Posts Tagged ‘facebook’
Yesterday Naomi Harm give a keynote address at the Lake Geneva Schools Technology Academy, an educational event for elementary, middle school and high school teachers. Although I wasn’t at the event, word reached me about a social media-inspired educational platform called Twiducate. Similar to Yammer (“Twitter for intra-business communication”), Twiducate does not use the already overtaxed Twitter platform, but instead uses many of the principles that make Twitter so useful.
I took a test-drive of Twiducate last night, and two things struck me. The first revelation I had became the title for this post; The developers of Twiducate will be hard-pressed to stop work groups other than classrooms from using the tool. The other revelation is about education reform. Yes, reform won’t happen on its own. But certain facets of it will happen naturally, “seeping in” from the emerging social media zeitgeist. Avoiding new teaching environments like Twiducate will be like holding back a rising tide.
Here’s a video:
So: Will the subversion of this tool be harmful?
I think asking the question is moot. This type of thing will happen regardless. I’m thinking of at least two other examples of where a social network is forced to morph because of the unintended uses those pesky members decide to put it to.
- Fotolog.com started as a primarily photo-sharing site, similar to Flickr.com. But its meteoric growth in the last decade — especially in Chile, Argentina and Brazil — was due to users hopping on to connect and generally socialize. Sharing favorite pics became secondary.
- If the above sounds like dumb luck — like simply being in the right place with the right product (read: social toolset) — you’re right. And you’re also probably thinking of my second example. Although Mark Zuckerburg might posit that Facebook’s growth was all part of some master plan, we shouldn’t forget that he built it in his dorm, six years ago, as merely a “Harvard-thing” — primarily an easy way for him and others to organize study groups.
Check out Twitucate. Do you agree that it’s more than education’s new “Moodle-killer?” Does it have “legs” beyond academia, and is that a good thing?
Tags: facebook, Fotolog, Mark Zuckerburg, Naomi Harm, social media, Twiducate, Yammer
Posted in Productivity, Social Networks | No Comments »
You’d think it would be impossible to get those who haven’t signed up for Twitter to get hooked on the immediacy and community of “tweeting.” You’d be wrong.
Just now I wanted to watch the statistics while I had the USA – Canada Olympic Gold Hockey Game on the television. I logged into the official Winter Olympics site. I found paydirt — and a surprising real-time Facebook status feed. You can click the image for one that’s easier to read:
What struck me about the Facebook feed is I didn’t have to log in. Since I already had Facebook loaded in another browser window, it immediately gave me the opportunity to add my own two cents to the cheering / jeering session. I didn’t, but I did find the flow of other people’s comments to be a fun addition to my solo enjoyment of the game.
I’ve written before about how Facebook is a perfect set of social media training wheels for the newbie. This is more evidence.
Tags: facebook, hockey, olympics, twitter
Posted in Social Networks, Web Marketing | 2 Comments »
Eleven months to the day after David Pogue of the New York Times posted on being a newbie in the “Twitterverse,” I think his piece is still one of the best introductions to the platform. Here’s a sample:
I’ll admit that, for the longest time, I was exasperated by the Twitter hype. Like the world needs ANOTHER ego-massaging, social-networking time drain? Between e-mail and blogs and Web sites and Facebook and chat and text messages, who on earth has the bandwidth to keep interrupting the day to visit a Web site and type in, “I’m now having lunch”? And to read the same stuff being broadcast by a hundred other people?
Then my eyes were opened. A few months ago, I was one of 12 judges for a MacArthur grant program in Chicago. As we looked over one particular application, someone asked, “Hasn’t this project been tried before?”
Everyone looked blankly at each other.
Then the guy sitting next to me typed into the Twitter box. He posed the question to his followers. Within 30 seconds, two people replied, via Twitter, that it had been done before. And they provided links.
The fellow judge had just harnessed the wisdom of his followers in real time. No e-mail, chat, Web page, phone call or FedEx package could have achieved the same thing.
I was reminded of this again over lunch yesterday, when I was chatting with a couple of really smart tech types. My lunch companions were very Pogue-like in their misgivings about Twitter. One was even leery of Facebook. Both made points that sounded familiar to me.
I acknowledged that when Twitter first came out, I was the same way. This post from 30 months ago is an example of my ambivalence toward Twitter. I have since seen it work as a valuable way to connect and learn, for both me and many of my clients. Some business has come out of it as well.
I’m sold on Twitter. Besotted in fact. (See for yourself, at @TheLarch)
But its success could be fleeting. Twitter is white hot right now, but flash fires often burn out just as quickly.
Maybe I should revise my oath of undying love. Instead, how’s this? I’m sold on the emerging social dance called ambient awareness, a concept explained eloquently in this Clive Thompson article.
Pack up your coconuts and see the world
Ambient awareness is bigger than Twitter, and even bigger than Facebook (now at 350 million users worldwide). It’s like the coconut shells in the arms of an octopus. For those who didn’t see that story, here’s the gist: Biologists diving off the coasts of Indonesia have discovered a species of octopus that has evolved to use a novel tool. Scientific American describes the discovery:
The octopuses were found to occupy empty seashells, discarded coconut shell halves or manmade objects, and on several dives, the researchers saw them carrying coconut shell halves below their body and swimming away with them.
Sometimes, an octopus would carry two shell halves and then put them together to form a shelter, the scientists said…
“Using tools is something we think is very special about humans, but it also exists in other animal groups we’ve never considered before, a low life form, a relative of a snail. These octopuses, they’re not simple animals.”
I learned about that story through — what else? — Twitter. This platform, and the ambient awareness it harnesses, is literally a new tool for helping those who put it to use. It helps us work, play and generally be the social creatures that we are.
Tags: Clive Thompson, david pogue, facebook, new york times, twitter
Posted in Social Networks | No Comments »
Most online marketers recognize Twitter’s power to connect people. This virtual network is great for many B2B marketing types. In some ways Twitter — and microblogging in general — is the new Power To Get In. But what about driving consumer business? And here I’m not talking about ephemeral branding. I’m talking about getting people to your business with money in hand.
Last night I got a few answers.
Among other marketing innovators, I had the pleasure of meeting Joe Woelfle, owner of Blatz Liquor. He was co-hosting a Tweetup in collaboration with JSOnline.com. He contends microblogging has produced tangible results.
Last month Journal Sentinel business writer Tannette Elie (@Telie) cited Woelfle as saying that Facebook is responsible for 10% of his sales. This, he explained, was primarily through the soft-sell of publicizing wine- and beer-tasting events.
One tenth of a “bricks-and-mortar” retailer’s business attributed to Facebook? It seemed a lofty claim, but when I asked Joe earlier today if he would revise that estimate, he said only to throw his newest tactic — Twitter — into that mix.
The wall-to-wall turnout at the event last night certainly suggested that Twitter was powerful at something. But what? Skeptics would say you could use plenty of other methods to spread the word about a free event at a beer, wine and liquor store — one that included plenty of liberally-poured product samples!
Time will tell how effective @BlatzLiquor‘s Twitter efforts are at growing real sales and loyalty. But in the meantime, someone else at the Tweetup has a Twitter-fueled business already road-tested by other entrepreneurs.
Korean BBQ Tacos and Pizza By The Slice
Scott Baitinger is co-owner of Streetza Pizza (@StreetzaPizza). I was excited about connecting with him for two reasons:
- His business just had its official launch this Memorial Day weekend and I was eager to find out how it went
- Scott’s business is a glimpse at a promising future for retail — for everyone from food vendors to dry cleaners to banks
Streetza’s business model uses Twitter to tell hungry customers where its truck will be parked next. It even polls followers on questions such as future locations and product offerings. I wrote about this business model — this promising taste of the Web 3.0 world — last week. It was in a SOHOBizTube article. In that piece, I cited the wildly successful Zogi BBQ, a Los Angeles purveyor of “Korean tacos” that informs its tens of thousands of Twitter followers (@KogiBBQ) where it will be next.
As odd as it sounds, these customer-centric Tweets are truly a taste of things to come.
That’s because the next meaningful digital innovations won’t provide consumers with cooler web sites and more content. They will be mobile applications that provide exactly the content we crave, talking to us when we are physically in a place to scratch the itch.
The future of the web is about place. And like Kogi, Streetza Pizza, in sleepy little Milwaukee, will be leading us there one slice at a time.
Tags: blatzliquor, facebook, joe woelfle, kogi bbq, scott baitinger, streetza, twitter
Posted in Long Tail, Milwaukee, Social Networks, Web Marketing | 2 Comments »
Do you find this as interesting as I do? Look at the box at the top of this screen capture, from Facebook:
Sometimes we forget that Facebook is more of a community than some physical neighborhoods. Folks know each other (on Facebook, most everything is only viewable by ordained “Friends”), and people care about how they are perceived by the rest of the neighborhood. As various outcries attest, this is a community whose residents truly care. Remember the brouhaha a couple of years ago over Facebook launching its News Feed, to inform every friend of a person’s activities — including the posting of relationship break-ups, social snubs, and embarrassing photographs?
For those who can’t make it out, this notice on Facebook this evening reads as follows:
Vote on Facebook’s Governing Documents
We’ve revised the two new documents we proposed to govern the site, the Facebook Principles and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, based on your feedback. Now, we want you to vote for the system of governance you think is best. Voting will close on April 23 at 11:59am PDT. Visit the Facebook Site Governance application to learn more, read the documents, and vote.
Would you expect anything less than elections and referendums within this sprawling community?
(And just how sprawling, you ask? Consider Manhattan. It has tens of millions of residents, yet its boroughs can be counted on exactly one hand. Conversely, the boroughs of Facebook are themselves in the millions — although there is much overlap*.)
*Each person’s Friends list could be considered itself a borough. Think of the overlap between people in their Friends lists as the boundaries between boroughs.
Tags: communities, danah boyd, facebook, governing documents
Posted in Social Networks | 3 Comments »
This afternoon I had the privilege of speaking to the American Animal Hospital Association about, among other things, mobile marketing. I look forward to resuming the conversations tomorrow.
Tomorrow I will also be posting an entry with many of the links and updates I’d promised. But for now, I wanted to present for your critique a gee-whiz idea I posed to the group. I hope you can help me with your comments.
Please consider this: What if there was a way to use the viral marketing power of a Facebook widget to help your best customers talk about your practice.
The idea uses something I’ve blogged about before: widgets. Ad Age contributor Bob Garfield has postulated, and I agreed in this post, that widgets can be for healthcare marketers the new refrigerator magnet. Well, how about for veterinary practices?
A prototype image is near the bottom of this post, but the essence has more to do with functional design than actual appearances. It occurred to me that pet owners are almost as quick to flash you their latest pet pics as they are photos of kids and grandkids. One friend (a team member from my ec-connection days) even has a Facebook profile page for his lovely Dora:
This spawned in my mind the Digital Pet Parade. It’s a digital picture frame, of sorts, that you would install and configure on your Facebook profile. Using this widget, you can display pet photos that you’ve already loaded in the Photos section of your site. The picture frame (a prototype shown below*) does these things that a mere photo collection cannot:
- Rotates your photos with a frequent “refresh” rate that you would set — or simply shows a new one from your collection daily
- Includes the photos of your friends on Facebook as well — or at least those who also have the picture frame showing their photos (and their picture frame would show your photos if they opt to allow this)
- Allows for picture comments, from you and you friends (not shown)
- Is equally functional on iPhone web browsers, as well as other many other higher-end smartphones.
This afternoon I got a chance to chat with a lot of practice managers and veterinarians about using the power of social networks to help their best customers become their ambassadors. But I still wonder if this way particular way of empowering customers has real potential.
Hot … or NOT?
Here’s the big question: Has this simple widget added more complexity than is needed?
From a marketing perspective, it’s a glamorized way to show you’re a “fan” of the practice, by using their branded widget. I frankly like the subtly of this. And yes, in this way it resides on your profile page the way a magnet would hold up papers and whatnot on the door of your fridge.
But will your customers be eager enough to agree to install one more application on their Facebook profile? You tell me!
I’ve met a lot of people today and asked them to respond. Let’s keep the discussion going!
*NOTE: Digital Pet Parade prototype was designed by the lovely and talented designer and art director Heather Prickett Bolyard.
Tags: AAHA, digital pet parade, facebook, pets, widgets
Posted in Mobile Marketing, Social Networks, Web Marketing | 7 Comments »
A decade ago Michael A. Boylan wrote a book on business to business (b-to-b) selling called The Power to Get In. It was publicized as “a step-by-step system to get in anyone’s door.” To reiterate the book’s promise of granting access, Boylan begins Chapter 1 with this pronouncement: “You’ve been frozen out.”
It’s a terrible feeling, and familiar to many who have something valuable to sell but cannot seem to get an audience with the proper buyers.
A case for Twitter for business
I’m not a sales coach, but I have personally seen that when you apply the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) to Twitter, it can help you succeed. It may even help you regain that Power to Get In.
Here’s why people get “frozen out”: In the business world, we’re all overloaded with too many people who want a piece of us. This has a key driver behind the drop in responsiveness of these tried-and-tested lead-generation techniques:
- Email open rates and click-throughs are falling
- Direct mail is becoming more expensive and less effective
- Phone calls, with their deadly voice mail phone screeners, aren’t being returned
Viewed 20 years ago, the solution would have been to learn to play golf. And that method is still viable today, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment.
But in the meantime, social media are providing quasi-business environments, most notably Facebook and Twitter. In both cases, these systems use a social phenomenon that’s come to be known as ambient awareness (here’s an excellent article on ambient awareness by Clive Thompson of The New York Times).
The growth of these seeming “distractions” (okay, real distractions), is two-fold.
1. Drinking from a fire hose
First, we are all overwhelmed. To use the famous metaphor, we are trying our best to drink from a fire hose of information. This was described wonderfully in the book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. For those who are inclined to try it, Twitter (and Facebook “mini-feeds”) can be a way to control this information flow. It’s like creating our own private channel of friends and business associates, available in real-time whenever we’re ready to check it out.
2. Special access to a private gathering
These micro-blogs allow us to grant special access. Remember when only a handful of your best friends and business colleagues would get your email address? Well, now your many email addresses are teeming with responsibilities and requests. Even our most private email accounts can become another obligation to maintain.
Relative silence, plenty of fresh air, and interesting challenges
Most humans who have been working at their computers much of the time yearn to be surrounded by friends and interesting colleagues, with few distractions. At one time, it was joining a country club that scratched that itch. Twitter is starting to do the same.
And because it is attracting some significant decision-makers, it is taking on some of the same appeals, in terms of lead generation, that golf does.
Ostensibly, golf is a game. But playing with potential business partners offers surprising access, and an informal context for the discussion of mutually beneficial opportunities. So golf is no mere game. The ambient awareness mechanism of Twitter offers the same lead-generation potential — if it is used properly.
The three rules to using Twitter for business
Follow these three rules and you cannot go wrong:
- Like other networking, think about helping others before yourself. Look for chances to respond to other people’s queries or interests
- Find chances to meet face-to-face. Here’s the story of my awakening to the potential in a “Tweet-up.”
- Never or rarely directly promote what you’re selling
Sign up for a free account on Twitter. Follow me if you’d like; I’m at @TheLarch. And then begin exploring a surprisingly productive business time-waster. Perhaps even as productive a time-waster as golf!
Tags: Clive Thompson, facebook, Michael A Boylan, The New York Times, The Paradox of Choice, The Power To Get In, twitter
Posted in Social Networks, Web Marketing | 1 Comment »
Last night I was at a business event. During my mingling, I found myself attempting to convince the PR director of a major not-for-profit organization why she should care about social media. I thought I gave good and relavant arguments, but realized I’d only been partially successful.
She agreed that she’d have her organization join our local interactive marketing association, but said she would delegate attending the meetings: “I’ll send our web guy to them. He’ll understand all that stuff.” The problem is, if you don’t take the calculated plunge into social media, you cannot possibly grasp why it is such a game changer — for both the discipline of PR, and for marketing in general.
I wanted to tell her, “Considering your leadership position, delegating an education in online marketing to someone else is not a wise move, for either the organization or your own career.”
Just ask Rick Sanchez, co-anchor of CNN Newsroom. His newscast has lately included a real-time Twitter display, and tie-ins with Facebook and MySpace. I guarantee you that regardless of how carefully he and his producers planned this adventure in social media, they could not have planned for what would be thrown at them, and how they might respond.
Still thinking about my conversation with that PR director, I came home to read this update on a criticism that social media and marketing strategist David Berkowitz had posted about Rick’s show. David noted that Rick Sanchez had responded quickly and thoughtfully to his disappointments with the way social media were handled:
Rick managed to change my opinion of him the hard way – by taking the time to listen and respond to my comments, and to go above and beyond. He was authentic, personal, and immediately responsive, all important characteristics for any person or marketer determining how to respond to customer feedback.
This authenticity cannot be faked, and cannot be experienced at arm’s length.
I wish I could have pointed to this sequence of events — David’s post, Rick’s response, and the resulting good will and positive buzz — as a perfect example of good PR in a Web 2.0 world.
Regardless, she and others will be seeing other adventures in social media by broadcast journalists yet to come.
None of us have to climb up and try to surf a given wave that’s passing by. But as for this wave, if we’re in the communication industry, we will all most certainly be getting very wet, very soon.
Tags: cnn, david berkowitz, facebook, myspace, rick sanchez, twitter
Posted in Social Networks, Web Marketing | 2 Comments »
In the early days of radio journalism, reporters would conduct “man on the street interviews,” to get the opinion of “John Q Public.” The news-gathering ritual has extended into television reporting today. The technique makes for interesting coverage of a topic, but opinions recorded are hardly the unvarnished truth. When presented a microphone, all but the most incautious of us edit out statements to fit what he’d like the world to think of us.
If it were possible, a more accurate accounting of public zeitgeist might be to eavesdrop on a roomful of friends, discussing and arguing about the topic at hand. Listen in on enough rooms and you might be able to get a better feel for public sentiment.
That’s the concept behind Facebook’s Lexicon. This (currently) free feature allows marketers and others to slice and dice Facebook members’ comments on their friends’ Walls. Currently this new Lexicon version is limited to a list of roughly 20 terms. There are plans to open this up shortly.
An earlier Lexicon version showed relative volume of terms over time, but not actual numbers. This made any sort of statistical inferences impossible. The newer release shows the actual numbers, as well as these enhancements:
- Demographics by gender and age
- Geographic breakdowns down to state level. You can even compare breakdowns between two terms on the same map.
- Sentiment over time, although Facebook hasn’t stated how it determines this.
- Associations: Terms frequently mentioned alongside a given term.
Below is an example of terms associated with mentions of “Palin,” over the last two weeks. Significantly, it was within this period that Saturday Night Live (SNL) presented a much-talked-about skit, where Tina Fey played Sarah Palin at a press conference, standing beside Amy Poehler as a disgruntaled Hillary Clinton. The topic was sexism in the presidential race.
In the Associations graphic, the bottom dimension is gender, with the terms farthest to the right being used by more men than women. The graphic (which can be expanded by clicking on the image) shows that more women than men commented on Facebook walls during that time period with statements containing SNL, Tina Fey and skit (when also using the word Palin).
The caption at the bottom of the graphic helps you understand what you’re looking at:
The Y axis is the average age and the X axis is the average gender of users who posted the association. For example, a bubble up and to the left means that the association is more prevalent among older and more female users. A bubble down and to the right means that the association is more prevalent among younger and more male users. The size of the bubble indicates the number of times the word appeared alongside the topic in the given time window.
Explore Lexicon for yourself. And if you’re curious what all of the comments were about, check out the skit:
Tags: facebook, lexicon, opinion, palin, presidential election, skit, snl, tina fey
Posted in Database Marketing, Social Networks, Visualization, Web Marketing | No Comments »
It’s a common theme among direct marketers: There is little that actually changes as new media spring up and ads adapt to them. Take Facebook. As David Berkowitz discussed in his post today (and also in his MediaPost piece), an ad series that targets people based on their gender and age is making the rounds. And getting a lot of scrutiny. I had seen another version of it last week, and had mentioned it to him via Twitter. (Thanks for the mention, David.)
Significantly, this ad series wasn’t showing when I just visited a few moment ago, nor could I find in on the More Ads page of Facebook. Coincidence?
Way back on April 9 this ad series first captured my attention, although at the time it wasn’t testing headlines customized to age and gender, as this newest batch does. At the time I made a number of screen captures, and took some notes, but didn’t blog about it then.
Now this latest twist (featuring headlines such as, “29 Yr Male Overweight?“) is a great chance to share my research into the advertisement — especially for those readers who first caught David’s post and wondered how the subsequent user experience plays out.
The answer is it’s very old school, with some shrewd modern touches.
Like the best print ads of the direct response print ad “Golden Age” (somewhere between the 1960′s and the 1980′s, I’d venture to guess), it is a carefully tuned conversion engine, as well as a massive blight on the advertising landscape.
The ad itself had the headline “Get Ripped.” The photo is smaller than the new versions, but the copy is written with the same economy and obvious care. When you click though to it, you see a page that is incredibly busy, with three different fonts and primary colors, and a ton going on. (Click to open it full size in a new window).
An AJAX layer offers a clever YouTube video player (I don’t recall checking to see if it was truly pulling from YouTube, or was residing on the advertiser’s server — but I’m guessing the advertisers were not counting on YouTube’s cooperation, and this was indeed locally streamed).
Folks who wouldn’t know better would assume this ad is a loser. “Who could possibly respond to something this schlocky?,” they might ask. My answer would be that, like the pattern on the carpeting of a Las Vegas casino floor, everything about it is there for a reason. And it’s all there because it’s effective, as proven over time, with much testing.
The best part for me is shown below. When I tried to close the window, I got a fake system message saying, “Hey Wait!” It goes on to say a live agent would like to give me a “last-minute saving,” Okay then. Points for persistence.
What do you think of this surprisingly old-fashioned approach? Do you think it will work — with, or even without — the age / gender personalized headlines?
Tags: david berkowitz, Direct Response, facebook, mediapost, testing
Posted in Database Marketing, Direct Response, Long Tail, Web Marketing | 2 Comments »
New media consultant and columnist Steve Smith speculated recently in MediaPost that we will soon be receiving many more sponsored messages with our cell phone’s text bulletins. These text bulletins, also known as SMS messages, are the 140-character packets that helped Justine Ezarik rack up a 300-page AT&T cell phone bill. (She reports that Twitter and the SMS feature of Facebook were the biggest culprits. Each message sent and received was separately itemized.)
The good news is these messages will be extremely targeted, and are “opted into” in exchange for the content received. An example cited by Smith is NASCAR race updates, sent to the 200,000 subscribers to this branded program. He explains that if a supermarket chain would want to target those interested in NASCAR, “There is enough mass there to net perhaps 80,000 users in a general geographic region.”
That’s enough to make quite an impact. Especially since response rates are impressively high.
Although the initial calls to action must be quite brief — 20 to 80 characters — the extremely targeted nature of the messages helps response. A “response” is usually hitting reply, to receive a full (up to 140 characters) expansion of the offer and a URL to click on. This graphic , provided by the MoVoxx site, helps illustrate the typical process:
Alec Andronikov, who is the managing partner of MoVoxx, says that of the many billions of SMS messages sent each month, somewhere around 500 million of them are some kind of publisher-pushed alert. And each could conceivably be sponsored. Smith continues:
Right now, [Andronikov] claims about 3.5 million uniques with sports, travel, dating and newspapers comprising the largest content categories. … Andronikov claims a response rate of 2.5% to 4% on the SMS ads.
That means a hypothetical, regionally-based supermarket chain running a NASCAR promotion could get their entire message in front of at least 2,000 fans (80,000 recipients of the initial, sponsored message multiplied by a 2.5% response rate). If the offer is compelling enough, this can win the chain hundreds of new customers.
The ability to target consumers by age, gender and zip code — as well as areas of personal interest, as implied by the content to which a consumer subscribes — promises a way to take the junk out of junk text messages.
Through testing we’ll soon see whether these campaigns “have legs” — whether they can generate enough of a return on investment to make them a smart, new marketing tactic.
Tags: facebook, mediapost, sms, steve smith, text bulletins, text messages, twitter
Posted in Direct Response, Mobile Marketing | No Comments »