Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Social Xmas: Facebook’s busiest day ever

Social networks = 10% of Internet traffic
Excerpted from HitWise Intelligence

Photo of Robin Goad

Robin Goad
Research Director, Hitwise UK.

With all of the focus on the economic downturn and the troubles in the retail sector, it’s easy to forget the continued growth of social networking in the UK. Christmas is traditionally the busiest time of year for social networks, and this festive season the sector achieved three significant new milestones.

Facebook accounts for 1 in 22 UK Internet visits on Christmas Day

On Christmas Day 2007 Facebook reached a peak in traffic that wasn’t surpassed until July 2008. Traffic reached a new high on Christmas Day 2008, when Britain’s most popular social networking site accounted for 1 in every 22 UK Internet visits. With a market share of 4.65% Facebook’s traffic was up 69% on Christmas Day 2007, and it was the second most visited website after Google UK (8.63%).


My Take

Social media is clearly where things are going - rapidly. All small business owners as well as Not-for-Profit Executive Directors should be planning to join their customers and friends there in 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Social, Local Connection Engine

It’s not a stretch. ‘Not like imagining five years ago that a simple Web site could virtually replace email and IM’g. That you could keep in touch with all of your friends - their fleeting thoughts, photos, videos and more – on your personalized page. For free.

Of course I’m referring to Facebook – a simple idea that has revolutionized keeping in touch.

So it’s easy to imagine a site where you can find and share your friends’ trusted local businesses. You’d benefit from the established relationship to gain the most value for your home and health expenditures that comprise a quarter of your household budget.

But it’s “better than free” because just by using it you benefit your favorite charities. is preparing our updated release that features new capabilities for not-for-profits to connect with their network of supporters. (Currently limited to the greater-Hartford, CT market.)

Let us know if you’d like to receive updated information. – “Trusted local experts. Word of mouth referrals. Doing good.” tm

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Help a NFP With a Gift That Gives

From Andy Sernovitz's blog "Damn I Wish I'd Thought of That":

Let's work together to help your favorite cause get better at fulfilling their mission. With your help, I can teach them how to use word of mouth to raise more money, activate volunteers, and spread their message.

Word of mouth is essential to all worthy causes, but most of them aren't very good at it. You can make a fundamental difference by teaching them how. Instead of sending a cash donation, send them a care package of word of mouth marketing training. Teach a man to fish ...

My Take

Not-for-Profits are intimately connected with their communities - with those people they help, with those who volunteer their time and services and with those individuals and businesses who donate financially to support the mission.

As such they are ideally situated to leverage their relationships within the community - and word-of-mouth is the ideal vehicle.

Andy's offer is a needed spark that may get Executive Directors to plan successful online and offline WOM friend-raising campaigns.

Andy Sernovitz is CEO of GasPedal, a word of mouth marketing consulting firm, author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking. He co-founded the Word of Mouth Marketing Association and served as CEO. He is also a professional speaker and teaches Word of Mouth Marketing at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dip Coming for Social Media Ad Revenue?

December 11, 2008
MySpace drags down social networking outlook

Social networks have unveiled a slew of new advertising formats this year, but they don't appear to be working, as eMarketer has scaled back its social network ad spending predictions for the second time this year.

The latest projection estimates advertisers will spend $1.2 billion on social networks this year, down from a projection of $1.4 billion made in May. Social network advertising will grow in 2009, but only to $1.3 billion, which is down from eMarketer's previous forecast of $1.8 billion.

A large reason for the revised estimates is the poor performance of MySpace. The News Corp.-owned social network, which highly touts its hyper-targeted ads, scrambled earlier this year when revenue fell short by $100 million. Now, eMarketer has scaled back its forecast for ad spending on MySpace by close to 23 percent -- a nearly $200 million difference.

Facebook, which has fought long and hard to prove its ads work, isn't fairing so well either. It will receive $210 million from advertisers this year, which is considerably less than the estimated $585 million for MySpace, and a 21 percent drop from eMarketer's earlier prediction. MySpace and Facebook account for 70 percent of social media ad spending.

My Take

Social media advertising will find its level. The key to an effective financial model will be to tie the cost of the media to the results it delivers. And allow the businesses to set their rates.

With social media this is possible.

Cutting Through the Clutter

Word of Mouth Marketing Prevails In Social Media
What this image shows is traditional marketing and social media marketing. As you can see the black arrows aren’t penetrating through the circle and the reason is because it is getting harder and harder to market using traditional media. The red arrow on the other hand is social media. You can clearly see that this is penetrating into the market and reaching a certain number of people. These people belong to one group, one community. Say facebook.
If you are taking the right approach to social media marketing, one of these users might go into a different platform and talk about it. You can see from the image an arrow pointing to another user inside a smaller circle.
Now this user might talk about it within their community and then may be hit the other community that he/she belongs to. Social media is simply word of mouth advertising. You don’t pay a dime, you simply participate, become a valuable member and penetrate into the market.
Once you take care of that, each user will carry on the message without them even knowing that they are actually promoting your products and services. Word of mouth advertising has been the holy grail of traditional marketing and it is true when it comes to social media marketing as well.

My Take

Ritu -
“Word of mouth advertising has been the holy grail of traditional marketing and it is true when it comes to social media marketing as well.”

So true.

The current interest in “social media” seems to be a rediscovery of what has always worked for local, trusted businesses. The Web allows national brands to more effectively affiliate with consumers by seeping into their social circles. Conversely, local businesses can use the Web to grow through leveraging the consumer trust they already have.
Your illustration shows the value of breaking through mass media clutter and into the area of trust. Our attempts at illustrating this can be seen on SlideShare.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Take: Microblogging (pronounced "Twitter")

Imagine a steady stream of blogging posts flowing at you from only the associates and industry gurus whom you select. Now stop imagining because it is real - and takes three minutes to get yours started.

It's called Twitter - and it is a mash-up, if you will, of Facebook, instant messaging and blogging.

How can it help you or your business? That depends on your business and who you're targeting. Seems like most Twitterers are Web professionals or simply have a lot of time on their hands. But if you wish to make new connections, latch onto cutting edge conversations and even drive traffic to your site, then it will work for you.

1. it is addictive
2. it can be frustrating - you will go through waves of acceptance from "this is cool" to "this is TOO much" to "Oh - now I get how to do this..."
3. you will be shunned for overt self-promotional-ism. Better to sit and watch a spell - get a feel for the protocol and etiquette before diving in.
4. it can steal time from other Web activities, so be looking to re-adjust your mix. Example - I find it more difficult to create blog content when I am in rapid fire Tweet mode.

So give it a whirl. You can "@" me (lingo for sending me a direct "tweet") at timtracey

- - Tim

Social Media as an Ad Vehicle - "Is it working?"

Is Advertising On Social Networks Working

Posted on by dhirender

Even as traffic to social networks increases, a revenue model still seems to elude most of them.Advertising is pretty much what most social networks depend on, and it doesn’t seem to be working.

According to this eMarketer report, more than one-half of the US population surveyed uses social networking sites, but the ad dollars have not followed. More than 75% of social network site users logged in at least once a week and 57% did so daily. Moreover, more than 61% of those users spent more than 30 minutes per session on social network sites, and 38% remained parked for 1 hour or more.

However, only 57% of social network site users said they clicked on an ad in the past year, compared with 79% of all Internet consumers. Despite phenomenal growth, social networks have yet to reach online advertising nirvana—that heady place where behavioral targeting tools aim for specific groups with offers specially tailored to members’ interests. It’s a place where marketers are able to serve ads, promotions and offers to friends of friends based on a pal’s recommendation, and where word-of-mouth marketing spreads like a flu virus in January to create waves of self-selecting consumers eager to interact with marketers.

My Take

“Is Advertising On Social Networks Working?”

For some - yes.

It will work for every business when their social network IS their advertising.

Social media is growing due to its increased acceptance and its pervasiveness (mobile, etc.) As it replaces legacy media (print ads, Yellow Pages, etc.) it will replace advertising and become the
default form of search.

It will succeed over algorithmic “search engines” because it incorporates trust - not just ratings. It also supports affiliation and as such is a vehicle for involving the members in a relationship
with the service providers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Social Superiority

Maximizing Social Discovery Opportunities on the Social Web
Posted on November 28th, 2008 by Jackie Peters

Excerpt: Social media has fundamentally changed the way that people discover products, services and content.

The social web has amplified and magnified word of mouth to increasingly expanding proportions. Prior to the social web, if I were to like a product or service enough to talk about it, I may have mentioned it to 5 or 10 people, and maybe 1 or 2 or them would have then told their friends. But now, being hyper-connected means that when I talk about something favorably, or negatively for that matter, I’m potentially telling thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people.

Passive social discovery happens when we casually observe information streams emanating from our social circles and pick up on something that strikes a chord. For example, I may see a friend of mine link to a blog post, or become a fan of a product on Facebook and
as a result I have discovered something new.

Active social discovery happens when information is actively requested, or “crowd-sourced.” For instance: I want to know the best place to get lunch in Santa Monica, so I post a question on Twitter asking my followers and solicit a response.

In my view, social discovery represents an amazing opportunity for brands and individuals alike. So how can brands take social discovery into account as they forge pathways within the social web?

1. Listen
2. Know where your community, ambassadors and mavens are
3. Share something, contribute, be relevant!
4. Give your content “social lube.”

My Take

Jackie Peters pegs the "passive" and "active" functionality of social media based search. This distinguishes social media from Web 1.0 advertising which is active - i.e. you conduct a search for a product and get results based on the search engine's algorithm. Social media is more powerful because it integrates it into our real-life relationships and daily offline conversations.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Choose “smart”: It’s not WHO you know – it’s who THEY know

You’ve heard the contractor horror stories.

When it comes to big ticket repairs or remodeling, home owners can be at the mercy of unreliable or unethical businesses.

Homeownership is expensive. In a typical year you can face thousands of dollars on improvements.

Here’s what we’ve done around the house over the past year:

Driveway repaving $3,000

New paver walkway $1,500

Custom cabinetry $2,200

New ceiling fans $ 450

Deck refinishing $ 300

Interior design $4,000

Oil burner maintenance $1,500

Considering how quickly these costs add up, the value of a trustworthy contractor is clear. So, how do you find them?

Word-of-mouth is the most trusted source of consumer information. Each of the seven contractors I hired were recommended via word-of-mouth. And because of their top notch service I have recommended each of them to others.

Do you want to get the most value for your home improvement dollar? It’s easy.

If you’re already a Member of just invite a few of your trusted local businesses to connect with you. While you’re at it invite a few of your friends and neighbors. You’ll be amazed at how your “Connection Engine” grows.

With you Connection Engine working for you, you won’t need to rely on luck. You’ll have more peace of mind – plus you’ll benefit your favorite charity each time you use the network.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Former Google Exec Praises New 'Referral Engine'

Often referred to as the "godfather" of Google's AdSense technology, Gokul Rajaram, former product management director for Google AdSense said, "Word-of-mouth marketing and affiliate marketing are two of the most powerful and effective marketing techniques today." He added that combining these two technologies has the potential to "revolutionize social network monetization and significantly enhance ROI for marketers, while providing valuable information and services to users from people they trust".

My Take

Mr. Rajaram's remarks were specifically aimed at a new "referral engine" geared toward online purchases for national brands. But this observation by an industry leader and pioneer is a strong endorsement of's patent pending business process.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thank You!

The team at YouGottaCall is grateful for you and everything you've done to help us during our kick-off!

We are thankful for the community spirit of our Members that supports the many trusted charitable organizations in our area.

We are thankful for the freedom to pursue our dream to better connect not-for-profits with their network of friends and local businesses to gain a recurring source of funds for their worthy causes.

Could it be any simpler? No - seriously. Could it?

It's as simple as "Click" and Grow!

Even a mouse can grow your "Connection Engine". So be a person - help out your community - especially now as local charities are feeling enormous budget pressure.

Remember - your network will double in size and quadruple in effectiveness if you invite one new connection today.

What are the benefits? There are several:

Are you a Consumer?:
- Find and share local experts who are trusted by your network of friends and neighbors
- Provide valuable funding for your favorite charities without costing you a dime

Are you a Business Owner?:
- Get new customers from more, highly qualified, free, word-of-mouth referrals
- Strengthen your relationships with your network of customers, neighbors and fellow business owners
-Set the amount you choose to pay - only AFTER you make a sale

Are you a Not-for-Profit?:
- Strengthen ties with your community
- Receive recurring donations

So, the only question is "Why not grow your network right now?"

It's easy - Simply tell your friends to go to and join. They can connect with you when they register.

Or log-in and send them an invitation by clicking on "Invite a Friend or Trusted Service Provider"

And, please - if you have a tip for how you've successfully grown your network, please share it with us.

So please - take a minute to click and grow your connection engine.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Self-Sustaining Donations for Not-for-Profits

WOM Connection Engine For Not-for-Profits

From: timtracey

Not-for-Profits can build self-sustaining donations by building a free "Connect-gine" using this patent pending model.

SlideShare Link

Monday, October 20, 2008

"How To Sell Soap"

'Love this illustration of WOM.

A short movie about viral marketing produced
by vm-people, a company based in Berlin, Germany

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's the Law!!!

Ignorance of these is no excuse

Thanks to social media expert Dave Evans for throwing the book at me on these inviolable business principles in his recent article.

Metcalfe's law states that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of users of the system (n²). First formulated by Robert Metcalfe in regard to Ethernet, Metcalfe's law explains many of the effects of networks such as the Internet, social networking, and the World Wide Web. It is related to the fact that the number of unique connections in a network of a number of nodes (n) can be expressed mathematically as n(n-1)/2, which is proportional to n² asymptotically.

Are you saying "Tim, what are you talking about?"

Bottom line: Just invite your friends and customers to connect with you on You'll be glad you did.

Reed's law is the assertion of David P. Reed that the utility of large networks, particularly social networks, can scale exponentially with the size of the network. The reason for this is that the number of possible sub-groups of network participants is 2^N - N - 1 \, , where N is the number of participants.

This grows much more rapidly than either
* the number of participants, N, or
* the number of possible pair connections, \frac{N(N-1)}{2} (which follows Metcalfe's law)

so that even if the utility of groups available to be joined is very small on a peer-group basis, eventually the network effect of potential group membership can dominate the overall economics of the system.

In other words, the bigger, the better.

Hey! The article's over. What are you still hanging around for?

Log on and grow your Connection Engine!

"Non-Profits Brace for Fallout"
Survey shows officials expect falling donations, rising need for services

From Hartford Business Journal article by Sean O'Leary

As the financial crisis spreads worldwide and uncertainty and gloom take hold in the region, Greater Hartford’s nonprofits are bracing for the worst.

My Take

Not-for-profit organizations are facing a new funding crisis. They can use new tools to accomplish dual objectives - meeting their budget demands while increasing their profile in the community while, as a bonus, they strengthen relationships with their supporters.

Innovative use of social networking is the right tool for the job.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Power of Crowdsourcing Consumer Reviews

Link to full article
10/02/08 4:00 AM PT
Customers are increasingly turning to each other, rather than a few experts, to gather information before making a purchase or signing a contract. The concept of crowdsourcing has worked well -- mostly -- for the field of knowledge management. How is it working for customer reviews?

Consumers looking for information about services, products, restaurants or destinations once had to rely on expert reviewers, who would make their site visits, conduct their research, and eventually release their findings to the masses. With the growth of user-generated content, however, everyone is now an expert, or at least an expert consumer. And the opinions of this new class of reviewers are only a mouse click away.

My Take

The companies mentioned in the full article, Yelp and AngiesList are cited for their extensive reviews and ratings of local businesses. Yet consumers are too busy - and too cynical - to believe reviews and ratings. Consumers DO listen to and trust their friends and neighbors, however.

Social media allows sharing of these trusted relationships between connected friends. This trust is the most critical component of the consumer buying decision. It is the richest possible vein of local advertising gold.

The next generation of social media will leverage relationships to connect consumers with the local businesses their friends
trust. It would be a bonus if the process benefited not only consumers and businesses but the entire community as well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Announcing - Support Your Favorite Not-for-Profit

YouGottaCall now supports Members' ability to donate their rewards and rebates to their designated charitable organization.

Our vision is to connect consumers with their trusted local service providers.
Businesses can pay rewards to their network for referrals that result in new sales.
Members can choose to
keep these rewards or
donate them to the non-profit agencies that they support.

In 4 easy steps , current Members may log-on and designate a non-for-profit organization to receive their rewards. (click picture for larger view)

This is an exciting step for our vision to benefit the entire community of trusted businesses and deserving 501(c)3's. Please keep your feedback and ideas coming!

Monday, September 22, 2008

WOM Connection Engine For Local Businesses

How helps local contractors, professionals and merchants...

Local businesses can develop a free, self-sustaining source of word-of-mouth referrals.

SlideShare Link

Saturday, September 20, 2008

OK - So They're "Best" - But how can they get BETTER? Your feedback, please...

Article: Ranked #1 Local Search Platform

My Take

A few questions for you, Mr./Ms. Local Business Owner:

1. How can local search be improved to better meet YOUR needs?

2. Most online Yellow Page advertisers omit their e-mail addresses. Yet the people finding them online are already at their computer keyboards and are therefore able to instantly communicate with them
- Are you hesitant to permit prospective customers to contact you via e-mail?
- Why? To prevent spam? Because it would be too difficult to monitor?

3. What if you were able to generate qualified word-of-mouth referrals from the people who know you best - your customers, neighbors and friends? For free? And what if you could measure these results? And what if you were allowed to reward your referrers? And benefit your community to build self-sustaining referrals in the future?

You're the experts. Please let us know how local advertising can be improved for YOU.

From DMS '08: Future Search: Local Search In Five Years?

The Yellow Pages comprise a $14B industry in the States.
As such they have analysts, experts and conferences.

If you are a local business owner who buys Yellow Page ads, you might find some of these thoughts interesting.

My Take

Yellow Page customers (local business owners) might ask "Do these experts realize that Facebook, with its hundreds of millions of users, was not here 5 years ago?"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


WOM Connection Engine For Consumers 01

From: timtracey, 1 week ago

Consumers benefit from local, social search by finding and trusted local service providers through their network of friends, neighbors and co-workers

SlideShare Link

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Add Word-of-Mouth to Your Advertising

Advertising is a necessity for gaining new clients and growing revenues. But you might think twice before buying Yellow Page or local newspaper ads.

Are your target clients using these traditional media as much as they used to? Or at all?

Studies show that consumers:
trust the opinions of their friends and neighbors much more than ads; each participate in over 10 word-of-mouth referrals every day; and are connecting with each other more and more on Web-based social networks.

So why spend money on advertising that doesn't influence your customer's purchasing decision? Or even get read?

Businesses are saving ad money and increasing sales by harnessing WOM. These recent articles show how you can, too.

Guerrillas Use Word-of-Mouth Marketing - It comes in many forms, but all of them are essential to your business.

WoM: Viral Psychology 101 (Slide show) 12 Secrets Of Successful Word-Of-Mouth Programs

Word of Mouth (Slide show) Joining the Movement to Measurably Improve Your Business is your free, ready-made network with all the tools you need to
1. connect with your WOM referrers,
2. leverage the good will you worked so hard to build,
3. measure WOM results,
4. be found by your extended network and
5. reward your best referrers.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Study: Behavior of Online Reviewers Affects Their Credibility

Excerpted 9/5/2008 from PhysOrg article

( -- Consumers increasingly rely on recommendations in online forums, such as and, when deciding which products and services to buy. But, in most cases, they've never met the posters of these reviews.

Without traditional cues to assess the credibility of reviewers, people evaluate not only the content of opinions, but also the online behavior of posters, according to a recent article in the Journal of Marketing Research titled “Listening to Strangers.”

The study was conducted by Nicholas Lurie, assistant professor of marketing at Georgia Tech College of Management, and Allen Weiss and Deborah MacInnis, marketing professors at the University of Southern California.

"Imagine that you send an e-mail to members of your neighborhood association asking for recommendations for painters. How do you decide whose recommendation to trust?,” Lurie asks. “Our study suggests that you are likely to give greater weight to those who respond quickly, write a lengthy response, and engage you in a back-and-forth discussion.”

My Take

Imagine being able to search your friends' and neighbors' rolodexes of their trusted vendors! Wouldn't that be a powerful tool for selecting trusted local service providers!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How word of mouth really works

Word-of-mouth. It is a natural, unstoppable phenomenon.

Many talk about creating it and improving it. Maybe they'll succeed and all the best to them!

But how about facilitating it and getting out of the way? Better yet, a way to give back to the community by harnessing its incredible power.

That's what is all about.

We'd love your suggestions for continuing to make it better. And we look forward to your involvement as it becomes available in your locale.

- - Tim

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Building Your Sales With Social Media Marketing

Building Sales With Social Media 06 10 2008b

From: timtracey, 29 minutes ago

Building a Connect-gine. How local businesses can build a self-sustaining base of future business.

SlideShare Link

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Why Is It So Hard to Ask for a Referral?

My Take on the why something so easy and effective gets overlooked...

You've had lots of customers. Hundreds - even thousands of them, right? Whether you're a professional, a contractor or merchant, each of your clients is sharing their experience with their network of friends, neighbors and co-workers. Right now.

The "How To" books all say it. The sales experts in their seminars have told you over and over - "personal referrals are worth their weigh in gold". They also tell you the best time to get referrals is the moment you gain a new, satisfied customer.

Each new client is an opportunity to grow your business the smart way - by inserting yourself into their conversations with their permission.

So why's it so hard? Two reasons.

First reason - fear. The fear of losing a prospect is balanced with your knowledge that sales is a numbers game. "There will be lots more prospects. Besides, if they really knew me they'd have selected me." It would seem like landing a new account is a lot scarier than asking an existing customer for a referral.

The fear of rejection doesn't go away after you get the order. It deepens. So many business owners who congratulate themselves for their sales abilities are actually afraid to lay it on the line when it counts most.

Why is this so? Because once you've won their account you begin getting to know your client personally and vice versa. Their opinion of you is now formed from first hand experience.

So if your customer won't give you a referral the rejection is personal.

Second reason - pride. Some of us like giving the impression that we're all that. As a local business owner we enjoy an image of success. Sure - we advertise. And sure we accept referrals. But "asking" for referrals would make it look like we need more business.

Huh? Isn't that ludicrous?

Yep - it is as silly as it is widespread. In fact you probably know some second-generation businesses that fall into this category. Junior has done pretty well managing the good will and clientele carved out by his or her entrepreneurial forebear. But they are missing out on the personal touch and are not connecting with their customers like the ol' man did. They never had to ask, so they don't.

Whether due to fear of rejection or protecting your "image", I'll bet you a buck you aren't following a plan to:

  1. Tell them they're valuable to your business

  2. Let them know you'd like them to recommend you

  3. Give them a way to do this

  4. Follow an ongoing customer communications program

Each customer has been gained with much effort - and even more sweat has gone into making them happy with your services. They expect you to ask them to refer friends to you - and they even want to do this if you've provided good service.

Plus as each month passes, more and more of your customers are affiliating with their trusted businesses through customer loyalty programs, Web based services and friends who have home based businesses. So the longer you wait to start a loyalty program the farther behind you are slipping.

The good news is such a program is both easy and free to start. was built to fill this need and allow you to connect with the clients and neighbors who refer business to you. Plus you can benefit the charitable organizations that your customers and friends support so everybody can benefit.

What's more, you can get started inviting your network in a matter of minutes.

Oh - if I owe you a buck, just let me know - and share your referral system techniques with your neighbors in the next issue of the YouGottaCall "Connect-gineTM" newsletter.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Take: Social Networking Vs. Search

Is Search Dying?

From "How Social Networking Could Kill Web Search as We Know It"

By Glenn Derene as published on April 16, 2008 in Popular Mechanics


"Silicon Valley’s Big Three are fighting over the scraps of the last decade of innovation while there’s a sea change taking place in the way people use the Internet"

"with the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Second Life, LinkedIn and even Google’s own Orkut, the next generation of Web users may find what they want by using their social network rather than a search algorithm"

"The Web is, in a sense, maturing into a different medium than the one that search engines were originally designed to tackle."

"in the past few years, a bunch of sites have begun to pop up based on the philosophy of user-generated content—a phenomenon often referred to as “Web 2.0” "

"as we each carve out our individual niche on the Web, the logic of search may well flip inside out. Since we are essentially meta-tagging ourselves through our social networking memberships ... it’s conceivable that the information could attempt to find us "

even though Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon and others all have elements of this new relationship with users, nobody owns this space the way Google “owns” search

My Take


My Take on Recession-Proofing Your Business

"Recession Proof Your Business" as seen in Relativity


"businesses that are bogged down in traditional ways of thinking about advertising and marketing are losing out on the next great gold rush present on the internet today"

"those not able to communicate to their marketplace in a rapid and concise manner ... will shrink and lose traction in their marketplace while those that efficiently use the internet to broaden and enrich their current market share will thrive and continue to influence a larger market"

"successful and recession proof businesses will be those that engage in growing their market share by providing high quality content and effectively leveraging “e-word of mouth” to spread their information quickly and with impact. Those that do not succesfuly communicate will go the way of the dodo. The real power lies in the hands of the people."

My Take:

How to maintain a steady supply of high quality referrals? Look at the organic word-of-mouth cycle ...
  • The most successful businesses offer the best value.
  • Value creates buzz.
  • Buzz drives word-of-mouth referrals.
Consequently successful businesses are the ones already receiving organic word-of-mouth referrals.

The question then becomes what new tools will allow businesses to more efficiently generate and capture these referrals to convert them to sales at a higher rate? This will determine which businesses can compete in a down market by conserving their ad budget while increasing their sales revenues.

The tools that will do this will be easy to use, be widely distributed, be cost-effective (in today's Internet age this means free - or "Better than free") and will provide rewards to consumers and to the community as a whole. Or at least that's "My Take" on it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Word of Mouth - Your Best Strategy in a Tight Economy

Excerpted from
"Word-of-mouth may be the voice of a new era in marketing"

by Kerry Leonard Mar 12, 2008
Over ninety percent of consumers say the number one place they go to get information on products and services are friends, family members or trusted “influencers.” said Rand. Traditional advertising is moving farther and farther down the list.

“The ability to interrupt people into paying attention dwindles by the day,” he said

With sobering economic news streaming in almost daily, people will likely be spending less in coming months. Television advertising may reach a large number of people, but high costs and media fragmentation may not deliver the desired return on investment.

They’re looking for effective. And word-of-mouth, the proponents say, is the answer.

“Were not saying that traditional marketing is over with,” said Geno Church, word of mouth inspiration officer for Brains on Fire, a marketing firm in Greenville, S.C. “People pick and choose what they want to listen to.”

“And that’s where word-of-mouth can help a company in a recession,” he added.

Consumers are exposed to roughly 3,000 commercial messages a day, he said. “Word-of-mouth breaks through that clutter,” he said.

My Take

Do word-of-mouth referrals contribute significantly to your sales? Asking your customers is an excellent first step. Inviting them into your own referral network can begin a self regenerating stream of sales.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Take on the "Birth of Socialommerce™"

Erik Qualman

Excerpted from "Social Media and Online Commerce: Birth of Socialommerce™"

Google's buying into social networking and social search in a big way even though monetization remains problematic.

Despite social network traffic increasing eightfold in 2007, social search engines still account for less than 1 percent of total Internet traffic, according to Hitwise. There's huge upside potential.

Google continues to struggle in its partnership with MySpace. Generating robust revenue streams from its $900 million deal with NewsCorp has been a challenge. Many insiders believe Google is losing money on the deal. Even Google co-founder Sergey Brin admitted, "I don't think we have the killer, best way to advertise and monetize social networks yet."

Some Web pundits aren't sold either. "What you have with social networks is the most overhyped scenario in online advertising," said Tim Vanderhook, CEO of Specific Media.

Socialommerce™ is the next big thing. Google product guru Marissa Mayer recently told The New York Times that social search would be a key component in the future of search.

Social commerce harnesses the simple idea that people value other people's opinions. Nielsen reports 78 percent of people trust their peers' opinions. This is neither a new concept, nor new to the Web (e.g.,

What is new: social networks make so much easier to disseminate the information. And people want to disseminate information.

My Take

Thanks, Erik.

Social networks' business models rely on revenue generation from external sources - i.e. advertising. In this way they are like television and radio.

But when you think of TV or radio, what one thing do you dislike most? The ads!

With the revolutionary, participatory capabilities of the Web as a medium, is it not possible to form a social network model whose revenue generation - whose demonstrated economic worth - is intrinsic to its virality and thus its success? That rewards all members of the social network for their successful participation in it to stimulate commerce?

This is what we have been aiming at during the development and beta roll-out of, a "Connect-gine(tm)" (Connection engine) which leverages the real world relationships of its members with each other and their trusted local businesses.

Sunday, March 16, 2008 Network Update

Stats: “Size doesn’t matter. Growth rate matters.”

Networks increase their effectiveness with growth. Since launching - the "Connect-gine" we have seen a steady growth in new Members and Trusted Service Professionals (TSPs).

At this early stage we are seeing a rapid doubling in our membership. We hope to soon reach 100 Members and TSPs and look forward to adding new features you’ll be able to use, such as

  • EFT to make your referral fees simple

  • Reports to show you your referral and sales activity

  • Not-for-profits

Thank you for all of your patience and feedback as we improve
our beta product. Please feel free to contact us at any
time with your valuable suggestions and critiques.

Word-of-Mouth in the News

The research of two UConn professors turned up in this article in the Fort Worth Business Press by Darwin Campbell. Please note the following excerpts and our editorial "My Take".

‘Word of mouth’ continues as valuable marketing tool

"Companies may be neglecting a valuable marketing tool: word of mouth. Marketing efforts well-designed toward eliciting referrals should see much greater returns from their advertising expenditures than do companies relying heavily on mass marketing.
"High-volume spenders and good referrers are not generally the same people, and the value of the best referrers can far exceed that of the good spenders.
"...return on investment of $13.60 for each dollar spent on the marketing campaign. ... standard return on marketing investments had previously been $4 to $6 for each dollar spent.
“Viral marketing spreads rapidly when satisfied customers share their positive experiences and bring referrals and business your way.”

My Take

Consumers want to cut through the static and clutter of advertising to find the local businesses their friends and neighbors trust. Local trusted service professionals need to somehow leverage their years spent satisfying their customers into a recurring source of qualified sales leads.

YouGottaCall believes that traditional advertising lacks the ability to distinguish a business's true quality or value. A new media which connects consumers to trusted services will better serve both local businesses and consumers. This new media will use the Web to create a connection engine.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Challenge of beginning a new network...

Selling the First Telephone

It’s 1878. You hear a knock on your door. Surprise! It’s Alexander Graham Bell trying to sell you the first telephone.

AGB: “With this device you can talk with others on their telephones far away?”

You: “How many of these have you sold?”

AGB: “None. You’ll be my very first customer!”

You: “If no one else has one how can I talk with them?”

AGB: “Uhhh…”

You: “No thanks, Al.”

Mr. Bell overcame the initial challenges to growing his network and built the world’s first telephone exchange right here in Connecticut where he also published the world’s first phone directory.’s business challenge pales in comparison to Bell’s. But our humble user base of local businesses and their customers is already as large as his first exchange in New Haven!

And we’re “Better than free!”™ so we expect to keep on growing.

If you’re in greater Hartford you can join now.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

2008 – The Year You Get Social

Do you think you really know your customers? Then this may surprise you. If your customers are between 26 and 60 years old, more and more of them are using social networks every month.

“Social networks? You mean on the Web? Like Facebook and MySpace?”

That’s right. Facebook is seeing a major growth surge among Baby Boomers and Gen-X’ers. Now that Facebook is open for all, membership is growing by millions.

An August 2007 survey of Boston College alumni revealed 2,500 Facebook members. In a mere six months that population swelled by more than 500% to nearly 13,000. And some of the most rapid growth is among alumni in their 40’s and 50’s.

What does this mean for you, a local business owner? It means that:

  • Your customers are rapidly accepting Web based social networks as a means for staying in touch with friends and relatives.
  • If BC alumni are any indication, more than half of college graduates nationally may be on Facebook by late 2008.

Just as your business adapted to using technologies like fax, email and the Web to increase sales and improve customer service, you’ll be able to grow your business by participating in social networks.

“How do I do this?” Well, for starters you can easily join one of the more popular sites:

  1. Get on Facebook. It is free and easy.
  2. Advertise your business there. This is also free, although there are for-pay advertising options as well.
  3. Connect with them. Your best customers can elect to be your “fans”. “How does this help my business?” you ask. It serves as word-of-mouth fuel as their friends can read what they say about the great service you provide and view your business through their profiles.

Is this going to revolutionize your business overnight? Probably not, but it’s a free and simple way to connect with your customers where they’re talking with their friends and neighbors. It’s a smart thing to do. And it’s just a matter of time before you do it, so jump in.