Monday, December 24, 2007

Announcement -- Change in 2008

Biz Blog Review will be taken over by a USC Business Communication Class in January 2008.

Compliments of the Season!

Biz Blog Review wishes all Compliments of the Season!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

IBM & PwC for Social Media CR?

In past posts, I've discussed social media in light of standards and corporate responsibility. I received views from various parties, such as USC's Center for Telecom Management, PwC, and others.

Then I posted a link to IBM's reports on "Navigating the Media Divide."

As business and "social media" and forms of marketing evolve...we do see the need for standards and business models that incorporate standards. But how do you approach this from an international standpoint?

For example, iMediaConnection UK published the article, "Crossing the pond with your search engine marketing strategy", where Warren Cowan -- CEO of Greenlight -- refers to the need for cultural knowledge and domain knowledge to avoid not only case study-type marketing disasters but also for translating search campaigns to multi-country campaigns. But what does this mean in terms of standards and corporate responsibility?

Translation of words in meaning may have ethical but not legal liability, or vice versa or both. In using and interpreting "search data", what's the implication? Cowan refers to differences in quality and 'competitiveness of the term' and the impact on pay-per-click. What are the implications beyond pay-per-click ie. the use of this data? Cowan also describes the difference in rankings of international search engines and the need for strong multilingual and culturally fluent talent for site creation in non-domestic English-speaking regions.

The above example is from a marketer's perspective, but what about the impact on the user ie. the companies that go on to use the data obtained from search to develop user experiences or engage with users...?

Here's another example: a software company may produce a package for virtual meetings. Within this software is the capability for the "presenter" to hand over "remote access" to any member within the audience. Depending on the "presenter's" training/view of international relations...they may opt to give remote access to someone in say Burma. Now this Burmese audience member takes control over the presenter's computer to illustrate something within the presentation....However, the potential is there for the Burmese participant to have access to Internet websites that they otherwise wouldn't be allowed to or would be banned from usually in Burma. Potentially, the "presenter" could place the company, and even the country, and not to mention the Burmese, in a position of liability...why? Because a software was produced for sale with a remote function that technically "gets around" certain restrictive international "laws". And this software may have been developed based on "search data".

On another scale, we have privacy issues, such as a Facebook feature that shares what you automatically buy online without requesting consent to do so.

Marketers are developing strategies to "Get personal with your landing pages" -- to reach out to users on a more social and personal level. Although marketers should work to improve strategies, and all of us to improves products and services, we need to do so in a responsible manner.

PwC have produced two reports with US and International Perspective on the Rise of Lifestyle Media.

If standards are to be set for the multi-level use of social media,
1. Who should take the lead and who should be involved in developing these standards?
2. What should the business model look like that incorporates these standards?
3. How should standards be considered internationally?

The Facebook Privacy Issue...

Group Info

Petition: Facebook, stop invading my privacy!
. . . . . . . . . .
(CNN did a story on this group! See below.)

Matt in New York already knows what his girlfriend got him for Christmas...

Why? Because a new Facebook feature automatically shares books, movies, or gifts you buy online with everyone you know on Facebook. Without your consent, it pops up in your News Feed--a huge invasion of privacy. (See demo below.)


Petition: "Facebook must respect my privacy. They should not tell my friends what I buy on other sites—or let companies use my name to endorse their products—without my explicit permission."

Sign here:

Then, tell your friends about this group. A lot of us love Facebook—but they need to take privacy seriously.

Facebook encourages companies to get "word-of-mouth promotion for your business" to "millions" by using the new Beacon feature that makes this happen. But the rights of Facebook users get left behind.

Facebook says its users can "opt out" of having their private purchases reported to all their friends. But that option is easily missed. And even if you do "opt out" for purchases on one site, it doesn't apply to purchases on another site—you have to keep opting out over and over again. The obvious solution is to switch to an "opt in" policy, like most other applications on Facebook.

In 2006, when Facebook users protested policies that violated privacy, Facebook's founder admitted, "We really messed this one up...we didn't build in the proper privacy controls right away." The problem got fixed. (Link below.)

SEND A SIGNAL TO FACEBOOK TODAY BY SIGNING THE PETITION! Then tell your friends about this group. The petition is here:

Update re: bizblogreview website

I decided to remove the website of bizblogreview since it's the blog that is mainly in use.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Social Networks and Blogs

Today I've looked at the various social networks that I signed up for, such as Facebook, MySpace, Mixx, LinkedIn, Winksite, Twitter, and docstoc, and the differences in these networks with regard to "engagement of users."

MySpace have "Tom" that is an automatic "friend" once you sign up, but that you can delete if you so wish. If you choose to keep "Tom", you will receive an email once in a while, but it's not as if you're bombarded with messages. If I want to "Cancel Account", I can do so in Account Settings.

Facebook have all their applications, third party applications, users, friends, groups, networks, but no "Facebook" intervention or active "engagement" via email or bulletins. In Account, I have the option to "Deactivate" my account.

Mixx have a statement on the "Your Mixx" that says: "Sorry, there's no recent activity from ............... You should bug them about this!" The goal is then for users to engage other users. You can also vote for and against users. Mixx have their blog and feedback but no option to cancel, delete, or deactivate an account.

LinkedIn show a "Profile Completeness" that encourages users to input more details, similar to a resume, about themselves. There's the "Get Recommended" option where users can give recommendations for each other, but the LinkedIn team don't actively coax users to participate. In searching, I didn't see an option to delete, cancel, or deactivate the LinkedIn Account.

Winksite's Founder is quite active in contacting users with assistance when signing up. What appears to be a random user may make contact (as in my case) to nudge you to make use of mobile web -- "If you're not going mobile, you're standing still." Under the section My Account, I have the option to "Delete Account."

Twitter have those involved in social media that start "following" and before you know it you've got a tail of "Followers". If you're not "Twittering", what use is this? Likewise, to interact, you should "Follow" others on the site. I am highly interested in Twitter, but find keeping up time-wise not fair to other users, so I deleted my account.

Docstoc have a team that engage users via email about the documents they may need. Jason Nazar, the Founder, is also actively available for questions. They then encourage users to upload documents too. Docstoc have recently added the ability to add your Facebook and LinkedIn Profiles to your Profile page. I didn't see an option in Settings or Profile to be able to delete, cancel, or deactivate the Account.

(If I've left anything out here, please let me know)

So, what do think works best?
  • The Facebook approach where users aren't contacted by the Facebook team but engage through affiliations and interests?
  • The MySpace approach that uses Tom as a kickstart and then users go from there creating their Space according to purpose and interest?
  • The Mixx approach of getting users to vote/rate each other in effect through content with a blog and feedback for engagement?
  • The LinkedIn approach of profile detail, connections, and recommendations without direct engagement?
  • The Winksite personal touch?
  • The Twitter approach through social media "engagers" and Followers?
  • The docstoc approach through personal/professional contact and relevant content?
It depends on the user doesn't it? Some users will be put off by certain approaches depending on their characters and style. Others may be more flexible to a wide range of approaches. Some may not have the time to be "personally engaged" and prefer a more indirect relationship with the social network team.


With the opening up of Facebook and other sites where users can interact in specific discussion groups and add applications, it does raise the question on whether only a handful of mainline blogs will remain while all other discussion (ie. users that would usually blog or setup their own blogs) will continue through the social network environment like Facebook and Myspace. Some may submit their blogs (as one can now do in Facebook) but others may opt to close their blogs and just join discussion groups where the audience is.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Facebook Summing their Ads?

Last weeks we heard that Facebook is working on these three areas:

1. Social Ads (ads targeted based on member profile data and spread virally)
2. Beacon (messages in feeds), and
3. Insight (marketing data that goes deep into social demographics and pyschographics)

So this morning I thought I'd take a look at my Facebook pages to see what Ads pop up --

1. Are they targeted to my member profile?
2. Are they of more appeal to others in my network?
3. Are they relevant to my network at all?
4. In comparison, how appealing are the Ads in the groups I belong to?

To assess the Ads and my questions (for those who cannot see my entire profile), you will need to know some information:

1. I have a dog and have her in my Facebook Album, and have added the Trojan Pet application
2. I don't watch TV much but have the Movie application on my profile
3. My networks are USC and LA, but I've added some friends in the London and Manchester University network -- few UK or SA in relation to US.
4. My profile is set as "Single" and interested in "Friendship" (ie. not dating)
5. I have added the Causes (Charity) application
6. I live in the UK

Here are my findings (I may represent a sample of a population who feel this way too):



How effectively do these Ads target my profile?

Facebook, second and third (possibly more) parties share information on profiles. Users will not know what information they possess, but targeted ads are a clue. And this collection of ads shows me as a user that the information the targets are based on (if profile specific) is weak. The ads targeted at groups, such as Neuroscience Rocks or JoVE, are more appropriate to the audience - but that's a no-brainer.

Pet Owner or Trojan Pet Application

So the choice is made to target a user through the fact that they own a pet (in album) or have added the pet application. Is it sufficient to throw a puppy Eukanuba ad at them? The answer is "no". The reason is because our minds filter out irrelevant material daily. What would be more appropriate? An ad with something eye-catching related to the specific breed that that user owns.

TV Movies DVD

I've made it clear before in my "interests" on Facebook that I don't watch TV much -- so that includes "Desperate Housewives". To me, this ad is just a desperate attempt to throw something more gunky at me. Since I have the iRead and Art application, perhaps a DVD documentary on the lives of one of my authors or artists would be more appropriate.

Relationship Status

Gumtree: "Can't find a decent man?"
Facebook Flyer: "Rent a date for charity?"

Is this form of targeted advertising about dating on a profile fair game or appropriate? Do you think it appeals to the user ie. me -- you're targeting this at me I presume? This puts me off Facebook. On the otherhand, Gumtree and Charities are appealing to me for different reasons -- have you found out those reasons Facebook so that you can help "advertisers" target better and me find useful information -- I enjoy research remember?

Courses & I love Nerds

I've done a distance learning course in the UK before through ifs, so you're right there...I have an interest in distance learning. Would I do just any distance learning course? No. So how do you assess which type of distance learning course (since I've recently graduated from USC too) is worth bringing to my attention, and how do you best do this?

"I love Nerds" -- yes, I enjoy technology, so I may add this application just to see what it entails. But it depends who created the application doesn't it? Because I give them full rights then to see my profile and all those associated with my profile.

Travel, Phones, Cameras, Clothing...
If you introduced links to access or a means to make travel booking through Trainline, BA, Virgin, and the like depending on country and provider, that will be useful. Would I buy a phone or camera as a result of the Facebook ad? Not as it's currently presented to me -- nor clothing.

eFax, skinny jeans, and TV Licences...

I found this amusing in terms of profile targeting. Do many people use eFax? What are the stats compared to email in the UK vs US? I'm not in favor of fax whether e or otherwise. As for skinny jeans and diets, etc -- I'm not interested in that at all.

Why the TV Licence ad? Just because I'm UK? No licences are required for TV's in the US. I have a Licence for my UK TV, but seldom use it, so is it worth having the Licence for the TV? You can watch DVDs and Videos without needing a Licence.

Skype, Be, O2 and Apple Iphone...

Those are more applicable generally. For Skype and Iphone -- what's new? For Be and O2, what's the comparison?

To specifically answer my questions 1-4:

1. Are they targeted to my member profile? No
2. Are they of more appeal to others in my network? Maybe
3. Are they relevant to my network at all? Not really -- more UK than US
4. In comparison, how appealing are the Ads in the groups I belong to? Neuroscience Rocks and joVE have Starbucks ads, SIGN UP FOR docstoc have a XMAS Wishlist, Richard P Feynman Fan Club have Ugg Boots Sale -- more appealing. But even more appealing for the Richard P Feynman Club would be Feynman books for sale and upcoming lectures or events at Caltech.

As a user, when adding a group, I've thought how useful it would be if Facebook gave me the option to say why I'm adding the group -- and the same with leaving it. We see notices all the time of people adding and leaving groups, but never know why. From a Profile perspective, this is a useful piece of intelligence about the user. And it takes two prompt questions from Facebook -- Why are you joining? Why are you leaving?

Once Facebook make changes with Social Ads, Beacon, and Insight...we will be able to compare. Besides "adding applications", giving input on books and interests and inviting friends -- Facebook doesn't appear to ask the user to give targeted feedback in terms of their profiles that I know of. What's the challenge in engaging the user to assist second/third/more parties better?
The Farmers in Facebook will give you one perspective -- "they're not getting paid for it."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Facebook Sum of Social Ads

According to TechCrunch's Eric Schonfeld in liveblog from New York City, Facebook is announcing three things:

1. Social Ads (ads targeted based on member profile data and spread virally)

2. Beacon (messages in feeds), and

3. Insight (marketing data that goes deep into social demographics and pyschographics

which Facebook will provide to advertisers in an aggregated, anonymous way). These three things together make up Facebook Ads.

Social Actions + Content = Social Ads

The Big Juicy Twitter Guide

Caroline Middlebrook has produced "The Big Juicy Twitter Guide" on her blog that answers a number of questions, some of which include:

1. How does Twitter work as a mobile communication tool?
2. Is socializing with Twitter business or personal?
3. How can Twitter be used for marketing?
4. What are the platform-specific Twitter tools?
5. How can Twitter promotion go viral?

Now that Google have unveiled their groundbreaking mobile strategy - Android - allowing operators, handset makers and application developers to innovate together, how will Twitter evolve?

Friday, November 02, 2007

RBS Launches World's First Virtual Careers Recruitment Event in Second Life

iMedia Connection UK recently published an article by Catriona Campbell titled, "Second Life: What value can it add beyond PR and marketing?"

Catriona cites two specific examples that I've quoted below:

Example One – RBS Virtual Careers Recruitment Event

"RBS, the world's fourth largest financial services group, was also on the ad:tech panel, and Sion Mooney, channel development manager in the resourcing division of RBS Group HR attended. He talked exclusively about RBS launching the world's first Virtual Careers Event in Second Life on 16 October. Why? Because beyond the PR value, Second Life is allowing RBS' careers team to connect with people in geographic locations that they would otherwise have had to reach by more traditional and expensive means, such going on the road with a recruitment fair.

In the Second Life environment, candidates can pose questions to the virtual careers advisers, meet current RBS employees and see a mocked-up version of where they would be working, without having to leave their homes. Recruitment is incredibly expensive, and Sion revealed that just one successful hire would more than pay for the whole Second Life project.

The session demonstrated that Second Life is not the money pit that some brands have reportedly experienced, so long as a sales strategy is applied at the early conception phase. While it remains in the early adopters curve it won't work for everyone, but the platform is ripe for brands wishing to attract a youthful and experimental audience."

Example Two – STA Travel

"Craig Hepburn, Global Webmaster for STA Travel, told the audience how he had invested only tens of thousands of pounds in Second Life (a fraction of what some brands have spent), but by taking a sales-led strategic approach the investment has already paid for itself.

The student travel brand is using Second Life to build a social sales channel around a community of people who enjoy travelling and talking to each other about where they have been. The virtual environment that they've created allows users to place bookings through an avatar (they employ a real person in Second Life to take bookings and give advice) and on the Second Life STA island, which incorporates dorms for students, Lonely Planet travel guides and video footage and posters of recommended destinations.

Because STA Travel is a student brand, the Second Life virtual world works really well for them. Their customers love it, and they are already making money through a multitude of round the world bookings made in Second Life.

The audience was so impressed that a representative from a TV production company suggested that virtual worlds might translate well to an internet TV experience for a brand like STA. This is exactly the kind of question that needed to be asked, as investment in virtual worlds should be not considered as a standalone project or experiment, but rather should be consolidated with the brand's overall sales, marketing and PR objectives."