Monthly Archives: June 2012

Facebook Does More To Make Google Plus Viable Than Google Ever Could

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know I am no Google or Google Plus fan. I have repeatedly discussed my views on what can only amount to a failure on Google’s part to get in and actually dominate or at least become relevant in the mainstream social space.

This opinion is of course based on a premise. That Facebook doesn’t lose this on their own. What does that mean?  I believe this battle is Facebook’s to lose, rather than something Google has to win.

Let’s face it, neither of these two giants are consumer privacy friendly. Facebook however, has mastered the art of pissing their user base off by consistently overreaching their power and control of their users information, as well as keeping users off center by changing the rules, settings and functionality of privacy management.

1) Privacy Policy Changes

2) Making managing privacy settings near impossible to understand and stay on top of.

3) Changing users settings without their consent.

4) Most recently – Changing users profile content without their consent.

Really, this list could go on and on. If you are unaware of the recent blunder Facebook tried to do secretly to all of their users, see a great post by my friend @susie_parker called “Facebook Changed Your Email and Didn’t Even Tell You“.

Is it possible for Twitter to be the only social network managed by people that are at least smart enough to not piss off their user base? Sorry for the tangent…

I am completely amazed at how one of THE most prolific companies that has ever existed on this planet can continue to be so stupid. Is it stupidity or arrogance? Most likely it is a combination of both. Regardless of the medical issue or character flaw contained within this company’s leadership and displayed secretly in their board room, there is a significant outcome that is becoming more and more likely to surface.

Loss of market share to Google Plus.

Facebook is continually alienating its users, egregiously stepping on privacy and user information controls. I can’t think of too many other things Facebook could do to consistently hand Google and it’s mostly cricket filled network an upper hand in the social media battle.

I have a few suggestions for Mr. Zuckerburg and the Facebook board:

1) Stop messing with your users privacy.

2) Make privacy and user control a top priority in your business.

3) Deploy a focused campaign that builds trust with your user base that is based on actions, not words.

4) Quit making changes to your system (for at least a while) that frustrates and upsets your users.

5) Lay low – You already created a mess with your IPO and a ton of bad press as a result. Chill out, sit down, shut up and focus on 1-5 above.

Failure to take these common sense, immediate steps will even get this Google hater to start spending time on Google Plus, let alone the millions of other users that will someday soon, have had enough. You’re driving off a cliff Facebook. You might want to hit the breaks before it’s too late.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

43 Comments

Filed under Facebook, FAIL, Google, Google Plus, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized

The Next Big Thing In Location Based Deal Apps

Flash deals, check-ins, daily deals, whatever you want to call them, location based deal services are now on every newspaper site, startup business plan and news item I read about. To say the least, the market is just a tad bit saturated. Why then would anyone try to get into that space, right now? Answer: The holes in the general business model…

There seem to be many issues with the daily deal business models that scale quickly, then lose steam. Groupon is a great example of this trend. We could get into a huge list of the industry failings, but I in this post I will focus on the main issues that seem to cause the most pain for restaurants and daily deal loving consumers.

The main challenges daily deal services face are:

Retailers:

1) Cost/Benefit – Restaurants are feeling the squeeze on the daily deals. We know it generates traffic for them, but the time of that traffic is very expensive. We also know the most expensive seat in a restaurant is the empty one and therefore a huge need is deals that fill those seats, rather than drive low margin business during normal busy times. In general the huge discounts, plus large revenue share with the deal companies makes the cost/benefit mix a major problem.

2) Lack of social responsibility component – The current daily deal model overlooks the social responsibility need and the fact that consumers want that element in their retail transactions. Though many of the flash deal companies are getting rich at the expense of their business customers, there is no element of taking care of the needy that elevates a restaurants campaign to the consumer and the overall community.

Consumers:

1) Pre-purchased Deals – Having to purchase deals ahead of time is a big consumer complaint. What if they forget to use use it? Having to place their credit card information with the deal company. Not being able to pay the restaurant directly when they actually use the deal.

2) Limited Deals/Options – The industry typically sends a limited number of deals with a short time span to take advantage of it. This gives the consumer not needs based option for getting a deal when they actually want one.

Recently, I heard about a new location based deal app start up that has finally addressed these major business and consumer issues. I was so impressed with what they are doing, I asked to sit down with them and discuss their business model and deal solution platform. Introducing TangoTab.

The TangoTab dining deal solution addresses all of the concerns of the local and chain restaurants in several unique ways. Their system drives consumer traffic when the restaurant wants and needs it, by allowing the establishment to pick the times of day that their deals are available. Additionally. restaurants only pay a small success fee when TangoTab delivers results. The incredible twist that got my attention is the social responsibility feature of contributing a percentage of every deals revenue to feed the hungry in that same community. An incredible combination of advantages for the businesses and their social media marketing, as well as the consumer.

TangoTab doesn’t stop there. Consumers not only get the ability to feed the hungry through their dining experiences. they no longer have to pre-purchase deals, but instead pay the restaurants at the time they accept the deal. Using location based functionality, consumers get options that we all want.  Need based deals that can be searched and used on the spot when you want or need a deal. What a better time to get a deal but right when you are deciding to go to lunch/dinner and aren’t sure where you want to go. Game-changing…

They have launched on the iPhone platform with a coming Android version soon and claim to have upcoming versions of the app that will be socially integrated into Facebook and Twitter for sharing. The start up has already launched in Dallas, New York City. Oklahoma City. Chicago and Los Angeles, and are just beginning to release into Toronto, with many other cities slated this year.

Though the company would not release its current user base information, something I found very interesting is their user marketing strategy. It has two components that should be equally effective. First, they are running a monthly sweepstakes drawing for $100 gift card. Every new user that signs up through the sweepstakes portal receives an entry into that months drawing, whether or not they are in a North American city the company has a presence. Secondly, as you refer others to join, you get additional entries into that months drawing as well, turning socially responsible dining deals into a viral sharing growth machine. Highly effective with additional benefits to the consumer. A win-win!

To join TangoTab and be entered into the drawing, visit the sweepstakes page. Restaurants and consumers alike can get more information on the main website.

I for one am looking forward to sharing TangoTab with many brands I consult and using it for easy deals on my terms, while benefiting the hungry as well.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

12 Comments

Filed under geolocation, location based services, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Uncategorized

How A PR Professional Screws Up A Social Media Connection

A while back, I was going through my Twitter feed and reading posts when I came across a post discussion with a PR professional.  I went to review their Bio and feed to see who it was and if they seemed an interesting person to follow.

Their Twitter Bio read something to the effect of; Public Relations and Social Media Consultant. Pro Blogger, etc, etc.  So I went ahead and followed the individual, as their Bio seemed to portray someone savvy enough about PR and Social Media to consult others.

So, regardless of the fact that they only follow less than 500 people and had fewer than that following them, I decided to engage them.  Like many people who follow me, who are interesting, I extended an invite to my PERSONAL Facebook and other profiles.  I do this because Facebook and other networks can provide varied environments for getting to know someone beyond just Twitter.

Shortly after sending my brief DM to this individual, I received the following response.

“Social Media Expert. I have a rule Auto DM asking me to connect on Facebook get unfollowed.  Get a website or blog.  Be real.”

This from a professional PR/Social Media Consultant and a purported “Pro Blogger”.

I politely replied with something to the effect of: “As a matter of fact I am real. I would be very careful how you DIS engage new followers on Twitter (insert person’s name). “  Since they had already unfollowed, I decided to go ahead and call them out with the same message in my feed.

So, this little post is just a little reminder that not everybody who consults or says they are a pro at Social Media are.  If you are a PR Professional, be careful that your previous attitudes and quirks aren’t brought into the Social space.  If you are new to Social Media and are coming from another profession, be patient with people and make sure you know what you know.  Realize that at the heart of Social Media is the Human. Would you assume things and kill a business relationship like that outside of the social graph? I think not!

Why would anyone want to hire a Public Relations “Pro” or Social Media “Consultant” that so quickly burns a connection so flippantly? Don’t shoot yourself in the foot!

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

46 Comments

Filed under Followers, Relationship, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Twitter, Uncategorized

Manipulating The Facebook Newsfeed With Content

As many of you know, Bundle Post also launched a funny social pic blog called social graphics. We produce a ton of images for it and it has received incredible response and results in short order. You should check it out too.

Part of the strategy for the blog was not just creating and posting the images, but also being able to share links to the pics and uploads of them to various social networks. Since we knew funny, social media related images are like candy to babies with our target audience, sharing them on Facebook was an focused part of the strategy. The response, sharing and engagement has been incredible, directly attributed to multiple new users of our software due to the conversations and relationships that have resulted.

Over time, I noticed something I did not expect. As I uploaded the pics to Facebook, I started to watch the relationship between when they were posted, the activity around it, shares, likes and comments. I also paid attention to what happened when activity all but ceased and how it was connected with the Newsfeed algorithm.

What I discovered was that you could manipulate getting your images and posts back into the Newsfeed on Facebook without reposting it. Simply liking it, or commenting on it hours after the last engagement on the image would release it again into the Newsfeed to some or all of your friends. This would inevitably start another round of activity, likes and conversations, resulting in a longer life for your content.

This experiement was only conducted on my personal Facebook profile and not our Bundle Post fanpage. However, since we use my personal profile and business page for building relationships with our community and most of our engagement is driving from my personal accounts, it clearly worked effectively.

Give it a try and let me know what results you get with your content marketing on Facebook.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

11 Comments

Filed under Facebook, Social content management, Social Media, Social Media Content, Uncategorized

Social Media, Stripper Shoes And Garage Sales – Oh My!

I couldn’t resist posting a non-traditional post today.  Sometimes in social media there are things that on the surface aren’t social media, however when digitized they can become something social, viral and completely hilarious!

The other day, a friend of mine sent me a pic they took when running around town.  On the surface this picture is just all out funny.  But you know I will take it deeper, right?

So here is the story behind the photo.  Clearly, this photo spawned a firestorm of comments on Facebook by a ton of people.  There was laughter, comments and disbelief.  It highlighted the serious power of social media and how simple things can turn into incredible opportunities to engage, share and build relationships.

My friend elaborated on the post by explaining that she stopped because as she said, “I just had to see what of his wife’s things the guy was selling.”  She continued with, “there were TONS of like stripper shoes…”  Which, based on the social tactic used by the poor fellow, the clear quality of his writing, as well as the eloquent use of grammar was not such a surprise.

Sometimes social media is at its best when it originates in a non-digital venue and flows over into the social graph.  Sometimes social media is serious, from the heart or marketing based.  Sometimes social media is just funny and an incredibly engaging photo that spurs connection and communication.  This is a wonderful example of just that.

Don’t forget to infuse images and humor into your social strategy. Be sure that the style of humor and conversation is appropriate for your brand and audience, but don’t completely steer away from controversy. Controversial things spark conversations that build relationships.

What funny things have you created and shared recently in your social media marketing? What interesting content strategy have you deployed in your social media management?

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

13 Comments

Filed under Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Marketing, Uncategorized

Amazon Web Services – Averting Disaster

It’s not too often that a massive online company goes the extra mile for a small customer. It is not often that I write about such a case because again, it’s a pretty infrequent situation in my experience. This all changed over the last two weeks for me as I dealt with Amazon Web Services over an issue with our system hosted in their cloud.

Some background:

As a startup social media software company, we needed a data center/hosting solution that was highly scalable for growth, yet was not cost prohibitive. Although often extremely complicated, their powerful solution is utilized by many top social media software companies, making it something we decided to deploy ourselves. Being a SAAS (software as a service) product, Amazon’s infrastructure, hosting and overall solution made a lot of sense for Bundle Post.

As I alluded in the background, AWS capabilities are immense. Along with that, you need to be a bit of a rocket scientist or have said team to setup and manage their highly complex solution. There are many services and functions that must be turned on, set up, added and/or changed. To be clear here, rocket scientist I am not! Needless to say we had some communication issues internally related to some of the AWS systems and services that were turned on by team members and never used. This can be no big deal in many circumstances. In ours it meant a 1000%+ increase in our monthly costs with Amazon, unbeknownst to me. If you want to have your heart stop as a startup CEO, getting your budget wacked by over 1000% is a good way to do it.

Now typically a company of Amazon’s size would respond by saying too bad, you should know better. They didn’t. In fact before I had realized what happened after someone on their team noticed the massive change and reached out via telephone to check in. Although I was unable to speak when they called, it got me checking, so I discovered the issue, resulting in a service contact from me asking for help.

Without getting into all the details, the customer service, fanpage and Twitter teams were incredible. They not only communicated and met the issues head on, they proactively kept me informed during the entire process, even before I felt the need to check in and find out the status of our issue.

Customer Service lessons to learn from the Amazon WS team:

1) Noticing problems before your customer does and reaching out to avoid bigger ones is huge!

2) Responding quickly to customer issues minimizes the overall issue.

3) Showing concern and sympathy for your customers situation puts them at ease.

4) Update your customer throughout the process even before they need to check back in.

5) Look for opportunities to change a bad situation into a customer loyalty change and PR boon!

Very impressed guys, VERY impressed!

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

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Filed under Fanpage, Relationship, Uncategorized

Asking Questions In Social Media – Key To Building Relationships

At the age of seventeen, my first mentor in business was Nic Knievel, Bob (or Evel Knievel’s) brother. Nic became like a second father to me and largely made me what I am today in business. The amount of respect I have for him, his sales ability and the many things he taught me can’t be easily outlined in a blog post. It was just too substantial.

In honor of Nic, I would like to share something profound that he taught me, that is completely applicable in today’s social media marketing world. “You make more money with your ears then you will with your mouth!”. Imagine this said by an famous old stunt man, loudly and with massive intensity. This would definitely make an impression on you. I did on me…

The point is that many of us don’t understand this sales philosophy. Sometimes we are way too busy talking (posting) instead of asking questions, engaging in conversation and listening. Sometimes, we get too busy to take interest in our prospects businesses, interests and situations. Sometimes we forget that showing interest in others and what they do is how we build relationships and real connections.

It is my belief that the proper formula for effective social media marketing is:

Content leads to conversation, Conversation builds relationships and Relationships result in business or ROI.

Here are some reminders that will help you build relationships through questions:

1) Don’t forget to ask questions that expand your conversations with your friends, fans and followers.

2) Use open ended questions that show a sincere interest in your connections.

3) Show interest in what your connections do by asking about THEM.

4) After asking the questions, listen and respond.

5) Take action on others responses by sharing their content, website and information.

If effective social media marketing is about relationships and I believe it is, then taking the time to ask your community questions when they engage with you is imperative. Questions are the most overlooked opportunity to build relationships and reciprocate appreciation. Listening to what people are saying in response to your questions will guide you to the next steps of your social media relationship with them. Pay attention to how they are saying what they are saying, not just the content of their response.

Even the simplest questions can be highly effective. Some I often use with sincerity are:

1) So what exactly do you do (first name)?  I truly want to know. Just asking and understanding, often results in being able to refer them to someone that needs what they do, or my own need being fulfilled in their product or services.

2) How’s it going? Seems simple, but sometimes it is simple enough to getting to know someone much better.

Simple but effective to opening up a conversation. The key is sincerity though. Don’t ask if you really don’t care. There is nothing worse than someone asking about you and then disappearing right away and never responding. This says you are not sincere!

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

13 Comments

Filed under Community, Followers, Relationship, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Uncategorized