“Facebook Me” is the new “Can I Get Your Phone Number”

[tweetmeme source=”equalman” only_single=false http://socialnomics.net%5DWhether you are trying to get a new date after Valentine’s Day or are a company trying to stand out; having a unique name will help you dramatically. Check out my thoughts in the above video. Oh, and Facebook Me or Tweet Me nicely.

By Erik Qualman

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China Social Media: 6 Critical Sites

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youkuTwitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google and others are blocked in China. Roughly 30% of China (1.3 billion) is online vs. roughly 75% in the U.S. This equals 390 million Chinese online, more than the entire U.S. population (310 million).

6 Important Chinese Sites:

Weibo: The Twitter of China. China blocked Twitter and other micro-blog technology (Fanfou.com) in 2009 when riots started in the Western region of wieboXinjiang. The government could foresee Twitter enabling the revolutions we are seeing in the Middle East (by the way, Malcolm Gladwell, you were incorrect, the revolution was indeed tweeted). Weibo remains and is growing.  Interestingly enough, 140 characters maximum isn’t as limiting in Chinese as it is in English. Each Chinese symbol expresses so much more than each English character. Owned by publicly traded Sina Weibo means “microblog.”

RenRen: In 2006, Oak Pacific Interactive bought Xiaonei for around $4 million. It has since renamed it RenRen (in August 2009), which literally translates to “everyone.” With an estimated 120 million users, it is trying to become the Facebook of China. RenRen users are primarily high school and college students with Café Internet access.

Kaixin001: Literally means “happy” in Chinese. This social network is cleaner and has an older, white-collar demographic than its rival RenRen. Think Facebook (Kaixin) vs. MySpace (RenRen) circa 2007. Kaixin even has a knock-off of FarmVille called Happy Farm. Interestingly enough, users can use the same log-in to access RenRen and Kaixin001.

Youku and Tudou: Think YouTube/Hulu marriage. Less stringent copyright enforcement enables as much as 70% to be professionally produced (often pirated foreign content). This differs from American YouTube, which is dominated by shorter, user-generated videos. While Americans watch less than 15 minutes of YouTube videos per day, the youth in China spend up to an hour on these sites.

Taobao: “An online Walmart.” Popular among the youth of China. It is similar to eBay in that sellers offer used or new items either via an auction or fixed price. Most items are new merchandise sold at a fixed price. Started in 2003 by the Alibaba Group (partial Yahoo ownership), Taobao is closing in on 400 million registered users and has more than 800 million product listings. Large Fortune 500 companies have opened Taobao stores – finding it easier to sell their product here than on their company sites.

If you plan to do business in China, you will need to understand these social sites.  Get someone “in-market” to assist you in setting up strategy and executing. While these sites appear akin to Western counterparts, they certainly have their own nuances.   The culture differs dramatically too.

By Erik Qualman

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Hat Tip: Fast Company:  “The Social(ist) Network” by April Rabkin | About.com: “Social Media in China, the same but different” by Thomas Crampton, Thomas Morffew (RenRen)

Group Moan?

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Consider this. You buy a Groupon worth $60 for $30 for ‘Hot Crab’ Malay restaurant. Lets assume you go to the extent of grinding through their menu online to confirm that the ‘Satays’ and ‘Kueh Teow Thon’ are reasonably priced. But remember, Groupon parts with only a currency, and there is no guarantee on how much the currency is worth when you exercise your Groupon. The prices on the menu could be very different and you could end up getting lesser value.

Scan through the ‘Yelps’ and the ‘Zagats’ of the world. It is not unusual to come across stories of how close to impossible it is to get an appointment/reservation if you are Groupon laden.

A good example is this cleaning company with the capacity to clean 6 houses a day ending up selling 1008 Groupons! At that rate if I were the last guy to be considered, I would be serviced after 6 months! For all you know I needed a clean house this weekend. Make no mistake, small and medium businesses often find the response overwhelming.

The instances of treating Groupon customers differently is also on the rise. As Groupon negotiates hard with small businesses, margins are wafer thin. Very often establishments deny prime time/real estate to this ‘cattle class’. Disgruntled, despondent Groupon holders who feel like second class citizens are being more emphatic on the social media.

To make matters worse, the promise on the site ‘If you ever feel like Groupon let you down, give us a call and we’ll return your purchase – simple as that.’ Is nowhere close to being straight forward. Groupon does not refund – it credits, which means you are possibly forced to use the currency for something that you hadn’t thought of purchasing even in your wildest dreams.

Don’t get me wrong, consumers find real deals, which is why Groupon clocks $3.5 Million on an average every 3 days (That’s slightly lesser than eBay’s yearly revenue when it went in for an IPO!). But like most technological phenomena, this too has incidental flaws that needs to be corrected.

And now here is a story for Valentines day:

Sam and I were driving back home in his car, and Sam was visibly petrified. His expression was a combination of how you would look like when you are mugged and then when the mugger asks you stay fixed to avoid ‘consequences’ (When he says consequences, you are pretty sure he does not mean a treat at Taco Bell!). I could see Sam’s sweaty hands slipping on the wheel, which is when I thought I should possibly converse to lighten the…well situation.

Me: “So what if you bought a Groupon to the upscale Vietnamese restaurant instead of the reservation you were asked to make at the therapeutic spa? You know..Valentine’s day is not about where you are, its about who you are!” (Authoritatively, with an intense look, animatedly)

Believe me, I have no clue what I meant when I said that last line, but I really couldn’t think of a smarter line.

Sam, was panicking about his wife’s response to his Groupon vs. what she wanted. He had forgotten to grab the deal while it lasted and was left with this Vietnamese thing.

Hoping to see some possible signs of ‘recovery’ I continued:
Me: “Romantic couples massages are passé…but international cuisine is in vogue, trust ME!”

Ha! Trust me? Wish I said that with more conviction! Sam was silent, but his visage was speaking loud.

We drove into his garage and Anne walked out to greet.

After the usual (In this case short lived) niceties through which Sam managed to stay alive.

Anne: “Arun, so Sam and I have booked an appointment for a couples massage at this spa, we are really looking forward to it.”

I smiled innocently and pretended to be elated for Anne and her ‘soon-to-be- slaughtered’ husband.
Sam: “Actually honey……”

I wished I wasn’t sitting bang in between them, you know just so that possible projectiles don’t become the reasons for me being physically challenged for life.
Sam stuttered: “You know I found this fantastic deal on Groupon, $40 worth of Vietnamese gourmet, only for $20.” “Why don’t we do that instead of the …you know…kinda overpriced massage? “

I wanted to give Sam a massage seeing the stress he was undergoing.
Anne: “Did you forget to buy the Groupon yesterday dear?” “Can I have a word with you inside”

Anne walked into the bedroom, following her like a child was Sam.
I was hoping that Sam came out of the irreconcilable ‘Groupon’ war alive.
The incidental implications of some otherwise incredibly innovative ideas sometimes cant be fathomed. Groupon is no exception.

As for Sam, he paid a full price for a therapeutic massage and ended the Valentine’s day with a Vietnamese ‘Groupon’ dinner! Win Win?

Written by Arun Varma

Follow me on Twitter: @varmaarun
Mail me: arunvarma100@gmail.com
Arun is a digital marketing professional who previously worked with Google in India and is currently an MBA student at HULT International Business School in Cambridge. He also is a business quiz enthusiast and has hosted and conceptualized several of them.

Video: How Social Media Saved Valentine’s Day

social media valentines day
[tweetmeme source=”equalman” only_single=false http://socialnomics.net%5DWe thought the above video “Social Media Saves Valentine’s Day” would be a great reminder for all of us that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.

Top 7 Social Media Tips to be a Valentine’s Day Hero:

  1. LinkedIn Look up your significant other’s work address and send them flowers.  Getting flowers at home is nice, but getting them in the office where co-workers can be jealous is even better.
  2. GroupOn/Living Social: There will be incredible Valentine’s Day deals coming from these players and others (Daily Candy, Travelzoo, etc.). Great for a last minute planner, and if you are reading this now you are last minute.
  3. Yelp:  Make sure that the restaurant you selected is indeed romantic.  Check what others are saying about it and how they rate it.
  4. TripAdvisor with Facebook Connect: Make sure you are logged into Facebook and the site will tell you others that have stayed at a hotel and that are also friends with you on Facebook. It’s a good way to find out if the hotel is truly romantic.
  5. Twitter:  Tweet the restaurant or hotel ahead of time and you can usually get special treatment when you show up.  Make sure you get the person’s name and ask for them when you arrive. Also, if your significant other is on Twitter make sure to schedule a Tweet wishing them a Happy Valentine’s Day!
  6. Facebook: Make sure to post Happy Valentine’s Day to that someone special.  And also look to see if anyone else has wished them a Happy Valentine’s Day.
  7. eHarmony: Good place to find a date.

It’s a new world, but people on Valentine’s Day have always wanted to be recognized and appreciated…social media makes this simple.  Enjoy the video and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Amazon Kindle: Valentine’s Gift

By Erik Qualman

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Inc. 500 Companies Seeing Positive Results From SM Use

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Inc. 500 Companies using Social Media and ACTUALLY seeing positive results is on the rise.  More small businesses need to view the importance of Social Media the same as their larger counterparts.

Interesting to note that Facebook success rates have gone up from 54% to 85% while services like twitter and blogging have gone down.

Overall the importance  of Social Media in a Inc. 500 companies business strategy has gone up 16% year over year.   These companies will continue to use these conduits for client acquisition and retention as 2011 unfolds.

Article from eMarketer http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1008211

On stats from Umass Dartmoth Center for Marketing Research

Written by Chris Van Dusen

Chris Van Dusen is a tech enthusiast, remote efficiency specialist and entrepreneur.  He is the president of i-FFICIENCY, a consultancy he co-founded to help small businesses and startups leverage new technology in the sales process.  Chris is also Director of Business Development and New Media for Rief Media, a full service marketing and communications firm.

twitter: @ifficiency

Groupon Responds to Super Bowl Ad Complaints

[tweetmeme source=”equalman” only_single=false http://socialnomics.net%5D Groupon CEO Andrew Mason responded to the backlash on Twitter and Facebook about Groupon’s  “Tibet” Super Bowl ad via the Groupon Blog:

We take the causes we highlighted extremely seriously – that’s why we created this campaign in partnership with many hallmark community organizations, for whom we’re raising money at SaveTheMoney.org.

Groupon’s roots are in social activism – we actually began as cause-based website called The Point, and we continue to use Groupon to support local causes with our G-Team initiative. In our two short years as a business, we’ve already raised millions of dollars for national charities like Donors Choose and Kiva.

As Mason points out, Groupon’s  roots are cause-based, The Point, and is designed to help small and local businesses have a platform to compete against corporations.

Mason further goes on to state that the ads were designed to poke fun at Groupon, not make fun of the people of Tibet.

Christopher Guest was the director of this spot and he is best known for the spoofs “This is Spinal Tap,” “Best in Show,” and “Waiting for Guffman.”

The creators of the ads,  Crispin Porter + Bogusk, are known for making waves. The Miami & Colorado based agency was also behind the Whopper Sacrifice campaign for Burger King that gave away, ironically enough, a coupon to people that would “defriend” ten people on Facebook.  Facebook removed the campaign in 2009.  The controversy surrounding this campaign resulted in 32 million free media impressions.

The question remains, is all PR good PR?  Will the controversy around this Tibet ad actually drive Groupon’s stated desire: to raise awareness around these causes in the hopes of increasing donations to them?

Greenpeace supports Groupon:

The commercial was part of a Groupon campaign called “Save the Money.” Greenpeace is happily participating in the campaign. The truth is that the “Save the Money” campaign and the commercial are really helping us save the whales.

Here’s how it works: Groupon is collecting donations from individuals to help Greenpeace save the whales. People can purchase a $15 Groupon to save the whales and when they do, Groupon matches that by giving the person $15 in Groupon credit. It’s a great campaign and it’s really going to help us in our work.

This is in reference to another Groupon Ad with Cuba Gooding Jr. around saving the whales (below):

Groupon plans to edit the commercials to call-out ways in which people can donate money to SaveTheMoney.org.

Only time will tell if it appeases people like @rohitbhargaya who posted “Groupon seems to have achieved the unique feat of paying $3M to lose customers who previously loved them.”

A viewer named Vinod posted on the Groupon blog in response to Mason’s explaination:

I know what you were trying to convey, but you had 2 problems.

  1. The ad wasn’t very funny to being with. If it made people laugh you wouldn’t see all of the negative feedback. It simply lacked the humor necessary to trivialize a topic like Tibet.
  2. The ad didn’t explain your intentions enough.

Another reader named Mary posted:  “I thought they were great.”

Mason’s quick response is a step in the right direction (something more companies should do) and if more money is raised as a result of this controversy than perhaps things will end positively for everyone.

By Erik Qualman

Groupon Super Bowl Ad Backfires

[tweetmeme source=”equalman” only_single=false http://socialnomics.net%5D By Erik Qualman

Interesting that a social media company [Groupon] didn’t understand the social media backlash it could receive by running a culturally insensitive advertisement during the Super Bowl.

What social media allows for is  “word of mouth on digital steroids.”  If a company does something bad, things can snowball in a hurry.  Below are just a few of the reactions to the Groupon Super Bowl Ad on Twitter.  @JeremyRSchultz posted “Did Groupon achieve the dubious distinction for spending ad dollars to actually lose customers?”

Groupon Super Bowl Ad

@rohitbhargaya posted “Groupon seems to have achieved the unique feat of paying $3M to lose customers who previously loved them.”

If you didn’t see the advertisement (above) it essentially conveys the following: Ad begins in a serious tone describing the hardships facing the people of Tibet, but then it quickly turns light with a guy in a restaurant stating it’s okay because he got a great Groupon for Himalaya Restaurant in Chicago so it’s good, cheap food for us living in the Western World.   Growing up in the Midwest (Detroit) and living in Chicago this is even more offensive to me as I know how kind  the people are in the Midwest are.

I believe @Reputationista may have put it best with: “Well. Off to buy a new #Chryser, drinka #Coke, switch to #Verizon, unsubsrive to #Groupon and fire #GoDaddy.”  To see the top ads from the Super Bowl click here.

Since Google was rumored to have offered $6 billion to purchase Groupon an appropriate question would be “What Would Google Do?” This is the name of Jeff Jarvis’ book and my answer would be a good start would be to donate some money toward the cause in Tibet.

As a fan of Groupon I hope they realize their mistake and take the necessary actions to correct it. What do you think?