You Are What You Endorse–Google Shared Endorsements

Google Search and Social - Shared Endorsements

Remember that old saying that “when the product is FREE, the product is YOU”? Well Google are putting their advertiser’s money where your mouth is – with shared endorsements now being incorporated into search results. This brings together two powerful web transformation engines – search and social – in the one interface.

That means that those online reviews etc that you have contributed over the years are being aggregated behind the scenes and will begin to appear in the search results that you and your friends see when using Google Search. Your friends will know it is you, because the results will show your name and photo along with the review, +1, follows or shares that you have published on the web.

As Google explains, it will look like the image below …

GoogleSharedEndorsements

Over the last 12 months or so, Google has been requiring Gmail users to sign up to Google+. So even if you are not a dedicated G+ user, so long as you are signed into Gmail, your browsing habits, interests etc are being collected, analysed and tagged in preparation for this style of endorsement.

But if you are not keen to lend your personal brand, reputation or face to these businesses (and to Google), you can opt-out of Shared Endorsements here.

SuccessConnect – Where Talent and Social Collide at the SuccessFactors Conference

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Passwords – One for the Money, Two for the Show

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I am always going to love an Elvis quote. We don’t see enough of it in the world of business. And we should. After all, he was “The King”.

So this quick guide to unhackable passwords from McAfee and Intel caught my attention straight away.

The guide points out that you need multiple passwords:

  • One password for banking
  • A different password for email
  • Another password for social media

Unfortunately, we all have more than three needs, right?  So one idea is to add the account information into your password:

  • Facebook: your Facebook password can become my_facebook_password
  • Twitter: your Twitter password can become my_twitter_password

Or variations on that theme.

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HT Lindy Asimus’ pinterest collection.

You Thought Siri Was Cool Until You Got Google Glass

Water Drop ~ Explored ~

I can remember my first bulky personal digital assistant (PDA). It was cumbersome, hard to use and ugly. Very ugly. But I loved it. It felt like a ripple in the fabric of the future.

While at university, I took notes on this PDA, scrambling to jot bullet points into the slim LED screen and save them before we moved onto the next subject. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes I lost whole lectures when the AA batteries failed. But even then I realised that there was serious value in being able to search through lecture notes on-the-fly.

And then along came the Palm Pilot. I thought the handwriting recognition was a breakthrough. As I skimmed my stylus across the plastic screen I really felt that I was experiencing another of those ripples in the fabric of the future. It was the right device at the right time – a bridge between my analog and digital worlds. But it wasn’t just a PDA, it was a phone too. And it was changing the world.

With each new innovation, the barriers between me and my device would evaporate. They became easier to use, smarter, friendlier – and dare I say it – more human. Each iteration would be less about the device and more about the experience. My experience. It was like the technology was disappearing before my eyes.

Recently, when Siri came along, we celebrated as if the world had turned on its side. Apple had somehow, again, not only innovated on top of its already innovative iPhone platform – they trumped themselves and changed our relationship with the technology. Now you didn’t even need to swipe and type, you could speak. You could ask questions.


And we all loved Siri. But, for me, Siri was a constant reminder that I was using a device. A particular device. It called out my own reliance on that device and its manufacturer – for always in the background, there was that awareness that the experience was being delivered only by Apple. In many ways, Siri wasn’t just a ripple in the fabric of the future, it was the rock that caused the splash.

But Google’s Glass project fascinates me – partly because it is literally transparent.

As you can see from this video, it’s freshly intuitive – and that’s saying something considering Google’s usually clunky interfaces. But the thing that excites me most is the way that experience – human experience – is front and centre. For decades, technology has drawn us away from the body and focused our minds on the screen. But here, we are celebrating, not the technology, but the body in action. It’s technology taking a back seat. It’s the always on Kodak moment.

And its the closest we’ve yet seen to the future.

At least until the next ripple.

Water Drop ~ Explored ~ Sergiu Bacioiu via Compfight

Waving Goodbye to Posterous

Bye Bye Posterous

Bye Bye PosterousI have long been a fan of Posterous. It was a platform that was ridiculously easy to use – and was a great introduction to social media for those who were (or remain) cautious of technology and online publishing.

But when Twitter acquired Posterous in 2012, it was only a matter of time before it was made redundant. And now we know that Posterous will be turned off on April 30, 2013. Making the announcement on the official Posterous blog, founder, Sachin Agarwal, thanked the users and supporters of Posterous and explained how to backup and download your site:

  1. Go to http://posterous.com/#backup.
  2. Click to request a backup of your Space by clicking “Request Backup” next to your Space name.
  3. When your backup is ready, you’ll receive an email.
  4. Return to http://posterous.com/#backup to download a .zip file.

I’ve started the process of moving the various Posterous sites that I have created. I will probably move them to a WordPress site of some kind – when I have the time … but I do so a little sadly.

Posterous’ ease-of-use was a phenomenal wake-up call to the rest of the web world. It will be a shame to see it disappear. Let’s hope the Posterous focus on simplicity impacts the Twitter product roadmap. After all, we don’t need more features, we need a better experience in our use of technology. And for my money, simplicity it the key.

The Mayan Apocalypse? No, Just Eloqua’s Early Christmas Joy

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Sneaking a last minute deal in before the holiday break, Oracle announced an $871 million acquisition of marketing automation vendor, Eloqua. Representing a 10x multiple on Eloqua’s annual revenues, it marks the first of what is likely to be a string of consolidations in the marketing technology space over the next 12 months. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2013.

  • A win for Eloqua customers that comes with a catch . This deal looks set to accelerate the Eloqua solution roadmap with Oracle bringing additional focus and resourcing to solution improvements already slated for 2013. That means that existing customers can more readily tap the customer experience functionality that supports front of house operations through Oracle’s existing sales, service, commerce and social foundations as well as the big data and analytics capabilities that are vital to the digital marketer’s credibility. Many Eloqua customers will have made companion investments in Salesforce and will be keen for ongoing reassurance that integration will continue to be supported.
  • Oracle secure a beach head beyond the IT line of business.The acquisition significantly bolsters Oracle’s marketing credentials – adding mature, cloud based marketing automation capabilities to their Customer Experience Cloud offering. Eloqua’s strength has been its strong connection with the marketing departments at its 1200 customer locations, and this provides Oracle’s sales team with a vital beach head beyond the IT line of business. And with the projected shift of technology budget from the CIO to CMO over the next two years, this will be essential to the longer term success of the Oracle’s Customer Experience Cloud and the previous Market2Lead and Vitrue acquisitions.

Why marketers should care

Marketers have fallen behind in the technology stakes – suffering under the weight of outmoded marketing models and outflanked by their fast moving, tech savvy, connected customers. This announcement brings yet another level of change and signals a new wave of consolidation and innovation that will challenge marketers in the year ahead.

On the positive side, the investment in thought leadership and focus on marketing technology coming from the likes of Adobe, IBM and Salesforce is helping to educate and mature the market. This will not only assist CMOs to formulate business cases and justify technology and skills investment through 2015, it also provides fertile opportunity for the marketing automation vendors like Act-On, Hubspot, Marketo and Neolane.

Where next?

Oracle has thrown down the gauntlet to the other enterprise software vendors. Who will blink first?

The acquisition has revealed a gap in the Salesforce marketing offering. SAP is nowhere to be seen. And Adobe and IBM can no longer afford to sit on their hands. Oracle’s bold move may have brought Christmas early to the team at Eloqua, but does it usher in the Mayan Apocalypse for enterprise marketers or represent a new dawn? 2013 is just around the corner.

Eloqua has released a FAQ and an announcement deck that can be downloaded from their blog.

Instagram Don’t Want Your Pictures, They Want Your Influence

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Over the last 24 hours, the changes to the Instagram social network’s terms of use have rippled across the web. Many took to Twitter to voice their displeasure, while others determined it was a non event. In many respects, it was only a matter of time before Facebook began to expect a return on their $1 billion investment in the nine person strong social network startup.

Instagram responds

As I suggested yesterday, Instagram will measure community response to the changes and are likely to return with a watered down version of their terms of use. In a blog post from co-founder, Kevin Systrom, Instagram have moved to clarify the plain English ambiguity that comes with legalese.

Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

The post also moves to clarify ownership rights and privacy settings – though it is worth pointing out that the privacy features in Instagram are not yet as granular as those offered by Facebook.

Big data is the hidden gold

The world of advertising has shifted substantially in the last 2-3 years. Those immersed in the world of digital will have a more nuanced understanding of “innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram” than the general public. It’s not simply a case of a social network selling your photo for use in an advertising campaign. It’s about using the META DATA associated with your photo to CONTEXTUALISE digital advertising within YOUR social network.

So, imagine that you ride a Ducati motorbike (as I used to). If I took a photo of myself on a Ducati motorbike at the local dealership and tagged it accordingly, that photo may appear in a Facebook ad (or an ad served via the Facebook Exchange elsewhere on the web). But most importantly, because we know consumers trust friends more than we trust brands, we are more likely to respond to advertising with an implied (or real) endorsement. So when my Ducati ad appears with a well crafted call to action, and you click through to an offer from your local motorcycle dealer, Instagram will have done its job – delivering a highly targeted contextual advertisement to a highly targeted, socially-influenced audience.

AnatomyOfInstagram

This can occur because each time you take a photo with Instagram, you upload not only the photo itself, but you connect that photo with other identities and data, like:

  • The caption of the photo and a list of hashtags in the caption
  • Location of the photo – latitude and longitude, and sometimes a location name
  • List of comments on the photo, each with the text of the comment and details about the comment’s author
  • Date and time the photo was created
  • Link to view the photo on the web in different sizes – thumbnail, low resolution and standard sizes
  • Count of likes, with details of each user who liked the photo
  • Details of the user who posted the photo – their username, website, bio, profile picture and full name

You’re not the product, your friends are

We often say that when you use a social network and the price of entry is free, that YOU are the product. But that is only half the story. You are not the only product – your friends and social connections are too.

And in a world that is inundated with messages and messaging, cut through comes via trusted sources. That’s why Instagram (or Facebook) don’t want your images, they want your influence, reputation and social connections.

Instagram Dumps Early Adopters for a Shot at the Mainstream

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1344924671 When Instagram burst onto the scene with its mobile only platform and funky photo filters it came armed with a secret. It wasn’t just about the photos.

Sure, the vast range of photo filters were appealing. They provided a layer of nostalgia for the Gen Xers raised on Kodak round edged photos and soft focus pastels from the 70s. Some filters created a more edgy feel, displacing the photo border and accentuating the top end of the colour spectrum. They made the amateur photographer feel empowered, even if the filters sometimes degraded the photo quality. What we lost in quality we made up for in consistency of image, framing and in the ease of digital cropping.

Community was the secret sauce of Instagram

But Instagram was more than just a fun way to take photos. For many social network early adopters, it was a sanctuary from the noise of Facebook and Twitter. It allowed people to curate small communities of like minds, where networks of dozens, hundreds and in some cases, thousands, of people could share photos, tips and engage in in-the-moment sharing, collaboration and discussion.

And as the platform was engineered around mobility, it had built-in location awareness and sharing, so that closed networks of connections could create a sense of context around the digital interaction. Moreover, with push awareness, users could be updated on any interactions with their own images, comments, likes, loves and so on. It brought a human dimension to the digital experience. It was a sense of community and all the goodness that comes with that sense of belonging.

Facebook’s billion dollar acquisition changed the Instagram game

When Facebook purchased Instagram back in April 2012 for about $1 billion, it was only a matter of time before something changed. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg focused on synergies, announcing:

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family … Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

But throughout 2012, Facebook has also been under pressure to prove its IPO valuation. And Instagram was a canny move, because it brings a ready made market.

Changing Instagram’s terms of use

Facebook are well-known for pushing the limits of user privacy. They started with the now failed Beacon. Then they stepped back and made a claim over all user generated content published on the social network. After a series of protests, Facebook modified their claims, but still succeeded in shifting the boundaries on user privacy and content ownership.

Taking a leaf out of the Facebook guide to user engagement, Instagram have now updated their terms of use which are due to come into effect on January 16, 2013. Buried within the Instagram site, these terms provide for the following “rights”:

InstagramRights

Saying goodbye to the early adopters, welcoming the mainstream

In making this move, Instagram is sounding its own death knell. It is signalling the end of the relationship to those who care about (and understand) the complex nature of web privacy. These “early adopters” were the founders of the Instagram community and fuelled its growth.

According to the diffusion of innovations, early adopters are vital in bringing new technology to the mainstream audience. Without the support of the early adopters, new innovations fall into the “chasm” and never reach wide acceptance within a community.

DiffusionOfInnovations

But the early adopters have done their job now and as Instagram says goodbye to them, it is opening its arms to the mainstream. The early adopters have bridged the chasm and are shifting their focus away from community building to monetisation.

Facebook’s lucrative double whammy

Facebook’s billion dollar investment has not only eliminated a competitor, it has opened a lucrative new revenue stream. Extending the existing Facebook photo sharing functionality (for which it was already a global leader) by integrating the Instagram capabilities will help drive further online usage.

The change in the terms of use will provide new revenue by allowing Instagram to license your photographs, name and images to content hungry third parties.

The shift from users to customers

Many have suggested that Instagram, as an alternative, should charge to download their app. But this would change the nature of the relationship. At present, Instagram has a strong community of “users”, but charging would make those users “customers” – and that in turn would compromise the business model.

As it currently stands, Instagram’s “customers” will be those “third parties” – brands and businesses who are interested in the vast quantities of content being produced by Instagram’s users.

Instagram may re-jig the terms of use with slightly more generous concessions based on user protest, but users should expect that the direction to be maintained.

So what happens to the early adopters?

They’ll move to a new service. They’ll rediscover Path or re-evaluate the new Flickr app. Perhaps they’ll warily move to the new mobile Twitter app with in-built filters.

But saying goodbye to the early adopters is not the end of the world. It’s the start of a new mainstream story. And many of us will only care when we see our own images splashed, out of context, in some other place on the web. But by then, that will be too late.

For many, privacy and “intellectual property rights” over our own image is happily traded for the benefits offered by social networks. But the choice is individual – and the challenge we all face is to be informed. And it’s bound to become more challenging in 2013.

CMO to CIO – It’s Time We Talked

When we crowdsourced the first The Age of Conversation book back in 2008, the idea of working from the outside-in was untested. Over 100 marketing innovators from 15 countries shared their thoughts and early experiences and Drew McLellan and I produced a book that would go on to create a community, showcase the early adopters and leading social media practitioners and ultimately raise around $50,000 for charity.

People like David Berkowitz wrote about participation and its ephemeral nature in a connected world. Toby Bloomberg peered into the future, suggesting that business was personal and that technology is fueling emotional engagement. And Katie Chatfield told brands to prepare themselves for a party.

Several years on, however, how many brands are ready to party? How many can scale their digital interactions into some form of customer engagement? And how many are prepared to turn conversations into something more than a link or a like?

As this infographic from Socialcast shows, many businesses continue to restrict access to social media in the workplace. At the same time, social marketing agency Awareness suggests that better customer engagement was a top business objective for social media.

  • Social Media Governance a Major Concern for CIOs: The gap between the business objectives and needs of two vital organisational units – technology and marketing appear at odds. Robert Half Technology’s survey of 1400 CIOs indicates that governance concerns are high on the CIO agenda – citing security, legal liability and bandwidth as reasons for blocking social media.
  • Social Media Generates Productivity and Creativity Payoffs: The “micro breaks” offered by social media may actually increase productivity. But this pales into insignificance against the business value of bringing the outside-in. A recent McKinsey Global Institute report suggests that cross-enterprise collaboration is estimated to unlock in excess of $900 billion across four industries.
  • CMO to CIO – Let’s Talk Timing: The competing needs of the CMO and CIO are often seen through the lens of conflict. Customer demands and revenue expectations drive a marketing agenda while risk management, compliance and governance occupy the minds of the CIO. Yet, the opportunity for collaboration exists. CMOs need to understand the challenges of governance and technology and CIOs need exposure to the “front office”. The answer lies in planning and timing. And having the right conversation.

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Selling the Vision Not the Technology

I have worked in technology marketing for many years – but I also worked in FMCG and QSR marketing – and the same holds true for any initiative. You have always got to veer away from telling the story of HOW.

The story of HOW is attractive for marketers because “how” is often the greatest business investment. In technology companies, the “how” is your sunk costs – investment in the development process, the computer hardware and the partnerships that you needed to create your new product. And because the bill can reach many millions – or even billions – very quickly, there is much riding on it.

But the story of HOW is an internal story – at least at first. And in the sales/marketing process, it’s a “convincer” – most effective during the consideration or conversion phase of the marketing funnel.

But people – and by people, I mean “your customers” – don’t buy HOW. They buy WHY. If you are not focusing on the WHY story, then you are not inviting your customers into the conversation (and by conversation I don’t mean a hashtag) – it’s the vital first step. Just watch Simon Sinek’s riveting video on the subject.

That’s why I love the way Google have been positioning Google Fiber – a different kind of internet (100 times faster than today’s average broadband). It’s only available in Kansas at present, but if you click your heels three times, you may well find it appears in your city too. Of course, here in Australia, we are patiently waiting for the rollout of the National Broadband Network.

Make no mistake, I am a fan of the NBN. It is vital infrastructure that will allow Australia to compete with global, connected markets well into the future. And no, no matter how beefy your antennae are, wireless WILL NOT cut it. But so far, when it comes to the NBN, we’re getting an awful lot of HOW and WHAT but almost no WHY. It’s like the marketing is stuck in 2nd gear – watch the first half of the Google Fiber video clip below.

Until NBNCo changes gear, they will find it slow going.