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Archive for November, 2010

Free Shipping Day is the New Cyber Monday

November 24th, 2010 No comments

Cyber Monday outpaced Black Friday in 2009 as THE holiday shopping day by nearly $300 million in sales. Most holiday shopping surveys predict further growth this year. Forrester Research estimates total sales will increase 16 percent this yea and an Accenture survey found more than 70 percent of consumers plan to do a portion of their holiday shopping online.

But now there’s a new shopping holiday in town that’s giving Cyber Monday a run for its money. Celebrating its third year, Free Shipping Day on Dec. 17 is a one-day event during which an estimated 1,000-plus participating merchants will offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. In a national survey, polling company Unicast found 37 percent of consumers will shop on Free Shipping Day this year to avoid shipping fees.

Conceived and created by Luke Knowles, the first Free Shipping Day in December 2008 was pulled together in just two weeks. Merchants from Knowles website FreeShipping.org were the first to jump on board. Tiger Direct free shipping and Ann Taylor free shipping offers opened the floodgates and, by 2009, more than 750 merchants participated, with 350,000 sales resulting.

As of Thanksgiving, more than 890 merchants have signed up for the 2010 event — well on target towards Knowles’ goal of 1,000 e-commerce participants.

While merchant interest has been high, media also have pounced on Free Shipping Day like a Lindsay Lohan sighting at a new nightclub. The event has been featured on Fox News, CNN, NBC and ABC, as well as in O Magazine, the New York Times, USA Today, Better Homes and Gardens, InStyle and Real Simple. Social media has also been a part of Knowles’ strategy. As of Nov. 24, the Free Shipping Day site was shared on Facebook nearly 4,000 times and Tweeted more than 1,200 times. The resulting buzz goes far beyond the traditional retail-savvy blogs and consumer websites that have already clued-in dedicated readers.

“Merchants have learned shipping costs are the number one reason online shopping carts are abandoned,” said Knowles. “Consumers see $10 shipping on a $10 item and it doesn’t make much sense to them. They’re less likely to commit when faced with delivery fee sticker shock, especially during the holidays. Nearly 43 percent will buy online only if free shipping is included. With Free Shipping Day, they know what they’re going to get before they even begin filling those shopping carts.”

Network Roulette: A New Approach to Networking

November 10th, 2010 No comments

If you’ve ever sought an alternative to awkward introductions and brief conversations that lead to nowhere, this is worth a look. Coined “Network Roulette,” the Brazen Careerist style of networking aims to cut straight to the chase, always giving each party the option to walk away without hurting any feelings. It’s like speed-dating for those looking to advance their careers.

In the developers own words, “The site translates offline networking events into an efficient online networking experience to help you meet new people and build relevant relationships to advance your career.” Network Roulette gives you three minutes to figure out if the conversation you’re having is worth continuing, and with that kind of time constraint, there’s no arguing their claim that you can get a lot further in a half hour than you ever would with traditional networking. So, if your methods of looking for a new job, a business partner, or just more freelance work are coming up short, trying a new approach can’t hurt. Connect with Facebook or provide some basic information to get hooked up and become a brazen careerist.

Interview: findmyaccident.com

November 8th, 2010 No comments

We recently got the chance to talk with Justin Schneider and the team from findmyaccident.com (FMA). Their site serves up interactive accident reports and resources across the country. In doing so, they’re taking advantage of a host of social media techniques. Read on to learn about how the idea developed, and get a glimpse at how social media is helping them execute it to its fullest potential.

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1. First, tell us how FMA got its start. What need did you see and how did the idea develop into the site’s current design?

Our operations manager recognized a need for a centralized resource for accident news online. The strength of the Web is specialization and traditional media outlets were bringing the public accident news alongside politics, sports and weather reports. As the Find My Accident team took shape, we saw the value in making accident news and accident prevention our mission. The design was meant to be simple and straightforward. We knew from the start that we wanted a map interface that used icons and was largely self-explanatory. The other component was a simple archive of accident reports.

2. Please explain the status bar. How does an incident go from “accident” to “legal”?

The status bar represents the stages of an accident. First the accident happens, then it’s reported on our site, and finally it moves into the courts. When the victim retains a lawyer or the case moves into a criminal proceeding, the status bar moves to “legal.”

3. How big of a part does social media play in FMA’s strategy? How have you integrated key sites like Facebook into the experience?

Social media has the potential to make a huge impact for Find My Accident. Right now, we’re sharing all of our reports on Twitter, which has proven especially valuable since Google began indexing Twitter. Meanwhile, Bing is indexing Facebook in a similar way. We have a presence on Facebook, but we’re exploring how to optimize it as a resource. Since we report on accidents in all 50 states, we’re considering whether it’s more valuable to have 50 Facebook accounts or just one. Social media is also a two-way street. We’ve gleaned information from Facebook and Twitter that helps shape our accident reports and we often connect a report with a relevant Facebook page.

4. It can be confusing trying to understand how sites dealing with social media make their money. What kind of monetization techniques are being used for FMA?

What social networking does for us now is bring exposure to our brand. With more than 500 million Facebook users and an estimated 100 million Twitter users, these services connect our mission with active, tech-savvy people who want our content. It’s not so much about monetization, but about building our reputation. Given the ubiquitous nature of traffic accidents, we believe that if we create a useful site, the money part will take care of itself.

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5. Do you see this integrating with existing traffic reports/radio on a local level? what is the thought to bringing online/offline integration?

I think Find My Accident will evolve in the way our users demand. One of our great strengths is that we have room to grow in several different directions. We’re not ruling out the possibility of any partnerships at this point. We’re committed to our core mission and our decisions will be based on how best to serve our audience.

6. Any plans for a mobile app?

A smart phone application is certainly on our priority list. Our analytics show users already access Find My Accident via mobile devices and that’s an audience we want to cultivate. As mobile technology improves, the demand for optimization will only grow. For a site so focused on transportation, the mobile side is vital. We want our users to have the ability to share with us when they’re on the road.

7. How far along is FMA’s growth, and what is your vision for its future expansion?

Find My Accident is in its embryonic stage. We have a business model that works and we’re starting to flesh out the site with content that visitors find useful. But that’s just a foundation. Moving forward, we will respond to the needs of our users and the public, and expand our content further to make Find My Accident the resource we believe it can be.

Take a look at some full reports:

West Hollywood, California

San Jose, California

Hendrick’s County, Indiana

Nobody Wins in Google Buzz Settlement

November 5th, 2010 No comments

For many of us, this recent lawsuit news might mark the first time you heard anything about Google Buzz. Launched in February of 2010, it was intended as a social sharing tool fully integrated into Gmail. But the “buzz” it created wasn’t nearly as resounding or influential as Google might have hoped. Instead, blatant privacy leaks without user consent lead to a backlash that is only now reaching it’s conclusion with an $8.5 million settlement.

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Despite Google’s quick response to correct the privacy issues in the first release of Buzz, it’s no surprise that a class action lawsuit was thrown together and lobbed at the Internet giant. After all, what’s several million dollars divided among users to a company so large? But that’s not what happened. A recent email sent by Google to all U.S. Gmail users announced that the $8.5 million in settlement money would go to an independent fund supporting organizations working to improve privacy education and policy. Talk about a let down.

But this email hasn’t created much of a wave (pun intended), probably because Buzz appeared to be dead in the water a long time ago, with most of the content showing up in peoples’ feeds being nothing more than rehashed content from Twitter or Facebook. Google ex-employee Lars Rasmussen (of Wave and Google Maps fame) says the company lacks the necessary patience to grow a successful social sharing network. But whether it just takes time or Google hasn’t struck on the right idea yet, we now know that it’s really not worth suing Google over seemingly important things like user privacy. That is, unless you experience a surge of pride when they donate heaps of money to an independent fund.

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Prevent Drunk Posts with Webroot’s Social Media Sobriety Test

November 4th, 2010 No comments

“Nothing good happens online after 1am.”

. . . So, clearly, we’re all very much in need of this funny sobriety test brought to us by Internet security provider Webroot. Offered as a browser add-on compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explore, and Safari, the Social Media Sobriety Test, when enabled, requires that you pass a simple test in order to gain access to all your networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr, and custom URLs determined by the user.

The tests include things like keeping your cursing inside a moving circle or counting to 30 while the images of different numbers appear on screen in an attempt to throw you off. Once the add-on is installed, the user has full control over which sites are blocked and at what time of day.

Since we might not all readily admit our drinking tendencies, this sort of thing could work well as a sort of intervention. Many a drunk update could be prevented if friends take initiative to install it for each other.

Seriously, though, this fully-functional joke is a pretty smart marketing ploy from Webroot. It’s funny enough to warrant a download, and when you fail or pass the sobriety tests, it offers to post a message on your wall visible to everyone. Depending on your results, it might say you’re “too intoxicated to post right now,” or it will post a congratulatory message declaring that you passed. And of course, the link to download the test appears right below each post. Once people follow the link, info about Webroot’s real antivirus security is never far away.

So there you have it, if you like your Internet security with a sense of humor, then Webroot is the way to go. If you’re all set in that regard, download the test anyway. It’s definitely good for a laugh.

7 Super Useful Social Money Management Communities

November 1st, 2010 3 comments

Big spendr
Creative Commons License photo credit: moreofavideoguy

Many financial experts recommend automating your finances, and finding new ways to manage your money online. As the power of social media continues to grow, and new secure technologies develop, you can now use a number of money management communities to keep track of your funds and transfer money. Here are seven of the most useful social money management communities online that you may want to consider joining. Read more…