Google+, the next Facebook?

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You have all heard the news that Google is once again entering the social space, this time with an offering called Google+. It’s not the first time. Google’s Orkut social network is a great success — in Brazil. Google Buzz bombed. There was the collaborative system Wave … we waved goodbye to that. You can almost taste the urgency — Facebook is taking over people’s time online and a lot of ad dollars and this is a threat to Google.

But this is the first social launch since Larry Page took over as CEO and declared that social was a major battleground.

Google+ is based around the idea of circles. A circle is a group of friends. Circles can upload and share content, update each other, even participate in a little group texting.

Google is, of course, starting from the relationships it has. Specifically, Google IDs and knowledge that comes from Gmail. It seems obvious that Google Groups will be part of this as well.

Google has finally figured out that an all-out frontal assault on Facebook will always fail. Facebook just has too much of an embedded user base. As Charlene Li has pointed out, Google+ attempts to fix a problem that many have with Facebook — they accumulate 800 friends and then realize they don’t want to share everything with everyone. In other words, it fixes one of the big privacy problems.
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But if people were really all that upset with the privacy problem they would have left already. (Recent reports of “Facebook Fatigue” notwithstanding, there is no mass exodus happening.) People are putting up with it. It’s like a bad habit — you know it’s a problem, but inertia keeps you from leaving.

What will happen? Facebook’s traffic will not suffer. People will keep using Facebook. But when you have a tight little group, you may find Google+ to be just right for sharing with that group. So I think Google+ will catch on with lots of groups — Boy Scout troops, book groups, college cliques, that kind of thing. It may build a nice niche out of these groups, and extend the value of Google Groups in general. It will get people to spend more time on Google.

But it won’t replace or even dent Facebook any time soon.

What does this mean for marketers? First, you should keep a close eye on this, and consider advertising on it to the groups that matter to you. If Google+ makes it easy for companies to create brand groups, that’s worth a look.

5 Tips for Social Media Success

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All of us on Xanga are part of the Social media network now. If you are using Social Media to promote yourself or a brand here are five tips to maximize your social media presence. Xanga may not be the best way to implement these tips but have a look they may be useful down the road.

Boost Linkability
All too often, sites are “static” or stuck in the doldrums. When sites are not regularly updated and/or are merely used as a storefront, the information therein can easily become stale and outdated. In order to perform well in Social Media, sites must make themselves “linkable” by adding fresh content visitors are likely to share. Blogs, white papers, and industry news feeds are all a great way to accomplish this. Xanga used to be linkable and now it is very difficult to share your posts.

Simplify Bookmarks/Tagging
The easier it is for your visitor to tag and/or bookmark your content, the more likely they are to do so. Conversely, if you don’t include any simple tagging or bookmarking options with your content, your visitors are likely to forget or simply not make the effort. Include Digg and del.icio.us buttons where appropriate, and be sure to use them internally as well.

Reward Inbound Linking
There’s nothing like the thrill of (legitimate) inbound links and these little blue-underlined jewels are often a strong indication of a site’s overall success as well. The lift in rankings and search placement is also invaluable, so efforts should be made to encourage further inbound linking. Providing a simple method and clear rewards will certainly boost the desired behavior. You may want to use Permalinks as well as include a section for recently inbound-linking blogs. Often blog writers are looking for increased presence themselves, and visibility makes the situation win-win.

Set Your Content “On Tour”
In contrast to so much of SEO, social media optimization is not about making tweaks here-and-there to your site. If you have portable content such as multimedia files and PDFs, submit them off to relevant sites with links back to your site. This will increase visibility and help drive traffic back to your site, while gaining potential followers.

Embrace Co-Creation
Providing clear upfront guidelines about how others may (reasonably) use your content can foster relationships among networks. Aviary.com, a free online photo editor, takes this method to heart. By allowing users to build upon the works of others, a piece may begin to grow far beyond its initial base. Providing a widget to copy and paste excerpts, setting up an RSS feed, and other “get involved” type functionality can help drive further traffic back to the original content as well as solidify the platform for future mash-ups.

Generally, all of these tips can be summarized in one word: involvement. The more invested you can make your users in your content, the longer they will stick around and the more attention you will attract.

Can acupuncture improve a lagging libido?

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I regularly visited an acupuncture clinic in Tokyo called EGBOK Clinic…Everything’s Going to Be OK. I loved that place but little did I know the treatments I was undergoing for my knee and ankle pain was also working wonders elsewhere.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used to strengthen and promote optimal sexual health for centuries. Chinese Emperors took their sexual health quite seriously and would consult with a team of physicians if they experienced any difficulties in the bedroom.

While Oriental medicine is well know for improving men’s sexual performance; in fact, there have been medical textbooks devoted to the subject; acupuncture can quickly increase male and female libido and restore sexual desire.

To understand how acupuncture can improve a lagging libido, you have to know the underlying factor that is causing the problem. Causes of waning sexual interest include emotional issues, post-childbirth, breastfeeding, onset of menopause, drug reactions, stress, weight gain, relationship conflicts, hormonal imbalances and physical responses, such as pain or inability to reach orgasm.

With Chinese medicine, a low libido is seen as an imbalance of Qi (energy) within the organ systems, specifically the Kidney and Heart system. Once the cause of the problem is discovered, specific points are stimulated to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to strengthen both the mind and body to bring you back to prime sexual health.
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Chinese herbs are chosen that will enhance the treatment by increasing vaginal lubrication, calm the mind and regulate hormone imbalances. Ginseng, for instance, can balance the glandular system, which effects mood and sexual desire.

Hormonal precursors, such as Horny Goat Weed, boost natural levels of testosterone to arouse sexual drive and libido. Other herbal extracts combine synergistically to awaken and enhance female sexual pleasure as well as increase orgasmic strength. Who would have guessed Horny Goat Weed was for sexual libido? All this time I was thinking of oysters.
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Acupuncture is not only for a lagging libido, it can be used for numerous sexual health conditions for both men and women. 3. How does acupuncture compare to conventional medicine to improve sexual health?
 
One of the most appealing qualities of acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine is the low risk of adverse reaction or side effects.

While conventional medicine may treat some symptoms of lowered libido it can also increase the risk of certain types of cancer and have a number of significant side-effects. We need a doctor’s prescription for Viagra, EGBOK should franchise.

Peter Falk

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One of my favorites legendary “Columbo” star Peter Falk died yesterday at the age of 83.

Falk won four Emmys for his starring role in the television detective series, “Columbo.” He also received Academy Award nominations for movies in 1959 and 1960.

Falk portrayed “Columbo” on 69 episodes from 1968 to 2003, it seemed like more but I have seen them all.

Like many actors of his generation, Falk began his career on the stage, honing his craft in school, community theater and off Broadway. By the late 1950s he began to star in Broadway productions, and soon made his move to Hollywood.
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Falk’s breakout film role came with 1960’s “Murder, Inc.” in the supporting part of a killer among a gang of thugs, but it was his performance on the opposite side of the law — as police lieutenant Columbo — that earned Falk superstardom.

As a child, Falk’s right eye had been surgically removed due to a malignant tumor, and it was replaced with a glass eye. That handicap became, perhaps, the actor’s major asset and physical trademark as the star of “Columbo” because it only enhanced the detective’s image as a disheveled and oddball crime sleuth.

He also starred in “Princess Bride,” “Brigadoon” and “The Great Race.”
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Is MySpace Dead?

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At its December 2008 peak, Myspace attracted 75.9 million monthly unique visitors in the US according to ComScore. By May of this year that number had dropped to 34.8 million.

Over the past two years, Myspace has lost, on average, more than a million U.S. users a month. Because Myspace makes nearly all its money from advertising, the exodus has a direct correlation to its revenue. In 2009 the site brought in $470 million in advertising dollars, according to EMarketer. In 2011, it’s projected to generate $184 million.

In February, News Corp., which bought Myspace and its parent company, Intermix, in 2005 for $580 million, started officially looking for a potential buyer at an asking price of $100 million, according to a person familiar with the sale process. Yet even in the midst of a frenzy for social media that has seen LinkedIn valued at $6.4 billion and Groupon rebuff a $6 billion takeover offer from Google, barely anyone wants to buy Myspace.

On June 9 the News Corp.-owned tech blog AllThingsD.com reported that a group of investors led by Activision Blizzard, chief Robert Kotick was closing in on a deal. “Getting people to come back to something that in their minds has become less useful is an incredible challenge on the Web—just ask AOL,” says Richard Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG. “Myspace has become an eyesore for News Corp.”

It’s an eyesore for users, too. Many Myspace pages appear to be host bodies for the worst kinds of advertising parasites. On the upper right-hand corner of the page for Zaiko Langa Langa, an African band Googled at random, a photo of a blonde in a tight T-shirt appears, asking, “Want a Girlfriend? View Hundreds of Pics HERE!” (It’s an ad for a dating site called True.) Farther down, someone has posted footage of nearly naked jiggling buttocks. There hasn’t been an update from the musicians in weeks.

Mismanagement, a flawed merger, and countless strategic blunders have accelerated Myspace’s fall from being one of the most popular websites on earth—one that promised to redefine music, politics, dating, and pop culture—to an afterthought.

Myspace’s fate may not be an anomaly. It turns out that fast-moving technology, fickle user behavior, and swirling public perception are an extremely volatile mix. Add in the sense of arrogance that comes when hundreds of millions of people around the world are living on your platform, and social networks appear to be a very peculiar business—one in which companies might serially rise, fall, and disappear.

Will Facebook live forever?

Alexandra Cousteau

I am trying to get more active in promoting a clean environment…I was quite active in Japan in 2008 I created a Global Summit for Ecology. This year I will begin with a series of fund raising speaker events. For my first project I would love to bring Alexandra Cousteau here to speak about leveraging emerging technologies to assure we have clean water for generations to come.

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Alexandra Cousteau is part of one of the world’s most famous environmental dynasties. She is grand-daughter of legend Jacques-Yves Cousteau who first started teaching her to dive at the age of seven. She left on her first expedition with her father Philippe and mother Jan to Easter Island, Chile when she was just 4 months old.
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Today, she takes that rich legacy of environmental advocacy, exploration and storytelling and moves it forward with Blue Legacy, a Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit that she founded in 2008 to leverage new and emerging technologies to connect mainstream audiences with their local watersheds and their water planet.

As the visionary behind Blue Legacy’s projects, she advocates the critical importance of managing our water resources sustainably in order to preserve a healthy planet. Her global initiatives seek to inspire and empower individuals to protect not only the ocean and its inhabitants, but also the human communities that rely on the purity of freshwater resources. 
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As the third-generation of Cousteaus to explore with the National Geographic Society, Alexandra believes that some of the most important exploring we can undertake in the 21st century will take place in our imaginations as we innovate and re-imagine solutions to the pressing environmental issues that confront and define our species today.

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Earlier this year, Alexandra served as the Global Water Advisor and spokesperson for the global Live Earth 2010 Run for Water—a project that teams her public advocacy on environmental issues with actress Jessica Biel, musician Pete Wentz and many more in a worldwide event on water.

In early 2009, Alexandra joined the Discovery Channel line-up, co-hosting “Blue August” with her brother Philippe, Jr. and serving as a Chief Correspondent on Water Issues for Discovery’s “Planet Green”.

In 2008, she was honored as a National Geographic “Emerging Explorer”—an elite group of eleven visionary young trailblazers from around the world who push the boundaries of discovery, adventure, and global problem solving. She has been honored as an “Earth Trustee” by the UN and regularly delivers testimony on critical policy issues before the U.S. Congress. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Global Water Challenge, Mother Nature Network, and EarthEcho; and the steering committee of The Shark Alliance.

Alexandraʼs work regularly earns global recognition and her 2009 Expedition: Blue Planet project was named a finalist in two categories at the prestigious Jackson Hole Environmental Film Festival.

Heart and Def Leppard in Atlanta…Electric…Literally!

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Last night the atmosphere at the Lakewood Amphitheater was electric…literally! I experienced one of the strongest displays of thunder, lightening and rain that I have ever seen just before the Def Leppard/Heart concert was to begin.

The venue lost power during Saturday’s viscous storm, which led to an hour of will-there-or-won’t-there-be-a-show guessing as fans waited for the gates to be opened. My friend Nick and I stuck it out! It wasn’t a pretty start, but most fans attending would likely agree that the concert was well worth the wait.

Eventually, with the storm passed, electricity restored and safety concerns cleared, the concert was a go, with Heart taking the stage at 9 p.m. for a condensed 40-minute set What a shame…they have some great hits, but anyone who has seen Ann and Nancy Wilson and the rest of Heart live before knows that the sisters put their all into everything they do.

Though Ann’s voice was lost in a poor mix of the opening “Cook With Fire,” the sound clarified for the sweetly sexy “Never,” re-dressed with an acoustic foundation and harmonica, and “What About Love.”

Ann, looking slimmed in black leggings and boots and the eternally cool Nancy, who came onstage wearing a top hat and still, at 57, managed to scissor kick her way through “Crazy on You,” navigated a powerful set high even if short on time.
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The ‘80s hits “These Dreams,” steered by Nancy’s wispier voice, and “Alone,” anchored by Ann’s husky pipes, have easily retained their singalong quality – a necessity at this show – even if they represent the poppier side of Heart.

No one should forget Heart’s roots, and I guess that is why they were a perfect match for Def Leppard last night, the sisters and the four members of the band, including the indispensible Debbie Shair on keyboards and percussion, tore through a trio of classic rock staples – the serrated guitar steamroller “Barracuda,” the prog-rockish “Magic Man” and, to end their set, a thunderous version of “Crazy on You.”

At 10:15, after the recorded strains of Def Leppard’s traditional pre-show song, AC/DC’s “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You),” boomed through the nearly sold-out venue, a mirror ball dropped above the stage and the quintet appeared, banging out the new “Undefeated.” A four-on-the-floor fist pumper born to be played relentlessly at a stadium near you this fall, the song, from the just-released live “Mirrorball” CD, represented the only detour for a band that hasn’t much altered its playlist the past few tours.
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Performing on a spectacular tiered stage lined with panels of video screens and beneath a ridge of relentlessly spinning lights, the band had ample space to rock n’ roam. The light show was so well done it almost matched nature’s dazzling display before the show.

Singer Joe Elliott’s voice has always been a gruff instrument, and on this night, while it was sometimes swallowed by the huge sound of the band, it just as often soared on long-held notes in “Animal” and “Rocket.”

The front line of bassist Rick Savage and guitarists Vivian Campbell and (shirtless) Phil Collen infused the band’s songs with gorgeous harmonies – always a hallmark of Def Leppard’s sound – that are the perfect complement to their metallic guitar riffs and drummer Rick Allen’s steady electro-beats. I am still awestruck by the Allen’s expertise with one arm he is still one of Rock’s best.

“Foolin’,” in particular, sounded full and fresh, and the extended version of the beautifully complex “Rocket” included a dynamic interplay between Campbell and Collen.

Though it appeared that Elliott wasn’t going to talk to the crowd, instead to focus on fitting in the band’s full set, when he, Collen, Savage and Campbell sauntered down the catwalk extended about a dozen rows into the crowd for an acoustic segment, he indeed had something to say.

“We weren’t going to let a little proper rain spoil the party were we?” Elliott asked as the crowd roared. “But you should all get a pen and paper and write to your local electricity board and [tell them] that their generators suck!”

With that statement Elliott and the boys strummed through “Two Steps Behind” and “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” which kicked into its full electric grandeur midway through.

Savage pulled out his Union Jack bass for the zippy instrumental “Switch 625,” which segued into what is perhaps Def Leppard’s most epic song, the melodically layered “Hysteria,” which aped its recorded counterpart with technical proficiency and lyrical heart.

It was impossible for most in this generation-spanning crowd to refrain from playing air guitar or air drums at the first notes of “Armageddon It” and “Photograph.” I am sure by the last moments of the show the band had erased any trace of hindrances of earlier in the night. Electric.

Summer Lovin’ For Gen Y with Live Concerts and Mobile Marketing

We all know that no demographic is changing as quickly as the coveted Gen Y demographic.

We also know that for a growing number of brands, they’re the segment that is not only the most important, but also the most difficult to engage. But what marketers may not know is that experiential marketing is the best and surest way to reach this elusive set, especially this summer.

Between concert festivals, outdoor sporting events, travel and the general excitement that comes from being “out for summer,” the coming months are the perfect time for marketers to get out and about themselves, engaging with these consumers face-to-face.

Gen Y now numbers more than 60 million. They’re around town, leveraging social media and taking control of every second of their lives and most importanty they are on mobile. This summer they’ll tune into whatever they want as easily as they’ll tune it out. As a result, brand marketers around the world are retuning how they go to market.
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There are some interesting stats from a recently conducted a survey with the Event Marketing Institute, surveying several thousand Gen Y consumers. The results may surprise you and help to shape your marketing plans as you try to reach this elusive demographic.

94% of Gen Y consumers say they would be more likely to buy a product as a result of a good experience at an event. Think about it. If you went to a concert for an up-and-coming pop star and left wanting more, you’d be more likely to buy her CD or download her single, right? But creating that “good experience” is no easy task.
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MillerCoors understands this and is ramping up mobile at every turn.

Gen Y’ers are the first generation that has grown up with the internet as a normal part of everyday life and now the web is in their hands 24/7. In fact, almost half of those surveyed have posted something (a photo, a status update, a Tweet) from or during an event. Because of this proliferation of technology, Gen Y presents a different set of challenges for marketers. Marketers in all brand categories need to plan campaigns that connect with consumers, whether they’re live or on mobile or both at the same time, and the experiences have to reach consumers’ minds.

Clearly, marketing to Gen Y is still a tough audience to completely crack. To succeed, marketers need a new rulebook. Here are four rules for ensuring experiences make the critical connection to the Gen Y consumer:

Let them in. And we mean all the way in. You already know that savvy brands use experiential marketing to create ongoing dialogues with consumers. What you might not know is that those conversations now give consumers a chance to weigh in on everything about your company — 99.4% of Gen Y consumers say they welcome ongoing communication with a brand after an event.
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There is a real opportunity to connect here — not only with how you market to them, but also with what you market to them. Solicit their input on product design and functionality; get their feedback on what services you could offer to better meet their needs.

Show, don’t tell. The brand must serve as an experience guide, not an experience dictator. Give the consumer room to construct his or her personal meaning from your product or experience. Show your product or service — demonstrate not only what it is and any benefits and attributes it offers, but also its relevancy to consumers’ lives.

Sell it. Events are the best place to get consumers excited about your product — and with the report finding a high percentage of consumers willing to buy on mobile, savvy brands are capitalizing on live engagements, selling directly at their events and seeing a huge, immediate return.

Constant contact. Gone are the days when companies connected with consumers simply at an event. Now the live event is part of a larger continuum of brand connections and the total brand experience. Brands need to create a successful series of gestures. Engagement starts well before the event rolls into town, and continues long after it ends.

Events continue to act as a relationship catalyst, a springboard for further conversations. And consumers want continued conversations: When asked how they would like to continue the conversation after a live event ends:

Almost 21% of survey respondents said they’d like to be driven to a website;
22.1% requested email correspondence;
20.6% asked for promotions;
16.9% wanted invites to future events.

Interestingly, only 0.6% said they didn’t want to continue communicating with a brand. The stats speak not only to the power of events as a relationship catalyst but also to the ways with which brands need to ignite post-event communications.

To amplify your brand communications, you need to build in reasons to reconnect in person over time. And then layer in communications between your live events. As summer approaches and the opportunities are greater than ever to reach millennials while they’re out and about, smart marketers will use events as “pearls on the string” of engagement, turning a series of touch points into full-scale, holistic, long-term — and many cases, true lifetime — relationships.

Twitter Cofounder Shakes Up the Credit Card Biz

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Jack Dorsey specializes in simple ideas with outsize impact. Twitter, which he cofounded in 2007, began as a way for users to broadcast quick status updates to friends. Now it’s a 200-million-member communications platform, where Dorsey serves as executive chair.
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His new company began with similarly modest aims: give anyone the ability to accept credit card payments through a tiny reader that plugs into their iPads and smartphones. Called Square, it has signed up hundreds of thousands of merchants and processed $66 million in transactions in the first quarter of 2011 alone. The startup is also building a vast database of financial information that its customers can tap into. It tracks each sale conducted through its credit card readers, allowing the company to calculate everything from the busiest sales day of the week (Saturday) to the average price of a cappuccino ($3.09 as of April 18).

The power of that kind of data analysis helps explain why Square was able to close a second round of funding in January: $27.5 million from Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, and others, which valued the young company at $240 million. Then Visa invested an undisclosed sum in April.