12 Random sites to make the week go quicker.

So every once in awhile I will go through my bookmarks and try and prune stuff that I bookmarked for a reason that might escape me when I actually revisited it. In this case I’m going to share some sites that have some value or bring some value to what I do. Or at least they did at the time… Some of you, actually I suspect a good portion of you have never heard of Vivisimo a little tech company out of Pittsburgh. Besides the fact that Pittsburgh is a jewel in the rough, this company is too. You will do the same as I did and ultimately bookmark them.

Next up, a friend once told me the way to go in regards to investing was to look at Vanguard, so I bookmarked it. Though when I look at the site, I blink and keep it and then I move on. I suspect that a lot of people besides myself do the exact same thing with some of their bookmarks. Made sense at the time. Though, I’m not sure Vanguard is hip to the payment plan.

So I have this one, The Sand Trap bookmarked and I never go to it but hey, that’s 75% of my bookmarks. If you have zero interest in golf, then don’t bother going here. But if you want a mortgage calculator then go here. Seems to be a timely site.

 I think thats the great thing about what you save and why, it’s a total glimpse into what you do and what you like etc etc. I would say that the majority of my bookmarks are marketing, internet and social media marketing type sites and the rest are just what I’ve shown you above. Though, I do love a good  Stone IPA brew.

Lastly I came across the Big Idea site hosted by Donny Deutsch It’s kind of a cool site for all of us dreamers out there. On the site they mention a product called the Body Buddy, I decided to check it out and the website looks great and the product has some genuine potential. Except… As I’m clicking thu the site, I wanted to check out some of the press they were getting and lo and behold I was transported to PDF land which I cannot stand. Nothing annoys me more then when a site feels the need to run with PDF’s instead of  converting pages to html, xml or php. I can understand white papers and case studies, and in that case I will print them out. But nothing is more of a deal killer for me then to have to put up with PDF”s. I know it’s one person’s opinion and we’ll leave it at that.  But every machine I’ve ever had handles PDF’s differently and it’s just an uneccessary step for a very, in this case, slick site.Though I do hope the fine folks from Oklahoma do succeed with the “Body Buddy”; it does seem to fill a need/niche.

Here is your last 2 killer sites that all of you should actually bookmark and then go back to: Gruvr and Liferemix

I know, I know, you can thank me later.

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 IRS.gov 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

Facebook.com 32,436

Adobe Sites 30,620

Glam Media 29,136

Wal-Mart 27,651

Superpages.com 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 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.

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?

Viral Video Explained

Here are 3 great examples of viral videos.  The  viral elements are so apparent when using these 3 videos as examples of viral marketing. In short order, they can all scale quickly, which means that the viral growth is exponential, i.e. it can spread quickly. The sharing of the link or the video is effortless, and lastly it’s humorous/touching/strikes a nerve. The first video has been viewed over 900,000 times. Which is a pretty solid number.

Now 900,000 for a  viral video might seem like a large number but if we look at the numbers associated with Jimmy Kimmels F@cking Ben Affleck Response to Matt and Sarah video, you’ll begin to re-think what is construed as a viral video. 

Currently that Jimmy Kimmel video has been seen almost 9 million times. That’s right, 9 million times.  I would suspect that the Hey Jude video will eventually spike pretty high. But as you can see, the power possessed by a truly viral video can reach far and why and travel quicker than a tornado warning. Now admit it, right now you are thinking of sharing this post with someone who might appreciate it? It’s not hard to do, you merely send the link and off it goes. Quick, efficient and no sweat for you. Viral.

To finish off this post, here is the viral video that prompted Jimmy Kimmel’s response video. The Sarah Silverman-Matt Damon Video has been seen by almost 13 million people and blogged about over 1900 times. Make that 1901 times.


Mobile Marketers can fail and still succeed.

Mobile advertising is projected to generate revenue somewhere between $1 billion and $24 billion within four years. However, at the moment they(analysts) still do not know which business model or marketing approach will be successful in tapping into that money.

So you’re saying,”Well how can they come up with those projections then?”  They can come up with those lofty projections the same way analysts said that one day the internet would be really really big. The upside and the potential are so great, that even those numbers are skewed on the side of conservatism.

To put it in perspective you have to understand that nearly everyone including your average 10 year old and up is now carrying a cell phone. If you want a hard number, think north of 2 billion users worldwide. With that device is the real estate to market and advertise to a captive audience. With that device and it’s associated burgeoning high speed browser comes the ability to search, use the internet or access email. Currently in the US, there are almost 35 million users of the mobile “net”. So what comes with search? contextual advertising. What comes with surfing the net? Advertising. Or using email? Get the idea?

But see that’s the easy side to marketing on a mobile device. The challenge for marketers and advertisers will be how to create stickiness not only for search results for instance but also to geotargeted results via a mobile device. In other words, how are you/they going to create the mobile call to action?

Some of the other questions will also be; How intrusive can you as a marketer be on a mobile device? Do the devices need to also have micro-java apps for pop-ups for instance? Can a marketer hone in on perhaps using SMS alternatives or opportunities until a more solid marketing platform is developed? When you think about it, it really is wide open.

The answer is yes to all of those questions, and the best part about it is the result can be a complete and utter failure and thats ok. So now you’re saying, “what do you mean it’s ok to fail?” Well it’s ok to fail because the user has no preconceived notion or expectation as to how it’s supposed to be. And because they don’t know what to expect, they will be willing to accept, for now, whatever comes down the pipe.

But marketers and their brethren will only be allowed to fail x amount of times before the user a) finds another solution that best meets and exceeds their intial expectation or b) becomes completely frustrated by the lack of performance. And trust us, they will find it. Either through another marketer letting them know that their is a better solution out there, or they will find it virally.

Until the bar is set, mobile marketers will have a grace period to get it right. The unknown is how long the grace period will be. The unknown is who will set the tone? Who will establish the way things are done in the mobile world? Because at the moment the canvass is blank and anything can be tried and ANYTHING can be successful. In the end the ultimate judge will be your average consumer, or your average 10 year old!

What’s the deal with widgets?

Ok so I’m going to go out on a limb and here and say that chances are that most of the common masses do not know what a widget is. Even if you use your computer on a daily basis, there is still the slight chance that you might not know what a widget is. No big deal. Yet…

Simply put, a widget is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate web page by an end user( You or I) without requiring additional work or previous knowledge on the users part.  Other terms used to describe widgets include: gadget, badge, module, capsule, snippet, mini and flake.

Widgets often but not always use DHTML, JavaScript, or Adobe Flash.  A widget adds some content to that page that is not static. Generally widgets are third party originated, though they can be home made. They add a more rich, entertainment, multi-dimensional feel to a site that might be otherwise static.

Widgets are now becoming more commonplace and are used by bloggers, social network users, marketers, advertisers, and owners of personal web sites. They exist on home page sites such as iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes, SpringWidgets and yourminis, and hundredes of other sites.

Widgets are used as a distribution method by ad networks such as Google’s AdSense, by media sites such as Flickr, by video sites such as YouTube and by hundreds of other organizations.

Applications can be integrated within a third party website by the placement of a small snippet of code. Which is now becoming a primary distribution or marketing channel for many companies. The code brings in ‘live’ content – advertisements, links, images, and video – from a third party site without the web site owner having to update.

Thus the end users can utilize widgets to enhance a number of web-based hosts, pages or drop targets. Categories of drop targets include social networks, blogs, wikis and personal homepages. Although end users primarily use widgets to enhance their personal web experiences, or the web experiences of visitors to their personal sites, corporations can potentially use widgets to improve their web sites using syndicated content and functionality from third party providers. They are also now using widgets as a carrier of their branding message or product.

So where can you find some widgets? The easiest source would be generally on the page you are currently reading, either on the left or right side of the pages. The widgets are dropped in via a widget managment system. Should you feel compelled, check out KickApps which states: The KickApps hosted, white-label platform puts social media and online video functionality directly into the hands of every web publisher who aspires to be a media mogul and turns every web designer and developer into a social media rockstar! With KickApps, it’s now easier than ever for web publishers to leverage the power of social and rich media experiences on their websites to drive audience growth and engagement.

If you are the casual reader, then hopefully this helps you. If you are a certified blogging fool, then this is nothing that you already don’t know. If you are somewhere in the middle, then now you have been enlightended.

The growth of social networking

By 2011 about half of U.S. online adults and 84% of online teens will be using social networks. This according to eMarketer. What this points to is an evolution or a continuing evolution of children who currently are becoming aquainted with and more comfortable with, “How social networks work”. This also points to the greater value that adults will put in their social network. “Their” being the operative word.

Furthermore, this raises a very poignant question. Though Facebook and Myspace are the darlings of the moment, can they continue the momentum that they can surely take credit for? Will they be “The” players in 3 years?

As it is right now today the evolution for most users looks something like this:

Club Penguin/Webkinz—->Myspace—->Facebook—-Linkedin.

I use Linkedin as the last one for professional reasons but really after Facebook, the usage fractures into a 100 different niche based social networks. This usage in the next 3 years will continue to evolve into hundreds of other social network sites.

My educated guess, though they (MySpace and FB) will still be viable, there will be others that will come along, if they have not already, that provide more to their niche than the current duo do. Here is the reasoning. Myspace is for teens/bands and tire-kickers and fringe users. Facebook is for college aged and older users who have more of a familiarity with the social network and all that it can provide.

So in 3 years when your current crop of Facebook users for instance, graduate and possibly outgrow the Facebook newness/coolness factor what do they do then?  What do adults who are currently using Facebook do in 3 years? The same thing I suspect that AOL users did once they found out that AOL wasn’t the only game in town. Everything will evolve. Including the knowledge and expereince of the users. Thus the reason that by 2011, social networks will be so entertwined in our daily lives that it will be assumed that you are part of some SN.

The good news, and really none of this is bad news, but worldwide Ad spending will increase at a healthy 20-39% each year between now and 2011 according to eMarketer. In the U.S. alone social network ad spending is expected to rise to $2.7 billion in 2011. Currently the pie is being divided naturally towards Facebook and MySpace, but look for that to change significantly with the growth of niche and marketer oriented sites.

The Top 20 search terms for the week

It’s a new year and thus the searches have a “turning over a new leaf” type of feel to them. But not for long, as our beloved searchers show their age when they give us WWE and Dragonball.  But fear not, we are still a nation/ world obsessed with absolutely anything that Britney does as well as Jessica Simpson and Lindsey Lohan. mnay thanks to the Lycos 50.

1 Poker
Full House, and you thought all that SPAM was worthless?
2 Golf
Fore! and it’s still winter people! 
3 Fashion
2008 trends.
4 Britney Spears
Dating and running from the paparazzo
5 Disney
“National Treasure 2” a must see.
6 Clay Aiken
“Spamalot”, Who said AI Stars have no traction?
7 Paris Hilton
Buddy Nicole gives birth. She’s slipping.
8 YouTube
Videos, we are a nation obsessed with videos
9 South Beach Diet
Low carb. Oh and we are obsessed with losing weight as well
10 Naruto
Manga
11 Pamela Anderson
Not pregnant and still looking, er uh.. like Pam Anderson
12 Kim Kardashian
Socialite taking advantage of her 20 minutes
13 Apple
Macworld, Check out the new Air Mac or mac Air
14 WWE
SmackDown. Who said anything about roids?
15 Lindsay Lohan
Dating Adrian Grenier? and still clean?
16 Pokemon
Battle Revolution
17 Jessica Simpson
Not at Cowboys game and they still lose.
18 Weight Watchers
Weight loss. In 2008, I will lose…
19 MySpace
Profiles
20 NFL
Playoffs? Did someone say playoffs?