Scribd, Docstoc, and Compare by UberVU – Monday Update

Three interesting tools caught my attention:

Scribd – this is a YouTube or SlideShare for documents. Curious – Scribd has quite a few categories and a very robust search.  “Social Media ROI” search returned a great presentation on the topic that is also present on SlideShare.  Scribd is probably one more place where a company can place its materials (particularly for b-to-b)  beside traditional YouTube and SlideShare route.

Scribd uses Flash to present the documents, but has a work-around for iPhone (though iPhone site is not as pleasant as the regular site).

Docstoc – is also a document sharing/posting site, similar to Scribd.  Docstoc does not use Flash for presenting the documents and iPhone experience is much better (though the Docstoc does not have a designated mobile site).  I tend to like layout and functionality of Scribd a little more, but its reliance on Flash (what makes documents look so good) might be an issue.

Based on Compete,  Scribd has a little lead currently, but its popularity trending down over the last year.

I added Scribd and Docstoc to my NetVibes resources.

Compare by UberVU is now considered social media “compete” – it allows to compare social media activity for two brands (keywords).  Similar to Compete, it teases the free user with almost on the fingertips information available with the upgrade.

I definitely added this tool to my NetVibes collection.

Market Research and Health Care – AMA

Quite interesting event highlighting the obvious fact that health care is moving closer to consumer service where marketing playing more important role.

The most interesting was the case study how Fairview  increased satisfaction rate from 31% to 72% and eventually 99% (positive answer to the question: would you recommend the clinic to a family member?)

The research showed that consumers could evaluate and felt improvement not in health care service, but in health care experience (what coincides with HealthWest approach).

Research determined what “minimum expectations” consumers had and what can be built into differentiators.

Some of the learning:

  • consumers did not like to see dead plants in the waiting room: “if you cannot take care of your plants, how can you take care of me?”
  • consumers did not like to see more than three months old magazines in the waiting room: “you don’t care about me if you expect me to read old magazines.”
  • consumers wanted the receptionist to raise her eyes from the computer and greet them

How the results of this research was “sold” to the clinicians? Clinicians felt it was their idea 😉

Clinic manager champion and physician champion were responsible for the implementation of the changes. Curious: two groups that are the most susceptible to peer pressure: adolescents and physicians.

Another interesting example from the perspective of the usability research:

Often web sites are created based on the assumptions, but user research is needed to determine what is really valuable for the users.

A web site for patients at late stages of specific medical constitution and caregivers.

  • Patients: patients knew the terminology, understood their situation, and wanted direct information. Patients often used “physician’s” portion of web sites.
  • Caregivers: caregivers were interested in support, communication with other caregivers, and wanted completely different information.

In some cases companies create different sites for patients and caregivers.

Important: “the whole experience” – not only the web site.

Going Mobile – i612

“if you think your audience not mobile, you are most likely wrong.”

Companies need to start now to learn and be ahead of the competition  in the months ahead.

Fundamental principle that is often overlooked:
Marketers need to concentrate not on cell phones, but on consumers who are mobile and build programs and promotions to help these consumers.

Brands need to define target audience, understand its challenges and find a way to be useful. Example: SitOrSquat application – a bathroom locator with reviews – created for Charmin. The application offers utility to its users and provided by not intrinsically engaging brand. The database of available bathrooms was easier to find than encourage consumers to provide reviews.
Another interesting note: it is much easier to capture consumers’ phone numbers than e-mail addresses via mobile… The reason might be difficulty of typing e-mail addresses on our tiny keyboards.

Going into a campaign it is important to define what are you trying to learn.

Mobile advertising: important not to drive consumers to the “normal” site; even more important is to make sure that consumer can accomplish promoted action on the landing page

2010 Digital Predictions and the State of Emerging Technologies – MIMA

Thought-provoking event with several fundamental insights:

  1. Future opportunities for simplification as product strategy (based on the success of Twitter and earlier iPod – both simplifications of existing technologies)
  2. Mobile should be the “primary interface” for web development (not just “mobile compatible”) – mobile is the channel through which more customers more likely to experience web in the future.
  3. Separation of streams: Facebook (a couple of dozens of close friends), Twitter (business communication in the area of expertise), LinkedIn (wider network of business associates), etc

After the event I downloaded Gowalla (in addition to the ubiquitous foursquare).

Mobile Twin Cities

My first venture to Mobile Twin Cities event was quite enlightening.

The event started from the presentation of YouthAssets efforts to use mobile phones for helping young people in Africa. The organization helps youth-headed households in Swaziland (South Africa) – country with highest HIV infection rate.  Many orphan households are headed by older brother or sister who is trying to support the family.

Though majority of the people in the country live in poverty, 90% of the population is covered with a mobile phone network. The typical monthly plan phone service is available only for the wealthy able to pay (about 1%); majority of the population “pay as you go” easily transferring minutes of “air time” to each other.  The calling culture is different – people have to pay to call, but don’t have to pay to receive.  Voice mail is not popular, while “buzzing” is – calling and hanging up before the recipient picked up the call. Youth who had mobile phones in many cases did not have electricity at home, but managed to charge their devices at school, at home of a wealthy neighbor, or find other cheap method.

Most of the population had feature phones, though all 16 king’s wives had iPhones 😉

Some of the youth in the program already had basic mobile phones, and some could “purchase” them from the organization.  Mobile phones provided needed connections with relatives, opportunity for the support group to transfer “air time” that could be sold later, and the emotional support young people needed.  The organization also successfully tried conference registration via mobile phones.

Second session was devoted to Nokia N900.  Though the session was too technical for me, I was glad that the rest of the attendees were quite interested and knowledgeable in building applications for mobile devices 😉  From marketing perspective – Nokia promotes this phone as a powerful  “mobile computer” rather than a phone.

Politics and Social Media – Social Media Breakfast

The event attracted more marketers than journalists or politicians and was useful for all. 😉

Journalists covering political campaigns had the same perception of social media “I have to do it.” Though they agreed that it was not true even a year ago.

From the journalist’s perspective, stories are now “compartmentalized” for specific channels: some are worthy a blog post, some can be added to Facebook, and some don’t warrant more than a Tweet.

Twitter is a Wild Wild West in political communication – voters are not afraid to ask questions. Twitter seemed to be the dominant force and concern among political campaigns and journalists because of its immediacy.

“You can do a lot of damage as a candidate in 140 characters.”

Changes brought up by social media:

  • commentary is live and immediate
  • Google Alerts and RSS are too slow (!) – Twitter does a better job
  • Blogs are “back-up documents” for Tweets
  • Information is not always sourced correctly – error issue

Iconoculture Consumer Trends for 2010 – AMA

Iconoculture analysis of consumer trends was a wonderful event to get an inspiration for the remaining of the year.

Main consumer values

  • Individuality
  • Community
  • Practicality
  • Creativity


Women and minorities demand more attention – gender dominates economy conversations.

Number of people defining themselves as more than one race has increased 33%.

Consumers feel they have a voice and demand more control over marketing message.

(Carrot mob example


Unemployment and volatile changes encourage consumers to take more responsibility for their own health.   Example: The site is very interesting, suggesting that 70% of person’s longevity is under his/her control. The site openly suggest to eliminate fast food… brave.

Consumers are aware about transparent nature of social media and keep closer eye on their digital footprint.

Companies taking advantage of this trend (brilliantly):


Wisk created a Facebook application helping personal reputation management. “With WISK-IT you can find tagged and untagged photos in your friends’ albums and ask them to wash them away.”

Milk and Honey bars restrict use of social media and require its members consider everything heard at the bar “off the record.”

Mark Monitor is a b-to-b business that exploited the same trend.

“MarkMonitor Managed Services help corporations identify and respond to online brand threats through automated monitoring, research, expert analysis and rapid, prioritized response recommendations”


Conservation of resources (for example water) is moving from “environmentally friendly” to “practical.”

Indulgence offsetting: sin is in as long as its balanced by something positive/practical. Example: “five” ice-cream (ice-cream created with only five all-natural ingredients).


Collaboration between consumers and brands: “If I buy your product, I hope you listen to me.” Crowd sourcing from the perspective of companies.

Re-Inventing The Ad Agency – CATFOA

Excellent event with a great speaker, the presentation mentioned quite a few resources worthy further investigation. Edward Boches (@edwardboches),  Chief Creative Officer/Chief Social Media Officer, MULLEN (Boston) presented his view on the future, which, contrary to many people in the industry, he was actively embracing.

Media landscape is changing; some of the examples:

Wine Library TV (explanation) was a phenomenally successful video blog produced by a wine enthusiast. The blog attempted to change the perception of wine as difficult to understand subject to a much more accessible topic.

Wine Library TV creator also became a popular book author.

Lemonade – a movie created by a person who lost his job in the advertising industry (movie on Hulu).   The movie described several people who were able to transform their lives positively after layoffs. The movie became possible with the help of social media to connect people and sponsors.

Respectful agencies that specialized on TV advertising only went out of business..

New media is changing the world and nobody knows what will happen.

Some of emerging networks:

LiveFyre – a site dedicated to finding and discussing news in different topic areas.

“LiveFyre is a place for topical, public, live-streaming conversation and debate between friends and people who like the same stuff you do. Start a Fyre about virtually anything- articles, blog posts, videos, tweets, you name it, then pose a question or statement to spark the debate.”

Blippy – a site allowing to see what other people are buying.

“Thanks to a just-launched, Twitter-like service called Blippy, you can now post all your credit and debit card purchases to the Web, for all to see. Lucky us.” More..

Including very familiar  foursquare

Nobody (including brands and agencies) wants to change… But consumer is no longer a spectator; the consumer is co-creator. Consumers can produce ad parodies faster… and much cheaper.  Community is the new form of content.

Consumers do not want to have “one perfect thing” – what is spectacularly explained in Malcom Gladwell’s presentation “Malcom Gladwell On Spaghetti Sauce.”

“Good-enough revolution.” Definition of quality changed: fast, easy, convenient is now sufficient (example – mp3, which is technically gives an inferior quality sound).

Before: advertising told stories

Now: finding people to tell their stories (crowd sourcing is picking up).

Interesting: typical crowd sourcing efforts produce too much of consumer generated content that is bad enough to be unusable.  However, this content can give a very useful insight into brand perception by the consumers – uninspired entries are not waste but a great research material.

If an advertiser tells stories, they should be better than “news releases.”  Google Chrome ads were so interesting, that explanation of how they were produced became as popular.

Original Google Chrome ads

Explanation of how these ads were produced

Before: an ad

Now: an ad, a landing page, social media channels… somebody expressing their dissatisfaction…

Future advertiser will be a choreographer, a curator of many channels and communities, rather than an ad producer.

How agencies can survive?

  • encourage people to use social media
  • changing strategic approach: what is consumer’s relationship to the media?”
  • smashing the silos

New campaign approach: creating a community first, and then promoting the product/service to the community.

Agencies are building up analytics staff (yes, metrics! 🙂  )


  • Targeting + Creative + Conversation Strategy (it is easier to create a community than to decide what to do with it later)
  • Curator/Choreographer will emerge as a new important role
  • Crowd sourcing  will grow
  • Whoever hires the best digital talent will win
  • Creativity will matter more than ever (since attention can no longer be bought)

The change is happening:

Before: it took fewer people to create a message

Now: all people need to work together (including web developers and brand strategists);  people need to know each other and not be afraid to give recommendations.

Mullen –  a great resource for information and cutting edge ideas.

Edward Boches’ presentation was one of the best during the three years of CATFOA history.  It encouraged me to think about curating and creating (and creativity). These are opposite concepts in my opinion; if the brand is trying to “create” an innovative ad, it is not trying to crowd-source. Crowd sourcing seems to be more “statistically relevant” – most creative undertakings are gambles, while searching and testing should produce more reliable results. My guess is curating will win over creating, but it is just a guess…. 😉


Though MinneDemo was targeted to technology enthusiasts, it had a few attractive nuggets for marketers too (beside meeting with friends and a delicious snack).

My observations:

  • Most projects  were targeted to niche markets (colleges reviewing young musicians, property managers posting jobs for contractors to bid, or politicians desperate to connect with voters over iPhone).
  • Most projects concentrated around connecting people or collaboration rather than performing a specific task.
  • If mobile platform was involved, iPhone was the platform of choice… This could be related to the audience;  iPhone users are more likely to be a desired customers for many businesses comparing to feature-phone users.

The most interesting demo (from a marketer’s perspective?  😉  ):

MileMarker – an online tool that helps organizations to log news projects,  evaluate their usefulness and feasibility, get feedback from customers or employees, and prioritize projects based on objective criteria.   Quite interesting tool!  The tool seem to be available on freemeum basis and should not be out of reach for small teams.

What I found the most impressive:  automatically created visual chart of projects based on their usefulness/feasibility.

Another curious tool: WebSlide – another online tool designed to show clients creative work (web design particularly) in an easily understandable format. This tool can be useful for agencies and internal web design groups of large organizations.

List of all demo URLs (from the latest presentation and previous events)