Monthly Archives: February 2011
Every night at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, we watch the late news live from London on our broadcast partner ITV. It’s always interesting to see the choice of stories and how different or similar it is to our coverage of major stories on any given day. Continue reading
Facebook has been living in a two-button world. First, the social networking giant provided online publishers with a Share button, then it followed up with a Like button that replaced the notion of Facebook fans.
While these two buttons have both been used for awhile, they actually operated differently in terms of how they allowed individuals to share information on Facebook. The Like button was a simple one-step sharing process, while the Share button allowed users to share a headline, blurb and an image for an article in a multi-step process. With Facebook’s most recent update to its Like button, all of the functionality of the Share button has now become a part of the Like button, while keeping the Like to a simple one-click process.
When users press the Like button today, a headline, blurb and thumbnail will be posted on their Wall. Then, they will be given the option to comment on that item. Prior to these upgrades to the Like button, only a link to your article would appear in a users recently activity, which receives less attention than the profile Wall.
For marketers, these changes highlight that Facebook is trying to move to one sharing button for publishers. With this change in functionality, it is clear that the Share button will be fading away in favor of a more robust Like button. As a business publishing content online, you should leverage Facebook as a referral source of traffic. These new Like button features are yet another reason businesses need to have at least one image in their blog post. Having an image in your blog post will help your article stand out more, when it is shared on Facebook.
Now that the Like button shares articles in a more holistic way, marketers should be looking at their analytics to see how their traffic from Facebook changes. Continue to encourage people to Like your blog content. More traffic also means that it is more important than ever to have calls to action on your business blog and within your individual blog posts.
Are you excited about these changes to the Like button?
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When my college journalism professor was trying to wrap her mind around Twitter followers, she said, “I am not going anywhere; why are they following me?” While her words then were meant to be a joke, today they simply convey the evolution of social networks.
On Foursquare, the location-based social network, you are going somewhere and you do have followers. Fourquare recently announced, if you reach a certain level of popularity—1000 Foursquare friends—your very first 100 contacts will remain your friends and the rest will become your “followers.” What is the reasoning behind this? “We don’t want your phone vibrating all day,” explained the geo-based social network in an email notification. “We determined that 1000 friends will be the cap for normal accounts.”
So does this have implications for marketers? It sure does!
Focus on the People You Are Following
By distinguishing between friends and followers, Foursquare is pointing out the people with a large reach. If you are a local business, you can easily identify these individuals and try to attract them to you. If you successfully invite them to your location, they have the power to get your brand name out there and share it with the thousands of early-adopters following them.
How to go about it?
Go to your Foursquare profile and scroll down to the two columns titled “Friends” and “Following.” You want to focus on the latter. Select to view the entire list of people you have automatically started following as they are popular. You can pick a few individual ones and see exactly how many friends and followers they have. Then, try to engage them by inviting them to your business location. Maybe offer them a special offer or a coupon? It is up to you!
What is even cooler about this type of identification is that these popular figures can replicate the same “check-in” as an update on Twitter and Facebook. And if they have that many followers on Foursquare, you can only imagine what their popularity status is like on other social networks.
So you don’t have to be a celebrity to take advantage of Foursquare’s separation between friends and followers. Just think outside the box!
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You have to pay attention to money, but it shouldn’t be about the money.
- Tim O’Reilly
hipmunk [hip-muhnk], 1. verb: To bring sexiness and simplicity into an existing industry with a fresh approach that delights people. Example: The real estate mortgage industry really sucks. Someone should hipmunk it. 2. noun: Startup funded by Y Combinator that makes it easier to find flights.
The word disruption is thrown around way too much. It’s often used to describe ideas that are not disruptive. Recently though, I’ve noticed a trend of YCombinator backed startups that follow a similar theme: Go after an industry or process that is excruciatingly painful and make it better. Sure all startups are about solving a pain point, but in the case of Hipmunk and others, the pain is chronic and unbearable.
Find Something Tied To A Process That Consistently Sucks
Some things are just a pain and never ever change. The industries that can be hipmunked are ones that you repeatedly ask yourself “Why hasn’t anyone made this better?” It can’t be a temporary cure either, it needs to be a full blown relief of pain. In the case of HelloFax , it seemed like a silly idea at first to most. Fax machines are a thing of the past it would seem, but in reality they aren’t. With all of the innovation we’ve had, trying to send a fax is still a pain. EFax is cumbersome and real fax machines are far worse. Every blue moon, there is no way to do anything other than send a fax. It’s still horrible. With HelloFax, they took a process that consistently sucks and made it just work.
Simple And Clean Interfaces Come First
One of the best ways to make a product enjoyable and easy to use is with an interface that is simple+clean. Give the user what they want, the bare essentials, and make the information easy to digest. It’s not about being the prettiest either. I love the hipmunk interface, but it’s not whiz bang beautiful. It’s clean, simple, and organizes information well. The flow of information should come first and foremost in a clean interface. Problematic and painful industries usually have a high amount of friction between the customer and information. They usually want to access or deliver information in a fast manner, but it often takes way longer than they would like.
It Will Probably Be Unsexy…So Make It Sexy
The industries most ripe for disruption are usually the unsexy ones that no one wants to touch. That’s okay, look at it like the startup version of the popular teen movie “She’s All That”. Find the ugly one and turn them into something absolutely beautiful. It’s not in the DNA of unsexy industries to think about everything else in this article. That’s why they’re unsexy and people despise them. The travel industry? Absolutely boring. Look at email. Everyone thinks that email is long dead and gone, but at the end of the day it’s still widely used. Companies like Groupon and Thrillist are growing faster than any other company before. They figured out how to leverage an unused, unsexy asset and make it work for the user.
Take a look at Square. Payment processing is a sleezy, unsexy, and just headache of an industry. Square took that and turned it on its head. They added a beautiful interface and made it frictionless for real world merchants to have a payment processing engine without the headaches involved.
Call Out Your Competitor
Don’t be afraid to call out your competitor and wage war. You should be respectful of course, but it’s okay to stir the pot. Look at Salesforce. They proclaimed the end of downloadable desktop software and Marc Benioff was no stranger to letting the world know the companies that are his enemy. His spat with Microsoft is supposedly one of the greatest things that ever happened to the company!
Deliver Great Support
Most unsexy industries don’t have a love for customer support. It’s not that they deliver bad customer support, it’s just that they don’t deliver GREAT customer support. Zappos for example… they sell shoes. Who would have ever thought that a shoe retailer could be an iconic company? Well, Zappos is really a company with great customer service that happens to sell shoes. If you have a passion for support that mirrors Zappos, you can extend the great experience you deliver with your application to the real human interaction you may have with customers.
Look For An Industry That Rarely Changes
I’ve always believed that those who get comfortable and think they are immune to disruption are the most likely to be disrupted. Having a large customer base makes large incumbents feel like they will never leave. In actual reality, they will, but they just need a great solution… your solution. Problems don’t make people change. Problems make people search for a solution. Until a good solution exists, they stick with the current one. It’s like a do while loop of seemingly neverending pain. Do deal with pain while looking for a better solution, until you find a better one.
Work Towards Building Fanatics
The hipmunk mascot is barely a year old I believe, but boy do people love that little critter. Some have even created fan art! In a short period of time, Hipmunk has created valuable brand equity and fanatical customers. Some companies never get to achieve that. If you’re able to resolve pain, finding fanatical customers will happen a lot faster.
Be Disruptive, But Respectful
It’s fun to shake things up, call out your competitors, and make a lot of noise, but always be a gentleman or a classy lady. Have logic and let people see the rationale behind your argument. You should always have an answer that is more than “just because”. Show those trapped in the Matrix why your solution is better and will free them from the pain that currently exists. Use a loud mouth and PR to get the world’s eyes on you, but deliver sound logic. There is a thin line between being passionate and just being insane. Rationale is usually the difference.
Focus On Power Users
Not every solution should do this, but I noticed that it worked very very well for Hipmunk. A lot of the people that I know who are Hipmunk users, travel VERY often. Sometimes you just want to focus on the normal users, but you can get fanatical users and strong advocates by solving the pain for those that have it the most often. A person that travels multiple times a month with long flights is much more likely to want your solution when you first launch/unproven than a person that travels a few times a year, often for vacation+light work travel. Hipmunk, padmapper, hellofax, and others are just the start. The number of processes that are beyond painful run deep and present a world of opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs. What other industries are ready to be “hipmunked”? My vote: the domain purchasing industry. Someone should “hipmunk” Godaddy .
Looking for other startup fanatics? Request access to the OnStartups LinkedIn Group. 130,000+ members and growing daily.
Oh, and by the way, you should follow me on twitter: @dharmesh.
What we’re following:
- Troops surround city seized by rebels in Libya
- ‘The King’s Speech’ wins big at the Oscars
- America’s last World War I veteran dies
And did you see…
- Gmail bug wipes out some user accounts
- Taco Bell runs ad battling the where’s the beef quest … Continue reading
In this age of rapidly changing technologies, businesses are fiercely competing for the attention of online viewers. Many companies start obsessing over what the competition is doing. Should you follow suit? “I don’t think this is the right thing to focus on,” says David Meerman Scott.
In this episode of the Weekly Marketing Cast, we talk about the dynamic between you and your competitors. What do you currently practice and how should you behave in the future? Watch the video below for some tips!
Be Aware of Your Competitors
You need to be aware of what the competition is doing. Are they raising or lowering their prices? Are they launching a new product? Don’t be ignorant about their successes and failures; yet don’t obsess over them.
Don’t Copy the Competition
“I have seen it in so many places,” David says. “The company that leads is the company doing the unique and interesting things.” David is referring to great content creation and social media engagement among other innovative ideas. “That is the right thing to do—focus on your potential and existing customers,” he adds. When you concentrate on the right things, you are going to force the competitors to obsess over you and copy you.
So, what companies do you obsess over?
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At HubSpot, we are huge advocates of creating content as a way to educate customer, increase reach engine traffic, and improve lead generation. It is critical that businesses create content that is interesting, insightful and, most importantly, original. A recent announcement from Google will have a major impact on businesses trying to take SEO short cuts.
Recently, Google took action to reduce the rank of lower-quality sites such as “content farms,” and, in turn, improve the results displayed to their users. In their press release they announced that the change “noticeably impacts 11.8% of [their] queries” and that the “update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites–sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.” You can read the entire press release here.
This change is likely a direct shot to Demand Media, a company that recently went public and generates much of its revenue from traffic generated by low-quality articles written simply to target new keyword searches.
What does this mean for you? As a searcher, you should have less garbage results to wade through in order to find a decent result to your query. As a marketer, you no longer have to compete with low-quality scraper sites and content farms for high results on the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages).
As a business trying to get found online it is important today more than ever, to make sure that you are following SEO best practices. This includes creating interesting and engaging content relevant to your industry as a way to drive traffic and links to your website. Google’s announcement as well as recent penalties they have announced against J.C. Penny and Overstock.com demonstrate that the search engine giant is in the midst of a crack-down against businesses looking to cheat their way to the top of rankings.
What do you think about these changes?
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Whether you prevail or fail depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.
- Jim Collins
Our intrepid Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel has been on a several day trek across the Libyan desert for days — a journey that started where I last saw him in Cairo. Armed with conversational Arabic and an unbeatable knowledge of the region and culture, he h … Continue reading
As if the shift toward inbound marketing and away from traditional, outbound marketing wasn’t enough of a change for us marketers to adapt to! Now, we need to be concerned with consumers’ increasing use of the web on their mobile devices. This all begs the question …
“Is your business prepared?”
Thinking this mobile marketing stuff is just another marketing trend that won’t catch on or affect your business? Consider the following predictions from Morgan Stanley internet analyst, Mary Meeker, who regularly releases a ‘State of the Internet’ report and has been dubbed the ‘Queen of the Net.’
1. Within the next five years, “more users will connect to the internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.” Meeker’s point is that mobile internet usage will only increase with time. Companies who take advantage of it will win, and those that ignore it will lose.
2. Mobile internet usage is ramping up substantially faster than desktop internet usage did. Meeker compared iPhone/iPod Touch adoption rates to those of AOL and Netscape in the early 90s, and she determined that adoption of Apple devices is taking place 11 times faster than adoption of AOL took place and several times faster than adoption of Netscape.
3. Increased mobile usage will result in growth in ecommerce. According to Meeker, users are more willing to pay for content on mobile devices than desktops for a variety of reasons, including personalization, small price tags, and easy-to-use/secure payment systems.
Mobile Browsing Implications for Marketers
As consumers increasingly turn to their mobile devices to browse the web and seek information about products and services, it’s extremely important that businesses make sure their websites are mobile-friendly and compatible. Ensuring that mobile site visitors have a positive user experience is the first step in taking advantage of this powerful shift toward mobile browsing.
Go ahead: Pick up a smart phone and access your company’s website with the browser on your mobile device. Chances are, you probably have some work to do. Is your CMS able to support efforts to make your website mobile-friendly? Are you a business that can potentially leverage the consumer trend of mobile purchasing by using location-based services or mobile coupons?
How is your business preparing for this important shift toward mobile browsing?
Photo Credit: Robert Scoble
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