Archive for the ‘First Take’ Category

FirstTake: What Google Buzz Means


Good For BusinessLeft: Inline with the Google style guide of primary colors, Google launches a new logo for Google Buzz, using familiar “chat bubble” iconology.

Google launches status update features
Google launches Buzz, which many will find similar to Friendfeed now part of the Facebook family.  Google Buzz will enable content to be aggregated, and then prioritized based upon the people you already email with, which Harry McCracken and I call this a social graph based on history, “Historical social graph” or HSG. Secondly, this Google Buzz feature will rate and rank content based on activity and interaction within your social group. Users can choose to publish the Buzz in public, which will display on the Google Profile page. They also announced the ability to input this data from mobile devices and showed a voice to text scenario. They plan to make more announcements based on enterprise versions –and more at their IO developer conference.

Enough about news, I’m sure you’ll find more on Techmeme, here are my insights.

Analysis: Impacts To Industry

  • Google continues its prime directive. At the high level, this is a strong move for Google, they continue to aggregate other people’s social content, and become the intermediatry. This helps them to suck in Twitter, Flickr, and any-other-data type as the APIs open up, giving them more to ‘organize’. This is Google acting on it’s mission to the world.
  • Privacy woes will scare consumers –yet adoption will continues upward. For consumers, the risk of privacy will continue to be at top of mind. Although the features allow for sharing only with friends or in public. expect more consumer groups to express concern. Overtime, this will become moot as the next generation of consumers continues to share in public.
  • Buzz could have faster adoption rate than Twitter. For consumers, this could potentially have more adoption than Twitter as Gmail has a large footprint Google told me it’s tens of millions (active monthly unique). Of course, most Gmail users likely aren’t Twitter users, but there could be a large platform to draw from.
  • Physical businesses lose more control over search strategy. For small busineses and retailers, this will impact their search engine results pages, as a single top ‘buzzer’ could cause their content to be very relevant, if that person was relevant, then their influential content could show at top of SERP pages. Expect Google to continue to offer advertising options now around buzz content –fueling their revenues.
  • A direct blow to Facebook, they must accelerate go to market. To Facebook, this is a direct threat, these features emulate Friendfeed and the recently designed Facebook newsfeed. Expect Google to incorporporate Facebook connect, commoditizing Facebook data as it gets sucked into Google and displayed on Google SERP.
  • Great for Twitter now –yet painful in the long term. This is good for Twitter in the short term, as it’ll amplify tweets, and suck them into a new system and give additional reach. Yet over time, status features will become a commodity, and Twitter as a destination will fade into the background.

Back in July 2009, I took a bold statement to say that Email and Social Networks are the same, I distinctly recall a lot of people disagreeing with this notion, but I think it became true today.   Posted from the Googleplex at the live briefing, I also spoke to NYT, SF ChronicleSJ Mercury, NYT (second time), UPI, and Financial Times.  Also, I polished some of the writing up in the afternoon, as the first pass was quick and dirty.

Below: Pictures from the event, including Sergey, Google Founder
Buzz Team, and Google Founder photo photo Screen shot 2010-02-12 at 6.44.24 PM

FirstTake: Powered, A Social Marketing Suite, Acquires Crayon and Social Media Agencies


News hit this Monday that Powered has acquired three social media agencies: crayon, Drillteam and StepChange. I just had a skype video conversation with Aaron Strout and Joseph Jaffe to learn more, here’s my take.  You can read crayon founder Joseph’s take and Aaron Strout the CMO of Powered and a quick mention in NYT.

A Solution Set of Services Bolsters a Marketing Platform
I’ve heard of crayon, and have many conversations and even podcasts with founder Joseph Jaffe, I’ve also spent time with the Powered executive team last year.  Stepchange is a 13 person team out of Portland focused on Facebook Apps and mobile, and Drillteam, from NY, has been around for 10 years and focuses on experitntial and advocacy marketing, such as connecting events to online like street teams, guerrilla, and ambassador programs. Powered isn’t just a community platform, I learned they have other marketing features that really intent to provide a suite of offerings.

Natural Evolution Of A Growing Market:

  • Consolidation happens in downturned markets. As the recession starts to show signs of it lifting, now’s a great time for companies to come together and create a greater value.  We saw this type of acquisition behavior from agencies during the first boom, and we should expect similar patterns here.
  • Acquisition provides key services software platforms can’t fill. It makes sense for Powered platform to partner up with a service(s) teams that have already been successful for some time, this improves the time to market to deployment.  In addition to coming with a book of business, they can quickly deploy the Powered platform, expanding the software footprint.  Joseph Jaffe has strong thought leadership, an existing marketing brand, and reach needed to the group.
  • Yet, brings risk for Powered and new partners. First of all, there are some big names coming together,  the real stress will be can these cultures, and their strong willed leaders, be able to jive together.  Secondly, it’ll be interseting to see if Crayon and services teams forces stragies on their clients that involve the Powered platform.  I asked if there are any layoffs coming from consolidation, they haven’t made any plans, but when you have 4 companies coming together expect redundancy.

Impacts To Customers, Partners and Competitors:

  • Social Agencies should rekindle and bolster relationships. This impacts other social agencies like Stage Two Consulting, Social Media Group, AdHoc, Ant’s Eye View, ForumOne, Community Roundtable, Shift Communications, Dachis, FutureWorks, New Marketing Labs, who may be at medium and small tier, they should quickly partner up with other firms to increase their value.
  • Customers of crayon, Drillteam, and Stepchange should request agnostic recommendations. Any client of these three agencies should make sure that the strategy they are being offered includes other vendors and platforms –not just the Powered platform and Facebook platform.  Remember, first find out where your customers are online before choosing the tools to use.
  • This is competition for larger agencies –yet savvy agencies will partner. This is a threat to large agencies like Organic, Razorfish, Ogilvy, and Edelman.  Yet the smart agencies won’t get defensive, they should partner with this team, and figure out what offerings they can offer that they don’t have in their portfolio.

Congrats to the Powered, crayon, Drilldteam and Stepchange team for this merger, I’m excited to see the industry emerge from small disparate startups to a larger entity going forward.

FirstTake: Extend LinkedIn’s Community To Your Website


I was briefed as an analyst by Adam Nash, LinkedIn’s Vice President, Search & Platform Products to learn about today’s announcement around opening their network as a platform.

Announcement: Access LinkedIn Data From Other Locations Using The LinkedIn Platform
Starting today, developers worldwide can integrate LinkedIn into their business applications and Web sites. They’ve announced that OAuth os now available at  Like Facebook Connect, this means that any website or any web application can allow users to login from their LinkedIn account on a third party site, and even publish information back to their LinkedIn profile and network from that third party site.

What It Means To Business:

Connect the Affluent, Educated, and Active Community To Your Site
The stats are obvious, they have a network of 52mm (a sixth of the size of Facebook’s 300mm+) engaged individuals that represent decision makers and those that aspire to be upwardly mobile in their career, view the stats page to learn more. In fact, over 51% earn more than $100k+ a year, and 23% earn more than $150K+ annually. Over 77% of community members have a college degree, making this an educated bunch, yet It’s not just about quality of community, their is an apparent degree of site activity, LinkedIn’s site rivals that of Forbes, and even the, according to Compete.

Your Business Applications And Website Should Never Be “Alone”
If your company is in B2B or trying to reach business professionals, chances are you have an application for them to use.  Now, as you launch them, you can quickly integrate with the LinkedIn platform, this way personal data is already populated.    This also goes for your corporate website, provide your users the ability to see which one of their LinkedIn contacts has been there, and encourage them to interact with your site and trigger messages back to their LinkedIn news page –fostering word of mouth.

LinkedIn Data To Be Pervasive
CIOs must wake up and realize the value of social networks, even last week, LinkedIn announced a partnership with Microsoft Oulook, extending it’s profile information to legacy email systems.  Data will get pre-populated, meaning your contacts can be viewable within the context of your existing emails, empowering you to know more about who you’re meeting even though you’ve never met.  We should expect in the future that existing Intranet networks will connect their LDAP to the LinkedIn profile.

And yes, if you haven’t noticed yet, the speed on innovation on the social web is increasing at a rapid pace, things are happening faster than ever. To get a good sense of the evolution of LinkedIn, I’ve created this matrix which shows it’s evolution and some predictions of where things are to head.

Web Strategy Matrix: Evolution of LinkedIn

LinkedIn Evolution Example Status
Destination Social Network LinkedIn is a destination social network, users to there, login and only communicate within the confines of the domain. Since it’s inception in 2003, this is how it’s been.
Application Platform Allows third parties to build applications that sit on the LI domain and interact much like Facebook’s Platform In Oct 2008, A small hand-selected group of companies like Box were allowed to do this, it’s not currently rolled out to others.
Portable Data Third party websites can allow users to login using LinkedIn identity, see which friends are also present, then spread information back to This is today’s announcement, Nov 2009
Personalized Experiences on Third Party Sites Third party websites can provide personalized content to first time users by recognizing their LinkedIn profile. Prediction: Mid 2010
Social CRM LinkedIn partners with SalesForce, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, to allow data in LinkedIn to quickly be exported to CRM systems. As customers have queries or support issues, the CRM systems will trigger notifications to brand managers. Prediction: Late 2010
Augmented Reality Using mobile devices, users can quickly hold a device up a cell phone in front of a peer to see their LinkedIn data –without even having a conversation. Prediction: 2011

FirstTake: The Web Strategist should watch –but wait– for the MySpace Developer Platform


(Left: I met and interviewed MySpace’s team Will and Jim)

I just got back from the brand spanking new SF MySpace office, an event tonight that was catered to the new developer platform which they announced today. This post isn’t aimed at developers, but at the Web Strategist (web decision maker) here’s what you need to know:

MySpace opens third party developer platform
MySpace announced a developer platform so third party developers can create applications on top of their existing commmunity. This is released on time, and is a competitive move to Facebook’s application platform. I’ve published stats and demographics about MySpace (and Facebook here). Over the next 30 days, developers will get to play in the ‘Sandbox’ (the theme for tonight’s party).

Here’s what to expect:
After watching this space, talking to MySpace techical staff, and talking to many developers at the event, here’s my predictions and insights.

1) MySpace builds strategic relationship with widget developer community
MySpace’s new SF office is a great foothold into Silicon Valley, in particular, to the widget developer community. Most of the widget network developers are located in this area, and by buidling relationships with them, there’s an opportunity they’ll launch their widgets on their container, fueling the next generation of MySpace. The schwag (pics below) really catered to the developer: a backpack full of shirts, flip video player, and a few toys for the beach. (for the sandbox)

2) Unlike Facebook, Developer and MySpace will partner and monetize
Unlike Facebook, it’s expected that developers will have direct access to monetize utilizing MySpace’s advertising tools. Although it wasn’t formally announced, expect hyper targeting, and other monetization opportunities to be available to developers.

3) MySpace respects Privacy
MySpace, a later adopter to this movement, let Facebook make it’s mistakes (newspage and Beacon) and will not suffer from the same issues. Expect Myspace to play it safe, and play it right, leaning on the mistakes from Facebook.

4) While not fully developed, expect platform to slowly evolve
It was very clear (I talked to many developers in the room) and they were all waiting to see what the platform was like, as very little was released, miany documentation. I asked during the Q&A session when all the APIs will be available, and they said “tonight…(looking over at colleagues) right?” Laughter from crowd erupted. There will be three APIs released each with different abilities. Also, applications can display in 5 different locations within MySpace, including a private area for the user to see the application without anyone else seeing it.

5) Widgets on MySpace react different than other Social Networks
Even if widgets can be easily ported over from Facebook to Myspace don’t expect them to work the same. Demographics (who they are), Psyhographics (their emotional drivers), and Technographics (how they use technology) will all be different. Expect very few of the successful applications in Facebook to perform the same way in MySpace.

6) MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo coexist
I can’t tell you how many times I’m asked “is Facebook a Myspace killer?” the answer is no, they are different tools from different audiences. They will coexist.

What it means:

Expect a lot of trial and error development to occur, this is really and experimentation stage for the next 3 months. The platform will ilkely have a lot of tweaking and expect a lot of experimentation from the developer community. In the long run, MySpace will be able to successfully monetize, developers will profit, and brands will start to get involved. Hopefully, the user experience will respect the wishes of the users, and it will be a win for all.

Recommendations to the Web Strategist
Unless you’re already a successful widget developer you should not engage, instead you should Wait and Watch, and see what applications work, and what won’t. Then, consider contacting those developer networks to rebrand successful applications, or go a step further and create interactive of social campaigns partnering with them, and lastly, developing your own widget.

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Update: Thanks Steve Ames for the assistance, he spotted a few errors in text, more from Justin Smith.