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Based off a CBC Technology and Science online news postSocialDesk, a Toronto based games maker has been grabbed up by Google for an undisclosed price.

“The company, which has offices in Toronto and San Francisco, makes software that allows people to play games against each other in real time even if one player is on a mobile device such as an iPhone and another player is on a different platform, such as the Facebook website. It has four games: Pet Hero MD, Color Connect, Shake & Spell, and Shake & Spell 3D.” (CBC)

After watching a video presentation of one of SocialDeck’s flagship games, I am surprised  such a simple idea (I’d assume most social game developers are running similar platforms) got noticed by Google.

Here’s a quick Youtube clip of the aforementioned presentation by SocialDeck:

Hmm...

Over the last couple of weeks several studies came out that for marketers should really shake the foundation of social media advertising.

However, a week later and I don’t see a “twitter” really talking about this. Why? Social media sells targeted ad space (ala Google) and they are making a killing. So if something comes out to the contrary, it could become a huge problem for social media sites to continue revenue generation, the biggest right now being Facebook.

Here is a snap shot of 3 studies:

First comes from Oxford University, by Robin Dunbar, a recognized professor of evolutionary anthropology. He has pointed out to what some of you may already know – people cannot efficiently interact with more than 150 people at any time. Our brains just don’t handle anything larger; this is also known as Dunbar’s number.

The next study, a much smaller one, is about the psychology of people using Facebook, especially targeted to the amount of friends they have as an indicator of self-esteem. The results show that the more friend’s one has, the lower their self-esteem.

Lastly a critical study tying this all up is brought to us by Richard Edelman, SEO of Edelman in a respected ad site Adage.  The main point here is that the larger your group of friends on Facebook, the less worth each individual’s opinion has.

TO SUM THIS UP:

The more friends one has on Facebook or other online media items (twitter, youtube, etc.) the less interaction goes on between individuals (Dunbar’s number) and possibly the lower your self-esteem (easier to jump on bandwagons of information without really a need or desire to buy, or do much about it). On top of the added “benefit” that with more friends the less each individual’s opinion really matters.

THE KEY RESULT:

Consumers still require a professional opinion for product purchasing decisions, large groups of friends with random status updates don’t deliver the results. If you are marketing through social media, the bearers of opinion may not be those with 2000 friends, but instead much smaller groups with 100 or 200 friends. Changing the opinion of these people can cause a much more significant effect.

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The following applies especially to small to mid-size businesses: obvious conclusion of the week – understand your customers!

Why am I stating this most simple and basic understanding in business?

Recently I have been undertaking an SEO project for a company. I’m far from an expert on the subject and it’s somewhat of a research assignment, but by this point I should know a thing or two about marketing and customer behavior. This is based on a current, real experience.

The goal of optimizing a website to rank higher is clearly to drive more traffic to the site; now here is the kicker:

  • Image your site is #1 on Google for exactly what you do; those exact functions you perform are ranking top-of-the-class! Sounds great right?
  • Now add the following: The people who search for those exact terms want nothing to do with your service…

Some ways to remedy this problem:

  • Use Google Analytics – Find out alternative keywords that your customers use to find you.
  • Ask your customers – find out what they think of you; ask them to use your company in a sentence.
  • Research – Find out what market segments are most important to target (come back for a post about this next).

This is my shock for the week and this is why is incredibly important to understand your customers. What you think your function is could be completely unrelated to what your customers think you actually do!

Coming Soon:  Niche Marketing

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🙂

Someone asked me about where I get my news (aside from the few links I posted on the left).

Since I am hoping that many more people will be interacting with me and this blog as time goes on, I will create a “Questions Page”.

Feel free to make a comment and of course leave a question, I will try to find relevant information or refer you to an expert on the field.

Of course you can always take the Google route!

Many of you reading this have great websites, books and shows to get your information from. Main sources for the BusinessGears blog are:

*Google news pretty much covers all other respected news entities (including Globe&Mail, Financial Post, Economist, etc).

Coming Soon: Posts on China’s influence, Monthly Review, plus Motivation & Creativity.

Innovation

About 5 years ago I remember arguing with a friend that nothing new is happening, my argument was particularly focused on computer/game technology and product innovation. I stopped following gadget news, stopped looking into internet changes and generally got dismayed that change is slow. Included in this delusion was the fact that I ignored articles about “future” events, seeing them as a waste of time on marketing hype.

Now days if you haven’t been up to date on all the wiki, social media, SEO, and viral marketing your already missing out on the key traffic drivers of online media.

Then there are the advancements in computer technology, photography, smart-phones, 3D movie making and green energy (electric cars to industrial waste controls).

I came to realize that if you’re always “keeping your finger on the pulse” there is a constant flow of ideas (check out Global Innovation Index), unfortunately many don’t go anywhere. The key is that any one of these ideas, especially ones that don’t seem likely now, are highly combustible. Take social media, the thought of having a massive free encyclopedia service, or Facebook was not possible without mass donations (online payment) or online advertising and collaborative development (ex. Open source)

Collective Spark

The spark in these areas came from companies like Google and their pay-per-click model. This single idea changed the face of online revenue, but fire doesn’t burn without oxygen. In this case it came from applications and collaborative development, the former is currently exploding thanks to smart phones into multi-billion dollar industry!

The green revolution obviously has its footing in government reform and the global warming craze, and if you didn’t hear the news recently, Ontario is investing 8 billion with partners Samsung and others into renewable energy (though not everyone is happy about this deal)

There are thousands of innovations right now on the market, many of which will never see the light of day, or will fail upon introduction. The key again is a spark (financial support helps) and oxygen, achieved through communities or governments. With the current hype of Web 3.0, viral and niche marketing, and social media, finding a spark for an idea has never been easier. Give people the ability to collaborate and develop with you – it could be the one spark that sets off hundreds of others which have been waiting on the sidelines.

Collaborate & Prosper

Take a quick poll (check it out at the top under “Speak out”) and collaborate with me as well 🙂

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It took about 2 hours of head scratching and disappointment to find this simple site: GetSocialLive

Since this blog comes with a pre-set template and hosted for free, I cannot add applications or plug-ins that don’t exist in the pre-set options. Which was fine, until you realize that there is no plug-in on WordPress.com for say Digg, or Facebook.

The GetSocialLive site allows you to create a share button cluster for any post, just type your URL and copy the HTML.

And here is the result:

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I am currently undertaking an SEO project at my internship.

For those of you that don’t know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s basically a way to improve a site’s ranking on search engines.

Eventually I will apply whatever SEO I learn to this blog as well.

The Difference between Pay Per Click (PPC) & SEO

PPC:

  • The most popular method of generating and paying for advertisements online.
  • One of the main revenue streams of companies such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
  • Ads are posted based on keyword bidding.

SEO:

  • A cost effective way to improve visibility & site rank, search-ability and of course generate leads, sales or ad revenue.
  • The key to good SEO is in proper web design, relevant keywords, a good reputation and links.

SEO has become a major business opportunity:

http://www.seologist.com/

http://www.searchengineoptimizationcompany.ca/

http://www.seo.com/

http://www.alphasearch.ca/

These are some of the companies that clearly know their SEO (as they are also top ranked on Google). Many companies use SEO along side PPC platforms to maximize traffic.

BE AWARE when choosing PPC, SEO or both:

  • Many small time SEO developers offer “dream” statements about their potential results – this is an extremely competitive field, results take time and need to be maintained.
  • There are good and bad methods of doing SEO – some can get your site banned, others such over using keywords can actually lose you page rank.
  • Think about all those ads you see about “work from home” or “online job opportunity” and “click on links and get paid“. This is big business and sites use people (knowingly or not) to scam your online ads with meaningless clicks that lose you money!

For a good starting point check out:

Googles Webmaster SEO Tips

Matt Cutts (Google’s head of Webspam)

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