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Google+ Claims 20 Million Members in First Month

Does the world really need a new social networking site?

Maybe it does, and maybe that helps explain the success of Google+. It only turns a month old on Thursday, but it already claims up to 20 million members. And since the service went live, Google Inc. stock has gone up nearly 30 percent, raising the value of the company (the “market cap” in Wall Street jargon) by $45 billion.

“They’re probably the only company well positioned to launch a Facebook alternative,” said Danny Sullivan, founder of Search Engine Land and a prominent Google-watcher. “People like alternatives. Twitter doesn’t offer a full-fledged alternative to the Facebook experience. Google does.”

Google+ is still far smaller than Facebook, but it is already stealing attention and advertising dollars. It offers one-stop shopping for people who want to link up with friends and family, but don’t like using multiple sites.

“Google+ has aspects of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in it, and folks are a bit overwhelmed with all of the different social networking services,” said Rob Enderle, a technology analyst based in San Jose, Calif. “Folks have also crammed these other services with tons of ‘friends’ they don’t really know, and the sheer volume of activity has weakened the quality of the experience.”

Google+ will look familiar if you’ve used Facebook — but different. There are photos and comments from friends, but there are also “circles” into which you can categorize people with whom you’ve linked — friends, family, acquaintances and so on. There may be something silly from that Saturday-night party that you’d share with close friends, but not with a business connection.

Enderle says the mix is well-thought-out. “Google+ thus simplifies their online social networking life,” he said in an email to ABC News, “and has allowed them to start over choosing their ‘friends’ more judiciously, preserving the quality of the experience.”

That said, tech-industry wags like the irony that the most-followed public figure on Google+ is Mark Zuckerberg — Facebook’s founder. (Well behind, according to Google+ Statistics, are Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s founders.)

And writers have noted there’s a tech-geek Silicon-Valley quality to Google+; Zuckerberg’s 388,000 followers can’t compare to the 11 million on Twitter that Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber each command.

But Google is not complaining. It has a success on its hands. “For people who love Google,” said Sullivan, “it’s like they’ve found a home where they can be loud and proud about the company.”

One other thing: There is an aura of exclusivity to Google+. When it started you had to be invited to join, even if only by a friend you hadn’t seen in years. “That last created a bit of a feeding frenzy that I think surprised a lot of us,” said Enderle. “In a way they used social engineering to create initial demand and that was new to them.”

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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Twitter Drives 4x as Much Traffic as You Think. Here’s Why …

Most web publishers measure where their traffic is coming from using an analytics package such as Google Analytics, Omniture or Core Metrics.

These were good packages in the pre social media world at helping figure out who was driving your traffic.

Today they’re wrong. Terribly wrong. And figuring out who is referring your traffic is a very important part of determining how you allocate your marketing budgets. It is almost certain that Twitter is driving much more of your referrals than you think.

Possibly up to 4x as much.

Jonathan Strauss is the gentleman who did all the number crunching and has written an excellent post on why this is.

I’ve been a user of awe.sm (his product) before I invested in his company (disclosure) so the understatement of Twitter as a referral source is a problem I’ve known about for a long time. Let me give you the simple explanation.

Take a look at the Google Analytics log for BothSidesofTheTable.com for yesterday. I had 8,502 visitors yesterday of which 1,669 are listed as “direct.” Direct traffic are people who typed in my URL directly. They weren’t “referred” by anybody.

But look at the second line. This says “direct – bothsid.es / bothsid.es – twitter” and shows 1,423 referrals. Line 5 says twitter.com / bothsid.es – twitter” for 712 referrals and line 9 shows twitter.com for 170 people.

What does that mean?

awe.sm tracks all of my social media sharing behavior. What awe.sm does is it allows publishers to be able to track each individual share behavior to a level of granularity that no other campaign tracking tool I’m aware of allows.

In ordinary tracking line 2 would have shown up as “direct” traffic and I would have assumed that I was getting a lot more direct traffic than I really was. I would have assumed I was 36% direct and just 10% via Twitter when the reality is that I’m 20% direct and 27% via Twitter.

In fact, the actual Twitter referrals are generally up to 4x as much as people think is happening. And the same is almost certainly the same for most publishers in terms of understating referrals.

This is a problem because publishers might then under invest in Twitter campaigns relative to others because they don’t get “last mile attribution” right.

This happens with other marketing campaigns, too. Often you hear a radio ad, see a TV ad or read an article in a magazine and you type the results into Google to find out more details about the product or service. The problem is that marketers assume that Google drove the traffic. They did not. So you ramp down your TV or print campaigns and suddenly your search volume goes down.

Doh!

Last mile attribution is very important to understand marketing ROI. For the above problem the best company I know of is called Convertro. I’m not an investor in the company. But Jeff Zwelling is one of the most informed people on last-mile attribution with whom I’ve spoken.

And in social media the problem is even worse than I described. Twitter is an amazing generator of social hooks to websites. Some of that comes from Twitter.com or other Twitter clients. But since many other websites pull in Twitter data, including links, you don’t always know who is referring the traffic to you.

Case in point: LinkedIn. Many Tweets are now being sent to LinkedIn and then the publisher assumes that the source of the referral is LinkedIn. In some ways it is because that’s where your user engaged the content. But get rid of the Tweet and you get rid of the referral traffic in the same way as I described the loss when you cancel your TV commercial.

So when I see MG Siegler announce that LinkedIn is sending more traffic to TechCrunch than Twitter – I’m not so sure. I understand why he would think that – Google Analytics tells him so. But I’ll bet a hefty amount of LinkedIn clicks were originated on Twitter. And I’ll bet a whole lot of TechCrunch “direct” traffic is from Twitter.

With proper social media attribution you need to generate a unique URL for EACH share behavior. So if you click on a “Tweet this” button on a website to send an article to your friends, that link needs to be individual to you and to that exact share instance. By making the URL link unique to its point of generation you can then track it better as it spreads to other sites

And importantly when anybody else then shares the link to this site it maps out a “parent / child” link relationship. So if the original Tweet was on Twitter and then somebody builds a “Tweet this” from a product like LinkedIn, you can still tell that the original source of the the story was Twitter. Call it, “last mile social media attribution” and when you’re a brand spending money on products & marketing you need to know this.

They also cookie users so that we can better track who it was that drove viral adoption of campaigns. It could be that one influential person send a Tweet but he doesn’t have a lot of followers. If Ashton Kutcher follows that person and suddenly shares if with his 7 million followers it would start to snowball.

So there you have it. The story is never quite as simple as the data might lead you to believe.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Ballmer: ‘Windows 8 is coming!’ Microsoft: ‘Eek!’

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer this week let slip what was already a poorly kept secret: Windows 8 will go on sale next year.

But that’s not a message Microsoft wants to let out so soon, apparently: The company issued a retraction shortly after Ballmer’s speech.

Windows 7 had been the fastest-selling version of Windows ever, but sales started to slump last quarter. Knowledge that a new product is on its way may soften demand even further, analysts say.

At a developers conference in Tokyo earlier this week, Ballmer spoke about Microsoft’s current product successes as a launching point to talk about what he believes will be an even brighter future. When he came to Windows 7, he noted that the next version of Windows will be even better.

“We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows,” said Ballmer said, according to a transcript. “As we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”

Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) declined to comment to CNNMoney about Ballmer’s remarks, but many news organizations received an amusing backtracking statement from the company’s PR team earlier in the week.

“It appears there was a misstatement,” Microsoft’s representatives told CNET, PC Magazine and others. “We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows.”

Until this week, Microsoft’s top brass have been unusually secretive about Windows 8. The company is typically is unafraid to discuss or even release beta versions to the public, but this time it’s working quietly.

Ballmer’s speech was even the first time a Microsoft executive publicly called the product “Windows 8.” Microsoft hadn’t officially confirmed the name of its next Windows iteration — internally, Microsoft refers to it as “Windows.Next,” though many Microsoft employees on LinkedIn refer to the new OS as Windows 8.

It’s understandable if Microsoft is hesitant to give consumers and businesses any reason to put off their purchases of Windows. But it’s more than a little unusual that the company is going to such lengths as to call the CEO’s long, articulate comment about Windows 8 a “misstatement.” To top of page

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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