Archives for December 2007

How to Use Web 2.0 in the Enterprise

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 License.

For more great cartoons about Web 2.0, check out Geek and Poke. Here are a few of my favorites:

The CEO's New Social Network Strategy – A Cautionary Tale

One of my associates in Link To Your World, Carter Smith, did a great post today on The CEO’s New Social Network Strategy. Carter very effectively skewers both the distorted perspective many corporate leaders have about social networking and even moreover, the people with absolutely no field real field experience who then try to consult with them about it.


Classmates Scraps IPO Plans

United Online (Nasdaq: UNTD) is scrapping its IPO plans for Classmates Media, which includes social networking pioneer and the popular MyPoints consumer loyalty site. What particularly called my attention to this was the analysis of it over at by Rick Aristotle Munarriz, which echoes some of the things I had to say about Classmates in our upcoming book, The Emergence of The Relationship Economy. Here’s what Rick had to say:

It didn’t hurt that is considered a social-networking pioneer, at a time when News Corp. (NYSE: NWS) is laughing its way to the bank on its MySpace purchase, and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is bankrolling a suspicious investment that values Facebook at a whopping $15 billion.

Investors weren’t born yesterday. They didn’t need an Ivy League college degree to know that pioneer badges can be worthless. So what if Classmates predates MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, or Google‘s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Orkut? If rings around the bark are all that mattered, Friendster and would be Wall Street rock stars.

Classmates blew it long before the IPO got shelved this morning. The site was in the right place at the right time, but it was positioned the wrong way. Instead of embracing the open-ended ways of the real stars of social networking, Classmates spent too much time as a walled community with little to offer those who weren’t willing to pay for access. The site had amassed user registrations 50 million deep over the years, but just a sliver of those were paying customers and active participants.

Here’s what I wrote in The Emergence of The Relationship Economy regarding Classmates and freemium business models:

Many users have criticized Classmates’ highly restrictive free functionality, which allows members to establish profiles, search for other members, and read public message boards; posting messages or contacting other members requires a premium membership. Other sites with similar models, such as Ecademy, have garnered similar criticism. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this business model, it does generate more customer ill will than those with less restrictive free membership functionality.

We recommend that unless compelling ROI can be demonstrated in other ways, companies offer a free level of basic membership that has sufficient functionality to keep people engaged on an ongoing basis. This not only creates customer goodwill but also generally offers increased value to premium members by having a larger pool of engaged users available for search and interaction.

Here’s the ironic part… Classmates knew this was a problem — they just didn’t know what to do about it. Take a look at this excerpt from their S-1 filing:

Although we have recently experienced an increase in the number of paying subscribers, this trend may not continue. Most of our paying subscribers elect to purchase our services as a result of a limited number of features. For example, we believe that our recently introduced Classmates digital guestbook feature is responsible for a significant portion of the increase in our new pay accounts since the end of 2006. If our social networking pay features are not as compelling and we do not stay current with evolving consumer trends, our free members may not subscribe for our pay features. Any decrease in our conversion rate of free members into paying subscribers could adversely affect our business and financial results.

This is a perfect example of why understanding the marketplace and what users will and won’t accept is so critical. Not getting this right has cost Classmates millions.

Beyond Sourcing – 15 Creative Ways Recruiters Can Use Professional Networking Sites

I gave a presentation for ERE Media Tuesday entitled “Professional Networking – Beyond Sourcing”, which focused on the many ways that recruiters can use professional networking sites to support their business and their own career, not just for sourcing candidates. The way I see it, any hack can figure out how to type a few keywords and do a search — where it gets really interesting is in all the other things you can use the tools for to grow your business, attract more candidates and differentiate yourself from the thousands of other recruiters out there.

You can download the presentation at ERE, but I tend to go for a pretty minimalist presentation style, and there was a lot of information that I covered that’s not in the slides. The topic that seemed to get the most comments and questions, but I feel is kind of short-changed in the slides, was the specific ways recruiters can use networking sites for more than just sourcing. I posted the full list as a guest post at Six Degrees from Dave (Mendoza).

To see what some recruiters have had to say on the topic, or to contribute your own thoughts, check out the question I posted on LinkedIn Answers. For even more ideas, see Smart Ways to Use LinkedIn, a compilation of over 100 ways to use LinkedIn in your business and personal life.

And for ideas on sourcing in professional networking sites, check out David’s and my Fast Company article, Using Online Networks to Find Your Star Employee.

Free Webinar – "Professional Networking: Beyond Sourcing"

I’ll be giving a free webinar Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2-3pm ET, entitled Professional Networking – Beyond Sourcing, sponsored by ERE Media and LinkedIn. The event is intended for recruiters, and the gist of it is this: any hack recruiter can figure out how to search LinkedIn, Jobster, ZoomInfo and the blogosphere to source candidates, but networking is about a lot more than sourcing. We’ll look at how building relationships, not just a contact list, can support your entire business, not just sourcing.

Registration is free but required. Hope to see you there!

The Times They Are A-Changing


Cartoon by Peter Steiner in the July 5, 1993 issue of The New Yorker, (Vol.69 (LXIX) no. 20, p. 61).
Photo by CogDogBlog via flickr with lolcats text by Scott Allen.