Apture: demo of cool service to build “super links”

As a blogger we have just one choice to build a link. Write an A HREF tag which builds a link like this one to Apture’s home page.

But Tristan Harris had a better idea. What if bloggers could build much better links to all sorts of things that could be opened up right on the page. Videos. Photos. Multiple articles. Etc.

Here he shows me how it works and how the New York Times is using it to make their pages more useful. By doing that content sites and blogs also keep you around longer and give you more opportunities to see their ads, so everyone wins.

This is very cool and I’ll be using this technology after I get my blog moved over to its own server (should be in the next week).


My Web 2.0 Expo Keynote: until Best Buy adds people to its website our jobs are not done

The Web 2.0 Expo starts this morning. I’m up early to give my keynote.

My title? “You don’t need a social media strategy, here’s what you do need.”

See, when I got together with a bunch of bloggers this weekend many of them said that companies are asking them for help with their social media strategies. One person said she was asked to help evaluate “social media tools.” You know, like TweetDeck or Twhirl which lets you use Twitter better than just the web page.

Our whole industry has gotten completely off track by this kind of lame talk.

How did we get there? We have people giving talks as “social media experts” who are only following 29 people (seriously, I did see this just a week ago and I’m not going to even mention the person).

It’s to the point now that when I see someone claim they are a “social media expert” that I run the other way as quickly as I can. I’ve been participating in online communities since 1985 and I’m still not expert, so how can someone who is only following 29 people be expert about anything regarding online communities?

Anyway, I’m getting off track. Back to my keynote.

If I were actually giving a keynote this morning I’d put one corporate site up on the screens: BestBuy.com.

I’d implore the audience to wonder where they went wrong. Why hasn’t one of the world’s largest retailers gotten a clue yet?

Where do I get off telling one of the world’s most successful retailers that their web site sucks?

Easy: when you walk into a real Best Buy store, what do you see? I see lots of people with blue shirts on. Employees! People! Folks who can help me pick out a new big screen or camcorder or computer. What else do you see? Customers! Oh, yes, people again.

But when I go to BestBuy.com, what do I see?

No people.

Web 2.0 hasn’t reached BestBuy’s headquarters yet.

Unfortunately today you won’t hear any keynotes about why Web 2.0 has failed to reach Best Buy. No, you’ll hear all sorts of congratulatory stuff about how Web 2.0 is going to save us from the recession. Or you’ll hear more hype about Twitter or how you can build your own social media strategy that will make you better than Zappos.

Here it is in simple terms: add people to your web sites. Zappos has. They feature customer reviews right on their home page. Amazon has. They have reviews right on their home page.

That’s all the social media strategy you need for 2009. After all, if Best Buy isn’t able to do it yet, you probably aren’t able to do it yet either. Figure it out.

Think this doesn’t matter? Well Zappos just passed a billion dollars in sales and Amazon has a P/E ratio of 47.88 compared to Best Buy’s ratio of 15.51.

Why does adding people to your home page make sense?

For several reasons:

1. The real social media strategy you should have is to get people to promote you. Most people are more likely to promote you if they think you’re listening to you. (Zappos does this by having more than 300 employees on Twitter who will fix any problem you have instantly). Amazon does it by having great reviews. If I review some products my name is on the site and I’m more likely to tell other people about Amazon than some other site, like Best Buy’s, that might have a lower price but doesn’t feature me.
2. Most people like a personal approach. I want to know that there’s real people behind a business. Best Buy’s approach feels cold. Zappos’ approach feels warm. You can feel it by visiting both of their sites.
3. It’s a lot harder to chose to screw some business when you know someone there. At Ford Motors there’s Scott Monty. Last weekend we bought a Toyota, but I feel guilty for not buying a product from Scott. This is a dude I’ve never met and only know from dealing with him on my blog and over on Twitter. Yet I feel guilty for not buying from him. (To be fair, Toyota has a bunch of people on Twitter too, but Scott was visible a long time before I knew Toyota was there).
4. Everyone goes through a sales process. I used to help run a consumer electronics store in Silicon Valley and I saw this up close and personal. But go to Best Buy and see if there’s a consultative approach. There’s none, other than “save 15%.” That doesn’t add value and doesn’t help me figure out which big screen I need. Add some blue shirts to the web site and we’ll go down the sales process together and close rates will go up.
5. Adding customers to the home page is low-cost but high return.

So, today, at the Web 2.0 Expo, I’m going to be working to figure out what the best approaches are to add people back to our web sites. Even this blog is too cold and needs more people added to it. More on that later.

Enjoy your day today at the Web 2.0 Expo, I’ll be hanging out in the hallway by the escalators. Feel free to call me +1-425-205-1921 — Rocky and I will be hanging out recording cool companies and meeting people.

UPDATE: Funny, but Ribbit and Best Buy recently announced a social media app for mobile phones. So, maybe BestBuy has a clue but it just hasn’t gotten to the home page yet.