In a world where being able to connect with old friends, family, co-workers, and connections is now the “norm” it surprises me when we start to see backlash as we are with Facebook recently. Especially when these are FREE services. However, everyone in the Internet age has been foregoing bits and pieces of their privacy for the convenience of connecting with each other and interacting in a social way online.
The thing is that when we interact online we are always leaving a little digital signature of who we are, where we came from, what we did, etc. Part of this is an aspect of the Web in general through cookies and GPS coordinates. Another part is just by virtue of how the Web works and how analytics are tracking site behavior. While Web sites may not know who you are specifically (unless you log in), they will certainly get a good idea of what you like and deliver better content next time.
Free sites have to make money. Running Web servers, development costs, etc all costs money and no investor or venture capitalist is going to invest in a company without the potential to get their money back. So for companies like Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, (insert name of cool website with free service), they all have the same issue; how will they make money? For many, it will be in online advertising. Google does this with most of its products from Google Search to Gmail to YouTube. Facebook does it with ads and virtual gifts. Even LinkedIn does it with their online recruiting (job board), research arm, and advertisements. However, nobody really seems to care about it when it is advertising because most often it is what keeps the service free to use. Do you remember when Google first rolled out ads that were contextual to your search, or your email messages? Everyone was outraged, yet millions of people still use those services. When you go onto Amazon and you see products that are based on your behavior, your information you have shared and more. No matter what we do online, the more we want convenience of personalized information and use of free services we will have to give up a piece of our privacy. When you check-in at a restaurant using Yelp, Foursquare or Gowalla, you are sending out your location over the web. “I’m here!”
The easiest way that Facebook, and other social networks, are integrating your personal information is via their authentication tools. In Facebook?s world this is Facebook Connect. It allows you, the user, to log into another website with your Facebook credentials. In some cases, like a registration for a site, you can populate certain fields and share your activity with this new site with your Facebook friends. This is where everyone is getting their arms up air over this privacy invasion. But if you want the convenience of not having to remember dozens of usernames and passwords, using one, like what you use for Facebook becomes convenient.
The other big discussion is around Facebook?s social widgets. These are actually less intrusive as one might think. They are what we call iframes, which means the ?Like? button that they just rolled out is actually a page within a page. The Web site that the ?Like? button is on actually doesn?t get any information about that person. So for me, I have the ?Like? button on this blog post. If you see other people who ?like? this post, I get none of that data. It doesn?t go into a database of mine, or into an email to me. Zip. Nada. What makes them attractive to Web site administrators, like me, is that it provides a level of personalization that I couldn?t achieve otherwise. And because Facebook is 500M strong, the chances are of that personalization working on my Web site is pretty good. The same goes for CNN and thousands of other sites which have integrated these new features into them.
The next time you think about your privacy and where your information is being shared, or even sold, think about he conveniences you have online when you use Web sites. You are giving up your privacy every day, but you are also willing to do so. In fact, if you really want to know who else is using your personal information just look into the fine print of the following:
- Your Bank
- Your Credit Cards
- Your Loyalty Cards (Grocer, Movie Rental, Book Store)
- Google Account (Oh, how quickly we forget about them)
- Professional Association or Trade Association
You may be surprised on what you read.
Socialnomics, the economics of the social world and social media. It isn’t a fad, it is here to stay. Brands, companies, and industries have been paying attention — have you? Erik Qualman, the author of Socialnomics has updated his video that has mind-blowing stats regarding the use of social media in today’s world. It is an update of his original one that came out when he launched his book. Some of his interesting statistics include:
- If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest ahead of the United States and only behind China and India
- Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web
- 80% of companies use social media for recruitment; % of these using LinkedIn 95%
- 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations
- Kindle eBooks Outsold Paper Books on Christmas (COMMENT: I wonder how this will change next year with the iPad out)
- Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like Mad Men Listening first, selling second
Here is the latest video. What do you think about the stats? Anything jump out at you?
I will have some thoughts on this and other Facebook stuff soon.
This short video is worth watching on how Best Buy is adopting social technology to change their business strategy.
I don’t think anyone can argue
that Barak Obama made history this week.
While the popular vote was no landslide, unlike the electoral college,
Obama had several strategic game changers during election campaign that
separated him from his opponent. So it should come as no surprise that everyone
is now writing about how organizations can use the same tactics and strategies
and apply them to their own organization.
Here are just a few articles and blog posts worth reading over.
While the use of technology will was not the only game
changer in the Obama campaign, it played a significant role in my opinion. His campaign strategically found ways to
connect with his constituents by allowing them to campaign on his behalf
through myBarakObama blogs, using text messaging for
updates, using YouTube to let video messages go viral, and use of his ever
growing email database.
While I certainly can’t dissect his entire campaign
strategy, he also brilliantly executed an integrated marketing strategy. He took the concept of “small is the new big”
by asking for small donations from individuals, not the maximum from them at
once. Additionally, he asked his
database of volunteers and advocates to do small things such as calling friends
and strangers about his campaign, which resulted in a huge workforce.
I think Obama executed two strategies extremely well during
his campaign. First, he brilliantly used
social media to empower his followers. Jermiah Owyang, a Forrester analyst on
Social Media, researched and found stats on how Obama and McCain used social
media. While Owyang won’t draw any correlations to
the use of social media to his win, Obama commanded the use of the Internet. I
believe it was that use of technology that helped, if for nothing else, give
him exposure to a larger population of voters. McCain followed suit by
participating in the same space, but I believe the generation gap of a 70+ year
old using MySpace and Facebook wasn’t as authentic as a 40+ year old. In fact to compete with Obama’s “MyBarakObama”,
McCain launched McCainSpace using social network took Kick-Apps.
Obama’s second strategic win was how he treated his
volunteers, and that was with respect and authenticity. He would send a message (or tried on several
occasions to mixed results) to his volunteers and donors informing them of what
he was going to do next before he would do it to the media. He understood that by informing this audience
first he not only respected that they want information, but knew that they
would spread that message beyond what the media could accomplish. However, by informing his volunteers and
donors first he also put transparency on his campaign and that, in my opinion,
is a level of authenticity that builds trust.
And Obama’s not done either.
Change.gov launched yesterday getting not only himself ready for the
next four years, but informing the American people as well. As technology evolves, going back to the U.S.
Mail distributing pamphlets to
back in the beginning of our country to TV bringing a face and live debate to
every home to the Internet, our public officials and government will change as
well. If Obama uses the Internet as much
during his presidency as he did during his campaign, change won’t be just that
an African American is at 1600
it will be how he has enabled the entire country to speak to him to make changes
the American people want.
Ah, and you thought you were going to see a post of genius did you? Well, not yet. That’s the topic of a presenation I’m giving on Thursday to a group of State Bar communications staff. I have a few things in mind, but what are your thoughts? Still room to tweak my presentation. Add your top 5 in the comments. After the presentation I’ll be posting the slides and notes.
Today’s Wall Street Journal called One Key Fits All tells a tale of something that has been on my mind a lot lately. In the world where websites are requiring users to create accounts to participate from commenting on blogs to reading archives of a newspaper website, user accounts are inevitable. However, from a usability perspective, it is a pain in the rear to remember all the different variations of user names, passwords, email addresses, etc. for all of these websites you may participate in. The concept of OpenID enters the picture as a potential solution to this problem. Ideally it would be the one-stop-shop of user account management.
For those not familiar with OpenID, it is:
…a shared identity service, which allows Internet users to log on to many different web sites using a single digital identity, single sign-on,
eliminating the need for a different user name and password for each
site. OpenID is a decentralized, free and open standard that lets users
control the amount of personal information they provide. (Source: WikiPedia)
Where OpenID gets interesting is when you think about taking it beyond social websites and think of it with larger corporations. It is one thing for Yahoo!, Microsoft, or Google to accept an OpenID protocol, but entirely another with your bank, utilities, and investment websites start to accept it. Think about all the different online accounts you manage, how many of them can you manage with the same login and password. I “try” to use the same information for most of my sites, however, it doesn’t work that way always. Can it be more convenient? Yes.
However, it has several impacts beyond just logging in. Security, fraud issues, and framework maturity are still outstanding for other major corporations ot adopt it. But think about a level of websites beyond blogs, but not quite your financial institutions. Can associations adopt this and make it work? Of course! Can media websites adopt this an make it work? Of course! Currently over 22,000 websites accept OpenID (including this blog) as a form of identification. It is projected that this number of sites will reach close to 50,000 by the end of this year. So if you have a login/register process for your website, why aren’t you looking at something that will make it easier for users to manage their account with your site? Take a look at offering OpenID as an alternative to your current login procedures.
Day one had a great line up of speakers and content. Day two looks like it will be no different.
Here is my Twitter Stream which I will be updating during the day. I’ll then recap later.
LIVE! From Forrester Consumer Forum
Online Community Sites of Note:
I’m at the Forrester Consumer Forum in Chicago today and tomorrow. I’ll be writing my thoughts and observations on the content from the conference here.
So far there have been some great speakers. The theme of the conference is around the online world, social integration, advertising, and how your company can understand and take advantage of this medium. The format of the Forum is pretty cool. Short presentation on targeted topics, then a “coffee talk” type Q&A with the speaker (literally two chairs with an end-table on a stage w/ two large video screens on each side). The dialog is great and personal to those in the audience.
Kicking off the conference was Forrester Vice President and senior analyst Charlene Li. Charlene does a lot of her research around the social technographics. Who is using the social tools, how, and to what level of participation.
Christie Hefner from Playboy had a great keynote on how Playboy has truly been able to leverage the Playboy brand in ways that most companies would drool over. It is amazing how they have been able to integrate new solutions successfully from Print, to TV, to Online, and now Mobile. They have brought the brand beyond the print publication(s) to the real world, and now virtual world with an entry into Second Life. They also have been able to leverage a key demographic and target market by launching PlayboyU, a social space for college students with an .edu email address.
Richard Edelman, president and ceo of Edelmen PRgave one of the most forward thinking perspectives when it comes to PR/MR. It resonates with a lot of what I’ve been thinking about when it comes to control of messages, brands, and the interaction with your consumers (and in my work, members and consumers). One of the biggest take-aways was the reality of how the traditional media triangle works. It used (and in many corporations still is) to be that a few influencers controlled the conversation and distributed it to the masses. It has touch points of how it got distributed and they all came back to the same message. The internet, and social media such as blogs, ratings, reviews, etc. changes that model. Today if someone wants to have information about some topic, the influencers are now bloggers, customers, like-minded individuals who publish online. Companies have to realize that there is a limited amount of influential control they have left. Now, the mass audience make up their own minds–right, wrong, or in-different.
I also got to attend one of track sessions. It was about how User Generated Content, or UGC, can have a place in corporate strategies. The panel included representatives from Dell, QVC, and Baazarvoice. Each explained how they have taken UGC and integrated it into their company strategies. From Dell’s IdeaStorm, a customer feedback site that allows users to rate feedback for popularity, to how QVC uses real-time feedback to inject into their programming. UGC is a tough cookie to crack and how to use it. Let alone if it really does. Many of us have wondered how to make it work. We are fearful of the backlash and if execs can even swallow the fact that they are not in control of what goes on. But that’s OK. Rather, we need to find ways that work for us. For example, customer reviews. Having all positive customer reviews on a product page in reality is just product testimonials. You need negative reviews to show authenticity. Companies have to understand how UGC works, it is written by passionate individuals (for good or bad) and it is often intended to help like minded individuals (though companies can listen and learn from them). Monetizing on this type of feedback and content is still a challenge, but models are being formed and success is in the results–more products shipped and more revenue generated.
I’ll be updating this more with my notes and perceptions. This is just the beginning so I can pay attention to the presentations and blogging at the same time.
Forrester Marketing Blog
As of 1:00 today FeedBurner was officially acquired by Google. I had a quick chat to day with Rick Klau today regarding setting up an account with them and was double checking about the Terms of Service when he mentioned that they would be updated at around 1:00 today. So the rumors were true! Yes, it seems they were.
I’m excited to see where this all goes. Google just continues to get bigger, but they are making strategic buys too. I mean just think what the JotSpot acquisition will do for them if they integrate it into Google Apps. RSS is the future of content distribution, and now advertising opportunities too. I believe that RSS subscribers are more targeted than regular website pageviews and traffic. FeedBurner has a great model and it will serve Google well.
Congrats to FeedBurner. They have long been a company I’ve admired, wished I could have worked for (and now you see why!). You can read more about the acquisition at the Burning Questions blog.
Update: Google’s Announcement
Chicago Tribune Story (Free Reg. Req.)