Inside//Out: QR codes

QR.pngWouldn't you love to drive people from your physical world marketing efforts to the web in real time? Who wouldn't? This has been a dream of marketers since the popularization of the web and technology is starting to catch up. QR (or quick response) codes are, quite simply two dimensional bar codes. The codes were designed in Japan for the auto industry and they remain popular today.

In marketing, QR codes have started to pop up sporadically in ads and catalogs. I did a post on this technology in 2007 which you can read here. In that post, I noted that this was a potential technology for marketers to leverage in the future. To be blunt, this is still in the future, but the trend is one that is coming quickly (though it may take another form). The ability to grab information and go will build momentum over time.

The entire system works by taking a picture of the code with a cell phone camera, decoding the symbol on the device and taking an action. That action can be directing someone to a URL, passing them a phone number, giving them marketing copy or sending them a text message.

Here is a demo of the technology in this edition of Inside//Out

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Pros:
  • Quick and cheap to create
  • Simple and compact design
  • Able to be placed on myriad surfaces (paper, cloth, etc.)
  • Convey complex information to mobile customers

Cons:


  • Lack of consumer education about how QR works
  • Hardware/software readers are scarce
  • Lack of adoption in the US

Key Takeaways:


  • QR should be used for nothing more than a test/experiment at this point
  • The ability for mobile users to get complex content very quickly is a major trend
  • Scanning codes, text message response or the next generation of this idea will push the need further
  • You already see this in real estate in major markets using SMS
  • Integration between physical marketing and digital marketing will continue to converge using new technology

Have you seen these in mainstream ads? Would you consider using them in your campaign? Are you looking at SMS response? Let me know!

There are a number of readers out there. I use the NeoReader on the iPhone. The Kaywa Reader is probably the most popular.


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Inside//Out: Backtype

2D39C42A-6EA8-4A6F-8FD8-B6724F0DE243.jpgOne of the most confounding issues in social media for most people/companies is finding, tracking and staying in the conversation. Backtype is a service that I've found helpful in monitoring comments that I leave, as well as reviewing comments that others have made.

As most of the value in blogs comes "below the post", monitoring comments is vital

On top of monitoring your own comments, the service also lets you track keywords inside all of the comments they index. This is an area that you will find hard to manage if you're monitoring with Google (who doesn't index most comments). As most of the value in blogs comes "below the post", monitoring comments is vital.

Here is a video overview of how it works:

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Key Takeaways:


  • Listening in the comment stream is normally difficult because Google does not index comments (so no alerts, etc.)
  • Uses a simple interface and method to track where you leave comments
  • Tracks replies to your comments or other comments in the same thread
  • Allows you to see how other people are commenting
  • Allows you to track keywords in comments (also hard to do with Google)
  • Built around a social network platform, add friends to see their comments when you log in

Do you monitor comments? If do, how do you monitor comments? If not, why?

If you have a suggestion for my next video, let me know. You can send me an email or you can leave me a comment.


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Inside//Out: Fire Eagle

Picture 10.pngLocation awareness has a lot of potential to tie the gap between digital and the physical world. The iPhone's integrated GPS clearly hints to the future of mobile social networking. Fire Eagle (a Yahoo product) aims to make updating your location easy.

The service is very simple and has only one true function. Tell the world where you are. Once you tell Fire Eagle where your location is, they allow third parties to tap in and use that same data. This way you don't have to update your location on 4-5 different sites, it is done automatically.


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Key Takeaways:


  • Social utilities, like Fire Eagle, are going to make network convergence a reality
  • The privacy settings that Fire Eagle uses are robust and should allay most fears of intrusion
  • The open API they are providing developers has picked up the adoption rate and made some major players take notice
  • Competition from Google/Apple/etc. will be quick to come about

As always, I want to know what is on your mind. If there is a video you would like to see me do just email me or leave a comment on the post.


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Inside//Out: Identi.ca

Picture 14.pngDoes the world need another Twitter clone? How about thousands of them? Identi.ca is a Twitter competitor that us running on an open source platform called Laconica. The product is open source and can be installed and rebranded anywhere including behind corporate firewalls.

The trend with these services is to become more and more distributed and eventually interconnected. I would fully expect Google to implement a common protocol for these services to become universally integrated in the future. For now we'll have to rely on tools like Ping.fm and Summize (which was purchased by Twitter today) to carry out our conversations.


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Key Takeaways:


  • More and more Twitter competitors will rise up taking niche communities with them as Twitter remains on top for the foreseeable future
  • Open source versions of Twitter will begin appearing behind corporate fire walls acting as communications tools and helping knowledge managers compile conversations across the enterprise
  • Oddly during Twitter's periods of sporadic downtime, sites like Identi.ca were so crushed with traffic that they also crashed limiting Twitter's exposure
  • Core components missing here are the API, mobile integration (both of which are allegedly down the road)
  • Twitter's own open-source software is out there and may trump all of the up and comers


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Facebook's DIY ad targeting explained

facebook_logo.jpgEver time that I show somebody what is possible with Facebook's advertising system, they immediately see the future of advertising. Facebook allows marketers to create ads that are extremely targeted to a unique, specific audience. The ads are pay-per-click so you only pay when somebody is interested enough to engage with you through a click.

In the example I go through in the video (which you can see in the image below) I show you the full range of targeting capabilities within Facebook. While it is very robust, there are some missing elements including ethnicity. Though you may not be able to target the exact individual you are looking for, you can use interests and keywords to achieve the same result.

Here is an Inside//Out look at Facebook's advertising system:

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Here is the screen capture from the video.

Picture 23.png

Picture 22.pngSo what does this look like when done right? Here is a good example that I saw today when I logged in to Facebook. The ad to the right is promoting a Chris Brogan "Twebinar" that is hosted by Radian 6. The ad is targeted to my interests, the headline caught my eye and I recognized Chris' headshot immediately. I clicked through to the Twebinar in short order.

Key Takeaways:


  • Micro-targeting your audience using these services is easier than ever
  • Determine how you can target people directly with ads as well as using meta data to reach them indirectly (for example reaching people who watch Monday Night Football to target football fans)
  • Ads that speak to the audience with the right message at the right time are highly effective
  • The prevalence of broad, un-targeted advertising inside social networks is nearing an end
  • Invasive ads like Facebook's social ads should be used sparingly if at all (there is too much risk at this point)


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Inside//Out: Plurk

Picture 3.pngIf you read the title of this post and thought I was kidding about the name of the service, I assure you I am not. Plurk is a new micromedia service that is just coming on the radar screen for the early adopter crowd. It builds on the ideas that Twitter has made de-facto standards and adds a bit more interactivity.

The key differentiator for Plurk is the timeline of messages that users can surf through, the modifiers (loves, hates, thinks) that are used to filter messages and the overall style. This looks to be geared toward a younger audience overall. There is a mobile site at www.plurk.com/m that allows you to post and read Plurks from your friends.

Here is a video overview:

[Feed readers please click through if you cannot see the video.]

Key Takeaways:


  • These sites are all about community and this one is still young
  • Users must update Plurk separately from Twitter, there is no stream connection at this time
  • Plurk allows mobile web and IM updates (haven't seen SMS yet)
  • Plurk is still new so the API isn't open yet
  • I personally think that people can reasonably manage 2 services like this at one time, the most broadly functional services will win out

Are you using Plurk? It's open to try if you'd like. Make sure you add me there. I'll add you back.


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Inside//Out: FriendFeed

Picture 1.pngI'm finally set up again to do more video for you guys and this is the first one on the new equipment. Thanks again for your patience.

FriendFeed stormed onto the social media scene a couple of weeks ago and has received a lot of buzz. To break it down into the simplest terms, FriendFeed allows users to create one RSS feed that combines all of their social media touch points. You can then subscribe to your friend's feeds and have one single feed that combines all of their feeds. In the end, you can consume a lot of information in one stream instead of going to 8-10 disparate places to do the same thing. You can add me here.

Picture 2.png

Information overload is a real problem with social media, especially for those who are new to the space and could become easily overwhelmed. Services like this one are popping up to solve the information overload problem. The service is entirely opt-in so you follow who you like and you can remove somebody at any time.


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Key takeaways:


  • Information overload is a real problem as social media outlets grow daily
  • RSS is the technology that enables FriendFeed to scale and grow
  • RSS feeds can be combined, shared, redistributed and consumed in a number of helpful ways
  • FriendFeed allows users full control over who they follow and they can un-follow people at any time

If you know of a service that you would like to see me cover in a future post, just let me know by email or by leaving a comment on this post.


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Facebook Beacon, one month later

facebook_logo.jpgWhen I posted my original Inside//Out video on Beacon, I couldn't have known how vehemently anti-Beacon people in this social media space would react. Well, Facebook took notice of the opposition and Zuckerburg himself apologized to users on the matter asking for patience and thanking users for their support.

When I asked people outside of this microcosm if they knew about Beacon, I couldn't find one who did. They all had Facebook profiles and most thought it was an interesting idea to share activities in one network. We're all in the echo chamber and have to remember that a) we're the first line of defense/adoption and b) we're *way* ahead of the normal John and Jane consumer out there. We're all working in unchartered territory, Facebook needs to beta these things better in the future with some community participation instead of unleashing them. Facebook messed up, acknowledged it, made changes to respond and have a pretty good solution in place on their end (minus a few caveats).

On the marketer side, however, we need to make sure we ALWAYS allow people to opt-in to services like this from now on. If we use an opt-in, confirm it with people and let them opt-out, we're giving people full control of what's transmitted to third-parties. These are basic email marketing practices and can be adopted for situations like this.

So what's changed? Check out this video which gives a look at what changes are in place as well as their progression to get where we are today.

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Here is a re-post of my diagram explaining how Beacon works:

facebook_beacon2.png
Click to Enlarge
  1. Marketers apply for and install the beacon code on their site
  2. Marketers then set up actions on their site to send information with Beacon
  3. Beacon looks on the user's local machine to see if they have a valid Facebook cookie, if it finds one, it sends the data to Facebook
  4. When users log in to Facebook, they are presented with a message asking to allow the data to be pulled in
  5. Users can automatically allow all, request to authorize each or deny all on a site-by-site basis
  6. Update: Facebook now allows you to opt-out of all beacon messages (data is still transferred to Facebook if the marketer sends it)
  7. If approved, the message is added to the users timeline (mini-feed) and is presented to their friends on the main landing page

Guidelines for marketers:


  1. Make sure that you are allowing people to opt-in to use Beacon to push information to their profile. This is permission marketing 101.
  2. Allow them to opt in to each action you hook Beacon up to (if there are three places you are using it, that's three opt ins).
  3. Add some explanatory information every time information is sent, as you saw in the video the notification Facebook uses is seen only briefly. Give people a short reminder and allow them to opt out quickly.
  4. Only use beacon for things that will add value to the user on Facebook. Hold off on the mundane things and focus on items that add value, reduce the time spent re-typing it on Facebook or hook into an application the user already has installed.

All of that said, would you recommend a client use it? If you are a marketer, would you implement this right now? Are you waiting for something more from Facebook before you step in? What is your most important takeaway from this experience?


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Inside//Out: Facebook Beacon

facebook_logo.jpgWow, when those Facebook guys launch a new service, they really know how to create some buzz. Their latest addition is a service called Beacon. Quite simply, Beacon is a way for marketers to allow users on their sites to send information to Facebook. Some examples include making a blog post on Typepad and having it automatically fed into Facebook or eBay sellers having their products pushed to their profiles. This is a great way to bring chunks of information into one central location and when paired with Facebook's Social Ads, it's a powerful, integrated marketing tool.

Some big name marketers are using Beacon at this very moment. They include AllPosters.com, Blockbuster, Bluefly.com, CBS Interactive (CBSSports.com & Dotspotter), ExpoTV, Gamefly, Hotwire, Joost, Kiva, Kongregate, LiveJournal, Live Nation, Mercantila, National Basketball Association, NYTimes.com, Overstock.com, (RED), Redlight, SeamlessWeb, Sony Online Entertainment LLC, Sony Pictures, STA Travel, The Knot, TripAdvisor, Travel Ticker, TypePad, viagogo, Vox, Yelp, WeddingChannel.com and Zappos.com.

But, Beacon is causing quite a stir with privacy advocates. One reason is that some sites are using Beacon to send data to Facebook without asking the users if they want to do participate. Beacon looks to see if you have a valid Facebook cookie on your machine and uses that to push content to your account. (Multple people using one machine will undoubtedly have problems with Beacon since it is machine specific.) Charlene Li at Forrester has one such story while making a purchase on Overstock.com. Many other people are talking about Beacon across the blogosphere.

Facebook is only partly to blame. Marketers who use Beacon to exploit their users should be held fully accountable.

In a TechCrunch article, Facebook is quoted as saying:

Facebook is listening to feedback from its users and committed to evolving Beacon so users have even more control over the actions shared from participating sites with their friends on Facebook…Facebook already has made changes to ensure that no information is shared unless a user receives notifications both on a participating website and on Facebook.

Check out the video as I take you through a real example and be sure to jump down below for more information and some guidelines all marketers should follow.



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Here is a diagram of how it works (click for a larger image):

facebook_beacon2.png
  1. Marketers apply for and install the beacon code on their site
  2. Marketers then set up actions on their site to send information with Beacon
  3. Beacon looks on the user's local machine to see if they have a valid Facebook cookie, if it finds one, it sends the data to Facebook
  4. When users log in, they are presented with a message asking to allow the data to be pulled in
  5. Users can automatically allow all, request to authorize each or deny all on a site-by-site basis
  6. If approved, the message is added to the users timeline (mini-feed) and is presented to their friends on the main landing page

Guidelines for marketers:


  1. Make sure that you are allowing people to opt-in to use Beacon to push information to their profile. This is permission marketing 101.
  2. Allow them to opt in to each action you hook Beacon up to (if there are three places you are using it, that's three opt ins).
  3. Add some explanatory information every time information is sent, as you saw in the video the notification Facebook uses is seen only briefly. Give people a short reminder and allow them to opt out quickly.
  4. Only use beacon for things that will add value to the user on Facebook. Hold off on the mundane things and focus on items that add value, reduce the time spent re-typing it on Facebook or hook into an application the user already has installed.

Points of contention from privacy groups that you need to be aware of:


  • Some sites are not allowing people to opt in to use Beacon, instead people are surprised by it (See items 1, 2 and 3 above).
  • The opt-out message shown on the screen is too quick and not prominent enough (you can see this in the video)
  • The alert on Facebook (after you log in) is hard to see and, again, is phrased as an opt out message instead of opt in.
  • Each use of Beacon requires users to set preferences and is tedious.

The opportunities with Beacon are immense, but if marketers lose sight of customer privacy it can be a disaster. What do you think about Beacon? Is it too invasive? What should Facebook do to make it work without sacrificing privacy? They have to make some changes to this, but it's anybody's guess as to when that will happen.

[Update 1:] 11/29 Jeremiah just posted a link to this response from Facebook on Beacon via Twitter. The key points are: 1) making it more clear before something is posted to Facebook, 2) asking partners to provide visual cues that they use Beacon and 3) they are going to provide more info and a tutorial on how Beacon works to allay fears.

[Update 2:] 11/29 Justin Smith at InsideFacebook notes Facebook's changes to the system making it opt-in. He notes the following specifics:


  • Stories about actions users take on external websites will continue to be presented to users at the top of their News Feed the next time they return to Facebook. These stories will now always be expanded on their home page so they can see and read them clearly.
  • Users must click on “OK” in a new initial notification on their Facebook home page before the first Beacon story is published to their friends from each participating site. We recognize that users need to clearly understand Beacon before they first have a story published, and we will continue to refine this approach to give users choice.
  • If a user does nothing with the initial notification on Facebook, it will hide after some duration without a story being published. When a user takes a future action on a Beacon site, it will reappear and display all the potential stories along with the opportunity to click “OK” to publish or click “remove” to not publish.
  • Users will have clear options in ongoing notifications to either delete or publish. No stories will be published if users navigate away from their home page. If they delay in making this decision, the notification will hide and they can make a decision at a later time.
  • Clicking the “Help” link next to the story will take users to a full tutorial that explains exactly how Beacon works, with screenshots showing each step in the process.

[Update 3:] 12/5 Mark Zuckerberg has posted on the Facebook blog with an explanation and apology to users.

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Inside//Out: Utterz (beta)

Picture 3.pngUtterz is a new micromedia service along the same lines as Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku. Utterz, however, concentrates more on multimedia than straight text with options to record audio and send video and photos. All of this content is tied to the user's cell phone, so all you have to do is dial in and Utterz knows who you are. The same thing goes with video and photos, just send the file in an email and they post it to your account.

As with any social network, and micromedia networks are no different, there is a balance between audience and functionality. The people make up the network and Utterz is new to the scene and has low adoption right now. On the other hand, the service makes it so easy to create content and automatically feed it out to existing services (website, blog, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) that it is worth a look.

Check out this Inside//Out look at Utterz:


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What you need to know:


  • Utterz allows for micromedia content from a mobile phone to be easily created and distributed
  • Content creation is down to the level where anybody who has a mobile phone can be a creator
  • Content can include voice, video, photos or text
  • Content can also be accessed through the web or through applications built on their API
  • Utterz allows for quick creation, but the power is in the distribution (widgets, RSS feed, etc.)
  • Uses include communication breaking events in photo, video, voice and text, update messages to customers ("the network is down and we're working on it")
  • The use of multimedia allows more expression in out attention-casting
  • The success of these tools is getting the content to the audience, Utterz is a network, but your customer may not be there so extending the content to other networks is a key strategy

Here is one of the widgets that allow you to take the content to


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Inside//Out: Digg.com

digg-logo.gifMy latest Inside//Out video covering social news site Digg.com is up and running now over at the MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

From MarketingProfs:

This video is geared to give you a visual overview, tell you why you should (or shouldn’t) care about Digg, and give you broad analysis of how the technology could help in other situations. You don’t have to sign up for 50 different networks, just let me do it and guide you through the latest, hottest options around.

I am sure that many of you have heard the name or see the tags around the internet and at the bottom of every blog post. Digg is a social news aggregator that relies on the community of “Diggers” to filter, share and vote on the top news. The site is categorized, but remains largely geared toward technical audiences.

Users of the site submit content by clicking on the Digg icon or submitting it through the site itself. Users add a description of the content along with the URL and tags for reference. Freshly "Dugg" content filters to an “upcoming” area where other users vote it up. Content that has a lot of diggs in a short amount of time move toward the home page at a faster pace (diggs*velocity=popularity).

Here is an Inside//Out look at Digg.com:

Key takeaways for marketers:


  • The Digg community is very active and can drive a lot of short-term traffic (MarketingProfs has seen up to 10 fold increases).
  • Digg, like any social network, has its own policing system to control content.
  • It’s advisable that marketers not Digg their own content.
  • Blogs, newspapers, magazines and video sharing sites leverage Digg to share content with a wider audience.
  • Malicious companies do set up fake accounts to Digg things for clients. This is not advisable to any marketer anywhere.
  • Adding Digg code to your site is easy. Just head to this page and use any of the pre-built options provided.
  • Digg also has a cool visualization toolset if you are interested in seeing how active the community is.

Look for a new Whiteboard//Session video Monday where I cover how Digg actually works. If you have anything you would like to see featured in the future send me an email.


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Inside//Out: Jaiku

logo-big.gifJaiku is a service that has been on my radar screen for some time now and I've been meaning to do an Inside//Out post on them. So why do one now? Simple, Google acquired the company yesterday (10/9/07). That alone has sent a deluge of marketers to the web trying to learn more about this presence application.

To keep it simple, Jaiku is on the same principle as Twitter (see my earlier video on Twitter here) or Pownce. You have 140 characters to tell people what you're doing, promote something of interest or communicate with colleagues and friends. Communication is one- and two-way through the messaging system. Here is the video with a more in-depth look.



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Similarities to Twitter/Pownce:


  • There are 140 characters to each message
  • Brands can participate by creating an identity in the system
  • Users are added to each profile to receive updates
  • There is a developer API to pull information from the system
  • You can send and receive messages from a mobile device
  • Both services allow users to create a badge widget to post on their blog or website
  • Both allow updates from IM

Differences:


  • Twitter lacks the channel functionality to target messages to users of similar interests
  • Jaiku messages are threaded so that people can reply to an individual message and create a new, focused conversation
  • Jaiku can act a a life streaming repository to pull content from multiple places into one feed
  • Jaiku allows icons for each post to add visual context

[Extra:]
Robert Scoble did an interview with the founders of Jaiku on Podtech.


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Inside//Out: Google Orkut (beta)

orkut_logo.pngFollowing up on yesterday's Yahoo Mash video, here is a look at Google's Orkut social network. There are a lot of similarities between the two search giants as they try to find their place in the social media universe.

Orkut is a little more refined and has more community hooks to join groups, etc. It lacks, however, the integration with third party applications like Facebook, MySpace and even Mash. The functionality in Orkut is pretty basic and requires some more advanced editing to really personalize the content. Orkut also suffers from a bit of identity confusion and sits at the "pro-social" (part social, part professional) divide.

Check out Google's Orkut:

[Feed readers please click through to the post for the video.]

Key takeaways:


  • As with Mash, enable people to do cool stuff and get out of their way!
  • Find out where your target audience is and focus there (Facebook, MySpace, Mash, etc.) - don't get sucked in to the hype of one network over another
  • If you're looking to build on the platform, you will need to wait until Google opens this up
  • Future hooks into outside content sources could make or break Orkut as network consolidation starts setting in
  • Expect Google to make some moves around this network to bring its content into one place and allow users to even further customize their branded search experience

Related Videos:


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Inside//Out: Our Threads

ourthreadLogo.jpgThe OurThreads concept is one that I've been waiting to emerge from this Web 2.0, community-centered era we're in. Social shopping. OurThreads serves a couple different audiences, but uses fashion as the common thread (pardon the pun). Our Threads allows users to add their favorite items to their virtual closet, surf other people's closets and favorite items and allows users to sell and trade clothing between each other.

Check out the video:

[Feed readers click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]

What they're doing right:


  • Build on the social nature of shopping
  • Build on personal expression of fashion
  • Cool way to interact with other people interested in fashion
  • Nice personal commerce options and user-generated ads to buy/sell/trade
  • Interesting boutique shop tie-ins

Opportunity to improve:


  • The site needs a little more AJAX/Dynamic data to make the experience easier
  • Carry though the closet idea to make it more like real life
  • Make it easier to load in new items
  • Add social shopping sidebar to chat with others and get advice

Overall this is a great site for those interested in fashion and trends and it's still early in their release so I would foresee them making modifications as more content is added and more users jump on board. I'll keep an eye on them as time elapses.


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Inside//Out: LinkedIn

LinkedIn.pngOne of the social networks that I frequent most often is LinkedIn. I've been a member of the service for years, but until recently they've not had the critical mass necessary to get traction. Over the last 6 months, however, I've seen a flood of people using the service to connect on a professional basis.

LinkedIn is a focused, professional networking site. It doesn't pretend to be MySpace. The design is clean, but a little stark and it could use a little more personalization in order to make it more engaging. In this video tour, I focus on what LinkedIn does well within their network and how you can apply the same logic and motivations to your own community.


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What LinkedIn does well:


  • Focus. The site is professional and keeps more social elements out.
  • Communication. Alerts are stored in your inbox and messaging is clear and simple.
  • Answers. The answers area is a great resource for anybody looking for advice from peers.
  • Rewards. LinkedIn offers virtual rewards for engaging (profile completeness, etc.).
  • Community. It's all about community and LinkedIn has found great ways of showing you what's happening in your personal network as well as your extended network.
  • Trust. The site is completely built on trust. You connect with trusted people and so do they. When a message/answer/job comes through the service you know it's for real.

What LinkedIn needs to work on:


  • I think they could do a bit to make it more personal. Photos would be nice.
  • I still think they should offer a resume generator that compiles your data and exports it with some editing on your part.
  • Would be cool to hook up more social media to profiles (blogs, photos, videos, etc.)

If you don't use the service I encourage you to check it out. The more complete your profile is the more beneficial the system will be as it will find colleagues, classmates, etc.

If you have an idea for an Inside//Out post you can send me an email or leave a comment on this post.




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Inside//Out: del.icio.us

delicious_logo.gifAccording to a recent Pew Internet Life, 28% of internet users have tagged content with 7% tagging content every day. One of the most popular tagging sites out today is del.icio.us (although it's not the only one). I personally use it to a) help me remember content that I want to revisit later, b) provides collective intelligence information and c) share relevant information with my readers.

Here is an Inside//Out look at del.icio.us.

Getting set up on the service is really straight forward and it easily integrates into the normal browsing experience. Clicking a link can tag the information, share it with the community and tell you how popular the content is.

Here are the keys to understanding tagging sites:


  • Very focused design puts information and usability first
  • Tags are keywords (yes it's that simple)
  • The tags are stored to your profile so you can reference them later from any web browser
  • Tags are shared globally so you can see related content from the entire network
  • You can create networks that feed aggregate content from all users and share
  • Popularity is gained by having something tagged multiple times in a shortened time frame
  • Great source for research, trend spotting and keeping the industry's pulse
  • Content is easily shared to blogs and other websites as well

If you have any questions or suggestions for a future Inside//Out post just email me or leave a comment on this post.

Click here to see past Inside//Out segments including Twitter, Mahalo and Second Life.




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Inside//Out: MySpace

myspace_logo.gifMySpace was one of the first major social networks. Since then, many competitors have emerged and the landscape is as fractured as the San Andreas fault. The focus of MySpace seems to be around network content (music, news, blogs, etc.) and less around the user generated content. Take a look at this video tour of the site and check out more discussion below.


[Feed readers please click through to the post for the video.]

For comparison of networks, be sure to watch my Inside//Out post on Facebook. Even with all of the hype around Facebook right now, MySpace is still the dominant force in social networking. Here are two examples.

Here is the Alexa data for pageviews between the two sites. You can see that Facebook (blue line) is gaining, but MySpace (red line) is still generally trending up and comfortably in the lead.

graph.png

This chart shows blog mentions between the two sites. Facebook is making up ground here as well and MySpace is trending down.

blogpulse.png

The successful companies have fun with it, are proactive, respect the community and always add value to the user.

In the end, you need to find out where your customers are. If they're on MySpace then Facebook doesn't matter and vice versa. Also, the community is paramount here. MySpace, to me, is the best way to personify a brand through a profile. It's been done really well and horribly. The successful companies have fun with it, are proactive, respect the community and always add value to the user.

Take the Simpsons example that I went through in the video. They offer the marketing basics, but it's fun. There are IM icons, avatars, promotions, games, etc. How could you leave that page and not feel happy and like you've received value.

If there is a social network that you'd like me to cover just drop me an email or leave a comment on this post.




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Inside//Out: Facebook

facebook_logo.jpgFacebook is riding a huge wave of popularity right now and it is a viable platform for marketers looking to reach their customers. This edition of Inside//Out takes a 30,000 foot view of how Facebook works for users and what the marketing hooks are. Creativity is paramount in approaching this community and opportunities can be created if, and only if, you play by the rules and remember:


  • You have to add value to each interaction
  • Use the naturally viral nature of the community instead of forcing it



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One of the biggest downsides with the network is it is a walled garden. It's great at collecting information and sharing it internally. However, it is abysmal at sharing that information with outsiders. Embedding Facebook content on other networks is not possible at this point in time. Similarly, all of the messaging is contained only in the system. Messages from other users bring people back to read them and the status dashboard that I showed you cannot be subscribed to via RSS.

On the other hand, Facebook's F8 developer platform makes it very easy to reach users at the profile level by enabling applications to be built on top of their technology. This openness is allowing Facebook to reach more people through more active development than rival networks like LinkedIn or MySpace. I foresee a lot more effort by those sites to catch up to Facebook in order to stay relevant. LinkedIn has the advantage of focus (professional networking), but it's like a plain, boring resume right now. Facebook is like having drinks with a person and learning about them...for good and for bad. I think there is a balance between the two somewhere.

Jeremiah Owyang at PodTech had an interesting thought on how Facebook could become a defacto standard for personal authentication around the net. For example, if you were to leave a comment on this post (which I hope you will) you would have the option to log in with your Facebook ID and have your information pulled over automatically. Very interesting theory.

Marketing options on the site include (but are not limited to):


  • Flyers - small ads that resemble classifieds. These are generally not effective as they're not valuable to the readers
  • Banner ads - these have very low click through rates (no value added)
  • Create a poll - ask a specific group of users questions
  • Create a group - engage your customers/fans and spur conversation
  • Applications - using the power of the F8 platform, you can allow users to pull you right in to their profile pages
  • Other options - Facebook will work with you to create custom programs

No matter what tactic is right for you, keep the rules in mind:


  • You have to add value to each interaction
  • Use the naturally viral nature of the community instead of forcing it

If you have any questions please leave me a comment or drop me an email.


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Inside//Out: Mahalo

mahalo_logo.pngAs the sheer amount of information explodes on the web, there is opportunity for new companies to capitalize on the filtering and organization of data. Mahalo is just such a venture. Started by Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc. and Netscape fame, Mahalo is a people filtered/built search engine.

This has interesting implications for marketers. Where traditionally SEO and SEM practives have mattered, they're made irrelevant on Mahalo. Mahalo's guides choose the best content from the web no matter if they're Google rank is high or not. The guides create search engine result pages (SERPs) which act as landing pages for each search term. The SERPs are flexible and can adapt to their subject.

[Note I had some lag on this video (my fault), but the audio is perfectly clear so enjoy.]

[Feed readers please click through to the post for the video]

While Mahalo is not the first people filtered search engine (Yahoo did this first), the SERPs are new, however, and they may well be the first to create this feature (although it looks a lot like About.com result pages to me). Nevertheless, with Calacanis behind the project pushing it forward and getting press, it may well take off. Some people want guides to filter their information for them and this is a great service for those people.

Personally I would love to see hooks into networks like del.icio.us or Digg to pull in related items since those are people filtered as well. I'd expect to see more and more engines like this that are powered by people in the future. It surely makes people doing SEO/SEM to look at the quality of their content vs. quality of their optimization.

[Update] Jason Calacanis found this video and links to it from a post here. I've also received emails from other members of their team. Kudos to them for being very actively engaged in the conversation.


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Inside//Out: Bud.tv

budtv_logo.jpgInside//Out is a new series where I will take you on a video tour of what companies are doing in the online and social media spaces. First up is Bud.tv.

Undoubtedly by now you've heard (or read) about the issues that Bud.tv has faced. From low audience numbers to the CEO claiming the site would "probably fade", it hasn't been an easy road for Budweiser.

Here is episode 1 of Inside//Out:


[Feed readers please click through to the post to see the video.]

The Problems:
Looking at the site as it stands right now I can tell you a number of reasons for the lack of traffic and the bad press the site has received.


  • Poor architecture and design. From the main landing page through the rest of the site, it lacks the dynamic, engaging feel of many other social media sites. There is no preview of content, no photography or even a welcome message. On top of that, somebody got drunk on the Web2.0, shiny button Kool-Aid, but forgot about the user experience. Menus have some issues once inside as well. All in all it ads up to a frustrating experience.
  • What is there for female viewers? This site is 100% geared towards men. If I were a woman coming to this site I would probably jump ship pretty quick (any women out there want to comment on this?). I know men are the primary Bud target, but come on. Half of the world is female and women control the majority of the spending money in this country so why not balance out the content and try to reach as many people as possible?
  • Social media is locked out. The only real interaction possible on this site is emailing a clip to a friend, rating a video and downloading clips. That's it. I can't embed them in my blog or share with anybody who doesn't have an account. The main problem is that Bud isn't making it easy for me to engage with their content in the networks I already belong to. They're making me join another network. That's not going to fly for much longer as people find the places their friends are and settle in.

The Opportunities:
For as many problems as Bud.tv has, there are some bright spots here.


  • (Mostly) good content. The content on the site is well produced, funny and lends itself perfectly to being passed along. One problem is the lack of content for women, the other is the mechanism to pass it along in other networks.
  • Proactive marketing. I understand and agree with Budweiser's take on drinking responsibility, but it's not a reason to limit content. Instead, use the opportunity to push the drink responsibly message or partner with M.A.D.D. for the messaging. Bud content is already getting to sites like YouTube. Why not be proactive and add value to the community?

Picture 10.pngWhat should they do?


  • Scrap the Bud.tv site. Yes, scrap the entire site. It's a lost effort now. Instead, partner with video networks like YouTube and Joost to create Budweiser-branded channels. Add drinking responsibility messages at the start and end of each clip and really engage with and educate the audience. Both video systems have ways to authenticate age so why not use it? These sites make it easy to share content and let people spread the ideas in email and through social media outlets like blogs.
  • Use the power of the networks to communicate. People will be able to respond to videos with their own videos. Respond back to them. Be proactive. Reply to comments. Make somebody fully responsible for monitoring the site during business hours.
  • Engage in other networks. Create and engage on services like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. to promote responsible drinking and engage in those micro-conversations. I think a blog focused on the brewers would be fascinating as a behind-the-scenes look at Anheuser Busch. The company has a great history and has good product. Use it, leverage sponsorships in auto racing to build momentum with unique content.

Get out there Budweiser and go to where the people are. Don't create "one more place" for people to have to go. Make it easy for them to pull you in to their lives.

I'd love to get feedback on this new video series as well as on Bud.tv. You can leave a comment or email me.

[Note:] The idea for this post came from a conversation I had with Phil Gillman and Doug Meacham last week on Twitter. It started as I thought about how this idea of original content went wrong for Bud.


























MattDickman Is wondering why budweiser didn't create a channel on Joost or YouTube instead of doing Bud.tv  (12:52 PM June 22, 2007)
PhilGillman @mattdickman they seem to be really stressed about the whole age restricted access... not that they couldnt have done that on joost   (10:02 AM June 22, 2007)
MattDickman @PhilGillman I thought about the age restriction too, but they could definitely do that on Joost. In fact, Joost probably already has it.   (01:45 PM June 22, 2007)
DougMeacham @MattDickman: That is a great question! Perhaps I've missed their strategy, but Isn't the point to get brand engagement vs channel traffic?  (02:36 PM June 22, 2007)
MattDickman @DougMeacham Precisely! With a market so broad, why not go to the users instead of creating one more place? Silly.   (03:08 PM June 22, 2007)
PhilGillman @mattdickman yeah - they ask for your age in the joost setup, and also have age recommendations on channels   (12:54 PM June 22, 2007)

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