long session – I think it was a Saturday and he just hung out reading.

You could also use the data to do all kinds of dynamic content targeting and data mining. In many ways Facebook are late to the game.

The problem is to actually use the MyBlogLog data there are some… issues

  • You needed to be able to program and the API access had to be applied for on a per domain basis – not mass market.
  • There were privacy concerns – if you started visibly profiling people and giving them rewards based on visits, and lots of people started doing it, there would have been a stink – this was the aftermath of the Facebook Beacon problems.

Tying similar technology into a toolbar of some kind makes sense because it is then installed specifically because people want their movement’s tracked to become the “One True Fan” or earn other rewards.

One True Fan Rewards

Things are a little vague on the rewards side – I have questioned Eric Marcoullier quite extensively about what will be possible, but you could really liken it more to a brain storming session than Eric explaining planned features.
There will be a way of delivering some kind of rewards – what criteria, how the delivery works etc we will have to leave for another day until things are a little more finalized. Things like coupon delivery in some way are a given, so are custom badges/patches.

Possible criteria:-

  • Number of referrals (by some 2 way API integration or goals)
  • Driving traffic
  • Visiting certain pages
  • Attaining a certain number of points
  • Being One True Fan
  • Visiting a certain number of times
  • Visiting a certain number of consecutive days

A social media tell-a-friend rewards system on steroids.

Widgets

Apparently there is meant to be some widgets coming – I have no idea whether these might work with other platforms such as Facebook as an alternative for identity, but they are comimng all the same.

One True Fan Analytics Dashboard

One thing immediately “missing” is any kind of analytics, even as a toolbar user. If you are looking for click stats for links you share you are going to be disappointed for a while. You can get some idea from the number of points you gain.

Competitors

Badgeville – also launched at Techcrunch Disrupt – seems to be a white label solution for each brand site – mybe I am biased but I think it is the wrong solution for 99.9% of websites. They are a “solutions” provider for large sites, which means I am sure they are also charging a lot of money for implementation.

Chirrps – this seems like Entrecard 2.0 – despite having launched it is nowhere near the same level of sophistication.

Comment Luv – it might seem strange, but any incentive to visit other blogs, even if it is a just the ability to leave a comment is competition – in some ways even being a dofollow blog is an incentive as well – they have a referral program so I used a referral link.

Contest Burner – currently off the market but it is a WordPress plugin to run your own incentivized contests, rewarding things like tweets, comments, email subscriptions etc.

I don’t look on MyBlogLog or Blogcatalog to be competitors, as there isn’t really any competition for attention. One True Fan you gain points for visiting websites and promoting them which is complementary to other blogging and social media activities.

More details on Techcrunch, Louis Gray and Techmeme

For me it isn’t the game that excites me but the ability to identify those fans that are not immediately obvious.

I would be lying if I didn’t also appreciate the enhanced viral (incentivised) distribution of content.

Note: It is and Alpha version – for me, Beta starts around 90% feature complete for what should be there at public launch. Development is gong at an extremely rapid pace. Techcrunch reports $1.2M in the coffers but it was obvious there was going to be some significant investment with the number of early stage investors playing for the last few weeks.

I did a little test signup yesterday with a spare email account and received an email to signup within a few hours so signing up is worth doing – they are not going to keep you waiting forever.

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Comments

  1. says

    Andy, what an amazing and comprehensive review of the surface. I think you hit all of our current highlights and deficiencies on the head.

    As an FYI, the “widget” version should be live in a month. It will be a completely identical experience, but deployed for everyone across a single domain.

  2. says

    Hey Andy – thanks for the shout, those were the days! :D

    Good write up, I just signed up for it, always worth a look. Loved the mybloglog thing back in the day.

    I do wonder how much room there is for these types of things. They either sink or swim on the back of their uptake of course, I’m usually amazed by what people actually end up flocking to.

    • says

      You know there was Jaiku, Pownce, Plurk… plus all the Status.net and Typepad Motion sites.

      Actually some of those still exist.

      I know you have also been playing around with Empire Avenue http://www.empireavenue.com/wpseo

      That seems currently to be a game based upon your activities, but not specific to any single site… so that is really complementary to One True Fan in much the same way as Blogcatalog or Mybloglog (as it once was)

      • says

        Empire Ave looks fun, I like the idea – there’s a crowd and they are doing things so are of course, worthy of a look and a sniff or two :D How’s that stock price holding up? ;0)

  3. says

    Hi Andy,

    I just replied to get a link back to my site. ;) Ok, not. You know I couldn’t care less about my site in that regard as it’s really just a big experiment having nothing to do with what I really do.

    Anyways, as usual, you are excellent in your analysis and reviews but the subject matter, of this particular, bores the hell out of me. I mean, there’s nothing ingenious about it. It’s another typical venture that simply enters the common pool to compete with other ventures, all hoping that someone like you writes an article about them, and so on, and so on…

    I want to see something of GENIUS… like so mind-f*cking that the common herd won’t catch on for at least another 6-10 years no matter how many articles you write about it.

    I’ve got something cool for ya but I’m not sure when I’ll be done writing it. After I finish all kinds of “stuff” for a congressional campaign, I’m helping a magician friend set up a pre-release site for a book about a “midget magician” aka “The Four Foot Giant”… then, maybe my blockbuster ;)

    Anyways, you can delete this if you think the 2nd half went too far off topic. It’s just we go back a ways and I really wanted to say I’m glad you’re still kicking (and visiting my purposely crappy blog every now and then) ;)

    Best wishes, friend,
    Sam

    • says

      Hi Sam

      You know while writing this I dropped by your site… did you see me in a widget?

      You are one of the smartest marketers I know… you will understand how important it is to encourage habits just for visiting a site, but imagine how powerful it will be to encourage sharing. In the old days (well people still do it) persuading someone to forward a URL to 3-5 friends for a reward – tell-a-friend was powerful – then they added incentives to the mix.

      Then people messed things up by being greedy and asking for email addresses.

      Social media it isn’t hard to get people to share quite a few links over time, and get lots of repeat visits.

      How you use the tools is where the value comes in.

      6-10 years is a long time for mind-f*cking ideas to survive. That is the gap between tech bubbles. e.g. Twitter is something, but I can’t see them making $20B a year in revenues.

      When I saw the Kindle I knew it would be huge and tons of readers looked on it as a gimmick – I also (privately) was wowed by the potential of the iPad… that is now being copied by every PC manufacturer.

      Whilst it is not impossible to get a good head start, I don’t think it is going to be easy to maintain total dominance with any new idea.

  4. says

    I’ve been using OneTrueFan for a few months. It’s an impressive alpha & a great team. Personally, I think the big business opportunity is offering tangible rewards for revenue generating events that companies are willing to pay for (ie. social referrals for commercial transactions, email signups, etc) and consumers are financially motivated to share (via coupons, free upgrades, etc).

    • says

      That would require OTF to provide data to my back end as it would be very hard for me to provide transaction data back to OTF

      I think most sites would prefer to go the coupon route just based on traffic/points rather than conversions as less integration, less need for disclosure etc.

  5. New York Divorce Law says

    Any idea how this might help me build up a law (or any other professional) practice?

  6. says

    I’m enjoying it too. Currently am OTF on Hulu, so you can see where I spend all my free time ;)

    I don’t think most people realize how far ahead of the game MBL was, it’s a shame… The commty was amazing, and the widget and analytics were just perfect for a blogger. ::sigh::

  7. says

    Interesting. It fascinates me that anyone would really care to be recognized as the “One True Fan” of any particular site. I just want to go and find what I am looking for. Sure, there are sites I return to often, but I guess I’m not so into anything that I would care to be recognized for it. This seems like more of a distraction than anything, as it stands. I suspect I would unwittingly join you as One Big Fan of Google, though!

  8. Promotional Products says

    Andy and Eric,

    Thanks for sharing all this great info. I’m usually not a big fan of using toolbars like you are referring to, but this seems like one I can get behind and use effectively.

    Thanks,
    Eddie