— blending the mix

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September, 2007 Monthly archive

"Why do we need a blog?" is an increasingly common question we get asked at seminars and meetings. What is a blog, why do blogging and social networks affect me are two other common questions, which I feel tie into one fundamental response – the consumer is changing.

Disillusioned with poor customer service and a growing cynicism towards existing advertising messages, today’s consumers are increasingly turning to each other – not you, for product advice and opinion.

Whether good or bad, consumers are talking to each other online, quicker and in more ways than ever before. Whether they use blogs, wikis, (don’t know what a wiki is? check here) forums orsocial networking sites like Facebook and Myspace, conversations about your business or products are taking place all over the internet, no matter how large or small you are.

All these conversations are having a direct effect on your potential customers buying behaviour.

So how do you talk back? How do you take part in these online conversations? You blog.

Whether you are a specialist boat sale/hire company, a Sheet Metal company or even a Savile Row tailor, people are talking about you online so why not have your own say and join their conversations by launching your own corporate blog?

A corporate blog can have many different objectives and benefits. Instant crisis management, improved customer service or quite simply a place to explain what you do in more detail are all reasons for and benefits of setting-up a corporate blog. By opening up your own online channel you are allowing people who would otherwise be talking about you elsewhere, to talk to you directly.

The results are that frequently, the conversations that were taking place away from you are now happening under your nose. Comments that were hidden away in forums now appear on your blog. As such, you are able to respond directly to those groups. Opening oneself up in this way demonstrates a desire to listen to your customers, a willingness to respond to them and above-all, to show that you care about them – you “humanise” your business.

Do not be fooled into thinking that blogs are the domain of trendy teenagers though. Over a third of the blogging community is aged between 18 and 34. Don’t also think that blogging is simply an online social diary. Opinion amongst existing corporate blog owners shows that 76% have reported an increase in web traffic and media interest since launching their blogs, whilst over 40% of corporate blog owners say that at least one blog post has had a positive effect on their company or brand.

The consumer is all-powerful and online and talking about you. Now. Create a corporate blog and make that one-way traffic a multi-lane motorway, whatever your size or line of business.

Taken from KMP‘s blog The Daily Digital

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Techcrunch reports tonight that Microsoft are looking to invest between £150-£250million in Facebook for a 5% stake. This values Facebook at around £5billion! The WSJ reckons Facebook are holding out for around £7.5 billion – certainly a damn sight more than Yahoo’s original £500million!

Anyway, what makes this move really exciting is that it enables Microsoft much better access to something/anything that NONE of their competitors have.

  • Google blows MS away on Search and Online Ads.
  • Yahoo has display ads nailed
  • Microsoft has…Vista (to be fair, its Windows Live and office 2007 products rock!).

Microsoft is crying out for something in its portfolio that nobody else does and Facebook is that thing. Furthermore, I can’t help but think that becoming a bigger part of Facebook is a sign of greater things to come out of Microsoft – and it is all down to the one thing it doesn’t do very well at – advertising.

I can’t help but think that with access to so many social graphs at its disposal, Microsoft (with Facebook’s assistance) can’t learn enough to create a killer advertising platform that will be able to serve such contextual and massively relevant ads that it would blow anything on the market out of the water. And when it finds a way to create this killer contextual ad machine – it is able to serve them to the fastest growing social network out there.

Maybe I am simply finding some more love for MS after spending more time with my Dell laptop but I can’t help but feel that this is the start of a massively exciting road for Microsoft.

Either that or the little blue monster just can’t help mixing it with other little blue monster’s!!

UPDATE: WSJ is on the same line of thought as me:

But an investment in Facebook could give Microsoft or Google greater opportunities to tie their services in with Facebook at a time when they’ve both recognized that social networking is changing how consumers tap into their core activities, such as Web search and email.

The Facebook approach is also part of Microsoft’s urgent attempt to strengthen its ad "platform," which lets advertisers automatically place ads on Web sites and on Microsoft’s Internet search engine.

Then again, this news might be just as exciting.

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Great interview from the recent Techcrunch40 conference where Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook talks about the past and the futere plans of Facebook. Exciting news on the ad front and sponsored groups methinks!!

Thanks to intruders.tv for the link.

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It seems that these days, when we talk about football, all we hear about is money.so, it was refreshing to read this gem from the bbc.

2 weeks ago, during the 2nd round Carling Cup game between Leicester City vs Nottingham Forest, a Leicester City player suffered heart failure and the game was abandoned.

Leicester City were 1-0 up.

Last night the game was replayed and Leicester City allowed  Nottingham Forest to score a free goal to even the balance and start the game at 1-1.

With so much of a smaller club’s financial future resting on cup success it was a brave and generous gesture by Leicester City to balance out the score.

Leicester went on to win the game 3-2 and all reports are that the player is some way to a recovery.

Maybe the big clubs should consider that good things happen to good people.

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Let’s look at the facts:

The cost of the phone:

US 8Gb iPhone: $399 (£198.19)

UK 8Gb iPhone at launch: $541.50 (£269.00)

UK Data Plans:

£35 ($70.46) – 200 minutes, 200 SMS

£45 ($90.60) – 600 minutes, 500 SMS

£55 ($110.73) – 1200 minutes, 500 SMS

US Data Plans:

$59.99 (£29.80) – 450 minutes, 200 SMS

$79.99 (£39.73) – 900 minutes, 200 SMS

$99.99 (49.66) – 1350 minutes, 200 SMS

All plans include unlimited data.

Summary

The UK pays over £70 more than our US friends for same pre-US discount 8Gb iPhone.

The UK’s base talk plan gets LESS THAN HALF the US equivalent of talk time for a little over 15% INCREASE in plan cost.

The UK mid-weight tariff gets a THIRD less talk time for only £5 less than the US.

Are O2 really giving so much revenue back to Apple that they need to rip the UK consumer off?

WHY do O2 need to charge the UK market MORE for getting LESS?

Part 2: The "discount"

Around the launch of the recent iPod Touch, Apple announced a reduction of $200 in the price of the 8Gb iPhone. Initial reports suggested that this was down to poorer than expected sales of the iPhone. Not so, 1 million iphones were sold in just 72 days. Early adopters scoffed in disgust.

To respond, Apple offered those early adopters a $100 discount. Well, I say discount, it gave them $100 credit against other Apple products (whatever they may be).

So what does this say? DELIBERATE PLOY.

Consider you are Apple. You have spent millions developing an iPhone version of of iTunes. You have spent millions developing a Starbucks music purchasing site/system – how do you claw this money back?

Your best customers have just spent $600 on a new iPhone and everybody else is on low-price talk-plans because the phone is so expensive. Where will the money come from to fund the online stores?

Give your best customers $100 back. Except don’t GIVE them the money back. Make then spend it with you.

You can’t help but be bloody angry at that, but at the same time admire such a great strategy!

It is not unreasonable for UK early adopters to expect a similar trick here too, but given that we aren’t even getting anything like the US’s early adopters to start with, it may be just a pipe dream.

O2, the iPhone can make or break you.

PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT THE UK IPHONE EXPERIENCE IS A GOOD ONE BY BEING FAIR.

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I picked this up from BBC news today:

Quarterlife, a drama about a group of recent graduates in Chicago, started as a pilot for ABC in 2005, but the network declined to make a full series.

But creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick stuck with the idea, and the show will now debut on MySpace in November.

Nothing too spectacular there. MySpace TV is Murdoch’s way of competing with YouTube. Is this a new distribution channel for TV shows? I don’t think so.

But what of Facebook? What of the UK’s fastest growing social network? Nothing.

Has it missed a beat? Yes and No.

Yes from the point of view that it doesn’t have such a blatant way as MySpace of addressing the video medium, but No because it has many other tools at its disposal and I would argue they are SIGNIFICANTLY more powerful than anything any other network has to offer.

All I am going to say is:

Facebook…???…Group…???…Discussion Board…???…

If you have a film to release, a group to promote, or a TV series to promote, email me at paul (dot) fabretti @ gmail (dot) com and I will fill in the gaps.

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The recent "we need to get our name involved with social networking" press release by Peninsula makes me angrier by the day.

The BBC started it, now Sky, Ananova and Manchester Evening News are blindly publish these ridiculous figures without ANY questions asked.

Is there ANY hope?

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You have no idea what you are talking about.

Admit it.

You have tried to jump on the social network and PR bandwagon and failed miserably DESPITE getting on the BBC website (which I refuse to link to on this occasion because of the appalling nature of the article).

Let me quote Sig, who left a comment on Dennis’s blog today:

47% of the UK population works. Average working hours for those are 8 hours 43 minutes or about 174 hours per month.

If the Facebookers are an average population they should work (3.5 x 0.47 x 174) = 286 million hours per month in total. Of which they spend 233 million hours on Facebook during work hours it seems.

In other words if you replace PLCs with all work in the UK you would come to that all UK Facebook members spends 7 hours 30 minutes per day and during work hours on Facebook leaving 1 hour 14 minutes to real work, walking the corridors, eating and so forth.

But of course, it is truly very bad that they spend all that time online on Facebook when on the farm tractor, when conducting the tube, when driving taxis and running Peninsula. Glad I’m not British!

That all seems to make perfect sense and doesn’t seem terribly complicated either – why can’t Peninsula seem to get this right? Hope they don’t provide accounting services too…

Turns out that The Times (in the US) is also up to the same type of phantom number-generating when publishing an article about DVD piracy..

To quote Seth:

$903 million is about 9,000 jobs paying $100,000 a year each. That’s a lot of ticket takers, Blockbuster clerks and gaffers. And yet the Times reprints the numbers as true.

I will leave the best until last though. The Enquirer reckons to have got to the bottom of Peninsula’s methodology!

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As I am in a vitriolic mood at the moment, my latest candidate is three mobile.

I have no real issue with them (i have a great free phone, fantastic contract for next to nothing, and far better signal service than I was expecting), other than when I asked if I could change my internet add-on to allow me to use Fring and Skype.

They told me it was not possible. Then service agent Number 2 told me that my phone was not compatible. Eh? I have a Nokia N80 running S60.

I had to makethem change my tariff to X-series Silver.

Last night I enjoyed several minutes’ of FREE fring conversations over Gtalk and updated twitter over fring – all using my three phone but not using my three mobile voice contract. ( I have a 1Gb data add-on).

Mobile operators, be aware your business will go the way of the music industry if you are not careful. As soon as the use of things like Fring become more widespread and the perceived technology barriers come down, your revenues WILL decline.

Customer previously on hefty voice contracts will take your lowest voice contract and replace it witrh your unlimited data add-on.

Start to ramp up prices of data and people will simply move to the next cheapest company. Customer loyalty will be a distant memory.

Address this now – start to create attractive VoIP tariffs so that you can bring in the money to help make the mobile web become everything we all hope it will be.

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According to employment law firm Peninsula, 233 million hours are lost every month as a result of employees "wasting time" on social networking.

Thanks Penninsula. That’s a new headline isn’t it?

Lost? Potato, Pota-to.

Mike Huss, director of employment law at Peninsula called on all firms to block access to sites such as Facebook.

He asked: "Why should employers allow their workers to waste two hours a day on Facebook when they are being paid to do a job?"

He said that loss of productivity was proving a "major headache" for firms.

Headache? Do you even know what a headache is Mr. Huss?

A headache is having to live on the breadline for a long period of time because one of your clients (Swift Marketing Solutions) deducted wages from me as an incentive to make me work more effectively and at the same time changed the terms of my contract without giving me a new one. Is it not the responsibility of Penninsula to ensure that their clients are acting within the rules?

Although to be fair to you,  I suspect Mr. Huss, that your Manchester office was not told of these previous actions at the time that you were advising them on how to legally get rid of me.

Might I suggest that both you and your clients spend a little bit more time on social networks to enable to them join the real world where the rest of humanity is.

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