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Facebook: Social Wal-Mart?

Last week I had the privilege of writing up my first post for my agency's blog, RaceTalk, entitled "Facebook: Social Copycat Extraordinaire?"  In it, I discussed how Facebook has gone ahead and tried to not only emulate, but own the best of every facet of the internet out there: video-sharing (YouTube), a free marketplace (Craigslist), a real-time news feed with the ability to tag friends (Twitter), check-ins (Foursquare), and most recently - at the time - deals (Groupon).

Are we counting down until we get Facebook credit gift cards like these in our birthday cards from Mom?For now, at least, the latest addition to the Facebook family is Facebook Payments.  As the company stated, "As is common in many company structures, we have established a subsidiary called Facebook Payments Inc. that helps handle payments to developers related to our Facebook Credits program."  Even the title of the source article, "Watch Out PayPal, Facebook Is Getting Serious About Payments," plays into my little conspiracy theory quite nicely.

Think about it: who else do you know tries to offer everything, and as a result, is somewhat frighteningly overwhelming?  That's right: Wal-Mart!  What are your thoughts on the constantly growing Facebokolis?  Can it support its expanding palate of offerings indefinitely, and if so, can it beat all its original sources of inspiration?


Monitoring Facebook Relationship Statuses: Update

Good news: Facebook Breakup Notifier has been shut down!  Bad news: a creepier one has taken its place.

WaitingRoom is even more straightforward than the Breakup Notifier: select your crush who is, again, sadly spoken for. WaitingRoom sends that person a note saying he or she has an admirer . . . you know, in case that person was having second thoughts about the current relationship and just needed encouragement.  In the event that said crush ends things, 48 hours later, he or she will find out the identity of the admirer(s).  Oh, and the crush doesn't need the app to receive the notifications.

Again: gross!  As one of my friends had responded to Breakup Notifier, "If you want to creep, you have to work at it."  This is subtle home-wrecking, and generally unsettling.  Even if you were into this, suppose you get your WaitingRoom note that someone thinks you're awesome.  You go ahead and cut the cord, expecting it to be that smoking hot guy/gal you met at your friend's party, only to find that it's that creepy individual who always manages to find you at networking events.  Serves you right . . . ?


The Creepiest Facebook App Yet: “Monitoring” Relationship Statuses

Yup.  Those of you with crushes coupled with stalker-like tendencies can rejoice: you can now be notified via Email as soon as someone's relationship status changes on Facebook.  Aptly named Facebook Breakup Notifier, the app is pretty straightforward: log-in, select your friend(s) who are tragically spoken for, and wait for that glorious little notification Email that gives you the go-ahead to move in for the kill.

Facebook stalking to the latest extreme!

Yikes.  This is one of many reasons why I'm glad I don't share my relationship status on Facebook.  I don't even know where to begin on this one.  It's an unsettling reminder that thanks to social media, information barriers are gradually melting away.  As a result, in my humble opinion, so are human courtesies.  We spend so much time tethered to our screens that we often forget to socialise in real life.  You know, with the people sitting next to you at the bar.  Communication has largely slipped into an "at my convenience" mentality.  We send a text message rather than making a phone call. We check a Twitter or Facebook feed to see what a friend has been up to, rather than asking.  And now we can even monitor relationship statuses of people who we might want to target for the next romantic venture.

If you care that much about someone, wouldn't you find out soon enough if he or she is available because you talk to them, oh, I don't know, regularly?  I would imagine that a breakup would surface in conversation fairly quickly.  Oh wait, you don't talk to this person regularly?  How do you know you're interested in the first place?  The extent to which technology manages to delude us continues to baffle me.


Starbucks Vs. Dunkin’ Donuts: Yes or No?

You're right: it doesn't really seem like a "yes or no" situation.  Hear me out, though.  When I worked at Starbucks, every now and then we'd have district-wide meetings to discuss seasonal changes, company updates and the 200th or so reminder that we were not competing with Dunkin' Donuts. Starbucks vs. Dunkin' Donuts showdown. Who wins? This is always something that has baffled me to a degree: for instance, in spring 2008, the company launched Pike Place Roast (after we were reminded that Dunks was not a competitor).  My first thought?  "This is the closest thing we have to Dunkin' Donuts."

Over time, I've come to the conclusion that while Starbucks may have claimed that it wasn't competing with Dunky D, it ultimately comes to how it's perceived by the consumers.  And for the most part, consumers place the two brands in competition with one another.  Although, now I think I also see where the 'Bucks is coming from. The two brands are so distinctly different when it comes to coffee: a Starbucks drinker thinks Dunks is too weak, and a Dunkin' Donuts drinker considers the 'Bucks too strong.  Sure, Starbucks is pricier, but I'll cough up the cash for my iced coffee given the option between the two because I just prefer a stronger coffee.

Now, that all said, I don't know what's going on behind the corporate doors of the mighty Dunkin' Donuts.  Given their latest branding campaign in Mass., I would guess that they're pitting themselves against Starbucks, but given that I never worked there, I wouldn't know.

Dunkin' Donuts Celtics cup!?

What do you think?  Is Dunkin' Donuts turning up the heat on Starbucks?  If so, what are they accomplishing by appearing as the Starbucks doppelganger?


This Poo Has Gone Too Far: “Angry Turds”?

I think we all share a similar thought when it comes to Angry Birds: possibly one of the best time-wasters of our iGeneration.Angry Birds: Come on, who doesn't love a game that involves breaking everything in sight and taking out grotesquely obese pigs? I think we also all share a similar thought when it comes to monkeys throwing their own excrement (among other things): immaturely hilarious. In math class I learned that a positive plus another positive equals another positive, so why does the love child of Angry Birds and monkeys unrestrained by civil convention of society seem like such a horrendous idea?  I am talking, of course, of the newest app trying to score a coattail-ride, which TechCrunch describes as Angry Birds with more poop in it.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, your prayers have been answered: Apps Genius has launched Angry Turds.

Look! It's Angry Birds, only with monkeys throwing poo. Really, people?

In this game, you're a monkey, and evil explorers have kidnapped your baby monkeys.  How do you save your young?  With whatever you can get your little monkey hands on . . . like poo.  Wonder where this app came from?  Me too.  TechCrunch asked Apps Genius CEO Adam Kotkin for his two cents. As it turns out, “People are into the whole poop thing. When you speak with a 12 year old you realize that they know more than the rest of us … It’s fun to throw poop around. Poop sells.”

Okay, so I wasn't an advertising major, but given that people confuse ad folks with PR folks often enough, we did cover some basics of our sister industry in my classes.  You know what I was told sells?  Sex.  You know what I was told leads the news?  Whatever bleeds.  You know what apparently makes a box office hit as a result of someone who knows those two tidbits of information?  Vampires.  Not once did any of my professors or ad friends mention fecal matter.  Maybe I needed to know a secret handshake or something. Who knows?

Tonight's Tunes
"The Time (The Dirty Bit)," Black Eyed Peas
"Grenade," Bruno Mars
"Put It in a Love Song," Alicia Keys


Social Gaming: Generating $1 Billion!?

I'm not an ideas person.  At my seventh grade Invention Convention, fat cat beer Bud Lite funny remote couch acting like a personI barely passed muster with my ExoFeed (patent-pending): the food bowl that makes your cat or dog work for its meal.  I think the next idea after that was starting a blog. You can see how well that took off.  My next idea needs to be something genius, because my track record is pretty unimpressive thus far.  Clearly I should develop "FarmVille 2: Farmier and Generally Awesomer Than FarmVille."

One billion this year?  People will be spending one billion on virtual blueberries this year!? According to eMarketer, "Approximately 62 million U.S. Internet users — that’s 27% of the total Internet-using population in the U.S. — will play at least one game on a social network on a monthly basis this year, a 15% increase from 2010, the research firm claims" (lovingly stolen from Mashable). eMarketer data chart social gaming revenue 2011 2012 And of those social gamers, only 6% spend enough while playing these games to lead to a forecast of $1 billion in revenue for the industry this year.

God, why did you have to make me a charming little blonde?  Why couldn't you make me a socially inept marketing genius?  Then I could really be happy.

Ranting aside, though, seeing this statistic reminds me of some reading I recall from Gary Vaynerchuk's (@garyvee) book Crush It! Why Now Is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion (an excellent read if you don't think you could ever make money doing what you love).  Gary suggests that if there is something you truly love doing, then you'll love talking about it - intelligently (because if you love it, of course you want to be an expert on it).  Eventually you will find your niche audience who will love whatever it is you're talking about as much as you do... and that's where the advertisers come in.

Six percent may not seem like a big slice of the pie, but it sure is a devoted slice of the pie.  You don't need hundreds of millions of customers.  You just need a loyal core who will count on you for their fix of whatever it is you're offering - and purchase often.  While a really big part of me loathes FarmVille (and other social games), a smaller, more reasonable part of me recognises and appreciates its value as a case study in the ever-expanding world of social media.

Tonight's Tunes
"Money," Pink Floyd
"Money Honey," Lady Gaga


Not-News Flash! 40% of Tweets Are Mobile

Yesterday, Mashable shared via Twitter's CEO that 40% of all tweets come from mobile devices.  While it's nice to have a referenceable percentage for those thrilling conversations at cocktail parties, this doesn't really come as a surprise.  Upsurge in smartphone-adoption aside, we're on our mobile phones more than ever - and tweeting all the way (for those of you who ridicule me for not having a smartphone ::coughs::, you can in fact tweet and check in via text).  Sure, official Android and iPhone apps make it easier to tweet, but what really makes the difference is that we're finding more and more information that's worth sharing: news articles, YouTube videos, Angry Birds board games, what I ate for breakfast, and so on.  Rather than deciding to wait until we get to our computers to post from there (and most likely forget about it by then), we tweet on the go.  The only part I actually found surprising was that the percentage wasn't higher, but given that last year only about 20-25% of tweets were shared via mobile, it's still some serious headway.



2011 New Years Resolution: Blog More

This totally goes against what I said last night to someone about making quantifiable, easily measurable resolutions (for instance, I also plan on squeezing back into my college jeans this year).  I'm also not much of a "New Years Resolutions" gal, so it looks like 2011 is going to be a wild and wacky one for me.  Moving on . . .

WordPress Emailed me my "2010 Year in Blogging," and considering that at the height of my blogging I was posting at least four times a week, it was pretty disappointing to have not even blogged once per week this year.  In my defense, 2010 was pretty hectic for me, but I still should have been able to make time to at least get 52 posts taking up space on the Interwebs.  I'll target doing that this year (Hey, wait: that's easily measurable!  Hypocrisy averted!).

While I'm thinking about it, let's back-track a smidgen.  I think I promised an update on my progress at Racepoint a few posts ago, and of course, that never happened.  It's been just over three months - I'm up for my quarterly review this month . . . already? - and I'm still honeymooning.  This is a particularly good thing because otherwise I would be much crankier when my alarm starts harassing me at 5.00 AM every day.

My clients are pretty nifty: I've two in tech and one in healthcare, and while your eyes may begin to glaze over if I begin to discuss them in detail, I love learning about their industries and working with them, especially having known absolutely nothing about any of their products prior to starting at RPG.  Try asking me about personalised knee replacements, now!  Wait, where are you going?

Today's Tunes
"Blankest Year," Nada Surf
"Consolation Prizes," Phoenix
"Lake Michigan," Rogue Wave


Bad Coffee Joke

Happy Thanksgiving!  On to something much more important: my hit-and-miss sense of humour.

While I'm home for the holiday, Mom was great enough to save some Starbucks coffee for me.  What I didn't realise was that this actually an accomplishment for her: the Colombian coffee, a medium roast, was too strong for her. Starbucks Kenya coffee label elephant For her to palate the stuff, she had to cut it with Maxwell House.  I know, I shed a tear when I heard it, too.  My response?

"Mom, be happy you didn't get Kenya [a bold coffee]: that stuff so strong it can wake up the elephant on the bag!"

Per usual, I thought it was a hit, but everyone else seemed to miss it.


Strike Three, Jacob Wirth

At this point I would like to point out that Jacob Wirth features a stunning beer selection, tasty rosemary chicken burgers and a nifty interior.  And that is every nice thing I have to say about it.  Too bad my one negative thing - in my opinion - far outweighs those three nice things:

The service sucks.  So much.

As a former Starbucks barista, I know that everyone in customer service has their bad days, and as a result, it takes a lot to irritate me as a customer. That said, Jacob Wirth has succeeded not once, but thrice in getting under my skin, and not in that enjoyable Frank Sinatra way.

A friend and fellow beer-drinker didn't have to try very hard to convince me to check out a German beer house boasting countless brews that I couldn't pronounce properly if you held a gun to my head.  We got there and at first glance, I thought I had found my metaphorical Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory, only better because, well, beer.

After sitting down at a bar table, it took a solid 15 minutes for a server to show up.  If only we had a menu to figure out what we wanted to drink first while we were waiting for her: once our server left to "give us a minute" to decide, we had another 10 minutes to pore over our options, and it really only took us two.  This process of our server being MIA for unreasonably extended periods of time repeated itself over the course of the evening.  My buddy was visibly irritated, but I withheld judgment.  As I mentioned earlier, I'm all for second chances.

But the service didn't improve the second time.  Or even the third time.  In fact, I'm pretty sure the quality deteriorated with each visit.  Even when we got the "good" server - or so I was told (my fellow beer enthusiast has spent more time there than I) - I was amazed by not only the poor service, but how unapologetic it was.  The only time we saw our server more than once in a ten-minute window was when they were rushing us away from the table to another party could suffer.

It's a shame because Jacob Wirth does have one of the most impressive beer lists I've ever seen in my short lifetime, but for me, it's just not worth the frustration. If you have loads of time and patience, do stop in for a weisbier.  Otherwise, venture elsewhere.

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