Why Monocle is Probably My Favorite Magazine Now

Monocle Magazine Logo 

Monocle magazine is great!

But first, some background story…

In September 2007, I lamented the demise of Business 2.0,  probably the favorite magazine of the business/technology tribe. Following this death, I went back to my old flame, Wired Magazine, whom I felt at the time had improved drastically since the dark 1999-2002 period.  Recently, I got tired (again) and canceled my subscription (again).

Back to Monocle. I had picked up issue 15 last July, the City issue, as the theme really appealed to a local media guy like me. I had enjoyed the read but I believed it was because of the subject matter. Fast forward to last week, I picked up issue 19, the 2009 Forecast/Predictions issue. Again, a topic that’s really attractive to a strategy guy like me. Since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that this magazine fits perfectly in today’s social/local zeitgeist.

Split between headings called “Affairs”, “Business”, “Culture”, “Design” and “Edits”, Monocle covers a variety of subject like sociology, anthropology, city trends, design/ideas/new technologies and politics. The mix of business and society creates a group of stories that’s very stimulating.  I would say the only thing missing is a larger dose of technology-oriented articles.  Business 2.0 was very good at covering bleeding edge tech business ideas. But I definitely recommend Monocle to everyone who liked reading our favorite business magazine.

BTW, if anyone needs more convincing arguments, Alain de Botton, currently the best young philosopher in the world, is a regular contributor. If you don’t know de Botton, you need to read “How Proust can change your life“, “The art of travel” and “Status anxiety“.

Business 2.0: A Year Later, Where Are They Now?

It officially marks a year since our valiant efforts to save Business 2.0, a magazine that many people dearly loved and turned to for its informative look at all aspects of the new economy. Taking a moment to honor all of the editors and writers that made Business 2.0 what it was, we did some research to find out where they ended up after the magazine was closed. Here’s what we’ve found (and in no particular order):

As for your humble servants who started the whole “Save Business 2.0” movement with a simple Facebook group,

  • Colin Carmichael blogs about social media and recently launched the Cambridge Reporter – a local online newspaper. Next month, Colin joins the national offices of the Presbyterian Church in Canada as its communications executive.
  • Sebastien Provencher is co-founder of Praized Media and your host in this blog (no surprise to most of my readers I suspect).

Update:

Update 2: I was told I missed many people who were key contributors to the success of the magazine.  I apologize to anyone who felt slighted in any way by this post.  That was obviously not the intention and was done in good faith.  Feel free to add your names in the comments below and I’ll them to the list.

The Praized Blog: One Year Anniversary

Today, I celebrate my first year of blogging. When I started, I had an objective of writing at least one blog post per business day. Mission accomplished! I now have written close to 300 blog posts on a variety of local search and/or social media topics. I’ve met many new friends and blogging has become a very important part of my professional life. I currently have 416 RSS subscribers and I think I’ve found my blogging “voice”.

To celebrate, I take a look back at my top 5 blog posts that generated the most comments and trackbacks in the last year:

1) “Robert Scoble is Media“, July 14, 2007. By far my most popular blog post. I stumbled upon a major meme with “I am Media”. Lots of people have talked to me about that one and have told me they now understand Facebook because of it. If any book editors are reading, I think this could be a great business book… 🙂

2) “What Micro-Blogging is All About?“, September 13, 2007. Re-reading one of my favorite Douglas Coupland book, I found this excerpt which poetically describes what micro-blogging is potentially all about. Mashing-up Douglas Coupland with Web 2.0 earned me some great reactions.

3) “Google Opens an Office in Montreal“, January 25th, 2007. Major buzz in the Montreal blogosphere as I was the first blogger to discover that announcement in Montreal’s La Presse.

4) “Chronology of a Successful Facebook Group: The “Save Business 2.0″ Example“, July 19, 2007. Chronicling my efforts (with Colin Carmichael) to save Business 2.0 magazine using Facebook. That one was a lot of fun and offered some great learnings. We unfortunately did not save the magazine (I got my last issue today…)

5) “Web 2.0 Startup Praized Media Inc. Secures $1,000,000 in Seed Funding“, September 18, 2007. The announcement of our seed round of financing was welcomed by the local search blogosphere.

I’d like to start my second year of blogging by thanking all my Year 1 readers! Thanks and here’s to another 300 blog posts! 🙂

If you’re not a RSS subscriber, click here to add my feed to your favorite reader.

Social Media Did Not Save Business 2.0 Magazine…

Well, we tried but it looks like Time Inc. has decided to close down Business 2.0 magazine. One of my favorite magazines will be gone after the October issue and I’m not sure what will fill-in the gap. There was something about the portability/usability of a print magazine covering the intersection of Web and business and Fast Company does not work for me. It’s too marketing-oriented and not geeky enough.

One major insight: Business 2.0 in print format mattered to many people. If you look at the some of comments appearing in blogs today, you’ll see that many readers will miss the magazine. For the first time in a long while, the blogosphere is not saying “Print is dead!” (except for the Print is Dead blog…). It’s asking “Why?” In this case, print media is its own worst enemy… If you’ve managed to create a strong brand with opinion leaders, don’t kill it! Embrace online and combine it with print to create a stronger entity.

How Facebook Complements Your Blogging Strategy

I’ve been using Facebook intensively for about 4-5 weeks now and it has become an important staple in my blogging/media strategy. Here’s how it complements what I’m currently doing in the Praized blog:

1) Facebook Status Updates: I use the “status update” function as a micro-blogging tool (a bit like Twitter). It helps me put in words what’s on my mind in that specific moment and it captures my personal zeitgeist. It only takes a few seconds to write but people react to it. I usually receive one message a day from friends/readers reacting to my status update line. Don’t forget it’s a status update that triggered the Save Business 2.0 efforts.

status update Facebook

2) The “Post a Link” function in the Posted Items page: I use that function when I want to share with my friends/readers an interesting article I just discovered that might not be completely within my pre-defined blogging topics in the Praized blog (i.e. social and local). Examples in the last week include the Skype outage and the Google browser rumors. I always comment on the article to add value and I often end up my comment with a question to trigger additional reader comments.

Facebook Post a Link Function

3) I import my blog posts within Facebook Notes using the Import a blog function. You just need to plug-in your RSS feed URL. I’ve tried using the MyBlog app but it does not work well (I have to manually update the RSS feed to get my blog posts within Facebook). My readers get warned I’ve imported a note (in their newsfeed) and they see an excerpt from the post. They can also comment within Facebook or go to the original post.

Facebook Imported Note Notification

One caveat: don’t abuse your friends’ trust by posting too many links or importing too many notes every day. Unless you’re always interesting, they’ll shut you down and change the channel. That’s what happened to Robert Scoble last week with some of his Facebook friends. Tomorrow, I’ll offer five suggestions to improve Facebook. BTW, don’t hesitate to add me as a friend on Facebook if you’re interested in reading/discussing social media.

Social Media Saves Business 2.0 Magazine (for now)!

Just got an e-mail from my friend Colin. According to Owen Thomas from Valleywag, it looks like Business 2.0 magazine is saved for now! Owen writes:

Business 2.0, up until late yesterday, was unquestionably in the process of shutting down. Columnists had been told not to bother turning anything in for October. Staffers — both those whom Time Inc. hoped to retain, and those not on the favored lists — had been seeking other employment. And a squad of higher-ups at Time Inc. had set travel plans to fly out to California to finish shutting the magazine down.

And now, most of those travel plans have been cancelled. Employees have been asked to stay to work on the October issue, and freelancers have been assigned pieces. And, I can only imagine as the fellow who used to write these things, hurried revisions are being made to a valedictory editor’s letter. It’s good news of the exceedingly inconvenient kind.

As of last night, Time Inc. execs have decided to enter into some form of due diligence with prospective buyers, and keep the magazine alive while it considers the dozen or so offers it’s received. (Want to buy a magazine? It’s not too late to throw your hat in the ring: send email to Maurice Edelson, the VP who’s running the sale process.)

The question, though, is why? Did social media save the magazine? Perhaps so, in a roundabout way. The Facebook group “I Read Business 2.0 — and Want to Keep Reading!” numbers more than 2,000 people, but that’s hardly enough for Time Inc. honchos, who deal with magazine circulations numbering in the millions to pay notice. But Facebook, with its early-adopter audience, may have proved an ideal way to get the attention of serious prospective buyers.

What it means: Wow! Time Inc. just realized they had tremendous assets with this magazine, the writers and the readers. Did social media save Business 2.0 magazine? It’s too early to tell. Did social media give Business 2.0 a reprieve? I believe so. I think social media (in this case Facebook, blogging and Techmeme) played an important role as an amplifier (see my chronology of events here). Thanks to everyone who joined the Facebook group and posted comments in the Wall. Thanks to every blogger and journalist out there who relayed the news. Without you, Business 2.0 would not be publishing its October issue. Thanks again!!!

I am Media: From Theory to Practice in 6 Days

Remember last Saturday morning when I shouted “I am media”? Want to know what happened since then? I accidentally went from theory to practice… 🙂

Robert Scoble picked up my post and confirmed my theory. My blog received 10 times more traffic than usual for two days and I’ve had many interesting conversations during the weekend. I also added many friends to Facebook, Pownce and Linkedin.

And just when I thought that wave had subsided, the magic of Facebook connected Colin Carmichael and I on Tuesday morning and put us on a mission to save Business 2.0 magazine. Alerted by my status update feed, Colin created a Facebook group dedicated to this cause and we started leveraging social media to create some buzz around the group. You can read the chronology of these events here.

The group now has about 1075 members. We’ve been adding 1 member every five minutes since the launch and all of the major industry influencers have joined the group. Since the launch, we’ve received coverage from the following major media/blogs:

Valleywag, “Facebook to the rescue!

Advertising Age, “Can Fans Save Business 2.0?

San Francisco Chronicle, “Save Business 2.0

GigaOm, “Saving Business 2.0, Facebook Style

Fast Company, “Can A Social Network Save Business 2.0?

Washington Post, “Trying to Save A Magazine Through Facebook

San Jose Mercury News, “Facebook group hopes to save Business 2.0

Business 2.0, “Can Facebook Save Business 2.0?”

I even got mentioned by name in the San Jose Mercury News article! Many Business 2.0 readers have had the chance to express their love for the magazine, many subscriptions have been sold and some people even registered on Facebook just to be part of the group! I think we’ve already made a difference in the lives of the Business 2.0 team. I think there’s a lot of things we can learn from this experience especially about the various social media vehicles working together but I’m still digesting as this is an ongoing process. It’s been a good ride so far. What a week.

One thing’s for sure: I am media!

Chronology of a Successful Facebook Group: The “Save Business 2.0″ Example

Efforts to save Business 2.0 magazine via a Facebook group are going very well. We currently have 500 members (including a large number of tech influencers) after only two days and we’re getting traction in multiple media (ValleyWag, Advertising Age, Fast Company and a variety of blogs).

As the “Official ‘Save Business 2.0’ blogger”, here’s my theory of what I think happened to get to this result as quickly.

1) I was the original sneezer after seeing the New York Times article talking about the potential shutdown of the magazine. I wrote a Facebook status update that said “Sebastien is sad to think Business 2.0 magazine might fold in September”. As I’m using Facebook for networking and I’ve been adding many friends since Robert Scoble talked about me last Saturday, I reach out to 250+ “friends” with my update.

2) One of my friends, Colin Carmichael, picks up the news via my status update, decides to create the group and invites me.

Gmail

3) I blog about the group in the Praized blog.

Praized blog - Business 2.0

4) My blog post gets picked up by Techmeme and is attached to the original New York Times article. It’s the first broadcast about the creation of the Facebook group.

Techmeme

5) Someone from Business 2.0 (or someone close to the team) finds my blog post via Techmeme and sees that Colin has created a group.

6) A good portion of the Business 2.0 staff, freelancers and former employees joins the group. All these people are important influencers. As quoted by Advertising Age, “Editor in Chief Josh Quittner said he signed up for the group as a purely reflexive emotional gesture. “It choked me up — an old cynic like me,” he said.”

7) Close friends and business acquaintances (other tech journalists & bloggers) are invited to joined the group via the Facebook “Join this group” function.

Facebook Join this group

8) As the Silicon Valley tech crowd is a tightly-knit group, they quickly reach out to their peers who then join the group.

9) In the meantime, I try to fan the flames using Digg and Linkedin. Digg does not work but Linkedin contributes to the conversation.

Digg Facebook Business 2.0

linkedin.jpg
12) In the meantime, Colin talks with many media about the group and its purpose.

10) Valleywag picks up the news, sends it to another level.

11) Group members continue to invite other influencers, Advertising Age picks up the news, reaching a more mainstream marketing population.

12) Snowball effect is in action as we get more and more media/blog coverage, more people joining and more people inviting other people. 48 people added themselves to the group while I was writing this post.

13) What’s next? Business 2.0 is saved? Let’s continue the movement and save the magazine!

Now, this is just my theory. I think Colin and I played an important role by starting all of this but I think Techmeme played a critical relay role. And I think the use of the viral functionalities of Facebook by the influencers who joined the group in the early hours played a critical role as well. In addition, what I find fascinating is that we’ve had many people tell us that a) they created their Facebook account to be able to join the group and b) they ended up subscribing to the magazine after seeing the news and the efforts to save it. If that’s not the power of social media…

Can Social Media Save Business 2.0 Magazine?

What started yesterday as one of my Facebook status updates is slowly becoming a grass-root effort to save Business 2.0 magazine. The Facebook group created yesterday morning for that occasion now has 139 members (and growing every minute). The list of people supporting the magazine is starting to read like a who’s who of tech entrepreneurs, bloggers and journalists and includes amongst others Reid Hoffman, Michael Arrington, Om Malik, Craig Newmark, and Josh Quittner.

In addition to the Facebook group, I’ve posted the news on Digg (very limited results) and I’ve also asked a question on LinkedIn (some interesting comments there). We’re also now crossing over into blogging media with a Valleywag article covering our efforts to save the magazine. Hopefully, we can get more blogging media coverage today and maybe (cross your fingers) get offline media coverage as well!

With that many “sneezers” on board, I have very high hopes we can tell Time Inc. that the magazine is a must-read amongst the digerati and save it.

BTW, if you like Business 2.0 magazine, make sure you add your name to the Facebook group! If you want to add me to your Facebook network, don’t hesitate to invite me also.

End of day update: the group is up to 329 members and Advertising Age has covered the news! Keep going!

Can the Power of Micro-Blogging Save Business 2.0 Magazine?

I read with great dismay this morning the possible demise of one of my favorite magazines, Business 2.0 .

According to the New York Times article, even though the magazine has a circulation of 623,000, there’s a couple reasons why this might happen:

Aside from the overall downturn in the magazine business, current and former Time Inc. employees point to what appears to have been an ill-advised move this year to combine the advertising sales teams of Time Inc.’s finance and business publications, which include Fortune, Money, CNNMoney.com, Fortune Small Business and Business 2.0. Consolidated under a single banner, Time Inc.’s Business and Finance Network (or Tibfin, as it is known inside the company), Time sales representatives stopped pitching the distinct appeal and audience of Business 2.0 to focus on the larger titles like Fortune. That often turned Business 2.0 into an afterthought; big advertisers like Microsoft and Intel were offered discounts on other Time Inc. business titles if they would also buy pages in Business 2.0.

I’ve been a reader for many years and even though I read multiple blogs and online news sources daily, I always find interesting stuff in the magazine. It also helps me synthesize what I’ve read on the Web in the last few months. I’ve also found it’s a great media vehicle to introduce non-web business people to new web initiatives.

I then posted a short status update in my Facebook micro-blogging feed that said “Sebastien is sad to think Business 2.0 magazine might fold in September…

45 minutes later, I get an e-mail from one of my new “friends”, Colin Carmichael, who’s inviting me to a new group he’s created to save Business 2.0. He told me I had tipped him off to the demise of Business 2.0 and he wanted to do something. I obviously joined the group and invite you to do the same if you like the magazine.

What it means: it’s my first opportunity to experience first-hand the power of micro-blogging, those small atoms of information written in new communication tools like Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce and Facebook (via the status update section). Very powerful tools. On another note, I believe print magazine usage growth (and by extension revenue growth) will come from specializing, not becoming more generalist. By consolidating their sales force, publishers run the risk of abandoning their specialty titles and future growth. The same debate takes place all the time in the directory business. Should publishers use a different sales force for Internet products or for vertical publications? I think you need to take a good look at where you think your growth will come from in the future and support adequately those initiatives.