Monthly Archives: November 2010

Skype Has More Users than Facebook. Seriously.

You’ve read article after article about Facebook’s 500 million users. How you’d have to be an idiot not to have an online presence there. To not take advantage of this giant population. Well, here’s something those articles may not have told you. That Facebook isn’t the biggest social media network out there. That Facebook, now with 515 million users, is still 45 million users behind the largest social media network in the world’s 560 million.

What site is Facebook still trailing? Skype. The software application that allows users to make free voice calls over the Internet to other Skype users. And will likely be the software that makes phone satellites obsolete, as all communications will be able to transmit through data networks. So, it makes sense that Skype is so popular. But it’s surprising to see the specific numbers, isn’t it?

Another number that may surprise you? The network in third place. China’s tencent.com, a provider of free online IM services with 485 million registered users. Just goes to show you,that you don’t have a clue what’s really going on in this new digital world. But, it’s fun to try and keep up, isn’t it?

YouTube Hopes TrueView Ads Will Tick Less Viewers Off

It’s nice that Google has figured out a way for YouTube to become profitable over the last couple of years. The problem for viewers is that this monetization often involves annoying advertising distractions. At first, YouTubers figured out that by immediately refreshing the video, they would be able to skip these 15-second video ads that precede even short videos (a much worse ad-to-content ratio than even cable television).

But that trick no longer works. And viewers are getting mad. And online advertisers enjoy being positive interruptions, not negative ones. So, YouTube is rethinking their current strategy with YouTube TrueView, a Hulu mimic that allows users to both choose their preferred video and to skip them outright.

For advertisers looking solely for total views, in terms of a sheer imaging campaign, this will be worse. But, now online advertisers get a more engaged audience – one who has either chosen to watch their ad, or has not chosen to skip it. Win. Win. Win.

Google and Borders Innovate with Local Availability Tool

One must give credit where credit is due. Borders is constantly working to make their retail offering as easy and as cool for their customers as possible. Obviously they’re not just doing it for technology’s sake, but in order to be first to market with the new world for book-purchasers everywhere.

Last week, Borders announced a partnership with Google where, with certain books, site visitors could utilize Google Books in order to preview a novel online. Now, Borders is working with Google again to help users understand local merchandise availability.

Starting today, shoppers can use Google’s Local Availability tool in order to locate books and other products available at their local Borders location. This includes quantity in stock, prices, store directions and more. And no other book retailer offers this service yet.

This just in time for the Christmas season, when people wait too late to order gifts online and have them delivered in time for the holidays. And when they know they can see what books are in stock at their local Borders, you can bet people are going to take advantage of the new technology.

Facebook Stops Hiding Gmail Jealousy

It’s no secret. Facebook and Google don’t like each other. And that’s understandable. They’re each other’s biggest threat.

But, in the past, the companies have always played nice with each other. Said nice things about each other’s offering. Maintained the idea of “reciprocity” within their relationship. But, when either party feels like they’re getting the short end of that straw, they make their anger public. And as the fight for the #1 consumer data company in the world quickly becomes a two-man show, the two men are getting a little more defensive.

Specifically with the introduction of Facebook e-mail, Facebook has decided not to play nice with Google, the makers of Gmail, anymore. In fact, Facebook is no longer letting you find new friends on Facebook via your Gmail address book – at least not without making it difficult.

The question is, will making your product more difficult to integrate with the other really hurt the other company, or will these petty antics just anger your own customers?

How Social Media Affects Black Friday Sales

BFads. Slickdeals. Techbargains. The clever online shoppers have known where to find deals the last few years. The question is, with information so readily available now via social media channels, does one even have to do any digging to make sure you find the best deals this Black Friday?

138 million Americans plan to shop this upcoming Black Friday weekend, making Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year. And just preceding Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year.

And this year, rather than hiding their deals, the vast majority of retailers are heavily advertising theirs. Using their own social media channels to try and get bigger Friday crowds. In fact, according to a Shop.org survey, more than half of retailers will send out a special e-mail to customers about their Black Friday deals and nearly 40% will utilize their Facebook page to reach out to potential shoppers.

Clearly, the recession has changed many retailer’s views on keeping great sales private. But, it makes you wonder if the immediacy of social media will ever allow for secret deals again?

CityVille Marks Zynga’s Urban Move From FarmVille

Get ready to start hiding a new game from your Facebook feed timeline, played by your empty-nester mothers and your unemployed friends. I’m kidding. I shouldn’t make fun of the makers of online games so incredibly successful. Game developer Zynga, the makers of both Farmville and Mafia Wars has released their newest offering, called CityVille.

Pitched as “Monopoly meets Main Street” by GM Sean Kelly, CityVille allows people to grow their own city, running the businesses, harvesting crops, and balancing the needs of their growing population.

This is an obvious throwback to the 90s hit Sim City, but CityVille features Zynga’s first-ever 3D-rendered buildings and characters. Plus, Zynga claims that CityVille is their most “social game” to date, enabling players to interact with their friend’s cities. I’m pretty sure this means “addicting” as well.

Tweets as Currency?

Twitter has been talking about releasing their Twitter Reputation Scores. A score that signifies how responsive their followers are to their content – signifying the quality of the content itself.

And this idea has captured the attention of Internet advertisers everywhere. Because if this information went public, advertisers could start focusing their efforts solely on highly-reputable users. Offer them special offers for re-tweeting certain messages. In fact, soon, the reality is that tweets could become currency.

Let’s say you have 4,000 Twitter followers and a really high Twitter Reputation Score. Imagine Hilton offering you a free night at their hotel if you provide 3 tweets about the experience. This could become a reality.

But, here’s the ironic question. Would those tweets lower your reputation score? Because those tweets are unlikely to be relevant/interesting to your followers.

Twitter to Publicize Individual’s Reputation Scores

Twitter is about to become a lot more realistic. Ever seen a person with 16,000 followers and wonder, “How on Earth could 16,000 people have chosen to follow this person?”

Well, the reality is, they’re probably not. Their Twitter “followers” aren’t really paying attention to the person. They simply signed up for some Twitter follower service, and a bunch of people who want free followers are simply bulking up both their “people I follow” and “followers” list.

The point is, it’s not real. Yet, how else do you know who to follow besides checking out their number of followers? Obviously, you can follow the people you know. Authors you like. Industry leaders in your field. But how do you spot the up-and-comers? How do you know who’s offering great content?

Well, you don’t. But, Twitter does. And they’re thinking about going public with it with Twitter Reputation Scores.

Because Twitter knows the people who create content that gets response. Content that gets re-tweeted or responded to. Tweeters with real interaction among their followers – which implies that their postings are either interesting or relevant. And once they make that information public, that could really help those out looking for the next generation of world-changers.

Mark Zuckerburg Clarifies Facebook’s E-mail Service

When asked at the Web 2.0 Summit to detail Facebook’s new e-mail service announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg clarified that they’re not trying to build an e-mail product, but rather, a “modern messaging system.”

He also detailed the main problem with e-mail. That e-mail has gotten much better about segregating SPAM, but not differentiating between e-mails from your friends and e-mails from services you subscribe to.

The best e-mail has been able to do so far, is order chronologically. But, in fact, that often helps hide important e-mails. Facebook is looking to prioritize your e-mail based on your social connection with the sender. This is something that will obviously both evolve over time, and be something that you can manually assist with.

Should this worry e-mail marketers? It changes the game, that’s for sure. Those who aren’t looking to build social capital, but simply be a blaring announcement should worry. Odds are, you’re not going to make it into Facebook’s “priority inbox.” Unless the individual “likes” you of course.

Hulu Plus Discounts Price by 20%

I remember thinking, “Who is going to pay $9.99 a month for day-late television that still doesn’t take away commercials?”

Now, Hulu Plus believes that $7.99/month is a more respectable pricepoint. Here’s the reality. Hulu Plus isn’t a content alternative. It’s more like a glorified DVR without needing a DVR. Because the content on Hulu Plus is still fairly limiting. You don’t get to view the content until the next day, at earliest. And your shows are still full of commercials, although significantly less than when viewed on network or cable television.

And with their past $9.99 pricepoint, they were charging more than the much more popular NetFlix, which along with unlimited movies on-demand and via mail offers certain television programming as well. Hulu Plus, now with a more expansive offering of television content is finally the low-cost offering as well.