Gary Busey(isms) in a Widget

If the future of viral marketing takes the form of a widget I was recently informed about titled, Gary Busey on Business, then please take me back to the days when print, radio and TV ads were king. The widget, part of a viral marketing campaign for VOIP small business provider GotVMail, points to a larger trend in online celebrity endorsements, while leveraging SplashCast’s widget platform.

With a half-nod to the Chuck Norrisisms that spread faster across the net than a jar of Skippy, the former Buddy Holly impersonator seems to be getting the first and last laugh, which seems to elude his audience.  Designed by social media agency StepChange Group, with the exception of a GotVMail song, Gary Busy doesn’t overtly promote the sponsor, as try to create a viral sensation.  The affect, however, is that of a forced, poorly delivered diatribe on all things Busey.  All that’s needed is a laugh track, because no one is dumb enough to actually laugh at Busey’s monologues.

For all Busey fans in Web 2.0 land, and I’m not sure if anyone fits within this category, after seeing this material, then the widget is a perfect way to get a daily dose of the big toothed man himself.  And, if by chance, GotVMail were to get some additional phone business as a result, then who can argue with the new face of interactive marketing.  But, if a Busey makes a noise in the forrest and no one installs it, then is it a successful social media campaign, or just another asshole sounding off in the digital ether.

Gary Busey spuing his business acumen

Gary Busey spuing his business acumen

August 28, 2008 at 9:48 am Leave a comment

I Summize Big Changes at Twitter

If rumors are true, and they so often are, Twitter will finally get the brain power it needs to keep its 1.5-million active users happily tweeting.  Summize is not just a better Twitter search, it’s an experienced development and management team waiting in the wings.

I’ve known Summize CEO, Ajaipal “Jay” Virdy, for nearly 15 years, having worked with him at his previous startup, LocalEyes, the first geo-specific search engine acquired by AOL, where he remained in management hell for the previous 8 years.  Jay is a true visionary.  As such, he is able to identify a deficiency in the way people search for information and provide a solution that is both simple and breathtaking.  Those aren’t words easily associated with software development, but in his case, it’s true.  I’ve slept at his house, drunken his scotch, talked about everything from Web 2.0 to music to parenting.  And, provided my two-cents on his ideas, of which, he has about five good ones a day.  It is a friendship formed during the early days of the Web and he has been a constant in my life and career development.

CTO and Co-founder Greg Pass was also from a prior search startup, ToFish.  They got gobbled up by AOL before they ever launched a product, but it had something to do with image search.   I have always found Greg to have an acute business mind, even though he is a Cornell graduate (author’s note: my brother and sister both attended the great Ithaca, NY-based Ivy institution).  And, if the name Abdur Chowhury sounds familiar, you may remember him as the fall-guy at AOL research who released user data before it was scrubbed.  Don’t let that blunder define Abdur’s contributions to search.  He is a giant in the field – the real deal.  And, a very nice, down-to-earth guy if you can get past his intimidating intellect.

If rumors are true, Twitter will be getting a great conversational search platform.  But, I suspect this acquisition is about much more than Twitter search.  These guys have the chops to turn Twitter into the great communications platform it was intended to be.  And for that, we’ll all be better off.

July 8, 2008 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

Mama Mia, That’s a Spicy Pappa John’s Widget

As a New Yorker, I feel entitled to be a pizza snob.  After all, outside of Naples, NYC lays claim to being home to the best pizza.   Now, I’m not going to argue with you as to which is the best, Brooklyn’s Di Farra’s, Harlem’s Patsy’s (Frank Sinatra’s Favorite, just don’t tell the Patsy’s in mid-town, who’s in litigation over which restaurant can lay claim to that), downtown’s John’s Pizza, or the Bronx’s Baby Moon.  In my opinion, all can go head-to-head against the town favorite in any town USA and win hands down.

Now, you may be thinking what does pizza have to do with social media marketing, which is, after all the focus of this blog.  Or, did I go to the Slice section of the Serious Eats blog instead?

Well, the good people at Pappa John’s has combined two of my favorite things, pizza delivery and widgets, to bring America’s most consumed take-out food to a social networking profile near you.  It offers a store locator and links you thru to the site where you can order.  Special discounts provide an additional incentive.  A good first-step in widgetizing commerce.  This is the first pizza delivery widget I’ve seen.  It’s not the most visually-appealing widget, but it does its job.  Take that Domino’s.

May 20, 2008 at 9:37 pm Leave a comment

Pogo + Facebook = Cafe.com

After two years of development, the people behind leading casual games distributor Boonty have just launched Cafe.com.  With an impressive array of casual games,  from single player up to six people., the games stand out from the myriad of free online gaming sites.

Cafe.com home page

But what’s truly impressive is Cafe’s Web 2.0 social networking features and micro-transaction-based business model.  Think Pogo on steroids. This represents the future of social gaming.

Author’s note,  I’ve previously served as CMO for Boonty, Inc., and am presently involved with the launch of Cafe.com.

April 4, 2008 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

Nexus – Understanding The Ties That Bind Us

Nexus LogoWhat if you could map your friends and family inter-relationships and gain insights into the commonalities that exist within the overlapping networks? If you’re on Facebook, you can with a nifty application called Nexus.

Nexus creates an interactive image displaying the friendship links and shared interests of your friends. Roll your mouse over the dots that represent your friends and get a side bar view of their profile, complete with Facebook picture and common friends and interests.

Here’s a picture of my Nexus map:

Rich’s social network of friends

When we look at our relationships in relation to one another, some interesting patterns emerge. As circles overlap and friendships intersect with interests, I’m reminded by something my father use to say, “the company you keep says as much about yourself as it does about your friends.”

Nexus allows you to map your corner of the world and make sense out of who you are.

April 1, 2008 at 2:44 am 1 comment

The Four Questions of Pull Marketing

Widgets, Social Networks and Blogs, oh my. The changing web habits of today’s consumer begs the question, can a company build an online presence without the need for an exclusive .com address?

It’s a simple question with profound implications. Since the season of Lent and Passover is soon upon us, I thought I’d break it down into what I’ll call The Four Questions of Passover Pull Marketing:

  1. Have web services evolved to the point in which we’ve serviced ourselves out? The answer is increasingly becoming yes. We are starting to see the RSSification of our lives. Some call it lifestreaming, others news feeds, but one thing is for sure, it’s changing the consumer consumption chain from a push to pull medium. From recommendations, to recent games played, to up-to-the-minute declarations, whatever you’re doing is being broadcast in one way or another, either internally via the ad network, or externally via social feeds. This new Pull environment is actually the biggest transformation to take place in media since the invention of the printing press, and quite possibly even more dramatic.
    social networking services
  2. Has the rise in user-generated content (also known as social media) and its many entry and exit points challenged the traditional way of thinking? Absolutely. Just ask the Obama Girl, Lonely Girl, and the Dancing Around the World Guy if they would have been household names without YouTube. Brands are next to exploit the power of social media.

  3. Why on this day is the new social graph allowing for radically different online business models? Facebook turned a new page by allowing developers to tap into their members’ social graph to give viral marketing some wings and a way to fly. Others quickly, and not so quickly, followed suit. There is a furious pace of innovation taking place right now within the widget/embedded applications space because web services no longer have to stand alone, like an island in a big dot-com sea. While the cost of driving potential customers to a web site became astronomical, by taking your app to the customer, via Facebook, or MySpace, or Bebo, or iGoogle, the entire economics of customer acquisition is turned upside down thanks to the power of the social graph. Now, developers can worry about building a good niche app and those within the niche will find it. Water eventually finds its own level, and so do web apps. The good ones float to the top, the bad ones sink to the bottom.

  4. In what ways do marketers need to adjust their brainwaves to thrive in this unchartered pull universe? Navigating the decentralized web requires an entirely new mindset, new forms of advertising/pr/promotion and incentives. And to help marketers track, analyze, test and enhance campaign effectiveness in this pull environment, it also requires entirely different analytics to measure “engagement,” “viral pass-along rates,” and “frequency.” Creative marketers will discover the winning combination of delivering the right message to the right consumer via the most effective channel, whether it be social media, social networking, widget marketing, or the combination of all three.
social media marketing

    So, maybe it’s not so clear whether a business needs a web site of their own or not. As my friend at Sprint recently informed me, “web sites are so old school.” If that’s so, we need to move beyond the antiquated view that the web is round to understand that in a decentralized web, there are many intersecting circles and your business needs to be at the nexus of your customer’s networks, wherever they may be.

    March 20, 2008 at 2:45 am 1 comment

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