Interview with Nic Fulton, Chief Scientist at Reuters

reuters-logo-171-06.jpgLast week's WeMedia Conference in Miami put the spotlight on the future of journalism and how it will change. No better example can be found of those changes than the project Reuters is undertaking with Nokia. Nic Fulton, Chief Scientist of Reuters took a couple of minutes at the conference to talk to me about the Nokia partnership and what he expects will come of it.


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It was interesting to note that I spoke with Nic about the possibility of doing live reporting and he said that is not their focus right now. He mentioned the lack of quality that is possible with mobile streaming as the main weakness. For the time being, Reuters is focusing on high-quality, original content that complements the rest of their offerings.

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Interview with the UN's Jean-Marc Coicaud

unu_logo.gifThe best part of the WeMedia conference in Miami this past week, like any conference, was the people that I was able to meet. One of the sharpest minds that I came across was Dr. Jean-Marc Coicaud, head of the United Nations University Office at the UN in New York (also a published author, former fellow at Havard University and cultural attache to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Dr. Coicaud has a great grasp of the power of technology and how it impacts the mission of his organization. Although he admittedly has a way to grow, he knows that it is a powerful way to bridge time and distance.

He took a couple of minutes to spend time with me and here is the interview.


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The mission of the United Nations University is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations, its peoples and member states. You can learn more about the United Nations University here.

More interviews from this conference are coming up including the Chief Scientist at Reuters and the founder of the Hip Hop Caucus.


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Twitter and customer service; the big picture

iStock_000001289783Small.pngI debated when I started this series of posts whether I should use a specific service as the example or be more general. I chose to use Twitter because of the traction it has in the market and it's pretty easy to explain.

I've received some feedback here and on other blogs about how unlikely it would be to actually use Twitter for customer service. While I think that it is entirely possible to use Twitter (companies already are), especially if your audience is on the service, we need to look more broadly. Don't get hung up on Twitter.

A huge part of being a social media strategist and identifying what's next is breaking down new applications into their core pieces. So, let's break down Twitter. First off, Twitter is cleanly designed and the interaction is simple and intuitive. The most important point is that you can send data to it from the web, mobile, IM, email or desktop applications. Alternatively, you can receive data from it in the same manner. You publish how you want, when you want and you receive in the same manner.

There are a couple of ways that I can see Micromedia evolving to allow more companies to use a Twitter-like service for customer support.

  1. The re-branded Twitter: If you didn't catch the mid-January blog post, the underlying messaging service for Twitter is now available as an open source platform. It's codenamed Starling and companies can start developing now to create their customer service platform.

  2. The enterprise option: This could be based on the aforementioned Starling framework or something entirely new. The point here is that a company could host and integrate real time messaging into their support system. Customers could communicate how they want, when they want, where they want. The company would have their own SMS short code, email address and would need the staff to support it. Real time is scary, but it presents an opportunity to create strong, personal relationships with customers. Isn't that what it's all about?

  3. Something amazingly new: Twitter is limited to text. People have built applications on top of Twitter that use other types of media, but it ends in text. The next level of this type of service is to use video, audio and photos in addition to the text. Services like Utterz and Jaiku take strides toward this, but they lack the level of community that Twitter offers. Advances in mobile technology could allow real time video support anywhere, anytime.

The common theme is on-demand. The customer's demand. Right now too many customer experiences happen at the company's convenience, but the best service companies act when the customer needs them. I recognize that scaling up is an issue and programs like this should be rolled out in manageable waves, but the move is inevitable. If you don't offer it the next company will.



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Twitter, the ultimate customer service tool

iStock_000003492530XSmall.jpgTuesday I wrote about why I think some marketers aren't jumping in to social media faster. In part, I think the feedback is too honest, some marketers don't want to listen and the last thing they want to do is create two-way conversations. Overall though, customer service is one of the best uses of social media and can have a major impact on corporate brand and reputation.

Twitter has been around (as far as we're concerned) for about a year. It's often misunderstood and frequently maligned by journalists and traditional marketers. Part of the issue is, in my opinion, the name of the thing. Twitter? Tweets? Twitterers? I feel dumb for saying these things and I always get the same reaction from people who I am guiding through the landscape.

However, to see the real value of Twitter you have to look past the name to the underlying potential. The underlying technology and architecture is the future of communication. It's a seamless publishing tool that you can use from web, mobile web, mobile app, desktop app, IM, widget, etc. and consume the content using the same methods. (You can check out my full presentation on Micromedia here.)

Here is a visual representation of Twitter's publishing and consumption model. The key is choice and flexibility on both sides.

Picture 24.png

Customer Service

Twitter is the ultimate customer service tool. It's live, instantaneous, community driven, open, two-way and multi-way, unfiltered and predictive. This is, however, only for the most advanced, customer-forward companies to attempt to use. You definitely need a black belt in customer service ninja techniques to do this well.

twitter_logo.pngThe first step is a piece of cake. Go to www.twitter.com and register an account. Point a designer at the page and have them outfit it with a branded background and custom style sheet so it looks like your brand. The account can be protected while you are doing the legwork to set it up and train employees.

Now comes the hard part. Twitter is live and 24x7. Staffing needs to be done accordingly and it's not something that can be started and stopped. Would you abandon a call center or an 800 number? Absolutely not and Twitter is the same thing.

So how does it work?

Once you have the account ready and have the staffing in place you can start promoting it. Be sure to give an overview of how to use it, make signup easy, create a video that walks people through the system. Most people will just use the web version. You can use Twitter's API to basically re-skin the system on your site so people don't know they're using Twitter. Create shortcuts for them to make interacting easier (like adding the @ sign for them when communicating directly.

Once the messages come in, you have to be monitoring. If nobody is available, set up a responder that kicks them back a message and tells them when you will respond. The key is to be fast in response, be honest in what you tell them and allow the entire community to see the conversation. Get Satisfaction is doing this with crowdsourced service, but isn't using Twitter.

Seems pretty easy right? It's not, but the power of listening, responding to issues in real time, letting your customers see this and get a feel for the level of care that you're providing is priceless. The reps that handle this communication need to be specifically trained on the medium and the "rules".

I'm going to break out each of these steps in posts next week and show how the system could integrate into an existing customer service plan.

What do you think? Is this doable? What companies could pull this off and thrive? Some are doing it one-way (service alerts, etc.), but nobody is doing live, open customer service like this.

[Update: Make sure you read Joshua March's great counterpoint post. Weigh in on this from your point of view.]


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Ann.oy.ing or del.icio.us?

delicious_logo.gifThere is a discussion going on around the blogosphere about the practice of posting links from del.icio.us. I use this practice (see the post right before this one) to share what I am looking at and what has my attention.

Mark Goren tagged me in a very thoughtful post on his blog and there are some great comments that ensue. Mitch Joel sparked the conversation with his post and Scott Monty ran with a post on his blog.

The issue at hand is, does it add value to you, my readers? I try to add commentary to each item to keep it in context. So, is that enough or does it just clutter up your reader? Is there anything else I could add that would add more value? Let me know in the comments.


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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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Guest blogging at Drew's place

iStock_000004187609XSmall.jpgPlease take a moment and check out my guest post at Drew McLellan's blog today when you have a moment. The topic is creating a solid 1.0 digital foundation before moving into a 2.0 world.

A quick excerpt:


Pardon the idiom, but if you don't have your marketing ducks in a row it's hard to make a move into emerging media.

Too many companies try to jump to Web2.0 and skip many important steps in the process. This makes for a hard sell internally and an even more awkward transition.

This post focuses on what you're already doing online and how to make a smooth transition to 2.0.

Here is the link to the post. Thanks Drew!


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Too much reliance on free services?

iStock_000002109201XSmall.jpgWhat happens when we rely on an online service too much? Just a couple of minutes ago, via Twitter, I started hearing murmurs of one such service going down. I immediately felt a bit of a panic since I use it all the time. The service is Tinyurl. Tinyurl has a very simple model, they take long, complex URLs and make them short. Services like Twitter rely on Tinyurls to fit more content into the 140 character limit, but it's used more widely than that.

The service is free, and there is no uptime guarantee. I'd thought about this scenario a while back when an author asked if it would be wise to use Tinyurls in their book to make re-typing them easier for readers. I hadn't given it too much thought since then.

Picture 15.png

Are there other online services that you rely on with no guarantees? What if Google Maps crashed or YouTube was attacked and lost service? Have you thought about contingency plans in case they go offline? It certainly makes you think.


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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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Whiteboard//Session: How Digg works

digg-logo.gifMy latest MarketingProfs Whiteboard//Session video looks at how Digg.com works as a community to add value and filter news.

Last Friday I took an Inside//Out look at social news community Digg.com by showing you what it looked like and went over the key functionality. In this edition of whiteboard session, I want to dig (pun intended) into how the system works as a community to add value to the users.

This functionality has been copied by many sites (Netscape.com was and recently shifted away from it) and is a good model to keep in the back of your mind for the future.

If you know of any topics, acronyms, technobabble or other sites you would like to see covered in a future post, please drop me an email.


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Virtual worlds colliding with traditional ones

I was watching a little primetime TV last night and saw a spot by Toyota for their Tundra line of trucks. The 30 second spot features the virtual world/video game World of Warcraft (WoW), but even if you're not familiar with the WoW you can pretty easily follow along. I think it's very progressive of them to use this concept and I'm sure it's reaching the younger male audience that they're targeting. Here it is if you have not seen it.

Another example of virtual worlds coming to mainstream is the October 24 episode of CSI: NY. In the episode a parallel Second Life experience will allow users to interact in a whodunit of unprecedented proportions. Users will be able to log in to SL and walk through the crime lab, process evidence and try to catch the killer.

Both of these endeavors by such large companies show me that they believe virtual worlds are at a tipping point for their target audiences. I imagine this type of integration will become more common in certain audience demographics as the technology gets easier to use and the experience becomes more easily accessible.

This definitely appeals to a pretty narrow audience, but it's a very hip, young, connected, tech-savvy one. Have you seen any other examples of this type of virtual world integration? What other brands lend themselves to this type of hook given the audience?


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Whiteboard//Session: What is RSS?

rss-icon.jpgDon't you hate when a new acronym arrives on the scene? RSS is a term that is confusing to most non-technical people, but when you break it down it's very simple. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.

This is also the first video that I am doing in association with the great folks at MarketingProfs. My goal is to reach as many marketers as possible to evangelize new media and demystify technology. MarketingProfs provides an outstanding platform to do this. You'll notice the new title screens on these videos and you can look for more in the coming weeks and months. Also, Ann Handley informed me that I have the distinction of being the first person (not clipart/stock photo) to grace the home page of MarketingProfs. I am really honored!

Key takeaways:


  • It really is simple
  • RSS allows news to be delivered in near real-time
  • Eliminates the need to go out to sites to see what's new or changed
  • RSS drives blog feeds and podcasts (video and audio)
  • RSS readers aggregate multiple feeds in chronological order to make consumption easier

If you have any topics or technobabble that you would like to see me cover, drop me an email or leave a comment!


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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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The future of social, mobile networks

verdino_phone.pngGreg Verdino is away on vacation, but he asked me to guest blog on a topic of my choosing while he was gone. On top of being honored to be included with other great bloggers, like Doug Meacham, Ryan Karpeles and Jonathan Baskin, I knew I had to push myself to keep up with Greg's high standards.

The post that I wrote is a press release from the future (2009 to be exact) where Facebook releases a mobile operating system. It's where I think that the mobile, social web could go to truly bring value to the users and leverage mobile technology.

So, if you get a chance, head on over to the post on Greg's blog and check it out. Would love to know what you think.


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Whiteboard//Session: What is AJAX?

Picture 15.pngNot a day goes by when I don't see complex technical terms thrown around in media press or on blogs. I often wonder if the average marketer knows what half of these terms mean. This new series is aimed at graphically illustrating (this is where the whiteboard comes into play) complex terms in ways that normal, non-geek people can understand.

In this installment, I take a look at AJAX. This is a huge Web2.0 buzzword that you hear all the time, but do you really know what it means? It's actually quite straight forward from a marketing point of view.

AJAX Stands for Asynchronous JAvasript and XML. As a marketer you don't need to know about Javascript, which is a programming language, nor do you really need to know about XML, which is a data storage standard. The Asynchronous part is what is interesting. This allows web pages to behave in a more dynamic, application-like manner. Google's Reader, Mail and Documents all work with AJAX to make them work more fluidly for the end user. Data is transmitted and stored via XML behind the scenes to enable this process to happen.

This is also responsible for the so called "death of the pageview". Pages don't need to reload to get content thereby eliminating impressions. Check out the video for a tutorial on what AJAX is from a 30,000 foot, marketing centric view.


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Key takeaways:


  • AJAX allows technology to get out of the way of the end user
  • UX is improved through more dynamic, application-like interfaces
  • This idea is a driver behind Web2.0, but has been around for a while
  • Microsoft has their own version of AJAX called Atlas (same principle behind it)
  • AJAX bridges the design/UI field and the technical/integration field to make the users happier
  • Less pages to load means less impressions hence the death of the pageview
  • Major companies are using AJAX to design more responsive, rich interfaces than is possible in Flash

Is there a term that's confusing you? Do your tech guys like to show you up and you want a little revenge? Email me or leave me a comment with the terms/ideas/buzzwords that you would like to see explained in a future post. Also, let me know if you have ways you think I can improve on this concept.


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Whiteboard//Session: What is an API?

Picture 9.pngNot a day goes by when I don't see complex technical terms thrown around in media press or on blogs. I often wonder if the average marketer knows what half of these terms mean. This new series is aimed at graphically illustrating (this is where the whiteboard comes into play) complex terms in ways that normal, non-geek people can understand.

First up is the API. One of the core tenets of Web2.0 is the idea around "open APIs", you've no doubt heard it before. API stands for Application Programming Interface and is really pretty simple when you break it down. Here is my whiteboard video that explains the process.


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

Key takeaways:


  • APIs open up and regulate a library of data and services that you can access
  • APIs are controlled to give and deny access depending on your permissions
  • Marketers only need to know what's available in the library, not how to get it back (that's the technology person's job)
  • Mashups are applications that use these APIs to get and combine data from multiple sources

Is there a term that's confusing you? Do your tech guys like to show you up and you want a little revenge? Email me or leave me a comment with the buzzwords that you would like to see explained in a similar post in the future. Also, let me know if you have ways I can improve on this concept for new posts.


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Should you design an exclusive site for the iPhone?

iphone_inhand.jpgThe iPhone, by most accounts has been a huge success, created unparalleled gadget-envy and has signaled a shift in the US mobile handset market. I've seen a lot of companies riding this wave of popularity and, subsequently, have released exclusive iPhone sites (Six Apart and Facebook to name two). These sites are physically formatted for the device, use specific technology and won't work on most other handsets.

From a mobile marketing strategy view I think this begs the question, should you design a site just for the iPhone? My answer is "it depends". Unless you work for Apple, designing for the iPhone should be part of a larger mobile strategy. Focusing on the iPhone alone isn't an effective way to move in the mobile space. Let's put this in perspective.

Here are the global numbers for some of the larger mobile device manufacturers for their last reported fiscal quarter.

Apple | 1 million units reported

Nokia | 100.5 million units
Samsung | 37.4 million units
Motorola | 35.5 million units
Sony Ericsson | 24.9 million units
LG | 19.1 million units
Blackberry | 2.4 million units

Given this global perspective, I think it's pretty clear that focusing only on the iPhone is short-sighted. Those other companies all use devices that have little in common with the Apple device. The web browsers range from Opera to IE mobile. Some allows JavaScript and some don't. The web 2.0 effects you can pull off on the iPhone kill other devices.

That being said, designing an iPhone-only version of a product or site is a way to reach the young, hip, early adopters that the product attracts. More and more phones will start to shift to model themselves after the iPhone, but that could take a couple of years to come to market in mass. In the meantime, the iPhone can be a great addition to the mobile mix, but don't put all of your eggs in that iBasket.


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Real time marketing; listen, watch and react

Smart marketers know that the web offers the unprecedented ability to be timely and relevant. When an event happens, content can shift in real-time, ads can go up and offers can be made.

I love the Nokia team's response to the iPhone price drop and subsequent buyer revolt. The Nokia team used the news to their advantage and started running search ads inviting Apple's early adopters to enjoy their new Mosh service and some free content. It's timely, super relevant and took advantage of a one-time situation to capitalize on consumer emotions.

Here is a screenshot of the ad based on the phrase 'iphone price drop':
iphonemosh.jpg
[Screenshot via TechCrunch]

Apple eventually posted a retaliatory search ad and Nokia has since removed their ad from rotation (the window is closed). Nokia only had to be there in the moment and it could have very easily passed them by. How many situations just like this could companies use to capture the interest of consumers? Relevance is key in getting people to engage with you online and this type of marketing is right on the money

Here are some questions to ask and thoughts to ponder:


  • Are you listening to the web? Are you listening to social media?
  • Where are you listening?
  • Do you have Google alerts on keywords? Search Technorati? Keep an eye on the news? Do you do this in real-time?
  • What events trigger consumer purchases in your industry? Weather, seasons, the stock market, etc?
  • How do those things impact consumers? What behaviors change?
  • If you knew what to look for, how would you react to take advantage of it before your competition?

Search ads are nice because they're quick to implement and highly targeted? RSS display ads (where you control dynamic messaging in real time) are another option. Would video have more impact? Do you have a camera at the ready just in case?

How have you taken advantage of real time marketing to increase sales or gain new customers?


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Buzz Friday for August 31, 2007

more-buzz.jpgHere is a look at what is happening across social media and new marketing this week. If there is anything that you would like to see in this post or if you have something you think is Buzz-worthy please drop me an email or leave a comment on this post. I want to make this as beneficial for you as I can.

iTunes.jpgBuzz Friday is also available as part of the Techno//Marketer Podcast on iTunes. Click here to subscribe and take the Buzz to go.



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

Here are all of the items that I think are interesting this week:


  • Jeremiah Owyang of Podtech has decided to take a job with Forrester as an Analyst. Congrats to him, seems like a great fit.
  • A group of college students on Facebook threatened bank HSBC with a boycott over its plans to change their formerly free overdraft policy.
  • There is a rumor floating around that Microsoft could buy Blackberry. We'll see where this goes.
  • Karl at Experience Curve wants to save Technorati and offers some insights for the service including a pro plan. What do you think? Is it salvageable?
  • iTunes and NBC are parting ways. NBC wanted to charge $4.99 for their shows. That's $3.00 more than Apple charges. Thomas Hawk thinks this is as stupid as I do.
  • An interesting move by Google will allow Gadgets to talk to each other on people's iGoogle home page.
  • Apple is expected to unveil a new line of iPods and a new wireless iTunes service next Wednesday. P.S. if you are going to buy an iPod this weekend WAIT!
  • I particularly like this interview that David Armano did with his colleague David Stallsmith. Great insights into design.
  • I found this hilarious. A guy running for school board creates an ad and posts it to YouTube. Viacom's VH1 show "Web Junk 2.0" took it and used it on their show. The guy who created it posted the VH1 version on his site and Viacom ordered him to take it down. Right hand, meet left hand.
  • Great post by Greg Verdino on video. Greg shows the craziness that happens when a study is done by somebody who's business hinges on the results looking a certain way. Interruption is on the way out.
  • Jaiku has added instant messenger to its offering. Definitely a more robust platform than Twitter, but the people are still on Twitter.
  • Iain points to a huge QR poster in London to promote the DVD release of 28 Days Later. Would have been even more cool had the message not said the same thing.
  • Hulu, NBC's newly formed network, translates to "cease" and "desist" in Swahili. Gotta love the irony.
  • I was talking about the possibilities of using the iPhone's tilt sensor to do some cool things. Check out this post on Engadget.
  • Heineken will release a new beer for women. This has been done is other countries in Europe to some success.
  • Nokia introduced a new music store to compete with iTunes. Could take off in Europe, but will be slow to roll in the US.
  • CNN made the move away from Yahoo to Google for search.
  • If you have a bad impression of the airline industry in this country, you have obviously not been on a United flight when Denny Flanagan was at the helm.
  • Ever hear the question "if advertising is so great, why don't ad agencies use it"? Strawberry Frog took out this ad in Fortune and I'd love to see what the reaction was.
  • Digg gets a makeover...yawn...next story!
  • Good to see bloggers who tell it how it is. Check out this honest and fair review of a book by David Berkowitz. This is a possibility for anybody doing a blogger outreach campaign. I hope the author takes David's advice.
  • Colorado University got its first use of a new emergency text messaging system last week.
  • Yahoo's new mail service offers free text messaging right from the mail interface.
  • Have you ever been in a "strategy" meeting that felt like you were in a "tactegy" meeting (yes I just made that up)? Idris feels the same way and explains why it happens.


Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. 9rules
  2. slide
  3. Fotolog
  4. My Heritage
  5. TechMeme

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden


  1. Seth's blog
  2. Gaping Void
  3. Duct Tape Marketing
  4. Logic + Emotion
  5. Search Engine Guide
  6. Diva Marketing
  7. What's Next
  8. Daily Fix
  9. Drew's Marketing Minute
  10. Influential Marketing

View the top full top 25

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from the AdAge Power 150


  1. Seth Godin
  2. Micro Persuasion
  3. Pronet Advertising
  4. Search Engine Land
  5. Search Engine Watch
  6. Adrants
  7. Online Marketing Blog
  8. Adverblog
  9. Marketing Pilgrim
  10. Publishing 2.0

View the full list here

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Miss Teen USA 2007
  2. Gmail Behind the Scenes
  3. Content-Aware image sizing
  4. Zunephone
  5. Common - Drivin me wild

More


iTunes.jpgTo help you stay on top of what is happening and to filter the myriad options, you can now subscribe to the Techno//Marketer podcast on iTunes. Get updates in real time when new videos become available.

podcast-logo1.gifIf you use another podcatcher you can grab my podcast RSS feed here.


You can watch this and other Techno//Marketer videos on your video channel of choice:

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Apple changes rules, forgets to tell customers

Apple store lineI, for one, am all for changing the rules if it makes things better for the customer. Many companies have taken the old way of doing business in their vertical and have created new markets by shifting the old rules. Netflix, Wikipedia, Target are all examples of companies who are changing the world.

I would also group Apple into that lot with their innovative approaches to industrial design and user interface. Tonight, however, I had a mixed experience at my local Apple retail store due to a miscommunicated shift in the rules of retail. I went in to the store to pick up a copy of iWork 08 (I give presentations using Keynote) and to check out the new iMac. I picked up the software, strolled around and grabbed a couple of other things that struck me (there is always something), played around with the iMac and got ready to go.

When I first walked into the store I noticed that they had done some remodeling. The Genius Bar was positioned in the back of the store where the checkout counter had been and the checkout counter itself had been removed completely. Now, I frequent the Apple store so I know that they've had hand-held checkout systems in place for a while now and that any Apple staff member can check you out without having to go to the counter.

The problem is that I am in the minority of the people who know this. There was a line 15 people deep at one point for people ready to checkout, but they were all standing in the genius bar line because that's where the checkout counter always was plus it was a counter with people standing behind it (lemmings I tell you). The other staff members were all helping people and so the line continued to build. Finally a couple of the staff broke away and started going through this impromptu line one-by-one. It was horribly inefficient and defeated the whole purpose of the change in rules.

Apple's innovative point of sale system is cutting-edge and the store concept is beautiful and much more utilitarian. The problem is that they changed the rules without telling anybody or helping them to understand. I am a loyal Apple user and I almost went home without purchasing. What would it have hurt to have a greeter at the door to offer a welcome and tell you that when you are ready any staff member could check you out. Even more cost effectively, why not print something on their uniform t-shirts that says something to that effect?

shift.png

Like I said, I am all for changing rules, but not telling anybody could hurt the brand and really irritate people who just want to give you money. I've seen this manifest itself in the digital space many times. Think about what happens when a major site that you use goes through a re-design. Things get renamed and moved around in the name of progress. Major navigation or checkout changes can be catastrophic. Imagine if Amazon renamed the "Shopping Cart" to "My Backpack" for some reason. You may get it down eventually, but you shouldn't have to think about something that mission-critical.

So what can you do when the rules need an update?


  • Keep the end-user in mind at every stage
  • Identify your key paths/clickstreams through the site
  • Maintain crucial paths or, if you must change them, make it painfully clear what the user should do
  • Use a value index to rate changes (does it add value, lower the value or keep the value where it is) and strive to add value along each path
  • Test, test, test some more and then test again
  • State the changes you made and show how to do the same things in a newer (hopefully better) way
  • Use video, audio or screencasts to usher people through the site in the way they choose to engage you

Has there ever been a site that made changes that should have been good (or you eventually found were nice), but they were poorly communicated? If the rules need to change, how do you lead the way and bring your customers with you?


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Mobile social media booming by 2012

iStock_000003640525XSmall.jpgI came across an interesting study from Juniper Research about their forecast for mobile social networking. As I've said before, I think this is a huge growth are that is almost entirely untapped.

As phone data network speeds rise and device functionality improves here in the US, the possibilities are almost endless. I know personally, I can operate almost entirely from my phone in a pinch (email, IM, MS Office docs, blog posts, camera shots to Flickr, etc.), but it's getting easier for everybody to jump in.

Here are some key data points from the release that I think you'll find interesting:


  • End-user generated revenues will increase from $572m in 2007 to $5.7b in 2012
  • Social networking will account for 50% of that
  • Active users of social networking will increase from 14m to 600m in 2012
  • Downloads from mobile content delivery services will increase from 200m to 9b in 2012

The study notes that data fees are really the largest obstacle right now, but I think we're seeing the start of these rates coming down as demand surges and competition heats up. Look for ad-funded models to also gain traction to off-set cost. The model needs, however, to deliver on value to the end user.

Could the next Facebook be mobile-only?

Could the next Facebook be mobile-only? Could you share more with people if your device automatically uploaded everything to this network (imagine that each photo you took was automatically sent to your mobile account)? Your phone's GPS could auto-publish where you are and text/voice/video messaging would all be integrated seamlessly. I think it's a possibility.

What do you think?


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T//M podcast #001: Harley-Davidson's sturgis widget

Picture 7.pngWhat a way to start a podcast series! I've been doing a lot of video lately and have been wanting to do a weekly audio podcast series for a long time. I've been biding my time for the right situation to present itself to get out of the gates with a bang and that's just what happened recently.

In the first ever episode in my weekly audio podcast series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Beck the Marketing Director for Harley-Davidson Motorcycles (thanks to Sean Scott for setting this up). Harley recently partnered with agency Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis to create a new type of widget. They threw out the conventions and created something remarkable. The widget, timed to launch with the Sturgis motorscycle festival (attended by over 500,000 riders), broadcasts live streaming video from the festival grounds to Harley fans around the world. It includes audio and really gives people a window into the whole experience.

I was able to talk with Scott and Jon on my phone, but could see and hear them in the widget. So very, very cool. I hope you like episode one and please bear with me as audio editing is really new to me. These podcasts will never go over 26 minutes in length (the average commute time in the US) so you can download, consume and start implementing in short order.

Any feedback or comments would be greatly appreciated. Enjoy!

Leave audio comments at +1 (206) 350-2186 or drop me an email at mattdickman@gmail.com

podcast-logo1.gifHow can you listen? There are three ways:

  1. Download the MP3 file for episode 1
  2. Subscribe to the Techno//Marketer podcast on iTunes
  3. Subscribe using another podcatcher using my podcast RSS feed here

Episode guide:

"Fresh, filtered and focused content for new marketers"


0m28s Welcome to episode 1

1m12s Overview of my goals for the podcast

1m50s Intro to interview with Scott Beck, Director of Marketing for Harley-Davidson motorcycles

5m30s Interview with Scott Beck and Jon Campbell of Harley Davidson

18m55s Interview wrap-up

22m15s Kudos to Todd Andrlik's Power150 for its partnership with AdAge

Notable items:


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Mobile marketing refresher

bluespammed.jpgI've been doing a lot of thinking on mobile marketing lately and it's sparked me to re-publish my mobile marketing 101 series from earlier this year. If you're thinking about mobile, this is a nice entry point.

I'm going to be expanding on this series with a focus on social media and new marketing in the next couple of weeks, so it's a great time to refresh on the basics. In the meantime, if you have any questions or topics you would like to see covered, let me know via email or in the comments.

[Related Link] MMA Global: mobile marketing's governing body


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Buzz Friday for August 3, 2007

more-buzz.jpgHere is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. I am refining this post over time, so if there is anything you would like me to add just email me or leave a comment. Similarly, if you have something you think is Buzz Friday worthy let me know and I'll look it over for inclusion.

iTunes.jpgBuzz Friday is also available as part of the Techno//Marketer Podcast on iTunes. Click here to subscribe and take the Buzz to go.



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

Here are all of the items that I think are interesting this week:


  • Do you wonder how powerful Google's search is? They recently "tweaked" their search algorithm and it caused a 28% drop in traffic to About.com.
  • The DIY Network is running a series called Blog Cabin where people could log on to a site and basically help design a log cabin through blog software. Four million votes have been tallied so far. Very innovative on DIY's part.
  • Google is using the power of crowdsourcing in non-US countries to build map dat points. Why not use the locals for the local stuff? Makes sense to me.
  • TubeMogul is a brilliant new service that I am using to simultaneously publish the video that I am creating here to (as of right now) 9 different video sites. This saves me at least an hour of follow up.
  • If you have a MySpace profile, Tom is probably your friend. The new site DropTom lets you set a new default user instead of poor ole' Tom.
  • Marcus Brown (aka Sacrum), my fellow Age of Conversation author, has started a new idea company called The Ides of March with a very cool model. He'll take on any problem for you and you pay him what you think it's worth. If you don't like the idea, he gets to blog it to his readers. He's a brilliant guy so what's to lose?
  • A new virtual world competitor to Second Life is ready in Multiverse. Look for lots more.
  • Social network Plaxo is rumored to be releasing their new version on Monday to compete more with LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • Yahoo is revamping their video site to compete with YouTube. Better hurry guys!
  • Video service Veoh is partnering with the NCAA for a branded content channel.
  • Are you planning a conference that needs speakers? Check out David Berkowitz's 12 tips for pitching to help you out.
  • C.B. Whittemore warns why competing on price is a losing battle.
  • Vodafone pulled advertising from Facebook after it was seen on the group page of a racist political party in the UK. Makes you wonder how targeted FB ads are anyways.
  • CBS mobile is covering their bases forming partnerships with four major mobile ad companies.
  • Feedburner is allowing publishers to create self-serve ads through their network similar to Google AdSense.
  • In what is sure to be the first of many such scenarios, Facebook has closed its audio sharing service to prevent RIAA lawsuits.
  • If you have an iPhone and travel overseas beware. This guy had a $3000 cell phone bill.
  • Technokitten has a nice post on mobile gaming and her top 20 trends for the space.
  • Linden Labs, creators of Second Life, have banned gambling per FBI reviews.
  • Do you have some advice for people coming out of college? Head over to Ryan's blog and leave your best thoughts.
  • The LA Fire Department has started Twittering to get information out.
  • Jason Calacanis has declared Facebook bankruptcy on his blog. I would too if I had 500 people join in.


Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. vSocial
  2. Vimeo
  3. Odeo
  4. Twitter
  5. Frappr

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden - No change from last week


  1. Seth's blog
  2. Gaping Void
  3. Duct Tape Marketing
  4. Logic + Emotion
  5. Diva Marketing
  6. Daily Fix
  7. What's Next
  8. Converstations
  9. Church of the Customer
  10. Drew's Marketing Minute

View the top full top 25

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Todd Andrlik - There is lots more competition on the Power150 since Todd partnered with AdAge.


  1. Seth Godin
  2. Copyblogger
  3. Micro Persuasion
  4. Pronet Advertising
  5. Adrants
  6. Search Engine Land
  7. Online Marketing Blog
  8. Duct Tape Marketing
  9. Marketing Pilgrim
  10. tompeters!

View the full list here

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Thriller - still holding strong
  2. Chocolate Rain - a joke with staying power
  3. Dark Knight Official Teaser
  4. Rhain Davis at Manchester United
  5. Iron Man - Comic-Con preview

More


iTunes.jpgTo help you stay on top of what is happening and to filter the myriad options, you can now subscribe to the Techno//Marketer podcast on iTunes. Get updates in real time when new videos become available.

podcast-logo1.gifIf you use another podcatcher you can grab my podcast RSS feed here.


You can watch this and other Techno//Marketer videos on your video channel of choice:

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Buzz Friday for July 27, 2007

more-buzz.jpgHere is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. I am refining this post over time, so if there is anything you would like me to add just email me or leave a comment. Similarly, if you have something you think is Buzz Friday worthy let me know and I'll look it over for inclusion.

iTunes.jpgBuzz Friday is also available as part of the Techno//Marketer Podcast on iTunes. Click here to subscribe and take the Buzz to go.


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

Here are all of the items that I think are interesting this week:


  • The value/monetization conversation in social media is staying front and center. CC Chapman has a very thoughtful post on the subject today which I encourage you to check out. Also check Mack's take on this subject. Both use Joseph Jaffe's iPhone for an episode example. More on this from me on Monday. Check my thoughts in the video.
  • A new Reuter's report shows that young people don't see tech, it's integrated and seamless for them. That's the way it is for me. The more technology disappears the more valuable it becomes.
  • Are you thinking about mobile? You should. Verizon's reported that in June alone, 10 billion text messages were sent and received.
  • Todd Andrlik's Power 150 marketing blogs list has joined forces with AdAge. Congrats to Todd for your hard work and dedication and to Ad Age for recognizing the value of this community of thought leaders.
  • The results of David Armano's UX guru poll are in. You can check them out here.
  • Sean @ Craphammer goes all out (that's a really bad choice of words) to promote the Age of Conversation book. Check his hilarious video here.
  • Iain Tait @ CrackUnit has a post on his seven deadly sins of digital (I can think of plenty more, but this is a good start).
  • Twitter received an undisclosed amount of VC funding to enhance the service.
  • The biggest thing holding back Pownce at this point is the lack of developer integration. TechCrunch reports an open AI could be coming at some point.
  • Absolut vodka has a great new promotion to help out hurricane Katrina victims with their Absolut New Orleans flavor.
  • Are you confused by SEO terms? Do you yearn to know what a 301 redirect is? Here is a quick glossary to help you out courtesy of SEOMoz.
  • ESPN will launch their new venture in mobile content with EXPN on Verizon and MediaFlo.
  • Joost is still in beta, but claims they will have 1 million users at their year-end launch. Personally, I've forgotten about the service and I'd be interested to see what percentage of those users are active.
  • Check out Greg Verdino's post about the re-purposing of 30 second spots. Using an existing ad online in a rich media ad is a lazy way to create web content. Don't think this an integrated campaign makes.
  • Verizon is the first to offer direct to YouTube video uploads. This would have been nice to see on the iPhone, but ironically it doesn't record video. Baffling.
  • Facebook's looking to monetize as evidenced by their new CFO, the former YouTube CFO.
  • Mack Collier points to Mario Sundar's post about comment rating platform SezWho. Are we ready for this or is this one more reason to keep new ideas from coming forward? People already don't comment and other people will comment no matter what.
  • Want to find more ways to collaborate online with groups of people? Check Mashable's list of over 60 apps.
  • The Simpsons Movie has a great little site for promotion called "SimpsonizeMe". Below is what I would look like as a character on the show. Try it out, you know you've always wanted to.

Me as a Simpsons character

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. Upcoming
  2. VidLife
  3. Rollyo
  4. Pando
  5. ZippyVideo

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden


  1. Seth's blog
  2. Gaping Void
  3. Duct Tape Marketing
  4. Logic + Emotion
  5. Diva Marketing
  6. Daily Fix
  7. What's Next
  8. Converstations
  9. Church of the Customer
  10. Drew's Marketing Minute

View the top full top 25

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Todd Andrlik - The Power 150 was acquired by AdAge. Read more here.


  1. Seth Godin
  2. Copyblogger
  3. Pronet Advertising
  4. Adrants
  5. Micro Persuasion
  6. Search Engine Land
  7. Online Marketing Blog
  8. Duct Tape Marketing
  9. Marketing Pilgrim
  10. tompeters!

View the full list here

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Thriller
  2. Beyonce falls down steps
  3. Internet data lost
  4. El Nino predicador
  5. Paul sings opera

More


iTunes.jpgTo help you stay on top of what is happening and to filter the myriad options, you can now subscribe to the Techno//Marketer podcast on iTunes. Get updates in real time when new videos become available.

podcast-logo1.gifIf you use another podcatcher you can grab my podcast RSS feed here.



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