About Ayelet Noff
Ayelet Noff has over ten years of experience in the hi-tech industry. She was ICQ’s Marketing Manager for four years and also held various executive marketing positions in different startups. In 2007 Ayelet started Blonde 2.0, a consulting firm that specializes in helping brands use social media tools such as social networks, the blogosphere, and social software to create brand awareness and online buzz.
She writes for her own blog, blonde20.com
which covers emerging technologies and social media, as well as for the Next Web, Social Media.biz, Adhocnium and TechCrunch UK.
Latest Posts by Ayelet Noff
It used to be that Thanksgiving was a time that you just sat around with your relatives, driving each other crazy and coming to the verge of punching each other. I remember fondly a Thanksgiving that ended with a bread knife wedge vertically in the floor and all of my family taking deep breaths in an effort not to kill each other. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about – surviving the madness of family. Now, apparently, that special holiday spirit has spread to complete strangers as well, as was demonstrated by the onslaught of crazy Black Friday stories that started popping up over the Internet this past weekend.
I have to admit that I have never been one to partake in that special brand of shopping stupidity known as Black Friday. I’m not very big on Christmas/holiday shopping and being the procrastinator that I am, I rarely buy a gift more than 48 hours before it needs to be given. So I was particularly stunned by the wave of news stories and videos that seemed to demonstrate that Americans had collectively lost their minds, well, at least more than usual.
The one story that really got my attention was the pepper spray incident – no, not the incident at UC Davis, the other one. The one that took place shortly after midnight on Black Friday at a Walmart in the San Fernando Valley only a short 15 minute drive from my parents’ house. Some lady was so desperate for a cheap Xbox that she whipped out her pepper spray to slow down her competitors in the video-console scrum that had formed. But that was just the beginning.
Over the weekend Mashable put up videos of shoppers climbing over each other for two dollar waffle irons – it looked like a piranha feeding frenzy. Shortly after that came the video of a woman almost being crushed to death at another Walmart store. But the pièce de résistance was this headline from a local West Virginia television station:
“Man Dies on Black Friday; Shoppers Unfazed”
Seriously people? You’re so concerned with that super cheap set of Tupperware that you can’t see the man dying in the street next to you?
First, if you have enough energy after dealing with your family and eating Thanksgiving dinner to go out and fight off throngs of marauding Walmart shoppers, you’re doing something wrong. Thanksgiving is supposed to be exhausting. Ever hear of turkey coma, that delicious state of exhaustion that comes after you’ve eaten enough turkey to feed the entire nation of Turkey?
Second, my dear fellow Americans, with the advent of the Internet, social media, YouTube, and every other tool that makes our world an especially small place, people in other countries are starting to pick up on our particularly boorish behavioral oddities. And it’s not like they had a very high opinion of us to begin with. When we live in a world where the midnight scene of Americans climbing all over each other for a cheap DVD is instantly transformed via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, into the lunchtime joke of the rest of the world, we have to consider for a second whether something has gone terribly wrong.
Post written by Jonah Balfour. Jonah is a Content and Community Manager at Blonde 2.0
It’s no secret I’m obsessed with organization. In my last post I wrote about Evernote, the ultimate note taking organizational tool. Since then, I started using Pinterest, which has overtaken Evernote as my favorite way to save and share images.
Pinterest is a virtual pinboard, which allows you to save images from the web in the same way as people used to cut things out of magazines and build scrapbooks or pinboards. It’s made social by allowing you to share your pinboards with other people. You can follow boards that you like, comment on people’s pins, and repin them onto boards of your own. You can also curate boards jointly with others – perfect for planning a wedding or an office event.
The site is currently invite-only, but you can request an invite and get in pretty quickly. It’s been voted as one of the best 50 websites of 2011 by Time magazine – not bad going when it only received its first round of funding 1-2 months ago. The positive word of mouth around the site has got to be a massive contribution to its growth – I just googled it and didn’t find that many articles about it, but the Facebook app has 1,297,666 users and 6396 reviews (with an average of 4.8 out of 5).
So how does it work? Pinterest has a bookmarklet that you can add to your browser. Once you’ve done this, all images are fair game. Just click the bookmarklet, choose which image on the webpage you’re browsing you want to save, and you’re done. All those images that I used to save in random folders on different computers because I loved them, never to find them again when I wanted to them, are now saved in nicely organized folders in Pinterest. You can set up as many different boards as you want; I have one for things I want, one for clothes I love, and this one with images I’ve seen across the web that I love. There’s also a news feed type home page, where new pins by people you follow pop up – allowing you to see what your friends are sharing and giving you access to new ideas and images all the time.
Another way to use Pinterest is on your phone. As an iPhone user, I’m one of the lucky ones as so far there is only an iPhone app. Having said that, I actually really dislike the app. It’s slow, doesn’t show me all my friend’s pins, and doesn’t have nearly as much functionality as the website. There is a mobile site, specially built so that Pinterest didn’t have to build apps for other smart phones, which is actually so much better than the app that I’ve added a bookmark on my home screen and deleted the app altogether. So, looks like Pinterest still has a way to go to optimizing itself properly for those on-the-go.
Since I discovered Pinterest, I’ve found myself “pinning” most days. The UI is clean, the pictures are pretty, and the social collaboration opportunities are endless. I think it may have overtaken Evernote in the list of things I’m obsessed with.
Post written by Joanna Ezekiel. Joanna has a Bachelor of Arts from Manchester Metropolitan University in England.
Not too long I opened Twitter, well Hootsuite to be precise, to find the following sponsored tweet at the top of my feed.
“We screwed up and we’re sorry.” It’s not every day you see a tweet like that, let alone one that a company paid for. Yet, this tweet is perhaps one of the best investments Airbnb could have made. It serves to me as proof that when you do something wrong, and everyone knows it, the best thing is to own up to your failure and take responsibility.
The company offers a cool service that lets you rent out your apartment for short periods to people who are traveling or who might just need a place to stay. It gives everyone the opportunity to earn a bit of money from an empty apartment and offers people the opportunity to find comfortable, affordable lodging.
But apparently, renting out your apartment to complete strangers on the Internet also exposes you to potential robbery and identity theft. That was the experience of EJ, a blogger who rented out her apartment through Airbnb only to find it ransacked upon her return. All of the effluent praise quickly turned to a veritable flood of bad PR. Another victim came forward soon after and Airbnb found itself up to the ears in hot and cold running PR nightmare.
So what do you do when this happens? See the tweet above. Airbnb apologized, profusely, and took several public steps to safeguard their users. Whether this resolves all of the problems remains to be seen, but I think Airbnb handled this as well as can be hoped considering how bad it had gotten.
Now it’s one thing to have a problem with your service, and then apologize. It’s another thing entirely to create a problem through a poorly planned public statement delivered via a blog post. Such was the case with Google.
About a month ago Google was on the losing end of a bidding war for a massive collection of patents from communications firm Nortel. Google went up against a consortium of Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and RIM, or basically every company that Google would want NOT to win those patents.
About a month later, Google wrote a blog post detailing how it was facing “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.” Apparently, Microsoft (and others) didn’t like this post very much and responded with a tweet of their own, “Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.”
Someday, when the history of the early 21st century is written, this tweet will be known as the shot that started the social media wars. And what an interesting war it was. The Internet practically blew up with posts and tweets flying back and forth with each side accusing the other of spin and twisting the facts. TechCrunch provided very entertaining coverage of the whole thing, and I highly recommend checking out their posts (it’s also worthwhile if you’d like to see the word ‘giddy’ defined in blog form).
A short time after this it looks as if Google was on the losing end of the war, with posts from MG Siegler and John Gruber that were both highly critical of Google. Gruber also linked to one of the most critical posts I have ever seen concerning Google.
The bottom line is that in the last few days Google has been raked over the coals from all different corners of the web. It’s hard to say whether they deserved this wave of criticism on all manner of subjects, but it can’t be argued that they didn’t invite it with their very public challenge to the tech industry.
With the nature of media as it is today, you need to be very prepared for the repercussions of the communications you release. Google picked a very public fight that they didn’t absolutely have to. Airbnb, on the other hand, was desperately trying to control a PR situation that they didn’t directly create. The contrast between the two publicity storms couldn’t be more striking. One was painful, but necessary. The other was painful, and painfully stupid.
Contributing Post: Jonah Balfour received his B.A. in English and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has diverse experience in communications and journalism and honed his skills in marketing writing while working at SPEEDbit.
For the last few days I’ve been checking out Google+ and I must say I am quite impressed with the interface, real time updates, and of course the circles. When you go into the platform, you almost need to double-check that you’re on Google+ and not Facebook as the interface looks very similar. But has a lot of cool funky additions as well which I will go into more in detail below.
So here are my top 10 insights as far as Google+ so far:
1) Google+ came to take the place of Facebook and Twitter, no doubt about it. And it may just do so. This has happened before. But it won’t happen so quickly or easily. It will take a long time to capture the hearts and minds of 750 million users.
2) It’s completely ridiculous that Google Apps don’t currently work with Google+. Yes I know it’s coming. But to launch Google+ like this, in my mind, is not savvy at all. End of story, no debate (as my buddy @GaryVee would say). Think about it: Who uses Google apps? Google’s clients and power users. Yeah, let’s disable them from using Google+. That makes a lot of sense.
3) With Google’s search capabilities, Google+’s search is going to be outstanding. Facebook must start working on its search capabilities and quickly.
4) Google+ is rolling out its messaging functionality slowly, so not everyone has it yet. However even for those who have the feature, they will find that the messaging system lacks basic email features which Facebook already has (i.e. attachments). I am certain that at some point Google will find a way to integrate it’s Google apps for businesses and Gmail for the rest of the users with outstanding mail capabilities built into the platform.
5) Users have always complained about the inability to separate their professional and personal identities on Facebook. Google+ enables users to share different information with different circles. So you can share a funny video with your friends, a professional article with your work colleagues and a photo of your newborn with your family. This is the reason that makes Google+ Circles a more user-friendly tool for the workplace as well, in comparison with Facebook.
6) Google could very easily enhance its Android offering with specific perks and features only to be provided on Android devices.
7) There are currently no commercial brands that I came across on Google+. No form of advertising either, though I am certain that it’s coming.
8 ) On Google+’s mobile version, there is the ability to check out Nearby streams. The fact that users can receive an organized stream based on geo-location is a killer feature.
9) Hangouts (pictured right) is also a stellar feature. Google+ makes it easy for users to watch Youtube videos together with their friends and we can think of a million and one ways that Google will develop this feature even further.
10) With so many top entrepreneurs snooping around Google+, it’s hard to overlook its potential.
Here’s just a short list:
- Larry Page, +Sergey Brin – Google
- Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook
- Tom Anderson – MySpace
- Pavel Durov – VKontakte
- Evan Williams – Twitter
- Reid Hoffman – LinkedIn
- Paul Buchheit – Friendfeed
- Chad Hurley – YouTube
- Michael Dell – Dell
- Mark Pincus – Zynga
- Caterina Fake – Flickr
- Adam D’Angelo – Quora
- Anne Wojcicki – 23andMe
- Drew Houston – DropBox
Quick tip: If you’re on Google+, you probably noticed your ugly URL with lots of digits. This is Google’s way of avoiding letting spammers get a hold of your email details. But alas! You can already get your vanity URL using the gplus.to tool. I’ve already gotten my URL.
Many people are tired of Facebook and happy to embrace a new platform, although many believe that Google+ will not succeed because people don’t want to work hard and start adding their friends, relatives, colleagues to Circles.
It will be interesting to see how Facebook responds to all the buzz around Google+ (no pun intended). We hope that Facebook is up to the challenge and will give Google a strong fight:
At the beginning of June I was asked to speak at a panel that discussed social media, social networks and What’s Coming Up Next. In research for this discussion, I came up with a few insights on what I foresee coming up next in the world of social media. Here are my top ten insights:
1) The physical and digital worlds will be more highly connected than ever before – already today we are able to run in the park and track our progress online while sharing it with our friends or track our weight loss, or even our ovulation (well, some of us, that is) with iPhone apps that connect to our Facebook and Twitter profiles and enable us to keep track of our progress as well as share the data with our friends. Robert Scoble had a brilliant presentation on this topic at the last TNW Conference in Amsterdam. You can see it here.
2) Facebook, Twitter and other major social networks will become increasingly what Fred Wilson coins “Social Dashboards”. In essence, Facebook and Twitter are social channels on which other companies can grow and develop their own technologies and businesses. Both Facebook and Twitter have created economies far larger than many nations. Take for example, companies like Stocktwits, Tweetdeck and Zynga, (amongst others) that have gained huge profits “piggybacking” on these two platforms.
3) Until now, brands have been very concerned with bringing as many people as possible to their pages. Consumer brands can now finally reap the fruits and build social commerce stores where Facebook users (all 700 Million of them) can purchase products on their favorite social network without needing to go to any destination site. Facebook will become one of the major channels of future online shopping.
4) Companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon are currently collecting information about each any every one of us: Our likes and dislikes, our interests and disdains. Soon in an age of Web 3.0, an age of Semantic Web, we will no longer need to search for information on the Web as information will find us based on all this data which companies are collecting. The right information will be served to the right people at the right time, saving us all a lot of time, effort and energy.
5) Mobile technology will become more dominant and NFC technology will be developed further enabling it to offer us special promotions, coupons and tips based on our geographical location and the interest graph we discussed in insight #3.
6) Human relationships will no longer be as physically dependent and we will befriend and hang out with people from all over the world and all walks of life, all ethnicities and all beliefs, creating a worldwide melting pot.
7) We will no longer be passive media consumers. Media will interact with us in dynamic ways on all platforms. Just like gamers playing WOW today, we will all become a part of a virtual world unknown to us yet where we will all be avatars in the game of life.
8 ) As the Web is overloaded with more information, the content that we are exposed to will become more and more customized to our needs as companies will large sums of money to companies like Facebook and Google, making sure that the information we are exposed to is highly targeted to our interests. Rather than experiencing information overload, we will actually experience the opposite effect.
9) Companies will understand better how to measure the “ROI of social media” and realize that social media is not about the number of people brands have in their communities but rather the amount of engagement that they see on their page and the overall online sentiment they faced this month as opposed to the last. See Gary Vaynerchuk’s response to how companies should measure the ROI of social media in the video link above.
10) Services will become increasingly crowdsourced. Whether it be the way that we get from point A to point B (Waze), the way that we find answers to our questions (Quora), the manner in which we test our Websites (uTest), the way that we get things done (Fiverr) or the way that we share information (Wikipedia).
All of these insights are of course complete speculations based on my years of experience in the world of social media and following of trends occurring all over the digital space. Do you agree with these speculations? Is anything missing? What do you think is coming up next in social media?
For anyone who’s been underground for the last few weeks, check out Viber. Viber is an iPhone application that allows you to make 100% free calls to other Viber users over 3G and WiFi and is able to run completely in the background without draining your battery.
Until now Viber has only been the privilege of those of us who have an iPhone, but MobileCrunch just reported that Viber is coming to Android in March! Great news for Android users.
1) Facebook – I couldn’t live without the Facebook application installed on my iPhone
2) Viber – the application which enables me to make free calls to other Viber users over 3G and WiFi with superior sound quality
3) Instagram – My favorite photo sharing app. The guy who built its interface is a genius
4) Foursquare - My favorite check-in app. Mind you that Facebook places isn’t yet accessible on the iPhone in Israel.
5) Dropbox – enables me to view documents we’re working on in the office while on the go
6) Waze – helps me find my way when going places. Thank goodness because my direction skills are horrible
7) Angry Birds – A great time procrastinator for me
8 ) Twitter – So I can tweet anything at anytime
9) Hashable – The app which enables me to easily make introductions between people
10) Shazam – So I can identify any song at any time. Good for bets as well!
Happy new year everyone!
My trip to San Francisco was an amazing adventure and better than anything I ever expected. After flying a mere 18 hours from Israel (with a stop-over in Atlanta), I finally made my way to Hotel Nikko on Mason Street. Even though I was jetlagged and sleep deprived I was full of energy and hyped up to go out and seize the day.
My gal Randi Zuckerberg had invited me that day to go to a book-signing event with her up at Stanford University and even though I had had my fix of planes, trains and automobiles for a 24 hour time period, I of course couldn’t refuse an opportunity to meet up with my favorite girl in the area. My buddy Scott Rutherford and I rented a Zip Car and drove to the event. I enjoyed the beautiful scenary of the drive up to the University, it was nice to finally see some of the views of the region. Usually during these trips to the valley, I don’t have the time to take a pause and just look at the scenary, so the pause was nice.
The book-signing event was in honor of the newly released book The Dragonfly Effect, a book by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith that discusses how to utilize social media to drive social change. Jennifer told us all the heartwarming story of Sameer and Vinay – two friends diagnosed with Leukemia – and how they utilized social media to find a bone marrow donor.
I believe that this book will open people’s eyes to the amazing potential of social media in spreading the message to the right audience and creating a buzz not only when one needs to market a product but also in time of real need. The event was a great opportunity to sit around with some of the industry’s thought leaders and discuss all the philosophical ideas behind social media and how to utilize it for the greater good. Later that night I came back to the city, had dinner with some friends and went to sleep early in preparation for the next big day – the first day of the conference.
Monday through Wednesday I spent my days at the Disrupt conference – and what a conference it was. From the announcement of TechCrunch being sold to AOL, to the controversial women in tech panel moderated by Sarah Lacy, to the honest and heartfelt interview with Kevin Rose, to Soluto’s handing over of the TC Disrupt Cup to Qwiki. It was a conference filled with ups and downs, emotions amongst the crowd were mixed regarding TechCrunch’s acquisition. Some felt it was good for TechCrunch while others felt it was a sell-out.
When I initially heard the rumors regarding TC and AOL, I didn’t really believe it. But then a few facts came to light (like Arrington’s departure to Seattle) and then I understood that perhaps this was true and perhaps finally AOL was on the right path. It seemed like AOL was on a shopping spree that same week (with the purchase of 5min and thinglabs) but all of its new purchases seemed to make sense. I hope for the sake of both TC and AOL that Arrington continues to play a vital role in TC because it wouldn’t be the same without him and I also liked to hear from Armstrong that AOL was behind TC in everything it did until now in order to become the blog that it was and would give TC writers the freedom they needed to express themselves. I hope Armstrong stays true to his promise.
Other than all the news and scoops, Disrupt was a great opportunity to catch up with my buddies including: Robert Scoble, JD Lasica, Rachel Sklar, Mike Butcher, Phil Jeudy, Ben Metcalfe, Andrew Scott and others. At night we had our fair share of parties including DJing by Philip Kaplan (AdBrite) on Monday night and a performance by MC Hammer on Tuesday night. You can see that white boys can really dance in this uncut video of Erick Schonfeld dancing away to Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” presumably made by the very witty Paul Carr. C’mon you know wanna dance too…..
However for me the highlight of this trip was my last day – Thursday. In the morning I went to see my pal Matt Van Horn at Path’s beautiful offices – OMG they have the best view of the bridge in all of SF! I hadn’t seen Matt since he left Digg so it was nice to catch up. Later that day, I took the Caltrain to Palo Alto where I got a chance to visit Facebook’s offices (photos). Aditya Agarwal, husband of the beautiful Ruchi Sanghvi, was nice enough to show me around and tolerate my constant big smile as I walked around.
All of you who have been following my work, know how much I admire Facebook’s vision of a more social Web. As we walked through the different departments of Facebook, all in an open space, similar to their philosophy of the open Web, I was mesmerized by the energy and creativity in the air. And as we walked through the various cubicles, I got a chance to see him (Mark). He sat there in the open space, together with everyone, focused on his screen and if you were just a passerby who came from a different era, you wouldn’t even realize that this was man behind all of this.
The visit left me in awe and I traveled back to the city in a state of inspiration. I was hurrying back to Townsend Street where at TechCrunch HeadQuarters, Soluto was throwing a Keg Party. It was a nice farewell gathering to a week filled with all the best that Silicon Valley had to offer.
But I didn’t leave the SF area without doing one more very important thing. On the day before my departure, my old Macbook died – the beach ball of death had begun to spin and wouldn’t stop no matter what I tried. That day I thought of running over to the Mac store on Market and Stockton but was told that unless I booked a “genius” appointment way in advance, I wouldn’t be able to get anyone to even look at my little mac-y :-(
On the morning of my departure, 3 hours before my flight was supposed to depart, I decided that I wasn’t going to give up without even putting up a fight. I gathered all my Israeli chutzpa and hurried over to the Mac store with all my luggage after I checked out of the hotel. I ran over there and basically begged the geniuses to take a look at my little one. They were kind enough to take a look and said that the motherboard had to be replaced and that the cost would be so high that it just made more sense to get a new laptop.
I ended up getting myself a beautiful new 15″ Macbook Pro (which needless to say I am in love with). Now I was finally content. If there was ever a moment of utter satisfaction of a week well spent, it was this one. I almost missed my flight due to this stop-over but it was worth it (Update: Since my return, my boyfriend had been able to fix my old mac-y in a matter of five minutes by switching to “safe mode” and then uninstalling one minor program. Damn you geniuses! And why are you called geniuses anyway? Perhaps they should call you geniuses in getting people to purchase more Apple products).
This was a truly amazing trip which filled me with new energies and reminded me again of why I was in the space I was in and how much I love doing what I am doing and how grateful I should be for being given this opportunity to make my hobby a profession. There are not many people in this world who can say that. I remember when I was younger, not really sure of what I had wanted to do in life and being envious of those who were so sure of their purpose on this earth. Since social media came about, I had found my place.
A trip such as this one, when you find yourself surrounded by so many of the tech industry’s leaders and shapers – the people who make all of this possible – is so inspiring. When all these guys get together in one spot, it seems that only magic happens. And that’s exactly the feeling that you’re left with, a magical feeling, like anything’s possible and nothing is beyond your reach.