With Google Maps, you are able to drive through streets in 14 different countries, explore the moon, mars, and even views from the Hubble telescope. They are currently working on getting street views up in 24 more countries and hope to have them up and running within the next year. In the mean time, Google is thinking ahead and taking it’s map feature to the next level. By using the Google Trike, you’ll now be able to explore sidewalks, park trails, university campuses, theme parks, zoos, golf courses, and boardwalks across the globe, just to name a few.
It was only a matter of time before Twitter became a subject of legal questions. In a bigger picture, however, this happening begs a much deeper question: What is considered public conversation, and how liable are people for that conversation?
On July 27th, less than a week ago, Horizon Group Management of Chicago, a property management company, filed a lawsuit against Amanda Bonnen, one of their former residents, for an update she posted on Twitter. Specifically, the update referred to the realty company and mold in Bonnen’s apartment: “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.” The lawsuit, filed in Cook County court, asks for $50,000 in damages, alleging that her statement damaged the company’s business reputation.
Putting personal opinions of this lawsuit aside, it raises serious questions about what we can and can’t be held liable for on a public forum, and what exactly Twitter can be called in relation to those forums. Many people tweet complaints about products, services and companies. Many companies embrace Twitter as a gateway into the real-time pulse of their customer base, and respond accordingly. Comcast, for example, solves many technical questions and issues via Twitter and have benefited from being known as a tech-savvy and customer-friendly company, meeting their customer base on their turf, and helping out accordingly. Contrast that to Horizon’s handling of this issue (specifically with legal papers) and there has been quite a backlash of sorts online, with many people stating the obvious PR nightmare this has caused for the property management company and weighing in with opinions of how it could have better been handled.
Transitioning from the retail market to the online market can be a difficult endeavor, and no one is more aware of those difficulties than Lane James. The proprietor and owner of OnTheField.com, James has been in the sports jersey business since 1993. In that year, he opened a physical location across from the then-standing Kingdome.
“We had our difficulties with teams going up and down, winning and losing, but once we moved to the Kingdome location, we started seeing growth,” said James. “Then we could turn to making our name a national or worldwide brand. We had wonderful IT people that helped us establish an online presence, and we started selling licensed sportswear through our website.”
Recognizing the inherent importance of a niche market, James made the decision to specialize in sports jerseys related to Major League Baseball, the National Football League, Major League Soccer, and many other sports-related organizations.
“The key factor in our business is customization,” said James. “Just select the specific jersey and tell us the name and number of your favorite player — or yourself — and we’ll ship that jersey to you with this custom information.”
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and Founder of Facebook, announced about a week ago that the social networking site now has over 250 million users. Just a few months ago, back in April of 2009, Facebook passed 200 million users. The growth of the site is pretty phenomenal and reinforces the fact that Facebook is the #1 social networking site in the world, although in the U.S. MySpace still holds a slight advantage. In the global market however, Facebook is more than twice the size of MySpace and continues to dominate in every category.
To give you an idea of Facebook’s adoption, the U.S. has a population of just over 300 million, and the world has about 6.7 billion people. That means in the U.S., with over 75 million users, 1 in 4 people have a Facebook page, with about half of those logging in each day. Worldwide, Facebook reaches about 4% of the popluation. You can see more Facebook statistics here.
One of the most interesting things about the growth of Facebook was not the fact that it had so many global users, but instead that those aged 35 and up were the fastest growing population of users and responsible for fueling much of the recent gains. That means the older population is embracing Facebook as a networking tool for business beyond simple social connections, which is definitely not the case for MySpace.
Ten Tips For Optimizing Your Blog For Search Engines
It’s not breaking news that blogs are great for search engines. Since blogs became popular and were documented in the main stream media, back around early 2004, the merits of their marketing reach and search engine prowess has been well-covered by the search and marketing industry. It’s almost as if blogs were specifically designed to appeal to search engines, in that they fulfill so many specific criteria search engines look for when determining ranking. Fresh, content-based websites with clean architecture, simple navigation and keyword-rich page titles are like honey to a bear, search engines are naturally attracted to them and once they get sticky, they keep coming back.
But getting your blog to really communicate well with the engines isn’t something that comes built in; there are some essential steps that you need to take in order to make it easy for engines to discover your site and subsequently, rank it higher. Follow these ten tips to optimizing your blog for search engines, and you’ll be well on your way.
Advertising is undoubtedly one of the primary ways that companies reach out to their customers, but the introduction of social media and online marketing has muddied these once-clear waters. After all, advertising used to be the representation of your company in the most positive light possible. It used to be gimmicks, catch phrases, and limited time promotions.
But with social media, the question becomes whether it’s even beneficial for companies to directly advertise through these venues. Essentially, people believe one of two things about social media advertising. On one side of the debate, people believe it’s beneficial for companies to present themselves through any available channels. And on the other side of this debate, people believe that social media venues are there primarily for people to be sociable. That is to say, they don’t want to be inundated with advertisements and promotions.
The people who take this latter position feel that coming into these new venues with advertisements blazing can actually harm a company image. They feel it alienates these companies from this core demographic, because the companies are simply not playing by the “social media rules.”
Demonstrating the increasing need for everyone to be instantly connected, New York has taken a major step to elevating state policy into the age of social media. To that end, New York has not only launched a New York State Office of Technology (OFT), but that entity has also premiered Empire 2.0. The initiative is a concerted effort to increase collaboration and promote government participation through social networking avenues.
But this isn’t the first instance of OFT’s social savvy. In May, the agency launched both a Facebook and Twitter page. State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines is particularly excited about the potential for this new program. Pointing out some of the potential applications of this program, Daines focused on the potential for quick and widespread dissemination of information. Through the venues offered by 2.0, New Yorkers can be made aware of various issues such as smoking cessation laws almost immediately after being made into policy.
Even in an age of debit cards and credit cards, checks are something that most people use on a regular basis. Whether you’re paying your rent, your utility bill, or a friend that you owe for dinner, most people dig out their checkbooks for all those purchases where plastic can’t be used. Online entrepreneur David Hamlen acknowledged this fact and built his web business, www.ChoiceChecks.biz, around this popular product line.
“I developed this site because I was writing so many personal checks myself,” said Hamlen. “I did some research and figured out how much I could save per check if they were purchased in bulk.”
After developing the basic idea that he wanted to carry personal and business checks as well as check accessories and accounting software, Hamlen recognized that there was still a great deal of work to be done before launching a fully functioning web business.
“I took a year of planning and analysis and decided what market I wanted to focus on,” said Hamlen. “I started this process in 2005, and my site didn’t launch until March 2006.”
Entering into his business with the aim of catering to his customers, Hamlen decided to differentiate himself from other check companies with his variety.
For many people, finding success in business means finding a product or a service that they are passionate about providing. And for entrepreneur Dawn Ross, that adage has truly proven correct. An avid pet lover and volunteer, Ross decided to launch her online business PetAutoSafety.com, a website dedicated to ensuring safe vehicle travel for both dogs and cats.
“I have always thought pet auto safety was important,” said Ross. “My dogs have always worn seatbelts, and I am happy to bring these safety products to other animal lovers.”
Converting a lifelong love of animals into a business venture, Ross attributes some of her success to her ability to empathize with her customers. Understanding that these customers demand high quality and effective products, Ross is sure to only carry products that she would trust with the safety of her own animals. This includes pet travel seats, car safety belts, travel barriers, safety carriers, a variety of dog seat covers, and more.
“I’ve always been a pet owner and an animal lover. In fact, the only time I’ve been without a pet is when my dog got out of the fence and was lost for two weeks,” laughed Ross. “I know how much these animals mean to my clients, because I know how much my pets mean to me. I’m proud to provide safety belts and many other products that help ensure pet safety during travel.”
While Google CEO and multimillionaire Eric Schmidt is best known for his business ventures, he recently demonstrated his humor, poignancy, and ability to dole out life lessons at the University of Pennsylvania commencement ceremony. Delivering the commencement address, Schmidt made some telling observations about technology, information, and the human condition in general.
He began by noting some mundane differences between his graduating class and the current graduating class, including something as simple as the drink of the day. “We had tang,” Schmidt noted. “You have Redbull.”
But his differences quickly revealed a fundamental divide between the mindset of the two age groups.
“We used $700 VCRs. You have YouTube,” which was followed by, “We got our news from newspapers…remember them? You get your news from blogs and tweets.”