Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Do we have room for 6 billion rock stars?

October 29, 2008

What if you were to combine the best networking and social aspects of Facebook and Crowdvine? I wasn’t aware of Crowdvine until someone added it to the wiki for BarCampBankSF. It first I was skeptical of YAFSNW* (*Yet Another Freaking Social Networking Website). But after diving in, I saw that it does certain things well, and does serve a specific purpose, though there is definitely room for improvement. Crowdvine’s purpose is to enable connections to happen, before, during, and after, a specific event, and even facilitate virtual connections with people unable to attend the event in-person.

As example, say you are in a new industry and you are attending a conference in another state. You’ve heard about some of the innovators in the field who are going to be at the conference. But you also know there are going to be hundreds of people there who you’ve never heard of before, and want to meet many of them to start developing your personal network. Crowdvine lets you see who is coming to the event ahead of time, and lets you designate that you are a fan of someone, and also that you want to meet someone. Because of the personal items that you can import into Crowdvine (your blog, twitter stream, and flickr photos), you can really get a good sense of what a person is all about via that source. This is very different from a friend on Facebook, where you can’t get any info on the person until AFTER you’ve agreed to be friends with him/her, and rightly so because it is of a personal rather than professional nature. Crowdvine is all about making connections that happen because of an event in common. And it’s pretty good at what it does; it really is an icebreaker to have heard of, and/or seen a photo of, a person who is going to an event that you are attending. 

So this leads to the following questions: What does it mean to be a friend of someone? A fan of someone? If you befriend a rock star, is that the same relationship that you have with your other friends? Of course, this train of thought wouldn’t be complete without saying that either a.) there are no rock stars, we all put our pants on, one leg at a time, or b.) we are all rock stars, everyone on the planet is important. (At least to their mothers.) But the reality is somewhere in between; that we all choose who we want to look up to and admire, and the degree to which we do that is different for any given person and relationship. For some people, there are no rock stars, for others there are many rock stars, of varying degrees of brightness.

So can you be a friend of, and a fan of someone at the same time? I feel privileged to be friends with social media rock star Chris Brogan, as well as credit union marketing rock stars William Azaroff, Tim McAlpine, Gene Blishen (and many others!). In Crowdvine, I would totally mark that I am a fan of theirs. In Facebook, I have befriended them. There are other people who I am a fan of, but don’t really want to have that same “friend” relationship as it is implied in Facebook. But what about your “ordinary” friends? What if you are a personal friend of someone, but not a fan of them? (You know what relationship I’m talking about, it’s the one with your buddy who calls you at 2 am needing a place to crash for the night. Again.) Would they be insulted if they knew that that was how you felt about them? Or would they be ‘big’ enough to appreciate the honesty? Questions to explore in this brave new internetworked world.

On a related note, Chris Messina has written an in-depth report on the state of OpenID. If you are interested in the evolution of your identity on the web, and how that works across the slate of different social networking sites, this is recommended reading. Which brings up the next question, do credit unions have a role to play in web identity and OpenID? Do credit unions have an expertise or credibility which can be brought to bear here? Or, should the OpenID/online social identity be kept completely separate from the monetary (credit/debit cards, ACH etc) systems network? Is PayPal already the intersection between the two? What are the benefits and drawbacks from having these as a single network versus separate networks?

Amazingly enough, I am agog as social media rock star Chris Brogan DM’d me on twitter while I was writing this. Rock on, Chris!

Social Media Marketing Best Practice: Bridge the gap

September 10, 2008

For those of us who have been involved in the online world for more than a few years, the latest incarnation of the web is pretty exciting stuff. The connections and interactions via blogs, podcasts, twitter, Facebook, Flickr, friendfeed, YouTube, etc, brings us closer together with other people on the other side of the country, the other side of the world, or even in our own neighborhood in ways that have never been possible before.

There is some awareness of the echo-chamber nature of the social media world, but I’m not at all worried about that, mainly because the rate of adoption of these tools is picking up speed. I wonder how many people in the television industry were worrying about the rate of television adoption in the early 60s?

But when creating a social media marketing campaign, one has to remember that not everyone is connected using these tools, and even if they are, they’re not necessarily aware of you, or the fact that you’ve got some cool things happening online.

So another best practice: bridge the gap between social media and face-to-face interactions. I recently went to a restaurant in Boston with a sticker in the window that read “People love us on Yelp”. I had actually found the restaurant because I used the Yelp iPhone application to give me a restaurant recommendation near my current location.

Having the Yelp sticker in the window accomplishes two things: It welcomes Yelpers who arrive to the restaurant for the first time, making them feel special and at home. It also may create curiosity in non-Yelpers to check out that web site. And creates awareness for Yelp at the same time. This is a great example of bridging the gap, even when your virtual company has little or no physical presence.

Example number two of bridging the gap: One of the hottest social media campaigns, inside the credit union world or out, is Young and Free. The first incarnation launched in Alberta, Canada. Now there’s a sister campaign that has launched in Houston. One of the neatest aspects of getting this off the ground is the amazing Go Mobile/Guitar Hero/Info truck that Trey is driving around from event to musical event. Many young folks in the target demographic are using social media and networking tools, but they wouldn’t necessarily come across the campaign unless there is some bridge from their world to finding the CU’s social media site. This fun, tricked-out truck, which is camping out at events that young folks are at fits the bill perfectly.

What marketing efforts do you see that nicely bridge the gap between the online and physical worlds?

Is the iPhone going to revolutionize banking?

July 14, 2008

Ron Shevlin wrote a post this morning about why the iPhone isn’t going to revolutionize banking. His point is that there may be some evolution, but not revolution. My counterpoint is that when talking about degrees by which these things happen, it can be difficult to draw a line between these two. And waiting for that line to become bright is a risk that some might not want to take.

Ron thinks that there are too many people rushing in to these revolutionary technologies. I actually think it’s the opposite: there are far more people in the financial world who are taking a wait and see attitude than those who are claiming there is a revolution and jumping in feet first. It’s just that the feet-first types are the vocal ones who make the noise and get the attention. Because, really, who wants to admit they are going to take a wait-and-see approach? I give props to Charles Bruen for taking a hard-line wait-and-see stance on mobile banking.

But let me back up to Ron’s bigger issue; what is revolutionary and what is evolutionary? While it is indeed hard to determine what is truly “disruptive” and “revolutionary” (yes, these words are used too often) at the time they are occurring, nevertheless, some of these things DO take root and create significant change. As one example, in 2005, Facebook had but one million users. Hardly a disruptive revolution, right? But it had momentum and was growing fast, and now has 80 million users. That would make Facebook the fifteenth largest country in the world if it were a country. Three years ago, most people had barely heard of it. Today it’s a part of the culture. When exactly did it go from a blip on the radar screen to mainstream?

I believe the same is true for mobile banking, P2P lending, and PFMs. Yes, these revolutions are not happening violently because banking isn’t sexy. But if there were any way I could get off the sidelines and do something with these technologies, I would be in the game. I give huge props to Gene Blishen for being light years ahead of the curve on what mobile banking can be and do.

Dan Dickinson, in a response to Ron’s post, asks if there is anyone on twitter who does NOT use an iPhone, and states that he will never buy anything made by Apple. As far as the game-changing nature of the iPhone and mobile connectedness, this misses the point.

The point is this: for those of us who were tethered to a desk in order to use our PCs and access the net, laptops were a revolution. Now you could go anywhere with a laptop, be connected/do your work, but you could only connect to the entire internet when you found wifi, which was rare or expensive and often both. With an iPhone (and to some degree any smart phone) you can connect to the net ANYWHERE you have a cell phone connection, which these days seems like just about anywhere. That’s powerful, game changing stuff, and also not as clunky and bulky as a laptop.

But again, here’s the real reason why people LOVE their iPhones, and why it’s indeed a paradigm-shifting, disruptive, revolution (he he!): Because it’s so FREAKING PERSONAL. iPhone owners feel that it’s “my” internet on their iPhones, it’s MY connection to MY friends and MY music and MY phone and MY pictures and MY contacts and MY address book and MY calendar and MY videos and MY games and MY apps! I can customize it with pictures of MY friends and MY kids on MY home screen, and take a photo ANYWHERE I am and instantly email it to my friends. Try wrestling away any device (no matter whether its an iPhone or something else) that has so much personalization and connection… it can’t be done. And to the extent that BlackBerries and Treos do this too, well, yes, that’s why their users love them just as much as us Appleheads love our iPhones.

Rev up your Twitter bio; Twellow is here

June 30, 2008

Twello.comI learned today, from a Facebook group about Twitter, of a site launched on June 24, 2008, called Twellow. Twellow is named for “Twitter Yellow Pages.” It’s a searchable directory of Twitterers, aka Twits, aka people who use Twitter.

I was interested in this new web site because just recently someone said that a twitterer version of ought to be created. Lo and behold, a few days later, here it is in the form of Twellow. I scanned the main categories and they looked like a typical yellow pages. There was no category on the home page for ‘finance’, and none for ‘social media.’ So I really didn’t give it a second thought. However, some of my twitter friends (CUWarrior and Christopher Stevenson) were more thoughtful, and plugged ‘credit union’ into the search field to see the results. The results showed 15 credit union twitterers. By default, people are shown in descending order by the number of followers. At the time of this writing, the Top 10 results were: @CUWarrior, @TonyMannor, @weatherchaos, @RobWright, @CreativeBrand, @Clint_Williams, @mfagala, @markiev33, @Kent_CULifer, and @BenJoeM.

I took at look at who was being listed, and have deduced some of the ways in which the site works to list people.

Up until now, the only real purpose of your Twitter bio (limited to 160 characters), was to be interesting. If someone was interested in being your Twitter friend, their decision might be influenced by your bio. But if Twellow takes off in popularity (Mashable calls Twellow the people directory that Twitter itself ought to have built. Review hat tip: Ginny Brady), then your Twitter bio becomes much more important.

Twellow uses your twitter bio to categorize you.

Suddenly a creative bio is much less attractive than a straightforward bio if you are interested in being listed “well” in this directory. Each of the 15 people on the search results for ‘credit union’ had (surprise, surprise) the word “credit union” in their bio. This prompted Tim McAlpine to question why he wasn’t on the list. The answer is that right now Twellow is DUMB when it comes to singular vs. plural. Searching for “credit unions” yields a different list of five people than “credit union”, and includes Tim. We’ll see how long Twellow remains “dumb” in this way.

One last point about how Twellow categorizes people: Twellow has an algorithm that puts you into certain categories based on the keywords in your twitter bio. This is different than the simple and straightforward search (i.e. searching “credit union” yields the results of those who have “credit union” in their bio.) Keywords have been sorted, so that the word “CEO” in your bio puts you into three categories: Management, Management -> Executives, and Management -> Executives -> CEOs. Check out the categories that other people have been put in, and examine their bios to deduce what keywords have put them there.

I have updated my twitter bio armed with this new information. I am wondering how long it will take for Twellow to re-index me. I’m guessing I’ll be waiting for a re-index longer than it takes the Twellow programmers to get “smart” about singulars vs. plurals.

***Update 11:50 pm***
@William Azaroff cracked the code after reading this post, of how to get Twellow to re-index you after you change your Twitter bio. Once you’ve changed your Twitter bio, go to the Twellow page Get Listed, and submit your twitter username. Twellow will give you an error message, saying that the name is already indexed. However, within a couple of minutes, Twellow will re-index your profile and get the latest information available from twitter, including latest tweet and bio. Within five minutes, your changed bio will be reflected in Twellow’s search results. Feel free to mix, experiment and optimize how you want to be found on Twellow.

TV News meets Kung Fu via Facebook

February 24, 2008

Chinese New Year’s resident Cold Fusion programming genius, Adam Lueb is a busy guy. In addition to keeping the site humming and implementing Online Switch Kits for scores of credit unions all over the country, he also runs the Shaolin Kung Fu Center in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

Tonight, Adam and the Center held a Chinese New Year’s celebration and Kung Fu demonstration. And Adam, being the social person, and savvy entrepreneur that he is, listed the celebration on Facebook. In addition to being a great time, the Chinese New Year’s celebration and Kung Fu demonstration is also a way to get new people interested in becoming Kung Fu students. So Adam hoped to attract additional people to the event via Facebook.

When an event is posted to Facebook, if it’s a regional event, it will appear on the Network’s home page calendar unless you choose not to have it appear there. Oh, and did I mention the cost to put your event on Facebook? It’s free.

A couple of days ago, Adam got a phone call from a reporter for one of the local TV News stations, an ABC affliate, WGGB ABCNews 40. She wanted to cover the event. Adam readily agreed, and asked how she had heard about it. The calendar of events on the Network page of Facebook was the answer.

So what is the lesson from this chain of events? Well-planned events that are closely connected to your core brand/business strategy are terrific for getting the word out about your organization. And you never know who is going to see your event when you publicize it in online channels. By the way, the Celebration was enthralling. Here is the event’s Facebook page, and more photos.

Facebook – Powerful Marketing Platform

January 11, 2008

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you know that one of the very hottest web sites is Facebook. And that’s for good reason. It may be one of the greatest marketing platforms created to date. If you are a credit union, and you hold member education events, you need to get them on Facebook. The first credit union to do this was Beehive CU in Utah, which put on a Credit Make-Over Seminar in April 2007, and created a Facebook Group for this purpose. They had a resounding success, attracting 19 people to the group.

On deck is Laura Baker (bakedlaurabean on twitter), Director of Marketing for Valley Credit Union in San Jose, CA. Her credit union is holding an event, Credit Score Enhancement Seminar, on February 21, 2008. Laura has already invited 20 people to the event, and has posted it to her profile. Chances are good that she’ll attract a good turnout since young adults and professionals, especially in her region– Silicon Valley, are the fastest growing age groups on Facebook.

It’s hard to explain why Facebook is THE place to go to promote your event if you have never used it. In order to understand better, the best way is to get on Facebook, connect with your friends, and watch your feed. You’ll see all the events your friends are going to. You’ll become aware of events that you would have never known about otherwise. If you become friends on Facebook with professionals in your field, you’ll find out about industry events that wouldn’t have known about otherwise. That’s how I found out about BarCampBank Seattle. Robbie Wright, author of Life and Times of a CU Employee, who I hadn’t yet met in-person, invited me to come a couple of days before the event. I was sorry that my schedule prevented me from getting there.

This is how and why Credit Unions need to put their events on Facebook. First of all, it’s completely free to do so. Secondly, it’s quick and easy to do it. But the best part is that once several of your members sign up for the event on Facebook, THEIR friends will see that they are going. Friends, family members, and colleagues of your members will see that your members are attending your event. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. Especially with the younger generation’s natural aversion to advertising, this kind of exposure is worth ten times the equivalent traditional ad exposure. Because it’s a PERSONAL ENDORSEMENT, and in it’s own way, it’s viral exposure. The more people who go to the event, the more people see that others are going to the event. Imagine how powerfully compelling it is to see that 7 of YOUR friends are attending a seminar on the ins and outs of improving your credit score. That’s going to make you at least want to check it out and see what the big fuss is.

Because of the social nature of Facebook, one of the keys to getting good exposure to your event on Facebook is to entice gregarious people to attend your event. There are many people on Facebook with hundreds of friends. It will get more exposure for your event when these “connectors” attend, than someone with only a dozen Facebook friends.

If Laura’s event does not draw a large crowd via Facebook this time around, it’s not because it’s not the right thing to do. It would only be because she’s ahead of her time, or because she hasn’t yet cultivated a large enough Facebook following among her members yet. But holding the event, and getting the word out there is the beginning of cultivating those member relationships on Facebook.

I covered the basics of Facebook event marketing at the Lake George World 2.0 workshop that we did in December, and look forward to the opportunity to speak to more credit union groups in 2008 about this exciting new marketing channel.

Blocking Social Networking Sites in the Workplace

December 26, 2007

I hope that everyone is having a great holiday season.

This morning, the topic of blocking social networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook, was brought up on

Employee productivity in the workplace is obviously a big issue. Being distracted from work, from customers/members who need help, is not a good thing. But employees are people too, and want to be connected to the people that are important in their lives.

Food for thought:
• Email becomes popular. Companies block email. Companies now can’t do business without email.
• The web becomes popular. Companies block the web. Companies now can’t imagine doing business without access to the web.
• Cell phones become popular. Companies create rules to disallow cell phone usage in the workplace. Professionals now can’t imagine living without their cell phones. (Notice a pattern? Let’s continue on….)

• becomes popular. Credit unions block their staff from accessing EverythingCU. (Can you believe there are many CUs where this is still true?)
• Blogging becomes popular. (With 100 million blogs in existence, there is no practical way to block them all. Though I’m sure some companies have tried.) Companies can’t imagine the use/purpose of blogging for themselves. Forward thinking companies adopt blogging techniques for their own web sites.
• Facebook becomes popular. Companies block facebook. (What will happen next?) People adopt twitter, and update their facebook status via twitter.
• Twitter becomes popular. Companies block twitter. (What happens next?) People enable their cell phones to work with twitter and facebook, updating both their twitter and facebook accounts via text messaging.

Many companies are shutting down access to these kind of sites. And they simlutaneously wonder two things: Why can’t they retain talented employees? And why aren’t they reaching youth and new customers?

People are GOING to communicate with their colleagues, friends and family, and there exists now a myriad of ways they can do it.

Perhaps instead of spending time blocking access to these sites, the company could focus on learning how to embrace these kinds of new technologies to enhance their members’ experience with the institution. Are there cell phone text messaging applications that should be created?

Perhaps instead of monitoring employee MySpace/Facebook/Twitter usage, empower your employees to use these sites get the message out about your what your company stands for, and what’s happening there. But that’s just my idea. I would love to hear what you think.

Facebook revolutionizes marketing as we know it

November 9, 2007

Mark November 7, 2007 on your calendars. That is the date on which Facebook revolutionized marketing as we know it. Facebook was already an incredible platform for brands before that date, since anyone could create a group. But with Facebook’s latest announcement, marketing is taken to entirely new realm.

For the unintiated, Facebook might seem like just a smaller cousin version of MySpace. But nothing could be further than the truth. Facebook is much more than just another social networking site, it’s a whole new ballgame. Yesterday was the first day that Facebook put business pages on its site, where businesses can describe themselves and what is going on. But more importantly, people can now state their love of the business (by becoming a fan). What’s the big deal with that you say? The big deal is that if you are a fan of a company on Facebook, all of your friends see that you are a fan of that company. For instance, I love Apple, and already I am joined by 500 other people who love Apple. I’m sure that number will swell into the hundreds of thousands in short order. Now all my friends see that I am a fan of Apple. I also love the elegant simplicity of Skagen watches. While there does not yet exist a Skagen page, I will become a fan as soon as it is created. Imagine that you don’t have a favorite kind of watch. But you see that many of your friends like Skagen. Are you going to be influenced to at least consider Skagen the next time you are in a watch store? You better believe it…. and that’s not even taking into consideration any ads that might be served up… You would simply see a feed on your feed page that states that Morriss, Tim, Beth, and Michelle are all fans of Skagen watches. And that’s more powerful than the slickest, most creative, award winning ad that Madison Avenue could ever come up with.

Here’s a story from Indiana’s, and reaction from Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang.

So let me say this clearly: This is a revolution in marketing. Google created one revolution by showing you ads based on the words you use to search. But now in Facebook, ads will be shown to you if your friends like the company.

What does this mean? At last, once and for all, the END of DEMOGRAPHICS. No longer do ads target by gender, age, income, or zip code. People are influenced by their friends, and adopt their friends’ behaviors and characteristics. Facebook now has a mechanism to show you the companies, products, and brands that your friends like and trust. That cuts across age, gender, income, and zip code.

Advice: Create your brand’s Facebook page RIGHT NOW. It’s quick, easy, and free. Then start inviting your employees and best customers to become fans of the company.

Advice number two: Bring your customer service to new heights of excellence. People remember when they are treated exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly. Review sites have been around for a while. But Facebook takes it to a whole new level, enabling companies to flourish or flop in new record time, because word will spread even faster now than ever before.

This is Marketing 2.0. Are you on board?


October 15, 2007

Toronto's CN TowerLast week, I had the pleasure of going to Toronto for FacebookCampToronto. I already knew a little bit about Facebook, but I didn’t realize that I was only scratching the surface of this site that is yet another revolution in social media. MySpace isn’t going to disappear any time soon, but Facebook is definitely where the real action is happening. Facebook may very well supplant LinkedIn as the social network for professionals, and that has already happened in Silicon Valley, London, and Toronto.

Having been involved with social media since 2000 (only we didn’t call it social media back then), it’s readily apparent to me that the hype surrounding Facebook is not hype– it’s real. Facebook has the potential to change the way many people conduct their online lives. No wonder Facebook’s founder has turned down an offer for $1 billion to buy his company.

The highlights of what I learned at FacebookCampToronto: Toronto rocks, and in general, Canucks kick our butt when it comes to culture. Toronto is delightfully international in flavor. There are now 44 million people now using Facebook, which is about double from where it was back in May when they announced the open application interface. Canada and UK are two of the fastest growing countries using Facebook– even faster than the U.S. London has the most people using Facebook with 1.1 million. Toronto has the second most with 800,000, and 11 of the top 30 FB cities in the world are Canadian.

Like all social media, success in Facebook comes from empowering the user, and enabling people to share and make connections with each other. New applications are being developed at an amazing rate. People who are on Facebook use it a LOT. The developer of MyAquarium grew his installed base to 8 million people — in three months. There are numerous way to conduct marketing within Facebook. By far the best, most effective way is to have your application send messages to the user’s mini-feed, some of which will then make it to the main news feed. The mini-feed and main news feed concepts are they keys to what make Facebook successful, and keeps its participants coming back. And with imagination, you can tap into these feeds. We humans are social creatures, and when we see our friends doing something, our instinct is to check out what’s going on too. Facebook allows you to see what your friends are up to….brilliant!

Two financial applications were discussed during the various presentations. FacebookCampTorontoLending Club was briefly mentioned, and Split It (covered in detail by William Azaroff at Net Banker) was discussed as an example of a large corporation sponsoring a useful application targeted especially at college kids.

I also met some new friends, some from Montreal as well as Toronto, at the party afterward. They are all great people, fascinating characters, and are working on some pretty amazing projects.

Definition of World 2.0

October 7, 2007

I’ve been writing and speaking about World 2.0 for more than a year, but haven’t put my definition into this blog yet. So here’s my best shot:

World 2.0: The convergence of the online and offline worlds to create new ways of being, thinking, doing, existing, transacting, interacting, belonging, and socializing that weren’t possible before the web.

Further explanation: Tim O’Reilly’s definition of Web 2.0 has been well-documented. World 2.0 is the way in which the web has re-defined how we live our lives.

My favorite examples of World 2.0: Geocaching, Webkinz, Google Earth, and BarCamps. The Cluetrain Manifesto planted the seeds for a new understanding of the world created by the web. Other World 2.0 examples include Couch Surfing, 43 Places, and GPS Navigators. Social media is also integral to World 2.0. This ain’t your grandpa’s telegraph: Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.

World 2.0 is a change in the way we think about many things. In addition to Web 2.0, World 2.0 encompasses Business 2.0, Marketing 2.0, and Media 2.0.