Retail Video Games

I hate discs and especially video game discs. They scratch easily and I loose them. All of the consoles only have a single disc slot so switching games always involved ejecting and swapping discs. Even worst if you have a problem with your console and the disc doesn’t eject properly…’

The problem is Robocalls…

In Canada we’ve been experiencing a fairly large scandal involving Robocalls to Canadians surrounding the 2011 election.  I’ve been frustrated with Robocalls for several years and the lack of regulation by the CRTC.  A few years ago I kept getting Robocalls from a collection agency ( trying to reach someone named Brandi ) and recently I have been getting a barrage of calls from the NDP leadership campaign.  I think Robocall regulations should include:

Good Product Management RIM’s Saviour?

Mike Mace has an excellent analysis of the challenges that RIM is facing.  My favourite quote is:

“The fault lies not in our ties, but in our selves. In my opinion, RIM’s real problems center around two big issues: its market is saturating, and it seems to have lost the ability to create great products. This is a classic problem that eventually faces most successful computer platforms. The danger is not that RIM is about to collapse, but that it’ll drift into in a situation where it can’t afford the investments needed to succeed in the future. It’s very easy for a company to accidentally cross that line, and very hard to get back across it.”

Anyone interested in Product Management should read the whole article here.

I thought the most interesting aspect of the article was the focus on the Product Management as the solution.  Specific Mike’s 2 recommendations:

“To keep a platform viable, you need to focus on two tasks: Keep the customer base loyal, and add adjacent product categories.”

Very simple advice and focus that many Product Managers forget and Mike follows it up with more strategies for each.

Overall one

The New New Facebook Profile

Here we go again… Facebook has changed the profile page again and decided to roll it out on 60 minutes tonight.  The profile will be rolled out slowly to users but you can get it immediately by going here.

The changes are mostly minor with Facbeook but the most note-able visual change being the replacement of Facebook Tabs with a small menu on the Left Nav.  The menu includes all the pre-defined Facebook components including Wall, Info, Photos, Notes and Posts.  There is no option to add other menu items or areas.

A “jumble” of personal information is now included at the top of the below the user name, its not overly well formatted and the order seems to be clear.   The jumble seems to default to current job & employer, most recent education, current location, relationship status and partner,  home down, birthday.  I’ve also seen the Jumble show language(s) spoken so it might be related to the most recent changes to your profile.

New Facebook Promotion Rules

Promotions on Facebook have been a little controversial over the past few years with Facebook requesting a minimum ad buy to approve the promotion and imposing  restrictive rules.   In many cases this has just served to encourage promotions without Facebook approval but always with the risk of removal or early termination.  Facebook has changed all this week with new Facebook Promotion guidelines that remove the minimum ad buy and define clear rules for all promotions.

The main focus of the guideline seems to be around focusing promotional activities on Facebook Applications and not core Facebook functionality.   In order to enter or qualify for a Facebook Promotion an application should be used either on the Canvas Page or a Facebook Page tab.   It’s prohibited for Facebook Promotions to use status updates, commenting on a wall or photo uploads as a method for entering the promotion.  This is very similar to the Facebook Policy against incentivized action for Facebook Applications.  The goal of both theses policies is to prevent companies from encouraging users to spam their friends.

The Legality of Groupon?

Groupon has really taken off in Canada.  I think mainly because many popular restaurants have been available as Groupons and that has driven alot of adoption.   One of my favourite restaurants, Utopia Cafe sold almost 1500 Groupons during their promotion.  Today’s Groupon is for the very popular Table 17 Restaurant

If you’re not familar with the concept basically a Groupon is presented for a limited time period, usually 24 hours and a certain number of people have to buy the Groupon for the deal the activate.  In most cases the Groupon offers a 50% discount when you purchase immediately.  Most Groupon’s don’t have alot of restrictions on when they can be used but do have an expiry date.  Groupon also encourages additional Groupons to be purchased as Gifts.  This presents an interesting legal aspect, especially in Ontario, where Gift Cards and Certificates are regulated.

In 2007,  the Consumer Protection Act was amended to ban expiry dates and most fees on gift cards purchased after that date to ensure consumers get their full value, regardless of when they use them. The enhanced consumer

The Problem with Facebook Groups…

Yesterday Facebook launched an upgrade to the Facebook Group functionality, the details of the new features are available here.   I think the more interesting thing is what is missing, the mainly one being the ability for groups to choose their own relationship and communication style.  There is still no good way to maintain a group communication system that scales.

Facebook Groups continue to degrade as users join them and the group owners essentially loose the ability to communicate with the group.  This is an excellent idea to control Facebook Group spam but it doesn’t allow users to engagement in popular groups and ideas that will quickly grow beyond the Facebook Group limits.  In way Facebook Groups should be renamed Small Facebook Groups because the functionality really favours smaller groups.  The Facebook Chat is great feature to chat with a small group but doesn’t scale well to larger groups.

In the end I think most groups are probably better served by something like Google Groups which allows a common mail listing and some basic HTML pages.

Marketing with Facebook Search

For most marketing search engine marketing is a common marketing technique and entire business united have been established to focus on search.   The most popular tool being Google and in a distant second the Microsoft Bing/live tools.   Facebook search on the other hand is a much different beast and much more difficult to market against.   In order to optimize we need to understand the Facebook Search function.

The key component to understand with Facebook search is the interaction relationship.  This means that content that the user has interacted with in the past will appear first and may appear in the auto-complete if they have Fan, Joined or Bookmarked the content.

Facebook search then will  display search results based on your friends involvement with content.  This means that individuals, groups, pages, or applications which your friends have interacted with appear at the top.  The next considertation is your network(s) and content types with more people from your network will be assigned priority.  Facebook has indicated they will removing networks but this logic is likely to be replace with geographic filters.

The next concept to understand is that Facebook assigns a priorty to different content types, assuming you have equal friend interactions or no friend

Facebook Page Performance Metrics

Facebook Page Performance Stats

Since Facebook launched Facebook Pages in 2007 alot clients have asked how their page is
performing.

Sysomos provides tools for measuring and comparing brand performance among across social media and yesterday released a report on Facebook Pages here:

http://www.sysomos.com/insidefacebook/

The report includes the Top 5 pages in each of the Facebook Page categories and includes a comparison between the different categories in terms of overall number of Facebook Fans.  The main advantage that a Facebook offers is the ability to communicate with your “Fan” based using the Facebook Page wall and update channel.   Facebook Pages can also be used with Facebook Applications to provide additional functionality and the basis for more interactive campaigns.

One of the more interesting aspects of the report is the owner generated content and fan generated content.   I believe the ratio between these is a great indicator of the level of interaction your achieving with your Fan base.  It also shows the impact of mass in social media with larger pages ( over 1 Million Fans ) having a much greater Owner to Fan content ratio.

Ebay and Black Friday

Ebay has released a very cool map/video of Black Friday transactions on their website, you can see it here:

http://www.ebayholiday.com/black-friday

If your not familar with Black Friday, its a mainly US phenomia where retailers enter into the “Black” for the year with the beginning of the Christmas holiday shopping. Most retailers offer significant discounts to get people shopping, and it seems that this trend matchs well with Ebay Transactions online.

Of particular interest is the number of Transactions that appear on the East Coast. Ebay original started as on the West Coast but it would appear to be much more widely penetrated across the East Coast of the US or prehaps East Coast retailers are more aggressive with their Black Friday sales/discounts…

Note: This post can also be found on refreshclassifieds.com

Facebook Roadmap

Facebook revealed their roadmap yesterday and it includes a number of changes for developers.  Inside Facebook has a create summer here.

I think the biggest change is the consolidation of communications into the Facebook inbox.  Facebook Invites and Notifications are going away and communication will be divided into Inbox communication and Email.  It looks like both channels will feature an opt-in requirement, making app to user communications very challenging in the future.

I think the consolidation of communication is probably a good thing.  Everytime I see a screenshot of someone’s Homepage I always see hundreds of ignored invites and notifications.  I don’t know that the new system will fix that but it should allow users to find these types of communications centrally.

The other change is around the placement of Bookmarked Applications.  It looks like these will be moving from the task bar to right side bar where the feed filters are located now.  Its not clear where the feed filters will be going or how often they are used ( I suspect they are not being used effectively ).

All of these represent another UI change for users though and Facebook has indicated they want to roll-out the changes by the

Facebook Changes with LiveFeed Addition

Facebook released some interface changes last night.  They appear to be:

  • New Group Page design with Tab Interface and strong wall presence.  This makes groups now very similar to Facebook Pages.
  • Addition of a LiveFeed option to the Homepage.   This works similar to the Newsfeed but doesn’t allow the same type of content filtering and the Newsfeed doesn’t seem to update as often.
  • Remove Feature Items, the featured items from the right hand side have been removed.  These were kind of random in any case.
  • Friend Suggest now suggests contacting friends with incomplete or low-Facebook profile usage

The changes are all relatively small but the most significant is probably the LiveFeed addition and it seems users will be defaulting to this in most cases.

The Power of Real-Time Search

For years now Google has dominated the search marketing field.  Its Pagerank algorithm attempts to find content that is the most relevant to the keywords being search.  In most cases this means placing a greater emphasis on older more established content and ignoring the newer content.  This has worked well for most content types except for breaking news and trending items.  When Michael Jackson died a search for “Michael Jackson” was more likely to bring up fan pages than articles around his death.

Enter Twitter and Facebook, for trending topics the social networks have an advantage in that they can see trending topics developing in real-time.  And yesterday they announced a partnership with Bing to power its real-time search component.  This should provide Bing with an advantage in the real-time search market.  Its not clear how big the real-time market is as compared to the more traditional search market that Google dominates.

Its will be interesting to see if Marketers start to place a greated emphasis on purchasing keywords based on real-time trends that be associated with their brands.  The search engines are already well equipped with bid based pricing models to handle real-time price fluctuations in keywords.

One Degree no more…

One Degree announced yesterday that they are stopping production on their site.  I’ve been a long time reading and even contributed some articles a few years ago and it looks like they’re committing to keeping the site up as an archive for now.

I’d really like to thank Kate and Rose for all the time and effort that went into maintaining the site.   They’ve done a great job of since taking over from Ken.

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