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Archive for the ‘social’ Category

It’s been a long time since my last post. I’ve switched jobs during this time and have been diving into social media. It’s fascinating to view how this space has grown over the last few years. I’m in the process of putting together a strategy for using various social media tools at my company and I thought it might be useful to share it with those just getting started.

Getting started can be very overwhelming. My advise would be to pick a specific area such as Facebook and learn everything you can about it. As you get more comfortable with Facebook, you will begin to see how other social media tools influence it such as Twitter, Google Reader, Flickr, etc. Facebook is a great branching out point. The interface is terrible but once you get used to it it’s a very powerful platform.

For help on where to begin, here’s some of my favorite social media postings and articles that I’ve tagged on del.icio.us. This will continue to grow over time.

http://del.icio.us/cwills/social

I would also check out the following Facebook groups:

These are great resources with active communities.

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Wherever you turn on the web these days you’re constantly hearing about the next social web 2.0 site. Whether it’s twitter, Facebook, or MySpace or the next big site or technology destined to conquer the web, everyone is after the hearts and minds of the individual trying to build the largest social network. What I’m wondering is why someone hasn’t started the MySpace or Facebook equivalent for local businesses.

Despite all of the improvements to the latest search engines, it is still very difficult to receive great results for the local companies you would normally use the phone book to find. The only way Google, Yahoo, etc. can return these results is if these business have a web site which many of them still don’t.

To solve this problem, I’m proposing a simple low cost (or free) alternative to creating a web site and that would be to create a site similar to MySpace for local business. This Local Business site would focus on what local businesses need to promote themselves; address information and maps, contact information, and coupons. It would allow ratings for services, blogging by business owners, and event information. Most importantly it would allow businesses to connect and partner with one another similar to how people connect on Facebook or Linkedin. Think about this for second. How powerful would such a feature be?

Here’s one example, I recently purchased a new gas fireplace insert. The company I purchased the fireplace from also recommend two different plumbers and a mason that I could call for estimates. Recommendations like this can be priceless to local businesses and simplify my search. This information could be readily available on the Local Business site. What if I needed a plumber and didn’t know where to look. If I go to the phone book, I just start calling people based on their ad or their business name. Wouldn’t it be better if you could look up a plumber on the Local Business site and see what other local business have partnered with them?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The potential for such a site would be enormous especially when you factor in advertising, perhaps a Google Adwords type system built into the site. Certainly, like all social software, it’s only as good as the people (or in this case businesses) that join but I think the advantages of joining such a network would be huge for many businesses. It would also save me, and probably thousands of others, from wasting their time randomly choosing people from a phone book.

Now I just need a team, a business plan, and some funding 😉

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Here’s why Apple is the brand every company wishes they had. When people outside your company are willing to spend hundreds of hours not only recreating one of you stores in every last detail but also your products and advertising in an online virtual world, you have the greatest advertising machine in the world.

Companies each year try to figure out ways to get people to create such content. Apple just has to build a new store or put out a new commercial. A following such as this doesn’t happen often and it clearly shows why a company should embrace user generated content and not try to shut it down. Apple probably receives millions of dollars in free advertising each year through such content and I’m sure it puts some healthy sales numbers into their bottom line.

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I’m not sure how this fit into things but here’s a thought I had earlier today…

Today, if you were to visualize how news spreads, it would look something like this. Picture a globe spinning in your mind. As that globe spins, picture one point on that globe briefly flashing. This flash represents a new blog post. Now picture subsequent flashes as people pick up on the conversation and either reply to or expand upon that blog post. These flashes would jump around from continent to continent, city to city, with no rhyme or reason as to where the next step in this conversation will take place other than a common interest in the same topic.

Now picture how such a conversation would have taken place in the early 1900’s. If you looked at the same spinning globe, you would still see the initial flash of light, but the subsequent flashes would probably look more like a ripple effect slowly moving away from the conversations epicenter. You would need to magnify your global vision and look at the conversation based on a smaller region such as a city or town to see the same “jumping” effect we now see on a global level.

What does all this mean. To me, I find it fascinating how small our world has become. Today’s global mapping of a conversation probably looks like a conversation mapping of a city early 1900’s. Today’s ripple effect has been minimized by our ability to easily take part in conversations on a global scale. In fact, if the same ripple effect was to take place today, it would have to happen beyond our planet, beyond the current boundaries of the internet.

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I read a lot of books. I usually have a couple going at once which my wife doesn’t quite understand. I just find it easier to have books in location where I read the most (one by my bed, another to read at lunch, etc.) without having to remember to carry one around…hence my desire for ebooks and an ebook reading device that I can tote with me at all times. Anyway, with all these books, most of which are from the local library, it can be difficult to remember what I have and haven’t read.

A few weeks ago I was looking into a software solution that would solve this problem. I tried Bookpedia and researched Delicious Library but decided that having this information stored on one computer wasn’t the way I wanted to go. I spend half my life on the internet and you never know when you may need this information.

Yesterday, I started using both Shelfari and LibraryThing and I think I found the answer to my question. I liked the Web 2.0 feel and interface of Shelfari but I think LibraryThing may keep me for the long haul. LibraryThing is great for archiving all my books but the feature I really love is their book suggestions based on my library and similar libraries of other users. This is perfect. I usually use Amazon but this requires that I look for a book that I’ve already read and then use the “what have other bought” feature to branch off to find another book I might like. Instead, I have all my books tracked in one place and fiction and non-fiction books are recommend in an instant. If Shelfari does this, I haven’t figured it out yet. LibraryThing’s interface isn’t as clean and it can be difficult to navigation but overall once you get use to the site this shouldn’t be a problem.

If anyone is looking to archive their books I’d recommend either site but my nod goes to LibraryThing. Hopefully over time the interface will evolve but as long is it keeps recommending relevant and interesting books, I’m hooked.

If you’re interested in seeing my partial catalog on LibraryThing, check this out…hopefully I’ll get some time to get all of my books cataloged.

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