5 Reasons Why Facebook Places Won’t Succeed

Perhaps you have heard of Facebook Places.  If not, your one sentence summary is this: Facebook has introduced a new service that will allow users to “check in” to places and share their location with their friends.

The majority of speculation from those watching this roll out is that it is going to destroy other location based services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrll, Loopt, etc.  I don’t think it will, and I’ll give you five reason why I think this.

First, let’s start with one reason, and one reason only,that Facebook Places might succeed: they have a user base of over 500 million.  The sheer volume of that might let it see life into 2011.

Now, on to why I think Facebook Places is nothing short of “meh“.

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How To: Use The New Tweet Button

<–See that little button right there? Click it. Go ahead…give it a try.

What should have happened is that a new window popped open prompting you to tweet out this article to your followers, which you of course did, right? You didn’t? Okay, one more try. Push the button, then click the “tweet” button in the new window.

Good job.

The new Tweet Button from Twitter is designed to replace the very popular TweetMeme button.

What you just experienced was the new Twitter button that is designed to take the place of the TweetMeme button that everybody has been using up to this point.  As you can see, I’m now using both…I’ll probably phase out TweetMeme when this takes over and people know what they are looking for.

Using this new Twitter button on your blog or site is actually pretty easy.  Go to the official Tweet Button page and go through three very easy steps

  1. Select your style of button and then customize it if you want. The button selection is very basic, it’s a matter of picking which style visually flows with your site the best. I really like the customization features, you can let it pull text from the title of the page, or enter your own text.  Get creative with this.  Nice options for different languages as well, although I’m not sure that allowing URLs that are different from the page being tweeted is a good idea…too much bait and switch to be had here
  2. Recommend people to follow. I like this! It goes beyond just mentioning the person that wrote the article and lets you put in another name and description of how they are related.  Pretty cool, great for encouraging follows.
  3. Grab the code! This show you what your tweet button will look like, and provides the code for an easy copy/paste.  Here’s what I like about this: it’s kind of a stab at the premise of Facebook’s Open Graph in that you can put this code on any website.  Seriously, it’s not just blogs…try it out! This code is super portable and can potentially drive a lot of tweet awareness about your site.

I really like what I’m seeing from Twitter on this…I expect to see a lot of creative implementations on different sites.  Much like being able to “like” individuals products and services via Facebook, I imagine this will be used to no just promote a site, but individual pages and products within the site. So far there isn’t a plugin for WordPress, but I have no doubt that it isn’t too far behind as there is a Dev Page that explains the attributes.

So what do you think…will this new Tweet Button catch on? The masses will determine its fate soon enough.

6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: The Product

222-facebookThis is part 2 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do. This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those. Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know The Product

I think this is the single biggest mistake that I see over and over and over again…lack of product knowledge when you are doing work for somebody else.You may be running a campaign for a durable good or a service. Sometimes it’s just brand awareness so there is not one thing you are pointing to, just the brand. No matter what it is, if you don’t know the ins and outs of what you will be marketing you are doing your client, their customers and yourself a huge disservice. I’ve been invited in to too many conversations that go something like this:

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Creators, Reporters and Consumers

customer serviceI’m often asked about online behavior and how businesses can tap into certain market segments to find new customers, whether for their services or products.  It’s interesting to me that so often the online world seems so foreign to those that haven’t used it for much more than paying an electric bill on a website, and the questions I am asked usually end up being some variant of “what exactly does the online person look like…who are they?”  These questions come to me from seasoned business professionals that have sold tangible goods or services to people in real life; people they could see, talk to, shake hands with and ultimately sell to.  Why then, would they presume that the online community is so different?

The “real world” primarily consists of three groups of people in the goods and services lifecycle: creators, reports and consumers.

The Three Real World Groups

Creators represent the smallest segment, and most people that come to me for business and marketing consultation are in this group.  They are the makers, the business leaders, the companies that are producing something that they want to get into others’ hands. In the virtual world there are a few standouts like Amazon and Zappos (or is that now Zamazon?), but there are also millions of smaller players, and they aren’t necessarily distributing products; many service companies now what to sell you ideas to make your life better or service professionals to do work for you.  It doesn’t stop there; non-profits have hit the scene with causes and social ideas that they are creating and distributing through social networks and other online venues. The creators make the things that we need…or think we do.

Traditionally, the consumer lifecycle has been in three very distinct groups

Traditionally, the consumer lifecycle has been in three very distinct groups

Reporters represent the pundits, the talking heads, the reviewers and the public square criers. These are newspaper sites, blogs and other groups that tell us about what the creators are doing, because frankly most creators are pretty lousy at getting that information out themselves.  These groups usually have massive audiences (distribution channels) and produce content rapidly, in short and easy-to-digest segments (most readers lose interest before they hit the 600 word mark).  What is interesting to me about this group is that they are often hailed as collective industry leaders, change agents and cultural guides…yet very rarely do they produce any original content beyond a pithy opinion at the end of a press release usually written by the a creator.

Consumers by far represent the largest of the three groups, yet are the hardest to talk to.  As creators and reporters argue back and forth about how the one needs the other more, the reality is that neither group can survive without the consumers and they know it.  The consumers read the blogs, try the goods  and ultimately spend the money that keeps the other two going.  If you were to look at the online world as a cocktail party, the creators and the reporters are making all the noise and seem to be the life of the party, but they are surrounded and outnumbered by the consumers on a staggering scale, though usually the consumers will only sit quietly by, observing and occasionally writing something in the comments section.

That was the world before social media.

The New Class of Hyrbrid

Now things are different, and in a dramatic fashion.  You see, no longer do these three groups need to be so separated…there are a couple of new groups that have entered the scene: hybrids of the existing classes.

New Media and easy internet publishes has created hybrid classes within the consumer lifecycle

New Media and easy internet publishes has created hybrid classes within the consumer lifecycle

Creator/Reporters:  whereas the old mom and pop manufactures (those that didn’t have massive PR and marketing budgets) were really confined to smaller, local markets and relied heavily on personal word of mouth advertising, now they are able to reach a global audience with the same ease as their seaminlgy-overwhelming big box competitors.  In the real world, a small company that makes mismatched socks in sets of 3 could probably only survive on a boutique street in a trendy neighborhood.  Thanks to the web, companies like Little Miss Matched can not only survive, but thrive! They can use outlets like Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about their products, then let the users from around the web continue to comment, report, review and react to their brand.

Reporter/Consumers: up until recently, consumers didn’t really have a voice.  I grew up in a small town, and the only way one could praise or condemn a company was either a letter to the editor in the newspaper or a chat with the neighbors at the park.  Seriously.  Now what do we have?  Consumers can (and will) set up blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages with just a few clicks of a mouse to share these same thoughts, but usually on a much larger scale.  Sometimes the “reports” of the consumers are circulated around a small group of friends on Twitter, and sometimes they make big waves around the world, such as the case of “United Breaks Guitars”.  Big or small, it doesn’t matter…the ability for the consumer to report is incredible and powerful, and should never be taken for granted.

The Takeaway

People that are stuck in the first model, where the groups are in three distinct buckets, are missing the point of social media.  No longer is there merit in a company complaining that they just don’t have the ability to reach out like the big companies.  While there are some obvious truths to a complaint like that (have you seen the prices of Super Bowl ads?), for the most part a little bit of time and money can produce incredible, far reaching results and allow you to skip right over the previous middle man that was the reporting and communicate directly with your customers…or future customers!

Likewise for the consumer, bad customer service and shoddy craftsmanship in overpriced products really should not be tolerated any longer.  This is not to say that you should constantly complain on Twitter about every little corporate pet peeve or bad experience you have…because I do not personally advocate that.  It does mean that you are closer than ever to the companies, and you likely have the ability to reach out to them.  I try to stay positive online and praise companies far more than I condemn them, hopefully this is no different than life outside of the keyboard and monitor.  Before I rant about bad service online, I do what I can to reach out to that company.  Sometimes this takes place on the phone, but hopefully now I can reach most folks on Twitter.

With the new connectivity that we are experiencing globally, leverage the opportunities that are before you, whether you are a creator or a consumer.  Jump into the conversation and tell your sphere of influence what you think…what you like, dislike and hope for.  That, my friends, is the joy and responsibility of social media.

(Photo used under Creative Commons License / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

How To: Run A Mobile Office

mobile-officeAlthough I do most of my work in my office, I am constantly on the move, and as such I need to be able to move my office with me.  If you are a consultant or a road warrior, or just want to be more efficient away from your primary workstation, I hope this post will offer some good suggestions for you. Running a mobile office should be simple, but can get a little tricky.  Don’t be caught coming up short when travelling, just remember that today’s work is important, and in a recessive economy even a simple mistake like not being able to take a phone call when you don’t have a cell signal may cost you a job.  As always, I welcome any tips or tricks you have, please drop a note in the comments to share. With that in mind, let’s get started!

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How To Retweet And Be Retweeted

Tweet and Retweet: A great way to share information with others

Tweet and Retweet: A great way to share information with others

UPDATE:  I changed hosting companies since originally publishing this article, and ironically it removed the number of reweets from the plugin at the top of the post. You have to love technology sometimes!

One of the fastest and most effective ways of spreading information through Twitter is to retweet somebody.  When you see “RT” followed by a username in an update by one of your friends, that means they are retweeting somebody else…taking that person’s post and redistributing it to their own followers.  It’s rampant on Twitter, and one of the most common questions I get asked is, “what are some guidelines for retweeting, and how can I get retweeted more?”  I want to address both of those with some simple guidelines and suggestions.

How To Retweet

Retweeting somebody’s thoughts, links or pictures is the ultimate compliment on Twitter.  It says that you think enough of what they have written to share it with your followers, a pool of people that may be completely different than those of the original tweeter! It is a fantastic way to share information and ideas.  Of course you are free to retweet whatever you want, but here are some general guidelines that I think make it easier for you and those that follow you.

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Analyze Your Twitter Habits With TwitterFriend

Do you want to know every little detail about your tweeting habits? There are a lot of services that show you a lot of information, but TwitterFriends really brings some useful data into the picture.  Not only can you see hard numbers about your frequency, replies, and how you compare to Scoble, you can actually look at your network of friends as it relates to others that you follow.  I think it’s fascinating.  My favorite part? The tab that shows me accounts that I follow that haven’t updated in a long time. I removed about 20 people that haven’t updated in months!

Instead of a full write up I made a quick video.  Check it out, it’s under three minutes.  Let me know if you find TwitterFriends useful!