Archive for December, 2011

Beware of fake Matts leaving comments

A lot of the time, I dispel misconceptions by leaving comments on blogs. That works great, except for the rare occasion when someone pretends to be me and leaves a rude, fake, or otherwise untrue blog comment. Over the previous decade, I’ve only seen 4-5 times where someone impersonated me. But in the last month, I’ve seen at least three nasty comments written by “fake Matt Cutts” impersonators…

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Facebook Settles with FTC on Privacy Issue: What Does This Bode for Social Media Users and Businesses? [Analysis]

Facebook has probably realized what the adage on great power coming with great responsibility really means with what it has gone through over the past year. The social media giant has had to deal with widespread outrage from hundreds of millions of users and a complaint by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its allegedly deceptive privacy practices.

But finally putting an end to the saga and perhaps effectively avoiding any onerous sanctions, Facebook reached a settlement with the FTC last week. The social network essentially agreed to the FTC’s terms of practicing transparency in implementing its privacy policies in order to protect the users’ personal information and interests.

Facebook and the alleged privacy breaches

It can be recalled that the Facebook issue on privacy started when changes to the privacy settings made by the company resulted in user data becoming more public, without the consent or knowledge of the concerned individual. People may freely share their personal information to social media sites but such action is made with the understanding that said information will only be accessible by those within the individual’s network. That’s not what happened with Facebook.

Advertisers and third-party sites reportedly got hold of relevant information of anyone who clicked on an ad on his or her FB page. Users also reported of how images and videos already deleted from one’s account continued to be accessible. But what earned the ire of more people was how the newly-implemented privacy settings created havoc even in people’s personal lives. Case in point: a man who shopped for an engagement ring online lost his chance to do a romantic proposal, reportedly thanks to Facebook publicizing this information. Can we say spoilsport?

Terms of the FTC deal

Hopefully, there will no longer be any of these surprises (or non-surprises for that matter) once the terms of the FTC deal are implemented. The settlement is still pending confirmation from a US Court but the general details have been released already. Among the requirements issued by the FTC was that Facebook submit itself to government-initiated privacy audits every other year for the next twenty years. In addition, the network also needs to get users’ permission before any changes in the privacy settings can be made.

Judging from these scant details revealed, Facebook will no longer have to undo the things done in the past. Instead, the focus of the settlement is on what the company needs to do moving forward.

What this means for Facebook users and advertisers

If we are to assume that there is some truth to the reports that Facebook was sharing users’ information to third-party advertisers, then this group benefited from the company’s actions even while the mass consumer base was up in arms regarding their loss of privacy. But with the Federal Trade Commission firmly putting its foot down on the so-called deceptive practices, FB needs to make a choice: users or advertisers.

Now this doesn’t have to sound so ominous for those using Facebook and social media for business. The fact is, a plethora of businesses have successfully launched advertising campaigns through the social media network without causing a ruckus in the FB community. This is because users can still opt to use any app, like any page, or join any group that interests them. And any one of these “applications” can ask for additional information – information that the user would be only be too willing to share because this is a choice he or she consciously made. On the other hand, if an advertiser makes use of the user data given to it by Facebook or any other social media platform, the information is not as relevant because it did not come directly from the user and hence, any overtures made by the third-party site may be met with rejection if not outright resentment.

The conclusion of this case ushers in a three-way win situation: for the FTC since it was able to lay down its terms, for Facebook since it gets to keep its users, and the users themselves, who can expect better privacy policies.

While stopping short of making a direct admission on the privacy allegations, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a statement, did concede that they’ve “made a bunch of mistakes,” adding however, that “Facebook had already proactively addressed many of the concerns the FTC raised,” even before reaching an agreement with the federal agency.

Does the FTC settlement make you feel better that Facebook will deal with privacy issues? As a business, do you see this ruling changing the way you will conduct business on Facebook?

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Comics of the week #107

Every week we feature a set of comics created exclusively for WDD.

The content revolves around web design, blogging and funny situations that we encounter in our daily lives as designers.

These great cartoons are created by Jerry King, an award-winning cartoonist who’s one of the most published, prolific and versatile cartoonists in the world today.

So for a few moments, take a break from your daily routine, have a laugh and enjoy these funny cartoons…

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Think With Google’s December Adventure: Mobile Tips Recap

Think With Google’s December Adventure continued this week with a focus on mobile.

Here are the four mobile-related insights and tips we covered this week (and a fun factoid):
Click on the titles to view the original posts and comments.

#1 Monday: Search from mobile devices up 5x in the past two years!

  • Capture the mobile opportunity with separate campaigns targeting mobile devices only…
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A Big Tent for free expression in The Hague

Google has long worked hard to raise the issue of Internet freedom in Europe. So when the Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal took the initiative to host a meeting bringing together foreign ministers from more than 16 countries in the Netherlands, we wondered what could we do to support it.

Our answer was to hook up with the Dutch NGO Free Press Unlimited and host one of our Big Tent events, which aim to bring together corporations, civil society and politicians…

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Steampunk Culture – Defining Steampunk Culture For The Normal Person

There’s a culture called Steampunk that is dedicated to a revamp of the Victorian age. Typically filled with massive steam powered mechanics and extravagant dirigibles, this classic age is mixed up with fantasy. The Steampunk genre includes not only clothing, but music, art, and literature.

In the fashion industry, steampunk has become a major hit. Classic steampunk designs including cogs and gears are being incorporated into the clothing lines of various designers. However, it is in the cosplay scene that steampunk is seen as a growing trend. Many cosplayers get together to wear steampunk costumes, including modified and stylized Victorian clothing, and portray themselves as pirates, adventurers, explorers, and victorian socialites. They wear outfits adorned with top hats and goggles, decorated coats, and even mock ray guns! The do-it-yourself community supports steampunk because most steampunk stuff has to be made your self. The aforementioned ray guns are simply modified and painted Nerf or Airsoft guns. Some are even good enough to use wood and metal to build their own ray guns or other accessories!

Steampunk elements within the music genre aren’t as popular as other styles; however it does encompasses all different styles of music, including rock, rap, . Steampunk rock has a particular sound to it, the beats are dark, and gritty, are mixed with a presence of folk, and can often have a shanty sound to them. Abney Park is an aptly named Steampunk band that is not only influenced by it in there music, but also in the instruments and personas they carry with them on stage Other, rap and hip-hop influenced music usually has a dark up-beat bass, with lyrics depicting a post-apocalyptic world, or even that of a mad scientists workshop. Dr. Steel is an example of this. His beats are catchy and heavy hitting, but his character resembles that of a mad scientist.

The art culture has embraced the steampunk culture with open arms. Not only online, but in art galleries and local art shows. The art includes dirigibles and flying machines in the sky, soaring above barren wastelands. There is no particular art style, any artist can incorporate their own style. What makes it different is the purpose and perspective. Many such paintings are dark and dreary, with violent oceans, labs that resemble dungeons scattered with frankenstein-esque tools, or a deslote and deadend landscape. In a line, steampunk can always be picked out by it’s unique theme.

There has been a breakthrough in literature within the steampunk culture. H.G. Wells is said to have birthed this trend, along with Jules Verne. The base of the modern steampunk community is based on their inventions, worlds, and knowledge that they depict in their works. First there’s the brass time machine in “The Time Machine”, and then the massive submarine in “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea,” which were both considered futuristic. Presently, we would refer to them as retro, regardless of the fact that time machines don’t actually exist. However, both machines seem out of place in such time periods. These ideas have been the driving force for many steampunk fans, and the basis of steampunk. Now you have no reason to wonder “what is steampunk?”

Defining B2B Sales

Last month we established the focus of this column as being Social Media for B2B Sales. Perhaps, before we go further, it might be best to define B2B. Simply put, B2B is “business to business” and, as much as anything, it defines a company or an individual’s target market. In other words, I am a business and I sell to businesses. Therefore, a company that is B2C (business to consumer) is a business that targets consumers. For example, retail. My efforts have been solely B2B sales for the last 34 years but, prior to that, I spent approximately 7 years in retail and my degree is actually in Retail Merchandise Management. Therefore, I am not completely foreign to this market. I would say, and these are certainly not hard and fast rules, that B2B differs from B2C in the following areas:

- B2B companies tend to have a smaller marketplace than those found with B2C if for no other reason than there are a heck of a lot more consumers than there are businesses. As far as that goes, they are more likely to be narrowly defined in terms of the types of products or services that they offer.

- B2B sales people are often called upon to travel to their customer’s place of business or, at the very least, their efforts are generally outbound. They are also required to typically prospect heavily whereas B2C sales people will more often rely on their marketing and advertising departments to bring the folks to them. While commission programs are found in both arenas, B2B pay models are known to lean more heavily toward commission based compensation.

- B2B products and services are generally higher ticket items and can be more complex than B2C. A high level of product knowledge is a must. Once again, this is not a rule without exceptions. Certainly, new cars and homes command substantial price tags and can be complex purchases. B2B products and services are also more likely to have largely stable pricing structures. No “Black Friday” deals here.

- A goal of B2B products and services quite often would be to yield repeat sales. While I might buy a new TV every 5 years from a store, the B2B sales person who sells those TV’s to that retailer, may do so every month and those orders are in quantity. Making sure that this retailer keeps us as their supplier becomes practically a matter of business life and death. And, as they say, it is ten times less expensive to maintain a good customer than it is to find a new one to replace them.

- Identifying decision makers and influencers can be a much more extensive process in B2B than it would be with B2C and the sales cycle can be substantially longer.

- How and why people buy, and the process that they go through to do so, can also be significantly more complex in the B2B environment.

- Because B2B sales people prospect heavily and derive a large percentage (if not all) of their earnings by commission, keeping their pipelines full and their forecasts flush are absolute musts. If you don’t believe that, ask a B2B Sales Manager.

- Finally, and maybe this is for sales people in general, B2B sales representatives can be notoriously independent and often chafe at the rules and regulations that may apply to “mere mortals”. This is something that we will address in more detail going forward as it does create its own unique set of challenges pertaining to our subject matter. 

How do all of these observations relate to Social Media? High volume sales and repeat business are earned by one thing more than any other. Relationships. And who do your valued customers already have relationships with? Hopefully you but, also try: your competitors, other vendors, and other key people inside and outside of their companies. And what is one overlooked tool at the sales person’s disposal that is waiting to assist them in their overall selling efforts as well as helping them to identify other critical contacts? Social media. Case closed.

Next month we will be discussing the different social networking platforms and how they apply to both B2B and B2C sales but, let’s talk about social business (social media) usage in general right now. I interact heavily with both B2B and B2C sales people day in and day out. While our B2C brethren seem to have been largely open to adopting social media, this has not been the case with B2B. Yet, both recognize (or need to recognize) that people buy from people first and then from businesses second and that all sales people need to build quality long-term relationships with their customers.

Certainly B2B sales people must first understand the benefits, and the potential, of social media and then be guided on how best to use it. They understandably ponder how to correctly balance their updates (social and business), how much time this will take away from selling, if it really works, and how to ensure that they will see a return from those efforts that will justify the time invested.  I am very much looking forward to sharing with you how to accomplish these goals over the months to come!

Craig M. Jamieson  (2 Posts)

This monthly Social Media for B2B Sales post is contributed by Craig M. Jamieson. Craig has been in B2B sales since 1977 and during that time has served in a variety of positions including; sales manager, division sales manager, national sales manager, district manager, and as a business owner. He is the managing partner of Sales Results LLC in Boise, Idaho which owns and operates NetWorks! Boise Valley B2B Networking Groups, is a Nimble Social CRM Solution Partner, and Craig also conducts workshops and seminars relating to sales and social business applications.

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Google Confirms Coming Check-in Offers for Plus

Last week I reported out a discovered Google Places Help page (since taken down but visible here) that discussed using the Places Coupons as a Check-in Coupon  for Google Plus. This afternoon the folks at VentureBeat received a confirmation from Google that checkin offers from Places will be coming to Google+ next week:

“While prepping for a test of a new check-in offer feature, we published a support center article a little early and have since removed the article…

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Lower Your Cost Per Lead! The 3 Pronged Attack To Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a new spin on the traditional lead capturing process.  Rather than working hard to reach out to cold and potentially unqualified leads, inbound marketing is the process of getting your message out to warm, receptive leads who are actively searching for what you’re selling.

Through the old process of outbound marketing, you had to attempt to “warm up” new, fresh leads through cold calling, trade shows, print ads and so forth…

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