Official Google Blog review
Their mission… “Insights from Googlers about our products, technology, and the Google culture.” The site is extremely simple with its blog content down the middle, search features on the right side of the page, and lots of annoying white space. That’s it. It’s actually very boring. Everyone knows that when it comes to blogging, Google rules with its Google Ads. Everyone wants to get a higher page rank and show up at the top of Google search results. Google (the largest search engine on the internet) you would think their blog would be easy to find, but there is no direct link on their home page. I had to actually google it to find it. Google actually has hundreds of different blogs. You can visit the directory to see all the different topics. I did take a look at some of the other blogs and most have the same boring layout, but a couple did have some images. The Official Google Webmaster Central Blog, which is the official news on crawling and indexing sites for the Google index is a good resource to help move your site/blog up on their index.
From a social media standpoint they do allow you to share the posts through the social media of your choice (Email, Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, or Google+1) although they have conveniently grayed out anything that isn’t a Google product. They also do a good job of posting often. They seem to post once a day and sometimes several times per day. There seems to be several different authors who write for the blog and most of the posts seemed to be written well and without errors. Although, they probably could spice it up in the content area. Its posts definitely fall under its very broad mission statement but I think they could benefit more by having a more focused approach. They do provide notes at the bottom of posts whenever changes are made, which lets us know they are being honest.
The major piece missing was that they do not provide an opportunity for readers to leave comments. Consumer input is a huge part of what makes a corporate blog successful. I think this is where they get a FAIL, especially when they are pioneers in the industry. If you don’t allow comments, how can you address your reader’s concerns about specific issues? Companies that blog successfully understand that being transparent and approachable are the best tools to strengthen public image. Take Starbucks for example. Their entire blog is a global brainstorming platform. Customers submit new ideas for food, drinks, and even store designs then the Starbucks team will blog about the ideas and build on them through customer comments. That’s pure genius. On the other hand, Google is doing a poor job of engaging and growing their audience. I believe that when people realize they cannot leave their opinion they won’t come back. Google has by far created some amazing apps and products, but their blog left me feeling that the only reason they have the blog is to push their product information and updates. I believe Google is a poor example of corporate blogging.
The words corporate and blog sound very strange together. It’s not something I’m used to hearing. Whenever I hear the word blog, I usually think about an individual writing about something. I found it difficult to find a corporate blog but after doing some research I remembered that my favorite online sneaker store Zappos has a pretty nifty blog. I figured this counts as a corporate blog.
Zappos ranks as one of the top 50 companies to work for. The company culture evokes a family feel and every employee contributes in some way shape or form. This is probably what makes the Zappos blog even more special.
Zappos blog is an example of a good corporate blog. The main reason for this is because of the Zappos company culture. The company tries to differentiate itself from other organizations and it does a good job at it. Their blog is filled with plenty of advice on what to wear for certain seasons as well posts directly from sneaker designers. What I like most about the blog is the Zappos family input. If you browse through the blog there are several posts that show Zappos employees at various events and having fun. There are posts with photos of the corporate office and how employees have decorated their cubicles. These posts don’t make the Zappos blog seem like any other poorly managed corporate blog. The blog is designed to be down to earth and for the everyday consumer.
The content of the blog is very useful. The blog contains advice about how to wear outfits for any season and it recommends items to purchase. This is useful advice especially if you’re looking to purchase something and are undecided on how to coordinate an outfit. The Zappos social media strategy is part of their blog. You can tweet, or Facebook anything from the blog. What I like is that you’re always reminded that Zappos has 24/7 customer service available to you. Zappos can be viewed as a trust agent within the e-commerce world. They’ve set themselves apart by having a blog that integrates seamlessly with their main website and the blog postings are very personal.
I encourage you all to browse around the Zappos blog and experience it.
I’ve written a previous post (actually my first post on the #RotoloClass tumblr) about GE, but I wanted to go back and revisit this based off the knowledge gained through the semester so far and to contrast it to the corporations recognized for “doing it right” like Wegman’s and Southwest. I admire their shift to embrace the social and non-traditional media form of marketing, but I am not certain they have quite arrived in that area when examining their official corporate blog.
If you look at GE Reports (http://www.gereports.com/), the official GE corporate blog, the first thing that jumps out at you is the feel of it is very corporate, very pr department, starting from the sanitized name of GE Reports on. Some could say its just a title, but compare how more personal a blog titled fresh stories or nuts about southwest is compared to reading “GE Reports” (say this in your head in a voice of the Wizard before Toto pulls the curtain back.)
Content wise they have some areas of strength, specifically providing great variety in the topics of the posts as they leverage their wide variety of business holdings. Some such as this post about aviation flyovers (http://bit.ly/qJjQiN) even felt like they were not trying to sell me something, which I think is a great move for a corporation. When I am reading a corporate blog, I already know they sell some sort of product and service in order to be a corporation, and if the sell message is too pervasive in everything they say, it morphs from a call to action to a sales pitch. In Trust Agents terms, GE Reports to me positions GE more as “That Guy” than a “Trust Agent”
I’ve been taking a look at the Powell’s Books blog site, which is seamlessly integrated into the main bookstore sales site (which is itself organized along the lines of Amazon or Barnes & Noble). As you may know, Powell’s is a large independent bookseller in Portland that was one of the first to go online in the wake of Amazon.com. Perhaps not coincidentally, it is now one of the few remaining independent bookstores still to be found in the wild.
The blog is very well-done. Rather than emphasize selling books, Powell’s blog features discussions of literature and other issues by “guest bloggers” who are usually authors themselves. A visitor might go for several screen pages without reading any blog text written by an actual employee of the company. The goal seems to be to create a gathering place for literary readers and reviews that isn’t overwhelmed by the store’s own sales apparatus. To me it seems to succeed. While the whole blog is framed at the edges buy the bookstore interface, the blog content is about books as something to read rather than something to buy.
This is an excellent strategy. Were the blog merely a catalog-in-disguise like so many corporate websites, Powell’s would never be able to compete with the Amazonstrosity; there would be nothing to distinguish them. Instead, Powell’s has opted to capitalize on its reputation as a “book lover’s bookstore,” making the blog function much like a literary news site rather than a sales site.
This is an especially effective approach for a bookseller, which (unlike a restaurant or a manufactuer/designer) has no hand in the creation of the product it sells: I can be sure that the copy of THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET I buy from Amazon is 100% identical to the one I buy at Barnes & Noble. Thus the bookseller has to offer some value over and above the product itself.
In Powell’s case, what they are offering is community, and this puts them directly in line with what social media is supposed to be all about. They are building a site where readers can go to satisfy their curiosity and their taste, and where they can feel connected (by commenting or just keeping up to date) with writing that does not come directly from the bookseller. In effect, the blog attempts to be what every brick-and-mortar independent bookstore once aspired to be: a gathering place for for people who love to read and talk about literature.
Naveen Selvadurai, one of the co-founders of Foursquare, makes the terrific point that “Other sites want to keep you inside the computer while our entire goal is to get you out of the house.” The other founder, Dennis Crowley, has described one of Foursquare’s goals as that of making life more like a video game. The details we’ve seen this week about Foursquare’s virtual prize hunts and power-ups and other scoring opportunities certainly bear this out. Our own April Steenburgh recently tweeted about Foursquare users turning New York City into a giant game of RISK.
The combination of location-based social media with gaming brings up some very interesting possibilities, especially for merchants who adopt the idea creatively. It’s one of those ideas that seems obvious and easy: using technology to involve people in live-action promotional events aimed at the participants themselves. The most likely formula is to use social media to produce a kind of Reality Show that is also, essentially, advertising. (Off the top of my head, I’m imagining an event that rewards participants in a flash mob performance of Coke’s “I’d like to teach the world to sing.”) (Am I dating myself with that Coke reference?)
The affinity of games and advertising is a natural one, both practically and in theory. After all, games are activities and rule-sets that provide artificial motivations for action. And what is advertising but discourse designed, likewise, to provide artificial motivations for action?
Something about social media seems to makes this merger of games and advertising much more natural and inevitable. Perhaps it’s as simple as the fact that social media is (after all) media, and that we have been conditioned since birth to expect ads in our media. Perhaps it has to do with how social media invites us literally to advertise ourselves, packaging and editing the character we want others to believe we are. And perhaps it has most of all to do with the degree to which branding and identities (commercial, social, political) have become inextricable from the ways we experience our public selves.
This kind of live-action roaming-location full-spectrum social media, where gaming and advertising and participation are all part of the same unified field, obviously has a lot of potential going for it. Foursquare is definitely onto something.
*My* favorite game when thinking about this kind of thing is imagining the terribly dystopian possibilities of it all. Advertising is manipulation, after all, and the sinister implications of actively involving people in scenarios of self-manipulation seem worth some worry. But that is material for another discussion. Right now, it’s enough to notice that Foursquare has really opened something new with the idea of getting you out of the house in order to get you *into* the medium.
Comcast is the largest cable provider in the U.S. serving more than 24 million customers across their variety of services including digital cable television, internet service, and digital phone. Despite this immense footprint and the implied success that comes along with that, Comcast has historically been portrayed as a poor-service company, including winning Consumerist.com’s worst Company in America in 2010.
In the world of social media, Comcast has shown itself to be unique among its competitors in providing an accessible, unified presence to connect with its customers. The most important part of their strategy is a way to make customers feel that they are actively reaching out to customers to make their experience better, rather than being ineffective whenever someone brings a problem to their attention. Comcast has also made inroads in a variety of social media, maintaining a blog (http://blog.comcast.com), which while it is mainly a public relations blog, also provides another portal for engaging the public. They also employees dedicated to attempting to engage people in both pro-Comcast and anti-Comcast groups on Facebook. The most well known facet is the presence under the handle comcastcares. (Most famously @comcastcares on twitter) Started in 2007 by Customer Service Director Frank Eliason, it has made significant impact in trying to manage the relationships of Comcast with their customers online. The group behind that account searches the web for both positive and negative content, making sure to post comments just to make people see and feel that they are listening to what is being said and trying to react to the issues being raised. Even more importantly, it showed that Comcast cares enough to engage people on the medium they prefer and in which they are comfortable.
Comcast’s engagement is unique and the most visible both among its fellow cable companies (who are not direct competitors) as well as other providers such as satellite TV (Dish Network, DIRECTV) as well as Verizon. It should be noted that Comcast had the furthest to improve as it has for many years been known for poor customer service.
I believe the place they are missing an opportunity is attempting to use social media as a way to empower the public to provide input on new products and as a way to solicit suggestions. They have chosen customer care as their focus for their online presence but truthfully, at least part of the experience has already been affected if a customer is reaching out to connect only after experiencing a problem.
Hope you’re looking forward to tomorrow’s visit from @Wegmans!
I have responded to all the emails I received at email@example.com with your trending assigment choices. If you emailed in a choice and haven’t gotten a response, please let me know!
Also, if you didn’t email in your preferences, please do so ASAP. Your choices were due yesterday, so I have assigned many of the items from the list already. If you haven’t submitted them, since they’re late you may not receive your top choices.
Here are the assignments so far:
Nick Desloge Tripit
YooJung Hong WhatsApp
Gregory Miller Quora
Christopher Becker Kik messenger
Rich Tehan Yelp
Nichole May Groupon
Eric Liao Words with Friends
May Lo Instagram
Jonathan Tse Tumblr
Christina Kimble StumbleUpon
Steven Mazur SCVNGR
Evan Gibbons Vevo
Jennifer Deuel & Kate Monohan TV
Gretchen Schroeder & Lauren Newman Group Messaging
Kim Brown & Maren Guse Food and Reviews
Jennifer Liddy Location-based
Jiayao Sun; Ting-Ya Wang Coupons & deals
Mukta Phatak Q&A
Wenjie Xu, Shi Li Others (personal branding)
Elizabeth Ruscitto, Elise Trent Blogging
Marc Szot & Ryan Mayer Video
Reminder: Links to your viral videos are due tomorrow before class! Upload your videos to YouTube and email the link to firstname.lastname@example.org with the names of your team members who worked on it.
Thanks and see you all tomorrow! Tweet me with any questions :)