Haiti and the power of social media

January 18th, 2010 No comments

Donations for Red CrossIt is certain than in times of crisis we stretch our capabilities to find sources of strength where we thought we had none. This time social media and mobile devices shined as the best tool to collect donations to help Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake in January, 2010.

For the few of you who didn’t see it, here is how it looked on Facebook, Twitter and other sites:

You can donate $10 to Haiti relief by texting “Haiti” to 90999.

As a result, social media helped spread the word about how to make a donation to the Red Cross, yielding a $8 million total donation in $10 increments in less than three days, coming from all corners of US. (here is a map of donations by state on mobile devices)

I see three huge reasons why this worked like magic: It’s simple, relevant and it involves emotion.

I leave this post with my most sincere empathy to the people in Haiti, wishing them a swift recovery, and thanks to the rest of the world for showing that the human spirit will prevail amidst tragedy.

Pepsi’s New Ways

January 12th, 2010 No comments

For the last two years people in the advertising industry have been forecasting a switch in marketing dollars from TV, radio and newspaper towards Internet campaigns, but the following is probably the most visible case so far.

For the first time in 23 years, Pepsi will not run any kind of advertisement during the Super Bowl. This represents a huge switch of around $15 million dollars in marketing spending from TV to an online campaign based on social media.

Ok, a marketing spending switch from TV to online and social media is not news, but what about costumer centric marketing communications as opposed to company/product centric? Pepsi is aiming to help people help their communities. Those individuals that register a project and receive the most votes will receive funding.

To be more specific, Pepsi’s online campaign will be powered by social media and social participation. It’s going to be about communities – online and offline – interacting to create something new.

Find more about it at: refresheverything.com

Red Balloons and Social Media

January 2nd, 2010 No comments

For those who think that social media is just a fad and has no practical use in the real world, I suggest you take a look at this experiment from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that consisted in finding 10 balloons spread across US Territory.

I believe Stephen Colbert (and Riley Cane, who found all balloons) can describe it better:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Riley Crane
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Mexican digital talent on the rise

December 7th, 2009 No comments

Recently Advertising Age, one of the most respected publications in the industry, posted on it’s global news section an article about a Mexican interactive agency creating award winning productions with global agencies like Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Wieden Kennedy.

Congratulations to Grupo W, one of our parent company’s (IA Interactive) industry colleagues, for their achievements, and for putting Mexico in the global market for interactive campaigns.

Do you know what to track on your website?

November 17th, 2009 1 comment

All websites have a goal, but that goal is achieved differently depending on the user. To lead to this goal, several steps may be necessary which is why it is crucial to set your goals from the beginning to properly structure your website and measure its effectiveness.

Your website, as a part of your digital strategy, should help users move to the next step, to take action, or “to convert” – a commonly used web word. Many tools in the market, such as Google Analytics, help you measure your campaign by providing visual snapshots of your campaign’s sales funnel, but in order to properly use these tools, you need to already have the structure to lead to your goal.

So the question is, what structure should your website have? Here is a basic sales funnel and different types of websites showing a suggestion of what to consider on each step of the funnel.

Sales funnel and site goals

*SaaS (Software as a Service), where consumption of the service or execution of a license happens on the website. Examples of this sites could be dating sites, social networks and many many others.

Hope you find this useful.


Social CRM and your customers’ conversations

November 16th, 2009 No comments

Since the beginning of commerce (i.e. barter) consumers have been talking to each other about their likes and dislikes of their purchases, but most importantly, making recommendations about them. In other words an important part of business was, is and will be social communication.

Various communication technologies have helped marketers to join this conversation (or at least try), with the most effective being web technologies such as forums, blogs, social networks and micro blogging (like Facebook and Twitter). They all have given access to online customer communities and their conversations helping companies to build stronger relationships with their customers.

But what is Social CRM?

Filiberto Selvas, on his blog post “Social CRM: Let’s not dilute the term to death” defines Social CRM as “the systems and business processes / strategies that allow enterprises, customers (and partners that may be part of the value ecosystem) to establish, guide, operate, track, identify, act on, react to the inter relationships that enable all of the multiple dimensions of value”

You can read more about this on his blog: http://www.socialcrm.net/

Why is it important for your digital strategy?

It’s simple actually, because it is an effective way to build deeper customer relationships, engage customers and partners online and create new revenue opportunities, and better manage brand perception.

Filiberto is Product Director at Crowdfactory, a SaaS Platform that allows you to create scalable and sophisticated social network experiences while at the same time leveraging the scale of the major Social Networks such as Facebook.

Domain names revolution

November 3rd, 2009 No comments

Soon people will be able to type domain names in non-Latin characters, for example Hebrew, Mandarin or Thai.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), will allow the creation of domain names in different native languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet and will start receiving applications in November 16, 2009. Currently, people who’s language uses non-Latin characters have to switch their typing mode to enter a web address because the only way to do so is in the Latin alphabet , but this will no longer ought to be.

The ICANN was formed in 1998 and is dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.

“Over half of the 1.6 billion users of the Internet today are born in a language group that does not use Latin scripts,” says Rod Beckstrom, the president and CEO of the not-for-profit public-benefit corporation.

If you live in a western country you may think this is not important nor relevant, but could you imaging typing a web address in a language that you are totally unfamiliar with? This can be a problem specially if you don’t spell the word correctly because you could easily be a victim of “phishing” scam.

Moreover this will help the internet to become more accessible for everyone regardless of their language.

For the official press release follow this link, ICANN Bringing the Languages of the World to the Global Internet.

Internet Neutrality = Internet freedom

October 25th, 2009 No comments

Internet Service Providers have total control of what runs through their networks even to the point of slowing down certain sites. This has become a popular practice when the site accessed competes with ISP’s core business, like phone and cable TV. For example Verizon’s slowing down access to Skype servers or Comcast slowing down video streaming pages such as Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, Boxee, or MLB.TV

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently decided to stop it with a “network neutrality” regulation, being written as you read and expected to be passed by summer 2010.

This is not the first time the FCC gets involved. Last year it ordered Comcast to stop blocking BitTorrent users, an on-line file sharing service. As expected, Comcast is appealing such decision arguing that the federal agency have no authority to dictate what they “discriminate” on their networks. Apparently Comcast believes they do have the authority to impose what we – the users – can access on the Internet.

I strongly believe that internet should be free for you to use it as you please, specially now when devices such as Roku, Apple TV will provide more online content –probably better than cable – streamed directly to your TV.
What do you think?

Web Apps you should NOT be developing from scratch

October 14th, 2009 No comments

I’m going to start with an analogy: Building some web applications (listed below) is like building a dresser yourself.

Let’s say you want a new dresser in your room. After thinking about it for a while, you decide to build it yourself because only you know what you want, but not only that, you have specific needs no one has had before. So you take the measurements and head to a hardware store. First of all you have to buy the tools, then some wood, steel or maybe plastic. For the drawers’ guide rails you notice that commercial versions are not to your specifications, so you end up trimming them to your own needs.

After a week or two of hard work and several trips back to the hardware store due to miscalculations, you are finally done. But the dresser is assembled in your garage, not in your room, so you have to move it up the stairs and have to call a friend for help because it’s really heavy.

Assuming everything went well and you didn’t hurt your back pushing this thing up, you finally have a new dresser, with some rough edges but it’s built to meet your needs. But you are not that happy because you just realized you can only put two and a half rows of clothes instead of three, that the guide rails get stuck really often because you trimmed them and that the whole structure is a little bit wobbly. Then you call a carpenter… who will recommend to build a new one himself.

I can continue the analogy, but I think you got it. After all you just spent more time, resources and money on a problem someone else already spent a great deal of time solving and making sure the solution is optimal.

What if you try a regular/commercial/popular dresser, at least if you don’t like it you can return it, or make small changes to make it work the way you want to.

Here is the list of the ones I hear more often:

  • E-commerce sites: usually what a entrepreneur with new products need. Plenty of options, from free to hosted with all payment options and even inventory and shipping integration.
  • Blog: the most popular. Great tools out there, with great plug-ins if you need extra features.
  • Online video players: do you want a playlist? Maybe votes? Different sizes, combinations, search engine friendly? It’s all there.
  • Online audio players: pretty much the same as video players
  • Social networking and group pages: do you want them private or public? Professional looking maybe?
  • Affiliate programs: this is a big one. If you want to run your adds, manage advertisers and channels, and distribute revenue, you can do it. Can be as cheap as 30 bucks.
  • Photo albums: again… what can you think of that nobody had the idea before?? Scrolling images? Fades? 3D? sort by date, size, keyword?
  • Wikis: What I’ve found here is that people don’t know the name of it. Usually they describe it as: [I need] a way to have a document that several people modify constantly at different locations, and I want also keep track of the changes. Basic wikis do this, and more…
  • Newsletter systems: what do you need? Tracking? Ease of use? Ability to manage your contact list? Design? Avoid being marked as spam? You got it!
  • CRM and sales software: free, hosted, open source, you name it.
  • Content management Systems: This one is a little tricky, because you can use a blog, a group page. Depends on your needs.

Let me know if you know other applications that should be on this list, or tell me about your personal story.

Flash CS5 will generate iPhone Apps

October 9th, 2009 No comments

At the beginning of this week it was announced that finally Adobe® Flash®, on its CS5 version, will be able to produce iPhone apps and deploy them through iTunes Store. This news resonates at different levels of iPhone and Flash ecosystems, from the business perspective to the impact in content for the users.

On the business side, this is probably one of the best deals that Adobe and Apple would have crafted. Even before iPhone – and before Adobe acquired Macromedia – developers were asking for a mobile version of the Flash Player, and Nokia and FlashLite flirted a little but nothing ever happened until now. I’m totally positive that iPhone’s processor can deal with a Flash Player, but this option would put Apple’s App Store out of business because the Flash’s developers outnumber by far iPhone’s and Apple’s distribution channel would be unnecessary.

The way it will work is that developers will create the content in Flash, then it will be exported to iPhone native language and will have to comply with Apple’s iPhone Developer Program. Then the content can be deployed through the App Store, and everybody wins: Adobe provides a new platform, developers can easily sell their apps and Apple get the revenues related to the Developer program and the app store.

A tip of my hat to those who crafted the deal and made this deal possible (on Adobe’s and Apple’s side), although I would have preferred a full Flash Player.

Current iPhone developers are arguing that Flash will not provide the same reach on applications, i.e. Flash would be limited, in spite of Adobe saying the opposite. I guess we will have to wait until the end of the year or early 2010 when the Beta version of Flash CS5 is released to see what it can really do, but so far the we have great expectations.

Here is a demonstration video from Adobe Labs:


Extra thought: I can see Apple opening the App store for different mobile devices in the near future and become a big hub for content distribution, what do you think? (let’s see how good I am at predicting the future.)