Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What Google+ Means for Social Media Marketing

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

It’s been one week since the launch of Google+ (pronounced “Google Plus”), Google’s latest answer to Facebook and Twitter. Everyone is wondering how Google+ will fare, especially given the lack of widespread adoption of its previous attempts at social, Google Wave and Google Buzz (see my post on this from last February).

Here’s the net: Google+ is early but extremely promising. It’s impossible to deny the sheer magnitude of consumers’ data and data about consumers, which Google has. Picasa* photos, Blogger* posts, YouTube videos, docs, calendar items, searches, ad clicks, and geolocation are all a significant and compelling part of the consumer web footprint. Google+ is the first serious attempt to stitch all of this data together. It’s basically vertical integration for social media.

There are a lot of similarities between Google+ and Facebook, such as the tabbed profile structure (I can only imagine that custom tabs are coming next), profile picture, list of followers, list of profiles you are following, wall posts, “likes” (Google+ calls them “+1s”), comments, and shares. There are also some key differences:

  • Relationship tiering. Facebook has friend lists with different privacy settings assignable to different friend lists, but most users don’t know about or don’t utilize this feature. Core to the Google+ experience is the concept of “circles” (aka friend lists).
  • Minimum public information. Facebook privacy settings allow users to elect complete privacy from search engine and Facebook search results, whereas Google+ reveals full name and gender.
  • Relationship symmetry. Facebook friendship requires mutual approval. Google+ is like Twitter or Facebook Pages in that Person A can add Person B to a circle (aka follow or “like”) without Person B doing the same with Person A.
  • Rich apps. Google is very good at building apps. Huddle and Hangout are great examples of how Google+ is extending the social graph to text and video. Huddle is text-based group chat available on the Google+ mobile app (currently available only on Android). Hangout facilitates up to 10 users connecting via real-time video. Users in the same Hangout can even watch a YouTube video together. This is pretty awesome. (Facebook’s response today was to integrate Skype video, which can only accommodate 3 users.)

What’s notably missing from Google+ compared to Facebook are explicit demographic data and psychographic preferences, third-party apps, and ads. Surely this will change in due time.

Business Pages?
Business Pages are reportedly coming soon, but no actual date is confirmed. According to TechCrunch, Google says it’s not banning businesses from signing up, but has warned that they may have to create a new profile once Google+ for Businesses is ready.

Even still, a handful of brands are already experimenting, including Ford (see below), Mashable, and ABC News. It’s definitely still early. As of this morning, Ford has 323 “fans” on Google+ compared to more than 750,000 on Facebook. This will grow, of course, but only time will tell by how much.

Google+ Profile for Ford Motor Company

Google+ holds tremendous potential, but as with all social sites, the devil is in the details. How will features be exposed? What will the social dynamics become on the site? Ultimately, competition is good for consumers and good for business advertisers. Google+ will keep Facebook and Twitter honest and innovative.

Here is what we recommend to our customers:

1. Give it a test drive. Try it on your personal or demo account, and ask your execs and social media team to do the same. Google+ is still in invite-only mode (we can get you an invitation if you need one) but there are plans to roll out to all Google account users by the end of the month.

2. Gauge your Google+ footprint. Check your Web analytics and see if you’re getting any referring traffic from Google+. Survey your customers to see what their adoption might be of Google apps and Gmail.

3. Consider holding off on creating an official business page. Google has already said it won’t be possible to migrate from the current personal profile setup to a Google+ business page.

And here is I recommend to the Google+ team:

  • Create custom tabs and expose a partner API.
  • Integrate with Google Places and show check-ins on the feed.
  • Allow one-click email reply, doc collaboration, and calendar invite with anyone in the feed.
  • Expose search and analytics across public posts.
  • Provide vanity URLs so it’s easier for businesses to share the link and optimize for SEO.
  • Don’t be evil. Don’t tweak PageRank to overweight Google+ profiles over Facebook and Twitter results.

* Being renamed to Google Photos and Google Blogs, respectively

This was excerpted from my Hearsay Social blog post from earlier today

Making the Facebook Era work for your company: Enter Hearsay Social

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Adapted from first blog post at for my company Hearsay’s launch today from stealth mode.




Today we’re excited to unveil Hearsay Social, the first social media platform for businesses with local branches or reps – what we are calling “corporate/local.”

Just think about your insurance agent or financial advisor. Or your local coffee shop or fast food spot. Many are part of a corporate brand like State Farm or Starbucks, but what make them thrive are local customer relationships and experiences.

During the process of writing The Facebook Era and subsequently at major conferences I began keynoting, we interviewed hundreds of brands and kept hearing the same concerns:

  • How do we get a handle on the large numbers of social network profiles and pages being created by our local branches and reps?
  • How do we encourage a unique and authentic voice on local pages, while also ensuring they adhere to brand guidelines
  • How do we bring local reps and agents into compliance with federal regulations and protect them from legal liability?

For example, financial institutions are required to archive conversations, or risk heavy fines. Yet social media conversations go un-archived.

The vast numbers of corporate/local companies share a unique set of challenges when it comes to social media. How do you balance the need for brand alignment and compliance with the tremendous opportunity for local customer engagement?

We designed Hearsay Social specifically to help corporate/local companies create, manage, and measure social media efforts down to the zip code. Corporate management can, for example, distribute marketing campaigns and compelling content to the field, which local reps can then select, customize and one-click post to local audiences on Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter.

We live in an exciting time. Social media is on fire, with four out of five businesses saying it is a top priority in 2011. Marquee brands including State Farm, Farmers Insurance Group, and 24 Hour Fitness have already been using Hearsay Social with tremendous early success (check out our case studies). Like the Internet 15 years ago, social media is disrupting how companies interact with and relate to their customers. We all know new customer paradigms require new enterprise tools. This is why we started Hearsay.

I’m looking forward to seeing how far your business can go with social media in 2011!

- Clara

Corporate governance on social media

Friday, January 7th, 2011

This post was updated on February 19, 2011.

Corporate governance is a logical next area to pay attention to and invest in as social media matures. Regulatory bodies from the FTC and SEC to FINRA and FDA are starting to clamp down on employee activities on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

This is why I co-founded Hearsay Social. Hearsay helps your company get compliant on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, per the Securities Act of 1934, the Investment Acts of 1940, NASD 3010 & NASD 3110, and everything else the SEC and FINRA require. These regulations state what communications need to be archived and for how long, as well as what can and can’t be said in these messages, posts or exchanges. With Hearsay Social, everything that passes through these social media services is checked and archived, so banks and other financial institutions can unblock access to these sites with peace of mind.

Here’s a video on how it works - I look forward to your thoughts!

Visit our website at

Facebook Marketing Vendor Map

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

This post was updated on February 6, 2011.

There are thousands of social media vendors out there, and new ones cropping up every day. Whom should you work with? It depends on the business objectives you are trying to address and how much you’d like to outsource.

Costs can range anywhere from $1,000 for a one-off project to a recurring monthly fee for services or technology retained. If you either have high fan interaction volume or multiple social presences being managed in your organization, it’s almost guaranteed that you will need some sort of technology to help coordinate all the moving parts and make sure nothing slips through the cracks. This diagram below illustrates the landscape of top social media vendors which can help up your team’s social media velocity and productivity.

Social Media Vendor Landscape

Identifying Key Social Media Risks to Your Organization

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Enterprise social networking requires a certain degree of openness to work and to succeed, but this introduces new risks around privacy and security, intellectual property, and misrepresentation by employees. An important first step in instituting proper corporate governance is to honestly assess where the key risks might be. At the end of the day, it is more important to be aware of and manage risk rather than try to avoid risk altogether because that is costly, frustrating, and impossible. The optimal level of risk is not zero; it’s just something we need to acknowledge, mitigate, and manage.

  • Privacy and Security. The biggest security risks around enterprise social networking are generally not related to technology. They involve identity and privacy. There is a wealth of personal information about individuals available on social networking sites. To establish their identity and build rapport with their friend connections, people are for the most part very forthcoming with personal data such as date of birth, education, employment history, and the like. But especially without the right privacy settings in place, members of online social networking sites could become easy targets for identity theft. Seemingly harmless pieces of information such as your hometown or pet’s name are often the same kinds of security questions used by other sites, such as banking sites, to verify your identity.
  • Intellectual Property and Confidentiality. The second big risk area for businesses around social networking is safeguarding intellectual property and confidentiality against competitive or malicious threats. Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn remove a lot of barriers for interacting with customers and others in the community at large for productive activities such as marketing, sales, product innovation, and recruiting but also expose your business to the risk of data being shared with the wrong people.
  • Data Ownership. An important issue to keep in mind is ownership of data and content related to your brand generated on Twitter or Facebook Pages. At least in the Facebook terms of service, this is owned by Facebook. Facebook has always maintained open access to this data for brands and Page owners, but from a legal perspective it’s important to recognize this technicality. For this reason, it is recommended that any content or information that requires clear ownership and confidentiality that you do choose to publish to social networking sites appear via a platform application you commission for this purpose rather than through the out-of-the-box mechanisms provided by the site.
  • Employee Productivity. One risk of encouraging Facebook is that your employees waste all their time on non-business related activities such as socializing with friends, uploading pictures, and playing Farmville or Mafia Wars. Businesses can mitigate this risk by restricting access to certain parts of Facebook from the company network or by developing and communicating clear social media guidelines for employees, as we will discuss below.
  • Brand misrepresentation. Last, but not least, the openness of social media may increase the opportunities for your employees to speak out of turn and potentially misrepresent your brand to customers, partners, and the public at large, either purposefully or inadvertently. For the former, you could imagine, for example, a disgruntled former employee who was fired might attempt to retaliate by saying negative things about your company on public forums in Facebook. For the latter, a common example involves employees who carelessly or unknowingly post inappropriate public photos on their Facebook profile, which then reflects badly on your company. As we discuss in the next section, it’s very important to develop a social media policy and make sure employees and others receive the proper training before they are allowed to participate.

How to Get (and Keep) Facebook Fans

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Now that you have your Facebook Page, you need to get fans. I recommend inviting friends, employees, and trusted customers to “like” your Page before advertising or inviting customers you don’t know as well. Seeding your page with some initial activity and fans will make it more attractive to strangers than an empty page. You can invite them via email or the ‘Suggest to Friends’ link in Facebook that appears below your Page profile picture.

Include a link to your Facebook Page in your email signature, website, and print mailings. Ask customers to “like” the Page. Be sure to tell people why they should “like” it (eg, Become a fan of my Facebook Page and get access to real estate news and the latest condo listings in Chicago), otherwise there is no incentive for them.

You can also try advertising on Facebook to get more fans. Again, make sure you clearly convey what they get out of “liking” your Page. There are neat tricks you can do, such as hypertargeting ads so that only people who are friends with your existing fans, group members, or application users see an ad.

Keep in mind, however, that it isn’t just about how many fans you have—it’s about how engaged they are. It doesn’t add any value to your agenda if everyone “likes” your Page but hides all your updates because they aren’t relevant or interesting.

The Social Showdown: Facebook and Google go head-to-head

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Just when we thought it was down to Facebook versus Twitter for the social networking title, Google has jumped into the race with Buzz, a new social sharing service for Gmail users (there are around 176M worldwide, compared to 400M Facebook users). Google Buzz allows users to turn Gmail contacts into a social network and post status updates, photos, and links (like Facebook) but according to a one-way follower model (like Twitter).

While this latest move by Google is certainly attracting a lot of buzz (sorry, I couldn’t resist), they will need to address some pretty big hurdles in order for Buzz to be viable.

1. Privacy: Google faces same privacy challenges that crippled MySpace and Orkut. One of Facebook’s key innovations that allowed it to break away from earlier generation social networking sites was privacy controls that allow users to manage who sees what information. Google error: When Buzz launched last week, it automatically added top Gmail contacts to your follower list, even though these might be your coworkers, boss, or others you don’t want to share information with. Google is also confounding the “friends only” model on Facebook with the public model of Twitter, so people aren’t quite sure what to expect. The fix: Following an initial uproar, Google has taken steps to add greater security options. But people are still freaked out, and it will take time to win them back.

2. Usability. To be honest, I was expecting something sleeker from Google, which I know for a fact has some of the best usability designers in the world. I want to see what’s going on “at a glance”—that is, more AJAX, fewer clicks and less scrolling. Google error: Each “buzz” (especially if there is an image) takes up too much of the screen and it’s a pain to have to scroll down to read each one. Once again, it’s trying to be both Twitter and Facebook, but the models don’t jive. The fix: Buzz needs to either 1) adopt the Facebook model in showing you a rich update with images, video, and/or link, hide comments by default, and use an algorithm to just show a subset of everyone you are following, or 2) show every tweet like Twitter but keep it simple, text only, and limited to X number of characters. The usability falls apart when you try to combine rich updates and rich commenting with showing every update, because no one has that kind of time.

2 buzzes take up my entire screen. The same amount of space fits 5 Facebook status updates or 10 tweets.

2 buzzes take up my entire screen. The same amount of space would fit 5 Facebook status updates or 10 tweets.

3. Not a great track record with social technologies. After an early and valiant, but ultimately unsuccessful, social network play with, Google last year unveiled a number of (perhaps overly) forward-thinking collaboration features with Google Wave. No one disagrees there is plenty of potential, but then again a lot of people I have talked to and I myself feel it is too general to just suddenly start using in a serious way (so we haven’t, yet). Undoubtedly, Buzz is a step toward Wave. And then there was Google OpenSocial (later spun out as an independent nonprofit) which launched in 2007, also in a big hurry, at the time to compete with Facebook Platform. OpenSocial largely has not lived up (yet) to its promise of connecting multiple sites and networks. And then there is Google Latitude, which is cool in theory, but for all practical purposes I don’t really care about the latitude and longitude of my friends and would rather not tip off any stalkers. Foursquare, Gowalla, or Loopt offer a much better experience. All great ideas with great intentions, but poor execution.

Facebook versus OpenSocial Networks

Relative growth of Facebook versus OpenSocial Networks

I’m not hating Google (I would never do that—they gave me my first job). Nor do I question their might or determination. They are taking the right steps, and all of us as consumers will ultimately benefit from the innovation that results from competition. But especially with sensitive information and interactions on the social web, the devil is in the details, and so far Google has been rushing their products a little too much to pay attention to the details.

Google’s advantages: a lot of smart people, a lot of resources, a lot of our data, and instant distribution to 176M Gmail users

Google’s opportunity: 1) use email contacts as a more accurate and up-to-date implicit social graph, compared to the Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn social graphs which are all explicit (must initiate/accept each connection), 2) weave together a much richer social experience across a lot of applications including mobile, maps, search, email, Youtube, Picasa, Google Reader, and 3) mesh multiple communication modes including voice, chat, email, status updates, documents/spreadsheets.

Takeaway for marketers: it’s probably too early to get serious about Buzz. I’d give it at least a year. I will be staying tuned and keeping all of you posted.

Business & Community in the Facebook Era (presentation at Web 2.0 Expo New York 11.18.09)

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Great, engaging crowd this morning at Web 2.0 Expo at the Javits Center in New York. I really enjoyed the audience questions and discussions, including

  • the need to be able to identify key influencers and social media participants when calculating social customer lifetime value
  • reconciling the problem of low clickthrough rates on Facebook with high response rates to Facebook Page updates
  • since there are no business account users on Facebook, all Pages and ad campaigns are associated with an individual. Best practice for companies here is to require that individual to include several other colleagues as additional admins in case anyone switches roles or leaves the company

Many thanks to @michaelreynolds @14str8 @mklawler @anetah @KatieWynner @MarissaARoss @RIGHTSLEEVE and many others for leading the vibrant Twitter thread around my session. Slides below. Looking forward to your comments!

My presentation at Facebook Developer Garage London

Monday, October 19th, 2009

I had a wonderful time speaking at Facebook Developer Garage London last month. Many thanks to Joshua March and Grant Bell for organizing a terrific event and packing the house! Here is video of my presentation from the event (intended for a developer-oriented audience) on what not to do in the Facebook Era.

Why Facebook Matters for B2B

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Last week, I was in Chicago for the PanIIT Conference, an annual gathering of Indian Institute of Technology alumni (which, by the way are an impressive group of people!). I spoke on a social networking panel with three terrific speakers representing a broad range of industry perspectives:

One question that came up during audience Q&A was whether Facebook has utility for B2B. It’s a good question and one I get a lot, so I thought I’d address at greater length in a blog post.

The answer is yes. First, B2B sales are all about relationships. Higher price points and longer implementation cycles mean greater buying decision risk, so buyers often rely on trust rather than price. Trust hinges on relationships. Facebook is the ultimate relationship manager. Second, when B2B decision-makers are on Facebook, they are logged in as individual consumers. We have an opportunity to personalize our messages and target these individuals equally for enterprise software as we do for diapers.

In particular, many of the sales reps I interviewed use Facebook and LinkedIn together to better navigate buyer organizations, build one-on-one relationships with decision-makers, keep deals alive when a longer sales cycle is required, and prospect beyond direct connections to friend-of-friend networks. Information that people share about themselves on a Facebook or LinkedIn profile, such as someone’s alma mater, hometown, and status update, can behelpful in qualifying leads and used to build interpersonal rapport, for example bonding over having mutual friends or having attended the same college. This was the thinking behind the Faceconnector application I developed two years ago, which integrates Facebook profile and friend information into Salesforce CRM and was the first business application on the Facebook platform.

Facebook as personal CRM. Facebook is a contact database with photos, profiles, updates, and birthday reminders to help us stay in touch with more people. The cost of staying in touch has gone down, so we are able and willing to stay in touch with a greater number of people. Our networks are expanding especially on the fringe with weak-tie relationships. Interestingly, business research shows that social capital and consequently business capital are maximized on the fringe. We aren’t usually hiring and closing deals with our parents and best friends – it is with our friend-of-friend networks where the greatest opportunities and gain are to be had.

The following is a brief excerpt from my new book, The Facebook Era, about how B2B professionals can utilize social networking tools for prospecting and navigating customer organizations.

Purchase decisions are made by individual people, not entire companies. Transactions succeed or fail because of a few key such individuals—your customer champion, executive decision maker, customer reference, sales rep, product expert. By strengthening the bond and improving information flow among your internal deal team as well as with key customer stakeholders, social networking sites can help your company create a more productive organizational selling machine.

For example, B2B information technology company Aster Data Systems successfully sourced its initial wave of customers using social networking sites. As a small startup, Aster lacked brand recognition, and did not have the budget for large marketing or advertising campaigns. To source early customers, Aster instead tapped into the company’s collective social network on LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook. Senior management asked all employees, not just sales reps, to tap their networks for potential prospects who had keywords like“data warehousing” in their title or functional expertise. In just a few months, the resourcefulness of this strategy has already begun to pay off. LinkedIn and other social networking sites are used to identify who among those contacts connected to Aster employees might be interested in the database product. Then a sales cycle is initiated through a combination of LinkedIn and traditional communication modes. Thanks to the power of the social graph, Aster has successful signed on more than a dozen customers.

In addition to helping facilitate one-on-one relationship building, data from social networking sites at a high level can also be used for B2B deal strategy—i.e., how to approach a deal, which individuals at the buyer can be connected with, and who has influence in the deal. Sales methodologies like TAS, Miller Heiman, and Solution Selling emphasize the importance of navigating customer organizations and identifying key decision makers. There is powerful data contained in the online social graph to help aid this exercise.

Online social networking sites reveal a wealth of information about people’s title and role, status in the company, working relationship with other contacts, and decision making status. One high tech account executive who has successfully sold into many IT departments told me that whenever he gets a new contact, he immediately goes to LinkedIn to understand how the individual fits into the bigger picture. There are a few subtle but critical pieces of information for which he is always on the lookout that greatly affect his strategy on a particular deal:
o Political strength and tenure
o Likelihood of being a champion or roadblock
o Organizational structure

If you’re interested in reading more from this chapter and/or checking out reviews, see the listing on Amazon. I look forward to your comments!