Liveblog: Mark Cuban Closing Keynote at BlogWorld ExpoNov 9th, 2007 | By Elisabeth Lewin | Category: General, Podcasting Events
Liveblog of Mark Cuban‘s Closing Keynote at BlogWorld:
My experience on “dancing w stars” is a lot like blogging — people I don’t know come up and feel free to tell me their opinions.
I started my blog in 2004, after doing an interview for Dallas Morning News about Mavericks, half a dozen questions with half a dozen answers. I expected one thing, but what was written was totally different.
Fortunately, there was an email exchange, so I had a record of what we’d said…. I started a blog, put a link to the article w/my email record, and the response was tremendous. All of a sudden, the newspaper realized it wasn’t in charge anymore – they couldn’t control the content, and what the reader responses would be to them
Blogging isn’t just about getting stuff off your chest. It’s a way for alternative ideas, and the truth, to come out, to create a forum for the exchange of ideas. I came to understand what blogging means to me.
Before I had a wife and kids, I could just connect with my buddies, go to the bar with the daily special and the cheap beer — to enhance our intellectual discourse , and exchange our ideas. My dialog was limited to the five or ten drunk guys I was hanging out with. With the advent of blogging, I had the input and ideas of an infinite number of other people.
I learned in the blogosphere that I didn’t own the Dallas Mavericks – Dallas, Texas, owns the Mavericks; I’m just the team’s nominal caretaker. The responses that flooded the blog were 95% of the content – I only contributed a tiny bit.
I also do HDNet and 2929 productions, which makes movies. It is easy to make a movie, but impossible to know how to market it. Akeelah and the Bee cost $20 mil to make; $20 mil to market…. and it only made $20 mil. That’s not a good outcome!
I blogged about it, asking about how are you supposed to market a movie? Can you help me with this problem? Who knows how to do this? I got 1500 responses…. and from those, found one that was just what I needed. It builds on some of the political online activity, registering voters to generate political support.
Honesty is the key to successful blogging. Are you writing because you think this post will get you readers? If you do, you’re just pandering for ratings, being dishonest to yourself, being just like any other reader source. TV, radio, newspapers, they are all struggling. People will see right through you very quickly if you’re not being honest with yourself and your readers, and disclosing some of the thoughts and ideas behind what you’re blogging about.
If you’re going to be successful, you have to be brutally honest.
Personal blogging is different from corporate or business blogging. Branding is more difficult, because you start putting more filters on what you say and how you say it. Mainstream media is trying to introduce blogs, but it just seems funny. As a corporate blogger, you’re competing with mainstream media, and with other bloggers. And it’s hard to stand out among all the crowd and all the noise! You have to put in a lot of time and energy to do it well. If you’re not part of an aggregation environment (Calacanis, Huffington Post), you’ve got to work harder to stand out among the clutter and distinguish yourself.
On Blogger’s Block
The more you worry and think and fret about what you’re saying, the more stuck you become. If you’re looking to make your blogging a financial venture, at some point, you’re going to have to do the work, have the ideas and research and wit behind the writing. The witty guy in the group is not necessary the guy who is going to be the successful blogger. You have to compete for attention with non bloggers and the NY Times, and other bloggers, and everyone else, and spend a lot of time concentrating on the work.
Are you still a blogger if you’re getting paid to blog for someone else? Are you selling out if you write for Huffington Post — how different is that from being a reporter for the Dallas Morning News? Somebody wants something if they pay you money, and there are going to be consequences. You sacrifice the ability to be brutally honest if you take money for your blog.
If you work for me, and we disagree, and you blog about it, you know what? You lose. I win.
I want to be brutally honest in my blog, so I don’t take any money in that arena. I get beat up a lot in the media. It’s awfully tough not to fight back. But that’s something that bloggers have to resist. If you use your blog as a baseball bat, things are really different .
Consider Bill O’Reilly (muted audience boos) — not a very big fan. We have a big movie coming out, called Redacted, about being in the military. So, O’Reilly has never seen the movie, but he’s talking trash, “If you release this movie, I’m comin after you” — whatever. But I can’t lash out, and say “O’Reillly, you’re an idiot” (laughter and applause). It’s impossible to take back the ugly F.U. thing you said. You can remove the post, but it does live on somewhere in the Internet Archive.
You’ve got to fight the urge to talk ugly. It’s going to be there forever. We are scandalized by the things we see on Facebook, but are we that different with blogging? People say things in blogs that will come back to bite them. Be concerned that what you write will brand you for years to come. It will tell your wife, your kids, your friends, your prospective employers, WHO YOU ARE.
I can say stuff — I am the luckiest guy in the world. I can sit up here and not care. I have more money than you! You have to be aware of what you’re saying. I’m not saying stifle yourself, but be aware of what’s gonna happen.
Question: How do you find time to blog?
I do it on the fly, and try to pay attention to things around me — if I think it is thought provoking, and I find myself coming back to the subject, then I realize I have to write about it. It’s a perfect way to proactively communicate with my customers. It preemptively answers the question, “What the hell were you thinking?”
You can respond on the comments on your blog much more effectively than responding out in the wider world.
Question: Have you ever thought about turning off comments?
Yeah, with anonymous comments, people say the darnedest things (laughter). The blog is mine, and while criticism can be constructive, but spam and hateful stuff…. I have no trouble turning off comments — that’s their problem. I’m giving you honesty, and if you don’t respect it enough to make thoughtful comments, you don’t get to participate.
I have a website called share-sleuth. We get tips, but sometimes they may be wrong or crooked. On the site, we go out and investigate the company. And if they’re crooked, we take a position on the stock. I’m open and transparent, and the articles we write are purely factual. We’ve written about companies and never been sued. What people think is really bad is they think I’m trying to influence the price of the stock — but if they’re crooked I won’t hold stock in them; if they’re good I will say so.
I was a complete whore asking on my blog, and Facebook, for votes on Dancing with the Stars. Foxtrot, baby. I spent more time asking for votes than I spent on practicing my dancing, which was maybe not a good strategy.
Question: What is the future of blogging?
To look at the future of blogging, you have to look at the history of blogging — which is websites.
We’ve evolved and changed from having to know HTML, to having software that does it for you, to having new ways of communicating with your audience and your friends. When anyone can blog, publish, create, the long tail gets longer and longer and longer, and you have to climb a long way up the long tail from the ass to the head (laughter). It’s going to be hard to have a big impact, if everyone can make their music or blog or website available.
Actual good content will be king, and marketing is going to have a big impact.
I’ve had great timing and a whole lotta luck, about five or six times. When I walk into a business meeting, when I started my first business in my early 20s, Micro Solutions, selling local area networks in the 80s, technology is always evolving and changing – there’s always something new. No one has an advantage over me, as long as I keep working hard. If someone kicks my ass, it’s just more motivation. I’m a ready – fire- aim kind of guy (laughter). If you screw up, you just suck it up and move on.