Archive for February, 2010

I hate that thing!  Yep.  I hate Foursquare.  When I first heard about it I thought it was kind of neat.  When I saw the opportunity associated with it I thought it was brilliant.  But what’s made me hate Foursquare is the useless updates coming out of it on Twitter.  They’re everywhere and they add no value to me.  None.  I don’t care if you’ve just checked in at 1410, or you become the mayor of Blockbuster.  You care about that.  Not me.  I also don’t care about where you are, unless we happen to be going to the same place… but that’s more fun if it’s planned or if I bump into you by surprise or hear about a tweetup.  If you just “checked in at the Ship and Anchor” it’s probably not going to entice me to go.

The brilliant part of Foursquare is the ability to give the social network of its users discounts or special deals.  One post I read last year said that the potential of Foursquare was in a scenario such as this:

Wendy checked in at Good Earth.  Looks like she’ll be staying for awhile.  If any of Wendy’s friends come and check in at the same Good Earth location, they’ll get a free muffin when they buy a large coffee.

That’s the brilliant part.  That part needs to make it’s way into the Twitter update.  Because otherwise there’s no point to the update.  None at all.  I could just go look on Foursquare to see where people checked in, or see if they’ve checked in on Google.  Right now, Foursquare updates on Twitter are akin to the hashtag spam that some fundraisers have attempted, or the “paste this into your Facebook status if you support cancer” updates or the “what colour is your bra… don’t tell the boys!” style statuses.  They’re useless and spammy without something behind them.

Step it up folks.  Foursquare has a lot of potential.  The use of Twitter with it also has potential.  But like everything else, think before you tweet and add some value, not just more racket.

I think I just dreamed up a website that doesn’t exist yet.  No… not a website.. a SUPER WEBSITE.  An artificially intelligent web pod capable of serving up the most relevant information at different times of the day as the search patterns and visitation patterns of it’s visitors change.

A few weeks ago, CBC did a documentary on Google.  Being that I haven’t got cable or rabbit ears (not that those would do me much good with only digital signals now anyway), I had to wait for it to be posted on CBC’s website before I could watch it (thank you CBC for putting the full length documentary on your site for free).  45 minutes later, I am in awe at something I was already in awe of.  Google’s mission, just what their site and their algorithms and all of their different applications and programs can do.  Somewhere between wiping the drool from my chin and staring fixedly at my computer screen, I had a thought about websites and real time.

How cool would it be to have a site that changed as different things became important throughout the day?  #awesome.  It’s design, it’s features, like having displays in a department store that change with the seasons… except this would be way more frequent.  I wondered just what kind of man power would be required to keep that kind of site going.  Oodles.  There would have to be a huge payoff for that kind of site.  Now imagine that it could be another industrial revolution.  A new kind of machine.

We find a way to make an artificially intelligent website.  Use the patterns of your visitors, and the information they search for on your website coupled with data from conversations about your brand.  Monitor the trends, and as they rise in importance, have them become features on your main page.  In real time.  OH MY GOD.  Customer service issues, frequently asked questions, everything flowing in the most amazingly synchronized river of information and processes anyone has ever seen (and that they’d need to see for something like this to work).  A customer is experiencing a problem with one of your products.  They come to your site, or post on a forum, it doesn’t matter really, your AI site captures this.  The very first person will not get the benefit of the AI site on this specific problem.  But as it grows and the knowledge about the solution comes with it, all of a sudden, your website evolves on it’s own to display this information for the next visitors having the same issue until it trickles off, and another tide or trend requiring more information rises up and takes it’s place at just the right time… in fact, coinciding with the peak of the conversation about that exact issue on the web before trickling off to an archive for the late stragglers to access.

This site doesn’t exist anywhere but inside of my imagination at the moment.  But can you imagine just how fundamentally that would change everything we do?  Oh my… my dreams will be sweet tonight.

I’m outed.

Posted: February 21, 2010 in other
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Monday morning is going to go something like this.

Random coworker: Morning Wendy!

Me: Hey! How’s it going?

Random coworker: Great!  The weekend was awesome.  My wife/husband, perhaps some kids or the family dog and I did blank.  We watched some Olympics, relaxed, what did you get upto?

Me: Oh man. I had the greatest weekend I’ve had in a long time.  I met up with some Twitter folk at the District to watch the Olympics and spent like 6 hours on Sunday writing blog posts.  It was insane!

Random coworker gives me a funny look and says: oh… um… that sounds “great.”

Random coworker really thinks: GEEK.

Turns out “me” doesn’t care.  It really was a fabulous weekend due to tweetups, parties and blog posts.  My inner geek is safely outed.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the “Dating App” Facebook ad show up on my profile.  I could get rid of I suppose by taking off my relationship status all together, but I actually believe that someday, sharing that information will actually serve up ads that I want to see.  It just so happens that that day is a lot farther in the future than I initially hoped.

Almost every time I see that ad, I click the little “x” beside it.  And Facebook asks me why I don’t like it, and I say because I’m not interested in it.  Nor would I be interested in seeing similar ads to it.  I wish Facebook would take that information and STOP SHOWING ME THE DATING APP AD.. and the ads like it.  They’re platform is smart enough to stop showing me Farm something or other updates from my connections or daily horoscope updates… it’s smart enough to do this too.  Maybe it’s a feature in the works, I hope it’s a feature in the works, because that would take online advertising to an entirely new level.  And that would be one more thing that Facebook advertising can do that Google Advertising cannot.

Imagine if your interactions with the ads, especially interactions like “stop showing me this ad because it’s not interesting” actually did just that.  I’m not suggesting that Facebook get rid of the ads, because honestly, if I were able to tell Facebook exactly what I wanted and didn’t want to see (no dating or weight loss ads… but travel deals, local pub specials, and concerts.. ABSOLUTELY) I’d be paying way more attention to them.  They would be increasing the likelihood of matching an ad with a relevant target by a lot.  By how much?  I have no idea.  I don’t think it’s something we can measure without testing it, but I’d bet advertisers would see their click through rates, which are currently really poor to only semi poor for Facebook ads, become fair at the very least.  Especially as more people discover that they can control the types of ads that are served up to them.

As a user, I would be elated with this kind of a feature.  But as an advertiser, if Facebook could tell me that they can serve up an ad to people who have already said they want to see that type of ad… well holy cann0lli… they’ve just at least doubled the quality of that click and the likelihood of a sale.  What other service could have a potential offering that’s this big?

I recently had someone ask me a question regarding Facebook advertising.  The questions was:  Is it possible to advertise directly to a specific group on Facebook?

The answer is: Not unless you’re the owner/administrator of the group or page you want to advertise directly to.  It is possible to target keywords in people’s profiles, so say it was a group interested in snowboarding in the Rockies.  If they have snowboarding filled in as an interest, you could target that keyword, and then geo target your ads to Alberta, or to cities in Southern Alberta and get close to reaching a similar kind of audience.

My gut tells me, though, that if your desire is to reach an audience that specific, you’re wasting your time with advertising.  A group is a niche that’s already been identified.  Seeing the Facebook group shows you exactly who those members are and where they come from.  A little button on Facebook also gives you the opportunity to join this group.  So, if you can become a member of their community at the click of a button, why in the world would you want to advertise to them?  Especially when nobody looks at Facebook ads… and generally interest groups hate being advertised to anyway.  It’s kind of like you’re saying “I see you, I don’t actually want to talk to you… so please read my ad and find out what I have to say… even though I don’t really have time to listen to what you’re group’s all about.”

My advice in this case: Join the group.  Get to know the members, post on the wall, comment on other posts.  Become a member of their community.  One group isn’t going to take up hours of your time.  Taking 30 seconds to check in once a day, posting something once a week after you’ve been online for awhile, that doesn’t take long at all.  All it is is networking, and Facebook has served up a means for you to talk to the group directly.  All you have to do is participate.