The IIA in partnership with Irish Times Training are delighted to launch a brand new Diploma course in e-Commerce Management.
This Course covers everything you need to know to run a successful ecommerce business. Click here for more information.
Module 1: Planning your e-Commerce Customer Proposition
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori – The Costume Shop
Module 2: Business Planning
Lecturer: Fionan Dunne of CFO Services
Module 3: Effective Website Design
Lecturer: Gareth Dunlop of Fathom
Module 4: Driving Customer Traffic – PPC, SEO, Affiliate Marketing and E-Mail Marketing, Deals Management
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori
Module 5: Transaction Management
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 6: eCommerce Customer Services: CRM – Relationships and Returns
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 7: eCommerce Customer Services: Deliveries and Deadlines
Lecturer: Rory O’Connor of Scurri.com
Module 8: International e-Commerce: Translations & Transactions
Lecturer: Mark Rodgers of Cipherion Translations
Module 9: Metrics / Analytics
Lecturer : David Murphy of Amplify
Module 10: Content – Images and Copy
Lecturer: Fiona Ashe of FlasheForward Communications
Module 11: Mobile Commerce
Lecturer: Sian Gray, Mobile Marketing specialist (Nokia)
FREE Module : Breakfast Briefing Managing Customer Information: Your Legal Obligations as an eCommerce Manager from Gary Davies, Assistant Data Protection Commissioner
If you’ve got customer information on file you will need to know in what form and for how long you can store it. You will also need to know for what you may use it. You will need to be fully aware of your obligations as a retailer vis a vis Trading Standards etc.. This module is painful but necessary!
This is a guest post by Robert Purcell. Robert is a member of the IIA Social Media Working Group which seeks to support businesses in the development of strategies for engaging with social media. As Marketing Manager for Post Consult International Ltd. (PCI), Robert’s main focus is developing the marketing and product strategy for the company’s Security Solutions offered under the corporate brand, Post.Trust. Post.Trust is a national-level Certificate Authority, wholly owned by An Post, providing security solutions that enable organisations to communicate with one another more securely and confidently in a trusted environment. You can find him on LinkedIn or @robgerard on Twitter.
Engage! Revised and Updated: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web
Brian Solis (Author), Ashton Kutcher (Foreword)
The second edition of Engage! written by social media thought leader Brian Solis really is a fascinating read. I haven’t read the first edition, but this instalment focuses more on enabling you to design a new media engagement program specific to your business and your customers. It empowers you to develop metrics and KPIs to measure the success of your activities and translate that data into bottom-line benefits. As anyone who has ever tried to champion a social media program within their organisation knows; the first question you are asked is, What’s the ROI of social media? This book will help you answer that question.
A word of warning though – Engage! is not a book you can pick up and read from cover to cover. Sections of the book are quite dense and academic – but then isn’t that what you would expect a Complete Guide to be? The book doesn’t define its target audience but whether you are new to social media or experienced in social media marketing, this book has plenty of substance and will serve as a source of reference in your social media activities. As Solis says, this is an opportunity to “hit ctrl-alt-del and restart with a fresh perspective”.
The book starts by defining social media and introducing the arsenal of social media tools available for creating touchpoints across the Social Web. It explores building a framework to amplify the visibility of your social objects, extending the reach of your online presence to new audiences, and defining the end game, ultimately guiding people to action through participating, listening and engagement.
Solis reminds us that understanding the rules of engagement is critical in this new world of socialised media. It’s about training and putting the necessary policies and guidelines in place to ensure everyone is singing from the same hymn book. The latter part of the book looks at the realignment and restructuring the organisation as part of this socialisation process. Finally, it focuses on the management of this social media activity; how to track, measure and translate that social data into tangible value for the business.
Solis discusses the concept of unmarketing as one of the most effective forms of marketing in this new genre of socialised media and really unmarketing underpins the ‘How’ organisations should use Social Media. Marketing is no longer about broadcasting brand messages – it’s about embodying the characteristics of your brand, being an active participant in the conversation, contributing value to earn relevance, build influence and create brand advocacy and loyalty toward a desired outcome.
At times, reading the book was a bit of a slog and I found myself going back over passages each time I picked it up because there was a lot to absorb. But on the whole, I found it uplifting and insightful, reaffirming my understanding of the real power of Social Media – so stick with it. Solis’s voice comes through the words on the page, inspiring the reader to embrace the social web, to champion new media engagement and become the expert to drive change within the organisation. The book is ‘peppered’ with frameworks, methodologies and tools to assist you in your journey towards building a two-way information bridge between the organisation and the online communities in those networks you choose to participate.
As Solis says, “The future of business is social”. Social Media cannot be confined to one person or department. The entire business must socialise. Organisations must embrace and ride the social wave or risk being engulfed by it.
“The greatest advantages of social media reside in its ability for worthy individuals and companies to shape perception, steer activity, incite action, and adapt to the communities that establish the market. Engage or die.”
I have been intrigued by sugru and how it achieved so much in a short period of time since seeing them in Time magazine and buying/testing some of its products over Christmas.
Company founder Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh from Kilkenny shared some insights into the company and how it has made great strides in getting and harnessing user generated content in its social media platforms and achieved worldwide word of mouth exposure.
Sugru (www.sugru.com) is a UK based company that has invented a silicone based modelling clay that helps people fix or improve everyday items. The product itself is a new development in this class and has some unique properties in that it cures at room temperature, is very self-adhesive, heat resistant, waterproof, flexible and dishwasher proof. The company has one core product with 5 colours and has shifted over 40,000 units in its first few months.
How did the idea come about?
The idea came from a process of material experimentation and an observation of the development of the open source community. Jane has an active interest in how additional life can be given to products and giving people an ability to ‘hack’ and personalise products.
She felt that traditional product design was very static in that once a product emerged from the factory, there was very little interaction where focus should be on discovering and finding out how people use it at home and other areas. This could lead to better products and also connects the company with its user base.
How did the idea come into fruition?
Jane’s story reflects many other SMEs as they build their brand but some initial kick starts have really helped. Jane’s product came from research she did when studying at the Royal College of Design in London, following previous study at NCAD in Dublin. One of the big lifts she received was when the British Airways inflight magazine featured the product in a column which sparked off lots queries from consumers and people in industry.
With help of the innovation department in the college she set up sugru with business partner Roger Ashby and after six years of development and initial grant and investment funding of £350,000, with a modest investment of £100,000 they converted their lab into a production facility. Their initial production of 1,000 packs sold out in 6 hours following their launch and they knew they had a viable business but needed to scale up production.
How do you go to market?
sugru is mainly sold from its website and also through some shops in Ireland/UK and is now in the process of setting up in the US.
- 25% of its orders come from UK,
- 45% from US with
- Ireland and Germany accounting for much of the remaining sales.
Initially they have focused on shipping small single orders and reacting to who wanted to buy it from the website but are now scaling to additional retail distribution.
What marketing do you deploy?
sugru defied much of the text book approach to marketing in that it spends very little on traditional marketing.
Most of sugru’s growth has come from word of mouth which has led to some high profile articles on the company also the inclusion in Time Magazine’s Top 50 Inventions and features in the Irish Times amongst others.
Its website, blog, email and social media platforms are still the key drivers of the business and Jane manages these directly. The company also organises and facilitates ‘Hack It Sessions’ such as a recent one in 091 labs in Galway.
Social Media Presence
According to Jane
“the Blog has been brilliant in terms of articulating our mission. This is not just a product. It was invented to reduce waste and give people an easy way to improve stuff”.
This is where sugru really excels. The company and product has plugged in to a growing movement of people fixing and repairing items and is an enabler of this movement. Rather than just looking at social media channels to push company news it sees the community as central. Most of the content on the channel tap into how people are using the product. Jane receives a lot of emails and correspondence from users who take the time to document what they have fixed/improved and even supply photos showing the degree of connection that the company has with users.
The company rewards and encourages this and as Jane puts it
“all of our marketing comes from customers in the form of hundreds of photo, stories and videos”.
The Hack of the Month profiles how innovative users have been in the use of the product which ranges from fixing medical devices to protecting school bags. sugru also asks for suggestions on who they should send sugru packs to and this recently resulted in packs being sent to scientists working on the largest bore holes in the world based in Antarctica. They featured stories on how they used it to repair diverse items from glasses to knives.
The outreach and investment in the online community now means they have a large gallery of photos and stories of customers documenting their use of the product.
User generated content is the nirvana for a lot of companies and getting customers to tell their stories can be notoriously difficult. Even if people really enjoyed the product getting them to invest the time and allowing you use their stories is rarely successful. Although there is no doubt that this is a very innovative and good product, the subtle difference having the ethos of the company – to reduce waste and allow people to personalise and improve stuff - central in all they do is key to their success. It’s not about sugru but rather what people do with it and how it helps their lives. This approach means people are happier to contribute as it plugs into their lives and the sugru community feels like a grouping of like-minded people rather than a community website. Even the website itself clearly positions it as being about the user and not the product itself. You get a clear impression that much as sugru benefits from user engagement people are learning, teaching and educating each other how it could be used.
Jane is the first to admit that although they do a lot with communities that there is more to do and she feel they are only scratching the surface on what could be done. Similar to most companies, measurement is evolving and difficult to quantify. Easy to measure items such as ‘likes’ are less a concern than the quality of interaction such as conversations and comments. Key is seeing if people are getting the message and spreading it. Twitter is also another active daily channel with most activity taken up by answering queries and interacting than pushing company messages. Jane herself still manages these channels directly herself showing the level of commitment to the users.
One of the other positive aspects of so much user generated content is that now the company can see recurring uses and this can be fed back in to product research, design and marketing. This translates as possible future iPhone cable and adapter products/packs as the company has seen lots of examples of sugru being utilised to fix or improve these.
Real World Interaction
As with much social media activity it’s important to have a real world footprint also. The ‘Hack It’ Sessions facilitate this and are almost a real world reflection of what goes on in the online world. sugru sometimes organises these itself or facilitates them by sending product to users who want to create a shared experience of using the product. People learning from each other and being creative opens up new views on the product that sugru could never do by itself.
Much could be learnt from the sugru experience online and according to Jane companies could really improve their online presence with some simple philosophies including:
- Have a clear mission that is people/users focused and not company centric
- Tweet and interact with people the same as if over a shop counter
- Don’t be frightened of people or interaction
- Don’t be overly promotion
- Remember people are not interested in you but rather what you can do for them
- Have conversations
- Facilitate, reward, and respect the input from people who contact you
sugru is now working on expanding its US presence directly through stores and setting up shipping locally. They are also talking to hardware chains in Ireland to extend its reach and easy of buying.
sugru has achieved a worldwide presence after only 9 months in operation and sold over 40,000 packs. Its marketing is mainly word of mouth and customer based. It has made huge progress into cracking the ‘user generated content’ nut and has built a very strong online brand by having a mission driven and customer centric approach.
This case study is part of the IIA Social Media Working Group‘s series of studies on how companies are using social media to achieve their business aims and objectives. This study was written by Eoin Kennedy of Slattery Communications, chair of IIA Social Media Working Group.
This review is part of a series of reviews that you can expect to see over the next while from the Social Media Working Group. This first one is by Eamonn O’Brien, Founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club. Here he reviews The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, by Joan Curtis and Barbara Giamanco:
This book offers an introductory guide for people who need to figure out how to both understand and harness social media in a world where traditional sales techniques may have had their day. As such, it probably won’t serve as more than light reading for seasoned social media pros.
The authors spend the first half of the book outlining the revolution that has occurred in the way businesses and customers/consumers communicate – and why companies need to learn how to adapt to a new sales era, dubbed Sales 2.0. They argue that since customers are now more in control of what they buy, and have instant access to more information prior to when they make purchase decisions, that a modern form of consultative selling (which integrates the power of social media to develop better relationships, trust and customer collaboration) needs to be used as a replacement for traditional push based selling techniques.
While there are many nuggets to be found in the first 8 chapters, including author observations, examples of how politicians and companies are adapting to/benefiting from communication changes plus a quite interesting potted history lesson on the evolution of selling approaches from the 19th to the 21st century, much of the information provided at the outset of the book appears to be rehashing of stories and observations that have been doing the rounds for some time (online and offline). Also, many of the points made in the first half of the books seemed be endless variations of a single theme; “Embrace the new technology… move away from old sales approaches, they won’t work any longer with the 21st century buyer”.
That said, the second half of the book (when the authors get into a more ‘how to’ mode) is likely to prove both interesting and genuinely useful to anyone who needs practical suggestions on how to harness social media for sales and marketing purposes. The authors did an especially good job on how Sales meets LinkedIn and Sales meets Twitter, including really helpful ‘do’s and don’ts’ tips.
Also, their observations on how to use blogging to drive better Google site rankings together with their suggested ‘rules of engagement for bloggers’ are spot on. But the real value in this book comes at the end, with a case study style 30 day social media sales challenge. This blow by blow demonstration of how social media can be used and why – together with suggestions re goal setting and performance measuring – sold me on this book, all on its own.
My Overall Book Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks a million Eamonn! More from the authors on their website.
Here is a visualistion from Wordle.net of some of the tweets that were flying around yesterday afternoon and this morning about Open for Business the IIA Annual Conference in the Aviva. I hope to release the plenary sessions as podcasts in the coming weeks and I know the social media working group have a video of their session which we will share soon too. Hopefully one of our delegates might write a review for next week as well (hint hint everyone!)
In the meantime many thanks to all our delegates for engaging in such a lively manner at the event and via Twitter, thanks to all our brilliant speakers in the plenary sessions, hosted conversations and breakout sessions. Thanks also to our brilliant sponsors without whom much of the event would not have been possible. We appreciate your community spirit!
|With many thanks to our supporters, sponsors and exhibitors|
One of the most popular features of our Annual Conferences every year are the breakout sessions. This year we’re mixing it up a bit and in addition to our usual practical breakout sessions we are holding three hosted conversations in the morning. These promise to be fascinating and a great opportunity to get your voice heard on the following topics:
- A conversation about collaborative innovation hosted by Amy Neale and Gary Leyden of NDRC
- Seán Baker, Irish Software Association Board and entrepreneur and Peter Finnegan, Dublin City Council host a conversation about Open Data and Open Government.
- Neil Leyden, Your Country, Your Call winner, will host a conversation about his plan for Ireland as an international content services centre.
In the afternoon we will be running 4 breakout sessions covering smartphone insights from Amárach Research, the reality of cloud computing with the IIA Cloud Computing Working Group, social media strategy with the Social Media Working Group and Ecommerce Best Practice and Emerging trends with Realex Payments.
Jonathan, you are running a breakout session on eCommerce at Open for Business, the IIA Annual Conference on the afternoon of May 12th in the Aviva Stadium. Which key areas are you going to be focussing on during these 2 sessions
The focus of our E Commerce breakout session will be Taking Your Business Online and the different elements that you need to take into account when developing your own E Commerce Strategy. Three speakers will present on different aspects of E Commerce to give the attendees an indication of what they need to do to get up and running successfully.
I’m going to discuss your online strategy as a whole including
- how to go about getting your Merchant Service Agreement,
- choice of web developers,
- what to look for in a Payment Gateway and how to combat fraud.
Bob Curran from Buy4Now will present on the different options available to businesses in E Commerce Platforms and Shopping carts and some tips on what to look for and best practice.
Aileen O’Toole of AMAS will look at the State of the Net and the importance of knowing what’s going on in the market around you, the emerging trends in E Commerce, spending patterns etc.
Realex Payments have been a great supporter of the IIA over the years, getting involved in the conference in some capacity every year; what are the biggest changes/ challenges you have seen for Irish businesses who are coming online or upping their online game in this time?
We’re always happy to support the IIA and the Irish internet sector!
In terms of changes, the biggest and most positive change has to be social media, a large majority of our merchants are now actively involved in Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn etc and have benefitted significantly from being involved in this area. Many of our merchants tweet specific deals, have discounts for consumers who like their product on Facebook etc, so social media has become an important sales tool for so many businesses. The ability to have frequent conversations with your online community offers an incredible opportunity, not just from a social engagement point of view, but from a commercial perspective too.
I think initially many businesses were a little reluctant to participate in social media, particularly those businesses operating in a B2B environment, but as times gone on, the likes of twitter and Facebook have become an integral of marketing strategies throughout the country, including our own!
If you have one piece of advice for an Irish business reviewing their ecommerce strategy in light of these new challenges what would it be?
Integration of social media with ecommerce has become a crucial element for every ecommerce business, for B2B as well as consumer companies. Whether it is integrating social sharing on purchases, offering special deals/incentives to followers or likes, adding facebook open graph to enable Facebook likes to see friends purchases on your ecommerce site or simply leveraging brand ambassadors who emerge on Twitter and Facebook, there are a wealth of opportunities for brands to enhance their ecommerce offering. It’s becoming more and more important for brands to have personalities, as people want to know and engage with the brands that they’re buying, integrating your ecommerce strategy with social media facilitates this process.
Thanks a million Jonathan! See you and everyone else on Thursday May 12th!
As part of this year’s annual conference Open for Business in the Aviva Stadium on May 12th, Sandra Hennessy of Dynamic Web Marketing will be running a series of one-to-one web strategy clinics. We hold these every year, inviting a member to host them. Sandra may well be known to some of our members, attendees and readers already as she is one of the lecturers on our Diploma in Digital Marketing.
Conference delegates can book a clinic online but as they are one-to-one and run only in the afternoon the places are very limited so please no dawdling! (You can book your ticket for the conference online too and again less of that dawdling at the back please!)
I had a chat with Sandra last week about how she is going to run the clinics this year and here is how she replied
Q. Sandra, you are running a one-to-one web strategy clinic at Open for Business, the IIA Annual Conference on the afternoon of May 12th in the Aviva Stadium. Which key areas are you hoping to help delegates with at these clinics?
A. I anticipate a lot of questions around search engine optimisation and social media but I hope to help businesses identify new ways to increase their online profile and conversions. QR codes are getting popular and a lot of the larger businesses are using them, I am currently on a mission to get Irish SME’s using QR codes in innovative ways to help drive sales.
Q. Some of our delegates and members might recognise you because this isn’t the first time you have helped on the web strategy clinics at our annual conference. Tell us about some of the issues you managed to resolve for delegates in previous years.
A. I am delighted to be sponsoring the clinics, I only recently set up my own business but have been working in online marketing for 9 years now. Over the past few years the clinics have centered around websites evaluations, giving delegates advice on how to improve their website usability, search engine optimistion and conversions. I expect this theme will run into this year but the web is moving and how we attract new business online is changing every day. Setting up and using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter was discussed last year but I anticipate a lot more questions in this area as it is now paramount to any online marketing strategy to include social and business networking.
Q. And in the (2/3) years that you have been doing this and working in this area in general what are the biggest changes/ challenges you have seen for Irish businesses who are coming online or upping their online game?
A. The biggest challenge I have seen since the birth of social media is time. It’s great that we can use Facebook, Twitter etc for free but it does take time to set up and manage. Part of what I do every day is help businesses establish and implement their social media strategy. I help them build social media it into their working day. It eventually becomes habit rather than a chore but it takes time to get to this stage.
Q. If you have one piece of advice for an Irish business reviewing their online strategy what would it be? I know tough question!
A. Three words – PLANNING, DELEGATION and ANALYSIS. Planning will help structure things, plan out a time line for different stages and don’t be afraid to delegate out some of the work to colleagues. Once upon a time looking at your website once a month and making a few changes would suffice but now online marketing is an integral part of any marketing plan so it needs to be planned into every day tasks. Decide when things will be completed and who will complete them. Once they have been implemented, analyse. No point in taking the time to plan and implement if you are not going to review how successful your online marketing campaigns are.
If you do hope to participate please book online. In this form you can include details of the particular issue you wish to discuss so Sandra can prep in advance and you can really make the most of your half hour with her.
This is a general call to all interested in helping to contribute to the social media sector in Ireland though collaborative work. We are inviting you all with an open invite to a kick off session in the Digital Hub on 24th February at from 6.00pm to 7.00pm. Please register for free online.
The group has an official set of aims outlined but in truth this sector moves incredibly rapidly and I would really love to hear people views on what they think a grouping of like-minded, motivated and skilled digital people can achieve. In essence the working group is a collective effort and we can achieve more through harnessing each other’s expertise than we can as stand-alone units. No one of us has all the answers.
My experience of these type groups is that if we follow a defined and agreed set of work that it moves quickly from a talking shop to something of real value. We will be asking for time but we will respect it and use it as efficiently as possible. Your expertise may come in the form of peer review of papers/reports we build, speaking at events or face to face meetings to run through work.
Ultimately the Irish Internet Association and the industry in general will benefit from a lot of the work done by the group but this not a selfless task and by giving up time your efforts will be acknowledged.
For my part I am committing a year in chairing the group. I don’t have all the answers and this is not driven by ego but I am passionate about the social media sector and how it changing how we communicate and do business.
At the session on the 24th I will outline some of the work done previously, the work in progress and some thoughts about areas we can make a real impact. I am stepping into big shoes following on from the excellent work by previous chairs Conor Lynch and Brendan Hughes and I would like to thank them and the other members of the group and the IIA staff for the hard work to date.
A note from Roseanne, IIA Membership Manager: While we welcome all to come along to this meeting to hear about the Social Media Working Group plans only fully paid-up members can join the Working Group. You can join online or get in touch with me by email or 01 5424154 to discuss membership with me. I will, of course, be at this meeting if you would like to talk to me then.
It’s not email…apparently. It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Messages. Some call it the Gmail Killer, some doubt it’s viability at all and some are just confused by it. So, what is Facebook Messages?
Yesterday, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced details of his one stop shop for all your messaging needs. It combines your email, text messages and chats with a strong focus on the social element of online communication. When you select a contact, you will instantly see your entire conversation history regardless if it was through IM, SMS or email. This adds context to conversations – we don’t just converse with people using one method and now all methods will be integrated. Facebook says, “it’s like having an ongoing record of your friendship”. Aww, how sweet.
So far so good! It sounds like the ideal solution for personal emails. However, Facebook are at pains to say this is not an emailing system. Despite the fact that you will now have access to a @facebook.com email address, the Messages service is designed to act more as a ‘switchboard’ for your communications needs. Zuckerberg stated that Facebook believes modern messaging should be “seamless, informal, immediate, personal, simple and minimal”. “It’s not e-mail,” he said.
Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I happen to be quite fond of email. I like my Gmail account; I like having all of my different email addresses integrated into my Gmail account. I don’t think I’m quite ready to abandon emails just yet.
There is one area I can see Facebook outshining Gmail and that’s in the prioritising of messages. While Gmail has its Priority Inbox (something which is not as intuitive as they seem to believe), Facebook has its Social Inbox. FB knows who your friends are already. It knows who you converse with regularly. Your social inbox will likely only contain messages from people you deem important to you socially. Messages from everyone else will fall into your ‘Other’ folder. In fact, as with FB’s other functions and services, you can restrict who has the ability to message you – i.e. Friends Only, Friends of Friends, Groups, etc.
Why have Facebook launched this service? Well, with over 500 million current Facebook users, there’s definitely a market for the service. The pre-existing Facebook Mail is clunky and unintelligent, so a change was definitely needed. Furthermore, Zuckerberg explained recently that when he asked a group of high school students why they “don’t really use e-mail”, the reply was “it’s too slow”. Text messaging is near instant and Facebook wants its Messages system to reflect this.
Which brings us back again to the abandonment of email – “We don’t think a modern messaging system is going to be e-mail,” Zuckerberg said. For a system that claims not to be email, it looks a lot like email to me…
…except, not as good. Facebook Messages cannot replace email. It’s advantages will be in the instantaneous nature of the service, the swift responses, the quick back-and-forth. However, if you use email for more than short bursts of information (I definitely do), Messages won’t be for you. Granted, Facebook have purposely geared their service this way.
Every email someone sends to firstname.lastname@example.org will go into Facebook Messages as part of a single conversation. If you end up sending me several emails about a variety of topics, I’ll see all of those separate emails as one conversation. FB Messages doesn’t have Subject Lines. Again, I see this as a huge flaw, while Facebook call it a design feature.
I can see plenty of advantages to Messages, particularly for personal communications, and, as an upgrade of their current Facebook Mail service, it is a huge improvement. But will it change how I communicate online? I don’t see it. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong.
Frankly, with so much still wrong with Facebook – the privacy settings, the user interface for Facebook Groups, the lack of message archive accessibility and the fact that there are still no email alerts available to Page Admins, to name a few – I would rather Facebook get their core product right before throwing a new one at us.
If you want to know more about Facebook Messages, go to the Facebook Blog or if you want to request an invitation, you can click here and wait a while. And don’t forget, you can follow the Irish Internet Association’s Facebook Page too.
For the moment, Facebook Messages is invite-only – and each person has a limited number of invitations to share. Are you using it yet? Let us know your thoughts on Messages. Will it work or will it go down in the annals of Internet lore, alongside Google Wave, Bebo and Boo.com?
Okay no prizes for original titles for me when writing about Google’s new service Buzz. I’m now seeing it in my Gmail from my PC but so far I have checked it out more often on the iPhone. I fear Google may be a little late to the party on this one but the promised open-ness (“Connect sites you already use. Import your stuff from Twitter, Picasa, Flickr, and Google Reader.”) should allow people already familiar with other Google services to tap into it. I already use Friendfeed in a very lacklustre manner admittedly but it fills my lifestreaming void (Bet you didn’t even know you could have one of them eh?) Increasingly many social networks do allow this cross pollination through RSS feeds and APIs. The amount of replication as a result can be overwhelming and irritating. I know one of the things I’ll be doing next week while waiting for the arrival of Nipper 3.0 will be sorting out all my feeds, where they’re going and who’s seeing them. I know, the excitement!
However not everyone is enthralled by Buzz. Laurent Francois of Social Media Today feels that the assumption that Google make that you automatically want to be visible or see all your Gmail contacts is a big assumption and a questionable attitude to privacy.
But what’s the buzz for business? The mobile version is location specific (although it’s been having a fine time pinpointing my location so far) allowing users to “view buzz near your location” or “Post buzz tagged with your location”. This could be a great boon to businesses using Buzz and Google Maps as one of the functions allows the user to see Buzz “Nearby” and add in locations not unlike that other new-ish kid on the Irish block, Foursquare. Businesses could buzz about special offers, events, opening hours etc. and pick up passing buzzers. Despite Laurent’s fears above it will still be up to customers whether they follow the buzz on businesses or not. For customers however it’s nice to know that you can click on the nearby button when you’re thinking of a purchase and seeing if any nearby businesses are offering any specials, whether they are open and what your options are.