June 22, 2011

How Facebook has quietly created a gold mine for marketers

Facebook ad

Inside the huge banner opportunity created by Facebook

Christopher RollysonFacebook’s development schedule epitomizes the “white water, fast iteration” approach to serving company and customer. Although its mishaps are legendary, it succeeds in consistently fielding a mind-numbing array of features, so it is difficult to keep up and very easy to miss the significance of things.

To wit, very few people people have noticed that Facebook has quietly revolutionized banner ads through a feature that is maligned by users but gold for marketers. This feature has created two opportunities for e-commerce marketers: a new means of inexpensive market research and an easy way to improve relationships with their viewers.

Read on to do this to your competitors before they do it to you.

‘You have removed this ad': A spark in a dry forest

I hope you have used the “remove this ad” feature that Facebook introduced, I believe, in Q4 2009 or Q1 2010. When you mouse over most Facebook ads, you will see an “x” in the far right (1 — see above). When you click the “x” to remove the ad, you get the dialog box beneath, which gives you the radio buttons (2) and the all-important “other.” When you hit “Okay,” you get the gold box. Seems innocuous, right? Wrong. It has begun to change the expectations of your prospects, who will increasingly expect to give feedback on all ads.

Removing ads: Customer viewpoint

I have been using “remove this ad” since it was released, and I have noticed several things about it:

  • There’s very little talk about it online. Any dialog is dominated by users who hate “remove this ad” because they hate ads in general and they would like “removing” the ad to be permanent (i.e. bar chart brains would never reappear). Note that the gold box doesn’t promise banishing the ad. Users don’t care, though.
  • I’ll hypothesize that only a small portion of Facebook users bother to give feedback, but I’ll wager that most of those who do want to do it everywhere.
  • Yes, when you remove the ad, it isn’t banished from your land forever, but clicking the “x” and adding a peppery comment can be satisfying anyway.

Removing ads: A marketer’s viewpoint

Now, think about yourself as a buyer of millions of dollars of banner ads per year, which all CMOs do. What if, for appropriate (geeky) segments you would introduce this functionality in some of your banner ads (not necessarily on Facebook)? This would help you:

  • Conduct low-cost market research by collecting responses; on Facebook itself this is particularly interesting because Facebook knows user demographics. However, off-Facebook, wouldn’t you like to know if readers of certain sites find your ads offensive or …? (you design the responses)
The majority of ‘display’ ads will be selected by customers within 10 years at the outside; certain demographics much earlier.
  • Improve your relationship with prospects when you give them the option to respond; you suggest that you are interested in their viewpoints.
  • You can take this into account when selecting your ad mix. You read it here, in 2011: The majority of “display” ads will be selected by customers within 10 years at the outside; certain demographics much earlier.
  • I recommend pilots this year to get ahead of the market. Of course, many of your ads are syndicated, etc., but you can select specific situations to experiment and learn.

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September 13, 2010

CMO guide to Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt & Brightkite

Gowalla
A Gowalla heat map of Austin, Texas, by Bramus on Flickr

Evaluating the business potential of location-based social applications—is the tail wagging the dog?

Christopher RollysonIf you read any mainstream media or social media sites, you might have started to get the impression that a Foursquare, Gowalla or Loopt application is your only hope to make this quarter’s numbers because check-ins are on everyone’s lips, er, fingertips these days. However, for chief marketing officers of large brands, what’s the real business potential of these apps in 2010? What can they do for your business, and what and where are their limitations?

Below I’ll share some due diligence I’ve conducted for one of my clients and give you some general guidance for using these apps this year. I’ve also included links to the best information sources. First, let’s start with an introduction of geosocial and how it fits into the ecosystem you already know.

A brief introduction to geosocial applications

FoursquareGeosocial — or geolocation or location-based services or applications — represents an emerging space within the Web 2.0 ecosystem, so I’ll spend a minute here positioning them because their development is moving at warp speed. Geo refers to exchanging information related to your current temporal and physical location via a mobile device. Social applies the now-established bundle of practices called “social networking” to your physical location — interacting with friends or friends of friends.

You might think of geosocial as “situational social networking based on where you are” (and what you’re doing). Many geosocial applications use GPS technology to automatically report the physical locations of their users, subject to their privacy settings. For some quick visuals, see Geosocial Applications and the Enterprise (PDF).

Small niches of people have been active in geosocial, using text messaging, for many years. Progenitor Dodgeball was founded in 2000 and enabled users to SMS each other to report their location, notify them about other people nearby to enable “meeting in real life.” Geosocial applications try to increase opportunities for socializing with existing friends or people users don’t know but have certain things in common, based on each user’s privacy and sharing preferences.

It’s worth noting that geosocial is related to but distinct from geotargeting, which usually denotes serving precise marketing messages to people based on their locations. Citysearch has been doing this since Web 1.0, and current players like Yelp and Facebook are converging into the geosocial space. Google tried to morph its Dodgeball acquisition into Google Latitude, but it hasn’t really worked, and I’ll speculate that they are channeling much of their geosocial energy into Google Buzz.

Some key players

Key players in the space include the following:

  • Loopt launched in 2006 and claims 3 million users.
  • Brightkite launched in 2007 and claims 2 million users.
  • Gowalla was born in 2007 and claims 150,000 users.
  • Foursquare launched in 2009 and claims close to 1 million users (with this growth, is it any wonder it receives the lion’s share of the buzz?)
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November 24, 2009

The New Journalist in the Age of Social Media

New Media Lab brings together nonprofits, citizen journalists, social media experts

JD LasicaI‘m at Day 2 of a remarkable two-day conference that is bringing nonprofits, citizen journalism and social media together in ways I’ve never seen before.

I’m jazzed, hopeful and intrigued by the challenges ahead. The passion in the room is palpable. The 40 people who convened at the Visioning Summit yesterday in San Francisco, and the 30 participants who are steering the program today, consist of some of the most talented and forward-thinking innovators — nonprofit execs, strategists, journalists from the Bay Area, Miami and Finland — that I’ve come across in recent years.

Above is the presentation I gave at this gathering, organized by a group of nonprofits in a project called the New Media Lab (there’s no public presence yet, just a private wiki). And while its focus is squarely on the role that journalist/media producers will play in our project, it can also be applied to the new roles that journalists should be expected to take up in an age of social media if you work for a startup, whether it’s for-profit or nonprofit.

Called Doing Good 2.0: The next-generation’s impact on communication, media, mobile & civic engagement, it looks at the forces driving Web 2.0 and the next-generation Internet, the role of mobile, the new cultural norms that social media is ushering in, and the role of the New Journalist: how we need to still tell compelling stories about people and causes but how we also need to expand our repertoire in this new arena by wearing multiple hats:

• entrepreneur
• conversation facilitator
• social marketer
• futurist
• metrics & research nerd
• journalist/storyteller

Here are some of the questions we’ve just begun to tackle:

Should nonprofits create their own media?

What should be the business model for social cause organizations in the future?

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August 12, 2009

Coolest power tools of some top geeks

The Geeks

JD LasicaDuring the Traveling Geeks’ trip to the United Kingdom last month, I spent some time polling the Geeks about the productivity and must-have tools that they use during the course of a typical workday.

I did the same thing during the first Geeks trip to Israel last year and came away with a wealth of apps, some of which I incorporated into my daily routine: See Tools the alpha geeks use. Back then, the list included Qik, TweetScan, FriendFeed, Skype, Bloglines, Pandora, Foxytunes, NetVibes, Socialthing, Seesmic, Adium — and it serves as an interesting snapshot in time of what tools some of the top Bay Area bloggers and technologists were using in spring 2008.

This time around there was more emphasis on social media services like Twitter as well as multimedia apps. Among the tools in the Geeks’ arsenal: Zemanta, Tweetdeck, HootSuite, PeopleBrowsr, Mindjet, Shopstyle and Friendfeed (Twitter and Facebook are givens). Remember, this is a partial, on-the-fly list of useful tools — intended to introduce readers to some apps they might not be using — and not a comprehensive list, and it also doesn’t take into consideration any of the startup apps’ we were introduced to in the UK.

Also, whether you’re a geek or not, please add your favorite tools in the comments so we can all learn what works for you!

Here’s our rundown:

JD Lasica

JD & MeghanFirefox, with occasional forays into Flock and Safari; Firebug and Zemanta plug-ins

WordPress, the open-source platform for my Socialmedia.biz and Socialbrite.org blogs

• I just started using HootSuite 2.0, a Web-based, Ajax-smart Twitter application that I find superior (so far) to the downloadable Tweetdeck and Seesmic Desktop apps. (I’m @jdlasica on Twitter.)

Zoho Writer and Zoho Sheets, which are superior to Google Docs (though I use the latter when forced)

Fetch tied to BBEdit, to manage files on my blogs’ servers

Snapz Pro X, to capture images and movies from any Mac computer screen

Flickr Uploadr, to batch-upload photos to my Flickr photostream

Paparazzi, a wonderful tool for Mac users to capture entire Web pages — even the portions that appear below the fold

zohoFinal Cut Express for almost all my video editing

Gmail for email and to store files in the cloud

Google Talk and Skype for most of my chats

Delicious for social bookmarking in the cloud

Google Reader to keep track of blogs and share stories to Socialbrite

Vimeo and Blip.tv for video sharing

VLC, the open source media player, to watch videos in almost any format

• Still alternating between iTunes and Pandora for my music jones

• Still trying to learn QuickSilver (so far unsuccessfully) for keyboard shortcuts. Considering LaunchBar.

Google calendar to manage my events, though I need to get back to using Upcoming more.

Facebook for wasting time

iPhone apps: Google maps (for location), Stanza and eReader (for reading), experimenting with Twitterfon, Tweetdeck, Twittelator and Simply Tweet for Twitter, Evernote (for keeping notes online), Loopt and Google Latitude for geo-awareness, Yelp for restaurants, Rocket Taxi, iTalk and QuickVoice (for interviews and recording random thoughts)

Robert Scoble

Robert ScobleRobert — the former famed Microsoft blogger — has gone to an all-Mac household (“I like the OS better,” he says), though he runs Windows 7 using Parallels Desktop on his MacBook Pro laptop.

Robert generally chooses his apps to run in the cloud rather than buying OEM packaged software. “I’m trying to move my life completely to the browser. Ido everything on the Internet. The only thing I do locally is video editing,” for which he uses iMovie for his personal videos.

Some of his choice apps:

peoplebrowsrFriendfeed (“Friendfeed is my chat application.”)

PeopleBrowsr, for social media search

Mindjet, for mindmapping presentations

Tweetdeck, to manage Twitter

Seesmic, to post video and manage Twitter

Google Docs and Spreadsheets for free office applications

iPhone 3GS, SimplyTweet and whole bunch of other apps

iMovie

Howard Rheingold

Howard RheingoldFirefox

CopyPaste Pro: “If I had to recommend only one tool for Mac users, this would be it. It remembers the last 200 objects of any media type that I cut or copied to the clipboard.”

Skype for voice over IP

Google Talk for chat

Social Media Classroom (of course)

Diigo, a research and knowledge-sharing tool

socialmediaclassroomFinal Cut Express

GraphicConverter

Seesmic Desktop

Powerpoint

WordPress

iPhone GS for video and Mobypicture and Pixelpipe apps

“Sky” Schuyler

Sky Schuyler, CTO of the Dalai Lama Foundation, served as the tech lead on our trip and time and again generously shared information about his tech habits. Some of his favorite tools:

WordPress to power a long list of blogs

• Sky uses a Flip Mino recorder and occasionally its internal software to do rudimentary video editing.

FeedWordPress: Sky configured this plug-in to suck our individual blog feeds into the TravelingGeeks.com WordPress blog.

YARPP (Yet Another Related Posts Plug-in), a Firefox plug-in for Firefox that finds related posts within my blog and I have configured it with a special CSS so it also displays little thumbnails next to the suggested posts.

PGP to encrypt email and confidential data on his computer.

Google Docs, chiefly for sharing word docs in the cloud.

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June 14, 2009

Corporate social media workshop in LA June 24

To help corporate social media champions and consultants

Christopher S. RollysonI‘m really excited about presenting the Social Network Roadmap in Los Angeles at the Social Networking Conference, so I won’t pretend to be impartial here.

If you are trying to persuade risk-adverse colleagues or clients to adopt social media more quickly, read on. The roadmap is a suite of management tools that helps users to manage the risks that adopting social networks poses for large organizations. I’ll also share the agenda and ask for your comments.

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March 25, 2009

Twiphlo: Making geolocation small & beautiful

Stowe BoydStowe Boyd, a longtime fixture in the tech and social media worlds, is joining Socialmedia.biz as a contributor and collaborating strategist. The following originally appeared in his blog /Message.

Geolocation tools fall into two broad categories:

  • Predictive location, generally oriented toward arranging to meet with other people when traveling to other places (like Dopplr and TripIt), or in your own town (like Mixin)
  • Location streaming, generally oriented to keeping others informed of location (like Google Latitude, DodgeBall, Plazes, or Brightkite), either for arranging meetings, or to maintain a geolocational lifestream.

I have used tools in both categories, and written about my experiences with them.

twiphloMost recently, I have been using Dopplr for predictive purposes, and Brightkite for location streaming. But in recent weeks, I have found that Brightkite is too rich an experience, overlapping too much with what I am doing with other tools, particularly Twitter as my primary lifestream, and the various blogs I maintain on Tumblr. Perhaps it is also that I don’t have a deep sense of community on Brightkite.

One thing in particular annoys me about Brightkite, and that is the Twitter integration. While they have provided a sophisticated template-based approach to posting tweets based on Brightkite location updates, the tool to support updating Twitter location in the user profile is just broken. When I post ‘542 Brannan St, San Francisco CA 94107′ the Twitter location gets set to ‘542 Brannan St’ dropping the city, state, and zip code.

I was quite happy to stumble upon a small but beautiful location streaming tool the other day, called Twiphlo. It seems like the main window is designed for a mobile interface use, like iPhone. The basic idea is that you can post something, while at the same time updating your Twitter profile location.

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