John Battelle: Small Businesses are Driven by Local, Social, and Real-Time

Late on Friday, John Battelle wrote a long post about Groupon and what’s driving its success. As always, when Battelle writes about local media, he hits it on the nail. The following is also very enlightening as he talks about small business owners:

First, small business owners (SBOs) care deeply about location. Are they in a good location? Will customers be able to find them? Is there parking? A good neighborhood? Strong foot traffic? Second, SBOs care deeply about relationships and word of mouth or what we will call social. Do people refer their friends and family to the business? Are people happy with the service? Will they say nice things? Third, SBOs care very much about timing what I call “real time” in my MOLRS breakdown. What are the best hours for foot traffic? What are the best times to run promotions? How can I bring in more business during slow times? How does seasonality effect my business? When should I have a sale? In short, SBOs are driven by local, social, and real time.

What it means: Battelle could have mentioned the temporal Web instead of real-time and he would have written about all my current favorite topics (I recently published a presentation about the potential of the temporal Web). I think these three elements bring about structural changes in the way we do local business. Make sure you have incorporated these in any local media strategic plan.

With our Needium customers, we’re finding the exact same thing. Small and medium-sized businesses definitely care about local (no-brainer), social (word-of-mouth, followers/fans, loyalty, conversations) and real-time (meeting customer’s needs when they have them, answering questions).

Steve Ballmer: How Do We Get 25% of Our Revenues in Advertising

In a conversation with John Battelle this morning at the Web 2.0 Summit, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, disclosed the four things Microsoft will need to do if they want to reach their goal of having 25% of their revenues coming from advertising in the future.

  1. Do search well
  2. Be good at community and communications
  3. Have a strong advertising platform that delivers all payloads in all media compatible with all business models
  4. Have ads you sell on behalf of other people.

Web2Summit Steve Ballmer John Battelle

What it means: I was listening to Ballmer’s list and I quickly realized this sounded very close to what local search experts (like The Kelsey Group or Greg Sterling) have been suggesting to directory publishers in the last couple of years: build a better local search destination, leverage the sales force to sell a variety of ad products and launch social tools. Is Microsoft a potential partner for directory publishers or will it be seen as a competitor?

Silicon Valley is Abuzz about Facebook

Silicon Valley is currently crazy about Facebook. Robert Scoble has captured some of the discussions:

John Battelle asks a compelling question: why Facebook and why now?

Scott Rosenberg of Slate follows up with another point: that Facebook’s friends definitions are all messed up.
Over on TechMeme everyone is talking about how Facebook’s advertising isn’t working.

Robert also offers some explanations about why this is happening:

First, why does Facebook’s advertising suck?

Because it isn’t tied to people or applications. Everything I do in Facebook is about interacting with people. For instance, at the top of my Facebook inbox right now is Ryan Coomer. The advertising next to him says “Try Forex Trading Today.” There is absolutely NO connection between who Ryan is and the advertising that’s put next to him.(…) Translation: Facebook needs an advertising platform and it needs one in the worst way. I’m not going to even look at the ads until the ads are tied to the people on Facebook. Facebook knows what we’re into, put ads for those things onto our profiles and messages.

Second, how could the friends definitions and ties be improved?

1000 ways. I’ll be honest, I don’t use them at all. I just add you as a friend and don’t put any details in there about how I know you. For one, adding that kind of detail is a competitive advantage for me and for PodTech and not something I’m really anxious for other people to know.(…)

Finally, why Facebook, why now?

Well, I compare it to LinkedIn (which is the competitor that comes up the most in conversations), Twitter, Pownce, and Jaiku. All of which have a social network component where you can keep track of your friends. First, Facebook has far better contact management than Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku. If I look up someone on all three networks Facebook shows me more, brings it up faster, and has a better look into their own social networks. That leaves LinkedIn to compare it to. I dropped off LinkedIn a year ago cause the expected useage model there is to have your friends do things for you. Pass along resumes, give references, etc. (…) There is no such expectation on Facebook.(…)

To tell you the truth, the reason Facebook is the better networking tool is BECAUSE it’s personal. (…)

What other reasons are there for Facebook now?

Quality of people on the network. When I say my Facebook contact list is like a who’s who of the Tech Industry, I’m very serious. And I’m still adding more people to my friends network. I’ve been on Facebook for about a month and I’ve already gotten 2,452 friends. (…)

But, that brings us to the grand daddy. Facebook’s application platform.

This is the real reason why I turned on Facebook. I don’t really care about the social network piece. There’s already other places I can get that. (…) But now my social network brings me cool applications. Well, some cool ones, like iLike and Zoho. But a lot of really crappy ones. It’s interesting to see what people add to their profiles, though. I wish I could see when people remove things from their profiles, in addition to adding them. (…)

Anyway, it’s the application platform that got me interested in Facebook and THAT is where I expect to see the hot new advertising models pop up.

What it means: I’ve recently heard (or read) that you have to have a Facebook profile if you want to be taken seriously in the Valley and that it’s slowly (or quickly!) replacing LinkedIn as THE networking site for business. BTW, I’ve been beefing up my network recently and if you want to add me as a friend, click here. 🙂 I think that what’s happening is that personal and professional online social lives are merging. But I also think we’ll need to be able to create closed networks for friends & family as you don’t want to share everything with everyone. Finally, I think the fact that Facebook is a “closed” network (closed to search engines, that is) with a lot of traffic & social interactions makes it a credible threat to Google.

Conversational Marketing & Economics

John Batelle has posted part three of a four-part post on conversational media over on Searchblog that caught my eye. I linked to the first part here a while ago, where I, uh, proclaimed it was all “about economics (ad revenue) vs. relevance (interactivity/user content).”. Still applies. But back to part three, it’s a very long post that at first explains the origins of Federated Media, and how scale, quality and safety are the three pillars of this new enterprise that groups quality blogs/ conversations and intermediates them with advertisers. He goes on to show how Wired magazine clued into the fact that advertisers want to join in and be part of the conversation with their readers, and how later Adsense made strides harnessing many advertiser messages and relevancy using their algorithms. Sidenote, the BoingBoing blog asks its readers if ads are ok. Coincidentally, I did the same thing two years ago for MoCo Loco in a post called… “Relevance vs. Economics” and got the same answer from readers (yes, if the ads are relevant). And then examples of advertisers that actively participated in conversations with their ad concepts and succeeded. All superlative examples of relevancy. There’s a lot to chew on, but in essence Batelle sums it up nicely by saying “when an [blog] author approves a company to advertise on his or her site, they are, in essence, inviting the company to join that sites’ conversation.”… ie., and stay if you have something relevant to say.

What it means: What isn’t explicit in the Searchblog post is that this can all work because quality blogs have brands of their own, they are acutely aware of the relevancy:economics equation. There are now 65 million blogs out there, blogs are literally you and me, the brand is us. Innately, we all know that relevancy is the only real currency in the conversational economy. It’s a delicate balance blogger and advertiser, ignore it at your peril.

Full disclosure: MoCo Loco, thus the author of this post, is a member of the Federated Media Graphic Arts Federation.

Conversational Marketing & Economics

John Batelle has posted part three of a four-part post on conversational media over on Searchblog that caught my eye. I linked to the first part here a while ago, where I, uh, proclaimed it was all “about economics (ad revenue) vs. relevance (interactivity/user content).”. Still applies. But back to part three, it’s a very long post that at first explains the origins of Federated Media, and how scale, quality and safety are the three pillars of this new enterprise that groups quality blogs/ conversations and intermediates them with advertisers. He goes on to show how Wired magazine clued into the fact that advertisers want to join in and be part of the conversation with their readers, and how later Adsense made strides harnessing many advertiser messages and relevancy using their algorithms. Sidenote, the BoingBoing blog asks its readers if ads are ok. Coincidentally, I did the same thing two years ago for MoCo Loco in a post called… “Relevance vs. Economics” and got the same answer from readers (yes, if the ads are relevant). And then examples of advertisers that actively participated in conversations with their ad concepts and succeeded. All superlative examples of relevancy. There’s a lot to chew on, but in essence Batelle sums it up nicely by saying “when an [blog] author approves a company to advertise on his or her site, they are, in essence, inviting the company to join that sites’ conversation.”… ie., and stay if you have something relevant to say.

What it means: What isn’t explicit in the Searchblog post is that this can all work because quality blogs have brands of their own, they are acutely aware of the relevancy:economics equation. There are now 65 million blogs out there, blogs are literally you and me, the brand is us. Innately, we all know that relevancy is the only real currency in the conversational economy. It’s a delicate balance blogger and advertiser, ignore it at your peril.

Full disclosure: MoCo Loco, thus the author of this post, is a member of the Federated Media Graphic Arts Federation.