Video Sharing, Hulu Advertises It

May 4, 2009

Hulu is making big moves to become the most prominent online video website.  Following up news that they had officially become the 3rd most popular video site on the web, Disney joined co-founders NBC Universal and News Corp., taking a 30% stake in the growing company.

hulu-logoHow are they growing so fast in a crowded space, where online video has been dominated by prominent players, including Google’s Youtube?  It’s actually pretty easy.  Develop a quality product that offers different content, that has previously been hard to get.  Sign exclusive partnership deals with content providers.  And market it well.

Hulu, unlike a lot of social media companies, has spent a great deal of money on Television advertising.  By combining fun commercials with big celebrity names, they have successfully tied in the commercials to an overall marketing campaign that aims to turn Hulu into the #1 video site out there.

Thier most recent addition to the “We’re Aliens” commercials was featured in this blog post on TechCrunch last week.  It shows “alien” Dennis Leary discussing the ability to share videos on Hulu anywhere on the web, tapping right into the whoe theory of social media and viral marketing.

This creative campaign has turned heads, and along the way has turned internet users into Hulu extremists.  The website has amassed a large following, and the future looks very bright.

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Facebook and Change

January 27, 2009

Facebook AdvertisingIn the past few weeks a lot of things have been happening around the Facebook community.  Police made an arrest after someone made a positive identification of a bank robber off of a Facebook photo.  A woman was fired from his job after staying home from work “sick” and posting that he was too hung over to work on his profile.  Another woman was notified that she was fired through a message on her Facebook account.  Prince Harry was dumped, and the only way he found out was a Facebook profile update.  In addition, Burger King ran an interesting, successful viral ad using Facebook as a platform.

We have to realize that we are living in a world that has changed.  And not because we elected a black man as President.  But because he addresses the nation weekly using YouTube.  It’s not because Comcast offers a number of free movies on demand.  It’s because they have a Twitter account to deal with customer service issues.  It’s because the online world is no longer the online world.  The online world has crossed over into the real world.

No longer can you live in this world without being affected in some way with what is going on online.  The virtual space isn’t virtual, its physical.

This day was coming. It wasn’t long in the making, in fact, it just kind of popped up on us.  But it’s here.  And it’s time to recognize that and stop running from it.

There is a bounty of information out there, go find it.  There are millions of ways to connect with people, start connecting.  There are thousands of products competing for your business, find the best one.  Stop ignoring the world that you don’t understand.  Start taking advantage of it, otherwise the rest of the world is taking advantage of you.

There is no longer a divide between the internet and the physical world.  We’re all living in both.  Start living again.

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Where is Our News Going?

January 19, 2009

breaking-newsSeth Godin will have you believe that major media companies are on the way out. But is that really the case?

I would argue the opposite, though I add a warning that if these companies do not innovate in the way they obtain and dispense information, they’re dead. I think that, in the area of news, these major corporate networks are still best situated to develop their technology and deliver information to the public in new and relevant ways.

Why Major News Organization Can Still Win

  1. Access – these organizations have the credibility and network skills to get inside information. They can access people at the highest levels, in all parts of the world, and deliver the most up to date information from anywhere.
  2. Money – Established corporate networks have the resources needed to overhaul their technology. It’s true that they need to re-evaluate their real time and web efforts, but they have the ability to do that. Find the value that your readers are looking for and give it to them, no questions asked.
  3. Loyalty – People are less loyal these days to brands or companies because “shopping around” has become much easier. However, when it comes to news and other important information, there is a credibility factor that is difficult to get around. People are not as comfortable getting news from lesser known blogs or other online sources.

What They Need to Do

  1. Personalization – The web and other mobile technologies have allowed people to customize the information they get, and how they see it. Make it easy for readers to sign up for alerts in certain areas, and give them the information how they ask for it.
  2. Email – Utilize email systems to let people get the news they want when they want it. All the stories you run should be available in email format, and people should not have to ask for them more than once.
  3. Social MediaTwitter and other social networks have become valuable resources for providing and passing along important news as it breaks. There is no reason that a news service cannot tap into that “real time” power and use it. Learn how to capitalize on these systems and incorporate them into your strategy.
  4. Blogs, blog readers, and bookmarking – Stories need to be passed from person to person to spread. Newsworthy is a term that now applies to something that deserves to be relayed on to friends. Incorporate blogging and social bookmarking tools to your website to give people the option to spread the best stories. This builds brand awareness and keeps you relevant.
  5. Feedback – Reach out for and pay attention to your readers’ opinions. This can be on a story by story basis or feedback on your services in general. Listen to people because if there is anything that the social web has taught us, it’s that we all have something to say.

The major thing that these corporate news services and media companies have to acknowledge is that the old way of doing things no longer works. Evaluate where your information is coming from and how it is getting out. Learn that people want access to the information they are interested in, no fluff, and they want it free. Give that to them and then rebuild accordingly. It’s time to fight for your readers our die.

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Hire a Social Media Manager and Start Talking

January 15, 2009

social-mediaWhy would a company need to hire someone whose job it is to manage social media?  To me, the answer to that question is obvious.  And if you know anything about the social web, you probably agree.  The problem is that the majority of companies out there don’t know as much as we do, because they are either out of touch or just don’t care.

The emerging world of social media offers networks like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace.  It offers an endless array of blogs and other sources for news and opinions.  It offers the sharing of information, videos, pictures, thoughts, and ideas.  This is where people are talking.  This is where people are learning about new things.  And this is where you need to be.

But you can’t do it by yourself.  There are too many areas that you need to be aware of and on top of at all times.  And there are too many resources out there to help you to ignore.

Step 1: Evaluate the Social Media landscape and find out where you fit in. As Marc Meyer (twitter.com/Marc_Meyer) says, not every company or customer may be a fit.  In addition, not every company needs to be involved in every aspect of social media.  But there are areas you can capitalize on, whether you use it for customer service, contests and promotions, ideas, or brand building.  The key is to understand it.

Step 2: Define your customer from a social media perspective. Are your existing customers using social media, and in what way?  Are there potential customers on the social web that present an opportunity?  The better you understand your customers’ habits on the web, the more you will understand how to reach them.

Step 3: Spend the money. The reason I say to hire someone whose primary job it is to manage your social media efforts is twofold.  One, you want to give them control to communicate, interact, and adapt on their own.  Two, for brand building, one clear message across social media channels is important.  As “SMcuter” (twitter.com/SMcuter) would say, too many cooks in the kitchen leads to inconsistency and poorly laid out plans.

Seth Godin reminds us that if no one is talking about you, you’re boring.  But the truth is, you can start the conversation.  And you can take part in the conversation.  This is as true for large corporations like Microsoft and IBM as it is for local businesses like clothing stores and restaurants.

Hire someone who understands the web, someone with vision and creativity.  It takes a combination of different backgrounds, such as technology and marketing.  It’s a new job role, and one that many people will be looking to fill.  Give them freedom, give them a voice, and put them to work.  In the end, this will be an inexpensive way to create a buzz, to build your brand, and to seek out new customers.

Do you agree?

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Monetize Twitter then Monetize Everything Else

December 19, 2008

twitter-birdMonetizing the social web.  It’s the hot topic headed into 2009.  How can Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, and countless other online services begin to see real revenue and profitability?  And how can they do that without ruining the user experience and creating too much confusion on the websites?

For those familiar with social networks, those who use them daily, it is a constant debate.  From the business end, we can see that value of these networks, and the amount of information they hold, so we know there is money there somewhere.  From the usability end, we can see that attempts to use advertisers and third party publishers have had some negative effects on the cleanliness and function of the interface.  So what to do?

Well, I am not here to answer all the questions.  But I thought I would try my hand at just one.  How can Twitter make money?

I noticed a few days ago that Twitter announced that they were hiring a VP of Business Operations with one clear task, monetize Twitter.  Chances are that I will not get that job.  But if I did, here is what I would try:

1.    Charge Third Party Developers.  Twitter is a great service, and its easy to use.  Developers noticed this right away.  Many tools have come out that made Twitter more accessible from anywhere on and off the web.  Set fees to develop applications and programs that are used in conjunction with Twitter.

2.    Rotate Ads Right of Screen.  The Twitter interface is so clean that many people think ads would ruin the experience.  But as far as I can see, rotating long sidebar ads on the right side of the screen would take nothing away.  Ads can be targeted based on activity (updates, who you follow, @replies).  Show a new ad every time the page is reloaded.

3.    Sell Twitter Software.  Twitter has many uses.  In an office setting, I can see it as a means of communication that surpasses those that we use today.  Why not sell Twitter software to companies for a monthly or yearly fee.  Let them customize the design, add all their employees, and operate it on a different site (businessname.twitter.com).

4.    Twitter Marketing Accounts.  Create a new type of account, for marketers, that you have to pay for.  A marketer account allows you to send updates to a targeted market of Twitter users once or twice daily.  These will show up like normal updates on a person’s home page, but there will be a limited amount so the intrusion is negligible.

5.    Paid Twitter Ad-ons.  Similar to the Twitter Software idea, Twitter could add new services to their existing tool that one would have to sign up and pay for.  Call this a Twitter Pro Account if that is what works.  These could include a news section, forums, directories, finance that allow you to group Tweets together and display headline style information.  This is more valuable simply because it would be easier to classify information.  Charge a one-time upgrade fee or a yearly subscription that is so small that we all sign up.

So there are five things that I would do my first day on the job.  Who will get the job? Will they like my ideas?  Will they follow them?  Will they ever read or hear them?  Whatever happens, this is an important step in monetizing the social web.  And all other networks can be aware of these ideas and use them in their own way.  Prove to us that your inflated values make sense and that your products will bring us further than we ever anticipated.

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Innovative Business Masterminds

November 25, 2008

inovasi_4When you’re ready to stop talking innovation, and start doing it…

IBM basically stole their tagline from my blog, but I’m not complaining.  They could have thrown a little credit my way, but I don’t expect it.  Why this blog is not part of IBM’s group of blogs is beyond me.

Innovative Business Masterminds.  It’s not what IBM stands for, but it might as well be.  And by masterminds, I mean both the actual machines that they produce, but also the systems they have in place, and the people behind the scenes.  IBM is a brilliant company that supports the success and development of many other companies.  As they rise, we rise.

Between the research that they do, the computer systems and data technology that they produce, and the corporate technology consulting business, IBM has long established their place in the world economy.  And now, IBM is taking action in an area that is of interest to me.

Project Blue Spruce is a new collaboration platform that IBM is currently working on as part of a move into online collaboration and social networking.  The goal is to set up an easy to use platform for anyone to meet and collaborate online.  Differing from existing web based platforms, this will be a completely shared environment that you can access with a server and a browser.  You’ll be able to download and share all tools and capabilities associated with the space, and work with people anywhere in the world.

This fits in with their plan to develop social networking tools for business that they announced earlier this year.  This shift is one that is both necessary, and brilliant.  IBM will originally use their social network developments to interact within the company, their partners, and their customers.  This will give them a real life testing agent, as well as help them collaborate to make new systems more useful and intuitive.

I am a huge proponent of collaborative work.  In my opinion, working with others is the best way to develop truly innovative and new ideas.  And social media has taken us into an era where online collaboration is easier than ever before.  As internet access continues to open up to the masses, and physical distance becomes irrelevant, technologies like this will allow us to do anything we want to do.  The future is one of mass innovation, collaboration, and change.  And IBM is helping to take us there.

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Mobile Battles, Monetization of the Social Web, and Risk Taking

November 14, 2008

Economists and writers are still stuck in the bad news area. And why shouldn’t they be? Look at the stats that keep rolling in. They are not good.

But here’s something to think about. As more and more of the traditional companies that dominated the old economy (pre-internet) struggle and go under, the new economy companies are finding new ways to develop. In fact, this whole meltdown could in fact be the final transition between the old and new economy, where new technologies win out over dried up 20th century business.

Michael Baxter points out that risk taking has been the thing that has led to many of the great innovations of91052290-ce47-36c5-6628f34fc51e972c_1 the past. Companies, scientists, economists, advertisers all took risks, made mistakes, and stumbled upon the next great idea or invention. And those “inventions” carried us to the next level. New companies form, old companies die, but the economy as a while continues to move forward.

But in this economy, it seems that all of those companies are scared for their lives. And because they are so scared, they seem to be pulling out the risk taking business. In an effort to save cash, they cut marketing, they cut R&D, and they cut people. I have said it before, but it bears repeating, the companies that will succeed are those that find the opportunities in this mess and exploit them.

blackberry_2_430So who is taking advantage? Look at the Technology sector, look at the web. Social Media seems to be moving forward at the speed of light, and looking for the right way to make money and develop into valuable commodities. Youtube and other online video platforms continue to experiment with advertisements and partnerships to find revenue. The more people that watch videos online, the more traditional marketers try to enter the market, the more important a revenue stream will become.

Social Networks are starting to see the dollar signs. A week after MySpace announced $1 Billion in ad revenue, Open Social discussed how they will monetize their applications. The valuations of companies that connect people online used to be based on the idea of monetization, and now we are seeing the first real signs of those possibilities in action.

And let’s not forget about the Mobile Web. With the popularity of the iPhone as high as ever, here comes Google’s G1, and the new Blackberry Storm. The battle is on to connect more people to the web from a touch-screen phone. This means new opportunities for mobile service providers, platform developers, and third party applications. This is a battle that is sure to be waged for years.iphone_3g

Am I saying that traditional companies are dead in the water, of course not. But I am saying that it is time to wake up and see that online strategies are paying off. Technology is moving forward far faster than any other sector of the economy. They are the ones taking all the risks, and it appears that all the rewards are falling in their direction. So are we on the verge of a major transformation? That is for you to decide.

To here more on this topic and others in business and innovation, you can now sign up for email updates. Happy reading.

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