Think Before you Speak!

No, this isn’t another post about Google + although the rapid rise and excitement of Google’s latest and greatest social network is the impetus for this post (that was originally to be titled, “Shut the F*ck Already with the MySpace Comparisons). However, with all of the recent tweets, status updates and blog posts predicting the demise of either Facebook, Twitter or both a la MySpace, I couldn’t not share my thoughts in a space that allowed for more than 140 characters. What I can tell you is that while I have seen too many big companies fail over my lifetime to not know that it can always happen again, if Facebook and Twitter fail, it won’t be for the reasons that MySpace did.

For starters, let’s clarify that MySpace did NOT fail because a newer, shinier object came along in the form of Facebook OR Twitter. MySpace failed because of several fundamental flaws in the way it operated, particularly once it was purchased by Rupert Murdoch (btw, Businessweek wrote a great article that goes into all the details of the rise and fall of MySpace).

In particular:

  • Once Murdoch purchased MySpace, there was significant pressure to deliver revenue (not necessarily a bad thing). Unfortunately, this forced MySpace to ramp up the advertising opportunities on the site which led to a lot of spammy ads for unsavory products. As a corollary to this, Twitter and Facebook are both venture backed and private. While both are feeling pressure to deliver more revenue, innovation has taken precedence over money.
  • MySpace made the fatal mistake (I’ll call this the AngelFire Boner) by allowing users to customize the background, fonts, layouts of their pages. While creativity is good, allowing for 8 billion different user interfaces (UI) across 350 million pages is not. UI 101 calls for putting things in the places where users expect to find them. Some people are good at this. Most people are not.
  • Demographics – while most companies love to attract the 18-35 set (male-skewed), there is a downside to this strategy. This demographic tends to be technology-savvy and fickle. The combination of the two allows them to pick up their “ball” and take it to a different ballpark whenever they like. You’ll notice that Twitter’s demographic came out of the gate closer to 32 than 22 and Facebook’s fastest growing (and most dedicated) segment right now are women over 40.
  • Lack of developer commitment. While Twitter and Facebook have both fostered rich ecosystems of developers, MySpace never went down this path.
  • After a few months of MySpace being the apple of Murdoch’s eye, a new “jewel” in the crown emerged when Murdoch opted to court and ultimately purchase the prestigious Wall Street Journal.
Does this mean that the rise of Googe + (which is still has only 5 million more users than photo sharing site, Instagram, and the same number of users as location-based service, foursquare) won’t kill either Twitter or Facebook? No. But if it does, it will be for different reasons than those that dethroned MySpace. To that end, I responded to a tweet by Edelman EVP and uber-blogger, Steve Rubel, regarding a post that tech-blogger, Robert Scoble, wrote the other day about how Twitter had become boring and what it could do to fix that problem. My message to Steve was that “Twitter has become like electricity. Boring but critical.” Facebook will be around for a while longer because of the “barriers to exit” it’s created with the over 40 set. What this means is that Facebook owns most people’s social graph and it has taught most parents and grand parents how to post, comment and share. For this reason, it will take a pretty significant change to get these people to leave (privacy be damned!)
What do you think?

Obligatory Posts on Google + [Podcast]

Since I am short on time these days as I wrap up the Location Based Marketing for Dummies book (comes out 8/16) with Mike Schneider, I’m trying to repurpose content as best I can. To that end, I focused yesterday’s Quick’n’Dirty podcast show exclusively on Google’s new social offering, Google +. So far, I like what I see. In particular, I like some nice features like Circles and Hangouts. My guest co-host, Jim Storer, and I did a quick run through of the major features of Google + along with how we see it working for business.

If you’ve got a spare 30 minutes, take a listen and let us know what you think?

Pre-Commerce and Location-Based Marketing Mashup

[cross-posted on WCG’s Common Sense blog]

Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of presenting to about 75 business professionals at the Big Frontier conference in Chicago, Il. The event is run by Steve Lundin who is a peach of a guy and knows a thing or two about events (he’s been running them for 12+ years now). The goal of the conference is to feature 1-2 book authors who write about the innovative ways that businesses are evolving.

Originally, my colleague Bob Pearson, was supposed to present along with fellow author, Rick Mathieson. An immovable set of meetings combined with the fact that I too happen to be a book author (and know a thing or two about Bob’s book, Pre-Commerce) conspired to put me in the presenters seat at the event. After chatting with Bob and Steve, we decided to do a mashup — a best of so to speak — of Pre-Commerce and my upcoming book, Location-Based Marketing for Dummies.

What made my presentation relatively easy is that we live and breath the concepts from Bob’s Pre-Commerce book at WCG. It is also helpful that the idea of location-based marketing works nicely as a sub-discipline within Pre-Commerce. And lastly, location-based marketing fits perfectly across one of the most important core concepts of the book, namely the 4 A’s (which replace the 4 P’s), by providing ways for businesses to create greater awareness, assessment, action and ultimately ambassadorship for their products and services.

While I won’t share all of the slides I presented — you can find all the models, back-stories and anecdotes from Pre-Commerce in the book — I’ve incorporated three of the slides that really resonated below.

These are a few of the major shifts taking place in the world that are driving the way consumers want to (and should be) engaged by businesses big and small.


Leveraging the what people are doing online versus trying to change their behavior is critical to becoming a Pre-Commerce company


Recognizing the "Ten Channels" of online influence and how to create meaningful content for each is key to improving SEO and engaging customers.

As far as the location-based marketing portion of the presentation, I used the content from a previous blog post I did titled, Ten Keys to a Good Location-Based Marketing Campaign. If you want the Readers Digest of the ten rules, I’ve listed them below:

  1. Claim your location
  2. Pick a service (or two)
  3. Find your influencers
  4. Set goals
  5. Pick a great offer
  6. Measure, refine, optimize
  7. Gamification FTW
  8. Market your program
  9. Operationalize, operationalize, operationalize
  10. Play with the API

Based on the audience feedback, it appeared that the event was a success. It didn’t hurt that Rick picked up where I left off sharing several important trends from his latest book, The On-Demand Brand, including two that are near and dear to my heart i.e. mobile and augmented reality. My two favorite examples Rick shared were 1) the increasing importance of branded games (people like to play games) citing Burger King’s success with its Kings Game. It sold over 3 million copies and was linked to a direct increase in food sales at the locations where the game was sold and 2) the shopping experience of the future. This second example included not-too-far from reality concepts such as:

  • auto-checking in as you walk into the store (he had me at “check-in”)
  • receiving special offers based on your profile
  • sharing which clothes you are trying on with friends on Facebook and getting their opinion
  • watching videos of runway models wearing the item you are trying on background on design by the designers themselves
  • the ability to walk out of store while wearing the clothing you just tried on because you are already registered with the store and an RFID or NFC reader scans the item as you walk out

Have you read Pre-Commerce yet? Or On-Demand Brand? If you have, what’s your favorite model or example from the book?