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Lighten up (or not) on Facebook!

Shahid Kapoor - Vaseline Facebook Be prepared to face the wrath of bloggers and social networkers, if you say something that’s politically incorrect on Facebook. That’s the message that cosmetic major Vaseline seems to be getting these days. The company’s ‘Transform your face’ application to promote its skin-lightening cream has earned negative criticism across the online world. The campaign, promoted by Bollywood star, Shahid Kapoor, allows users to upload their picture, clear the dark spots and whiten the face. This has indeed attracted wide spread criticism as the promotion endorses fairer skin over the darker shade.

Though the campaign primarily targets the South Asian market, bloggers from across the world talked about being ‘uncomfortable’ with this Facebook application. In all ‘fair’ness, we may say, that it’s after all, a promotion for a skin-lightening cream. Nevertheless, companies must keep in mind that social media promotions address large audience demography from across all parts of the world. What seems perfectly normal in one country may be entirely offensive in another culture.

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There’s Independence Day, Labor Day and now Social Media Day!

If anyone of you still thinks of social media as just another fad, think again. Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, has officially designated June 30 Social Media Day. Mayor Dean Fortin has signed the proclamation, making it the first city in the world to dedicate a day to the social media cause. And that unofficially goes on to prove that social media is indeed here to stay!

Now that makes me wonder why social media so important that it deserves a day of its own. Well, I spent a few minutes thinking about it and here’s what my thought process coughed up.

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Never underestimate the power of Twitter!

All you tweeple, you can keep tweeting your everyday activities for the entire world to see. It’s fun, it’s cool and it’s instantaneous. However, beware of what you say and how you say it. Two very famous, very powerful people have just been undone by Twitter. One’s our tweeting minister, Shashi Tharoor and the other is the controversial IPL (ex?) Chairman Lalit Modi.

Across the Atlantic, Lindsay Lohan is quite justifiably furious. Her father (or some hacker) has allegedly tweeted that she is HIV+. Earlier, Chris Brown deleted his Twitter account saying, “Honestly, Twitter has done nothing but get me into trouble.”

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Mouse-yielding ninjas rule LinkedIn. Gurus are so linked out!

LinkedIn’s official blog has recently revealed a very interesting trend – a widespread increase in job titles that include the term ‘ ninja’. These ninjas do not use swords or star-shaped spikes in the battlefield. They are modern-day warriors of a different kind. On a mission to make their clients lives a lot easier.

Ninjas growth on LinkedInJob Title Growth LinkedIn

(Source: http://blog.linkedin.com/2010/04/08/linkedin-ninja-job-title/)

Most of these ninjas come from the social media scene or from computing and design sectors. And of course, there are some advertising, customer service and finance ninjas as well. But they are a minority compared to the IT sector ninjas, who range from Social Media Ninja to Networking Ninja to Web Ninja and even a few Link Ninjas! After all, most of us as kids dreamt of being a part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…so, it is indeed a cool title to sport, eh?

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Importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Schools and Colleges

A major concern which comes up when talking to K-12 schools, colleges and educational institutes is that feel SEO is all about marketing and they do not want to market their schools.

My answer to them is that search engine optimization (SEO) is something which as essential as having a website. Do you consider having a website as marketing yourself? You do not. Similarly, you should not consider SEO as totally marketing. It is about ensuring your website is optimized to be better placed on search engine result pages (SERPs).

To understand this better, let us get into the discussion of why a school needs a website? Some of the major reasons for having a website are:

  1. Improved communication with parents, staff, students, potential parents, potential staff etc.
  2. Establish your school identity
  3. Reach out to global audience 24×7
  4. Central place to update things

A website is only useful if people are able to find it easily. With about 80% of the traffic originating on search engines, it becomes absolutely important for schools to be found there.

Search engine optimization strategies help your website reach out to your target audience easily.

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7 Reasons to Use TweetDeck

With over 19% Twitter applications market share, TweetDeck is the most popular Twitter application (according to June 2009 reports). TweetDeck is an Adobe AIR desktop application that can be used to access Twitter. TweetDeck has a number of integrated features and settings that can be used to enhance the experience of using Twitter.

Here are seven reasons for using TweetDeck:

1. Ability to manage multiple Twitter Accounts

TweetDeck allows you to add, monitor and post to multiple Twitter accounts from a single easy to use interface. This is the primary reason why I use it. Read more

Latest Privacy Changes on Facebook

Following the privacy violation charges by the Canadian Privacy Commission, Facebook announced four new privacy changes.  The privacy changes will impact all users and not just Canadian users alone.   Here’s a scoop about the issues Canadian government had with Facebook and how Facebook responded to those:

1) Retention of consumer data:

The Issue: Once a user opts out of Facebook, what happens to the information shared by the user on Facebook is unclear.  On Facebook, deactivation of account was not an option for deletion. A system that ensures complete deletion of user data upon account deactivation was demanded.

Facebook response: Upon deactivation, users will be notified with the “delete” option.   They have the choice to elect a complete wipe out of all user account details forever or have them saved on Facebook’s database for future reactivation. Read more

The Power of Social Media – A Coke Story

coca-colaThe use of social media websites has been growing at an alarming rate.  New platforms are emerging and trends are changing, all within a short span of time.  The use of social media is not just restricted to networking with friends.  Global businesses are leveraging the popularity of social media to market their products and services, communicate with their consumers and build an online brand in the process.  Let me talk about the Coke and how they leveraged social media.

Two coke fans, Dust Sorg and Michael Jedrzejewski realized that Coke doesn’t have an official page on Facebook and decided to start one.  They picked up a high resolution image of their favorite Coke tin and put it up.  Within no time, the fans of Coke started hovering in and today the fanfare for Coke on Facebook is an astounding 3.3 million.  It is now the second most popular network on Facebook, next to the network of American President Barack Obama.

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Social Media Websites’ – Who Is Making What – Insight Into Revenue Generation

Social media sites, notably Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn have become household names and have become an integral part of people’s life so much so that it is tough for regular users to imagine a life without social media.  Social networking websites have become virtual celebrities, with an enormous fan following and all the glitz and popularity that is hoarded on them.  But are they making the kind of money that real world celebrities get to make is the million dollar question.

The people behind these social media websites had remained mute about this until recently, probably because the sudden rush of success was more than a sweet surprise and they themselves did not know how to monetize the maddening popularity received by these websites.  Of late, there seems to be lot of thought put into revenue generation and the paparazzi is finally getting their questions about revenue answered.  Here is a report of the popularity score of some social media giants and relatedness of their respective revenue generation.

Facebook

Facebook

Brief History: Originally called “thefacebook”, Facebook was incorporated from a hobby of Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg.   The hobby soon crossed the realms of Harvard dorm rooms and Facebook was officially launched in February 2004.

Key takers: High school and college students.

Finances: Facebook initially received a $500,000 funding from Peter Theil, co-founder of PayPal.  A few months later, it received a $13 million financial aid from Accel Partners and another 425 million from Greylock Partners.   A sum total of $40 million was conjured up to kick start the venture in a big way. 

FaceBook today: Facebook is one of the fastest growing social networking websites today.  Its interactive features and its global appeal have helped in its membership going viral.  Facebook now has over 250 million active users, with over 30 million active users accessing it through mobile devices.

Revenue generation:

  • August 2006 was a milestone year for Facebook as it signed a three year deal with Microsoft to provide and sell ads on their website for a revenue split.  Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mark Andreessen who is also a board member of Facebook holds that Facebook would make well over $1 billion in the year 2009 if it pushed harder on selling advertisements.
  • In the year 2008, Facebook was able to rake in $350 million, a huge progress from its 2007 revenue of $150 million.  (Source:  http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-9862792-36.html)
  • However, the company had a $150 million negative cash flow for the year 2008, a deficit created by its $50 million EBITDA expenditure.
  • But,  Andreessen has said that Facebook is on track and has expressed confidence in generating about $500 million revenue by the end of 2009.  The recent acquisition of social media site FreindFeed is sure to feed some funds as well.

The Verdict: The financial history of Facebook and the recent business developments indicate that Facebook is in a safe mode at the moment and also holds promise for upscale revenue generation moving further.  The company is full of investor cash including $240 million from Microsoft that nails Facebook at a massive $15 billion evaluation.

Twitter

Brief history: Twitter was the outcome of a daylong brainstorming session by the board members of the podcasting company Odeo.  The first prototype of Twitter was designed for the internal use of Odeo employees, which was later developed and launched for public use in July 2006.  But Twitter spun off as an official company in April 2007 when Biz Stone, Even Williams, Dorsey and other members of Odeo formed a formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo and all of its assets including Odeo.com and Twitter.com from the investors and other shareholders.

Key Takers: Unlike other social networking sites, it is difficult to single out a particular kind of users who use Twitter most.  Twitter has gained wide popularity across the globe with diversified user population ranging from college students, entrepreneurs and entertainment freaks.

Finances: Twitter is backed by Union Square ventures, Digital Garage, Spark Capital and Bezos Expeditions.  Though Twitter has kept its funding under cover, its first round of funding is rumored to have been between $1 million and $5 million, followed by an equally enormous second and third round funding, all totaling up to an approximate US$57 million.

Twitter Today:  Since its creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has gained notability and popularity worldwide.  Between the year 2008 and 2009, Twitter has seen a monthly growth of 1,382 percent.

Revenue generation:  Twitter has always been discrete about its revenue and has evevn projected losses in its earlier announcements.  However,  in an unfortunate incident,  one of Twitter’s computer was hacked and its revenue information was published by TechCrunch.  The records contained Twitter’s internal projections for 2009 that indicated revenue of $ 400,000 in the third quarter and a $4 million in the fourth quarter in its net earnings.

The data has projected that Twitter will have over 1 billion active users by 2013 and its future revenue run rate, a massive $140 million by the end of 2010.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has said that the company is developing various add-on tools and services for the businesses and professional users of Twitter, which could create a revenue stream for the company. He said Twitter plans to introduce some of these tools by the end of 2009.

But Stone dismissed the notion of selling advertisements on the popular service at least for the 2009, even though ad revenue is the main way most web start-ups manage to stay in business while keeping their service free for consumers.

The Verdict: Until recently Twitter was believed to be running a loss, and that did not seem to surprise anyone because sudden appraisal of fame and authority can be a bog down.  However,  the recent Twitter revenue leakage and the fact that Twitter did not retaliate to this in a big way seems to confirm that Twitter has a sound financing system or is at least in the path of stabilizing its finances.  And the unstoppable viral spreading of Twittering practices only adds to the joy of great finances.

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SEO for Web Startups – A New Service to Cater to the Growing Startup Community

Web startups have become a global phenomenon now. Smart and skilled entrepreneurs are creating ground breaking web applications that are changing our lifestyle, mostly for good J

Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Flickr, LinkedIn and thousands other web apps are glowing examples of how successful these startups have been.

Over the course of several discussions and my attendance at startup meets (primarily in India) I have realized that web startups have access to a huge ecosystem of mentors and venture funds. They have access to quality feedback on technology and marketing in general from experienced industry veterans.

What I feel they lack is proper insight into how to make their web app search engine friendly right from the word go. This is a must in today’s era as search engines are the originators of majority of traffic on the web. A solid SEO foundation can make rest of the journey relatively easy. I have seen sites which did not think of it earlier and now are struggling to make amends as they have invested too much into the development (which did not care at all about search engines).

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