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Which way are you heading? To the top or the bottom??

Which way are you heading? To the top or the bottom??

I was watching George Strombolopolous a few nights ago and Seth Godin was a guest. Seth had some great opinions and projections, and he said it best with “either you are in a race to the bottom, or a race to the top.”

Business these days is unwielding, cut-throat, and yet ripe for the picking. It seems that people’s instinct is to cut their own profits in order to be the lowest price point to acquire new business. The problem with this slippery slope is that there is always someone out there that can do it for less. Then where does that leave you?

The middle-road is seeing the largest attack. Mediocrity is no longer good enough. This is the market that is having massive layoffs and closures due to having both ends of their carrot being nibbled on by the bottom/top race.

So what is left? Head for the top. Positioning yourself as a high-value, high-quality business will have people seeking your services, and be willing to pay for it. Be diligent in the quality of your work and do not second-guess your positioning.

Being ahead of the curve is an asset, but it is not necessary to be cutting-edge to be successful. All it takes is finding a untapped niche and creating it as your own. Research your industry, your location, your competitors’ offerings. Pay attention to what is being offered, and especially note what is not. Mining the findings will unearth some hidden gems.

Is Google+ third time a charm?

Is Google+ third time a charm?

Google is taking on Facebook once again.

After failed attempts to break into the social networking juggernaut with Google Buzz and Google Wave (2009 & 2010 respectively), Google+ is focusing in on social relationships again with “real-life” sharing services. It looks like they take the Facebook Groups feature and kick it up a notch with Circles, Huddle and Hangout, allowing you to choose what you wish to share with whom.

The interface and maintenance looks pretty sharp from the video snippets. With all these new features, simplicity is key. People have spent a long time setting up the FB pages –  (uploading massive amounts of photos, adding/purging friends and playing plug-in games) – will users concede all those man hours to set up another network identity?

Is it just a “me too” contribution? Or will some of the new features be enough to create converters from Facebook? They will certainly be a bandwagon effect in the initial product push, but will users stay or wander back to Facebook. Perhaps it’s best to let Google enjoy the glow of the spotlight and see what the numbers say next year.

Here is a link to the Google Blog with videos of the new features and more concise descriptions of the latest features.

Will you be signing up?

Fight fire with fire

Fight fire with fire

Recently a U.S. environmental group has created quite the stir by attacking Alberta’s oilsands and the way the do business. Without getting into the ethics of fossil fuels and energy consumption, I would like to discuss the way the attack and rebuttal have been handled.

Corporate Ethics International, came out with a video, billboards and other online components outlining statistics of what is going on in Alberta’s oil fields. Titled Rethink Alberta. Website here.

On July 16, 2010 it was found that their information was inaccurate and inflated. Oops. Lesson #1: If you are going to aggressively try to destroy somebody, ensure you have the facts correct. By not doing so, your credibility begins to be questioned.

In today’s society it seems that the first person out of the gate’s information is taken as fact. So Corporate Ethics has gained a lot of momentum, and the ball is growing larger and faster as the days go by. The YouTube video is picking up speed and the media is picking it up everywhere.

The Alberta government has been too slow to respond. Nowadays, reaction speed is crucial. Alberta needs to tell their side of the story, through the same outlets (Social Media, print, TV) to the masses. Now. Press conferences a few days after no longer cuts it. Don’t become defensive and grumble about it. That just admits guilt. If Corporate Ethics stats are correct, at least acknowledge them and use it as a catalyst to improve the business. There are two sides to every story. If all the information is on the table, then at least the population can make their own conclusions.

Two great success stories are Domino’s Pizza and Maple Leaf foods. Both companies had massive PR issues. Maple Leaf foods with tainted meat, and Domino’s with a disgusting employee on YouTube. Both companies addressed the problems early and made pledges to improve their practices and business. Today their  consumer perception is as high as ever.

Social Media Strangers

There have been a few revelations on the internet regarding social connections. Facebook is still a roaring success of keeping in touch with user-selected friends and family, Twitter allows quick, rapid conversations within  140 characters. Two of the latest sites that are creating some buzz are ChatRoulette and Mystery Seeker. Both sites feed off randomness but in different extremes.

ChatRoulette

One of the latest video fads, large enough to be featured in Fast Company (here), pairs you up with random strangers via video or  text-only conversations. What originated from the mind of a 17-year old Russian kid, has quickly turned to a exhibitionists dream. Picture having a conversation about comic books with a fat guy wearing a bear costume, or a discussion of Latin in the 21st century with a dominatrix and her hand puppet… The opportunities are endless. It’s kind of cool to interact with others you wouldn’t normally think to, but as with most web platforms, it hasn’t taken long for there to be large amounts of sexual content. BEWARE!

Mystery Seeker (formerly Mystery Google)

The foundation of this site is based around the search engine Google, with the spin of receiving search results from the previous user. Naturally, I had to try it out. I looked up “Cat food” and received actual Google Search results for “Strep Throat”. Meh, the novelty has now worn off. It’s a kitchy, gimmick site that isn’t going to get any traction. So why is it still a hot topic online? Is it an opportunity to expand knowledge on topic you haven’t thought of? Or is it just an opportunity for voyeurism? I bet you will try this one out at least once.

Are these “random” sites the next progression of social interaction? Or is it just a quick zig when others zag experiment? What are your thoughts??

Facebook privacy issues are out in the open.

Once again Facebook, and primarily it’s privacy issues has reared its ugly head. If you are 1 of the 350 million users, you will have noticed that recent upgrade went live Dec. 9. Facebook changed its openness options on what updates, status changes, photos etc. can be viewed by who. Simply put, it’s about letting you set your security settings of who sees what.

This is not the first time Facebook has changed its policy. Read a previous post of the last guffaw on the issue.

Critic backlash has been swift. In a statement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said: “These new ‘privacy’ changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. ” It added: “Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data.”

Many users have quickly altered their profiles of what they post, as well as reducing the amount of use to the site. How easier will these changes make hacking or spamming you be with weaker security. How many users will jump ship over this one?

Facebook defends the change citing that it is not about users disclosing even more personal information, but about making updates findable via search engines. Does that mean that if I put that I had a rough day at work I will come up in searches for depression or job postings? How valuable are my updates to people anyways?

Facebook has quickly moved into a social site that is selectively social and private. People only invite friends they want to be in contact with. Chances are, if you’re not on my friend list by now, my being searchable via Google isn’t gonna get you there either.

Getting my groove on with Twitter

SaturdayNightFever_300x298I will be the first to say that I am new to the Social Media scene. I am not 24/7 tweeter, nor do I blog scribe. But I do like to think that I have a groove going. I know the lingo, I follow the golden rules to Twitter, and I engage with the big boys (Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, Linkedin).

But there is something that still stumps me. We have been having increasing success with traffic to our company blog, in thanks to some great writers. One would think that the increase in blog traffic would subsequently increase Twitter followers. So why is this not the case? Sure, some readers are becoming followers, but not at the success rate that the blog is getting. What is the differentiator that causes this riff? If readers are enjoying blogs, wouldn’t they be interested to hear what the writer has to say on a daily basis? Is there a formula to success with this?

Any insights would be most helpful. Thanks in advance. @redfelt13

Social Media is not the new Holy Grail

vegemite-isnack092909Some things should never be changed. Kraft Foods has made some changes to the Australian icon, Vegemite. Sacrilegious! Besides an attempt to try to modernize something that I recognize to be as Aussie as kangaroos and boomerangs, Kraft opened up the naming of the new Vegemite to consumers via social media.

Social Media has pounced on the world with gusto and fervor, creating successful collective brainstorming products. But not all exercises in Social Media are successes. This is one of those instances. With more than 48,000 entries, you would think that SOMEBODY could create a name better than iSnack 2.0.

Apparently not. What does it mean? Keep in mind that this is a Kraft product. Not the latest product in the Apple i-product line. Nor is it some sort of software upgrade. And if you are creating a new name for a product, wouldn’t that not make it version 1.0? Vegemite 2.0 makes more sense.

There is something to be said to having a professional brand-builder create your product (like us.) Social collaboration is a great thing, but you have to be able to say thanks for the help, but there is nothing we like here, and call the pros.

The full article can be found here at AdAge.

Luckily there has been a Hitler rant video created for this. Check it out too.

Facebook is being sneaky again. Tsk. Tsk.

42-16217443Working in an agency I am a bit on the fence about the latest backlash that Facebook has been getting. I had been given the heads-up that Facebook has now put together a new “Facebook Ads” feature. The site states:

“Facebook occasionally pairs advertisements with relevant social actions from a user’s friends to create Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads make advertisements more interesting and more tailored to you and your friends. These respect all privacy rules.”

The issue I am struggling with is: It’s great to be able to tailor advertising as specific as possible, while on the flip side, how much collection of personal information is too much? Is it made even more suspicious because the opt out option nicely tucked away? It’s under: Settings > Privacy Settings > Facebook Ads > Appearance-None. Definitely not a section I visit regularly.

So what is your take? Will you allow the ads or opt out?

Advertising is wicked sick.

3265635573_85bbc9ccd1Working in an ad agency, I am a firm believer that advertising works. I found this great video that is a reinforcement of the claim. It goes to show that great copywriting is worth its weight in gold.

Two Aussies flip a BMX bike on eBay for a 500% profit. Who wouldn’t want to be the proud owner of the “Wicked Sick” bike? Take a look at the video. It is a bit long, but the description they post is so funny. Besides having success on eBay, they also got a bit of buzz on some other social media sites. Not bad for an experiment.

PS. I was never good at bunny-hops.

Where do you fit in?

ManThinkingWhat does your social network usage say about you? I found a great article that breaks down consumer’ interests and habits based on whether they use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or Linkedin. After conducting surveys on 5,000 individuals, Anderson Analytics has collected some interesting numbers and facts that can help businesses target potential consumers.

Here is an abbreviation of an already condensed version of the findings. I have taken out the obvious points and kept the interesting goodies:

Facebookers

  • There are 77 million Facebook users, according to the study, and Facebook users were almost completely average in their level of interest in most areas.
  • They are more likely to be married (40%), white (80%) and retired (6%) than users of the other social networks.
  • Facebook users skew a bit older and are more likely to be late adopters of social media.
  • Extremely loyal to the site — 75% claim Facebook is their favorite site, and another 59% say they have increased their use of the site in the past six months.

Twitterers

  • They especially like pop culture, with music, movies, TV and reading, ranking higher than average.
  • They’re more likely to buy books, movies, shoes and cosmetics online than the other groups.
  • They are more likely than others to use the service to promote their blogs or businesses.
  • Some 31% buy coffee online, far above the average 21% of other social networkers.
  • 43% said they could live without Twitter.

MySpacers

  • They are the young, the fun and the fleeing.
  • While MySpace users skew younger, they also said they’d used the site much less in the past six months.
  • They’re more likely to have joined MySpace for fun and more likely to be interested in entertaining friends, humor and comedy, and video games.
  • They’re less into exercise than any other social group but seek out parenting information more than any other.
  • They are also more likely to be single (60%) and students (23%).

LinkedIn users

  • LinkedIn has the only user group with more males than females (57% to 43%).
  • They like all kinds of news, employment information, sports and politics.
  • They also more likely to be into the gym, spas, yoga, golf and tennis.
  • Excluding video-game systems, they own more electronic gadgets than the other social networkers, including digital cameras, high-definition TVs, DVRs and Blu-ray players.
  • How do they unwind? Here were two surprises among the things they’re more interested in than the others: gambling and soap operas. Some 12% seek gambling information online (vs. an average of 7%), while 10% go online for soap-opera content (vs. an average of 5%).

Check out the full article from AdAge here. There is some great intel here.