Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Apple Using Community-Created Ads

We all know that Apple has very little interest in opening up its iPhones to 3rd party developers. But the folks over in Cupertino have no problem with using a 3rd party ad for the phone -- that is, using a community-created video, which :

You can bet that this video will get huge amounts of views around teh Interwebs...for free.

(via Church of the Customer Blog)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why I hate Snapfish

My cousin recently got married and posted the album of wedding pictures online through a service called Snapfish. I hate this site -- it makes you register and login to view these images. Why should I have to login to view these public photos?

Alternatively, Flickr lets users upload photos, tag, and share them with a private audience or the general public. There is no need to authenticate oneself before viewing photos anymore. Snapfish should change the way it shares photos so that it's open to anyone. If an uploader wants to make his or her photos private, the site should send a unique link to each recipient.

...and that's my Friday rant.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why Lots of Hard Drive Space is Obsolete

About two years ago, Bill Gates published a "Sea Change" memo. He does this to refocus Microsoft on a particular priority. With one of these memos in 1995, he focused the company on the importance of leveraging the Internet in its software. In 2002, he published another memo to focus the company on software security.

I remember when this memo came out. I was working at Ensynch (a Microsoft partner) and this memo sparked a lot of excitement in the Microsoft community. It's funny how long it can take for something like this to be adopted in the general population.

It's now 2007 -- two years after this memo was released. I realized today that I no longer use any local programs on my computer. To clarify, a local program is a piece of software that you install on your computer -- you can access it usually on- or offline and the information is stored on your hard drive. Internet access is so ubiquitous now that everything I do now is accomplished online:
  • Write documents
  • Manage my finances
  • Play games
  • Network with friends
The term that's been coined for this shift in how I use software is called "Software as a Service" or SaaS. I didn't realize how useful this model of online software is until my imminent departure from DelCor. In my last job, I had to make sure I deleted a lot of personal files so that my information remained secure. When I leave DelCor tomorrow, I won't have to do this because all the personal stuff that I did while in my office resides online.

This way of using software also proves beneficial in extending the lifespan of my PC. I no longer have to worry about system requirements, hard drive space, etc with my relatively older machine. As long as I can still use Firefox on the computer, I can accomplish all my tasks through the Web.

Five Sites to Get you Started with SaaS:
  • Google Docs: Think of this as a free version of Microsoft Office. It has a word processor, a spreadsheet, and a presentation program. Everything I could do on a local program (except the most advanced Word features), I can do through this.
  • Gmail: There is really no reason that you should be using any other email program. Threaded email, archiving instead of deletion, and search instead of sort. Everything's stored online.
  • Mint: Think of this as an online Quicken. Aggregates all your financial data (kind of scary...) into one site for you.
  • Picnik/Flickr: Edit your photos online with Picnik and then upload, tag, and share them on Flickr.
SaaS is without a doubt, the future of software -- expect to be charged for the use of some programs in the future as well.

Do you have any other favorite SaaS sites? Share them in the comments.

The Fresh Marketer Lifestream

I have a Lifestream.

What's that? Well, it's an RSS feed of basically everything I write or look at online. I've combined my blog's feed with my Google Shared feed and my Twitter feed. I'll also add in my Flickr feed once I finally get around to uploading my pictures into Flickr (Facebook photo albums are way too closed off from the rest of the Internet for me to use).

So if you're already subscribed to my RSS feed, you'll start getting posts that won't be written by me. These are from my Google Shared site. You can also monitor the posts I think you'll find interesting by looking at the "What I'm Reading" widget. For those of you who haven't subscribed to my feed yet, take a second and click the "Subscribe to my Lifestream" link or add the following address to your favorite RSS reader:

Also, if you have any problems subscribing, post a comment or send me an email and I'll help you get it setup.

P.S. If you want any individual feed, here are the addresses:

Google Shared:



Welcome Back

Okay, as I'm sure you can see, I've switched back to Blogger. As much as I've tried to fight it, Blogger is just hands down the best free blog software out there right now. WordPress was good in a lot of ways, but I missed a lot of the features I had on Blogger. Here's how the two services stacked up against each other:

How Blogger is Better than WordPress:
  • Ability to add in any HTML, Java, etc code in your post or on a sidebar. WordPress seriously restricted this in the free version.
  • A lot of already-created widgets that are easy to add to the page. WordPress gave you only a handful of widgets -- none of which were very useful.
  • Better RSS integration. As you'll see below, I've changed a lot about my RSS feed and I don't want visitors getting confused about which feed to subscribe to. On Blogger (with Feedburner), I can make all of my feed links direct to the same address.
How WordPress is Better than Blogger:
  • I have going to Blogger blogs. Perhaps it's because anyone can create one and it seems that I question a blog's authority as soon as I see it's on Blogger. The irony of this statement is not lost on me.
  • More attractive templates. Even if these templates are much more limiting than Blogger's.
  • Integrated blog stats -- accessible directly from the dashboard. But it doesn't tell you network locations like Google Analytics does, which is the most important thing I look at.
So there we go. I've switched back to Blogger now. I'll probably stick with Blogger until I bite the bullet and purchase a Typepad subscription. That just seems to be the all-around best option if you're going to pay for a subscription.

I Give Up!

I don't think I can fight it any longer. I'm going to have to start using Twitter again. It seems as if everyone is using it now, even if I still believe that no one really cares about what I'm doing at any given moment during the day. I still think Twitter's a great tool for people going on trips, etc. I just don't believe that anyone really cares that I'm:

  • Sitting at my desk

  • Excited about a tasty dinner tonight

  • Ready to get started at The Fool.

Anyway, if you care, my Twitter page is here.

Another Wesch Great

Here's another great video from Michael Wesch (see previous post):

Talk about a great way to virally advertise Digital Ethnography at KSU. If you want to study this, where do you think your first choice would be?

Categories Don't Mean Anything

A great new video is flying around the Interwebs, by Michael Wesch:

It's all about tagging now.

The other day, I was asked by a coworker to explain the difference between categories and tags. After trying to explain it for a couple minutes, the ultimate conclusion from the coworker was that a category and tag are essentially the same. That's really not true. The best way I can describe a tag versus a category is:

A Tag:

  • Describes a piece of information

  • Doesn't classify a piece of information

A Category:

  • Also describes a piece of information

  • Places information into a particular classification.

It seems to me that categories are obsolete in today's environment. Even for this blog post, I'm given the option by WordPress to categorize AS WELL as tag the post based on the topic of my discussion. My vote is that we get rid of categories. We really don't need them anymore, right?

Duncan Riley at the TechCrunch blog says that information has been devolving for the past 12 years. I disagree. It seems to me that information has needed to become less categorized due to the way we're able to access information now using search, etc. If we're able to find the information that we're seeking more quickly and with a higher success rate, isn't this an improvement? Why does he call it a devolution?

By the way, if you haven't seen Wesch's other famous video, you can view it below:

"What I'm Reading"

If you haven't noticed it before (especially for anyone who reads this blog via the RSS feed), I have a widget that's entitled "What I'm Reading". This can be a misleading title. Allow me to explain:

This widget is powered by Google Reader, which is an RSS reader that I use to go through my RSS feeds. As I cull through almost 200 posts each day, I "share" posts that I think people who read this blog will be interested in reading as well. These "shared" entries end up on my "What I'm Reading" widget. This means you'll only see posts relevant to this blog's topic in this widget. I set this up mostly for my lovely family, who often asks me about the next cool thing on the Internet. Instead of sending around emails about what's happening, I can easily send them to my RSS feed. Now, what would be really cool, would be to figure out someway to combine my blog's feed with my Google Shared feed. If anyone knows how to do this, please let me know.

Want to read more of what I'm reading?

If you click on the RSS icon next to the widget title, you can subscribe to a feed of what I'm sharing. If you subscribe, expect about 10-20 posts a day on cool technology, hot marketing topics, and other nifty things I find online.

Want to Setup Your Own Google Share Feed?

Read this link, and then email me if you have any other questions.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Moved to WordPress

For anyone subscribing to my Feedburner feed or through Blogger, please visit to resubscribe to my feed. I've switched the blog over to WordPress.



Women and Football

A lot of people might argue that women don't enjoy the game of football. I'd totally disagree. Some of the most die-hard football fans I've come across are women, however it's pretty apparent that the NFL doesn't put a lot of effort in marketing to this group. It's exciting to hear about what the Ravens are doing not only to attract more women fans, but to help them form a community (from Jackie at the Church of the Customer Blog).

This Ravens community is a win-win for the team and its fans. Female Ravens fans find a place to belong, to ask questions about football, get access to exclusive events that matter to them, etc. The team attracts a greater attendance, more TV viewers, and sell more merchandise. The team also enables a football game to become more of a couple's event -- which is something that I haven't seen any other team try to do.

I'm a die-hard Redskins fan. We should have a similar community. Jackie submitted a name for her Steelers, and I'll try my luck at naming a community for the Skins:

  • Golden Girls?
  • Burgundy Babes?
Although, I've always been partial to the name "The Redskinettes" (and now that the cheerleaders aren't called that anymore, that name's available).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Movin' On...

Hey all -- remember me? It's been a little hectic the past couple weeks, but I have a good reason why:

I got a new job.

I'm the newest Online Marketing Manager at The Motley Fool ( "Wait a second," you're thinking to yourself, "Didn't you mention The Fool in a previous post?" Yes, I did. I'll fill you in on the details of that later, but meanwhile, I wanted to let everyone know I'm still alive. A lot of interesting stuff has been happening in the past couple weeks that I want to talk about, but first need to make sure I wrap things up at DelCor properly and prepare for my new job. More to come, stay tuned.

Future Posts:
  • Apple: Finally listening to their customers? Opening iPhones up to 3rd party apps.
  • Comcast: It sucks when your customers hate you. Especially when they hate you enough to take a hammer to your office building.
  • 2008: The year of blogging's demise?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Subscribing to a Blog: 3 Things to Look For

Every blog has an RSS feed. That is, an XML file that is continually updated with the latest postings from the blog's author. You can subscribe to the RSS feed using an RSS reader (my fav is Google Reader). With so many choices, it can be easy to become overloaded with subscribed feeds. How do you cut through the clutter? Here are a couple key things to look for when deciding whether to subscribe to an RSS feed:

  1. Frequency - How often does the blog's author post? If you're busy during the day and a blog publishes 30 posts in a day (like Engadget or Boing-Boing), you're going to be overwhelmed trying to keep up with the posts. It's best to look for blogs that publish once a day or a few times a week with quality content.
  2. Originality - Blogs exist for people to comment on...anything. Oftentimes, this means blogs comment on other people's blog posts. This means that you can find five posts about the same topic (i.e. Apple's iPhone, Britney Spears, or Twitter) in a single day on your blogroll. Seek out blogs that have something new to say. Look for thought leaders rather than followers.
  3. Content - Your time is valuable. Don't waste it on content that doesn't add something to your life. What you read should be genuinely entertaining and/or informative. Don't read a blog because you think you should. If you can't get into it, unsubscribe to it and move on. There's so much content out there, it's easy to find a new blog to fill its place.

When Your Customers Hate You

Comcast has a problem. Almost every online reference of them talks about how horrible they are. Dissatisfied customers take to blogging, online forums, and online articles to voice their hate for the company. Over at the Church of the Customer Blog, Ben informs us about a new site that's popped up: "Comcast Must Die" -- a blog that provides single focus for customers to join together and voice their complaints. This is a site that Comcast can't ignore and will begin monitoring for feedback.

Comcast is organized by local franchises, and the mother company seems pretty cut off from its subscribers. It's hard to imagine that senior management realizes the low level of service these local groups provide. When you become detached from your customers, you can't survive. Expect to see Comcast actively take part in the new blog and perhaps create one of their own to facilitate the conversation between the management and their customers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Great Idea: Package Delivery

The other day, I was waiting for a package to be delivered by UPS. This proved to be quite inconvenient since I was forced to wait at home all afternoon for this package to be delivered. You see, I could tell from UPS' website that the package would definitely be delivered today, but not the time it would arrive. I had to be there for the delivery because it required a signature.

It seems to me that this model of package delivery (tracking on the website only to sit at home and wait for the driver to show up) is about five years behind many other services that harness the full potential of the Web to improve customer service.

With all that Google's doing with public transportation tracking, why can't this be applied to package tracking? Imagine: you know that a package is due to be delivered today and through UPS' website, able to decipher the route number/driver that will be delivering your package. Using Google Delivery (made-up), you could then log in to see on a map the driver's route, stops ahead of yours, and an estimated time of delivery. If providing the driver's route proves to be a problem security-wise, why not simply have a way to show the number of stops ahead of yours plus an estimated time of delivery? Taking this a step further, you could also provide a way to send a message to your delivery person through the website regarding where to leave a package, or any special instructions.

Just a new idea on a foggy Thursday morning...

What's Next? World Domination?

Google has continued to change the way all of us access information. Due to the products they've introduced in the past couple years, I have almost no software on my personal laptop anymore. Everything I do, I can accomplish online using Google's apps.

Here's another fantastic (and free) one:


And T-Mobile wants me to pay $1.49 for the exact same service? Ha.

Buyer Motivation

Buyers are fickle. Little things can set your company apart from competitors. If you're actively engaged in a constant conversation with your customers (i.e. through blogging and other social media) , chances are pretty good that you'll form a tie with them that will be hard to break.

Geoff sums this point up pretty strongly by giving us a peek into his motivation for purchasing a new computer. He says that while Macs are cool and HPs are competitive, it's important to support a company that places significance in fostering a conversation with the people that matter: customers.

Apple used to be good at this, but somewhere along the way, they lost the connection that they had with their customers in exchange for increased profits. Sam over at New Media Strategies' blog talks about "Passionistas" -- essentially evangelists focused on a passion instead of a particular brand. Apple's core client base was comprised either by evangelists or this different group of passionistas. The amount of buzz that was generated from their iPhone announcement (and really, every recent product announcement) was/is staggering. These groups have the ability to drive the buzz positively or negatively, as seen by the recent turmoil Apple's been experiencing online. Hundreds (if not thousands) of blogs, online columns, etc have discussed Apple's need to compensate their early adopters for the $200 price drop as well as the "Brick-gate" - Apple's bricking of iPhones with the new firmware update. Apple has customers who are openly discussing the company's successes and failures, but no one in Cupertino is listening.

Participating in an open conversation with customers is important to a company's continued success, but if you're not willing to listen to what they have to say, you're not doing yourself any favors.