Archive for January, 2007

How To Reach The Tipping Point

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Every modern-day home business libraray seems to contain at least one or two titles by Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, and/or Malcolm Gladwell. Together, these new-age business revolutionaries have paved the way for a for a new type or marketing and thought-process.

Gladwell’s first title, The Tipping Point, gained widespread acclaim and went on to hit the bestseller list. A cult-like following ensued. The same can be said for the former two authors, but years earlier. In any case, there is a common thread among their books that entails the idea of evangelists, connectors, ‘sneezers’, mavens, and influencers. These are the people who will not only use your product, but rave about it to others. These are your loyal fans, your army. But reaching them has always been a problem. Until the advent of the Internet…

 

 

Much has been said about the micro-communities, niches, and target groups that marketers strive to reach. Offline, locating these tight-knit groups is next to impossible. Even in a case where a marketer is able to reach the intended audience, messages are more often than not ignored or over-looked. Finally, the level of interaction leaves much to be desired.

Enter The Blogosphere

What if a marketer was able to tap a pre-existing network that of micro-communities that were focused around a specific niche or topic? What if there were search tools to simplify the process even further? Locating your influencers and evangelists, and creating product conversations would be much easier. The process could in theory be broken down into a set of steps. This ‘art’ of marketing is all of a sudden a science.

The blogosphere and blog search engines are the stuff that dreams are made of – for marketers. Add to that blog directories and ranking systems, and not only can a marketing strategy be tailored around a specific group, but around the status or hierarchy of a given group.

For obvious reasons, I am not going to outline the entire marketing process, but you can begin to see how valuable the blogosphere and an accompanying toolkit can be.

Use it wisely and treat these users like gold. The Tipping Point is closer than it appears…

Too Many Features

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Way too often do I see a company trying to do too many things for too many people. A company will launch the ultimate portal experience with e-mail functionality, search, weather, horoscopes, VOIP, calendar, and an AJAX interface.

What I’m trying to say is that many companies confuse their offering by trying to do too many things. By focusing on 1-3 features in particular and creating a spectacular experience, your potential for success is much greater. This is what YouTube did… and did very well might I add.

How often do you read a features set that is over a page long and you’re left wondering… “WTF does this thing actually do for me?” It’s a daunting reality. Now, isn’t it refreshing when you browse a feature set that is minimal (only in terms of size). You can paint a clear picture in your head as to what the system/site/software can accomplish for you.

Think of it like ordering food in a restaurant. Sure, a huge menu is good as there are a lot of choices. But in many cases, the size and breadth clouds your minds and thought-process. A smaller menu is easier to choose from as the information at hand easier to quantify.

Numerous small companies can attribute their success to a given feature of a larger unsuccessful company.

As the old saying goes, “A jack of all trades, master of none.” Companies need to conceptualize a clear vision and stay true that original mindset. It may not sound logical but by focusing on a smaller number of features, a start-up has a greater likelihood of succeeding (in many cases).

Craigslist and Wikipedia are great examples of simple start-ups that set out to do one thing well. Never along the way did they stray from that original vision and look where they stand today – among the greats.

I can’t wait to see more examples of this mentality and thought-process moving forward. These are the apps and designs of the new web. They are the success stories and sites I will use. This is web 2.0.

What Makes Meebo Tick?

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Meebo logo“Meebo, the web-based IM service that aggregates all your messengers in one place, has raised $9 million in second round funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson… ”

They’ve also released some stats:

  • 1 million registered users (up from 0.5 million three months ago)
  • 1.2 million daily logins
  • 75 million messages sent per day
  • Average session time of 70 minutes
  • 4.5 million unique screen names sign in monthly

via Mashable

Impressive stats, appropriate rewards… but what’s their secret?

1. They Kept Updates Coming

Ever since I started on Meebo, it has never stopped getting better.  It certainly started with a typical web based messaging package, but over time it all fell into place.  Chat logs were put in place, single sign-ons implemented, designs upgraded, emoticons, offline messaging, avatars – the list just goes on and on.  Done in increments, and communicated well, it leaves the audience happy, but wanting more.

2. They Blogged Well

Healthy communication with your audience is something Meebo pulls off handily – with a blog of course.   Now, you might be saying to yourselves – so what? Everyone does it now.  Well the difference is that rather than treating the blog as a public developmental log, it’s written in a personable friendly manner, revealing nuggets of interesting information every now and then.  How else would we know that hot pink was such a popular font color?

Also, Meebo’s latest blog entry will appear as a message window when you login.  The fact that it makes a good read, and it that appears in an unobtrusive way, gets the message across effectively.

3. They Expanded Your Presence Outside Their Site

It’s surprising that Meebo took so long to come out with their widget which would allow website’s to embed Meebo into them.  It’s even more surprising that NONE of the older and established players came out strong and did it first.  Since it’s release, the widget API increases visibility, provides a linkback, and promotes usage of Meebo, and it has been an invaluable move to release it.

4. They Connected with Their Community

Through wikis and forums, Meebo has established good communication between themselves and the community.  Meebo has even been translated into more than 60 languages at this point, because of user community efforts.  Go all out to help them, and the tech community will repay you in kind.

5. They Used Good old fashioned Link Karma

With good work, comes search engine rewards.  Meebo is king of the hill at the moment.  Do a quick search on Google and you’ll see that Meebo is ranked #3 if you search for “IM”, and #1 when you search for “web instant messaging”.  Do good, let people talk about you on their sites, and more will come.

What will Meebo do next?  I can’t wait.

This web commentary was contributed by James Yeang, editor of Friedbeef’s Tech.  He writes about solving everyday with simple technology.

Exploring Potential YouTube Revenue Models

Friday, January 26th, 2007

YouTube logoAmidst the new web landscape, YouTube is a well-known success story. They’ve been able to generate millions upon millions of video views per day. Aggregating the eyeballs has not been the problem thusfar. But in order to truly classify this start-up as a true success, substantial revenues need to be realized, as a considerable ROI is the end goal.

Much talk seems to keep surfacing around how YouTube plans to monetize its collossal traffic. Advertising is always an option, albeit not always the most appropriate or suitable.

There are six basic Internet revenue models. Let’s explore how YouTube could leverage any or all of them…

Advertising: This is the most obvious and widely-accepted model. Nevertheless, within this category, there are several sub-categories, including text ads and video ads. Up until now, YouTube has only opted for text ads. But pre-roll, post-roll, or interstitial video ads may be right around the corner. Many video sites already display these ads, so it’s nothing new or extraordinary. YouTube may be hesitant as they don’t want to ruin the user experience that they’ve come to be known for. Moreover, YouTube could implement an e-mail ad campaign, whereby sponsored/ad-supported e-mails are mailed out to users on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Subscription: The video giant could force users to pay a small monthly fee to access certain parts of the site, or perhaps high-quality content. The subscription would eliminate ads and provide better streaming quality. It is not my belief that the entire site should be subjected to a subscription-based model, as this would cause a user back-lash. But by providing premium features at a small cost, this may prove to be a lucrative revenue stream.

Affiliate: This category is somewhat similar to advertising, but focused more on CPA (cost-per-action). In other words, YouTube only benefits when a user buys or pays for the given service displayed on the side of the page. Pay-outs are much better than CPMs or CPCs, but less frequent. If YouTube can quantify and justify a case for an affiliate program, then it may be something to explore. My only concern is that the affiliate products closely reflect the content of the video being viewed. That way, the user experience remains optimal and the targeted affiliate link may be more likely to incite a user click-through.

Content: YouTube could undertake an endeavour similar to the Google Video strategy. In order words, users upload their videos and smack a price on them. If people download them and they sell, the user gets paid out and YouTube receives a commission on the sale. Think of iTunes for user-generated video content.

Product Sales: The idea of tangible product sales may seem hard to fathom at first. In any case, YouTube could make a big push to sell ‘everything YouTube’. They could sell branded T-shirts, mugs, hats, pens, or just about anything. Although this may not be the most sexy angle to choose, it’s a very low-risk, low-cost approach to business. As is the case with many of these Internet revenue models, many could be chosen and incorporated if executed properly.

Directory Services: The start-up could charge video directors/producers, singers, models, actors, etc… a small fee per video to appear in a coveted video directory. This designated area could be access by Hollywood directors, business executives, and talent scouts to identify possible talent and/or ‘The Next Big Thing’.

BONUS…

Oddball: The video powerhouse could sell or license the rights to its name. Then, a major TV network could use the label to launch a new reality show. For example, CBS or NBC could launch ‘YouTube Weekly’ – a look at the week in video, or better yet, the top UGC videos on the site. They could even incorporate an interactive component via online voting or the ability for users to choose the clips and programming they want to see – similar to CurrentTV.

Another oddball idea that YouTube already incorporates, to some extent, is paid product placement. This type of strategy bodes well with movie studios and products of a viral nature. These paid placements could be displayed on the homepage, category pages, or site-wide. The advertising company benefits from product/service exposure and YouTube benefits from a CPM standpoint or on a per-campaign basis. However, disclosure is extremely important and must be displayed in a prominent manner.

So as you can see, YouTube has more options than people care to imagine or consider. My guess is that the company will NOT choose one of the above, but rather a multitide. If incorporated in a seamless manner, revenue may soon be a far-gone problem for the company.

Cash or Trash: Flickr

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Today’s “Cash or Trash” company is Flickr

 

Flickr logo

 

If you are unfamiliar with “Cash or Trash”, here is a quick rundown:

In every post, I will name a well-known web 2.0 company. Readers will then have to decide whether the company is worth investing in or whether it’s doomed for bankruptcy. In other words, would you invest cash in the company or do you think it should be thrown in the trash?

Provide a brief argument as to why or why not you would invest in the company in the comments. Debating and arguing is highly recommended and encouraged, as long as arguments are well sought-out and thorough.

A couple of points to keep in mind:

  • Determine whether you would invest at TODAY’S valuation. Forget past growth. In other words, do you still think the company has a lot of upside potential?
  • Don’t treat your ‘cash’ like play money. Would you actually see yourself investing in the company if given the opportunity to purchase shares?
  • If you are not familiar with the company or service, refrain from posting until you try the service.

For previous “Cash or Trash” companies, visit the Cash or Trash category.