Archive for category Marketing

Facebook Responds to My Post – Well Not Really

A few weeks back I wrote a post about how Facebook is killing itself by messing up their traditional full stream of news from friends . Yesterday, Facebook announced a beta testing program that attempts to address the muddling of the friends stream of news.  The Blog Herald has an excellent piece on this beta program.

First, Facebook is testing a program from strangers (supposedly people and not marketers – but we know that will not last) to send you messages to your personal inbox rather than your “Others” folder. This is again an example of how Facebook is muddling their promise of connecting people for private conversations. Hey, if people can pay to send me junk mail can I pay to have it blocked? Facebook could add a paid anti-spam/junk mail option with an added option to block ads and paid messages. Could be worth more than a penny or two.

The second announcement is the one that responds to my earlier post.  Facebook is going to add a filter that they hope will direct all your real friend messages into you inbox and keep them out of the “Others” folder.  If this works, which I doubt, then we could see the return of the communications tool which we fell in love.  Also, if this works, do we really need a paid option?  My guess though is that the marketers will learn to game this system as well and that I will continue to miss out on the cute cat and baby pictures of my friends.

 

 

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Where Facebook is killing itself – Filtering the News Stream

Facebook’s success came from a very simple feature – the ability to see all of the cool stuff from my friends. Through all of the changes and features this was always the value. Over the past year or two I have been distraught at how Facebook limits what I see from my friends and family. I absolutely understand the limits placed on brands. However, leave it to me to determine the best updates from my personal contacts — WITHOUT having to bother with Friend Lists or other such silliness.

Monetization
It seems clear that the reason Facebook is “helping” its users by showing what it considers to be the most relevant posts on your news stream is because Facebook wants to find ways to make money. Individuals are now encouraged to pay to have their own information guaranteed to show up in their friends’ streams. Ridiculous, this was and is the promise. Why should I pay for the fulfilling of the core reason to be on the service itself?

Brands
I expect brand to pay to appear in my stream. I have never enjoyed how a simple LIKE of a post by a brand or to their page resulted in a subscription to their feed. I think this was a mistake from the onset. There should have been a difference between saying you Liked a post or brand and the activation of a feed subscription. This is where Facebook is now headed for brands and is an excellent monetization strategy. However, it is a poor strategy to apply the same plan for personal pages.

The Review Conundrum
The biggest reasons why Facebook has not put his in place is probably because that to separate brands from people there needs to be some way to review and evaluate which category a page or profile belongs. With the hundreds of millions of accounts and even greater volume of pages this is a herculean task. But, without it, Facebook lumps everyone together under one set of assumptions and this cannot last for the long term.

Prediction
I predict that unless Facebook comes up with something to restore the core promise of connecting individuals to one another in an unfiltered manner that Facebook is going to face an ever increasingly difficult effort to maintain its casual user pool. (l I think this is one of the reasons why Twitter was able to become so popular.) The active diehards and fans are sure to remain. They will figure out the myriad of ways to find the updates from friends and have active conversations. However, the more massive group of casual users (that Facebook will need to survive) is going to become disenchanted with a service where they miss messages from their friends and family. They will say, why bother and switch to an alternate.

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White House Use of Twitter

This NY Times article is a good highlight of the White House policy changes in light of the recent BP oil rig disaster. An interesting note is the following.

The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, announced the proposed changes in the mineral agency Tuesday morning over Twitter.

Two points of interest.

  1. The White House used Twitter as the official release point. Not the press pool, not a release, nor any other channel. Twitter was the first official news channel.
  2. More importantly, the NY Times is nonchalant about the use of the Twitter channel as the release point. This is written as if this is no big deal and a common method for news distribution.

Overall this carries forth such major implications I am stunned that no one else is highlighting this point. Imagine, if the media did not monitor the WH Twitter feed then they would hear about the announcement second hand. Basically, the be a Washington insider this says you must be a Twitter user. It also says that the mainstream media is fully acceptant of this as a channel as this and other stories are again complexly nonchalant about news being released over Twitter before it is ever released over a wire.

Aside: And where are the traditional news wires in all of this – absent. PR Newswire and Businesswire have not integrated Twitter or other delivery other than RSS and email into their distribution models. It looks as if journalists are uninterested in Twitter feeds of releases from these services. Wire distribution now lags so far behind Twitter and other SM channels in the speed of distribution that the relevancy of these services to reach interested parties in an immediate manner is lagging.

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Constant Contact Replacement Recommendation: What is Your Favorite Email Marketing Application?

I have used Constant Contact as my preferred email service for medium to small scale mailings for several years. Throughout this time, Constant Contact has served me well with is basic feature set.  However, the product development has not kept pace with the changes of Internet communications and I am investigating alternative solutions.

The items Constant Contact lacks that are present in most competitive packages are:

  • Multiple levels of list views and segmentation.  Constant Contact provides for a simple set of email lists without any segmentation or cross list management capabilities.  This is the largest issue in that this requires numerous lists instead of one list with multiple parameters in a recipient profile.
  • A varying range of metrics beyond the simple sent, open, click thru and bounce rates.
  • A set of comparative trend charts and other metrics for presenting performance comparatively across campaigns.  No such metrics are available from Constant Contact.
  • Easy removal of the vendor brand.  The Constant Contact logo must be requested to be removed from each email and is discouraged.
  • Automated click thru tracking of links in email.  (Constant Contact requires manual coding to track links in custom HTML emails).
  • Ability to create your own email templates.  Constant Contact charges a fee and must create such templates themselves.
  • Integrated A/B testing of email subject lines and bodies.
  • Built-in preview of email layout in email clients. A simple HTML preview is all that is available in Constant Contact.
  • Unified billing.  Constant Contact charges come to a credit card with little if any detail. 
  • Cobranded interface.  We do not take advantage of the Constant Contact co-branding opportunity because it is cumbersome to setup and manage this brand.
  • Google Analytics integration.  Constant Contact offers no integration into Google analytics or other statistical packages,
  • Free archive and image hosting.  Constant Contact charges for the live archive of images and emails.  Other packages do not.
  • Unlimited custom fields.  Constant Contact has a limit of four custom fields.
  • Forms integration. Constant Contact offers no form builder or any service to easily create payment gateways for items such as donations.
  • Spam filter testing.  Constant Contact does not offer an easy test system to check if the emails will violate spam filters.
  • CMS integration is unavailable or limited.  Constant Contact does not offer or manage plug-ins to common CMS.  The few that are available come from third parties.
  • API restricted to list management.  The Constant Contact API is solely for list import and export.
  • Integration with third party tools such as WuFoo for forms, payment gateways, CRM and other technologies without API involvement on the user side.

 For a replacement I reviewed numerous packages and selected the following for side-by-side comparisons.  (HTML | PDF)

  • Constant Contact
  • mailChimp
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Benchmark Email
  • Fusemail
  • Mad Mimi
  • Bronto
  • Vertical Response
  • Stream Send
  • Myemma
  • Campaigner
  • iContact
  • sendloop

Click on the links (HTML | PDF) to see a product comparison table that includes the following vendors.  Right now, I am favoring mailChimp and Campaign Monitor. Let me know what you think of these or other vendors. And Constant Contact folks, when you find this, I am by all means open to your suggestions as well.

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Wikipedia: An example of democracy and human nature

Wikipedia is no doubt one of the most referenced sites.  It also drives a lot of traffic to sites and is always in the top search results for it seams like everything.  But there is a public misconception about Wikipedia.  Sure we all know the information may not be accurate.  What I am talking about is the wrongful belief that anyone can update an entry.  This was once the intent.  It has failed in practice because of human nature to want to own and control territory.

I have on my personal side gone in and updated points of fact.  I have also attempted to enter details (again pints of fact) for clients.  They are always erased within minutes by rather militant individuals who through their aggressive editing actions have taken ownership of a set of content.  We have found this to be the case throughout Wikipedia.

Example, we updated the mission statement for an environmental non-profit.  The old mission statement was there quoted from the Web site.  We simply updated it to the current mission that had one line adjusted.  This was rejected by an editor because this was “self promotion” by an organization.  The old mission now remains on the site.

Slate now has an article about how only a limited few can edit pages of popular people.  This is no surprise to many people who already know that editing within Wikipedia is actually tightly controlled.  So, what make someone popular? Isn’t just being in Wikipedia mean that you are noted somehow above the rest of us mere mortals? I imagine that if someone who is mentioned on Wikipedia tried to correct their own birthday or something similar it would be rejected as being “self-promotion.”

Now let the fun comments telling me I do not know what I am talking about begin!

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