Watching Frank; an analysis of the blog Frankwatching.com

On: September 23, 2007
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About Pieter-Paul Walraven
Besides enjoying my MA New Media and doing research on Web 2.0 developments in China at the UvA I am working 2 days a week as a project assistant at KREM (www.KREM.nl). KREM is a web 2.0 oriented company which specializes in so called corporate social networks. Movies: Koyaanisqatsi, O Brother where art thou?, Amores Perros. When not studying: Golf!, running, traveling, China, Web 2.0. Books: Life of Pi, War and Peace, The World is Flat. Furthermore I am currently doing research on Web 2.0 in China and Chinese Web companies expanding overseas. For this MA thesis research I will travel to China on the 14th of April to interview the most prominent Chinese Web companies that have the ambition to expand internationally.

Website
http://pietchinathesis.wordpress.com/    

In my MA New Media course New Media in practise, blogs are a prominent subject. Besides blogs in general and everything that has to do with the phenomenon blogging we talk a lot about our class blog. In the first two weeks all MA New Media student are encouraged to think about and discuss the mastersofmedia blog which (hopefully) will eventually result in a drastic redesign and new structure which suits the likes of this years MA students.

An aspect of the whole redesign and restructuring process is broadening our blogging scope and learning how to analyse a blog. Therefore all students were asked to pick out a blog that seems interesting to do some research on and present the results to our fellow students. So what is a good blog? Is a good blog a blog with many readers or are there key factors which all bloggers have to pay attention to? Ofcourse these questions could be answered by punching in problogger.net and copy paste the content, but a more thorough idea of a good blog will be created by properly analysing a blog ourself in combination with taking into acount the tips and tricks problogger comes up with!

The blog I want to analyse should be related with Web 2.0, marketing and innovative new media stuff (and maybe some fun gadgets?) since this is what I am interested in. Also after having read/scanned some Problogger information on how to make money with blogs I thought it would be a good idea to look for a Dutch blog that is Web 2.0 oriented with a corporate point of view. I preferred analysing a Dutch blog since this could provide me with an insight in the Dutch blogosphere. After this determination it became clear that there is only one suitable blog for my analysis: Frankwatching.

Frankwatching is a weblog that originated in 2004. After Frank Janssen had installed a Google toolbar he decided to click on the ‘create your own blog’ button and almost incidentally a weblog was born. Frank reports about this joyfull event in his first blogpost in which he promises the many readers that he is planning on writing a lot more on his blog. Since Frank has a lot of experience in the fields of quality management, document management, information management, knowledge management, internet, intranet and business development through his work at TNT he was able to almost immediately start writing interesting and insightful posts.

This did not became unnoticed by a lot of people and quickly the amount of visitors of Frank his ‘incidental blog’started to grow. Frank realised that his blog had potential and he became even more active by writing more and more posts. After a while he decided to turn up the blogging even more and changed the url provided by blogger.com to his own url: www.Frankwatching.com. Also 9 months after he started blogging Frank decided to get even more serious by starting to use Pivot as his blogging software of choice and creating a whole new look in december 2005.

Typical Frankwatching topics during the early days were about new forms of advertising and blogging, most of them in Dutch but a fair amount still in English. After a couple of months of blogging more and more posts were written in Dutch and eventually all posts were in Dutch. I guess this was a deliberate choice since nearly all the readers turned out to be Dutch natives.

After a year of blogging Frankwatching has seen a few refreshments design-wise. Also more and more Web 2.0 features such as RSS and Tagging are added. During this time Frank Janssen is still the only writer of the blog but in May Frank starts a co-operation agreement with Emerce. Emerce is a magazine with supporting website (or the other way around nowadays?) that is mainly focused on topics such as the possibilities of internet for businesses, trends and developments in digital marketing and e-business. The co-operation consists of a shared revenue agreement for advertorial space and an exchange of headlines.

After this development Frankwatching becomes even more visible and popular. In the following years a lot of related bloggers join the weblog by starting to post stories. These new fellow bloggers are mainly people that work for a business and have experience in web and sales related topics. Also the look and feel of the blog changes a few more times and always remains fresh and up to date. The topics are becoming broader; besides a lot of Web 2.0 issues such as Wiki, Social Networks and blogging, subjects such as gadgets, games and vacancies are becoming more common. This small tag-cloud I created based on the amount of posts with appropriate tags, gives a brief overview of all current topics:

Tagcloud Frankwatching topics

Besides the broadening of scope concerning the content of the blog, the choice of software used to support the blog has changed numeral times. Frank started with using a program mentioned earlier called Blogger but this program turned out to be too limited for Frank his blogging ambition so he started using of Pivot. After almost a year of using Pivot Frankwatching eventually moved on the software it is currently making use of: WordPress. An interesting aspect of changing blogging software is that Frankwatching could always count on its users to test the new blog for bugs. Every time a new platform was launched hardcore readers would comment with tips, tricks, bugs etc. A very Web 2.0 way of coping with the usual start up problems!

After having discussed Frankwatching ’s whole ‘history’ there is a very important change the weblog has gone through. I think this change is a very important one concerning visitors of the blog. It has to do with the fact that recently Frankwatching started a sort of co-operation with many other related blogs. On the right side of the current design of the blog all recent posts of other ‘friendly’ blogs are shown as links. This creates a sort of network of e-commerce, marketing, Web 2.0, etc. The co-operation with Emerce makes the network even bigger and more prominent in the Dutch blogosphere.

I think the future for Frankwatching looks bright, it has proven that there are plenty of interested readers and that there is a lot of potential for more commercial blogs as these. History has shown that Frankwatching is always able to adapt and stay innovative in the always-dynamic and evolving sphere of Dutch business blogs.

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