Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chrome + (Facebook + Twitter) x Steroids = "The Social Web"

I just spent 23 minutes watching the future. Browsers were invented by guys like Marc Andreesson in the early ‘90s to make it easy for people to find websites. It is really the primary piece of software for most of today’s computer usage.

So, why isn’t it innovating? Why doesn’t my primary piece of software learn my habits? Why am I going to the same 8 or 10 websites everyday and looking for updates? Why is customization limited to my iGoogle landing page?

Why am I using archaic feeling things like 3-click or worse, cut-and-paste, RSS feeds? In fact, let’s talk about this… Robert Scoble and Seth Godin both love RSS feeds—the information you want is being served to you as soon as it is available with no need to search! So, why are only 4% of people using this service?

My answer is that it is not intuitive, it’s not simple. We want something that makes sense with how we use it and not worry about how we find it and set it up.

So, I signed up for the Beta version of RockMelt. It is built off of Chrome (my current most-used browser) and, in trying to quickly explain it to a co-worker I dubbed it "Google Chrome on Steroids." But it does some completely distinct things...

I’m not trying to sell RockMelt, so no product review, here, but I am pointing out that smart people are looking at how internet usage and web browsing have changed. And that can only mean good things. Making an experience around how we actually use a technology is the type of advancement that brings on widespread adoption. In Scoble’s interview with the guys at RockMelt they said they’re not worried about monetizing at this phase. Well, that’s because if they get this right, the money will come.

If it is simple and intuitive (Note: Microsoft discussed rebranding RSS to increase it's popularity) and actually helps me to have a better browser experience, I will use this new tool. And I will be back with a product review!

More on RockMelt is available here:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Anonymity is the Enemy

I am restating some ideas already expressed by Seth Godin, David Kirkpatrick and Mark Zuckerburg, but I believe the current greatest enemy to online privacy, copyrighting, legal, libel, and simple self-governance, is the issue of user anonymity.

The motion of many organizations, including the social media leader, Facebook, is towards an internet that requires identification and validation of the user. The method currently used is very primitive: validation through registered email, placing verification code onto a personal website or blog, and early steps into universal profile connections such as Google's Friend Connect, OpenSocial, and Facebook Connect.

The leaders in this are obviously Google and Facebook, both racing to become “The Internet,” essentially being everywhere and touching everything, the most recent play by Facebook of putting the “Like” button everywhere. But here is where the move toward a user-identified web is affecting the world of online gaming:

Bye-bye trolls? Blizzard forums to use real names

July 7th, 2010 @ 12:49pm

AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Activision Blizzard Inc.'s move to require people to use their real names if they want to post messages in online forums for games is the latest sign that online anonymity is falling out of favor with many companies.

The upcoming change has upset many gamers who prize anonymity and don't necessarily want their gamer personas associated with their real identities.

Blizzard, the maker of "World of Warcraft," said Tuesday that the new rule will go into effect later this month. It will apply first to forums about the highly anticipated "StarCraft II," out July 27; other games are to follow.

Blizzard hopes that making people use their real names will cut down on nasty behavior in the forums and create a more positive environment. Players will have the option _ but not a requirement _ to display the name of their main game character alongside their real name.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said Blizzard is the latest company to require real identities. But he added businesses have "a lot of freedom" in doing so.

Facebook, the world's most popular online social network, asks users to sign up with their real names. The company tries to delete fake profiles it comes across. A growing number of blogs and news sites are also abandoning anonymity. The Buffalo News said last month it will start requiring commenters on its website to give their real names and the towns they live in, just as they would do in a printed letter to the editor...

Article continued here:

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup Means Selling More Coke… Subliminally!

The 2010 FIFA World Cup Celebration Mix of Wavin' Flag by K'naan

With the World Cup starting today, the world's attention is focusing on the number one most popular sport in the world, soccer. And there are many people who are trying to capitalize on that attention. Not least among them is a mostly-unknown Somalian musician named K'naan.

K'naan's 2009 single Wavin' Flag was selected as the 2010 FIFA World Cup's official anthem. But who selected the song and where did it come from? It was not selected by FIFA, instead it was chosen by Coca-Cola International. And it underwent a fairly intense "change" before it could receive this honor, including revision of most of the song's lyrics, complete removal of entire verses, and most notably, the addition of Coke's Audio Signature, (The "Oh, oh, oh, oh-oh" from their current "Open Happiness" campaign).

Compare the original album version of the song to the Coca-Cola approved revamp posted at the top:

The artist, K'naan, had this to say about the world's largest beverage company and the world's largest brand asking him to change his song, "

“I saw it as an opportunity to reach more people. I don’t work for Coke or anything; what I do is my music. This was a really great opportunity for them to use my song, without compromising my integrity as a musician.

It sounds nice. And as far as "a really great opportunity for them," I'm not sure, but it is definitely "a really great opportunity" for K'naan to break out onto the international music scene, as one of the most listened to songs in the world and the top downloaded on iTunes today.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

No, You Rock, Seth Godin!

This morning, Seth Godin posted this:

You rock

This is deceptive.

You don't rock all the time. No one does. No one is a rock star, superstar, world-changing artist all the time. In fact, it's a self-defeating goal. You can't do it.

No, but you might rock five minutes a day.

Five minutes to write a blog post that changes everything, or five minutes to deliver an act of generosity that changes someone. Five minutes to invent a great new feature, or five minutes to teach a groundbreaking skill in a way that no one ever thought of before. Five minutes to tell the truth (or hear the truth).

Five minutes a day you might do exceptional work, remarkable work, work that matters. Five minutes a day you might defeat the lizard brain long enough to stand up and make a difference.

And five minutes of rocking would be enough, because it would be five minutes more than just about anyone else.

It is a great example of the quick shots of inspirational adrenaline that Seth scribbles out nearly every day (sometimes multiple times a day) on his blog. But I would amend his wise words just in the slightest and add emphasis to one line in particular.

First, the amendment. I don't think five minutes is enough. I also believe that we are capable of much more than that. I appreciate that Seth is letting us off easy, but I personally feel that I can work in flow for between 30 minutes to 2 hours almost every day. For more on Flow, a brilliant practice that you should be bringing into your business life, you can go here.

Now for the emphasis. He says that a potential great work is "to deliver an act of generosity that changes someone." I say that the greatest work you can do is lift another person with your generosity. I would emphasize Seth's point that the work you do in a day is measured by the people you can effect.

If you are in business, your output of a product or service is only as good as the positive change it creates in the lives of your customers. But you, as a human, are also only as good as the positive change you are directly making in the lives of your people. Your employees, your co-workers, your family and friends should all end each day feeling appreciated and fulfilled, bettered for having passed through another day of trials, growth and human interaction.

And that typically takes you just a little longer than five minutes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Social Networking Existed Before LinkedIn and Facebook

This Blog is a Repost from My New Blog Here. Go Here for the Original.

I love social media sites. I spend entirely too much time on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter... especially Twitter, but I want to establish a clear distinction between social media sites and social networking.

“Social Media” is the term that generally groups together websites where the majority of content is created by the users. Typically they use log-ins, account names and personal profiles to connect people and focus on the “interactive” elements that have been key to the web 2.0 progression. We think of sites like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Flickr. But "Social Networking" existed long before Web 2.0.

Mankind is a social animal with a long tradition of societal interdependence. Ashton Kutcher, the self-appointed champion of the Social Web, recently said:

“[H]uman beings are born not able to even sustain themselves, so at the end of the day, if you ultimately did something in your life that was great, you at least owe your mom.” –Ashton Kutcher from AK FTW, SKY Magazine, Feb. 2010.

Social Networking is the normal and timeless practice of making connections and helping people out. Using technology to facilitate these contacts makes it easier and more efficient, but just as in the past, "It’s not about the number of contacts you have; it’s how you use them."

Another great quote about the effectiveness of this new tool today and its potential in the future comes from one of the all time greats in peer-to-peer marketing, Seth Godin:

“Social media is either a time-wasting, wool-gathering, yak-shaving waste of effort or, perhaps, just maybe, it’s a crack in the wall between you and the rest of the world. It’s a choice” –Seth Godin

Make your choice. Use your tools wisely.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

5 Signs You're Using Social Media Wrong

This is a reposting of my original guest blog written for

Social Media Marketing FailHave you ever walked into the middle of a conversation and suddenly had the awkward feeling that everyone was talking about you?

Motrin has. About a year ago, they became a trending topic on Twitter when Moms, one of their key customer groups, were talking about the insensitivity the company displayed in arecent ad campaign. The consumers summed up Motrin and its use of social media this way: “They don’t get it.”

One year later, we see Motrin exerting an active presence on Twitter and other social media sites and doggedly determined to become “Part of the Conversation” rather than the “Topic of It.”

But just “Being” on social media does not necessarily mean you are “Doing it Right.”

As someone who helps companies wade into the social media waters, but do it in a way that is authentic and in alignment with their brand, I have picked up on a few red flags that I would like to pass along. I call it:

The 5 Ways to Know if You’re Using Social Media Wrong

1) Your Twitter page reads like the CNN ticker. Social media is NOT the place to post your newsfeed! That has become a staple of many homepages, where it is ideal for SEO bots that are scouring the web for updates and new content. But social media is about interaction and one-to-one contact. Nothing says “impersonal faceless corporate entity” like following your favorite brand on Twitter and receiving the Tweet “Thanks for following us. For more information, visit our website.”

2) Your company Facebook friends are also your kids’ Facebook friends. Like any marketing initiative, social media campaigns should be targeting Quality over Quantity. With more than 370 million users, chances are that you have actual customers on Facebook. A simple step many companies overlook is the proactive promotion of their social media sites to gain targeted customers and build relationships with them. Do not let it become a web-based popularity contest where every fan, follower and contact is weighted equally.

3) Your Social Media Marketing is something you’ve assigned to the Interns.Successful marketing campaigns always stem from being integrated across the company. That requires buy-in from the top down! I get very nervous when an executive tells me the company is already on “MyFace” or “SpaceBook.” Too many execs think that new technology is beneath them and refuse to take the initiative in learning what it can do for their business.

4) It Doesn’t Seem Like Your Social Media Profile is “Doing Anything.” Although social media functions in areas like SEO and PR, it is, at heart, a marketing device. And somewhere along the lines, people have forgotten that marketing’s job is to create sales. Which means that social media should be attached to business objectives! That actually generate revenue! A strong advantage of social media over traditional marketing vehicles is its built-in trackability. There are great tools out there to set goals and determine ROI on any social media marketing efforts.

5) You tried social media and it didn’t work for you. I have heard more than my share of marketers explaining, “It detracted from our messaging” or “It’s not a good fit for us.” 9 out of 9 times, what they’re really saying is they didn’t like it or understand it, they didn’t integrate it into an overall marketing campaign and they got tired or bored of it after a few half-hearted attempts. My favorite is when I later find out that the boss’ 16-year-old niece put them on Facebook. I’ll be the first to admit that for many companies, a Facebook Fanpage makes zero sense–so don’t waste your time. But you are missing valuable customer insight if you are not monitoring these powerful online conversations. Effective use of social media, like traditional media campaigns, requires an intelligent strategy tied to real world objectives, executed consistently over a long period of time.

If these all made perfect sense to you, congratulations, you are among those who “Get it” in the new media environment. If any of these sound like you or your company, I would encourage you to re-evaluate what you are doing or who you’ve put in charge of it. Like so much in life, there is more to success than just “being there.”

Shawn Butler is a campaign strategist at Relevant Social Media based in Atlanta. You can contact him at

Social Media Marketing Demotivational PosterAlso: Interesting related reading from Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter Group
A Chronology of Brands that Got Punk’d by Social Media

Monday, January 4, 2010

Economic Support for Why You Should Own A Brothel

The full title is very long, but funny in a “pick it up off the shelf and show your friend to get a laugh” marketable way. SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.


Levitt, the economist and presumably “the source” for the material again pairs up with Dubner, the storyteller, to rekindle the magic they made together four years before with Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. I loved Freakonomics. It was, in so many ways, the right book at the right time. Like lightning striking, many factors came together to create the perfect conditions for a dramatic effect. Freakonomics published on the heels of Gladwell’s counter-intuitive bestseller, Blink, into a general resurgence of interest in pop psychology and pseudo-educational non-fiction.

Levitt and Dubner grabbed some literary headlines with their sensational, statistically-based assertions, including the deliberate counter-argument to Gladwell’s explanation of decreased crime covered in The Tipping Point. They had a lot of fun, fresh and surprising discoveries that were shared in a punchy and “radio-friendly” way that is a tribute to Dubner’s writing ability—he was able to convert Umberto Eco into Dan Brown. The masses could enjoy Freakonomics.

But like the old adage about lightning striking, Superfreakonomics is a miss. UNLESS you are looking for financial data to support your transition from your current career into the thriving industry of High-Paid Escort Service Providers. In which case, the first 55 pages are a “must read.” In these pages, a world-renowned economist will explain to you that prostitution is not about buying sex, but really about limited suppliers seeking to satisfy a decreasing demand for a price inelastic service. It is virtually a cut-and-paste business proposal for you to take your Brothel plan to the investors for your A round.

Another great contribution of the book is the mathematical comparison of the effectiveness of a pimp to that of a real estate agent in marketing the availability of a particular product or service, yielding the equation: Pimpact > Rimpact

Again, if you have the time and interest to learn more about effectively selling yourself on the street at an hourly rate, this book is for you. If this does not currently align with your career goals, borrow it and read chapter 5 about global cooling, as this will be the water-cooler topic sometime in the near future where you can impress your friends.

My rating for the book is 20,000 otherwise stable housewives turned drug addicted prostitutes because of inalterable economic incentives out of a possible 50,000 otherwise stable housewives turned drug addicted prostitutes because of inalterable economic incentives.

And my summary statement is: “Levitt and Dubner’s Superfreakonomics: Rather than a Sequel to the Original and Uncanny Economic Stories We Presented in Freakonomics, We’ve Created a Dry Scientific Journal of What Other Economists are Studying and Passing Off as Pop Psychology. With a Bonus Guide on How to Start Your Own Business as a High Paid Escort Including Suggested Services and Hourly Rates.”

Also, in my extensive research for this blog (i.e.- "reading wikipedia"), I learned they are making a film adaptation of the first book. This will be bad. I look forward to writing another Inexpert Review in the future, apparently sometime around August 2010.

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