Thursday, June 19, 2008

What is still missing on the Internet?

The web needs to be more "world wide" I do not personally know anyone in the US that interacts with any foreign based sites (unless they are searching or researching a specific geography)...seems so "US" based from my perspective

The web needs to have protocols like what SMTP did for email (allowed disparate email systems to all interconnect seamlessly)...NO MORE WALLED GARDENS

Lastly, I can not wait for the web to finish its convergence with broadcast TV/cable (still in its infancy)... I want to be able to do EVERYTHING on one screen even if that screen is viewed via my TV,CellPhone,Wii,Car,etc

What is Web 2.0?

Definition of Web 2.0:

People are always asking for a definition of Web 2.0. Wikipedia defines it as “Web 2.0 is a term describing the trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users.”

I will simply state that Web 2.0 is about <---1Xto1X---> way communication, this is not limited to people, but also to software and websites.

I will break down some Web 2.0 tools into four different trends:

Social Networks (in its simplest form think of a blog VS a Wiki. A blog tends to be more “1”, a Wicki is “Many”)

Some of the more prominent examples are Facebook,MySpace, and LinkedIn –“Social Networks” (SN). These SN’s allow users to communicate and collaborate amongst peers, based on a shared passion, or vertical. There are family SN’s Cozi (Cozi allows families to share items like pictures,calenders, “to do” lists,etc ). There are Professional SN’s such as LinkedIn and Xing. There are even services that allow you to build your own SN such as Ning. How might you use a social network? On a personal level, perhaps you might use one for your child's little league team. It could play host to the teams little league stats, pics and videos of games, discussions about that “great catch the other night”, team schedules and much more. For your brand, you might use it to allow your customers to be treated more like employees. Customers could use your brands SN to share there opinions (good and BAD) about your product, share ideas about your product, hold contests related to your product, help you name your product, and more. The results for you? More *buzz* for your brand, perhaps a better name for your product (why not use the Power of Crowds to name your next product), customers that feel a connection to your brand, a captive audience with which you can more easily get your message across, and more.

Openness - Convergence

For software and websites/services and *coming soon* CONTENT Web 2.0 is about convergence, collaboration, co-opertition,Mashups, APIs and most importantly Openness . This new convergence of technologies allows you to build brand new businesses (or revenue streams) that would not have been possible otherwise. A great example is, it can only exist because a confluence of technology being used together … GPS (location aware), Smart Phones, Internet, and an SN. Another working example that has had tremendous success is Mozilla’s Firefox browser… by being “open”, Firefox has attracted thousands of developers who write code for free, increase productivity of the browser, introduce new features that even Mozilla might not have thought of, get features to market more quickly, for less cost,etc. This “ecosystem” lends itself to being viral, as each developer in turn markets their products (plugins & toolbars), they drive further promotion and adoption of the Firefox browser.

Power of Crowds

If the expression “Two heads are better than one” makes sense, then imagine what 1,000,000 heads could accomplish when brought together. 1M people could predict outcomes more accurately, design a better car, come up with the best name for your product or business, and much more. Expect to see CrowdSourcing as a major player in “nextgen” website/web service winners.

User Generated Content

Want to scale fast? Get lots and lots of content online for search engines and your users? Why not let others do the work for you? Yelp gets it, almost 100% of their content (reviews/local/restaurant/etc) is generated by their users. This has allowed them to blow right by 'content controlled' services like citysearch . LinkedIn has a TON of user generated content in their LinkedIn Answers ... One day, this will (could) be large enough to be a stand alone business for them. NYTIMES (see my recent post) gets it, as they now allow users to mashup,share,participate and add content on their new interactive service. What are YOU waiting for? Let your users work for you!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

putting your URL in print

I recently answered a question that someone had posed on LinkedIn. The question was whether or not to include your brand's URL within your print media. I would have thought this is a no-brainer, however since apparently it is is the answer:

Not only does adding a URL in print lead to enhanced traffic, but it is a MUST! I would ask the question to you, why WOULDN'T you put a URL in your print media (and everywhere else).

Your brand should be your website, unlike traditional media, web based media is an excellent way to get concrete tracking of whether or not your marketing message is working - and from their allows you to sell your product or service.

You should also be taking advantage of the fact that URL's are dirt cheap. Any campaigns that I have managed get their own unique URL's as well. So for example, if your company name is widgets , you might also want to purchase the url "" for print ...and additionally, you should be using sub directs ( to even further track. This also allows an easier method of leaning on the reputation of the print partner .... So for example, in your print ad, at the end perhaps offer the link along with the message "Special offer *exclusively* for NYTimes readers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Can Firefox save face?

OK, I was all into helping make Firefox take home a world record for most software downloads in one day. You have to respect what they have done with their brilliantly executed SpreadFirefox campaign to date. I do not know why, but I just assumed, they had to know what to expect regarding server loads in doing this latest campaign. In fact, I was thinking that their big brother Google would make this in to a marketing campaign for their cloud initiative and would help in hosting the download burden. For that matter, shame on CNET who could have donated their front page for the initiative as well as their hosting services ... no reason why others could not make an excellent PR event out of Firefox's.

So here it is 2PM (est), and after FINALLY getting a response other then *timedout* from their server, it brings up a download page pointing to their older 2.0 release WTF????

So now, instead of having this potential PR event chime on throughout the next month, it is looking like more of a PR disaster. Now I am certain that the smart people over at Firefox will make this into a really positive PR spin "WOW! We had the bandwidth and were prepared for 10 Million downloads, but by 1:30 we already had 15 million requests!! ....

So other then the ultimate outcome of what they need to do to repair the PR spin what can we learn here?

PR is not the sole function of marketing, and in fact - The more of your team(s) that become involved directly, the better chance of success. For anything bandwidth intensive, DO have a scalable backbone, and provider - Lest your servers get "Twittered"

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Website Suicide

File this under what you should NEVER do on your website (WARNING/Hint turn off the volume on your speakers before you navigate to their site):

Go there Now

Its ashame, because other then the sound, I would have given their website design a decent grade.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Most Returned Products Work Fine, Study Says

Accenture, the global consulting firm just completed a study.... Over 95% of all returned products work fine... The take away from the article should be a wake up call to anyone - Whether you're a product manager , marketing pro , regardless of what type of product your selling.

So why are a whopping 95% of products being returned? USABILITY ... or as I referred in an earlier post using the known term KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid). Companies should have an executive on board, their CGO (Chief Grandma Officer), because if Grandma can't use it you flunked on UI 101.

It never ceases to amaze me that this continues on day after day. From my toaster whose designer does not understand that toast needs to eject at least enough for one to grasp it. To Bluetooth's implementation which makes it virtually impossible to connect a Bluetooth enabled device without having a degree. Have you tried setting up a home network?!!

Now I am cognizant of he fact that this study refers to consumer electronics, but if you're marketing a Web 2.0 or consumer software product like I do KISS needs to be your rule number #1 as well.

Want an easy example of this in the software space? Look at recently deadpooled Meetro; Meetro had a cool product, but the software needed to be downloaded and installed (I believe to a cell phone). According to a postmortem comment by one of its founders

"In the end, though, the drop off that happened once people had to download and install Meetro was HUGE and didn’t help us at all. If I recall, it was something in the 80 to 90% range. It crushed adoption rates."

Now granted there could be other factors why Meetro had a 95% drop off rate (One important one I will reference in a latter post is Trust) the point is that software is no different then hardware (95% return rate = 95% "Walk away from your shopping cart" = 95% "abandon their download", etc. etc.

1) Keep It Simple !!! Can not stress this enough

2) Functionality over Features ...(just because you think it would make a cool feature, do not cram it down the throats of your existing users) if a feature is arcane, consider putting access to it via an "Options" panel.

3) Tell them (your users) what you are going to tell them, tell them what you just told them (Introduction, Lesson, Summary) - This can be via UI, user manual, FAQ, Blog, etc (NOTE - People do not read - so this is a fallback)

4) Make sure they know your reputation (Trust) - Truste,Verisign, Better Business Burue, Webbuzz...