Category Archives: Industry News

Social Media love makes it to Coventry & Warwickshire – my home county!

If you know me you know I shout a lot about Lichfield. I love the place! But I’m originally a Warwickshire boy, having spent my first 20 years in the old mining village of Dordon in North Warwickshire. Now Warwickshire has officially embraced my other favourite thing – the World Wide Web!

Paul Henderson and Paul Squires have launched Coventry & Warwickshire’s first Social Media Cafe, for anyone interested in the web, social media and digital media in general. It follows the success of similar events in London, Birmingham and Oxford.

The first meeting will take place on Friday 18th September from 10am-12pm at Arch 6 in the new Court Street Creative Arches in Leamington Spa.

Co-organiser, Paul Squires invites all sorts to the event, “Everyone is welcome at the Social Media Cafe. If you’ve heard aboutTwitter but want to know more about its potential, or if you’re from an established design studio or games company, this is the place for you.”

It’s a free event, of course, and more details are available on their web site.

I am of course particularly excited about this new Social Media Café because it gets more people interested in social media which I’m also trying to do in Lichfield with the launch of Lichfield Social Media Café which will take place on Tuesday 15th September. The Lichfield SMC is part of The Lichfield Blog’s wider digital engagement agenda which aims to inform and education the community about the benefits of the web and how it can improve their day-to-day lives.

But 37signals are just neglecting their customers

There’s been a bit of a spat between 37signals and Get Satisfaction today, after Mike Stanley took offence at Get Satisfaction’s efforts to get companies to take notice of their customers.

I really admire Get Satisfaction for the way it sort of shames companies who don’t provide good customer service.

I’ve never experienced 37signals’ customer support but plenty of people seem to think it’s top notch, so I can understand why the wording on Get Satisfaction would be hurtful to their reputation.

To their credit, Get Satisfaction have realised their mistake in how they word their site and responded well to Mike’s post.

However, I do think that 37signals are missing something.

In my last post I spoke about the open nature of the internet, that people will talk about companies on tools like Get Satisfaction and that any company hoping to maintain a good reputation needs to be monitoring these sites.

I also believe that the internet enables people to play by their own rules and that if companies are to provide the best customer service they should be prepared to do that in the customer’s preferred method.

Mike slammed Get Satisfaction’s approach saying,

 Their brand of “open” means “only on Get Satisfaction.”

Surely Mike is being hypocritical, though? If 37signals are committed to providing excellent customer service, shouldn’t they deliver that service via whatever means customers ask for it?

They already do that through Twitter, so why not Get Satisfaction?

Mike suggests that,

When customers see a “support site for 37signals” and an open text field, they’ll post their concerns and they’ll get pissed when they don’t hear back. I would be too!

That’s certainly not a good thing, but by not taking part in Get Satisfaction aren’t 37signals just neglecting those customers?

What do you think? Should 37signals use Get Satisfaction like they use Twitter or should Get Satisfaction be making sure that visitors to their site are well informed that 37signals has it’s own support area?

Update: I’ve added my thoughts to the comments of Mike’s original post. Do find on “Philip John” to see it. Maybe 37signals didn’t like my comment, ’cause it’s been deleted. I’ve commented again asking why. Let’s see if that one stays there.

Is Google deliberately pricing itself out of payment processing?

I was one of many who were shocked yesterday when Google announced the changes in Checkout processing fees. They’ve also announced that AdWords spend will no londer fund free processing of transactions.

In fact, it turns out the new fees are almost identical to PayPal’s fees.

Plenty of sellers have been complaining about the move but is it a deliberate attempt by Google to get rid of them?

The previous fees were very, very low and along with the free processing offer based on AdWords spend, Google Checkout was a very attractive alternative to the well-established PayPal.

Could this all have been a ruse to get testers for Checkout, though? It’s possible that Google was simply entering in at such a low price to deliberately get thousands of e-commerce sites on board to test the waters.

Now they’ve decided they don’t want to be in the market afterall they’re deliberately matching PayPal’s prices knowing that PayPal is a better service. It becomes a no-brainer for Checkout customers to switch to PayPal or another service.

So, nonsensical pricing structure, or deliberate exit strategy?

Microsoft, Yahoo Deal Would Strengthen Google

I’m getting might pissed off with all this talk about some “deal” between Microsoft and Yahoo now. I don’t see how Microsoft forking out $15 billion for Yahoo’s search business would have any impact on Google‘s share.

Sure, on paper, Yahoo’s share would drop to 0% and Microsoft would jump from 8.5% to 29%, but Google’s share would still sit at 63.1%. (Based on comScore’s latest figures.)

Today, a large Yahoo shareholder, Ivory Investment Management urged the company to sell to Microsoft to maximise shareholder value.

How exactly does “maximising shareholder value” increase either Yahoo’s or Microsoft’s chances of stealing market share from Google and actually making a difference in search?

Come on folks, instead of wasting Yahoo’s time and money on lining shareholder’s pockets, how about giving two shits about making the product worth using. Isn’t that what makes Google better than Yahoo and Microsoft? Isn’t that why you’re lagging behind? Come on, it’s not rocket science.

LinkedIn Now Major Factor in Online Reputation

I’ve not been much of a fan of LinkedIn. It’s too closed off and there just aren’t enough ways to interact. I prefer networking through the likes of Twitter or Facebook.

One example is how easy it is to create a presence for your company or brand. Previously, LinkedIn only gave you the ability to create your personal profile. Facebook, on the other, with fan pages, makes it easy to both establish a brand presence and encourage people to interact.

The closed nature of LinkedIn alienated it from the rest of the social media space, in a way, because it didn’t allow much integration. On the other hand, services like Twitter, Facebook and FriendFeed have APIs and actively encourage integration with other services.

LinkedIn seemed to be saying “Nope, if you want to tell people what you’re doing, do it here.”

Now all that may be changing.

Three weeks ago, they launched their Applications platform. It’s not completely open, which is a shame, with applications having to go through LinkedIn approval, but it’s a start. I’ll be looking forward to the Twitter application (listen up LinkedIn staff!)

This week comes an bigger step and one that interests me even more: company profiles. I’ve created mine.

It does worry me how easy it is to create (or claim) a company profile, though. Which also means that it’s important that any company make sure they’re LinkedIn profile is looked after by someone in their organisation.

Even more so now that the profiles are public, as announced earlier today. Anybody searching for your company name may well come across your LinkedIn profile

With the very social, democratised internet we are experiencing, reputation management is a big concern. LinkedIn just added themselves to the list of sites to be on by default.

Brits Love Blogs

41% of the UK’s internet population have visited a blog, according to comScore.

The study shows that in August, 14.5 million people in the UK visited at least one blog, showing just how popular blogging is becoming.

It demonstrates just how important blogging is to the British internet user. And a reminder to businesses that to market their site effectively, they need to consider the blogosphere as part of their online marketing strategy.

For further on the subject you can view the comScore press release.

Ladies and Gentleman; Yahoo! Web Analytics

We probably all knew this was coming since Yahoo! purchased IndexTools, but now it’s official. Yahoo has launched Yahoo! Web Analytics.

I’ve been using IndexTools for what must be five years now. Before that, I was all about WebTrends as well as a short stint with Urchin. Having explored a variety of other tools I have to say I still prefer IndexTools.

I use Google Analytics on my own site as a sort of comparison between that and IndexTools (sorry Y! Web Analytics) but I have to say I’m seriously considering making the move now. Yahoo! Web Analytics is just better. There are far more useful reports, far more useful features (such as segmentation), better conversion tracking, campaign tracking and you can drill down ’till you’re blue in the face.

For those of you thinking of taking a look I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait a little while. It looks like Yahoo! have closed the service off to new customers. Maybe I won’t be making the switch, after all! Bummer.

While eBay Stumbles Off, I Might Stumble Back… Upon StumbleUpon

Give me a second to get over the self-induced confusion over that title.

Okay, done.

If you didn’t already know, I abandoned StumbleUpon a while back citing a couple of frustrations, including the toolbar. So my ears (fingers?) pricked up a little when I spotted, via Marketing Pilgrim/ReadWriteWeb, that SU has decided to offer a non-toolbar version of it’s service.

Honestly, I never used the “Stumble” feature anyway so this probably won’t change much. What I’m hoping is that this is the first step for StumbleUpon loosing the toolbar completely.

Amongst the recent talk about eBay looking to sell StumbleUpon it has been noted that the number using the service has fallen quite significantly from last year. It’s kinda unsurprising to me. There was plenty more buzz about StumbleUpon twelve months ago, likely prompting more sign-ups to the service, who have since left out of disappointment or frustration.

My opinion (and this is VERY speculative) is that the toolbar is a barrier to adoption. Just like many said it was for Joost, who abondoned their desktop client last month.

With the general shift towards moving applications off the desktop and onto the web, it seems backwards to require the use of a desktop application or add-on of any sort.

We’ll see what happens. For now, I’m going to give StumbleUpon another chance. Especially now I have a friend there!

Another reason to get on line

Through WebProNews today I learn that on line advertising spend in the UK is now greater than television advertising.

On line advertising spend reached £2.8 billion in 2007, an increase of 40%, with TV advertising registering £2.4 billion. The figures, from the latest annual Ofcom report into the communications industry, show just how important the internet now is to UK commerce.

Interestingly, the report only looks at paid advertising so what the figures don’t show is how much of the marketing budget is devoted to on line marketing. The £2.8 billion only includes paid search, display and classified ads. This means we miss out affiliate marketing, SEO campaigns, blogging and forum marketing and the rest of the on line marketing mix.

It should be obvious, then, that making the internet a significant part of the overall marketing plan is imperative for British enterprises.

Faceparty Activates Self Destruct

Social networks are attractive in business because, like TV, they have a captive audience. A captive audience about who a lot is known. Age, gender, location, hobbies, interests, sexual preference, musical preference, favourite TV shows, films, books; you name it.

So what do Faceparty do when faced with a bit of legislation? They cull hundreds of accounts. This is their intellectual property, for Pete’s sake. It’s suicide! Seriously, folks, how much would it really cost to put in some kind of system to verify age? If you really needed to do it why haven’t Facebook, Orkut, MySpace et al done it yet? Answer: because they’re not as thick as two short planks, that’s why!