This week, April 12th to be exact, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will stop accepting applications for a new round of generic top-level domains (gTLDs), the part of a web address that appears to the right of the period. Currently gTLDs like ‘.com’, ‘.net’ & ‘.co.uk’ are some of the 22 current top-level domains available, but the new gTLDs will allow companies to register their own domain names. (For example, if Starbucks wanted to purchase one, they could end their web pages with ‘.starbucks’ instead of ‘.com’, we could be ‘.simplyzesty’ etc.).
With a price tag of $185,000, (a discounted price of $47,000 is available for those from developing countries who need financial assistance), it will only be bigger brands that will apply, although that doesn’t mean that brands are queuing up to get theirs. AdAge reports that of the major marketers that they contacted, only a few said that they are planning to apply for new gTLDs. Google is planning to apply for several, including their own trademarked TLDs as well as new ones, suggesting that the company will go for TLDs such as ‘.google’ and ‘.youtube’.
Other marketing companies contacted by AdAge either refused to comment or said that they weren’t planning on applying for new TLDs. Theoretically, while brands can apply for it, the chances are that most established brands will delay their application is high as people are so familiar with ‘.com’ and ‘.net’, that it’s a given that using them will find you the site in question.
The addresses in question won’t be appearing until 2013 at the earliest as the application process will last for months. Also the application is optional so brands will perhaps like to wait and see how the first batch do before they make any changes to their own as the change may confuse users who’s browsing habits aren’t going to change any time soon.
If hardware is the backbone to any good smartphone, then apps have become the lifeblood with many consumers judging a device on what they’re able to download for it. Microsoft know this and because it’s playing catchup with its competitors, iPhone and Android, it’s turned towards funding developers to ensure apps are created for them.
The New York Times reports that Microsoft is financing the development of well known apps, costing anything between $60,000 to $600,000 depending on the complexity of the app. Developers are reluctant to dedicate time and money into a platform that is both small and unproven so Microsoft is adapting different methods to incentivise developers. Alongside funding their app’s development, the company also provides developers with free phones and the promise of prime spots in its app stores and in Windows Phone advertising
One such example is the popular location sharing app Foursquare. When Microsoft offered to underwrite a Windows Phone version of the app, Foursquare gladly accepted. While Foursquare has in-house engineers working on iPhone, Android and Blackberry versions of its service, their head of business development, Holger Luedorf told the New York Times that if Microsoft didn’t offer to pay an outside company to do the work, they would “probably not” have developed an app for Windows Phone.
Microsoft only has an estimated 70,000 apps for its Windows Phone platform. Comparing that the iPhone has roughly more than 600,000 apps in its store and Android has almost 400,000 apps, the company is very much trying to bridge the gap between themselves and speed up the process. Their other initiative is teaming up with Nokia to open up an AppCampus in Finland, where over €18 million will be invested into the project over three years, but the company has a lot of work ahead of them if they seriously want to be in a position to challenge the big two.
It’s (reportedly) two months away, but Facebook is halting the trading of its shares on secondary markets by the beginning of April as it prepares for its initial public offering (IPO).
Bloomberg report that representatives of the company have instructed firms that help investors buy and sell stock in closely held companies to cease trading of its equity this week. Facebook, which filed to raise $5 billion in the largest-ever Internet public-market début back in February, is actively traded on secondary markets, including SharePost Inc. and SecondMarked Inc.
The halt would give the company time to account for its shareholding base and would end any price fluctuations as it determines its IPO valuation with bankers and investors.
SharesPost moved the date of its Facebook-share auction forward from April 2nd to March 30th. The company said in a note to clients that: “At Facebook’s request, SharesPost will cease facilitating transactions in Facebook’s stock as of Friday end of day to help ensure the company’s orderly transition into the public markets.”
Facebook’s implied value had dropped from $98 billion to about $93 billion in a late-February auction of a fund that holds shares of its stock. The sale set a price of $40 apiece for 125,000 units of the fund, according to SharesPost, which managed the auction. Facebook still intends to hold its IPO in early May.
With social media being a predominant part of anyone's online experience, it is considered crucial for businesses to have their own Facebook Pages. Here are top tips for a Facebook-for-business-novice on how to ensure your Facebook marketing is successful.
Please add your own tips in the comment field below!
1. Choose a correct category
When creating a business page, you will be asked to identify a category for your page. The available options are:
Local Business or Place
Company, Organization or Institution
Brand or Product
Artist, Band or Public Figure
Cause or Community
The category you choose is important as it will help you rank in more relevant searches and provide relevant information fields on your Page.
2. Decide whether to post updates as yourself or a company
On a Facebook Business Page admins are able to post updates either as themselves, or as a Company. (On new Facebook Pages this setting can be easily switched in Manage > Use Facebook as ...)
Normally large and international companies get better response from their Facebook community if they write updates as a Company, while local businesses can benefit from the immediate proximity to their customers in the real world and bring that local community feel online by posting as themselves.
To make up your mind on what option would work best for your business don’t be afraid to experiment – try both types of communication and monitor the results. It won’t be difficult to spot the difference in the interaction.
3. Create an engaging landing page
Use applications like the discussion board and YouTube video box to add more engaging content to your Page. You need to give your visitors a reason to become a fan by proving your content and comments would enrich their social experience on Facebook. There is plenty of opportunity to be creative with your landing page – just make sure to involve a good programmer who is familiar with Facebook rules and API.
The added benefit of creating an engaging page is that every time a fan engages with your page – from becoming a fan to posting a comment to attending an event – that activity is published to their “News Feed” which can be seen by their friends on Facebook. When a user first logs into Facebook, they see a feed of their friends‟ recent activity, so the activity of your fans on your Page gets shared with a greater network, giving your business more visibility.
4. Draw on your existing network
If you already have email subscribers and blog readers on your website, make sure they know they can now become a fan of your business on Facebook. There are few changes you can do really fast to start promoting your Facebook Page: include a link to your page in your email signature and add Facebook logo with a link to your Page on your website where it would look prominent. Blog about your Facebook Page on your website and ask your supporters to share the news.
Don’t forget to email your opt-in mailing list announcing that now they can keep up to date with your news and give feedback on your Facebook Page, and make sure to add a link to your Page in all your regular email newsletter.
5. Make your Page publicly searchable
By default, your Page will be public so it can get indexed by search engines and give you the opportunity to drive organic search traffic to your Page. If you don’t notice your Page showing up in searches, make sure you have set it to be publicly indexed and searchable. It can be found in Manage > Edit Page > Manage Permissions (“Page Visibility” box should be un-checked).
6. Use Facebook Ads for an extra push
If you’re familiar with Google AdWords, you will find it very easy to set up ads on Facebook. Our own experience has shown that users do not appreciate being taken away from Facebook to a different website through an ad. However, Facebook Ads are excellent at generating significantly more “Likes” for your Page, whether you have interesting content to share, or run a competition. Thanks to an option to display your latest or features Wall Post as an ad, your news can be visible not just to your fans, but anyone you wish to target with an ad.
Up until recently, Facebook was a great branding tool, but many digital marketers argued its ability in generating revenue. If you are an advanced Facebook user and have set up a shop on Facebook, Facebook Ads is a must for promoting you products and special offers.
If you’d like to learn more about using Facebook and other Social Media platforms for your business, please contact us to find out how we can help you and your business / career.
And if you’d like to meet us personally, next Thursday we will be at the National Digital Summit at The Croke Park Conference Centre, with the founders of Digital Marketing Institute, Ian Dodson and Anthony Quigley, presenting alongside 20 other experts.
Despite the number of apps in their marketplace exceeding 65,000, Windows Phone has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to properly compete with the half a million apps offered by Apple and Android.
With the lack of must-have apps available on the Windows Phone combined with the need to increase this number to appeal to consumers, Microsoft and Nokia have announced a deal which will see them invest up to €18 million in a new mobile application development program called ‘AppCampus‘.
The program, which will be led and managed by Aalto University in Finland, will begin in May 2012 and last for three years. It has been set up to foster the creation of innovative and unique apps for the Windows Phone, and by extension, the Nokia platforms Symbian and Series 40.
The scheme will provide training in mobile technology, design and usability and funding for what they define as ”mobile entrepreneurs”, while Aalto University shall contribute by providing premises, coaching services and access to both academic and business networks for potential app developers.
The executive vice president of Nokia Corp Kai Öistämö, said that the partnership between Microsoft, Nokia and Aalto University “will allow developers to ideate and monetize business opportunities globally, via both Windows Phone Marketplace and Nokia Store”.
With Nokia now using Windows Phone as its operating system, the scheme will further strengthen the ties between the two companies, but it’s the start of a long battle as they try to convince developers to make apps for them. A survey from app researcher Distimo found that only 37 per cent of developers are keen to make apps for Windows Phone, compared to the 89 per cent interested in the iPhone and 79 per cent interested in Android phones.
After falling into a legal battle against Yahoo!, who have sued the patent infringement, Facebook is launching its own counter measures against it and future lawsuits by acquiring 750 patents from International Business Machines (IBM), adding intellectual property that may help it counter allegations of patent infringement.
The deal has yet to be made public, but Bloomberg report that the patents cover various technologies such as software and networking, potentially costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars. The acquisition would be a massive increase in its portfolio, which features at least 56 issued patents as well as 503 filled U.S. patent applications.
According to its IPO filing, Facebook also has 33 corresponding patents and 149 filed applications in foreign countries since the end of last year. The filing also states that the company is expecting more patent lawsuits in the future.
The move should help Facebook solidify its position regarding intellectual property and give it better protection against future lawsuits. How much protection it will offer the company depends on what exactly the patents are, but if Yahoo! has infringed on any of the patents that Facebook has purchased, they could launch a counterclaim against Yahoo! to either reduce the impact of the original claim, or cause the lawsuit to be withdrawn.
Ultimately the move won’t bother IBM, who have topped the list of patents recipients for 19 years straight, receiving 6,180 new patents to its collection last year alone. Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft all have at least 1,000 patents each.
Of the few media outlets who have erected a paywall around their content, the New York Times is one of the more prolific examples, having introduced it this time last year. Now after obtaining roughly 454,000 paid subscribers, it will make it harder for people to read their articles directly by cutting the number of free articles available per month.
Starting in April, the number of articles non-subscribers can read online will be cut down from 20 to 10 articles per month. So those who visit the site on a regular basis will have to subscribe if they wish to read the paper on a regular basis.
However, those who access the site’s articles through links from email, search, blogs and social media sites will be able to access them, even if they’ve gone over the reading limit. In the case of certain search engines, users will have a daily limit of five free links to Times articles.
However, the real question behind this move is whether the New York Times is making these changes because 454,000 is enough to make such a business model work, or is it to force users to subscribe in a bid to make a flawed business model work?
There are a few things that suggest that the model isn’t exactly going to plan. Firstly, while 454,000 is a significant number, we don’t know how much they’re paying or how much revenue they need to generate to break even. Secondly, despite an increase in digital subscribers and revenue of $2.3 billion last year, the company has seen an overall decline in revenue in the last year as they continue the transition from print to digital.
Also, a mobile survey from Nielsen found that only 19 per cent of U.S. users surveyed said they had ever paid to read news on their tablets. While it doesn’t take into account factors like demographic or class, it does hint that Americans aren’t as keen to pay for content they believe is free already.
The Times say that the benefits of a paid print or digital subscription “has grown substantially over the past year” as they develop their mobile and digital products. That may be so but unless the Times can prove that such a model works through solid figures, then their move will be treated with skepticism.
Paypal have been very aggressive with the number of new products they’re revealing over the week. Their upcoming digital wallet has been getting a lot of attention in recent days and now they’ve released a new product called PayPal Here, allowing small businesses to accept any type of transaction.
Looking and acting a lot like Square’s card-reader, Paypal’s effort follows the same concept: if you’re an iPhone user (an Android version is in the works), you can complete transactions with any business through the card reader and a specialised app (also called ‘PayPal Here’) which accepts any form of payment. The chances of these apps being integrated with their upcoming digital wallet to bring an all-in-one payment system is likely, although it still highlights the company’s desire to merge both the physical and digital together to help streamline payments.
Although Square may have a case on its hands with regards to patenting the idea (outside the physical card-reader, Paypal’s check in feature is remarkably similar to Square’s ‘Pay with your name’ feature), Paypal seem determined to dominate this sector and moves like this only highlight their intentions.
With all the talk about interacting with your audience online, it seems that the majority set up social media profiles to expand their business but fail to put the time into engaging and interacting with fans.
New research from Facebook optimisation site, Recommend.ly found that on average, 82 per cent of Facebook brand pages post less than five update posts per month, signalling a lack of interaction and effort for businesses to engage fans. The research took into account 1.7 million Facebook pages, categories across Business (local businesses and companies), Personal Brands (Politicians, Musicians, Actors) and Interest Groups (Community, Restaurants, Spas).
The 1.7 million sample represents 4.59 per cent of the total number of pages on Facebook, which included 10 billion fans, 303 million ‘likes’, 57 million posts and 94 million comments overall.
The lowest quantity of posts came from local business pages with an average of 15 posts per month, and would be the biggest category in this research. In comparison, the highest number of average posts came from politicians and actors/directors who averaged around 67 posts and 46 posts respectively.
It gets worse for businesses as they also found that with regards to participation and communication, 94 per cent of local businesses don’t participate in conversations happening on their Pages while 91 per cent of companies leave their pages unattended. Also, 65 per cent of all Page updates tend to be unaccompanied by any media or links.
Image via Recommendly on Flickr
These are all very striking statistics and its quite worrying to see that the majority are jumping head first into social media without formulating a plan. However, before we get carried away with the results, there are two caveats that must be taken from this.
The first is the comparison between small businesses and any personal brands. While the comparison is striking, these ‘brands’ work under very different dynamics as politicians and musicians would either have the time to update their profiles or, more likely, the resources to outsource them so that they can be updated regularly.
Small businesses don’t have that luxury, normally one person is doing the jobs of three/four people as the business is in its early stages. Therefore, as their time is spent handling the day-to-day running of their business and all the other bits and pieces associated with their area of expertise, social media interaction is going to be pushed down the to-do list as its extra work and they can’t see any short term gain from interacting.
The second cavaet (depending on how cynical you are) is that this research is part of a press release highlighting the launch of recommend.ly’s product to the world. As their product is a Facebook Page management solution, such stats are in their interest as it helps businesses realist that they need help and will enlist Recommend.ly.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with that (all research, in a sense, aims to promote something), but some people may disregard the results because of this, which while understandable – the 82 per cent statistic mentioned in the title is certainly a large one – is disregarding the very real problem of businesses not understanding the platform they’ve created a profile on.
Also we’ve seen a similar use of technology involving bank cards instead of phones with contactless payments being introduced at the O2 arena in London by Barclays Bank, Barclaycard and Visa. But now we can expect to see mobile payments becoming a reality in the next few years, as Vodafone and Visa have announced today a partnership that will see the two work together to provide a worldwide mobile payments solution.
In a press release, Vodafone announced that the service, which allows people to pay for goods by waving their smartphone in front of a pay terminal, will be initially launched in Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K. this coming financial year. The service will be open to all industries to avail of, by way of a Vodafone mobile wallet. The Group Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone, Vittorio Colao, said of the technology that:
“’The Vodafone mobile wallet represents the next stage of the smartphone revolution. It offers our customers the speed, simplicity and convenience of managing their everyday transactions with a single wave or tap of their smartphone, using innovative and reliable services developed by Vodafone and Visa – technology and providers they can trust.”’
So we can expect to see people waving their smartphones to pay for daily goods in the coming months, with costlier purchases being made via a passcode. Vodafone say that the virtual mobile wallet will also hold “loyalty scheme points and gift voucher credits, complementing and sometimes replacing a whole class of plastic cards in the customer’s wallet or purse.”
It’s an exciting development that looks set to go global with such big names behind the technology, but of course it raises concerns that if your phone is stolen, it’s not just your information at risk, but potentially your bank balance. Surely more details will emerge as the technology rolls out, and perhaps in the future cards, coins and notes will become obsolete if such technology succeeds in convincing the consumer that mobile payments are safe, secure and simple.