Last night I had the opportunity to go to the TypePad headquarters for a Meetup event. It was great meeting some of the TypePad team members and other bloggers in a small group setting.
They talked about some of the new TypePad features. For instance, they've now made it easy for TypePad users to integrate Facebook's "Like" feature in their blogs. The new Like functionality is something all brands should be adding to their sites - it basically does what RSS should have done all along, which is make it "really simple" to subscribe to content.
They've also created a new search widget which bloggers can add to their sites - it will search comments, tags and photos as well as posts, which is extremely useful.
However, the most interesting development for brands is TypePad Conversations. Sparked by the insight that blog posts that end with questions get more comments, TypePad Conversations is "a social media question and answer tool designed to spark engaging conversations around interesting topics which bloggers are actively writing about."
The TypePad team writes the questions, which select brands/partners can sponsor, and a cadre of bloggers can post the questions on their blogs, thereby engaging their readers in discussions on relevant topics. TypePad aggregates the answers, so you can essentially get input and engagement from across the web in one place. This solves two problems: it is a way for brands to get their names in front of blog readers without using banner ads, and it saves brands from having to rely on their PR team's database of bloggers or troll the blogosphere to find relevant blogs.
In addition to user engagement, TypePad Conversations has the potential to become a useful market research tool.
The purpose of the TypePad Meetup was not to get marketing people to blog about them - in fact there was only one other marketing person there. However, we did get free pizza and Francis Ford Coppola Wine. The other bloggers ranged from a funny lawyer to a bicycling gourmand.If you want to start a blog with TypePad, please use this link or click on the logo above - I might get a few cents towards my next slice of pizza.