Saturday, September 25, 2010

Squidoo Lenses | Too Long to be Useful

I have been looking at some of the top Squidoo lenses over the last week, and I have noticed that most, if not all are so long, they are almost not useful.  Which is kind of ironic considering that Seth Godin, as a blogging style, keeps most of his blog posts fairly short.

I know that Squidoo encourages people to write longer articles in order to make sure people aren't throwing up quick, spammy, one paragraph articles.  In fact, I think Squidoo rewards longer articles with higher initial rankings.  But somehow I think it has gotten out of balance.

Rather than creating quality, comprehensive articles, it seems that people are just stuffing in anything and everything they can think of on a subject in an effort to make the article longer and therefore rank higher initially.  So rather than being focused, informative articles worth reading, they become obese, spammy smorgasbords of blahness chuck full of so many bits of loosely connected info, you could never consume it all in one sitting.  And if you tried, it would make you sick.

Personally I prefer quality over quantity.  I think Seth needs to rethink his ranking algorithm and base it on some quality metric and leave quantity out of it.  In fact, discourage people from adding too much to an article.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Google's New Algorithm

Yesterday, Google announced via its blog, that it had made some changes to its algorithm.  For certain queries, they are going to show more results from a specific domain.  In their own words, "For queries that indicate a strong user interest in a particular domain, like [exhibitions at amnh], we’ll now show more results from the relevant site:"  It looks like it will mostly only effect the results for Big Brands but not the small ones.

The Good
Its sounds like a great idea for companies who are trying to manage their reputation online.  It will be easier for them to dominate and get more of their own, and therefore more positive, results in the top ten.

The Bad
What if I am a user who is looking for what others think about the company and not what they think of themselves?  I will have to dig a little deeper and may need to go to the second and third pages to get someone else's opinion.  Not a big deal, but still pushes down possibly important info.

There are some good things to this and some bad.  For some users it will be helpful to see more results from the Big Brand domain.  For others though, it will be less than helpful.  And I am not sure there is any good way to distinguish between the two users searching for info on a big brand.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Plagiarism's Revenge

This is just too funny. I read Ian Lurie's Conversation Marketing Blog and just came across his hilarious post about Plagiarism. Apparently someone stole his article as well as hot linked his image in the article. So just to have a little fun, Ian replaced the image with another image that reads,

"I stole this from someone.
They got mad.
Now I have this hideous thing in my blog.
If I wasn't a lazy, thieving butthole, I'd probably find this someday and remove it.
But chances are I won't. Because I'm, you know, a lazy, thieving butthole.

My brain (with a line to a small dot)."

Go Ian. Plagiarism is for lazy people and never pays.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Google vs. Facebook - The War

The social networking war is heating up.  With Google's purchase of Slide and Jambool, Facebook has gone to DEFCON 1 and ordered Lockdown across the company.  The Lockdown, noted by the neon Lockdown sign on Zuck's office door, has been declared for the next 60 days to prepare Facebook for the upcoming launch of Google Me.  Its all out war.

Both companies seem to be drawing the battle front on technology and features.  This draws the conclusion that better technology makes a better social networking experience.  But I don't think technology is the real battle front.  The keyword is social not technology.

Its Where My Friends Are
No amount of technology can overcome the one great challenge that Google faces and Facebook already owns.  Its where my friends are.  Sure, Facebook doesn't own me or my friends, but its where they all are.  I suppose if all my friends were on MySpace, I probably would be there too.  And technology alone just can't overcome this social inertia that Facebook has (ie 500,000,000 people and growing).

Newton's second law of motion:
"by which every body, as much as in it lies, endeavors to preserve in its present state"

It won't work to get a few early adopters to move and hope the rest will eventually follow.  No one wants to be on a social network all by themselves.  For me to move, you would have to get all of my friends to move.  And all of their friends.  And all of their friend's friends. And so on to the tune of 500 Million because we are all connected. And do it all at once.  Basically you need a digital Moses to lead a mass exodus to the social promised land.

But it happened with MySpace.  No, not really.  MySpace was big, but it didn't have the social inertia that Facebook does.  It never reached the critical mass that Facebook has.

If Google wants to win, they need to figure out the social aspect of it and not worry so much about the technology aspect.  Otherwise they will just end up with another Google Buzz.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Google Wave is Dead

It was announced yesterday that Google Wave will no longer be developed and will probably be shut down at the end of the year.

I would say I told you so, but I guess I didn't blog about it when it was launched and so I have nothing to prove that I thought it would fail.

So I will say this.  Amidst all the talk about it, I never knew quite what I was supposed to do with Google Wave and neither did any of my friends.  And I consider myself fairly tech savvy.  It just never really made my life easier or filled a need that I had.

So honestly, the announcement is no surprise.  Hopefully Google will keep creating useful things.  More useful than Wave.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Its about listening not following

I just read an article on ReadWriteWeb about people buying Twitter followers.  What a waste.

Most of these people who are buying the followers are probably selling something and are hoping to leverage Twitter as an advertising/marketing platform.  What they don't understand is, just because they are gaining follower, doesn't mean that any of those followers are listening (to your marketing message).

And listening not following is the key.  You can easily follow someone on Twitter, but not listen to anything they have to say, which is what is happening with the purchased Twitter followers.

Speaking to 1 person and have that 1 person listen yields a net gain of 1 person listening.

Speaking to 20,000 people and not having anyone listen yields a net gain of 0.

Its about listening, not following.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Linkedin Code of Conduct

Not sure what is was this week, but I received a lot of Spam via Linkedin.  All well intended but all outside the bounds of established Linkedin etiquette.

Yes Linkedin is for connecting with business people.  But more in the way you would ask a friend for a favor, recommendation or input.  Not in the way that a friend tries to get you to join their MLM business.

The other big difference that I saw in the messages I received this week were, they were all generic.  They may have had my name on it, but none were written with me specifically in mind.  It felt like part of a mass email.

I am sure the down economy has something to do with it.  But the truth is these tactics just aren't affective and may jeopardize future business relationships.

Don't overstep that social boundaries and group etiquette that has been established.  It will get you no where.

Opt In

Opt In = A raised hand = A person who wants to hear what you have to say.

I would much rather have 10 people who have raised their hand and want to hear from me than 1,000 people that I am just sending a message to.  The Seth Godin, Permission Marketing approach.

Working closely with the 10 Opt In people will be more powerful and will sell more product than the 1,000 emails that fall on deaf ears.

Build a marketing strategy around Opt In not Opt Out.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Opt Out

Don't send me an email letting me know that I need to Opt Out of an email newsletter that you decided to put me on. How about instead, you send me an email telling me about the newsletter and how great it is. Then let me decide if I want to be on your mailing list.

Today I received an email from someone I am loosely connected to through Linkedin. Part of it read:

"I'm letting you know that I will be sending updates on a semi-frequent basis on topics related to B2B marketing and business development. But first, you should decide if you'd like to receive them or not!

If not, then please go to the bottom of this email and opt-out. I respect your time and if you're not interested I don't want to waste it."

Just because we are loosely connected through Linkedin doesn't mean that I want your Newsletter. And even if it was the most interesting newsletter in the world, I am surely not going to read it after YOU opted me in.

Whats worse is that this guy says he's the "founder and CMO" of a marketing company.  He should know better than this.

If you are reading this mister CMO, you owe everyone you sent the email to and Opted IN an apology.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tsunami of Information

The amount of information published via the internet is growing exponentially. Every year, we publish more than the previous year. This is all due to how easy it is to publish. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter connected to Desktops, Laptops and smart phones make it so anyone can publish anywhere. And it doesn't look like we are about to slow down anytime soon.

Three things that will help us not be crushed be the oncoming tsunami of information.

1. Adoption of Info/Web Standards
2. Better Categorization
3. Better Filters

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Option Overload

There are simply too many options on the internet.  Too many hotels, too many books, too many shoes, shirts, pants, blogs to read, sites to visit.  You name it, there are too many choices to choose from and its becoming harder and harder to navigate.  The noise is confusing the good stuff.  The long tail has exploded and its only getting worse.  We are heading to option overload.

Many sites have attempted to filter it all for us.  But they still show you every option that is available just broken down through filters.  Its still to many options.

I don't want to see all of the options any more.  I want to see the best options that are most relevant to me.  Of all the popular clothing out there, show me the top ones that interest me the most.

Figure out a way to NOT show me the ones I don't want to see. And do it without me having to tell you. (I know, somehow you will have to figure out how to read my mind).  Don't give me all the options, just the ones I will like.  Let me choose from those and only those.  Forget the rest.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rethink Copyright

I saw this video speech today from the Ted conference and wanted to share it. It talks about rethinking copyright and the creation of new content. Larry Lessig is onto something.

The last two minutes are deeply profound.
"we need to recognize you can't kill the instinct the technology produces; we can only criminalize it."

Maybe "Like" is the Wrong Word

I am not sure that the word "Like" on the Facebook Like button is always the right word to describe that you are interested in and want to share a particular story.

Case in point.  This morning, the New York Daily news announced that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has died of a heart attack.  My condolences to his family.

In this case, placing the Like button just below the headline creates an interestingly sad header.  "Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has die" "199 people like this.  Be the first of your friends."  Even a bitter Red Sox's fan wouldn't be so cold as to "Like" the fact that he died.

I am sure that most just wanted to share the story with their friends.  In this case, it may have been better to go with the Recommend option for the button instead of the Like option.  But the installation of the button doesn't allow you to switch between the two on the fly.  You are semi committed to one or the other.  Definitely something to think about when installing the button.

And what about all the people who dislike a particular page on the web.  Do they get a say in whats good and bad on the web?

I think the Like button is an interesting and ambitious idea.  However, I still think there is a lot of room for improvement if Facebook wants to achieve its goal of cataloging the entire web one Like at a time.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Facebook and Facial Recognition

I just read an article about Facebook's new Facial Recognition.  My first thought, SCARY.  Very Big Brother sounding.

Its not entirely clear what they intend to do with it.   For now it says that it will be used to help people tag friends in an album.  Which sounds harmless enough.

I think the scary part comes in when you think about what they could do with it.  Imagine if they could ID everyone in every photo posted to Facebook.  They would know who was in the photo together.  And while they already know who's friends with who on Facebook, this seems more invasive.  There is a difference in a friend I know and trust tagging me in an a photo and a machine tagging me. 

I can't quite put my finger on it exactly, but it just feels like that with this type of technology they are invading a personal space that they shouldn't.  A personal space that they have invaded before and don't seem to understand the boundaries.

I hope there is a privacy setting for this.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Campbell's Soup and Ecommerce

What can we learn from Campbell's Soup about the future of Ecommerce?  Content marketing sells products.

In 1916 Campbell's Soup published the first of many cookbooks entitled Helps for the Hostess.  This cookbook, an early form of content marketing, provided value to the customer and helped sell a lot of cans of soup by incorporating soup into each recipe.

Selling soup was difficult because most homemakers didn't need cans of soup.  What they needed was quick, easy and nutritious meals to feed their family.  The cookbook sold a lot of cans of soup by answering the question "What's for dinner?"

Just like the Campbell's Soup homemakers, your users don't need a fishing rod (can of soup).  They need a better way to catch fish (make dinner).  Once you have convinced them of a better way to catch fish, you can sell them all the fishing gear you want.

Most Ecommerce sites look like rows and rows of cans of soup on a shelf.  They look real nice but users don't really know what to do with them.  Would you know what to do with a can of cream of chicken soup if you didn't have a recipe that called for it?  Would you know what other ingredients you would need to make a complete meal?

Ecommerce sites should look more like cookbooks.  Cookbooks have two main parts, instructions and ingredients.  For Ecommerce, the instructions are just that, instructions on "How To" do something that relates to your products.  The ingredients are the products that you are selling.  For example, write an article about how to catch rainbow trout in the rivers of Utah and then list along side for purchase all the ingredients (fly rod, reel, line, flies, waders etc.) that are needed.  You are now selling a complete package rather than individual parts to a puzzle that a user doesn't understand.  You are answering the question "How do I catch more fish?" ("What's for dinner?") and you will sell a lot more product.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Desire Paths and Product Design

Desire paths form where and how users naturally want to use something.  When designing a product or developing a website find the desire paths, the natural way users want to experience it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to Delete Your Facebook Account

Since Facebook doesn't make it easy to delete your Facebook account, here is a quick guide on how to do it.

First, there is a difference between deactivating it and deleting it.  Deactivating it simply pauses the account and isn't much different than not visiting Facebook for a while.  All of you information is still stored on Facebook and the moment you log back in, your account is reactivated with all your info still in place.

Deleting your account actually removes your data.  I have not deleted my account so I cannot guarantee exactly how it works.  According to the Facebook Group How to permanently delete your facebook account "Your account will be deactivated for two weeks, and if you DO NOT LOG IN during that period, your account is permanently deleted."

Use this link wisely as it may actually delete your account and ALL info associated with it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Privacy Articles

I have come across a lot of great articles regarding online privacy and wanted to post a list for your reading.

10 reasons to delete your Facebook account By Dan Yoder
In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg Broke Into A Facebook User's Private Email Account By Nicholas Carlson
Facebook's Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline By Kurt Opsahl

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Info is not a Commodity

My personal information is not a commodity. Its easy to think of it as a commodity because its so easy to put it a neat little digital box that is easily stored in a database or transferred from one database to another, much like you would with a barrel of oil sold on the commodities market.

But no matter what form its in, or how easy it is to box up and ship it off, its still mine. Even if you store it for me. Even if I use your site and a partners site. Its still mine. Its a piece of me. You can't have it. You can't take it from me, even if you promise a more "Instant Personalization" of the web.

I would like to see the web more personalized, but it must be done the right way. With my permission and my say as to how, when and where its personalized.

Opt in, not opt out.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Facebook, Trust and Insanity

Users have been quick to reject the new changes that Facebook has implemented over the last few days. Honestly what did Facebook expect? They've been down this road already with other privacy changes.

Einstein is quoted as saying "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Are they insane? Did they really think they could slip the recent privacy change past the users, opt everyone in and that no one would notice? They seem to fit Einstein's definition of insanity if you asked me.

I am sure that if you asked, they would argue that this is different because the changes benefit the users. It doesn't matter if the new features are the greatest thing since Farmville. It feels like a violation of trust and users will never be able to see past how they feel. They will never see the benefits of the new features now matter how great they are. Its not different and Facebook just doesn't get it.

Quite frankly it blows my mind that someone at Facebook didn't take the time to think through the launch of the new features. Did anyone ever stop and ask, "Hey, what do you think the users will think of us opting them in to sharing their personal info with third part websites?" Facebook is so far out of touch with the people that use the site it beyond laughable.

What would I have done if I were in charge of the launch? From the get go, this is positioned ALL WRONG. Did I mention that we have been down the privacy road before? Because of previous debacles, users don't trust Facebook to make changes in their best interest. So any new change, is automatically assumed to be bad by the user. Facebook as a brand, is seen by its users as disconnected, uncaring, not trust worthy and pretty much serving its own best interests in order to make money.

I would start a campaign to rebrand Facebook. Show users that Facebook actually cares about them and values them as users. Show them they can trust Facebook and its management. And it can't be a half hearted marketing stunt. It needs to be a genuine effort to connect with the people who use Facebook. Set up forums for people to air their grievances, email address with actual people on the other end to help people with their accounts and just start some good old customer service. Something like Comcast Cares. Right now, its impossible to get a hold of someone at Facebook unless you are an advertiser with a budget over $10,000.

"But this could be expensive" you say. Yes, but having a user base that trusts you is key to making money. Lately each new feature has been an attempt to move toward monetizing Facebook. And each new feature has been rejected. No Trust = No Money.

If anyone from Facebook reads this, I would be happy to help you regrow users trust, because right now, no one there gets it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Nightly News

I am not sure why anyone watches the news anymore. There are just so many better places to get information from.

Last night, while I was watching a TV show, a commercial for the 10:00 news came on. The headline/teaser was, "Earthquake in southern California, details at 10:00". Not really much of a teaser, since I had already read about all of the details of the earthquake a few hours earlier online. They were just confirming to me that they had nothing to tell me and I had no reason to tune in.

With all of the digital technologies we have, information travels instantly. There is no waiting until 10:00pm for the story. When the plane crashed in the Hudson river a year or so ago, within seconds, someone had taken a picture with a cellphone and posted it on Twitter. Digital moves fast.

I am sure there are many people who still like to consume info in the 10:00 news format. Its the way they always have. Its habit and they like it. But as there are less and less of those people, the 10:00 news format will have to change and reinvent itself. If it doesn't its dead.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Facebook, A Whimsical Place

Before you start a marketing campaign on Facebook, consider this: Facebook is not a place where serious activities occur.

Proof It's Whimsical
Just look at the activities that users engage in.

Users join groups and fan pages like:
 Games are one of the most popular activity
 Status updates that have gone viral
  • Girls simply posted a color as their status.  It was supposed to be a secret just among girls that they were posting the color of bra that they were currently wearing.
  • Doppelganger - People switched their regular profile pic with a picture of a celebrity that they have been told they look like.
  • One of the most viral campaigns on Facebook was the Whopper.  If you deleted 10 friends from Facebook, you would get a free Whopper.
Users on Facebook aren't there to engage in any serious activities.  They are there to:
  • Unwind and blow of steam.
  • Get away from the routine/burden of daily life.
  • Relax and have a little fun.
  • Interact with friends.
What does this mean for Marketing?
You can't market anything serious on Facebook.  Its not the place.  People don't want to engage in serious, important activities on Facebook. They will therefore ignore any marketing that doesn't fit in with their whimsical Facebook routine.  Its the reason ads are greatly if not completely ignored on Facebook.  The only ones that get any attention are the ones that advertise games like FarmVille.  But that's what people are there for.

If someone is unwinding on Facebook by playing a game about Fish, do you really think the want to have to think about something as serious a Insurance? NO!

There seem to be a few exceptions to this rule.  About the only one I can think of is Good Causes.  People are willing to participate in a good cause on Facebook as long as its is a legitimate cause and doesn't require much from them.

Everybody wants to have a Facebook campaign because that's where all of the people are.  The truth is, most people, while on Facebook are not in the right frame of mind to be marketed and advertised to in a serious way.  That doesn't mean that those exact same people won't be open to marketing somewhere else, just not on Facebook.  This is not meant to discourage people from creating a Facebook campaign.  It just means you have to consider how you are approaching the users on Facebook with your campaign.

    Thursday, January 28, 2010

    The Obligatory iPad Post

    Was going to write the The Obligatory iPad Post about my thoughts on the new iPad, but Alan Wolk beat me to it, and did a great job so I am just going to point to his post.

    The Obligatory iPad Post

    Best line from the post "Yeah, it’s cool and it’d be fun to have one. Sort of the way it’d be fun to have a Lamborghini or some other essentially useless Italian sportscar."

    Saturday, January 16, 2010

    Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.

    Great and inspirational speech given by Steve Jobs in 2005 and Stanford University.  Worth the 15 mins to watch.