What are you worth to Dove and how to fail getting fans

Earlier this week I came across a commercial from Dove that specifically asked people to like their Facebook page. In return for my click they offered me a €1 discount on one of their products. So, in essence they are asking me to connect my online reputation and my position in the time line of my friends to their brand. And in return? They are going to be giving me a buck. Seriously? Dove, what were you thinking? Offering a discount for linking or following might just be the ultimate way of failing on social networks. And Dove just topped that mark by stating that my loyalty to their brand and the attention of my friends is only worth a single Euro to them.

Getting followers on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or any other network of your choice is about connecting. Connecting lives with your brand. Connecting personalities, connecting friends, connecting reputation, connecting values in life. It is not about the numbers. It is not about getting as many people as possible as fast as possible. It is about connecting and creating a useful exchange. Yes, I am willing to connect to a brand. In fact, I am very interested to connect to the brands I love because they are close to my heart. But there needs to be a useful exchange. I do not care about being a number. I care about being a person in contact with you. With your brand. Share useful things with me. I am not interested in brands that are just posting little updates on their wall for me to discover in my timeline. I am interested in brands that want to communicate to ME. Personally. To show me things that I am interested in. Things that I care to share. Reasons why I want to be part of the circle around them.

A simple lesson emerges from this. People who come in for a €1 discount are not really interested in you. They are interested in buying your product at bargain prices. Those are not the customers you are looking for. And people who love your brand will not come in on a discount offering as they feel you are not appreciating them, offering them a mere euro instead of a meaningful relationship.

If you were thinking of taking this approach, reconsider. Fast. And read my blogpost on stories and personal relationships.

A marketing campaign will not make Windows Phone succeed

At the end of March, Nokia will launch their new Nokia Ace in the US. And rumor has it that the launch will be accompanied by a great marketing campaign that will run in the neighborhood of $100 million. I just read this on BetaNews. An interesting article that goes on to state that Microsoft needs a hero in the Windows Phone stakes. However, the statement leaves me wondering what their campaign will be on.

I am a firm believer that people want to buy a mobile device that is easy to use and gives them the features they want, for the price they want it at. Almost every day I have people ask me what phone they should buy and how their phone can help them do what they want. And unanimously they ask whether to buy Android or iPhone. I never get asked the question for Windows Phone. Nobody asks me the same about Blackberry either, because you either want one for Blackberry messenger or you are stuck with one as your company phone.

Will a $100 million marketing campaign solve this problem? Hardly. Few people choose their phones on the commercials they have seen or the billboards they drove past. They do choose their phones on what their friends are using and the ease it seems to give them. I agree with Robert Scoble when he responds to Charlie Kindle’s post on why WP7 has not taken off. Through its users, Android and iOS both show they are safe choices. People around you use them. Of all the people I have met over the past three weeks, I have only met one with a Nokia Lumia. One. Hardly a match for the people that have told me about their new iPhone 4S or Android phone.

I am afraid the $100 million might just vaporize on the way to selling a phone. Back in 2007 the launch of the iPhone changed the mobile phone landscape. Back in 2009, carriers were still longing for a good iPhone competitor to offer their customers. Now, in 2012 we have it all. Back in 2007, developers were eager to jump the bandwagon to build their coolest ideas into iOS apps. Now, few startups even see Windows Phone or Blackberry as a viable market. So they develop for iOS and Android only.
I am assuming Microsoft is launching a ‘regular’ marketing campaign with Nokia and AT&T in which they will be targeting consumers to buy the Nokia Ace. What happens is that we get into a circle of people waiting for each other and no phones being sold. Because the consumers will only change to Windows Phone when their favorite apps are running on WP and developers will not be eager to do WP development unless WP reaches enough critical mass to make it worth their while.

Solution? Take a good chunk of that budget and target developers, startups and innovators. To port their existing apps to WP, but also to develop cool new apps that will be exclusive to WP for now. I firmly believe there is a market for WP. However, you need to know where it is to be able to benefit from it. For now, WP phones will mainly be bought by companies to replace their older Windows Mobile devices. A device management issue. But startups can make the most of this by launching themselves specifically geared to business development. There is enough to do in that market still and there is money to sell your apps. And making that work will show other developers that WP might be a financial goldmine waiting for them.

In essence? Spending $100 million on marketing is not going to cut it. It needs to be spent on the eco system that will allow your customer to do what they want with your product. Only then will you be making progress.

2012 – the year the story died and life took over

Picture courtesy of Google Streetview

I am a story teller. I love to tell stories and I explain lots of things through simple stories when I speak in front of audiences. I believe in brands, organizations, people and things that tell stories. I really do. But big changes are ahead. And those changes are going to hit using the story for your marketing more than anything else.

Why? Marketing stories are usually great constructed tales that involve product, emotion and something that makes them almost personal. Something that allowed the masses to relate to them in one way or another. And as a marketeer you could bring that story to your audience where they were in their masses. So, you would determine your target audience, pick a place where they were most likely to see you and you would tell/display your story there. Nice. But not good enough in 2012.

Will stories not work in 2012? Of course they will. Will you not reach that audience anymore? Of course you will. But much more effective ways are coming. And they are coming soon. What can be more effective? Telling the story on a direct and personal level. Tailoring it to the interests and enthusiasm of the individual in your audience, that will connect them to you more and give something back to them. Whether in connections, in experience, in exclusivity or in something that touches their personal interests. As social media are becoming more and more integrated into everything we do, the reach of the general story becomes smaller and smaller. However, the personal story is getting bigger and bigger. And as people are connected to their niche interests, their valuation of what you give them will reach many in their niche community. Impact changes. And as a brand/organization, you need to determine what your next move is going to be. Are you going to be sponsoring the next X thousand people event for €100.000? Or are you going to be splitting up the budget to do separate events that touch your audience directly and allow them to share your awesomeness with their networks? Because you can. You can make it far more interesting than a huge event can be. And you will make a better conversion.

2012 will see new technology to make this even easier. Google+ already launched group hangouts in December. Video meetings by several people, or even several locations, that can be watched live by your audience, but can also be recorded and published on YouTube. As social networks integrate more and more with all our communications, it will be easier to stay in touch with everyone and everything. But more conscious personal filtering by your audience (new tools are released every day) makes sure that if you are not SUPER relevant, they will not notice you. They won’t tune out of your story, they will never have seen it in the first place.

So, for 2012, make this new years’ resolution: I will be personal, relevant and I will reach my audience on an individual level, to have the biggest impact I can ever have.

Have a great year!

Paris, LeWeb, Startupbus, friends and more

I am just coming out of an amazing week. It all started with the launch party for StartupBus Europe in Amsterdam. It was a great turnout and people were excited. Everyone was looking forward to a great trip, some big challenges and very little sleep. How right they were. Over three days of StartupBus we travelled 2700km from Amsterdam to an evening in Copenhagen, then to a lunch in Berlin, breakfast in Zurich and pitching over drinks in Paris. I will write much more about this in later posts. For now, I just want to thank Softlayer and Twilio for sponsoring the bus, Atlassian for their Amsterdam office and Startupbootcamp for sponsoring our parties. And of course thanks to Seedcamp for allowing us to pitch at their party and putting up a great prize for the winners.
Check startupbus.com/europe for more.

Then it was on to LeWeb. I love LeWeb. I have had people come up to me and ask me wether it is worth the ticket price. And again I have to say “yes”. The people that are their and the opportunities to meet new people are incredible. Together with Stephanie Booth and Frédéric de Villamil I was responsible for the selection of the official LeWeb bloggers this year. And I loved it. The team is fantastic and the official bloggers are a great bunch. During LeWeb I have seen great content, met great people and have made some great appointments for the near future. I am looking forward to some exciting steps.

More than anything else, last week was a week of friends. Meeting new friend and catching up with old friends. I love how the names of the StartupBus registration list have turned into what will possibly be live long friends. For the single reason that we have gone through an experience that nobody else has. It has created some great friendships. But I have also met a lot of other new people. At LeWeb, at a Sandbox dinner and at parties and clubs. I am looking to getting to know them better as online time progresses.

I am happy about the past week. I have not slept much and have seen all I might have wanted at LeWeb. But I am happy, because people say that the StartupBus Europe trip has been amazing for them. Because I have had people walk up to me during LeWeb to tell me how StartupBus Europe has inspired them. And because I have been asked to help inspire others to chase their dreams and build their startups. And that is what I am in it for. To inspire people and to help them reach their dreams.

Meet StartupBus Europe!

Yes, we are getting ready to leave. On Sunday morning, StartupBus Europe will hit the road and we will not stop until we have launched some great startups. And you can be part of the experience.

To start off, Startupbootcamp and Atlassian are sponsoring the launch party in Amsterdam on Saturday the 3rd of December. If you are in Amsterdam, register tonight to be part of the first StartupBus Europe party.

On Sunday morning everyone is welcome to wave us goodbye as we board the bus in front of the Hotel Victoria in Amsterdam. (Across from Central station.) No reservations are needed. 😉

On Sunday night Startupbootcamp will be hosting us in Copenhagen. We will have drinks, a pitch competition and plenty of time to network with fellow entrepreneurs. Register here!

On Monday afternoon Startupbootcamp will be hosting a startup lunch for us in Berlin around 2pm. Details will come shortly and so will the possibility to register. More pitching and more competition.

On Tuesday morning we will be welcomed to Google’s European headquarters in Zurich for breakfast, a tour and more pitching competitions. If you want to be part of this, please register quickly as the number of places is limited. But it will be a great experience.

If you are at LeWeb, StartupBus Europe will be there as well. You can meet us at the conference, but you can also meet us at the bus. We can show you around and your can meet our startups, get demo’s or offer your investment money to your favorite startup. FInd us at LeWeb!

Microsoft helps you jailbreak your WP7 phone

Apple’s iOS is as closed an operating system as they come. Before anything can be installed on the iPhone, it has to be checked by Apple. Android has gone the other way. You can install almost everything you want to by changing a setting on your phone. This allows you to download packages from anywhere and install them on your phone. The difference between these approaches also determines the safety of the system. But we all want to do exactly those things that we are not allowed to. And that is how jailbreaks came along. To secretly activate panorama mode on your iPhone 4 with iOS5 for instance.

Microsoft has taken another approach. Just like Apple and Google, Microsoft asks you $99 to become an official developer. Like the others, Microsoft only allows official developers to offer apps in the market. However, unlike the others, Microsoft also offers a way around it. For $9 you can get ChevronWP7 labs. That will allow you to unlock your Windows Phone to run your own code on it, or to run the code of others. You can write code and you can share it. You cannot sell it through the market. But it will allow you to move forward and test the waters.

Find out more at http://www.chevronwp7.com/
(Image pulled from the ChevronWP7 homepage)

How to create and manage a Google+ Page

So Google has launched Google+ Pages. And you have read my earlier post and would like to have one. Great. But how do you do it? Read on, I will tell you how. (Click any image to see a larger version.)

First off, you need to find the “Create a page” button which Google cleverly hid on the right side of your screen. If you scroll down, you will find it below your hangouts button. Click that and you are on your way towards making your Google Plus Page.

As a start, you will see a familiar page setup. If you have ever made a Facebook page, you will recognize this. The page gives you five choices.

  • “Local business or Place” where you can register if you are a business with a local focus such as hotels, restaurants, places, stores, services etc.
  • “Product or Brand” where you can register if you have a clear brand like Coca Cola, or if you are are selling things like apparel, cars, electronics, financial services etc.
  • “Company, Institution or Organization” where you can register if you want to build a page for your company, organization, institution, non-profit or to promote your organization as a whole.
  • “Arts, Entertainment or Sports” where you can register if you are involved in or want to promote things like movies, TV, music, books, sports, shows and whatever else you can think of that falls into this category.
  • “Other” where you can register if your page doesn’t fit in another category.

After making that choice, your next step is to add some basic information. For this example, I will be making a page for my company Relationists. Some of the fields you will have to fill out might be different depending on the category you choose. When you do a local business you need to fill out your location first for example. Other categories follow more or less the same lines as this example will.

After you have made your choice for a category, you get to name the page and link it to a website if you have one. You can also pick the category the page will be active in and who is able to see it. Check the “I agree to” button after reading the Pages Terms and click create.

You will then be taken to a new screen to customize your public profile. Here you can write your tagline. This is the line that is put underneath the title of your page. You can also add a profile photo.

After you click the Change profile Photo button you will be taken to an upload screen. In true Google form you can drag a picture from you computer onto the screen to set it as your profile photo.

After you have added a picture, you will be able to do some basic editing. Make sure your photo is square or you might loose parts of it.

With the photo on the page, you now get the option to spread the word. You can skip this if you like. There are more possibilities to do this once the page is finished.

When you do want to share it now, you get a popup that you can put your message in. After sharing, click finished on the bottom of the page to continue.

Congratulations, you have just made a page. But it is not finished yet. Amongst other things, there is nothing to see there. So, it is time for a first post.

The first posts works like any other post in Google Plus. You can type, add links etc. and choose the circles to share it with. Please keep in mind that circles for pages work slightly differently. You can only add people to the circle of your page after they have added your page to their circles. A good thing is the flawless switch between using Google Plus as a person or as a page.

Now you are ready to edit your profile. Make sure you are using Google Plus as your page and you will see a new button appear on the right side of the screen. It says edit profile and that is what it does. Here you can edit the About, Photos and Videos pages.

Adding an introduction to your page is easy enough. Just a text field with limited layout options, but enough to make a nice introduction. After adding the introduction, make sure that you add ways for people to reach you. Your page is only as good as the options are for people to get in touch with you.

At the top of the edit profile page you can also add a photo bar. A nice feature which we have seen at Facebook before. Here you can add five photos that will be shown as 125×125 pixel squares. Just click the photo bar to enter edit mode and you will be able to add individual pictures. Creating a continuous bar is easy when you know that the width of the whole area is 685×125 and that every picture is separated by 17 pixels. You can use my example cutout to create your own bar in your own image editor.

Click ok, stop editing and your page is ready to go. Enjoy. But do not leave it at this. Your page should be personal and active. Add to your stream and get people involved in hangouts etc. Only then will your page reach its maximum benefit.

Google launches Google Plus Pages to beat Facebook

Yes, Google has added pages to Google Plus. And even though you might think that this is not that big a deal, I think it could have a lot more impact than you think.

Google has launched pages that are not that different from what we are used to in Google+. That means that, unlike Facebook, a Google+ page is just a single page. No extra fuss. No extra pages. They might come in the future, but for now your page only has a block of five pictures on the top, a timeline and three links to a limited About page and photo’s and video’s that you have uploaded. The good thing is that Google has incorporated the regular Google+ features. Obviously you can add pages to your circles keeping their communications where you would want it. However, what is much more interesting is the option to create a hangout on your page. So, if you run a celebrity page, you can now do an online meet and greet as easy as planning a time to open up the hangout. The Muppets did exactly that yesterday when you could chat with Kermit and Miss Piggy. And yes, this is to promote their new show.

Google+ Pages put the focus on people even more than Facebook does. Their point is that their pages are a great way to connect to the team behind the brand, the organization or the name. A valid point. And one that could explain the lack of extra pages. Though they might add the option to create extra tabs and create pages in the future.

So, with the parts they are missing, why would Google Plus Pages be even a remote threat to Facebook? Search, that is why. Even though more and more people use social search -asking friends a question- Google still holds all the cards in search. We have seen the impact of that with the +1 button which puts pages your friends have liked on top of your search results. And it won’t be long until Google Plus Pages will be doing the same. Their pages will turn up before the Facebook version will. And that will happen across the board. Whether on the computer, tablet or mobile, Google Plus Pages might become one of the most natural entrances to your brand from the search results. After all the effort you have put into your Facebook page, you might not like the idea. But it might all be for the best if you are a company that takes its customers seriously. Because the entrance through your Google page might become your key to individual success with your customers. Hangouts with key representatives will get potential customers to connect to your products and services much more than Facebook will ever allow you to. And purchasing stays at your own doorstep instead of Facebook’s.

Do I think Google Plus Pages will be a success? Yes. By the sheer size of the Google Plus network? No. But by the integration that Google is rolling out into every single one of its products. And by the personal nature in which you can start interacting with your audience.

Google launches the new Android, why did you get the 4S?

Last night Google launched their new version of Android and the new Android flagship phone, the Galaxy Nexus. Naturally the phone is all you would expect of a new smartphone with dual core processors, great screen etcetera. However, last night was all about Android and just a little about the phone.

Ice Cream Sandwich, as Google has named their new Android 4.0, is full of great new developments making it smarter and easier to use. Just a quick run of all the new features:

Multitasking has been improved with a new screen that allows you to flip through your running and last used programs. Just a simple drag will get you straight back into them.
Resizable widgets allow you to adjust the size of a widget to show more or less information depending on your needs. A great addition as it will allow you to arrange your stuff better.
Lock screen actions allow you to see your notifications without unlocking your phone and it also allows you to quickly take a picture as we have already seen the iPhone do. You can also quickly respond to a caller by sending them a standard text message when you are not available. Great if you want to tell someone you would love to talk to them, but the timing is just off.
The new notification screen allows you to do more with your notifications and work with them more intuitively. It has just improved on its own standard again.
The new spellchecker and soft keyboard allow you to input text even faster with better error correction. Naturally we have to see how this is going to work in practice, but with new word suggestion technology it might just kill those autocorrect failures.
Obviously Androind comes with a new voice input engine. It has an always open microphone and it will allow you to dictate large texts including punctuation on your phone. Sure, it might not tell you whether you need an umbrella, but with its technology supporting many languages and quick correction for dictation errors, this might just be the ticket to be more productive on the road. I have to say that the voice input engine on 2.3 has been my most used feature on the Nexus S, so I am looking forward to this. And besides, the versatility of Android allowed programmers to put together Iris in eight hours during a hackathon. I bet a competitor for Siri will not be long.
For people with metered subscriptions, the new Android version allows you actively limit your data usage with great graphical overviews of your data usage that you can set your own limits on.
Android also has new accessibility options that will allow you to use your smartphone without even seeing the screen. These features are great for the visually impaired with audible feedback on what you are doing.
The new people and profiles brings more information together about your contacts and creates a new “me” profile that can be easily shared with others.
There are also changes to the calendars making them more unified and a new visual voicemail app that allows other apps to add messages for a complete overview.
And then we got to the toys. Google has been playing with the camera as well. The new camera app has face detection, a continuous focus setting, but also a tap to focus option that we have been missing for a while now. To take a better shot at that scenic location, the new camera app allows you to do a single-motion panoramic shot, saving a lot of stitching. The gallery has been improved and now features a photo editor as well. And the video camera allows you to do live effects for transforming whatever you are filming. Not sure why you would want to do that, but hey, it can be fun. More useful is the new feature to film yourself against a background that you have set yourself.
Finally Android will allow you to easily make a screenshot of your phone and share that. Now that is a feature that I have been waiting for.
Google didn’t do anything to make its phone cloud connected, but they did take the time to explain that they didn’t need to do that, as they have always been completely in the clouds.
Google will also bring more of the Chrome experience to Android. It will sync bookmarks with your computer and has dramatically improved rendering performance. Looking forward to seeing that.
The email experience has also been improved with better auto-completion of recipients, new quick response options, nested subfolders and new security options for enterprises.
And here is where it becomes geeky. And I love it. Android has been fitted out with Beam. Beam can share whatever you are doing with another Android phone through NFC (Near Field Communications). Whether that is a website, contact information or even a game you are playing, just put the two devices together and you see the same thing.
To keep your phone from being used by people you don’t really like, you can now use face recognition. Hold the camera in front of your face and it will unlock if it recognizes your face. During the demo something did go wrong there, but it will probably be ironed out soon enough.
Oh, and for sharing your stuff, you can easily set up a direct wifi connection between two devices as well, having your own private network. Not necessarily with an internet connection.

Seriously, I am looking forward to this update. For me, this has countless updates that I will be using every day. Last week I was doubting whether I was going to get the iPhone 4S. Now, the only difference with the 4S for me would be Siri. And I am not going to spend that kind of money to talk to my phone. I would rather talk to the people around me. Besides, someone is going to build an alternative anyway. So, I am looking forward to Google rolling out the Galaxy Nexus in November as I am sure my Nexus S will receive the Android Ice Cream Sandwich update as well. Too bad they did not specify a launch date for that just yet. Read up on everything on Android.com.

Facebook launches iPad app but misses big features

Today Facebook has finally launched its long awaited iPad app. There were rumors that it was postponed until the Apple iPhone 4S presentation last week, because it would be so wonderful. Well, to put it bluntly, I know why they did not show it. Yes, it is nice, yes it is by Facebook, but no, it is not shocking.

The iPad app has a nice feel to it. You have your continuing news feed taking up about 75% of the screen and then you have the chat option on the side. On the left side of the screen you can pull up a fast menu for navigating through everything Facebook has to offer, including apps. Interestingly, there is no “pages” button in the sidebar. And I doubt Facebook forgot that button. I am wondering what their focus on pages will become in the near future after they have rolled out timeline etc. for every user. Another interesting button is the checkin. Above the news feed you have the option to leave an update, add a photo or to check in. Previously Facebook seemed to loose its interest in check-ins for businesses. So, is this a turn from a course set earlier, or is the button still in because it was there in the initial development? Those are interesting questions.

All in all, the Facebook app is nice. It has a good Facebook feel to it and that makes it easy to use and very familiar. It is easier to navigate and a bit easier to work with, as all the areas are just bigger in comparison to running the site on Safari on the iPad. Bigger fingers will appreciate that. As for me? I just appreciate it as it is a well functioning app for a service I use a lot. However, the iPad app misses the new timeline, the ticker, the selected news stories and pages. And missing out on the four features I use most on Facebook is just too much. So, this is not an app I am going to use.

Let me know what you think. Download the app at: https://www.facebook.com/mobile/ipad

Be inspiring – Do you ask the right questions?

Half the internet world talked about the passing of Steve Jobs. There is a lot that can be said about him, but most people agree that he has had a profound influence on the technology we use today. I have never met him in person -and I bet most others that wrote about him never did either. However, through articles I have read about him, I got the feeling that he was a person who knew how to ask the right questions at the right time.

Asking the right questions at the right time can be confronting. But more often, it will inspire people to look at things in a different way. And in turn, that will result in revelations which lead to great products and satisfied customers.

Do you ask the right questions? Do you have a vision you stick to? Do you have a plan to lead your organisation/company/startup to success?

Do you ask the right questions to trigger your customers? Do you help them to reach their goals? To set out together with you to achieve what they have focussed on?

Asking the right questions at the right time in the right way will help you be successful. Whether it is in leading your company or selling your products.

Seeing your true global Facebook reach with Getmap.me

I came across this yesterday and just had to share it with all of you. Just for the fun of it. Getmap.me is not an extensive site with all kinds of extras. It just reverts back to a Facebook app. What is the biggest use of it? Well, its only use is to help you display a map of all the locations in the world where your Facebook friends are located. Pin it on your wall, make it your desktop background or whatever else you like. And just dream of all the places your friends are at. And where you can go. Or where you need to make new friends to cover the globe. Try it. It is fun.