The top 25 websites for February 2008

According to comScore here are the top 25 websites/properties that received the most traffic in February. Some of these should not surprise you. But it does give you a glimpse of what people’s surfing patterns consist of. The number next to it is uniques, as in millions. Yahoo! Sites continued to lead as the top property with 137 million visitors, followed by Google Sites with nearly 136 million visitors and Microsoft Sites with more than 118 million visitors. Wikipedia Sites and  The Ask Network each moved up one position in the top 10 to spots seven and nine, respectively. Glam Media jumped 10 spots to reach position 18 with more than 29 million visitors during the month. Since Tax season is upon us,  the site moved into the Top 50 ranking, capturing position 45.

Yahoo! Sites 136,767

Google Sites 135,970

Microsoft Sites 118,355

AOL LLC 108,911

Fox Interactive Media 83,638

eBay 77,864

Wikipedia Sites 55,906

Amazon Sites 55,172

Ask Network 54,120

Time Warner – Excluding AOL 52,661

New York Times Digital 47,632

Apple Inc 47,048

Viacom Digital 41,216

Weather Channel, The 41,057

CNET Networks 33,320 32,436

Adobe Sites 30,620

Glam Media 29,136

Wal-Mart 27,651 Network 27,526

Verizon Communications Corporation 27,101

Disney Online 27,094

Craigslist, Inc 26,822

Gorilla Nation 26,710

Target Corporation 26,631

Social media and baby boomers, Who is ignoring this demographic?

Ok so I admit it. Social media is cool. I love everything it stands for and the endless possibilities that it has. But my question to my educated audience is this. Is social media for the 15-34 age group? Does social media care about the baby boomer set? Sure I gave you the top 30 social networks for baby boomers awhile back, but what kind of play are they getting? Do they get the same kind of action that Facebook and Myspace get? Or are they glorified email holders with cute colors? Does the 50+ demo know the power of the social networks available to them?

I recently came across a site called Growing Bolder, great title and the premise was the promise. To boldly provide for the boomers a place to…where they can…while doing…in which…etc. etc… I’m not really bashing Growing Bolder, in fact I give them credit, along with the other 30 I have mentioned, for seeing a niche that can be catered to, marketed to and sold to. That’s right, sold to. What? you thought the reasons for creating this site and all the others, were purely altruisitc? Umm…ok…

Riddle me this, do we still have to call someone that’s 50+, an individual who is in pursuit of an active lifestyle? I don’t get that. Do boomers become sedentary? Do they just shut it down? I would imagine that most people don’t stop living or spending once they exceed 50, so maybe we should do away with the assumptions that accompany that age? To that end, shouldn’t we embrace the boomers that have taken Facebook for example, and made it an integral part of their lives? People run in the packs or the cliques that they most indentify with, but that doesn’t mean that the cool club or bar or restaurant that they want to go to, is going to deny them access. The same holds true for social networks. You stay over there and we’ll stay over here and there is plenty of room for all of us to enjoy what this place has to offer.

Check the stats, one of Facebooks biggest chunks of users are boomers or boomers on the cusp of being boomers. This does not mean that the advent and growth of boomer social networks should go away, it just means that boomers can go to any social network they want, and provided that their is a collection of their peeps there, more power to you.

Social media has not ignored the boomers but do boomers ignore social networks? Would boomers rather talk face to face or use a social networking app to do it? How do boomers relationships? How do they value social media relationships? I bet it has opened up a world of new possibilities for the person in pursuit of the active lifestyle! Sorry, I felt like saying active lifestyle again.

Here is the quick caveat though. Just because you the boomer is in Facebook, doesn’t mean that you have quickly transported back 30 years in time. Leave the 20 somethings alone and hang with your own people. I’m just sayin…

Are tech start-ups recession proof?

 These are crazy time for the tech industry and one might want to think that things might be slowing down for not only seasoned grizzled vets but also for the young and dumb and full of vim and vigor start-ups. So are start-ups recession proof? They might be, especially if they are peddling Facebook apps but the bottom line is that the bottom hasn’t fallen out.

But, remember back in the day when you built your business model around the hopes that it would be purchased by another company? Well the times might be ripe for that type of scenario right now. Microsoft’s play for Yahoo notwithstanding, the buzz is that some large companies may shift from debt-fueled megadeals to strategic acquisitions, according to  GrowthPoint Technology Partners

One area that is still seeing some appreciation in values for example is for companies in the hottest areas or with the top management. An example of this would be in some of the social media type of applications and technologies.

One thing that helps to support the tech sector is its reliance on venture capital. VC firms love to take chances on the next Google, Facebook and thus alot of VC firms have already raised a significant amount of money and are unlikely to return it to investors simply because of a downturn in the economy.

A spokesperson at Crosslink Capital was quoted as saying that the credit crunch will likely dent the valuation of late-stage private companies. These companies will be unable to go public and also be compared against their public counterparts, which are declining in value. Hot private companies will still be attractive, in other words, but maybe not as expensive. Or will they?

Still, the change in economic winds has some normally optimistic entrepreneurs decidedly less so than they were previously. The consensus seems to be that some start-ups will either get acquired, get funding, or go belly-up. Not everyone stands to be crunched equally.  Enterprise companies, it’s been said are likely to get hit sooner than consumer ones, with both software and hardware firms at risk.

Microsoft belive it or not,may still be a good bet in uncertain times, Jeffries analyst Katherine Egbert said, “Seek safety in Microsoft’s numbers,” Egbert said, following its recent decline, Microsoft shares represent a “solid refuge.”

On the flip side, those likely to be hit hardest are technology firms that cater exclusively to the financial services industry or get a lot of their revenue there. But…that doesn’t mean that they can’t survive. There is still opportunity. Even in the worst of times, one door closes and another one opens.  To that end, expect to see a shift in the way technology companies market their products. The reason being that consumers and clients alike will want to see more of a bang for the buck as well as a focus on how product X is going to change the way they do business by improving the bottom line.

If there is one way to pull a country or a company for that matter, out of a funk, it with technology. Therein lies the potential for something to change people and change the way things are done, even in the worst of times. That, is the beauty of technology.

Will it be able to cure the ills of the housing market, the price of gas, the war in iraq or the upcoming presidential? Not yet. But if any industry has the resources and capabilities to make a difference, it’s Technology.

17 Social Networking Shopping Sites for 2008

For those of you out there that just love to shop, either online or off, here is a list of social networking sites geared especially for you. For those times when you are flush with cash or have nothing better to do with the credit card limit burning a hole in your wallet, why not put it to good use here and buy stuff? Lets get a quick look at the top 22. In no particular order, though we have added an asterisk to certain sites that have caught our eye!

  1. Wize Thousands of new products are released every year. Millions of dollars are spent advertising products to consumers like you. With all the choices and information available, it is challenging to know which products are best for you and your family. Wize makes finding the right product easier and faster by gathering all the information and opinions on the Web and making sense of it for you.
  2. Stylehive is an online style club for people who live for fashion, design and shopping. It’s where you meet your style muses and follow them as they discover and share their latest finds.Part social-networking club, part pop-culture lab , is one big ensemble cast of trendsetters creating, discovering and buying the next big thing!
  3. Kaboodle Kaboodle is a social shopping community where people discover, recommend and share products. Kaboodle’s powerful shopping tools allow people to organize their shopping through lists, discover new things from people with similar style, get discounts on popular products and find best prices.
  4. Thisnext ThisNext is an online media and social-shopping company where people recommend their favorite products for others to discover and purchase online. Bridging the continents of offline media, brand advertising and e-commerce by building a media platform that supports the marketing lifecycle – awareness, consideration, trial and consumption
  5. *Stylefeeder StyleFeeder is a personal shopping engine that makes personal recommendations, just for you. It’s a great way to discover new products and keep track of what you’re shopping for online, using visual bookmarks.
  6. Epinions Epinions helps people make informed buying decisions. It is a premier consumer reviews platform on the Web and a reliable source for valuable consumer insight, unbiased advice, in-depth product evaluations and personalized recommendations.
  7. Crowdstorm Crowdstorm attempts to address  market fragmentation by aggregating content from experts across the web (buyers guides, reviews, blog posts) and blend it with content and question / answer style advice from people you trust (friends, family, colleagues, peers…). The vision is to provide a single point of contact in helping users research products and find the right one for them before sending them off to the best place to buy it and at the right price
  8. Buzzillions Based on real buyer feedback, They help you find, compare, and decide on the right product for you! They collect thousands of reviews from actual buyers, verified by the retailer that sold it to them. Every product on this site has customer reviews.
  9. Shopstyle ShopStyle combines fashion, social networking and shopping, providing the tools to interpret style trends so people can create, share and shop personalized looks.
  10. OSOYOU is a shopping and socialising website for women with a passion for fashion and beauty.
  11. Theglimpse/Thefind is the leading shopping search engine that finds more stores, brands and products than anyone else online. and will now enable savvy shoppers to quickly discover even more unique, fashionable items than ever before. Thefind is a shopping search engine that delivers comprehensive lists of products and their corresponding images, ranked by the leading products, brands, stores and styles on the very first page of results.
  12. Wishpot Wishpot is a free social shopping service that makes it easy to save and share interesting things you find in stores and online. Items are easily collected online or from stores and organized using simple online lists. Lists and items can be kept private or shared with others. You can collect and discover products you like, recommend your favorite stuff, share and explore gift suggestions or ask for opinions and advice.
  13. *Bzzagent/Frogpond- The Frogpond uses consumer opinions to help you cut through the online clutter and get to the good stuff. Found a Frog you love? It’s time to Ribbit and share your opinion of it to spread the word. How far can you make your Frog hop?
  14. Shopwiki ShopWiki is a shopping search engine designed to help consumers find specific products on the Internet with ease. It is the only shopping search engine that combines advanced Web-crawling technology with consumer-written wiki
  15. Etsy Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade.
  16. *Woot is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap. It started as an employee-store slash market-testing type of place for an electronics distributor, but it’s taken on a life of its own.
  17. *Wists Wists was created for 2 simple purposes: 1. To make finding well designed, interesting or unusual products and collectibles both simple and fun. 2. To make publishing or sharing lists of recommendations and wishlists easier and more appealing than maintaining a weblog and not tied to one particular store. Using Wists is not like going to Walmart or searching a price comparison shopping site – we try to encourage the discovery and promotion of products from small retailers and manufacturers and young designers.

And here are 8 honorable mentions:









We hope you can appreciate the sites mentioned. If you have any feedback or a new site to tell us about, don’t hesitate to let us know. Some come and some go, so really the test will be in one year. How many of these will be around next year?

Are social networks good for society?

Some claim that being in a social network closes us off from the rest of society. To a certain degreee that might be true. In this freakonomics blog post find out what 6 distinguished social media observers feel are the pros, the cons, the good the bad and the ugly of what social networks bring to the table.

Social media and reputation management

Ironically, I just came across this article titled 9 essential tactics for reputation managment using social media that came out the day after I wrote my post on what can be done to manage a blemished reputation using social media.

Direct response marketing and social media have not evolved yet.

This morning as I was laying in bed deciding if I should get up. I start thinking of the strangest of things. One of them being direct response marketing, which is built on the premise that the customer is required or prompted for an immediate response. Of course it comes in many forms. “Act now”,… call this 800 number within the next…”order now and we’ll also add…”. You all get the point.

So my thoughts were, can there be a business model that ties in social media to direct marketing? I immediately went and Googled, “direct response marketing and social media”, and  the results look like this:


Thats great, the results show 3 links with stars that point back to Emerson Direct sites. Apparently we are one of the few companies actually engaged in thinking and writing and actually trying to meld the 2 disciplines into a viable working business model that clients and companies can utilize in driving traffic, sales, and eyeballs to their products and services.

Ok so here’s the deal.  I looked at the first result on the page and the original article came from Hollis Thomases at Clicks, the article Social Media Advertising: No Direct Response Proposition asserts that because of the ROI driven impatient nature of most DR marketers, the social media marketing model does not work. A valid point given the amount of time it takes to establish and grow any social network. But is it really? Or is that just a knee jerk reaction? Given the explosive growth and the phenomenal nature of social networks, my question would be, Why wouldn’t you want to go after targeted traffic congregating in one place? Isn’t that the challenge? To find that traffic, that demographic, so that you can market to it?

Hollis states that:

The problem with reconciling direct response (DR) advertising and social media is that to most advertisers, it’s all about a mathematical equation. If the numbers don’t work, they see the campaign as a failure. This mentality just doesn’t jibe with how social media ad campaigns succeed. Social media is about nurturing. In fact, the process is really more marketing than advertising, period. So unless the DR marketer is comfortable with the “D” standing for “delayed,” channel your ad dollars elsewhere.

I can again, partially agree with that but… Here are some questions that marketers and advertisers can ask themselves:

1) Why can’t Youtube, Flickr, and any type of VOD(video on demand) be a vehicle for a DRTV type of marketing? There are already a ton of advertisers taking advantage of viral videos. What do you see in the first 10-20 seconds of a lot of the video you see? A quick spot. What about URL’s watermarked on the bottom of videos? Why or what is stopping a DR marketer from tryinig to piggyback or create a DR spot that is used only in a Youtube type format? has it been done? I’m not sure. But I’m going to venture to say yes it has. Perhaps because of the fear of a low ROI or the time it takes for some of these social media sites to evolve it has driven marketers into a position of paralysis by analysis?

Isn’t a viral video a type of DRTV? Think about it, it spread so rapidly because the RESPONSE is so instant! The same holds true for direct mail for example. Isn’t a viral email the same as direct response mail? Your response to the email is direct, immediate and viral. Your attention is captivated and you must act. And what do you do? You send it to your favorites, the people that are most like you. Targeted, immediate and impressionable.

So the question remains: Can you or do you build relationships, which is the basis of social media in favor of a direct and immediate reponse? Or is there a happy medium? The only way for DR marketers to find out is to try. Sure it’s easy to say it doesn’t work and to fall back on what you know, but why would you ignore one of the most amazing technological advances to come along since Google?

Can social media alter or change a company’s negative public perception

One of the great things that I love about Linkedin is that you can share information pretty freely with your peers. Of course isn’t that what social networking is supposed to be? One of the many ways that you can share and exchange information is by merely asking or answering industry specific questions.

As I was reading some questions and answers earlier today on Linkedin, I received a phone call from a client who had a client who had a problem. The problem was that this client who had been in business for over 15 years, had some disgruntled customers who had decided to take their grievance or beef online in the form of a forum and blog post. It was more than just one person but it was not an overtly large number.  One of the issues appeared to be that instead of calling or going directly to the client to vent or air their grievances, they decided to just go right online and post it. “To let the people know”!

As luck or the SERPS would have it, some of these posts and forums take on a life of their own. They morph into something larger than it really needs to be, and as I said the SERPS will keep these posts alive a lot longer than they need to be. In that pretty soon, when someone might do a search on Company A, instead of getting Company A’s website as the top search result, they get the angry blog post instead.  This effect that it has had on the company, it’s image and it’s ability to do business is and has been, to say the least, “not good”.

Don’t get me wrong, in some cases, this form of  online vigilante justice is completely warranted as a way to warn others, of unscupulous companies. But what about the companies that have been in business for over 15 years who do things on the up and up, and they just so happen to anger someone? They anger someone who knows how to blog.

Their reputation is forever linked to a SERP that reflects a possible isolated incident for all the world to see, and for all the world to come up with the “3 second impression”. i.e scan the results, read a negative blurb and come up with a negative impression. In other words; especially in the online world, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Or do you?

So I was asked if I could help. I’ve actually done it for other clients and it’s a tough haul. Like George Clooney’s role in Michael Clayton, I had been asked to go in and “clean up” a situation. So given that the call came in as I was answering a few questions on Linkedin, I thought that Linkedin might be a good forum to ask the following question: Could social media, given that it’s sites can be spidered very quickly by the search engines, be a way to alter or change a company’s negative public perception?

The answers have come in fast and furious and they really do hit on the touching points of what social media is, what social media can do and  what it cannot do. And as much as it is the 6th Estate, it still has some unwritten rules. But lets take a look at some of the responses and you tell me what you think.

This interesting answer to the question comes from Andrew Munro: I think the answer is “it depends…”. I’m fairly certain that a social media blitz will not be “enough to stem negative press” but it may help. One thing to be aware of is that changing any sort of negative perception requires a lot of time and energy. It’s not a quick fix. You need to identify what aspects of the perceptions are key and hen determine how to set about changing those. A first step would be to identify who the key influencers are on the subject, then think about how you build relationships with them to either support them (if positive) or to encourage them to change their views (if negative). Those are the individuals who – through their blogs etc – can help to change perception for you. ANother thing to be aware of is that you need to be subtle and considered about this. Any appearance of trying to manipulate opinion, buy opinion, deceive etc etc etc will blow up in your face and worsen the situation. Think carefully about what you are trying to achieve.

The next answer from Louis Rosas-Guyon  who says: “If the company addresses the issue frankly with an open and honest approach then they stand a solid chance of recovery. Americans love it when the guilty apologize. However, if the company adopts a position where they try to spin the situation or to attack then they are doomed to failure. I have always found it’s just better to tell the truth. It is amazing how quickly people rush to forgive you.”

Next up is Sallie Goetsch who really is blunt in her assertion that “Unless the company fixes the problem(s), *nothing* will stem the tide of bad publicity. And it’s better for any company to have a social media presence already established than to suddenly create profiles on all the networks and start sending “We don’t suck, really” messages out on Twitter.  Nevertheless, it seems that one company with a consistently bad rap, TSA, has managed to improve its relations with some of its public by means of a blog with open comments. Do everything you can to get your side of the story out–including using social media, but not forgetting more traditional media. But first, fix the problem.”Last up is Erin Berkery who states: “While not every company can alter their negative perception online, there are steps that can be taken both to improve public perception, and the performance of the company.
For example if a company finds a forum discussing their bad performance, it gives them a chance to answer in a specific and tailored way to people who often have had direct problems with their service.
I’ve worked for companies with web forums, and they would regularly post ‘How are we doing?” topics. This would allow them to address what comes up, and (if needed) apologize and deal with it in a professional way.
It also is a good place to explain nuances of the company that the consumers may not understand. It is useful why certain practices perceived as ‘bad’ might actually be better for the consumer.
However, in all of those situations the companies were actively looking to improve themselves, not just their image. If it’s just a PR blitz just to get the word out, many tech savvy people who are in social networks will not be impressed. Also if it is not followed consistently-for example if someone is in a forum for two days explaining why the company performed a certain action, and then never returns, the perception will be ultimately worse than if they were never online. “

So essentially what you are seeing is that all of these people, myself included, feel that though you can stem the negative perception, your best way to “react” to it is to be as proactive, forthright, and honest as you can in re-creating and expounding on your “real” or desired public persona. You are never going to please everyone but if you are upfront and address the issues in a social networking environment, it can go a long way in repairing and heading off any further misdirected public perception. What do you think?