September 27, 2011
In the last week, we've seen major changes from Google+ and Facebook. You can now add Delicious to that mix.
You'll recall that last December, Yahoo! decided to sell Delicious, and then in April, Delicious announced it had been acquired by AVOS.
And for the following five months, everything seemed to be moving ahead steadily, with no visible change in the interface or service of Delicious.
Until today, that is.
If you head over to Delicious.com, you'll find that rather than being greeted by a wall of links, tags and descriptions, you'll be met with a much more visual interface - completely driven by images, as a matter of fact. It's very reminiscent of Flipboard or other similar iPad apps that rely on a thumbnail and a headline to encourage further exploration.
The images are taken from a new feature on the site called Stacks. Everyone can group their tagged items together in a broader category called "Stacks." This is akin to what used to be called "bundles" on Delicious. Now, you can share a set of links in a visual way to tell a story, provide context or help walk colleagues or customers through concepts in a step-by-step way. This video from their help page helps to explain it:
When you make your way through the Stacks, you'll find that you can view the images in a way that makes sense to you, as there are four different views: media, grid, list and full. Each is shown here:
Since there's so much content on the web (and so little time!), we're really past the Age of Information and fully into the Age of Discovery. Not discovery in terms of being the first to unearth a new idea, concept or artifact, but rather the realization of common knowledge, interests and expertise to bring us closer together.
This is the powerful notion that's being Spotify, the music-sharing service that's so popular thanks to Facebook's recent changes. On Delicious, the ability to search by category and interest (rather than being bombarded by random sharing of music that may or may not interest you) means that you're more likely to find what you're looking for or at least that you'll be able to narrow a search without too much trouble.
The changes are likely to seem a little jarring to long-time users of the service, but for tablet owners, this kind of visual presentation of information that makes sense. Since users can toggle back and forth between views, it's even more appealing; in these times, we never know what our users are going to prefer, and we can't simply rely on the one size fits all approach any more.
What do you think of the changes at Delicious? Are there any creative uses of the new Stacks feature that you can think of?
At the f8 developer conference today, Facebook unveiled some major platform changes that will profoundly affect how we use and interact with the site. In his keynote, Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook's job is to "make it the best way to express who you are." And with a company whose vision is to make the world more open and connected, it's absolutely essential to make it feel like a place you prefer to spend time.
In doing so, Facebook has introduced the Timeline - something of an online scrapbook - that better categorizes and highlights your actions, rather than the current Wall of everything. The new system will summarize your events and actions over time, so that only the significant things remain. New Reports apps will group things together in a sensible way and the entire experience will be more visual.
There are three major concepts that make up the new Timeline: all of your stories, all of your apps and a new way to express who you are. Here's the video that Facebook released to help you see how Timeline will transform the thing that you share:
While the more significant things will be grouped into these apps, your less interesting updates and actions - Zuckerberg called them "lightweight actions" - will be visible through the Ticker on the sidebar. But what's even more interesting (to me, at least) is that there will be a social aspect to the apps: if you visit a friend's Timeline and see an app that interests you, you'll be able to instantly put it on your own.
There's a New App in Town
The significant advance on the app front is that the Open Graph will allow for "a new class of apps," according to Facebook. These apps will all have three things in common:
Frictionless experiences: no longer will an app interrupt your activity to ask you if you'd like to share it. If you authorize an app, your actions will automatically be posted. For example, if you authorize Netflix or Spotify, the movies you watch or songs you listen to will be automatically posted.
Realtime serendipity: the good news is that we're already doing these things; the Open Graph is simply going to allow people to see more of what we do and allow people to connect on common interests.
Finding patterns: over time, the graph will recognize the things you do and begin grouping them together, making the Timeline a much more organized structure.
As you can imagine the "frictionless experiences" will range in their nature. Currently, you can only "like" something on Facebook. But the new Open Graph apps will essentially function like verbs. Anything you can do can become an app. For example, your timeline will show that you "Read" a book, "Watched" a movie, "Listened" to a song, "Ate" at a restaurant, etc. The possibilities are endless. As Robert Scoble said to some venture capitalists last week, "you are now funding verb companies."
The New Timeline
So, let's take a look at how the Timeline works and what comprises it. First, if you haven't already, please take a look at the Introducing Timeline page on Facebook. It beings with your Cover - a large image that acts as something of a digital welcome mat for your visitors. It's meant to be the first impression that you make. Next up is Stories - the photos, posts and events that are important in your life. You can control which are shown and highlighted by starring or hiding content. And finally, Apps tell the world about the things that you regularly do - those verbs that I mentioned above.
There are already a number of pundits who are analyzing, summarizing and hypothesizing about the changes. My role here isn't to do any of that, but rather to share with you what the changes are and why you need to be aware of them. Here are some good backgrounders to look at for more detail:
Based on what I've observed so far, here's a major concern I have for any Facebook Pages (i.e., businesses or brands): the casual behavior of fans around your Page and your content (liking something or commenting on something) will now become relegated to the sidebar Ticker. For the average user (who has between 130-170 friends), it may not be a big deal; but for anyone over that number, you'll see a constantly updating stream of actions that are less meaningful now because of the lack of context of each. And there have already been lots of conversations about how to kill the Ticker.
At this time, it seems that Facebook is focusing more on relationships between individuals (rightfully so, as that's the main reason the platform exists). But even as AllFacebook.com wondered "Does Facebook's News Feed Punish Advertisers (Yet)?" you have to wonder how Pages will fare. So much of the activity there fed into individuals' news feeds; now that will be relegated to the Ticker. It sounds like it's a win for Facebook in terms of getting brands to step up to the table with some advertising budgets.
In my opinion, the more forward-thinking brands must do one or more of these three things:
Advertise. Begin thinking about Facebook's offerings and determine how you want to fit into the ecosystem.
Create engaging content. There's no question that if you create good content - both on and off of Facebook (let's not forget that Facebook should be only part of your overall social media strategy) - people will naturally want to share it, which means it will end up in the newsfeed eventually.
yourself. Along with that content, you need to think like an action verb. What is it your brand does? Make a verb out of that and hook it up to the Open Graph so people can announce on Facebook that they're engaged in activity with your brand outside of Facebook.
That's a lot of information in one post (and let's not forget the Google+ update two days ago). The new interface is probably overwhelming for the average user. In fact, one of my friends saw the video above and said, "OMG I am going to have to take a 300 level course in Facebook..."
What do you think of the new changes afoot at Facebook? Likely to keep you more engaged, or something a little to extreme for you? How do you think businesses will fare in all of this?
September 21, 2011
In case you're coming out from the rock you've been living under for the summer, Google+ arrived on our digital doorsteps in early July - but only for limited field testing. Yesterday, it was announced that Google+ had finally been released as a public beta, meaning that you no longer require an invitation to join the network. The announcement was certainly strategically timed, with Facebook's f8 developers conference scheduled for Thursday - so strategic that Facebook itself made a fewannouncements early.
Before I get into some of the specifics about the new platform, I'd like to share with you why I think it's different from Facebook and why I think it makes sense to pay attention to Google+ rather than dismissing it out of hand as others have done (even prior to the public release, may I remind you).
Not Just a Social Network but Glue
When Facebook was created, it began as a private network only available to individuals with .edu email addresses. As it slowly and deliberately expanded, it kept growing from the inside out. It was truly a big deal when Facebook Connect was introduced, as it became the most significant way that Facebook was making an attempt to integrate with the rest of the Web. And Facebook's own mission statement, "Giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected," is consistent with this inside-out approach to growing its platform.
Google, on the other hand, has gone about things in a different way. There are dozens of Google or Google-owned products and services that span across the web. And while Google+ has begun as a social platform that acts a bit like Twitter and a bit like Facebook, it has the ultimate potential: to be able to bring these disparate parts together in a much more integrated fashion.
Some of the Google products that you may know and use include:
Not to mention everything related to search - News, Blog, Book, Realtime, Images, Videos, Patent, Product, Finance and more...
When you think about the power of all of those being woven into a single social platform, the possibilities are endless. The analytics alone would be enough to catch my attention. Although, as a regular user of a number of those services above - including Blogger, Gmail, Reader, Docs and more - I will admit that I'm predisposed to liking it.
For a really nice visual exploration of what G+ is - as well as a creative use of the platform for storytelling, take a look at this photo set from Vincent Wong:
An early watcher developed a blog called PlusHeadlines.com and developed a point of view titled "How I See Google+ as Unique" which is worth looking at as well.
What has been fascinating to me is how the Google+ team has fanned out across the platform not only to observe how people are using the site, but to interact and engage with them. The Hangout group video chat feature has been particularly helpful as they've had some interactions with me and my team, for example. And in doing so, Google+ is changing right before our very eyes, making near-realtime tweaks based on customer feedback. The product has been live for 90 days and they've made 91 documented changes.
Hangouts On Air - group video chat had been limited to 9 people; now you can broadcast your conferences so others can watch and follow along.
Extras for Hangouts:
The ability to sketch/doodle
Named Hangouts for public events
Availability of the Hangouts API
The last one was a particularly sensitive improvement, as Google was taken to task for being a search engine company (even though it's much more) that didn't integrate search into its platform. That has been amended.
How Does it Work?
Rather than me trying to explain what it is, I'll leave it to the Google+ team to explain it directly via video. I've created a playlist that includes a quick look at the overall system, Circles, Hangouts, Instant Uploads and Messenger:
Circles really are a nice feature of the platform. They're intuitive, you can name them whatever you want, put people in more than one, move them around easily and are visually appealing to play with. They do take a little while to get used to and can be overwhelming, but my advice is to pay attention to them and create your Circles early, to help you think about who you're listening to and posting to. It will save you a lot of trouble down the line.
When you begin posting on Google+, one of the major benefits it offers is that you can target your updates to certain Circles, individuals or the public - and your post can be of any length. I've seen examples of short, Twitter-like updates both with and without media attached (such as photos, videos or links). And I've also seen extraordinarily long updates that are more blog-like in nature. The beauty of Google+ is that the platform is completely flexible depending on what you need.
Other features that make it user friendly include the ability to block a person who may not be welcome in your Circles (you don't have to follow everyone to see their updates - they can post on your site; blocking prevents that). Also, there are a number of rather "noisy" individuals who not only post frequently, but whose posts are commented on to a high degree; if you've commented, you'll be repeatedly notified of the updates. A way to prevent that is to "Mute" the post. A rather handy trick.
Resources & Getting Started
So by now you've either left the page out of sheer boredom or you've gone off and started an account. Either way, I can't blame you. But if you'd like some help as to how to go about getting things set up and looking for some pointers, you've come to the right place. I've developed a list of resources to at least get you grounded in what's in store for you and some best practices.
I highly recommend using a Chrome browser if you plan on using Google+, primarily because of the extensionsyou can add onto your browser for additional functionality, such as toolbar notifications, collapsible posts, integration with Facebook and Twitter, and more.
For your convenience, I have compiled all of these resources, as well as a number of others with a Google+ tag on my Delicious page. This will continue to update as I find relevant information.
Sounds Great! I Need One for my Business
Not so fast! At this time, Google+ is only open to individuals. For just about every business and website that joined when it first went live, Google asked the owners of those accounts to revert to using their names rather than their businesses. The sole exception was Ford Motor Company (ahem). We have a strong working relationship with Google and together we determined that Ford could act as something of a test account to help discern what features would be helpful versus awkward for a business account.
Google+ has publicly stated that they are working on a version for businesses; the timing hasn't been announced at this point. But they have said that the reason they're waiting is because they'll be able to better understand and serve the business population with a product that is specifically built for business purposes rather than trying to force fit brands into personal profiles.
One other outcropping was a debate that raged (and perhaps is still raging) about Google's insistence that individuals use their real names as part of the service. There were many people who were upset about it, but Bradley Horowitz from the G+ team outlined a number of consideration points in a post on his account.
Update (February 10, 2012:
This is a presentation I gave earlier this week to talk about the importance of Google+ to marketers. Please have a look.
So there you have it. This is a post that I had been meaning to write - at least the introduction of Google+ and its implications - for the last two months. Now that it's public, we'll have a lot more to discuss and to watch, I'm sure.
September 19, 2011
"If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings and speak my words."
I've previouslycited this quote by Cicero as one that demonstrates the timelessness and universality of human nature. First uttered some 2,000 years ago, it is a quote that today is even more important for marketers and communicators to keep in mind as we think about what we're trying to accomplish.
And so today, as it is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, seems to be an appropriate time to reflect on the need of thinking, feeling, and yes, talking like those you're trying to influence.
Founded in 1995, the holiday was the brainchild of John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy), two friends who were playing racquetball one day, when for reasons that aren't clear to either of them, they started insulting each other in pirate jargon. The website blossomed, followed by a more recent foray into Facebook, and here we are today.
These are but a few examples of companies that have understood the importance of memes and adapted their own communications or even products to reflect those sensibilities. By thinking and speaking like our intended audience, we can connect with them on a deeper level.
Oh, and if you have the courage to do so, you can always translate this post into Pirate. Here be t' link.
Are there any other standout examples from Talk Like a Pirate Day that you can cite?
Editor's note: the following is a guest post by Herman Chan.
Social media is where people immediately go to for recommendations for anything and everything, from eateries to vacation spots to even real estate. As a service-oriented business predicated on spheres of influences, social media is more relevant than ever for this industry. Real estate is all about referrals and who you know...which, if you think about it, is what social media is all about.
Information overload is what most people feel when researching real estate. It's overwhelming the amount of data available on the internet. Some of it is junk, some of it is advertising, and a lot of it is just wrong. People are starved to get quality reliable information they can trust. So consumers gravitate to sites and communities that shared their interests and points of views. Sites like Yelp, Facebook, Branch Out, Twitter exploded because they satisfied this need. Knowing what their peers think and find interesting helps shape a consumer's opinion. People are not looking for just info anymore, they are looking for recommendations. It's the power of feedback. The testament of a testimonial. It helps them edit down their choices.
Real estate used to be a private transaction between a Realtor and client. However, it is increasingly now a shared social experience for a community. Open house visitors upload photos of what they saw, buyers blog about their inspection, sellers search Twitter streams for mentions of their house, agents get rated online. Today's buyers and sellers rely heavily on social media. Yet this is lost on many of my colleagues who cling to an era when agents were the gatekeepers of info. Tsk tsk.
So, next time you interview a real estate agent, ask them:
1. What are your strategies for marketing my property?
If they just mention fliers, open houses and website, tell them this ain’t the 1990’s! If they cite social media as part of their plan, ensure they really possess the social media savoir faire to meet your needs. (ie, Posting once a month on their facebook business page doesn't cut it. They obviously have a facebook page for the sake of having a facebook page, which is useless to you as a client).
2. How big is your social following?
If an agent has 10,000 twitter followers who hang on to their every word about real estate, that is 20,000 eyeballs on your listing. That’s more exposure than any flyer or open house will get you. One tweet to plug your home and it is on the radar of thousands of people.
3. Who follows you and how engaged are they?
Perhaps your agent's online tribe isn't the largest, but it may be an active targeted demographic. It’s a good sign when local businesses, past clients and even other real estate professionals are fans of a Realtor. (You can tell a lot about how engaged an agent is by reading their online chatter with other followers.) These people who have “liked” the agent’s page actively chose to read what that agent posts. They clearly expressed an interest in your agents business and want to keep tabs on their local market. With any luck, they will share/viralize your property to their sphere as well!
Bottom line: The traditionally stodgy real estate industry is finally catching on that social media can't be ignored. An agent with strong social media savvy can command a lot of attention towards your house for sale. The more people who are aware of your listing, the more likely someone will write an offer. In this market, a seller can not afford to lose out on any marketing edge, especially when Gen X/Y and Millenials are driving the market now. And guess what, they live on social media. Select your agent representation accordingly.
Real Estate Expert Herman Chan is a videoblogger, speaker, and writer whose social media savvy has made him an authority on branding and cementing one’s online presence. Check him out on www.habitatforhermanity.com or follow him on Twitter at @hermanity.
How many sensible and well-reasoned comment threads have you seen on YouTube?
Go ahead and think about it. I'll wait.
Have your answer? Me too. The number you're looking for is ZERO. All too often the threads devolve into inane commentary, not to mention hateful or offensive language. There's a definite lack of civility going on there.
I wonder how many individuals, brands or companies are spending efforts on keeping up with YouTube comments, and if they do, how worthwhile those conversations are? To me, the currency and dialog of YouTube has always been other videos made in response to an original video.
I could be wrong, though. What has your experience told you?
At Ford, Scott heads up the social media function and holds the title Global Digital &
Multimedia Communications Manager. He is a strategic advisor on all social media activities across the company, from blogger
relations to marketing support, customer service to internal communications and more, as social media is being integrated into many
facets of Ford business.
Prior to joining Ford, Scott served as Consigliere for crayon
and spent a number of years with PJA Advertising + Marketing, a
boutique BtoB agency specializing in health sciences & high tech.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Scott is an active blogger and podcaster. He writes about the intersection of
advertising, marketing and PR at ScottMonty.com and
also writes The Baker Street Blog and cohosts I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, two literary undertakings. Scott
has been featured in hundreds of news and business publications in print and on the web, in nearly dozens of books, and on a variety of
mainstream media, including NBC, NPR, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. Scott is a recognized thought leader in the social media industry and
frequently speaks at industry events.
Scott received his Master's in Medical Science from Boston University's School of Medicine concurrently with his MBA from BU's
Graduate School of Management. He lives in the greater Detroit area with his wife and two young sons, golfs all too infrequently, and
has a hidden talent for voice over work.
Scott speaks on social media at events, seminars and conferences around the world. His topic generally focuses on corporate use of social media, becoming an online spokesperson, and specifically on the progress that Ford has made in the recent past. If you're interested in booking Scott to speak at your event, please click here to submit a speaking request for Ford-related purposes or email me at speaking [AT] this site's URL (if you know what I mean) to send a general email request.. Scott's bio and headshot can be found in the "About Scott" tab above.
I'm Scott. I'm the global head of social media for Ford Motor Company. This is my personal blog, where I share my perspectives on business, technology, communications, marketing and the vast changes in the industry that impact leadership. This blog contains my personal views. My bio is available here and my headshots can be found here.