Thursday, February 28, 2008

Crowsourcing and the Future of Project Resources

In every company I work for we deal with resource shortages all over the place, either due to budgetary constraints or lack of skilled talent in the area.

Either way many projects suffer and take a lot of time. I was reading a post from TED today on new crowdsourcing site Kluster. Its another new attempt at harnessing the power of the crowd and putting it to use to create a better solution to a problem.

It really allows you to tap a small or large group of people around a marketing idea, product launch or other viral style campaign.

I have played around with the idea of using these groups such as Pixish when it comes to Logo creation or graphic design interfaces for widgets, etc.

It is so new and a little scary, and tough to get budget approval for these sorts of things.

I will give them each a shot in the next couple of months.

White Label Social Networking for a Mobile Platform

I have been playing with Ning a lot lately and really pushing it to see its potential for a rapid social network deployment.

It is very powerful and gives you a huge amount control over setting up a social network.

Now I heard about a new white label social networking platform for mobile and handhelds. It is called iamota impact.

It allows you to:
  • Quickly and easily create and launch mobile services.
  • Add mobile "Opt-ins" to many types of media: Web, blogs, email, social networks, TV, print, billboards, bus boards, on-product, radio, POS, live events
And it gives you:
  • Single interface to power mobile marketing, messaging, social networking, location-based services, content delivery and payment
  • Handles all wireless carrier certifications, device-specific content optimizations, digital rights management, carrier and Mobile Marketing Association rules
  • Open API and custom mobile services
  • Financial clearing and settlement
  • Reporting and statistics
It looks like the start of a pretty sweet service. It is a little pricey, but as we see more competition in this space I think we'll see more FREE and low cost solutions.

Finally Got Google Sites aka. Jotspot Reborn

Google finally launched the reborn Jotspot as Google sites. It is slick and elegant and acts as I thought it would as a Google App.

It seamlessly integrates with other Google Apps.

However it seems to be only launched for Google Apps? Which is continuing the confusion about the separation between my Google Apps for My Domain and my FREE primary Google Account which I use heavily.

In addition it isn't available in my current Google Apps for my domain. I had to sign up for a new account with a domain I had laying around to get at it.

A little frustrating, but I am still excited to play with. I will be working with it and see what I can get done.

Wooohoo!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Words of Wisdom on a Successful Facebook Business Profile

I was reading a post on BernaiseSource called Putting a Face on Social Networks: Corporate Facebook Pages.

It is another chapter in the ongoing discussion of whether to build your own social network or participate in existing social networks where your users already exist.

This post focuses primarily on deploying of a business social network profile on Facebook. There are 3 company success stories I found interesting and sum of potentially successful strategies.

Blockbuster - Karen Raskopf, senior vice president of corporate communications at Blockbuster, wrote:

We view this alliance with Facebook as an innovative way to cultivate relationships with millions of Facebook users by enabling them to interact with Blockbuster in convenient, relevant and entertaining ways. This is beyond advertising. This is about Blockbuster participating in the community of the consumer so that, in return, consumers feel motivated to share the benefits of our brand with their friends.

As one of the most-trafficked websites in the United States, we believe this alliance gives us a valuable opportunity to engage in an on-going dialogue with a tech-savvy audience, increase our brand relevance, form long-lasting consumer relationships, establish digital relationships with millions of media entertainment fans, and importantly grow our membership base, both in-store and online.

Verizon Wireless - Brenda.Raney a Verizon Wireless spokesperson wrote:

The decision to create a corporate presence on Facebook was driven primarily because our customers were using Facebook. It is important for us to talk to our customers where they work and play so Facebook is one more avenue to reach our customers. One of our strategic goals is to create more interactivity for Verizon Wireless customers who are also Facebook users.

Currently, Verizon’s Facebook page has two applications: Text to friends is the primary one. A recent one allows customers to go to the Verizon Wireless profile page, download a Keith Urban video and send it to friends. Friends who want the song, can hold their Verizon Wireless phones up to the computer and use SongID on their Verizon Wireless phones to purchase the song directly on their phones.

Sprite - Petro Kacur, senior manager, marketing communications at Coca-Cola describe:

Sprite has successfully used Facebook to reach its 18-24 year old target demographic that also happens to be the sweet spot for Facebook users.

"We're always looking for innovative ways to reach core Sprite drinkers that are relevant to them. Our Facebook app allows them to stay active online and remain connected with friends. Launched last November, Sprite’s Facebook Sips application has a natural viral component. Users can create a character and interact with friends.

It’s a natural fit for socializing. It inspires interaction and is also tied to product purchase decisions. Under each 20 oz Sprite cap is a code for a specialized feature that can be added to enhance a user's Sips character. Sprite has some experience with social networking. Its Facebook page is part of an evolution that includes MySpace, Second Life and mobile applications that let users stay connected via mobile phones.

It’s still too early to determine if Sprite’s Facebook foray is a success.

“We are still testing, learning, and seeing what catches on, what doesn’t, and how they are using our Facebook app. What’s important is to determine if the Sips application remains relevant by giving users a reason to go online and stay engaged. It can’t just be trendy. We can’t force a fit. It must fit in what we know about the target user and be true to the Sprite brand.”

Some great insight on how to focus your approach to deploying a presence on existing social networks. My personal stance is to focus heavily on where your users exist and are engaged in their conversation currently, while also developing and maintaining your own site and / or social network if applies.

A Social Media Case Study at Lego

Was just watching a great video on Jeremiah Owyang's blog about a Social Media Case Study from Jake McKee who used to work at Lego.

It was very interesting to see how entrenched and distance from customers a company can be. Also how resistant to change a company can be when it comes to opening up to new ideas, change and ultimately their customers.

Of course Lego is a very large company and has a unique product line, but it really shows an interested way of embracing the smaller more passionate segment of your audience and leveraging them to reach the larger portion of our customer base.

Give it a watch, it is called: The Tenacity of Jake McKee: A Social Media Case Study at Lego.

Find a Voice for Blog by Catablogging

Was readng a post on CopyBlogger about Catablogging. What is catablogging you ask? Do we really need new terminology for the way you blog?

A catablog is basically a blog that is designed to mix content and commerce in a very deliberate fashion. It’s looking to attract people who are interested in buying things, but who are also interested in immersing themselves in the lifestyle surrounding the products.

I thought the blog post described an interesting way of quickly developing a voice for your blog. I think that is a big problem for most bloggers to gain traction. I know I have.

Catablogging essentially allows you to piggyback on an existing brand or product line and evolve your voice around that.

This isn't necessarily somethinI am interested in doing, but I could see the value in making money by doing this. Really getting to know a product, line of products and the customer / fan base around that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Communication and Professionalism

I am reviewing about 8 resumes that were submitted for a social media marketing consultant. I made sure that when the resumes came in I responded to each letting them know I received and were reviewing.

Once I reviewed them all and was in the process of presenting them to the client I emailed each one personally and let them know where I was in the process.

One of the applicants emailed me saying how he appreciated the communication.

Made me think some more about this. I have experienced that a lot. In my last job search I submitted probably 150 resumes and received responses from about 20.....and interviews for about 15.

Most you never hear from. It isn't hard to drop them all into an email folder and export the email list and run a mail merge or god forbid actually personally respond.

So just wanted to share those thoughts. I am not always the best at communicating, I am the first to admit. However we can all try to be better at it.

Might come back to us at the right moment.

Bebo Social Networking for Social Media Marketing

Been doing some work on various Bebo Social Network Profiles as part of a social media marketing campaign. Since I am spending some time here I thought I would share some thoughts and strategy.

First off Bebo is a very European focused social network. There are a lot of US users, but definitely heavy on the European market.

I got setup and have my profile all filled out from my social media profile content platform. Wish I had some data portability tools!

Put in a nice picture of myself or my logo, then I went ahead and started a couple of photo albums, and picked the best pictures I have for the first albums.

I don't have any video so I didn't do anything there yet.

I emailed a handful of friends, coworkers, and business contacts I had to make them mad about joining another social network.

I looked through the applications directory to see if there were any relevant applications I could add. Bebo had some nice Widget hooks which I will play with later.

They have a whiteboard feature which is unique. You don't see this many places, it is kind of like the wall...but you can draw. I just posted one myself.

I went to my central company blog on this topic and found a couple of the latest blog posts and and made links to the articles.

Next I went ahead and did a search on a couple of keywords that are relevant to what I am doing. Several groups came up and I went ahead and either became a Fan or a Member. Which gives me some eyeballs on their profile and starts some potential relationships.

That was all I did. I am going to write-up a formal strategy for business social networking strategy using Bebo as marketing of your social media strategy.

Then I will work on a social media maintenance strategy for your Bebo social networking account.

Podcasting Using Your Phone

I was just playing with Cinch which is a new voice to RSS service. It allows you to call a number and it records a podcast for you. It is more focused, but similar to the voice translation service Jott that I have been using.

It gives you an RSS feed of the calls you make which you can easily blend into a Feedburner tracking RSS feed.

There is no limit to the recording unlike Jott, but of course it doesn't translate your calls.

Another valuable audio and podcasting web 2.0 service.

Google Talk Chatback Website Widget

I was just playing with the new Google Talk Chatback Widget. It allows you to allow anonymous chats from your web page for your customers and site visitors.

I was just researching using this last week for a client who was asking for it and didn't much care for the Boldchat they were using.

It is a great FREE or low cost web site chat and support module. Just yet another innovative use for the Google Platform. I use the Google services for so much these days.

I went ahead and added to my web site, since I leave my Gmail open all day and live in my Google Desktop it was a natural fit to have on my blog.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Custom Amazon EC2 Research and Development

We are now offering custom Amazon EC2 Research and Development services. If you are in need of custom EC2 instance deployment, feel free to contact us.

Timothy Meredith and I will be pioneering several custom deployments for clients and figured we'd offer these services to all other interested parties.

Pretty much any type of EC2 deployment on the Linux platform is where we are focused. Some examples are:
  • Web Server
  • Database Server
  • Email Server
  • SPAM Filter
  • LDAP Server
  • Video Server
  • Image Server
  • Utility Processing (Image resizing, video manipulation, etc.)
We will be posting specific packages and installations as they become available. Feel free to email kinlane@gmail.com if you have a specific instance configuration in mind that you need.

Amazon EC2 Custom Deployment

Had a meetup with a fellow developer friend of mine. He has been programming for years, but in the last 3-4 years become a real linux distribution and deployment expert. He works primarily on developing very specialized linux installs for specific purposes such as mail server, spam filtering, specialized web applications, and very focused utility solutions.

We are going to be working together to offer extremely specialized linux EC2 installations.

I have really got excited over the various possiblities for EC2 deployments for speciality need such as scalable Facebook applications, gaming server environments, utility processing, LDAP, data warehousing and much more.

So look for more to come on what is possible on the EC2 platform.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Olympic Committee Rules Out Social Media

Was just reading a post on ReadWriteWeb about Olympic Committe Rules Revealed: No Posting of Media Allowed.

They say they are embracing blogging because it is a form of personal expression and not a form of journalism.

However they are prohibiting the usage of pictures, sound or moving images in any blog or other method.

It is amazing that there are still major groups that do not understand the value of social media and want to control and license everything that happens.

I am working in social media more and more in the outdoor space with Altrec.com and GreatOutdoors.com and I am realizing the huge value of social media to sporting and outdoor events.

It is sad to see the Olympic committee feel this way.

Pay Per Action and Involvement

Starting to see some ad networks and ad models moving beyond traditional views or clicks. Videoegg launched a new pay per engagement video model.

Advertisers pay only on an "engagement" basis or when a user rolls over the ad and the advertisers full screen is displayed.

It is a first for this type of true engagement model and really focuses your advertising.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ping Service for your Blog

Part of your syndication strategy for your blog should be alerting blog search engines that you have made an update.

I found a service today called Ping-O-Matic that you can put in your blog name, home page, and rss URL and choose which services to ping that your blog has been updated.

This is a great tool to get the word out there regarding your blog.

Duplicate Content Problem with Search Engines

Every time I discuss syndicated content to other sites and platforms I get the question, well what about getting in trouble for duplicate content?

This is a topic that has been over-hyped and discussed way to much. It is true if you just programatically build out multiple sites all with the same or similar content you will get dinged for this.

The problem people have is they are too focused on what search engines are thinking and forgot about their #2 users..."HUMANS".

You need to be found in search engines so that HUMANS can find you, but you also need to identify that people find information in other ways too. They use RSS Feeds, Social Networks, Home Page Sites, News Sites, Blog Aggregators, and much much more.

So when getting worried about duplicate content just ask yourself, "Am I maliciously replicating this content just to get more keyword value"? If you aren't and you genuinely are syndicated the content for real consumption, don't worry so much.

Search engines are smart, they can tell what is real content and usually can tell what the source is.

Use Flickr for Online and Social Media Marketing


I have historically played around with many online marketing and social media marketing techniques. I play around from time to time to see what works and what doesn't.

Last year I was walking around with my daughter and taking pictures for our Eugene Local Search web site. I am trying to have pictures of local attractions and business around Eugene, Oregon.

I took this picture of the Eugene Federal Courthouse. I then told a little story about it and happen to include a link Eugene Web Design Services which links to our web development company.

So it took a relevant geographical picture, some text, then linked with relevant keywords to our web site.

I have noticed I still get a some click through on this link as well as some search engine optimization value.

It is a nice example of using Flickr as part of your online marketing and social media marketing strategy.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Whiteboard 2.0

I like using whiteboards to sketch out ideas. I love drawing elaborate graphs and visuals to try and convey my point.

I usually take pictures of my drawings so I have a digital copy, and I have even played with a few smartboards that record my drawings.

I came across a web 2.0 whiteboard created by GE today called Imagination Cubed. It is pretty cool.

Just a well done simple application. You can draw your thoughts and play it back and email it to people as well.

Give it a try.

A Little Closer to a Single Social Interface

A new startup called PageOnce makes an attempt to create a single social interface. This doesn't appear to be too much different than Netvibes or Pageflakes. However since it is in private BETA I can't really take it for a test drive.

Definitely a common problem for social networking and other web application fatigue when you have to go to each site and maintain.

I try to keep up on all my applications and networks, however fall way short when I just get tired of doing it.

We'll see if PageOnce can achieve my single social interface.

Amazon Web Services Experienced an Outage

Amazon Web Services experienced an outage this morning across all their systems. There is a flurry of posts on this forum about the Amazon Web Services Outage.

This is the first actual outage I have seen or heard of on the Amazon Web Services Platform. Definitely a black eye for Amazon Web Services and building credibility with the community to use them as the core of their networks.

Gives some fuel to the argument that no matter what infrastructure you use that you should have a Plan B.

There were some really scared and frustrated people out there questioning their business models.

I really hope Amazon can recover from this, I really have been pushing AWS and evangelizing with various clients.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Flickr Getting More Social

I haven't spent much time on Flickr until recently. I have had an account for years, but only upload every once in a while.

Tonight when I logged on to check out the mobile features I notice they are getting more social. It asked me to complete my profile and upload a profile picture and tell a little more about myself.

Didn't fill out much about myself, really get tired of putting information about myself. Need a tool to do it automatically.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Web 2.0 Apps Done Right

I have blogged several times about web 2.0 applications and what I look for in them. I have been evaluating a lot of applications lately and a good application really stands out.

I have been looking through Image and Photo sharing applications all day and comparing them against each other. Man there is a lot of crap.

One appliceation that I think truly reflects a quality Web 2.0 applications is the image sharing site 23. The have the key characteristics:
  • Do one thing and do it well.
  • They have an API.
  • Simple, intuitive interface.
  • Have a blog
  • Have an about us page.
  • Simple Search
  • Simple Navigation
  • Quick loading
They do it well, congrats guys.

Applications Today Without an API

I am doing a lot of research right now on quality web 2.0 applications for specific purposes. It really is frustrating when I find the perfect aplication with all the features we are looking for except for one. An API.

Why the hell do you go an build a really sweet application with killer features and you don't add an API.

It just seems like it goes against all logic these days to release a partial or no API at all.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Firefox Add-On Overcrowding

I use quite a few different Firefox Add-Ons. I use Amazon S3 Firefox Organizer, EC2 UI, Google Notebook, coCommnet, Shareaholic, just to name a few.

My right click, tray and toolbar is just getting very crowded.

It would be nice if someone logically built out a framework for these to display. I hope with Firefox 3.0 coming out they find a solution.

It would be nice if I could manage what showed up where.

Amazon Launchs new S3 Analysis Tool

Amazon just launched a new analysis tool for Amazon S3 called, S3Stat. This tool uses the log files generated by S3, analyzes them using Webalizer, and generates a variety of reports.

Take a look at the sample reports to learn more.

There's a one-month free trial and usage after that costs just $2 per month. Take a look at the pricing plan to learn more. While you are on the site you may want to take a look at their list of S3 resources as well.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Chance at a Personal Introduction Using Question and Answer Sites

I have been really getting into answering questions on LinkedIn's answers section. I have the technology areas on my RSS feed so when they come in. I find I learn a lot from some of the questions posed. Not just answering questions for people.

I have also have really made a lot of connections doing this. I was just thinking about what a wonderful opportunity it is to make one on one connections with people and make a good first impression by helping them solve a problem.

Map of the Undersea Internet World

I came across this picture of the undersea cables running around the world. I thought it was real interesting to see how our Internet flows around the world.

I recently read an article about how some rock slides here on the Oregon coast had caused an Internet outage in Australia. Knowing where these fiber lines run really helps you understand the fragility of our Internet community

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Case Western Reserve University to Debut Usage of 2D codes on campus

I was turned to an article about usage of QR Codes on Campus over at 2d-code.co.uk.

Beginning February 1st 2008, students, faculty and staff at Case Western Reserve's Cleveland, Ohio, campus will be participating in the nation's first trial of "2D codes"—commonly referred to as "QR Codes"—by bringing the cell phone technology to campus.

The 2D codes, first introduced on campus during fall orientation will be used as a link to mobile content in the form of pictures, music, videos, news articles and other interactive media.

For companies, the codes present an avenue for extending the value of their product packaging. For students, the codes are a way to deliver information and entertainment to friends. For professors, they allow a new level of interactivity for engaging the Facebook generation.

All faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the university who have a case.edu e-mail address can enroll in the pilot beginning February 1st at http://www.mobilediscovery.com.

From this Web site, members of the university community will be able to download to a cell phone the software needed to read the codes, create their own 2D codes and connect the codes to content—for free. Some wireless carriers may charge users for each code read and content downloaded to the phone.

Sometimes I get the feeling the educational institutions are behind the game when it comes to technology, it is nice to see some taking risks and leading.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

From Ignite - How Will a Social Media Agency Work With My Current Agency?

Just read a great post over at Ignite Social Media about How Will a Social Media Agency Work With My Current Agency?

It has some great suggestions on ways a social media consultant can provide services for your social media marketing campaign:
  • Consultant
  • Trainer
  • Executor
Give it a read, it can help you figure out the best level to engage a social media consultant on.

Google's New Social Graph API

Google just release a social graph API out into the wild.

Google crawls the Web to find publicly declared relationships between people's accounts, just like Google crawls the Web for links between pages. But instead of returning links to HTML documents, the API returns JSON data structures representing the social relationships that were discovered from all the XFN and FOAF.

XF stands for XHTML Friends Network which is a simple way to represent human relationships using hyperlinks by utilizing a simple rel="" property for the hyperlink.

FOAF stands for The Friend of a Friend project and is creating a Web of machine-readable pages describing people, the links between them and the things they create and do.

This is definitely a great approach for Google to take to continue bringing the web together. I see a big problem with their not being enough defined content out there on the Internet for this to be useful quite yet. It appears people like Plaxo are working to solve this with their Plaxo Pulse.

Hopefully this is the beginning of Google integrating more social network relationship controls into their gmail contacts, docs and user controls.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Wearable Camcorder and Community Site for Publishing

Vholdr_cameraCheck this cool camera out. Itis a company of action sports enthusiasts and media professionals

It is perfect for the person who wants to document their active life.

Supposively the quality is pretty good. The camera can record 2 full hours of video on an embedded MicroSD card. There's also a microphone built-in.

Once the recording is complete, it can be uploaded to the VholdR site, tagged, labeled, and then shared.

What is also very cool is the application uses several Amazon Web Services behind the scenes. All of the videos are stored in Amazon S3, and the entire EC2-powered uploading, transcoding, and post-processing system is driven by data stored in a couple of Amazon SQS instances.

I'm going to have to test run one of these.