top online casinos 2013 2013 online casinos for usa players secure internet gambling secure online casino new online slots new usa online slots play online blackjack for money play online blackjack for money best mac online casino casino for mac fastest payouts usa online casino us casino with easy cash out online casino payment options online casino deposit methods real money slots for us players us online slots for money casinos accepting credit cards online casino credit cards online roulette for real money roulette casinos accepting us players http://asb.cgiar.org/Gen2/about_us/sign-up-bonuses.html online casino sign up bonus http://asb.cgiar.org/Gen2/abo..... play slot machines reputable casino reputable casino online casino slots real casino slot machines online http://asb.cgiar.org/Gen2/about_us/mastercard-casinos.html usa casinos that accept mastercard

Why does Google get social content but not social networks?

It’s a running joke in the digital media space that Google+ is a ghost town. Not entirely accurate as companies such as Ford believe in the space and prominent bloggers still actively participate there, but it certainly didn’t meet the promise that many hoped for – to finally bring a direct competitor (with deep pockets) to Facebook. 50mm active users and 90mm registered users is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s certainly not where the Internet giant was hoping to be. This isn’t the first time Google’s tried to venture into social networks, there were the other Internet services, Buzz and Wave, which became fodder for Internet jokes before being shut down.

On the flip side, Google’s content creation engine consistently churns out compelling content that is shared far and wide and highly praised: think Google Doodles; April Fools jokes; and random Easter Eggs in products (e.g. Map Directions). They excel at it and appear to have a lot of fun doing it. So it should be only natural that if they are that good at creating content that people want to share they should understand how to build products that facilitate that sharing. Right?

Well, understanding the psychology of human sharing and interaction is different from creating cool things that people like to geek out to. Google, at its core, is full of incredibly smart engineers who look at problems logically and have a deep understanding of how the Internet works, how to create workflows, and how their own products can all be tied in together. These are the folks who brought us Gmail that revolutionized email, search which is the backbone of how people find information online, etc. etc.

But these products are all fundamentally purpose built, not discovery and interaction built.

I go to Gmail to read and respond to email. I use the search engine to find things I’m looking for, not to browse the web. I use Maps to get directions and find things. You get the picture. YouTube is different, but it wasn’t built in house, it was acquired after it was already successful and hasn’t really expanded much past it’s original purpose – to watch videos online.

The sticky social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr et al. are all about frictionless creation and sharing which is where the content that Google creates naturally spreads. Google+ is amazingly built. It has so many features that the other networks lack it should be a natural place to migrate our social interactions to. Except, all those features that make sense logically probably confuse the average user. Geeks get it, but geeks already have channels where their buddies are to share on. Circles are actually a really great idea, but the average person looks at that and says, whoa, way too much work! I’d hazard a guess that 9 out of 10 people on Facebook and Twitter haven’t set up lists either (the simplest versions of Circles). Ripples? What are those? Hangouts, which should have been the killer feature weren’t promoted properly (think about how Apple promoted Facetime for how it should have been done), and YouTube integration was an after-thought instead of a must have from day one. I could go on and on but you get the picture. When Google builds social networks they build them through their own incredibly logical lens instead of an average consumer lens.

So, what can they do? I’d suggest taking a look at why their content is so successful and how it spreads (psst, they have Google Analytics that recently added social networks tracking they could take a peek at for some insights). I’d also do a deep analysis of what their competitors are doing from a marketing lens, not a development one. Make it easy to import friends from other networks, make setting up a profile a snap, make it cool (and easy) to be there. Then, in the immortal words of start-ups: pivot…. Hell, even Zuckerberg pivoted by opening The Facebook to non-college kids.

In the meantime, keep the content coming, it’s really good!

Image credit: [Jennifer Horn @ Google]

Social Bookmarks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Ma.gnolia
  • TailRank
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis

Should you play it safe with location-based social networks?

[cross-posted from Teehan+Lax]

Last week Forrester released a report advising most marketers wait to use location-based social networks (LBSN) as only 4% of the US population is currently using platforms such as Foursquare (the current market leader), and that the networks skew heavily male. They advise that brands that target young males experiment with the services and other brands adopt a “wait and see” approach.

I couldn’t disagree more. Here are my 5 reasons why it’s smart to start experimenting now.

1. First Movers.

There’s something to be said for getting a head start on your competition in the digital space. Brands like Starbucks, Dell, Pepsi, and Nike have all taken advantage of the emerging channels and reaped the rewards of building a strong early foundation with consumers.

While you should not rush into a new tool without understanding your strategic goals and how it integrates with your business objectives, experimenting with emerging technologies that are opt-in and potentially have a direct customer impact is smart.

When Facebook opened their gates to the general population in 2006 they had a small user base of university students. Four years later they are a behemoth. Twitter adoption rates have been increasing exponentially year over year since their launch in 2007 and the tool is now considered a “must use” for social business. Considering Foursquare launched about a year ago, can we expect to see the same type of growth curve as the early adopters begin to influence the early majority? (see “Crossing the Chasm” adoption curve)

2. Google. Facebook. Oh My.

Location-based services are not limited to the current apps we have been hearing about. Facebook has expressed they will add a location-based offering soon, Twitter has added “Tweet with your location” to their service, and the biggest news is that Google is adding a Places API to their eco-system, as well as adding LB data extensions to their mobile advertising product.

LBSN will become mainstream sooner rather than later, and it will be the big players, not the niche networks that will drive the adoption. Testing and learning now, before it becomes ubiquitous should be something on every marketers radar.

3. Data and utility.

There is an enormous amount of insightful and actionable data that can be gleaned about your customers and prospects from mobile & LBSNs. Eventually this data could be used to inform inventory control, staffing levels, consumer tastes and trends, etc. The data can also be used in loyalty programs, to identify influencers, test new products, and as real-time service focus groups.

Companies already testing the waters include:

Nike with True City; Starbucks with their Foursquare offers; The Pepsi mobile branded app; and the City of Chicago with their Tourism campaign.

4. Sales, Coupons, Offers, and more.

Part of the Forrester analysis identified that mobile couponing is widely successful with the users currently using the services, which is interesting as the base is primarily young males, not the average coupon-consuming demographic. Gone are the days of clipping coupons in the Sunday paper, now you can serve relevant offers and drive foot traffic and purchase directly to a mobile device. These offers are opt-in, and contextually relevant, not SMS spam. Testing offers, tips, and messaging via mobile should be on every retailers plan for the next year.

Of course one size doesn’t fit all and ensuring that your product or service fits within the make-up of the demographic, depending on service (existing or branded), is a must.

5. Mobile usage.

Of course mobile, and specifically smartphone, usage is soaring year over year. Ignoring mobile at this point is like ignoring the Internet in 2002 because broadband wasn’t prevalent yet.

Bottom line for marketers:

Experiment. See what fits, what your customers are looking for, and where you can add value. Don’t wait until it becomes mainstream, because that will be sooner than you think and you’ll be playing catch-up.

[photo credit: john weiss via Flickr]

Social Bookmarks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Ma.gnolia
  • TailRank
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis

Accelerating your corporate reputation with social media: transform

My presentation from the Executing Social Media Conference in Toronto today.

Social Bookmarks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Ma.gnolia
  • TailRank
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis

Social Communications is NOT Digital Expertise

A lot of chatter these days in social media circles is about new hires, or old guards, having “digital expertise” when what they really mean is social communications chops. The two can be mutually exclusive, but are not necessarily, and are rarely fully integrated.

What qualifies as “digital expertise”?

  • Email Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization and Marketing
  • User Experience Design
  • Content Optimization
  • Landing Page Optimization
  • Creative Placements (banner ads, takeovers, etc)/ media planning
  • Creative development
  • Offline creative integration
  • Analytics & how they inform business decisions
  • Tools / Widgets
  • Database building/ mining/ usage
  • Website builds and creative applications
  • E-commerce
  • Understanding the different kinds of Tech – e.g. XML vs HTML
  • Flash (strengths & weaknesses)
  • Contest development & rules and regulations
  • Mobile Marketing

… I’m pretty sure I missed stuff too…

What is social communications?

  • Relationship building
  • Content development
  • Outreach
  • Social platforms/ networks knowledge
  • Tagging
  • Communications planning
  • Plug-ins and WYSIWYG understanding

… probably missed a few points here too, but you get the idea…

While the two should ideally be part and parcel and fully integrated (and can be), currently having social communications expertise does not necessarily mean you have digital expertise. Lots of people have spent 10+ years building digital expertise while the social web is not only not even 5 yet, but in reality (business reality), is closer to two. Semantics matter – let’s not confuse the two, and let’s be clear about what the web is capable of delivering in its entirety. It is important.

[photo credit:  takuhitosotome via Flickr]

Social Bookmarks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Ma.gnolia
  • TailRank
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis

“What’s In It For Me?” is not the question in social media

What's in it for me?

In digital marketing best practices one of the key questions any company needs to answer from the visitors perspective in regards to the content they are displaying is “what’s in it for me?” or else risk losing the potential customer to someone who does answer that question for them, and obviously cares about how their product or service relates to that individuals needs.

Inspired by a conversation with Mack Collier yesterday on Twitter about the value and risks associated with “Pay Per Tweet” (another post on another day), and Mack’s assertion that anything promotional must create value for everyone, that  I started thinking about how that simple and meaningful question has shifted with the ability of everyone on the web to be an influencer and use their social currency to help, or hinder brands.

With the new age of social media, any type of outreach efforts must answer two questions to be relevant and impactful: “What’s in it for me?” & “How will it provide value to my network?”.

Failing to answer the question relating to the network may doom any efforts on your part to a budget poorly spent, less than stellar results and a backlash waiting to happen.

Using the social web is a hard-to-resist platform to spread word-of-mouth about your brand, but as many of us “old-timers” in the digital and social marketing world continue to espouse, it’s also not the place for business as usual and repurposing the same “push” marketing messages. While there are many ways to integrate your traditional digital and offline branding into social channels, it must be done with the utmost care and consideration. You must recognize that any type of outreach effort using these tools, or to people who use them, means you are asking that individual to SPEND their social capital by participating with you and spreading your message to their network of friends. That’s a lot to ask if what you are offering is only of value to the person you are asking.

At some point the majority of the top 1000 consumer brands will be using social media, and if the past 6 months is any indication, they will be running contests. These contests will most likely involve mandating that in order to enter you have to a) tweet a message to your followers on Twitter, b) post a link on Facebook or update your status, c) write a blog post, d) upload a photo or video on Flickr or YouTube and promote it. Let’s say that out of the 1000+ people I follow on Twitter 500 of them are actively participating in one or more of a thousand contests… how long before my stream becomes unrecognizable and without any conversational value to me? Perhaps I would enter a few of the contests myself or, more likely, in the long run, I’d move to a different social networking platform to escape the noise generated and find meaningful conversations again.

There will come a time when the pure promotional use of social media will lead to a backlash against both the brands and the people participating if there is no REAL value for the network = information, customer service, input, etc. If you aren’t answering the second question you may end up being burnt when the tipping point comes.

In that regard, if you are using tools such as Facebook or Twitter, what would be some uses of social networks for promotional purposes that could add value to your stream and be a “win” for all considered?

[Photo credit: Bright_Star via Flickr]

Social Bookmarks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Ma.gnolia
  • TailRank
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis