Friday, March 30, 2012

Winners Circle: March Spoke-a-thon Winners

It's hard to believe, but the Spoke-a-thon judges had an even more difficult time picking winners the second time around!

A big congratulations for all of the great pages that were submitted in March's contest!  As our users get more and more comfortable with the platform, they continue to push the boundaries on what can be done with a page.  In fact, just look at the variety among the winning 3 entries this time:

  • Commercial Space Travel
  • An Australian Painting Company
  • The North Dakota College Hockey Team 

Pretty impressive range (not to mention that they stretched from the Midwest to the Outback).  And there are another half-dozen or so that were so close to making the winners' circle that we've decided to give them a little free publicity by posting them on our facebook wall next week!   So keep an eye out there to see if your submission was recognized as an honorable mention.  And now, without further ado, your winners:

Commercial Space Travel.By Kenneth Lee
Rebecca Haden's promotion of "Courtney & Wise"

Shaw Godfrey's page on UND men's hockey

Thanks again, and stay tuned for announcements on the next Spoke-a-Thon!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spoke set for the next six months except maybe “one more thing”:)

When we started developing our new version of Spoke, our goal was to provide a platform that we would be all proud of.  And based on the feedback we are receiving, we got it done. I particularly like Rayna Remondini tweet: “How many directories is your company listed in? Always put quality over quantity when marketing your brand. #Spoke”. First, it is always nice when it comes from somebody who knows what she is doing but this has been our motto as a Firm for the last two years.  We have been adamant to never release a feature which was not ready even if it meant missing a deadline. We have been frustrated sometime to have to rework something that we thought was done and rework it multiple times until it works.

Even with this focus, we didn’t have it 100% correct and we still have some corner case that needs fixing so for the next few months, we are going to make very minor changes to the site and be very focused on those fixing as well as making sure that the system works at scale.

This said, we are very proud of what we have done so far and what we intend to keep building. It is of course based on a completely different metaphor: we are based on a publishing model.As we discussed in the past, Spoke is not a social network, nor a directory in the strictest sense. We are a publishing platform for business information and, as a publisher, we are very interested in promoting our content provider. Since we launched beginning of January, we have released several features:

The ability to promote your Spoke page on Spoke: when you claim your profile, anytime you add a link or information on Spoke, this information is credited to you by identifying you as the one having posted the information on the site and you receive a link that points to your Spoke profile. We do this while crediting the original author of the information as well but we want to reward for what you have done; 

The curator program: As you are contributing to the site, you are gaining stature and Spoke recognizes you with a curator status or an expert curator. Today, we have about 20 people who are either Expert Curators or Curators and close to 70 who are on their way to become Curator. We encourage you to become a member of this club which enables you to test new features and see what is next for Spoke.  Over time, we expect members of this club to take on more responsibility;

The industry voice program which promotes your content on our site as well as leverage the content you created on Spoke on your own website. In addition, we also released our first widget. Once you have created a profile on Spoke or if you want to leverage a profile from Spoke, you are free now to do so.

We have also given tools that let you find the information you want. Most important is the ability to follow a page and see in your activity stream what is happening on the page.

Now it is not because we say the scope will stay the same that we won’t have “one more thing” because we are all students of Steve Jobs in the company and we like this trick. We can’t tell you when it is going to show up but, based on initial feedback we are getting, people are going to like it.

Also, November is going to be our next timeline for new major set of features. At this point, you will have a good idea on what this site is all about and, hopefully, you will like it even more than you do now.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sharing beyond Spoke and launching our industry voice program:

We just broke the 100,000 profiles edited since the launch of the new site and the rhythm of edits has improved significantly. This, of course, includes both automatically and manually edited profiles. This is great news as with each edit, our dataset quality is improving significantly.

With the quality increasing, we need to enable sharing on a new level. As you know, you can already share your edits or the profiles you enjoy on your favorite social network such as Google+, Twitter, Facebook, but now we are enabling you to share Spoke profiles on your website or on your blog through our new widget as well. You can leverage not only the pages you created yourself but also the pages created by others. As an example, I used this new widget at the end of the blog post I wrote about Steve Jobs on my personal blog.

Now more importantly, you may have seen the industry voices section on our page which is not filled yet. If you are a blogger and interested in seeing your blogs in this section, you should contact us and, if accepted, we would link back to you anytime you link to one of our pages. For example, Stratothoughts and Spoke are automatically preapproved and have mentioned Steve Jobs profile in two of their blog posts. So now, both posts from each blogs are appearing on our Steve Jobs Profile in the industry voice section.

So now, why would you do this? well few reasons:

1) Promote yourself better on Spoke by creating richer profiles: you can automatically link between your blog and Spoke anytime you are publishing a blog about your company. It is going to be automatically published on your page or on your company’s page if you have linked to the Spoke page-- the same way a press release is published automatically on a profile;

2) Expand your reach: at the same time, you can also talk about a topic or company other than yourself in your blog and if you link to that topic or company, we will link back;

3)Develop topics and increase your presence on Spoke: if you are like me, when I write a blog, I use a lot of background materials that don’t make it to the blog but are interesting enough to be underlined: links, news, articles, and people, which are usually components of a very rich page on which I can market reports, books…..; the research is already done, you just have to build the page.

So how can you leverage this new feature? It is very simple. You go on the page whose content you want to highlight or leverage and you copy the widget code inside the little grey box on the right side of the page, and paste it into any HTML source. You don't even have to know what the code means, only that we will use it to post a widget wherever you paste.

 Give it a try and if you are interested by Industry Voice program. Just let us know by sending an email to Matt our community manager and he will discuss it with you.

Philippe Cases, Spoke Software

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Launching our Curator program

Since the launch of the new site in January, ten thousand users have contributed almost 50,000 edits that we ultimately accepted. This is more than we expected and we truly want to thank all our contributors for all the work they have put into our system so far. As a regular visitor looking for business information, we want to create an environment where you can access information but also provide you with all the information you need to make the right call regarding the information itself.

In that regard, as we are reviewing the edits in moderation, it is coming as no surprise that the more you contribute to the system, the more you understand it and the better your contribution is.  This goes for the edits contributed as well as for the pages those contributors have added their information to. So in the same way that has a  top reviewer program, we have built our own program so that our visitors identify those contributors who have developed significant mastery of our application.

Those Expert contributors, as they start contributing significantly to Spoke beyond a natural level of 3 or 4 edits, need to gather the information available on the Internet about a topic, a company or a person, organize the collected data set into a coherent set and maintain that information over time. In a sense, that is very close to what a Curator does on a daily basis, hence our decision to call our expert contributors: Curators. Starting today, you will be able to see if specific information has been contributed by such an expert or if an individual has reached a certain level of expertise by checking his page.

We have defined two  levels of Curators: Curators and Expert Curators. The difference between the two of them is the scope of their contributions. Of course, Expert Curators contribute more than regular Curators but they are also contributing to more pages. As of today, we have 10 curators and 5 expert curators. You can also check on our leader board the significant contributors during the month as well as all time. Hopefully, you are already one of those significant contributors or you may decide to become one of them. Talking to existing Curators, there are multiple reasons for it:

Spoke helps you raise your visibility for the topics you are interested in: With your help, Spoke is quickly becoming the place to go for business information: with the amount of information we are collecting through our contributors as well as automatically, Spoke has become the most vibrant industry database where every company or person that matters should have a page. Even the most connected people see benefits in Spoke. Phil Rosenberg, one of Linkedin’s most connected career coaches with a group of more than 30,000 users says: “Spoke helps people interested in my topic find me.  Spoke helps me build my audience, by bringing me an additional source of traffic.”

Spoke helps you promote your content: MaryBartnikowski, one of the recent Spoke-A-Thon  contenders, commented: "i am so happy about your help in promoting my page on Spoke - people are buying my book now and i don't even know them so I am grateful. I have finished the audio version of my book too so that will be a new topic - YAY!!!"

Spoke is engaging, fun to use and community based. Rebecca Haden from Haden Interactive mentioned: "Spoke is a fun way to curate and share information, letting people include their favorite photos, links, videos, and lots of other kinds of content. You can create a page with flexibility, and it doesn't require any special skills. Every company should have one, and you'll enjoy creating pages for your topics, too. It's kind of addicting. Of course, it's also a great source of data, and I love the idea that we can all help make it even better."

Last but not least, Spoke will promote heavily the Curator program: being a curator and even better an expert curator will give more voice and more recognition to any edits you make both to a regular visitor but to the Spoke moderators as well.

We are constantly looking for contributors, curators or expert curators. So if you are interested, join our community and help us become a better database by providing your content.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March Spoke-a-thon is LIVE! iPods up for Grabs

We're doing it again!  With the success of the last Spoke-a-thon, we've decided to launch another! 

So without further ado, The MARCH SPOKE-A-THON is Officially Live! 
Just as before, it's a contest for our users to build great pages on the new  The winners will receive major promotion on our site, and iPods! (maybe even an iPad 2)  This time, we've added a 4th judging criteria (see below), and this contest will run now through March 19th.

To Enter:
Sign up on (or Login), and create a new page on a topic / company / person of your chosing (hint, we really like topics).  Then, submit it for entry.  

Judging Criteria:
(1)  Completeness: Use the flexibility of the page. Fill as many fields as you can to improve your chances -- this means adding videos, links, detailed descriptions, etc.
(2)  Usefulness: Does your page contain boring everyday information; or is there unique and actionable insight that isn't common to most of the Spoke audience?
(3)  Creativity: A contest wouldn't be complete without a little flair, so feel free to post the unexpected -- links that give unique context, videos that tell a story -- it can only help!
(4)  Social Sharing: vote for your page using the Facebook 'Like', Google +1, and Tweet buttons, and encourage others to do so. The more your entry is shared, the more likely you are to win.

The authors of the 3 best pages will win a custom-engraved iPod Shuffle!  And if you happen to submit 3 winning entries …. you'll get an iPad 2!  Furthermore, we will promote the winners on a special Spoke page, and any winning topics will go on our homepage, where we get 100,000+ views every month -- that's some serious exposure!

See the Official Entry form here for all the rules, and yes, you may submit multiple entries.  To get your wheels turning, check out the winners from last month:
Spoke-A-Thon Winners widget provided by Spoke

Good Luck!

Friday, March 2, 2012

And the Winners Are .....

With the first-ever Spoke-a-thon reaching its dramatic conclusion, we again wanted to thank all of our entrants.  You submitted a ton of great pages full of deep insights and thoughtful analysis, while you battled hard for those Apple products.

Here's a roundup of our winners...

Jesse Friedman's company page on the 
Almanac Beer Company

Rebecca Haden's topic page on Linkbuilding

Nick Soman's topic page about Gamification

Jenny Halasz's company page

Managing Millenial's, a topic page
by Kerry Allemann

We also want to give credit to Mary Bartnikowski's page, a unique page describing her book about adventures in India; and Bill Wettler built a page relating to his work in helping teachers find employment overseas.

Thanks again, and stay tuned for announcements on the next Spoke-a-Thon!