Just Give Them Their Money

30 May

Let’s talk about facebook. I’m not a facebook user, but I’m familiar with the concept and have followed the IPO drama with a bucket of popcorn.gif. Today I read this thread on HN today. A lot of people are commenting talking about what FB can do to differentiate, monetize outside of ads, etc. My first thought is that it seems easier and potentially more long-term profitable to simply charge for use of the service.

We spend more and more time online. People host gigs and gigs of their personal photos, videos and thoughts on the service, yet no one thinks that this is a service worth paying for. Why? Well, it’s because of the ever-present-on-the-web concept that ads are the avenue to revenue. It’s all free, just with some ads thrown on! I won’t get in to my thoughts on how we got to this mindset that these services aren’t worth paying for. Still, it’s easy to see that the vast user base on earth spends massive amounts of time online but doesn’t consider these service providers worth a penny because they’ve been indoctrinated in a mindset that says everything is free.

Why hasn’t someone put up a competing social network and made it a for-pay or freemium model? There are some, I know (Flickr, LJ). But those aren’t a straight up for-pay social network model. What’s so wrong with that? In fact, I think if it were done right, a social network that came straight out and said, “Look, it’s $100 a year for lots of picture storage, lots of features and no ads” would do well. It would potentially be very well respected and on top of that have a bit of that closed cache that comes with services that aren’t free. It also ties users to the service because they’ve potentially prepaid.

Google+, Facebook, MS so.cl, Tumblr, Pinterest and Twitter are all constantly trying to innovate and create new features for users. Imagine if users were actually paying for services. Further, something like the “GM drops facebook ads because they don’t work” fiasco could be avoided. A user dropping a $20 a month service means almost nothing in singularity and certainly isn’t news enough to be in the WSJ.

Clearly I’m not an expert at running (or in some cases, even using) social networks and it’s completely possible I’m missing something here. But when there are so many legitimate complaints about services using annoying ads, abusing privacy, screwing around with stock offerings and frustrating their users, wouldn’t it make sense that someone has seen this ad-supported social network model and found it “ripe for disruption”?

I’m expecting the very contrary nature of internet commenters to benefit me in this case and give me some links to decent social networks that charge money. Send them along.

 

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Change Reddit From Terrible to Delightful

29 May

I admit to browsing reddit occasionally. It’s that perfect “waiting in line” use case for the iPhone. It’s a good flow of a certain subset of current events and obviously full of “viral” content every day.

Unfortunately reddit is also full of lots of terrible content and terrible comments from terrible users. It’s not 100% awful, but there is so much there that is crap, it can be discouraging.

You can completely change your reddit experience with these five steps:

 

  1. Create a reddit account.
  2. Log in to reddit.
  3. Open your reddit account and click my reddits.
  4. Unsubscribe from all subreddits by clicking the red “unsubscribe” button.
  5. Add the following subreddits by clicking the green “subscribe” button:

You’re done! Now reddit will be great and you’ll enjoy it immensely.

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My Comments about Pinterest in CIO.com

9 May

 

I had a quote in CIO.com about a month ago. It was in reference to using Pinterest for a brand. Interestingly, Pinterest has been somewhat controversial on the startup scene.

The majority of the audience at Hacker News just doesn’t understand the appeal. From my perspective, the appeal is obvious from the second you logon. As a user, there is a seemingly never ending stream of beautiful and interesting images. The site is compelling and enjoyable and a great way to not only organize your thoughts and ideas in a visual way, but to also see others doing the same. It shows a literal snapshot of someone else’s preferences and tastes. I think it’s fantastic. HN worries about monetization, which is ridiculous. That site will make boat loads of cash through any one of the various monetization strategies that are open to it. Pinterest is great both as a casual user and for brands and marketers. My quote in CIO was geared toward tips for brands and companies in how to use Pinterest.

 

10. Be a good member of the Pinterest community.
“The absolute MUST for any brand or retailer using Pinterest is to become a part of the community,” adds Sherrod DeGrippo, proprietor, Blue Key Studio, a home decor store. Pinterest should not “be used as simply a marketing tool where a vendor posts all their items for sale and then leaves,” she cautions. “The community on Pinterest is smart and savvy. They know marketing when they see it, and if it doesn’t otherwise add value, they will write you off.” That’s why Blue Key Studio has a variety of boards, not just focusing on home decor, but on food, fashion and other things that their followers might like. “Our Dogs and Decor board is a great example. It combines two things I really love: great interior design and canines.”

 

I am so glad they mentioned my dogs and decor board. It’s really fun and I love being able to find gorgeous interiors where dogs are also lounging about. It’s exciting to come across one and add it to my collection. These things used to be kept locally on personal folders, but now people are using Pinterest to share them and keep them available for other users to see.

Pinterest has made such a huge impact on the web and the way people share things they like. I’ll be posting more in the future about my thoughts on using it for marketing and just for fun too.

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Interview From the Portland Mercury

30 Sep

This bit with me from the Portland Mercury is sort of controversial. I admit to knowingly inciting an internet riot when I said “cats are out, dogs are in,” in reference to internet culture. I stand by it  though. Dogs are just better. The faces they make are funnier and they’re more comfortable in front of the camera.

That wasn’t really the point of the piece though. It talks more about my experience with community management and how I’ve seen user participation on the web evolve over so many years.

 

“I think it’s really, really hard to keep user-generated content high quality while also not devolving into a walled garden where people are afraid to contribute because they don’t want to deal with being bulldozed by others who are obsessed with rules,”

 

I think this is so true and wikipedia has already admitted as much. Contributors to user-generated sites are hitting a point of fatigue. Simply because there is so much to catalog and such a huge amount of pushback from other users.

 

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Personal Blog

25 Apr

I figured it was time for me to actually create a blog for myself. So here’s Sherrod DeGrippo’s blog.