About Ayelet Noff

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

Black Friday Leaves The U.S. Looking Black And Blue

November 28, 2011 by  

Share:

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

Pinterest, a Virtual Pinboard for Photo Sharing & Saving Images

October 2, 2011 by  

Share:


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.

Airbnb: When Screwing Up Leads to a Public Statement

August 10, 2011 by  

Share:

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.

If you’re not familiar with the saga of Airbnb, it’s worth taking a look back at the company that had previously received nothing but glowing praise from bloggers and journalists.

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.

Google+ Top 10 Pluses and Minuses

July 12, 2011 by  

Share:

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:

 

What’s Coming Next in Social Media

June 23, 2011 by  

Share:

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?

Make Free Calls Using Viber: Soon Coming To Android

February 1, 2011 by  

Share:

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.

Below you’ll find a video interview I did at LeWeb10 together with Jonathan Marks showing how Viber works:

Ayelet Noff on Viber from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.

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.

My Top Ten iPhone Apps for 2010

December 31, 2010 by  

Share:

Since everyone’s making their top ten lists of the year, I thought I’d make my own top ten iPhone Apps of 2010 list, so here goes:

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!

Social Media Engagement Trends of B2B and B2C Companies

November 26, 2010 by  

Share:

This post was originally posted on The Next Web on November 16th

Many companies are reporting to be increasing their social media spending in the upcoming year. What you might be curious to know is what type of companies are primarily behind the cash flow. Instead of getting too deep into the nitty gritty of industry breakdowns, let’s stick to the classic match-up of B2B vs. B2C. There are already quite a few papers which contrast B2B and B2C performance in social media with findings showing that B2B companies use social media tools more than B2C companies. Surprised?

Of course, both B2B and B2C are heavy users of all social media, but if we take a look at the above breakdown of social media tools, we will see that, surprisingly, most social tools seem to attract more B2B “types” than B2C – with the exception of Facebook and MySpace. But why?

The graph below shows that smaller companies are more likely to use social media than larger ones. Generally speaking, small companies, especially freelancers (the largest group using SM) are by and large B2B type operations. To be profitable in a B2C world requires high volume, which in turn requires lots of man power, i.e. large companies.

For a one-man-show type company, social media offers a grand opportunity, finally affording the small time operator the ability for mass market exposure with no more cost involved than the time invested in learning how to utilize the tools effectively. Compare that to the entrenched nature of large corporations with equally large budgets, and it’s no wonder that the scrappy and flexible small businesses have embraced social media far faster, and more wholeheartedly than their larger counterparts (while there are exceptions, the numbers speak for the norm).

Unfortunately, large companies usually need a wake-up call in the form of a disgruntled market base before they start to realize that maybe they should be paying more attention to the socialscape. Why not learn from smaller businesses and utilize social media for things other than mere damage control?

The truth is larger companies are slowly starting to embrace social media and this trend will probably begin to snowball at some point in the near future. How much opportunity is there for B2Cs in social media?

The answer: A lot.

Most of the social profiles are as equally geared toward B2C as they are to B2B, if not more so:

  • Facebook- I already mentioned that Facebook is more heavily geared toward B2C.
  • YouTube- B2C companies should definitely be jumping on the YouTube train, especially after the success that OldSpice and Lionsgate Films have achieved through their efforts to connect to the public in this way.
  • Twitter- This should be a no brainer. Twitter is an excellent way for companies to disseminate information and develop a relationship with their market base. However, big companies should be sure to learn the etiquette of social media to avoid being labeled as spammers.
  • LinkedIn- LinkedIn is clearly geared toward B2B, but clever companies might be able to capitalize on this fact. There are many industries which are B2C but have a B2B type feel, like trading stocks or Forex, both of which are heavily represented in LinkedIn groups. Clothing retailers could for example instigate discussions about “dressing for success” on this network. LinkedIn groups love to throw in their two cents on lighter business culture issues as well, taking a break for a change from the otherwise “drier” side of mainstream business topics. This is far from a ready-to-go campaign strategy, but the point is clear – even LinkedIn has much to offer B2C.

These days both B2C and B2B companies can enjoy different channels of direct dialogue with their customers and potential customers like never before. Whether you’re a B2B company or a B2C company, you need to decide which social networks are best for your brand and nurture these communities like you would any customer base. The sky is the limit as far as what you can do on these networks. It’s your turn to shine and grow your business utilizing the most cutting edge social media tools available.

Next Page »