Thursday, March 31, 2011

Life Lessons on Quora

So far Quora has been an interesting resource. It is incredibly easy to get lost on for hours as you research about things you don't necessarily need to know. Many of the questions I follow are media or communication related (or about Justin Bieber...). While these questions and their responses are interesting, it's the less serious questions I find myself being more concerned with. One of these questions being "What would you advise your (hypothetical) 22-year old college-grad child to do with their life?". 

The responses to this question have provided me with so much incredible (and free) advice. The respondents really took the time to write out lengthy paragraphs generally describing things they wish they had known. Some of the advice is specific like "don't work for a big organization" while other bits of advice are more general like "don't take things too seriously". 

I appreciate the unbiased nature of these responses. Because the people responding aren't advising one person in particular there is a hint of genuineness that is unparalleled by parents and peers. 

I'm not sure if free personal advice was an initial goal of Quora, but it certainly is a unique feature that transforms Quora into something more. Something truly useful.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TV still number one market for advertising

Someone on Twitter posted a link to an article on AdAge that revealed that television is still the number one market for advertising. I found this particularly interesting considering half of my blog posts are about how the internet is revolutionizing marketing and advertising.

According to this article, 39.1% of advertising dollars are spent on television, ranking it number one over the internet and print. This news comes as somewhat of a shock to those, like myself, who assumed that television advertising dollars would shift toward the internet with the always increasing amount of time people spend online.

The article continues with a quote from eMarketer CEO Geoff Ramsey which points out that new trendy social media, cell phone apps, and things of the like are having little to no effect on consumers television habits. eMarketer estimates that $64.5 billion will be spent on TV advertising next year, almost double the amount marketers will spend on the internet.

While I find this fact interesting considering how much credit people are giving social media because of a shift in societal norms, I also find it somewhat scary. Among statistics of television's durability, what I gathered from this article was that now more than ever, we can't escape media. Our attention isn't being shifted by social media, it is being joined alongside television, film, music, and literature. What defines a media overload?

Twitter vs. Facebook: Who got businesses to pay attention first?

"Twitter has not only led the way for the evolution of microconversations, it has single-handedly forced businesses to pay attention to online conversations on a mass, and growing scale."
 - Brian Solis , Engage

I would argue that the above quote is factual minus one keyword, "single-handedly".

It is no secret that Twitter has played a massive role in establishing an unbiased communication tool for consumers and producers. But I wouldn't say they worked alone. I don't know the numbers, but I would say that there is probably a somewhat equal number of business-associated presence on both Twitter and Facebook. Maybe Twitter was easier to get the dialog started, and a less complicated avenue for such dialog, but it is my opinion that businesses felt the need to break into social media because of the overwhelming popularity of Facebook, not Twitter.

Facebook led the social media revolution as we know it today. Sure, 7 years ago we all had Myspace's, but we weren't engulfed in it the way we are in Facebook. Myspace was a one dimensional option for shameless self-promotion. Facebook was a tool for connecting people and creating conversations. Twitter was essentially a less complicated combination of both, minus pretentious behavior.

By no means do I wish to discredit Twitter as an innovative outlet for increasing communication between consumers and producers, but I don't think they worked alone in emphasizing the need for businesses to pay attention to online conversations. I think it just provided the easiest way for them to do so.

Hunch Discusses Design Challenges and Opportunities with NYU ITP students

Chris Dixon, Hugo Liu, Christina Mercando speak to NYU ITP students about the development of Hunch.

If you have the time to watch this (it's almost an hour in length) it is a really interesting break down of how Hunch was developed, who's behind it, and basic design information for someone wanting to create a start up. Note their age, style, and intelligence it's fascinating to see people from your generation becoming leaders among technology.

Becoming Media: We are what we consume

In chapter four of Brian Solis' book Engage, he makes a subtle point that really caught my eye.

In his description of how the creation of media is shifting to become more controlled by its consumers, rather than producers, he says, "We have the power and capacity to reach people far beyond our local television and radio broadcasts and even beyond those of the most prestigious nation media empires. The difference is that this reach is not prescribed; it must be earned."

He goes on to describe how media has transformed into a two way street and because of this, we as consumers are able to have a choice about what media we chose to follow and even, to some degree, trust.

This idea got me thinking about the life span of media. When radio and television first came out consumers were given less than a handful of programming options. Our programming options increased fairly steadily in years following its creation, until recently.

It seems like over night we went from having a specific number of media outlet options to having an innumerable number of options. We have satellite radio, internet radio, and local broadcasts. We have basic cable, direct cable, dish networks, Hulu and Netflix. These examples just being the ones that came to my mind instantly. It would be impossible for me to truly calculate all of our media options on the internet.

This is all due in large part to consumers now play in their media. While some ethical issues surrounding the concept that anyone with a computer can be a "journalist" exist, it is somewhat refreshing to have so many options. Will this fact change the structure of major media conglomerates? How will major networks compete for audiences in the future?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

MyLikes: Social media marketing on steriods

One of the many celebrities (and by celebrity I mean reality star, don't judge me) I follow on Twitter recently (7 minutes ago) tweeted about her adoration for a site called MyLikes. Out of curiosity (and absolute boredom) I clicked the attached to the tweet to find out more about MyLikes.

If you've never heard of MyLikes it is an absolutely crazy yet incredibly relevant new marketing and advertising concept that gives even more control to the consumers. On MyLikes you simply create an account that links to your Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking site. Once an account is created you simply go to the website and start rating and commenting on random products and services. What separates this from everyday consumer promotion is that MyLikes will pay you for your opinion.

MyLikes describes themselves as a "word-of-mouth advertising platform that connects advertisers with influencers on the web. Influencers can spread the word and earn money."

Getting paid to click a "like" button? Am I alone in thinking this all sounds too good to be true? Is my pseudo-celebrity a reliable source? Someone make an account and let me know if how soon their paycheck arrives.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How the consumer-marketer relationship has shifted

As a communication major my fascination with trending social media grows with every class. I find it so incredibly interesting how viral social media is in itself. In such a short amount of time it has completely transformed the art of communication as a whole, whether it be personal communication or business communication. Social media has a hand in it all.

While this subject is compelling, I do find myself slightly scared about how prevalent social media has become, especially the fact that every article I read claims that this is just the beginning of social media. How much more encompassing can it get? As it is now it seems that social media has transformed marketing the most. Advertisers and marketers now have the ability to connect with consumers in almost all avenues of their life. To me that seems a tad invasive.

However the first chapter of Brian Solis's book "Engaged", he eases some of these fears. He says, "Social media is about speaking with, not "at" people. This means engaging in a way that works n a conversational medium, that is, serving the best interest of both parties, while not demeaning any actions or insulting the intelligence of anyone involved." It seems that social media is forcing marketers to stop acting above consumers instead leveling with them about what they really want or need. Social media has caused these agencies to rethink the way the treat their customers. We are no longer numbers or statistics, but people.That is a concept I can get behind.

I think it is about time the consumer-marketer relationship got a face lift. Marketers and advertisers need to realize that consumers respond better to peers than pop-up ads. I really enjoyed how Solis captured the idea of personable marketing when he stated, "While intent counts, value talks and BS walks".

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Going to Bonnaroo without leaving your house

Bonnaroo is well-known annual music festival that takes place in Tennessee. The three day festival showcases some of the best names in music today. It is a truly unique festival that thousands of people migrate to Tennessee for each summer. For some of us a $200+ ticket, plus airfare or the always increasing gas prices makes it very difficult to actually attend the festival. We are left to hear about the outrageous performances from our friends fortunate enough to go. However this year that won't be the case.

According to, Vevo announced today that they will be streaming live video feeds from the festival. These videos will include select performances as well as interviews with the most anticipated artists. These videos will be available to view of course on Vevo's website as well as Vevo mobile products for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android,  and on devices like Google TV and Boxee. Vevo partners AOL, BET and CBS Interactive Music Group will also feature coverage.

So now it doesn't matter where you are or how much money is in your bank account, you too can enjoy the incredible Bonnaroo lineup!

I wonder which large scale festivals will follow suit?

A bunch about Hunch

As alluded in earlier posts I have an always expanding curiosity about emerging social media/social networking websites. In my further exploration of these trending sites I came across Hunch. Wikipedia describes Hunch as a collective intelligence decision-making system that uses decision trees to make decisions based on users' interest. In less-confusing terms, Hunch is website that gets to know its users through random questioning so that it is able to recommend sites tailored specifically to your interests.

To ease registration, Hunch gives you the option to sign into the website using your Twitter or Facebook accounts. I suppose this function is partially for ease of use as well as automatic promotion when people sync either of these pages with their Hunch accounts. Once you sign in you are then asked a series of seemingly random questions. Anything from "When you get home, where does your coat usually go?" to "Do you consider Russia to be a part of Europe?" The question/answer portion of the website continues for as long as you want, but the more questions you answer the better the site gets to know you. Once you've answered some questions and completed your profile you are ready to get started.

Hunch produces a list of suggested topics for you. This is when I was truly amazed by this site. The top suggestions Hunch produced were scarily congruent with my interests. It suggested things such as "Places to move" a subject I've only been interested in as graduation date draws closer. Other suggestions included "Going out ideas", "Cocktails", "Coen Brothers moves", and "Dog Breeds". You would think Hunch was connected to my Google searches, but playing on Hunch on several computers disproves this theory. The site's decision trees are just THAT good.

To truly utilize the site and have it tailored even more specifically to your likes you simply click on a topic and rate the site's suggestions on a 5 star scale ranging from "I hate this" to "I love this". (Hunch already has starred the degree to which they think you will like a suggestion, and 9 times out of 10 they're right. Creepy, I know.)

Rating each suggestion will only allow Hunch to get to know you better. The real usefulness of the website comes from clicking on a suggestion. For example under the suggested topic "Places to move" Maui was listed as a 5 star recommendation for me. Once I click on the recommendation a user generated list of pros and cons about Maui appears, as well as a list of other users who like Maui. It also allows you to submit any personal pros and cons, as well as a list of similar locations Hunch thinks you might find useful.

Hunch's ability to get to know its users gives browsing this site a personal feel. It eliminates all the clutter of a standard search and personalizes the web just for you. It isn't trying to sell you anything or persuade ideas in any way. It is simply an unbiased tool for learning more about things you are already interested in. Again this is another website that will have you clicking for hours so consider yourself warned.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The power of online ratings and reviews

Chapter seven of Groundswell explores how powerful product ratings and reviews are in terms of marketing and advertising. While this concept seems simple enough, I think we as consumers tend to overlook what this means for the company.

Initiating a very basic rating system on your product, assuming you are producing a well-made product, could create a new hands-off approach to advertising. Your customers could be the driving force behind an increase of sales, while you sit back and watch.

Product rating is the new word of mouth.

While reading this chapter I couldn't help but think that yes ratings and reviews are a good idea in theory, but what if it back fires and you receive more negative reviews than positive ones?

This reminded me of working in a restaurant in high school. Our managers would always emphasize the importance of quality service by reminding us that if a guest has an exceptional meal at a restaurant they might tell one or two people, but if they have a horrible experience at a restaurant they will tell everyone they see. When comparing this logic to online purchasing I assumed the same would be true. However I really like the way Groundswell explained the importance of negative reviews.

According to the chapter, 80% if reviews would be considered positive. This chapter also emphasizes that negative reviews are essential to the credibility of the site. This is a very true statement. If a website only displayed positive reviews then most consumers would assume the reviews were false testimonials created by the company. With the initial risk of online shopping, purchasing from a website with fake reviews would greatly reduce the trust you had in that company and the odds of you buying any of their products.

It will be interesting to see what role ratings and reviews will play in the future of advertising as they become more prevalent.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Attention World: Meet Quora

A mere seven months ago the world was introduced to Quora and newest questions and answers website. Quora hosts an open questions and answers forum much like its main competitor Yahoo! Answers, but in a more professional way. Quora also gives users the ability to rank answers with an "upvote" or "downvote" option that organizes responses so that the most accurate, relevant and helpful responses appear on top of the less useful responses (think Digg). 

Quora was co-founded by Adam D'Angelo (a former Facebook employee) and Charlie Cheever. They decided to go forth with their creation of this website because they knew the potential of a question and answers site, but quickly realized that no one before them had done it quite right.

I learned about Quora when researching predicted social media trends for 2011. Nearly every online article I read mentioned Quora as the website to watch out for.

When I made my account and began playing with the website I was thoroughly impressed with the accuracy and seriousness of responses as well as the vast topics available for searching. On Quora you are able to submit questions and follow the responses, as well as just follow questions that interest you. Following questions means that Quora will notify you when a new answer to this question as been posted which allows you to continuously learn about a particular subject. I find this helpful because Quora allows you to gain many different perspectives on one particular issue.

As I mentioned before Quora's catalog of questions range from any array of questions you can come up with. I currently follow such diverse questions as "How much revenue does The Academy Awards generate?" as well as "Why is PBR considered a hipster beer?" While the answers to either of these questions won't change my life, they will provide me with interesting conversation starters and they will add to the seemingly endless amount of useless pop culture facts I have stored in my brain.

I've also noticed that Quora is a great outlet to discover new music. I follow the question "What are good songs to wake up to?" This question gets answered a lot and I've yet to dislike any song I've sampled from the list of responses.

Quora has a lot of promise in terms of a new highly addictive trending social media website. Much like Wikipedia I find myself beginning my search for a specific reason then, an hour later, after millions of clicks I am educating myself on a completely different topic.

I appreciate the community Quora creates as well as the level of professionalism it holds. Quora has very specific requirements for asking and answering questions and does a excellent job of making sure users are aware of their policies. This ensures that Quora remains tasteful and useful, unlike Yahoo! Answers.

Quora has an immense amount of potential and I am curious to watch to see if it can rise to level of other social media juggarnauts. 

@charliesheen #tigersblood #winning

As of 9:03AM on March 3, 2011, after creating a Twitter account one day ago, and after only 21 tweets, Charlie Sheen has 1,233,041 followers on Twitter. I'll go ahead and join the rest of the world with a resounding 'WTF?'.

When deciphering through the recent media storm that is Charlie Sheen I'm left bewildered by his massive following. His IMDB page doesn't help at all. While considerably lengthy, it really doesn't showcase many performances worth mentioning aside from "Wall Street", "Platoon", and "boy in police station" in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". All of which were made in the 80's.

I am aware of the success of "Two and a Half Men" although I'm not sure how that came to be. His comedy is not worth $ 1.25 million per episode. But aside from that dog and pony show, Charlie Sheen is still undeniably "#winning" right now for one reason and one reason only; he is certifiably crazy.

America loves a good train wreak. All the media attention Lindsey Lohan receives and the success of the "Real Housewives" series prove this point. So when Charlie Sheen said on nationally syndicated television that,  "I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen. It's not available because if you try it, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body" America was hooked.

Seeing Charlie Sheen rise to Twitter fame in a matter of hours makes me nostalgic for old Twitter. It makes me miss a time when Ashton Kutcher and CNN were battling head to head for days to see who would gain 1 million followers first. It seems that those days are long gone now and I'm left with tweets about "tiger's blood" hot dogs, and how Charlie Sheen is in fact a winner. Sorry America, you lose.