Facebook Introduces the “Like” Button

Facebook’s introduction of the “Like” button creates some interesting new opportunities for marketers. Here’s a quick overview from a couple of WSJ reporters.

The World’s Most Innovative Companies

As selected by the editors of MIT’s Technology Review.
The list of 50 ranges from pre-revenue start-ups to GE and IBM.

Tools for Successful Innovation

For anyone that missed the talk last month by L’Oreal’s SVP of Marketing for Multicultural Brands, Glenn Baptiste, we’re posting the presentation here.

Analyzing back links

linksAs a recent review of our Google results reinforced, back links (links from other websites to your blog or website) remain an important part of the search engine’s algorithm.

However, finding the right tools to discover and analyze back links can be frustrating and time consuming. Luckily, a recent post at TechSuperb.com – How to find backlinks / inbound links to your site – does a nice job of summarizing the best options for using Google and other tools to understand who is linking to your site.

How big is social media? Maybe bigger than we think

Erik Qualman recently published Socialnomics, a book on how social media has changed our lives and how we do business.  This 4 minute video summarizes relevant social media statistics from the book.

A written version of the stats and Erik’s sources are available at his blog.

Living by numbers (and be careful what you measure)

stopwatch_fullA recent issue of Wired, entitled Living by Numbers, includes several great articles on better living (and working) through data.  Turns out that people eat better, exercise harder and work more efficiently when they set goals and measure their progress.

Why does it work?  One idea is borrowed from Sociology’s Hawthorne effect–people change their behavior—often for the better—when they are being observed.  Probably a better explanation is that our brains are wired to receive feedback.

If we haven’t set goals and aren’t measuring our progress, then we lose our ability to stay focused and perform effectively.  Sort of like trying to drive a car under the speed limit with a broken speedometer.

If your professional speedometer is broken, get it fixed.  When you and your team know what the goals are and how you are doing against them, you will have a much easier time figuring out what is working and what needs to change.

Be careful what you measure

Ironically, editor Chris Anderson argues against managing with numbers in his article It’s Time to Manage for Abundance.  He uses very real and relevant examples where artificial scarcity turns out to be counterproductive.

Cases in point – the “full” voicemail inbox (the average iPod can store 100,000 of them) and the IT department harassing employees to delete files because the company is running out of storage room (Anderson’s children have twice as much storage on their home PCs than his entire staff has at the office.)

The real point that Anderson is trying to make is that, too often, we end up measuring and managing against the wrong things.  Why would you make your entire staff spend an afternoon deleting old files when you can supply them with a one-terabyte desktop hard drive for under $100?  How valuable is your time?  Your team’s time?

Another example of measurement gone wrong is the time wasted by computers posing as customer service departments.  The journey into the interactive voice response labyrinth always begin the same way – “your call is important to us…”  Really?  At this point, we’ve all been trained never to call a big company unless we have a unique question or issue that cannot be solved online or by punching responses into the dial pad.  Yet companies insist on wasting our time because they are measuring and managing against a short-sighted set of call center metrics.

Worshiping the wrong data can be very costly in the long run.  The Forbes article Too Smart for its Own Good answers the question – What does a company look like when it’s run by consultants? Ebay.

According to the story, the consultants running Ebay hired their former employer, McKinsey, to answer a crucial question: Is Google a threat?  After months of data mining the consultants concluded: not really.  Today, eBay has to write a monthly check for 15% of its traffic via Google’s paid search results.

Start with the end in mind

So what should you measure and what should you avoid?

Start by defining success.  Where do you want to be six months or a year from now?  What is a realistic goal?  What results would cause you to close up shop and go home?

Start with those metrics and then work backwards.  Let’s say you want to land ten new accounts by next year.  How many proposals will you need to make to close ten? How many propects will you need to identify and meet with to get to that level of proposals?

Don’t forget to put time regulators against your milestones.  If you want to be in your customer’s budget for next year, then you need to be in front of the decision makers before planning season kicks off this year.  Other factors enter into the timing equation.

Approval processes, priorities of other departments and availability of your own resources all play a role in the pace of your progress.  Be realistic, build in enough time to accomodate the other factors and get started on the long lead items sooner rather than later.

Setting goals, measuring progress and assessing results are critical to success.  However, measuring the wrong things can lead you astray and even cost you real money.  The best way to figure what to measure is to start by defining success and then work backwards to identify the key drivers and milestones. Focusing on anything else is distracting and possibly counterproductive.

Miami Tennis

verdasco

Fernando Verdasco

Great weather for a night of tennis at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne on Monday.

After watching a set marred by botched volleys and unforced errors in the match between Stepanek and Gonzalez, we hiked back to a smaller court to see some hard hitting between fellow Spaniards Verdasco and Lopez.

Finished the evening by returning to an empty main grandstand and front row seats to enjoy a terrific competition between Li and Makarova.  Both women had upset top 10 players coming into the match and neither of them wanted to go home early. The hard fought three sets went until nearly midnight and were entertaining from start to finish.

How to keep your volleys out of the net.

World Series of ETFs Southeast

World Series ETFs Southeast

Coral Gables Biltmore

In Miami for the first part of the week at the World Series of ETFs 2009.

Representing ETF MarketPro, I’m moderating a panel focused on leveraged exchange traded funds (ETFs).  Although leveraged ETFs are one of the fastest growing investment products in the country, they aren’t for everyone.  See Direxion’s website for more.

Tennis tonight.

Multiple Gmail Accounts

gmail150Every wish you had more than one gmail account to make it easier to do things like sort your mail and identify where people got your address?

Here’s a trick…add the source of information to your address with a “+” sign before the “@” sign.

So for example, my gmail address is:

vermillionm@gmail.com.

If I want to know that people found my address on LinkedIn, I tell LinkedIn that my email address is:

vermillionm+linkedin@gmail.com.

The mail will still go into my gmail account, but now I can use a filter on the “To:” information to automatically move the LinkedIn mail into its own folder.

You can do the same for your website, blog, Facebook account, Plaxo account, etc.

Thanks to Alison at Google for showing me how to do this.

SES New York 2009

guy-kawaskaiI’m in New York all week at the Search Engine Strategies conference.

Guy Kawasaki kicked things off on Tuesday with a great keynote on how he uses Twitter.  Here’s a quick summary of Guy’s rules for Twitter:

1. Forget the A-List

In other words, don’t worry about trying to make friends with the top 10 Twitter celebrities.  You’ll do just fine following people with interests similar to your’s.

2. Get Lots of Followers

Guy’s advice is to not be choosy – follow anyone who follows you.  In Guy’s case, the number of people he follows is larger than the number of followers.

3. Monitor Twitter

Start with search.twitter.com and regularly search on your name, your company’s name and your segment to monitor Twitter activity that is related to you.

4. Copy Best Practices

Study what other companies do to discover best practices.  Start with Comcast, JetBlue and Amazon Deals.

5. Search

Use the advanced search tools that Twitter provides.  Guy’s example is of a brake shop that searches for the term “brake job” within 15 miles of their zip code.  The brake shop will reach out to the Twitter user to tell them about their brake repair service and converts the Twitter user into a customer 10% of the time.

6. Tools

Lots of great tools are available for Twitter users.  Guy covered several including Tweetdeck, Twhirl and cotweet.

7. Squeeze the Trigger*

Guy views Twitter as a marketing tool and uses it that way.  A platform that Guy demonstrated is Twitterhawk which provides an automated search and retweet capability.

8. Share Generously to Get Retweeted

Find and tweet useful stuff and your followers will retweet you. The idea is that each of your followers has their own followers.  So even if you have only a few hundred followers, retweeting expands your total reach into the thousands.

9. Take the Heat*

If followers don’t agree with your approach to Twitter, Guy’s advice is to send them a three letter message: UFM which means “unfollow me”

*I asterisked 7 and 9 because some people view Guy’s approach to Twitter as being at the aggressive end of the marketing-use scale.  7 & 9 go together, the more you pull the trigger, the more heat you are likely to get.

For more on Guy’s controversial presentation, see the Wall Street Journal‘s Guy Kawaski Can Handle Being Called a Spammer.