Archive for November, 2010
By Ben Haber
In the past we’ve seen people get fired for comments they’ve written on their personal Facebook pages. However, despite the many examples out there, some people think it won’t happen to them. Wrong!
In the UK, Kate Furlong (23 years old) was laid off by Royal Bank of Scotland. Following the layoff she wrote a message on Facebook, explaining how excited she was about the development:
I speak for myself when I say WoOOOOooooOooooHOoooOooOoo it was pretty damn obvious something like this was coming. I’m neither stupid nor naive … and quite honestly it is the best news ever as far as I am concerned!
She followed that post up with an additional comment:
It was not unexpected. I’ve just hung on by my fingertips to stick around long enough for a nice payout when they could’ve had me out long ago without a penny! More fool them! Haha! Xx.
You can probably guess what happened next… One of Furlong’s former colleagues saw this post and reported it to management (who were outraged) and decided to fire Furlong and not allow her to receive any redundancy (severance).
Furlong says that she can’t believe she’s been fired by the bank for what essentially amounts to having a chat with her friends outside of work. This isn’t the first time this argument has been debated, and in the U.S., the National Labor Board has stated that worker rights extend to Facebook. Even so, some things are better off not being shared with your entire digital network.
November 29th, 2010
By Ben Haber
Yelp, Facebook Places, Groupon, Foursquare, Gowalla, Scavenger, Living Social.
These are just some of the location-based social networks, applications and companies that are making a large impact in people’s behavior and purchasing decisions. Overall, these applications and networks allow people to check-in to certain locations, write tips and reviews for businesses, restaurants, etc., obtain discounts through special deals or group purchases, and see where your friends are checking in and what they like and/or don’t like.
So far, these networks and applications provide some, but not all, of these capabilities, and are very popular. However, there isn’t one place where users can go to have all of this functionality. It’s not a question of if all of these features will converge – it’s a question of when, and who will be the one to do it first and best?
While Facebook has an enormous user base, it’s functionality doesn’t really allow you to get tips and reviews from people you aren’t ‘friends’ with about a nearby restaurant, etc. It is also currently more focused on telling friends where you’re going then on the deals and discounts that other applications have fund success with.
Yelp and Foursquare and others have had great success with tips and reviews, and is very useful for users on mobile devices that are trying to find a nearby place to grab a bite to eat. Meanwhile, Foursquare’s badge system has been growing steadily and can result in check-in addiction.
Then, Groupon and it’s long list of clones have popularized the daily deal, basically providing users with 50 percent off whatever deal is offered that day. It’s easy for people to make a purchasing decision when it arrives in their email every morning, and Groupon’s & Living Social’s mobile apps are a major selling point. However, their deals require a level of planning (timing, location, fine print).
So who is going to win? It’s tough to tell at this point. Which of these applications and networks do you enjoy using and find the most helpful?
November 24th, 2010
By Molly Galler
RaceTalk’s friend, Erik Qualman, shared on his blog yesterday a list of the world’s top social media sites, ranked by the number of registered users. In first place is Skype with 560 million registered users, followed by Facebook at 516 million.
Does this come as a surprise to anyone else? Given its ubiquity, I would think Facebook would come in at the number one spot easily. The two sites are not separated by a small number either. 45 million users is a fairly wide gap.
In your personal experience, do you know more people using Skype than Facebook?
November 23rd, 2010
By Molly Galler
Today Ben Parr of Mashable reported that Disney has partnered with location-based mobile app Gowalla to help visitors further engage with their two flagship theme parks – Disneyworld and Disneyland – via mobile check ins and stamps.
This is a significant partnership for Gowalla who is often left in the dust behind mobile check in dominators Foursquare and Facebook Places (I wrote about the launch of Facebook Places back in August, you can read the full post here).
Parr describes some of the details of the partnership and agrees, this is a monumental deal for Gowalla. He writes:
“ . . .Gowalla and Disney have created literally hundreds of stamps for rides and locales within the two parks. Everything from the fireworks show to “Finding Nemo-The Music” offers a stamp or pin that can be earned by checking in. This is a major win for Gowalla; Disney is the world’s most-recognized entertainment brand, and any form of promotion by Disney should drive new users and extra attention to the location-based service. It’s struggled to keep a high profile in the face of stiff competition from Foursquare, which raised $20 million earlier this year, and Facebook, whose Places feature recently got a new deals platform.”
Joshua Brustein of the New York Times reported that Gowalla currently has 600,000 users as compared to the 120 million people that visited the Disney theme parks last year. Brustein accurately comments, “Gowalla’s user base would skyrocket even if it converted a miniscule proportion of Disney’s users into new users.”
Why haven’t Foursquare or Facebook Places announced these types of partnerships? According to a post on Gowalla’s corporate blog an incredible amount of time and human resources went into customizing this mobile platform. The blog post reads:
“We’re launching over 100 new featured stamps within Disney Parks today, with over 100 more expected by the end of the year. Each featured Disney stamp was painstakingly rendered in pixel form by Gowalla with the guidance of the Disney creative team — bringing you an experience that is truly 100 percent Gowalla and 100 percent Disney.”
Congratulations to Gowalla on teaming up with the most recognizable entertainment brand on the planet. Naturally this announcement will breed intensified competition from competitors, but for now, Gowalla is at the happiest place on earth.
November 18th, 2010
By Molly Galler
Two weeks ago RaceTalk was offered the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the book “All the Devils are Here” which is co-written by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera. We were immediately intrigued given both authors’ extensive history covering business and management in the media.
Bethany McLean is the former editor-at-large for Fortune magazine, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and the author of a book titled “The Smartest Guys in the Room.” Her book explores the behind the scenes drama that lead to the collapse of Enron. The book was later turned into a film. According to the Business Insider, McLean will begin a new role as a Wall Street and finance columnist for Slate in the coming weeks.
McLean’s co-author Joe Nocera (who RaceTalk interviewed after his sudden and aggressive call from Steve Jobs) is best known for his expert reporting on management and business for the New York Times. Prior to his current role, Nocera, like McLean, worked as an editor for Fortune magazine. He also wrote regular columns for GQ and Esquire and served as a contributing editor to Newsweek.
In their joint effort “All the Devils are Here” McLean and Nocera take an inside look into the United States financial crisis. The book opens with an eight page of glossary titled “Cast of Characters” to assist readers in remembering who is who. There are also two upfront page of nothing but critical acronyms! From the prologue alone the reader feels a knot in his/her stomach as the poor judgment and incredible greed comes to light.
I don’t want to give away too much for interested readers, but the tone of the book is set very early. In the first chapter we learn that a star at Merrill Lynch, John Breit, finds himself being pushed out because in his role as risk manager he was reporting findings that would slow the “growth” of the business. The reader gets the sinking feeling this is going to be one of the milder stories.
If you’re interested in the decisions and the key players that influenced the eventual topple of the U.S. economy, “All the Devils are Here” is a must read. Written by two of the most knowledgeable business reporters, this is an expertly detailed and analytical account of our nation’s financial demise. You can listen to McLean read an excerpt from the book on this Vanity Fair podcast.
If you find reading a 350 plus page book intimidating, you can experience a visual account of the financial crisis via the documentary “Inside Job” which is currently playing in theaters.
Thank you to Bethany McLean, Joe Nocera and their team for sharing their latest project with us here at RaceTalk. We’re frightened but enlightened.
November 16th, 2010
By Ben Haber
Today Facebook made a major announcement about its messaging system, which could lead to major changes in communication. According to the company’s blog:
You decide how you want to talk to your friends: via SMS, chat, email or Messages. They will receive your message through whatever medium or device is convenient for them, and you can both have a conversation in real time. You shouldn’t have to remember who prefers IM over email or worry about which technology to use. Simply choose their name and type a message.
While Facebook isn’t the only major company to try and develop a new method of written communication (remember Google Wave?), it has a major advantage: over 500 million registered users.
Facebook’s new messaging system won’t be an overnight success, as a lot of people (especially for business) will continue using their regular email addresses. However, Facebook messages should set off a spark socially, allowing people to communicate freely and easily in whatever method they’d like. The competition here will come from video and audio chat, which Apple is marketing heavily. But it’s really only a matter of time until Facebook ads that option.
What could be the major turning point for businesses, is a built-in for Microsoft office. According to USA Today, Microsoft Office will also be part of the new Facebook messaging system, and in the coming months you’ll be able to view Word, Excel and PowerPoint attachments with Office Web Apps directly in Facebook.
That is a big difference-maker.
November 15th, 2010
By Ben Haber
In today’s media world print editions are turning into websites, and websites are turning into apps. But not for Newsweek. Following its acquisition by The Daily Beast, it has been announced that Newsweek.com will be shut down.
Newsweek, Newsweek.com and Daily Beast staffs are expected to be combined following the merger, and while TheDailyBeast.com will remain live, Newsweek.com will be closed and users will be redirected to the Daily Beast page.
While there are a lot of details still being worked out around this acquisition, its clear that shutting down Newsweek.com is a suspect and strange move.
First let’s look at readership. Newsweek’s circulation is just under 2 million, while Newsweek.com has 3.8 million monthly unique visitors. Meanwhile, TheDailyBeast.com has 1.5 million monthly unique visitors (these numbers are from Compete.com).
So basically, following the acquisition, the property with the most traffic (Newsweek.com) is the one getting the boot. It’s a sign that the people making these decisions are out of tune or in denial about the future of media and which platform news will be delivered on.
Instead of shutting down Newsweek.com (which, by the way, is home to millions and millions of stories, images and multimedia) The Daily Beast should be working on developing a better site that’s more interactive, creative and interesting. Develop a better app for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry, and design an amazing tablet app that will appeal to readers.
Luckily, staff at Newsweek.com don’t seem content on letting their site die. A Tumblr page has already been created in defense of Newsweek.com.
November 15th, 2010
By Ben Haber
On Friday, November 5th Gap became the first company to make a really big splash with Facebook’s new check-in and deals feature. The company gave away 10,000 pairs of jeans to customers, and offered a 40 percent discount on jeans to customers that came to the store after quantities expired. The deal certainly caught a lot of attention, but was it successful?
Since there are so many Gap stores, many physical locations only had a few pairs of jeans to giveaway, which were gone within minutes of when the store opened. This meant that many people went to Gap (some before work or during their lunch break) only to find they were out of luck. While 40 percent off is a nice consolation prize, the company has been having that sale a lot recently, so it’s nothing extraordinary new.
This resulted in many disappointed customers, some who made their feelings public on Twitter and Facebook. Could Gap have made this promotion better? Probably. Here are two ways:
1. Hold the event on a weekend instead of a Friday. Most people work during the week, so it’s frustrating for them to navigate through traffic in the morning or during lunch to go to the Gap. Holding this on a weekend is better for people’s schedules and a bit more balanced.
2. Instead of giving away 10,000 pairs of jeans, discount jeans at 75 percent. There are two reasons to do this. First, 75 percent off is pretty darn good. When a $60 pair of jeans is suddenly $15, you’re going to have a lot of happy customers, who will likely buy multiple pairs. Second, more people can get this deal. Even if it only lasts from 9am – 12pm (on a weekend) it’s a deal that will drive people to the store and can be shared my many more then 10,000 people.
I believe that if Gap had made their deal on a weekend and allowed more people to get a large discount rather then giving away 10,000 pairs of jeans, their overall customer base would be much happier. After all, there are more then 10,000 people that shop at the Gap.
November 11th, 2010
By Guest Author
The following excerpt is from Simon Hilliard in Racepoint’s UK office. You can follow Simon on Twitter at @simonhill.
There has a been a heck of a lot of discussion, analysis and comment since Monday when News Corporation announced official subscriber figures for the, relatively new, Times and Sunday Times websites.
A quick history: News Corps’ ever enigmatic head honcho Rupert Murdoch and associates got rather fed up with the freebie nature of providing news content online that has followed the rise of this here Internet. To deal with this, a paywall was erected around The Times and Sunday Times websites that halted Google and the like from crawling content and indexing it for any and all to find, and also required anyone wishing to view news online to pay for it – by either buying a day pass or subscribing.
Until now, the success of this has been something of a mystery for those in the media, advertising and PR lands. It was acknowledged from the off that the paywall would significantly reduce the number of visitors to the newspaper sites, but the trade off would be the quality of reader (and some cash). Since the walls went up in June we’ve waited, literally in the middle of our seats, to see what’s what. And now we know.
According to figures released by News Corp this week, the paper has “more than 105,000 customer sales to date”. That’s around 0.5 per cent of the 20 million unique monthly visits they had before the paywall. Or 0.25 per cent if you chop out all those paying for a day pass rather than a regular subscription…or 5 per cent of the 5 per cent paying vs free subscribers you generally need to make a ‘freemium’ model business work (not that they’re shooting for freemium). You know what, don’t get bogged down in the numbers.
The point is, there’s way less people clapping eyes on Times editorial than there used to be. But those that do are, one would assume, more engaged, dedicated readers. Times editor James Harding thinks so anyway, as he’s stated “We haven’t been cut off from the conversation, because the media works as a huge echo chamber and readers are commenting on our stories in a more engaging way.”
So what does this all mean for PRs? Let’s have a look:
Read the rest of Simon’s post here.
November 4th, 2010
By Ben Haber
Today Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Deals, a way that businesses can offer discounts or special offers to customers that check-in through Facebook Places. Facebook provides a great overview of this announcement and how Facebook Deals works through this video.
Facebook already has some great brands on board, including the Gap, Chipolte REI and Starbucks. Many of them are offering impressive deals, and the quality and quantity of deals will certainly grow.
What does this mean for companies like Foursquare and Groupon? I don’t anticipate this causing major problems for Groupon, as their ‘deal of the day’ approach works with consumers and usually offers very good discounts, providing businesses with a lot of cash up front. However, Facebook has essentially copied Foursquare (besides the badges) and has a much larger user base to attract business partners.
if you’re using multiple location-based social platforms, will Facebook Deals change your social networking habits?
November 3rd, 2010