Friday, November 30, 2007

Facebook, Is Starting to Become a Controlled Advertising Space

Seeking to keep the peace in its popular online hangout, Facebook Inc. has overhauled a new advertising system that sparked privacy complaints by turning its users into marketing tools for other companies.

Under the changes outlined late Thursday, Facebook's 55 million users will be given greater control over whether they want to participate in a three-week-old program that circulates potentially sensitive information about their online purchases and other activities.

The concessions were made after more than 50,000 Facebook users signed an online petition blasting the system, called “Beacon,” as a galling intrusion that put the Palo Alto-based startup's pursuit of profit ahead of its members' privacy interests.

More than 40 different Web sites, including, and, had embedded Beacon in their pages to track transactions made by Facebook users.

Unless instructed otherwise, the participating sites alerted Facebook, which then notified a user's friends within the social network about items that had been bought or products that had been reviewed.

Facebook thought the marketing feeds would help its users keep their friends better informed about their interests while also serving as “trusted referrals” that would help drive more sales to the sites using the Beacon system.

But thousands of Facebook users viewed the Beacon referrals as a betrayal of trust. Critics blasted the advertising tool as an unwelcome nuisance with flimsy privacy protections that had already exasperated and embarrassed some users.

Some users have already complained about inadvertently finding out about gifts bought for them for Christmas and Hanukkah after Beacon shared information from Other users say they were unnerved when they discovered their friends had found out what movies they were watching through purchases made on Fandango.

The backlash against Beacon illustrated the delicate balancing act that Facebook must negotiate as the company tries to cash in on its popularity without alienating the users fuelling its success.

Beacon is a key component in Facebook's “Social Ads” program, which is vying to make more money from the rapidly growing audience that uses the social network's free services as a place to flirt, gossip and share personal passions.

This isn't the first time that Facebook has done an about-face after introducing a feature that raised privacy concerns.

Reprinted with content from Globe and Mail, Online, November 30th, 2007

Kensel Tracy is a Marketing Coach who provides coaching to small, medium and large size business organizations and executives.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Watch What you Post on Your Facebook Site, Your Personal Brand Could Suffer

I recently read and article by Virgina Galt about how recruiters are using Facebook sites to recruit employees. She states a small but growing number of employers are turning to online social networking sites to introduce themselves to prospective employees, according to a survey by Aon Consulting Canada. The key emerging trends uncovered by the survey of 93 recruitment and human resources specialists is that 22 per cent of recruiters regard social networking sites as an important avenue for "getting their message out there broadly," says Shane Creamer, operations leader in Aon's recruitment strategy practice."Organizations are looking for new avenues ... such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and these sources are emerging as a new stealth tool to help recruiters cast a wider net in identifying new talent," Mr. Creamer adds.

"They're stealth tools because the person who is on LinkedIn or Facebook may not necessarily be auditioning for you ... but may be receptive to some type of approach."These prospective job candidates might not actually be looking for new work, but they're poised to jump if the right situation comes along. "Sometimes, they need a little nudge." With Canada's unemployment rate at its lowest in 30 years, organizations find they have to sell themselves as good places to work. "The old play was sort of post the job out, and pray they will come. Now it's really about being more direct, more aggressive, getting out there," Mr. Creamer says.

The survey found that advertising remains the top method of attracting talent, with 94 per cent of survey participants citing direct advertising as an important recruitment strategy."Job boards continue to be an important means of sourcing [cited by 75 per cent], along with employee referrals [75 per cent], campus recruiting [52 per cent] and outside search agencies [49 per cent]," Aon reports.

Prospective candidates want to know what makes an organization a good place to work - "everything from monetary rewards, to career advancement, to culture," Mr. Creamer says."And you have to deliver on what you're offering. If you sell them [employees] on one message, and deliver on an entirely different message ... they're not going to stay with your organization."

What this says is that the trend towards social networks as sources of information for both the buyer and the seller will continue into the future. It will be important for organizations to fully understand that the purchasing power is now more in the hands of the consumer than it was in the past, and for all you folks out there with information on your Facebook page, be careful what you post because it can effect your personal brand. Also remember if employers are looking for top talent anything you say and do can have an impact on your ability to get that dream job you want.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Customers Consumption Habits are Changing

If you are selling a product at retail, its time to take stock of your sales process. As mentioned in previous blogs, the entire retail business is changing. I recently attended a seminar put on by the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada and they presented some pretty interesting stats. The average Canadian now spends 14 hours online. The biggest growth area is in the 55 plus age bracket. Most people interviewed in the survey had purchased more than 5 times on line which is significant.

Most people felt confident purchasing online and felt that it was easier to purchase from a web site than go to the store. Last boxing day for example I received the boxing day flyer from Best Buy. I needed a printer for the office. The boxing day sale was on. I went to the web site, saw what I wanted and ordered it. I received it two days later. Pretty amazing stuff really.

More and more consumers will be purchasing online. Some retailers will need to have major stores to showcase new products and services however retailers have a lot of work to do to find out who their audience is and where they come from. For now its business as usual, however those companies that are going to be successful are the ones that can figure it out quickly and capitalize on the buyers experience.

Monday, November 12, 2007

IBM Figures Interactive Advertising Formats will Grow

I recently read this press release from IBM. The following information was provided. IBM Global Business Services unveiled its new report, "The End of Advertising as We Know It," forecasting greater disruption for the advertising industry in the next five years than occurred in the previous 50.

To examine the factors influencing advertising and explore future scenarios, IBM surveyed more than 2,400 consumers and 80 advertising executives globally. The IBM report shows increasingly empowered consumers, more self-reliant advertisers and ever-evolving technologies are redefining how advertising is sold, created, consumed and tracked.

Traditional advertising players risk major revenue declines as budgets shift rapidly to new, interactive formats, which are expected to grow at nearly five times that of traditional advertising. To survive in this new reality, broadcasters must change their mass audience mind-set to cater to niche consumer segments, and distributors need to deliver targeted, interactive advertising for a range of multimedia devices. Advertising agencies must experiment creatively, become brokers of consumer insights, and guide allocation of advertising dollars amid exploding choices. All players must adapt to a world where advertising inventory is increasingly bought and sold in open exchanges vs. traditional channels.

This gives marketeers even bigger challenges as the market is becoming even more diversified. Canadians now spend on average 14 hours per week on line. This is more time than is spent watching television. As the market changes so will advertisers. It will become more important for products to be even more consumer friendly as social networks will now dictate the next hot product. Traditional advertisers will need to work a lot harder in finding out who their audiences are and spending way more time developing customer loyalty. In the next few weeks we will talk about some of things you can do to successfully cultivate customers and find ways to sell is an every changing market.

Kensel J. Tracy is a a marketing coach and Senior Partner at the Corporate Coachworkz Inc. located in Chelsea, Quebec.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Having a Good Sales Plan Does Not Have to be Complicated

As a small business coach, it quite amazing to meet owners of companies that have businesses that could be more successful if they had a plan. Without a plan, you are basically casting your fate to the wind and hoping your customers will show up.

A plan does not have to be complicated and can be a simple as knowing how many sales you want to get this year, your gross margin, ( sales less costs and operating), who your main targets are for customers and five simple sales steps for attracting the customers you want. The bottom line is you need to be selling new customers everyday and always be closing some form of new business for your company to be successful. Sales should be the most important part of your plan. Customers make companies work.

A very successful company that I know has developed three simple steps for getting customers. They want to have the best product in his industry, be an authority in their industry and they over respond to every enquiry to their company no matter how small.

The owner plans is to be the best in his industry and tell everyone that he is. His goal is to talk to ten new customers a week and to treat his existing customers like they are gold. He also tries to pay is suppliers first and tells them that he expects the same treatment from them as he gives his customers. To date this company is a leader and has more business then it can handle and most of it's sales come from referrals from current customers.

Your task this week is to review your business and consider your plan. If you have one, make sure its working for you, if you don't have a plan, get one fast, and if you need some help with the discipline, think about hiring a coach. As one of my old sales managers used to say; son, you should always plan your work and then work the plan.

Kensel Tracy is a business coach and Senior Partner in The Corporate Coachworkz. Inc.