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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Linkedin Launches New User Interface - Is it Becoming the Professional Facebook?

I was happily surprised today to see that Linkedin has launched a new layout that brings together many of the different elements into one page and allows them room for future development.

I hope they continue down this development path and build a comprehensive professional tool that offers more of the communication side of business networking. I have always struggled where facebook fits in the business world and with all of the challenges they have had of late I know of more than a few that have removed themselves from the community. Now facebook can be kept more for friends and Linkedin can be used as the networking / business community tool.

The new interface is pretty simple for now with stats, profile and navigation info down the left side, news and updates feeds down the middle with the right side being available to add modules like Answers, Jobs, etc.



And for the final thought, if you still haven't built out your Linkedin profile and network you need to do it today and for the experienced users they also have a mobile app at m.linkedin.com


Monday, February 18, 2008

Listen Before Jumping into Social Media

I had the pleasure last week of speaking at the CMA 2008 Business of Ideas conference on interacting with your customers as a source of ideas.

Most of the tips and content came from a previous post on the 7 steps to take during the next week to listen to your customers but the key point is that before you can do anything in social or community based media to you to listen.

Remember if you want to be a great conversationalist you first need to be a good listener. Spend some time over the next week listen to your customers and share what you hear with the organization.

You are already in social media, you just don't know it. They are already talking you are not just listening.

The 3 Pillars to Success in the New Economy

Many people talk about the level of complexity that was added with the Internet and how business engages with it.

In the end the Internet is allowing us to transform our businesses and refocus our strategies. I was talking the other day with an exciting new start-up and I realized how exciting it is to be building a business in this environment.

Not being burdened by years of processes or understandings allows a focus on three key pillars that all business, new and old, need to build as their base.

Your Community, Brand Story and Content can be the difference between success and failure and understanding how each of these can be leverage across your organization is critical

Community: This is extension of your site and business. How are users interacting with your business, your brand and your content and then extending this across other platforms and the broader internet? Make it easy to share yourself, your stories and your products. Listen to what your users are saying and participate in the conversation.

Brand Story: Show what makes your brand different, tell the story and deliver on it's promises. Your business and site can't just be a list of products or services but it needs to be an interaction that supports your position in the marketplace. Show how you are different than everyone else and what value you bring to the table, tell consumer why they should be interacting with you.

Content: This is your products, services and information. What value is your business and site bringing to the users. How do you extend beyond your basic offering to ensure the consumer is getting value add and sees your business and site as an asset in their purchase decision process. If you sell watches are you providing the information on how to make a purchase decision, what is available in the market and the differences in the product offerings. Make it easy for the consumer to use you as a resource in their purchase discovery process.

All three of these are intertwined so make sure you take the time to understand each and have a long term plan on their evolution as missing on these will hurt your chances at success

Ads from the 1930

Some ads from the 1930s that are circulating around by email.

The point to note is that the more we change the more we are the same, new features in products that make life easier (beer cans), expert and personal testimonial and self improvement are all key themes in the ads.

Have fun!






Sunday, February 03, 2008

Now It's About Share of Wallet

We are now at a point where the growth of new consumers online is going to slow and not be the generator of new business that it was in the past. A new study by eMarketer shows that 92% of North American Internet users have purchases online.

What this means, to us, is that the focus needs to be on Share of Wallet and constantly ensuring we are making it as simple as possible to meet their online shopping needs and expectations.

This will change how you look and market to your customer base. They are comfortable with buying online so we will need to work to enhance the overall customer experience. No longer will it be acceptable to only have a sub-set of products available online, a difficult to use website with an inadequate search or marketing programs that are not engaging the consumer when they are looking for information to complete the purchase.

It will still be a difficult challenge as online penetration in many categories is still low, but the focus needs to be on how do you service the consumer and ensure their online shopping expectations are exceeded. As Canadian online retailers we may be a bit behind the curve as consumers demand for online shopping is most likely further ahead than we are positioned in the marketplace. This negative can be turned to a positive through an enhanced understanding of the customer and using the next year to ensure you are building a web business that is positioned for success in the new market reality.

Paybacks a b*#*!

This just popped up on the official Google blog. Any bets that Google will be guns blazing in opposition to the Yahoo!/Microsoft merger with a little extra motivation because of Microsoft's opposition to the Double Click acquisition? Looks like it will be an interesting approval process as it would be a shock if Yahoo!'s shareholders didn't accept the bid and it would be very interesting if the merged company had to sell off the email or IM business.

The openness of the Internet is what made Google -- and Yahoo! -- possible. A good idea that users find useful spreads quickly. Businesses can be created around the idea. Users benefit from constant innovation. It's what makes the Internet such an exciting place.

So Microsoft's hostile bid for Yahoo! raises troubling questions. This is about more than simply a financial transaction, one company taking over another. It's about preserving the underlying principles of the Internet: openness and innovation.

Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies -- and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets.

Could the acquisition of Yahoo! allow Microsoft -- despite its legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses -- to extend unfair practices from browsers and operating systems to the Internet? In addition, Microsoft plus Yahoo! equals an overwhelming share of instant messaging and web email accounts. And between them, the two companies operate the two most heavily trafficked portals on the Internet. Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors' email, IM, and web-based services? Policymakers around the world need to ask these questions -- and consumers deserve satisfying answers.

This hostile bid was announced on Friday, so there is plenty of time for these questions to be thoroughly addressed. We take Internet openness, choice and innovation seriously. They are the core of our culture. We believe that the interests of Internet users come first -- and should come first -- as the merits of this proposed acquisition are examined and alternatives explored.

Consumer Passion about Your Brand

Are your consumers this passionate and engaged with your brand or product? Are you providing them with the tools so they can be excited with your company?

Google gives a great example of how to pull it all together at gmail.com/yourstory. Having advocates that are passionate about your brand is key to any marketing strategy but you need to know how to first find them, which I would suggest you first listen to the conversation, and then build tools that allow them to share what they like with other potential consumers.

It can be scary and you need to realize that you won't have complete control of the message, though the Gmail Your Story is a great example how you can screen the content and broadcast a message that fits with your overall plan.