I’ve moved

You can find me at www.instagrah.am

Everyone’s Talkin’ About Google+

It’s a Facebook killer! I’ll never leave Facebook! (but can you send me an invite anyway?…)

That the basic feeling about Google+  right now. It’s the shiny new object and people are clamoring for invites. In fact, I’m still waiting on mine. People are intrigued given Google’s big push behind the new social network, but will people adopt it just because Google built it? And how will brands fit into the picture?

First, how does it compare to other social networks?

I think Google+ is a mix of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (and I’m sure Google would be thrilled if they successfully replaced all three). Here’s why: all Google+ profiles will be public like Twitter and LinkedIn, but incorporate Facebook-like networking features (groups/circles, chatting/hangouts, photos). I think Google+ profiles will become the hub where people manage their public, online identity — and that’s exactly what Google wants. It’s Google’s effort to create a stronger tie between search results and the social web.

So, while Facebook might remain the best venue for (over)sharing with your real friends and family, Google+ will become the curated version of you — more public, polite and open like LinkedIn and Twitter.

People say Google is trying to fill a need that isn’t there

That may be true and I don’t think Facebook is going anywhere soon, but we can’t forget the downfall of predecessors like Friendster, MySpace and even AOL. The mighty do fall and Facebook has had enough people express concerns about privacy. Burnout is always a factor too.

From Google’s perspective, they had to do something to in order to keep up with the social side of the web. Their business is still about search at its core. Creating a social network helps them know more about people (and organizations, businesses, etc) they’re indexing.

How will brands, local businesses, and organizations fit in?

Google has already addressed this and plans to open up invites to select brands by August (read about it in AdAge). They want Google+ to be a directory for people and businesses. There’s an application for companies to fill out if they want to be in the initial group. It’s to picture a Google+ brand page being much different that a Facebook Page, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Conclusion

As with all things, we’ll know more with time. In the meantime, here’s some further reading.

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The Times They Are A-Changin’

image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Publishing of all kinds (books, music, movies, news, magazines)  is still adapting to the new media environment. We’re living in beta as new ways to share and consume content emerge.

I thought this article in today’s New York Times (which I read on my iPad) was especially interesting: Magazines Pursue Tablets, but iPad Limits Subscriptions.

After reading,  I think you’ll agree it’s true of yourself: we all hate paying for content now, especially news. I’m accustomed to accessing the New York Times for free online. I use the free NYTimes iPad app all the time. It’s my go-to news app. But, would I pay for it? Depends how much.

Magazine publishers are still trying to figure out the best strategy. Do they charge per issue? How much? One thing is certain — I won’t be paying $4.99 for any magazine on my iPad. I think .99 cents is my limit.

UPDATE: 15 months later Flipboard is the only app I’m using to browse news on my iPhone and iPad.  The New York Times is expensive for digital subscriptions!

Will Social Strategists Disappear? (yes and no)

As more people who work in traditional marketing and communications become adept at using social media, will the “social media strategists” of today fade away? Yeah most likely, but only in title. The social strategists of today will become fully integrated members of traditional marketing/communications teams. Seems to me most of them are already working within the marketing and communications teams at public relations, word-of-mouth and advertising agencies (like me). Many more are doing the same thing internally for companies.  Eventually, understanding and using social media will be a necessary skill set for everyone in the field. More on this topic @ Mashable.com

Visualizing Facebook Friendships Around the World

This is awesome…

Facebook engineer Paul Butler created this map to illustrate the friendships between Facebook’s users around the globe. He explains his method here. Mashable also wrote about it here. Just click the image to see it full size.

Facebook Relationships Map

What makes a video viral?

It’s every marketers’ dream to have a truly viral video, which I why I thought this article on TechCrunch about memes was really interesting. There’s a common thread among all Internet memes and viral videos – they’re universally funny and/or interesting. In our digital, constant-contact, always-sharing culture, YouTube is an amazing tool for hosting potentially viral videos. It’s of course entirely up to marketers to create good content and have a strategy for driving traffic and letting the world know a video exists. The psychology behind sharing something perceived as viral, according to TechCrunch is, “much like hardy genes confer biological advantage, being aware of memes now confers a feeling of superiority amongst those in the know.”

The masters of producing viral hits are the guys from the band Ok Go. They just seem to get it. Their ability to continually create videos that “go viral” can’t be taught. See here and here and here and here for examples of their work.

My agency produced the following video for a client because it plays on a joke that has become a bit of a meme. The goal was simply to make a video that has would have pass-along value. What do you think? Would you share this with friends?

The Wall Street Journal on Today’s PR Pros

The Wall Street Journal profiled what it means to be a communications/public relations professional in today’s fast-paced, tech-driven media environment. It’s an accurate description for most young people in the field today. You can read the full article here.

The two key takeaways for young college grads:

  • It’s a profession that requires you to be proficient with cutting edge technologies. But you should also be grounded in written and verbal communication.
  • Fluency with social media is becoming more important by the day, and is no longer an advantage but a necessity. You must “be able to use [social media applications] beyond a personal level and think strategically to get a message across,” said Gustavo Llamas, the U.S. recruitment manager at the communications and PR firm Burson-Marsteller.

Both ring very true, as I find myself dedicating lots of time forming digital communication strategies that span multiple digital media platforms and crafting copy tailored to those mediums.

What I’ve Been Reading – Social Media & Marketing

Marketers Look to Learn from Loyalty

eMarketer – Marketers worldwide are looking to loyalty programs to improve customer retention and value, but Internet users need incentives to join.

Rethinking the Value of Social Media to Online Shopping

TheNextWeb – According to a recent survey (source: Compete.com), a majority of consumers do not visit retailer pages on Facebook or Twitter. When consumers do follow or ‘friend’ brands or companies, it is to mostly to stay informed of exclusive deals or offers (source: Razorfish).

Clydesdales May Suit up for Super Bowl After All

AdAge – Anheuser-Busch asks consumers to vote on its Super Bowl ad. A-B posted the Clydesdale spot, along with two competing ads, on Budweiser’s Facebook page late last week.

Social Media Marketing: How Pepsi Got It Right

Mashable – Rather than spending money on Super Bowl television ads this year, Pepsi is spending $20 million on a social media campaign.

Foursquare Teams With Bravo TV

The New York TimesBravo TV and Foursquare will announce a new partnership on Monday that will integrate Bravo TV shows with the game aspects of Foursquare, a social networking site that encourages people to interact in the real world.

Is the Day of Tiny Ads Finally Here?

The New York Times – With Apple and Google buying mobile advertising companies, 2010 could finally be the year mobile ads take off.

New Campaign Metric: Social Chatter

Brandweek – Social media is giving birth to a new way for advertisers to gauge the success of ads: whether they generate consumer buzz. Ad measurement firm Millward Brown is moving to establish that metric with a new service that will place digital word-of-mouth measurements for online campaigns alongside ad effectiveness metrics like awareness, brand lift and intent to purchase.

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Worthwhile Reading from the Past Week

Facebook, Twitter and P&G

VentureBlog – P&G continues to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in television advertising. But, as they say, P&G needs to “bring the experience to where she already is” (the folks at P&G always talk about “she” and “her” when discussing their customer) and they know that these days that is online. So they are working hard to have a big presence in digital media.

For Super Bowl XLIV Advertisers, Synergy Is the Name of the Game

The New York Times – Now, “we’re probably in the 3.0 phase of how to think about the Super Bowl,” said Jim Lecinski, a managing director in the Chicago office of Google, which owns YouTube, as advertisers capitalize on the growth of social media to promote the spots they intend to run in the game and give them a life beyond Super Bowl Sunday.

App Usage to Soar in 2010

eMarketer – Mobile app investment should grow significantly this year, according to a report from DM2PRO and Quattro Wireless. Spending on social apps, however, will stagnate even though more marketers have already developed the applications.

Boomers Mix TV with Their PCs

eMarketer – Boomers are tech-savvy, avid Internet users and multitask online while watching TV.

Mobile Shopping Takes Hold Worldwide

eMarketer – Marketers and retailers have been waiting for the m-commerce revolution, and, according to a Motorola report, more than one-half of Internet users worldwide made a mobile device part of their shopping activities in December 2009.

A Third of Adults Now Post to Sites Like Facebook, Twitter Once a Week

The Wall Street Journal – 70% of adults online are at least “spectators” in social media, reading blogs, tweets and online forums, although they might not participate.

Rants N Raves: Get Creative with Geolocation

Arik Hanson’s Blog – With the recent popularity of location-aware social mobile networks (geo-somo) such as Foursquare, Gowalla, and MyTown, many brands have been asking, what are (if any) the PR opportunities for engaging consumers by leveraging this technology.

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Mobile in 2010

*Jan. 21 UPDATE* AdAge must be reading my blog because they just posted 5 Mobile Trends for 2010 that affirms my thoughts on mobile being the key trend this year.

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Lately it seems everything relates back to one big trend – mobile. If there’s one device people today can’t live without it’s undoubtedly their iPhone, Droid, Pre or Blackberry. Smart phones do it all – you can call, text, email, take photos or video, check and update Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/Foursquare, browse the web, read or watch the news, entertain yourself, shop, you name it.

People are spending their time online and they’re doing it on-the-go. Where people go, marketers and advertisers follow. Thus mobile ads, branded apps, Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts for brands. This is what companies are increasingly spending their time and money on.

Mobile Advertising

Naturally, the big boys (Google and Apple) are battling for mobile market dominance. Google is pushing its Android software to multiple phones on multiple carries, while Apple’s iPhone continues to lead the way. Both companies recently purchased mobile advertising startups (AdMob and Quattro Wireless). Look for increasingly slick, integrated mobile ads in 2010.

Mobile Commerce

Mobile Payments? Shopping with your phone? It’s still an emerging way to buy, but look no further than Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s new startup – Square - a mobile payment system that allows vendors to accept credit cards with their smart phones.

Social Networking

If you’re not on Facebook, I bet your mom is. What was once a gated online community for students at top colleges is now the go-to social site for college kids, moms and businesses. Twitter was all the rage in 2009, but it’s not going anywhere in 2010. In fact, as newer tools that piggyback on social networking sites like Foursquare and Gowalla grow in popularity, the more Twitter and Facebook become important for sharing one’s activity.

Mobile Media

Want to stream live video from your phone to the web? Look no further than Qik and UStream. It’s the immediate and personal nature of mobile that makes it such a powerful force today.

For me, these are the trends I’m thinking about and considering for clients and we forge into 2010. Maybe this will help spark some thinking for your clients as well.

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