Cue The Future

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"I'm living in the future, so the present is my past" -Kayne West

Meet the new Involver

It’s my great pleasure to unveil something we’ve been working on for the last little bit, 3 simple announcements from my company:
We announced this morning some really exciting news, parts of which have been previously unearthed by Venture Beat, Xconomy, and the WSJ. Involver has taken 8 Million dollars in additional financing from our investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), Western Technology Investment, and Cervin Ventures. While we are currently profitable, this capital will help us more quickly meet ambitious goals for our products and our team. In fact we plan to hire 130 people, including 80 engineers, in the next 15 months.

Along with this endeavor, we’ve refreshed our brand. You can see our new wordmark below, it’s one of many aesthetic changes. I’d love to share more about this process later, and perhaps we’ll do so, but what’s important is that we now have a gorgeous site with way more product information, functionality, and other “about involver” stuff.  Go check it out.

Finally, we’re also announcing some pretty impressive growth numbers. We now serve over 100,000 customers, have deployed 200,000 applications and interact with over 325 Million fans. Our scale is unmatched in the industry and speaks volumes about the types of technical challenges we’re tackling. If you’re interested in helping us tackle those challenges and increase those numbers by two orders of magnitude, you should apply.

We were right about Bing + Facebook!

Today, Bing announced it has become a Facebook Instant Personalization partner, and is going to start using like data to change the way you comprehend your search results on Bing.

This is an incredibly smart move that I’ve wanted them to take for ages. In Social Data for Search Giants (a blog post I wrote here 1 year ago), I wrote the following:

Facebook could offer a Facebook Connect implementation specifically for search engines that allowed them to check URLs against a database of friend’s posted links.  This would allow the search engine to enhance relevancy. Think of it like this (forgive the quick/ugly mockup):  http://skitch.com/tylerwillis/bswcr/presentation2

Now, I’m not going to sue Zuck and try to get on the Winklevoss retirement track. But, I think it’s fun that the actual implementation wasn’t too far off from my prediction. Here’s the examples back to back:

———– FWIW:

in the spirit of social design, I did a quick review. What did I miss from the final implementation?

  • I forgot Faces. In 09, I assumed that privacy concerns would keep personalization information limited to text. Swing and a miss — we now know that people want faces. They want to see who did what. Your social network is not made of equals, identity and context are very important for social interactions.
  • Places not Products. I thought they would initially roll this functionality out for places – instead they are rolling it out for products. In hindsight this is obvious because product pages have way more likes and are far easier to identify and organize sanely.
  • Too much info. I assumed Facebook would move to display comment and other meta data around posted links. It doesn’t look like this will be in rev 1.

Envisioning the future of Facebook Groups.

I have a ton of respect for Facebook’s product team, they consistently launch innovative products that pull their users, often kicking and screaming, into more engaging experiences. This requires two key skills:

1. Vision: predict what your customers want before anyone knows they’d use it. The next big thing looks like a toy.

In my opinion, Zuckerberg, Cox and others on Facebook’s Product team should be given the inaugural Henry Ford award. Facebook delivers what it’s customers actually want, despite their lack of knowledge that they want it. This is daily occurrence for fb: Closed Networks, NewsFeed, Profile Redesign, Open Graph, Platform, Pages, Internationalization, Chat, Privacy, Groups — and the list goes on.

2. Know when your customers are ready for the next bite-sized part your vision. Without this part, you aren’t successful, you are ahead of your time.

Facebook’s location patent was filed years before the launch of places. The “Awesome Button” (now Open Graph’s Like button) was built, to a launch ready state in November of 2007.

With that history in mind, I watch new product updates with fascination, and each new release inspires me to think about what might be next.

After the jump, reposted from Involver’s comprehensive post on Facebook Groups, is my take on what could be possible in the future.

Facebook could integrate Groups, Events, and Places to create a rich experience for users, with compelling value for brand marketers, business owners, and event hosts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook Places for marketers

I penned a blog post that’s over 900 words about the Facebook Places launch as seen by Marketers. In it I discuss 13 facts about how Places will affect businesses. Go check it out on the Involver Blog! Here’s a small excerpt from the article:

How should I manage my Facebook Page and Facebook Place(s)?

  • Before managing your Facebook Place, you must claim it. The easiest way to do this is to accept a phone call at the number saved for that place. If this is not viable, then you can submit a document verification request instead, but this will take longer.
  • A Facebook Place can be merged with a Facebook Page.  If you merge your Place and Page, it will add maps, Check-ins, and Friend Activity Feeds to your current Facebook Page.
  • You can only attach one Facebook Place to a Facebook Page right now, it’s not advised to attach your Facebook Place to a page if you eventually want to attach multiple Places, as Facebook is working on a solution for this.
  • Involver Customers, if you attach your Facebook Place to your Page, you’ll be able to mange both with the Involver Audience Management Platform.

Go read the rest…

Here’s a photo of my first Facebook Places checkin, at Blu in New York City, what was yours?

#### Treats

* I was in New York City this week for Estee Lauder Digital Day, and while in New York I learned a few things — Blu is a horrible restaurant, I really want to try Angel’s Share in the winter, Virgin America is the only way to fly to JFK, and Matthew Dear is an amazing musician.

* There seems to be an increasing trend to heap responsibility onto my generation for fixing the world’s problems earlier then our predecessors were given a shot (it seems like 20 and 30 something leaders are beginning to become normal enough that people are wondering if they are better at effectively using power to improve the world we live in. I wonder if this is unique, or if this same cycle happened for other generations?  X? Boomers? Was there a similar push for you to start taking control/responsibility at 25-30?

* Swearing at the beginning or ending of a speech makes you more credible, dammit.  “Jazz” is apparently the best word to play in Hangman if you want to win. For more awesome tidbits like this, you should click here and follow me on Twitter, I’m @tylerwillis.

Estee Lauder's impressive commitment

I’m in New York today for the Estee Lauder Digital Media day. As I write this from the show floor in Chelsea, I look out upon 13 market leading digital companies invited to share knowledge with the Estee Lauder team. Companies like Facebook, Google, Bazaarvoice, Yahoo, Microsoft Advertising, and Involver are here working closely with about 400 people from every Estee Lauder brand.

This event is, in their own words, an investment in their team’s digital IQ — and it’s probably a pretty sizable investment based on the venue, speakers, and quantity of gourmet noshes I’m eating while I type. I don’t know of many companies willing to place this large a bet on educating their team, and it is an impressive display of commitment to marketing excellence from Estee Lauder as far as I’m concerned.

Jascha and I are both sincerely impressed, and this event has renewed my commitment to education. No matter how big your organization is, you need to earmark resources to continue learning new lessons. What have you done this month that has helped your team learn something that made their jobs easier?

At Involver, we have a culture of knowledge sharing. Whether it’s our brand team writing emails and blog posts about new opportunities in social, our sales team teaching each other productivity tricks in group demonstrations, or our technical team sharing the latest and greatest in new technology in weekly company demonstrations, we are always teaching ourselves new things so that we can better educate and serve our customers.

What do you do to insure your team stays on top of current knowledge?
How can we help your team learn more about the new digital landscape?

About the Author

Tyler Willis is the Vice President of Business Development at Unified, which builds enterprise marketing technology for brands and agencies.

This blog is about how the future will affect technology, marketing, and the things we care about most. Learn more about Tyler.

Speaking

Tyler is a featured speaker and instructor for The American Marketing Association, and is a popular speaker on topics related to social marketing and how technology is changing our lives.

Recent engagements:
- South by Southwest
- American Marketing Association
- TMP Directional Marketing Client Summit

Email for Speaking Requests.

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Lightweight Update

I write infrequent (quarterly at most), semi-formal updates of what I'm doing and thinking.


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