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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?

SunChips making noise for the environment.

SunChips making noise for the environment.

I heard some comforting news this week. SunChips Canada has decided to keep their eco-friendly, biodegradable bags in circulation. Even after much heated debate about the bags being too noisy which has caused the US brand to  ditch the green bags.

Instead of returning to the original, land-filling packaging, SunChips has decided stand up to the naysayers with a bit of a tongue-in-cheek retort. See video here. On their Facebook page, SunChips is offering to mail out earplugs to whomever asks. Love it. They understand what is at stake here.

What is more surprising: That consumers find noise control is more important than reducing packaging waste? Or that a company has not bent to some noisy, public resistance and done an about-face. Choosing instead to stick to their guns and their environmental initiative?

Hopefully this sassy stance gets some justified PR and gives the “Sorry But I Can’t Hear You Over This SunChips Bag” Facebook group a revelation that this is bigger than their self-indulgence.

Corporate Kindness

Corporate Kindness

Pepsi’s current initiate: Pepsi Refresh Project, is ramping up speed. The idea is visitors post suggestions for possible projects that require funding. Covering areas such as health, culture, education and the planet, they are all admirable groups. With average donations of under $25,000, and 1 million + to go around, there will be lots of winners. You can post suggestions as well as vote for top 10 favorites. http://www.refresheverything.com/

It is another successful marketing initiative to use consumer involvement to create the content. What takes it to the next level is that they are not asking for submissions for homemade TV spots (å la the Doritos Super Bowl ads) but instead using the opportunity to spread goodwill across facets completely unrelated to selling pop. Rather than hitting you over the head with a refreshing, icy glass as a sales tool, they are relating to consumers on an ethical and ideals level. Isn’t that the reason most people stick with a brand?

Sure, it is still about selling cans of sugar water, but at least they are giving something back. While a million bucks is chump change for a global giant, it is a start. They are obviously not the first to offer funding to projects, they are taking full advantage of the current SM networks. YouTube channels, Facebook, and Twitter are all being covered.

It will be interesting to watch how this continues to steamroll and how successful it truly becomes. Is it enough to switch consumers to their products? Or are people going to gladly accept a donation check and then go by a Coke??

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

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?

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.