Google needs to fix the +1 idea

If I could change anything about Google Plus, I’d add tagging to the +1s.

Ciao Enrico - Google +1

Years ago delicio.us revolutionized bookmarking with the use of tags. For some reason, an idea this simple wasn’t adopted by Google when they developed the whole +1 philosophy. Which is too bad for +1s.

It’s POTENTIALLY a great bookmarking tool. Unfortunately, the way it works now, everything you +1 gets gunked together into one great big ball of weblink. If they were tagged, you could make a beeline to each link you saved there, anytime you needed it.

If a pop-out was added for anytime someone +1’d something, they could put in a few simple tags to denote why the link is important.

People could also share lists of content this way. It wouldn’t be unlike a collection of YouTube favorites, except I could do it with everything.

Also, advertisers could preload tags onto them, more as suggestions to anyone +1-ing, say, a paid search landing page. Include a “clear all” link so they can be wiped off the +1 if the user doesn’t like what the webmaster put on there, and it removes the impetus to spam.

Google, this should be an easy thing to implement! It’s the kind of product that would give people a reason to stay logged into Google, and using Google Plus.

Please, please, please update the +1 structure with tags. I’ll be your best friend, I swear. 🙂

Virgin Mobile iPhone vs Evo V

Pre-paid phones are a better deal than contract phones any way you look at it. $35 a month vs the $80-100 a month offered by AT&T, Verison, Sprint or T-Mobile should be a no-brainer.

Consider this: At $35 a month for service, that works out to $840 over two years. The cost for a Verizon device for the same period is $2640. So you pay more than three times as much for essentially the same service. With an $1800 savings, you could actually buy two iPhone 4S devices out of pocket, and you’d still save money over the Verizon plan. Sure, Verizon coverage is better than Virgin Mobile’s – but is it really $1800 better?

In the past, the only thing the four big contract carriers ever had going for them were better phones. That’s just not the case anymore.

This month Virgin Mobile annoucned they’d be selling the HTC Evo – the phone that was Sprint’s flagship device a year ago, back when they were dedicated to their whole WiMax solution for 4G.

The news was overshadowed a few days ago, however, by their second announcement, that they would be releasing the iPhone 4S. To be honest, I’d given up hope on a pre-paid iPhone, so this was a real shocker to me. I was already excited about the Evo – now this?

This means I have a tough choice, one probably a few other people have as well. Each device has a number of positives and negatives, no matter what any of us choose it’s going to cost a pretty penny, and we’ll be stuck with our decission for a while.

So I’m just going to go through my pros and cons here, and help everyone else out if I can.

EVO V 4G

PROS

Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) – This is the newest version of Android available

1.2 Ghz processor – Faster than what’s available on most of VMA’s other smart phones.

4G speed – Well, sort of. More on this in the “cons” section…

Up-gradable internal storage to 32GB – This is good if you’re looking to just have a single device for photos, music and phone. Right now I have a phone AND an iPod, and 32GB would be just enough storage to hold everything.

CONS

WiMax 4G – This will use Sprint’s WiMax network for 4G, a solution they’re retiring in favor of their own LTE network – the standard AT&T and Verizon already use. They won’t be doing any further investment in WiMax, so if this isn’t available where you are, it never will be. Here in Phoenix, I understand there’s one intersection in town where you can get 4G speeds – hardly enough for me to jump up and down with joy at how fast the Internet will run on this thing.

$299 price tag – This isn’t a cheap phone, and without a contract there’s no help in paying for it. You’ll saddle the cost of the device on your own.

Bloatware – The phone hasn’t come out yet, so there’s no way to gauge how much of a problem this will be. But Virgin Mobile is known for installing too many apps you can’t remove, which eats up memory and slows the device down. It’s also an HTC phone, so they have their own garbage eating away at the memory. Unless both companies have come to their senses and either removed this or make it possible for owners to, this could be a big problem.

Android 5.0 Jellybean coming soon – Having a phone with Ice Cream Sandwich is nice, but it will be outdated in a few months. $299 is probably a lot of money to pay for something that is yesterday’s news. (The Evo’s already a dated handset.) That just gets worse when we look at the iPhone 4S.

IPhone 4S

Virgin Mobile will be selling the iPhone 4 ($550) and 4S ($650). I have no idea why – I will only say that the iPhone 4’s antenna problems are a definite con. I’m not going to consider it, and neither should you, honestly. If you are dead set on getting a Virgin Mobile iPhone, eat the extra $100 to keep it from cutting out.

So on to everything else…

PROS

It’s an iPhone – As much as Apple Neophytes annoy the hell out of me, Apple makes a damn good phone. It doesn’t need to be restarted with an occasional battery pull, (like an Andoid or Blackberry does,) and even if it does fail their support is phenomenal.

Updates – Apple is very good about making updates to iOS available on all devices. Manufacturers that use Android almost never update the OS. Why would they give you a new phone experience when they could just get more of your money next year to get the next Android operating system? They are, after all, evil.

App Development – Android’s no longer a slouch at developing apps, but they also don’t have any oversight. You could very easily give bad people access to your phone information just because you downloaded a Chinese version of Sudoku to your phone. On the other hand iTunes is very strict about what they’ll allow in their app store.

Despite this, they also have more apps to choose from.

CONS

IPhone 4S is on it’s way out – Even though this is the latest iPhone, in six months it will be old news. IPhone 5 is very likely to be a 4G device, and who-knows how many other improvents.

No 4G – Like I said, the Evo V doesn’t have great 4G availability, but the 4S will have none. Frankly, if my city had widespread WiMax coverage, that would be enough for me to go with the Evo instead of the iPhone.

If you thought $299 for an Evo was a lot… – The 4S will be $650, and that will all be on you to pay for. That’s a lot of money for a phone, but that’s REALLY a lot of money for something that will be outdated soon.

Conclusion

As much as I’ve hoped Virgin Mobile would eventually get an iPhone, I’m going with the HTC Evo V. Both phones are, frankly, halfway towards being outdated. As such, I’d rather pay $299 for outdated than $650 for it.

Also, with the most available storage space for the Virgin Mobile iPhone at 16GB, that will get used up fairly quickly. Since I already have an iPod Touch, I can run all the Apple apps I need to on that.

Either way, I still believe a pre-paid phone is the best solution for a smart phone, even if the devices aren’t top of the line.

The Real Problem with Facebook Ads isn’t the Ads, it’s the Advertisers

When GM pulled their Facebook ads last month, it caused a lot of talk about the lack of confidence people have in their platform. When you plunk down $10,000 a month, you expect to make back at least $10,000.

What advertisers STILL don’t seem to understand, after all these years of exposure to social networks, is that nobody goes on them to buy things. If anything, people go to Facebook and Twitter for “me time.” Few people are going to leave their “me time” to click on a link to Verizon just because the link is there.

It’s like if television never had commercials, but instead all commercials happened on their own channel. How many people would ever leave the show they were watching just to tune into the 24 Hour Commercial Channel? My guess is about as many people who click on ads on Facebook.

Since this is the case, trying to use the same conversion point on a Facebook ad as, say, a paid search ad, is ludicrous. People who perform a search are looking for something specific, some problem to be solved, and if the paid ad is relevant and brings people to a product or service that helps them, they will “convert” – that is, buy something.

Facebook Ad Revenues Worldwide, 2011-2014

People don’t go to Facebook with a need or problem, though. Ads trying to sell goods must count not only on reaching people who are their target market, but happen to catch them at just that moment the ad will appeal to them. For example, someone might be the right fit for buying a car this year, but for the ad to turn into a sale, it needs to be seen by that person during those few days they are actually looking at cars and car financing. Facebook still can’t target ads that well.

So really, the definition of what makes a successful social network ad needs to be changed. On Facebook, it is much easier to convince someone to Like your Fan Page than to get them to immediately part with their money. Using ads to increase fan count would be a much saner way to grade Facebook Advertising: How many new eyeballs does your content get as a result of your ads?

Then it’s up to your Fan Page to land the sales, or at least get traffic to your site. If your content is compelling enough, people will click through to see more. In that way, the Fan Page becomes what Facebook always intended it to be: A company landing page, on Facebook.

Paid seach ads work (or don’t) based on a number of factors: If the keywords for the campaign are relevant to the product, if the ad copy is compelling enough to get a click, if the landing page entices people to click on the “buy now” button, and if the user experience of the site’s store encourages people to complete a sale.

The rules for Facebook are very different, but people keep trying to apply the same rules: Impressions, clicks, conversions, sales. What’s different here aren’t the tools, it’s the audience.

How to do a “Quick Accept” of a GoDaddy Domain

I got this message from GoDaddy about a domain transfer:

“IMPORTANT: You must log in to your account and Quick Accept or manually accept the domain. If the Change of Account is not complete within 10 days, the transaction of Change of Account will expire.”

However, they didn’t include any instructions on how to do this.

GoDaddy, you really do frustrate us, you know? I only found out how to do this by Googling it. If it’s really so important you need to say “important” in all caps like that, don’t you think it might be important enough to include a link?

Well, because I’m better at this than you are GoDaddy, I have.

If you got the above message in your e-mail while trying to transfer a domain, go to:

http://support.godaddy.com/help/article/1670

Viral Video isn’t about Advertising – it’s about Entertainment

I watched “Celebrity Apprentice” tonight – it’s a guilty pleasure.

The only reason I’m writing about it is the challenge: They were asked to make a “viral video” promoting an O’Cedar’s spray mop. If you’ve ever had to do this for your job, it had to have pissed you off too.

It seems everyone thinks the way to make a viral video is to make a commerical like you see on TV, then put it up on YouTube. From that, possibly through magic or devine intervention, people will share it around.

Ironically, I found this image for "Viral Marketing" - and outside of me calling it out for stupidity, there is nothing viral about it.

“Sheila! I just watched this commercial for a floor mop on YouTube! You have to see this!”

Only Penn Jillette seemed to understand how viral content works: You make something people WANT to share. You don’t make something you want people to share.

How many of the things you shared, “educated you on the product?” Probably none. Because that’s boring. What you likely did share were people inuring themselves, pets doing weird things, dirty jokes… things that made you laugh.

That’s not where they went on Celebrity Apprentice, though. Both groups pushed on making what were the same kinds of ads you push past with the fast forward button, thankful that you have a DVR.

I dont’ blame them entirely, though – and not just because it’s reality TV, and you can’t trust anything you see or hear on reality TV. I blame the executives of the company for not have a clear idea of what they were asking for. I’ve had those meetings with clients who said, “there’s this video that’s very popular, and I WANT THAT.” Great! Yeay!

And then, “It should tell people all about our product, and showcase all of its features, it shouldn’t  be the butt of the joke, and it should tell them why they must give us their money… but otherwise, go crazy!”

It doesn’t work that way. A viral video that promotes only carries the name of the company or the product – and  then you go crazy. What makes something viral isn’t the sell, it’s the fun.

How much milage do you think the Nintendo Wii got out of the video below?

The answer is Nintendo got a LOT of exposure out of this. I can also guarantee you the executives of Nintendo would have never approved of that video if they paid an agency to make something viral, and this is what they were presented with. That disconnect exemplifies why a company cannot make it’s own viral content if they insist on taking themselves seriously.

I remember the executive of one company explaining everything they wanted in their viral program with the exact same language about showcasing a project.

“Then I’m afraid it won’t go viral,” I told him.

“Well then what can we do to MAKE it go viral?” he asked.

“There’s only one option,” I said. “We go door-to-door with shotguns and MAKE people watch it.”

Seriously – just spending some time coming up with something people will actually want to watch takes much less work.

Now THAT is how you do a commercial on YouTube!

As commercials uploaded to YouTube go, this is perfect.

No ad copy, no “take aways” – just something that gets your attention, and keeps you watching. At the end you get the company’s information, AND THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Look at the number of views this thing has gotten! It’s got 2,485 likes on YouTube… and as of this posting it’s two days old! You REALLY think your slick, in-house commercial with nothing but talk about your product is going to beat that!?!