Wednesday, August 24, 2011

PersistentFan has a new sharp look!

After a little hiatus, the BaconMarathon team started to brainstorm how to make the site better and decided to try and make the site 'pop' with a little style!
The new front door places an emphasis on getting users to sign up.   It is now easy to look for a specific topics to watch but signing up allows users to know when new things are available and is the real magic sauce on the site.

We also redesigned the way you watch videos.  We made the actual viewing area bigger and put social tools right next to the experience to entice users to share with friends.   Note that we're now supporting sharing (Facebook, Twitter and email) and Facebook 'Like' & 'Comments'.

We have some real good ideas coming, so stay tuned!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Twitter Trending Topics - Fixed!

Hey PF'ers -- as some of you noticed, our Twitter trending topics integration went AWOL.

I dug around and found the misbehaving squirrel so now things are once again working.

If you haven't ever tried this feature, you should. We pull the latest trending topics from Twitter on a regular basis and mash the results up with the latest vids. We use a completely different PF algorithm for this as users are looking for the very latest videos (spam removed of course) -- works especially well for breaking news events.

As I write this, Yao Ming has just announced his retirement. PF has video on his announcement as well as excellent highlights (sorry Dwight Howard)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

SEO and Sitemaps on

Bacon and I are always working on search engine optimization (SEO) for In addition to ad buys, viral features, etc., like many sites, we have a monthly spend for acquiring traffic. Also like many sites, we constantly tweak many aspects of this spend to optimize.

Over the last few months, we added features to improve the visibility of a given topic (like Justin Bieber) by tweeting new topics from our @PersistentFan account, making it easier to share a link for a specific video (e.g. Jimmy Fallon), and Facebook/Digg sharing. Search engine crawlers are fairly latent; it can take upwards of a month to see the impact of certain changes. As we introduced various features, we began to see an uptake in both eCPM and search engine traffic/visibility. However, the progress was fairly muted overall. Before the holidays, we decided to start back at the beginning and analyze how search engines were crawling our site. I spent a lot of time doing this:

tail -f /var/log/httpd/access_log

One thing that struck me almost immediately was that I saw a ton of crawlers (Tweetmeme, etc) from the @PersistentFan tweets, but didn't see a lot of folks like GoogleBot. After some analysis, we noticed the obvious - the front door of showed both the most popular topics of the last few hours, along with a scrolling list of recently viewed videos. At any given time, we were exposing about 15 or 20 topics to bots, but no more. The many thousands of topics we track for persistent fans were effectively hidden from bots because we didn't provide direct linkage or navigation to discover them. (doh!)

The solution to this was to provide a sitemap. Since our topics grow dynamically, both from user-generated searches and topic creation and various feeds that we use on PersistentFan, we needed a solution that generated a sitemap on a regular basis. I looked around but couldn't find much in the way of libraries so in the end I wrote a Java app that grabs all of the topics in our database, builds and serializes a DOM to create a sitemap on a nightly basis. Once this was complete, a simple change to our robots.txt let the crawlers of the world know where to go:


Within a few hours we began to see crawlers performing GETs on URLs which were not previously requested. Sitemaps, FTW!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All of the new goodness...

We may have seemed like we were away for a long time but we have actually been heads down and focused on a couple big fronts...

1. A new & improved front door - We were watching organic traffic hit the old front door over time and watch the big bounce. So we decided to make a new 'clean' front door design that focused on showing what people are doing on the site at that moment.

2. A new improved signup process - We all know that logging into a site with a Facebook and/or Twitter account increases the fun. We modified the signup process to focus on getting users to use their accounts over creating a specific PersistentFan account.

3. Facebook Like - There is a new Facebook Like button just below the playing video. If you click on this button you can leave a comment on your wall about the video you are watching.

4. Adding Wikipedia snippets - We add a dynamically created Wikipedia snippet for every topic a fan is interested in following. This makes the site more compelling for fans that want to dive deep into the subject while watching videos.

5. Suggested topics to follow - We are now providing a quick list of the most watched topics at the moment the user is on the site. Another way to give users ideas of what to follow.

We have more on the way, stay tuned...


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The new PersistentFan widget

Quick update from coffeeshop headquarters.  We just created the first PersistentFan widget that is focused on allowing sites that are persistent fans of any topic to add content to their sites without taking important real estate on their page.

To see the widget in action go to and play around. 

The user experience:

Screenshot 1:  Click on the orange Check out Coachella videos tab on the left side of the page.

Screenshot 2:  When clicked the PersistentFan widget slides open on top of the publishers site.  Coachella fans can click thumbnails to watch concert footage, the Twitter conversation and share with friends on Facebook, Digg and Email.

Screenshot 3:  User click on the orange on the orange tab again to close the widget.

As with all the features and ideas BaconMarathon Labs implements, we are putting this widget out there and looking for feedback.

1. If you think it has the potential and totally awesome, let us know.

2. If you think it is missing features or you just don't get it, let us know.

3. If you have a site and are also a PersistentFan of pretty much anything and want to add this widget to your site, lets us know!  
(just email and we'll get right back to you)

Take care,
Mike (Bacon)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Defining what is a PersistentFan

The BaconMarathon team's interest/enthusiasm has always centered around being PersistentFans of something in all the major genres (music, movies, TV shows and sports, etc.) since well, forever. (Look at previous posts to see what we dig.)

We have been heads down focused on the ever evolving study of online fandom and what fan's must have to keep up, discover and influence.

Defining levels of fandom:

Everybody has interests. When a person's interest gains enthusiasm that is the genesis of becoming a fan of a topic. From our own experiences, we know there are different passion levels based on certain topics.

Which leads us to write down what are the levels of passion a fan can have? Mike May's "The Five Levels Of Beatles Fandom" provides a simple example of what we're looking to use as a guide.

level 0
'Casual radio listeners' that hear a Beatle's song and enjoy it but do not pursue much further.

For this equals a fan discovering from Twitter or a friend and watching a couple videos.

level 1
'The entry level Beatles fan is the kind of person who, having heard and liked some of their music, actually goes out and buys a couple of their albums.'

For this equals a fan that watches a couple videos then adds topics to watch on their list or the user selects a twitter trending topic and watches videos on the subject.

level 2
'Having absorbed and grown to like the initial handful of albums and craving for more, our fan moves up to the next level when he decides that he wants to own a complete set of Beatles songs.'

For this equals a fan that creates an account on the site and has created a list of topics they want to watch (get notified) over time.

level 3
'By now interested in all things Beatle, our fan’s happiness is short-lived, however, when he discovers that, although he owns all the tracks the group released, there are a large range of compilations, singles and EPs and so on that were originally released but which are missing from his collection.'

For this equals the user sharing videos on Twitter, Facebook, Digg and/or email with friends. In turn friends use send videos to other friends, etc.

level 4
'Once again though, this happiness does not last long. Our hapless fan has by now taken to reading extensively about the group. To his dismay, he finds that his collection is very far from complete.'

For this equals providing the ability to allow fans to easily get to content beyond videos and the conversation for any given topic. The PersistentFan Widget allows influencers to add content to their sites a provide fans with more.

level 5
'But then one day, a final calamitous realisation dawns. He spots a copy of the Spanish Por Siempre Beatles or the Brazilian Os Reis Do Ié, Ié, Ié!. Not only were there a vast number of albums with different tracklists released all around the world, but even the familiar British titles came with a range of alternate artwork.'

For this equals providing the ability for fans a one stop shop to aggregate and post content, create channels where they control content is important and share this content via widget or over the social networks.

Couple questions for the PersistentFans out there:
1. Using the levels mentioned above for things you care about what would you like to see in a website to make your heart rate go up a level?

2. What sites do you use today to keep up with the things you care about?

Feedback is always welcome,
Mike (Bacon)