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Friday, May 11, 2012
Expertise Is Everything When It Comes to Startups
3 Ways Companies Can Leverage Social Reviews
4 Tools to Enhance Brand Engagement on Facebook

Facebook IPO Meeting Weaker-Than-Expected Demand [REPORT]
Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:42 PMTodd Wasserman

Facebook's long-awaited IPO isn't living up to the hype, according to a report.

Bloomberg reports that institutional investors being wooed by Facebook's IPO roadshow are skeptical about the company's prospects since ad revenues haven't kept pace with user growth. The report cites "people with knowledge of the matter" who are not identified. Reps from Facebook could not be reached for comment on the report.

Facebook's IPO is scheduled for May 17. If institutional investors aren't sold on the company then the company will rely more on retail investors -- those who sell for personal accounts -- rather than the former who are made up of banks, insurance companies and pension funds. Retail investors are still bullish on the company, according to the report. The company could still drum up enough demand to sell its shares on the high end of a projected range, according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, an investor poll by Bloomberg found that 79% of investors, analysts and traders who subscribe to Bloomberg thought that Facebook's $96 billion valuation was too high. (A poll by Mashable found 37.6% of respondents said Facebook shares were priced too high while 28% weren't sure.)

The apparent cool reaction comes after Facebook amended its S-1 form on Wednesday to reflect the fact that the number of ads per daily average user is dropping. CEO Mark Zuckerberg also drew criticism for his casual dress during the roadshow. Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush Securities, told Bloomberg that Zuck's decision to wear a hoodie is a "mark of immaturity."

Bonus: How the Social Media IPOs of 2011 Fared

Twitter Hires Hint at Email Expansion
Thursday, May 10, 2012 6:41 PMSarah Kessler

Twitter has hired the team behind personalized email marketing provider RestEngine.

The startup runs re-activation, merchandising, cross-promotion and viral acquisition email campaigns that it personalizes using social graph data.

Here is the statement RestEngine posted on its website:

We're very excited to announce that the RestEngine team is joining the Twitter flock! Just over two and half years ago we founded RestEngine to help social app publishers send targeted one-to-one emails based on a subscriber's social graph. It's been an incredible journey where we had the opportunity to work with some of the leading social app publishers.

With our customers, we've iterated on our social marketing automation platform while defining a new set of best practices for this brand new world of outbound social marketing. We're thrilled to now focus our email skills and marketing automation know-how on a much larger scale at Twitter.

Three of four employees at the company will join Twitter, according to TechCrunch.

Twitter recently acquired Summify, a startup that sent users daily emails with five stories they should read, based on what their friends were talking about on social networks.

Though a Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on why the company bought RestEngine's personalized email marketing team, some have speculated that it could be working on an email digest of "great tweets you missed."

Facebook Faces FTC Probe Over Instagram, Unlikely to Delay IPO
Thursday, May 10, 2012 5:49 PMSarah Kessler

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reportedly launched a competition probe into Facebook's $1 billion acquisition of Instagram.

The investigation could take up to 12 months, but it will not necessarily delay Facebook's IPO, which is expected next week.

"Typically speaking, unless the FTC has actual regulatory concerns -- in other words they think the prospectus doesn't have all the information the investing public might need -- then Facebook can go ahead and IPO," James Brau, a professor of finance at Brigham Young University, tells Mashable.

Brau says he would expect, given a major concern, that the FTC would not prevent Facebook's impending IPO.

David Balto, a former policy director at the FTC who now works as an anti-trust lawyer, agrees that the FTC standing in the way of Facebook going public on schedule would be unlikely.

The probe itself is routine, as the FTC requires detailed filings for all acquisitions larger than $68.2 million.

Facebook said in its IPO filings that it expected the Instagram acquisition to close by the end of the second quarter, but that now seems unlikely. Experts say the FTC could take six to 12 months to approve the acquisition.

"Facebook is in the middle of the targets of antitrust enforcers," Balto tells Mashable. "There are certain dominant firms that get the most intense scrutiny."

While the investigation will not necessarily delay Facebook's IPO, it will delay the benefits the company sought in the acquisition. Facebook is not allowed to integrate Instagram technology or staff until the deal is approved, according to The Financial Times, which cites two people familiar with the matter.

60+ Hot Events in Social Media, Startups and Business
Thursday, May 10, 2012 4:02 PMLauren Hockenson

From digital advertising conferences to programming hackathons and everything in between, you'll definitely find a swanky locale to suit your professional and personal interests from the selection of more than 60 events on Mashable's new Events Board. Whether you're an event organizer or an event-goer, our Events Board is an essential resource for helping you build relationships, engage face-to-face and learn about new trends in the business.

In addition to featuring events all over the world, exciting new listings are always added to Mashable's Events Board in a variety of industries. Every week, we round up five freshly-posted events that you should definitely add to your calendar. Keep checking the board for the newest listings of conferences, meetings and expos spicing up the tech scene around the world.


HealthTech NextGeneration

Date: 5/24/2012 - 5/25/2012

Location: San Francisco, California

Heath administrators, government advisors and tech executives will come together at the HealthTech NextGeneration event, which focuses on the intersection of the health and technology industries. In addition to two days of keynotes and parallel track seminars, there will be an exhibition with many companies, including sponsors Intel and Deloitte. Ticket prices are $300 and include full event access, unlimited Wi-Fi and two meals for the day.

Emerging Media Conference (EmMeCon) Seattle

Date: 6/19/2012 - 6/20/2012

Location: Seattle, Washington

Executives from CNN, Home Depot and Bing have already registered for EmMeCon, an event focused on emerging trends and technologies in a variety of industries. The first time this event will be held in Seattle, VIP tickets (at a cost of $1,087.85) are running out quickly and ticket sales will end the day before event. Tickets in limited qualities will be sold at the door.

Social Media

DMA2012 Conference & Exhibition

Date: 10/13/2012 - 10/18/2012

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

DMA2012 is a global event for marketers and marketing experts that also offers intensives, certification programs and an exhibition for conference attendees. The event's track system covers nine different areas of marketing, including data management and consumer loyalty, but attendees are encouraged to pick and choose their own programs. Register by June 29 to save up to $300 on your event ticket.


General Assembly Digital Buffet

Date: 6/11/2012 - 6/15/2012

Location: New York, New York

Interested in learning the ins and outs of programming? The General Assembly Digital Buffet is a week-long series of seminars that go through the multiple facets of developing a digital startup. Each day has an umbrella topic, such as "Digital Business" and "User Experience," with a variety of classes and workshops around that theme. Attendees can register for a single day for $299 -- those interested in attending for the week can contact General Assembly directly for rates.


Mobile Local Media San Francisco

Date: 6/27/2012

Location: San Francisco, California

Hosted by independent marketing research company BIA/Kelsey, Mobile Local Media San Francisco is a one-day conference that focuses on the trends and strategies for social, local and mobile (aka SoLoMo). Topics on the agenda range from local ad-targeting to media distribution and feature speakers from Yelp, SCVNGR and PayPal.

Want to promote your upcoming event on Mashable's Events Board? Click here.

Groupon: Sound Investment or Risky Business? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Thursday, May 10, 2012 3:16 PMStephanie Buck

Groupon's financial history hasn't always been this precarious, but lately, the daily deal site seems to be teetering on a stock market tightrope.

In April, the company's stock price plummeted on news that the SEC planned to investigate Groupon's Q4 earnings restatement. Groupon claims that customer refund rates were higher than anticipated, a loss which prompted a shift in earnings.

SEE ALSO: 10 Giant Things Less Valuable Than Facebook

The infographic below, based on research gathered by BackgroundCheck.org, details the high and low points of Groupon's finances and stock offerings, and breaks down a hypothetical coupon scenario to demonstrate how money is distributed to merchants.

Do you still purchase Groupons? Where do you see the company heading in the next year? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, GiorgioMagini

3 Ways Companies Can Leverage Social Reviews
Thursday, May 10, 2012 2:51 PMAnn Smarty

Ann Smarty is a search marketer and full-time web entrepreneur. Ann blogs on search and social media tools. Her newest project, My Blog Guest, is a free platform for guest bloggers and blog owners. Follow Ann on Twitter at @seosmarty and on Google+.

Testimonials can be powerful marketing tools. But in the digital age customers have reason to doubt if every good review is a reflection of a good product or a made up comment meant to boost a company's reputation. Social media testimonials, on the other hand, are harder to fake because there's generally a person with a record of activity behind each one.

In fact, collecting and re-posting positive social media reviews not only shines a credible light on a company but may actually help search results for the brand and promote the company's biggest supporters. Here are three ways to do this.

1. Twitter Favorites

Someone is always tweeting about your business and you want to be there to listen and respond to what people are saying. That's why collecting the most favorable mentions is something you need to embrace. Twitter Favorites is a great tool to instantly save anyone's Twitter testimonials for promotion. Below are three great ways to search Twitter for these items.

Determine all possible ways your brand name may be used. This will include: Twitter search allows you to combine all of them in one search like this: ["brand name" OR brandname OR brandname.com]

Filter out your own tweets with "minus" operator: ["brand name" OR brandname OR brandname.com -from:@brandname]

Filter out re-tweets of your own tweets by searching: ["brand name" OR brandname OR brandname.com -from:@brandname -RT]

Here's an example.

If you are using Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Cyfe, consider adding the following search commands as well. You can see an example in the image below.

Filter out links with -infilter:links command to find unlinked mentions

Search for "unsatisfied" and/or "happy customers" by adding :) or :( to a search query

Here's an example.

By re-tweeting Twitter testimonials and adding them to your favorites list, you give them a chance to rank better in Twitter "top" search results, which is a default tab for Twitter search. You can also use these reviews in the following places.

Add your favorites to your signature with Wisestamp

Import your favorites to your Facebook page

Create a widget of your favorites using Twitter's official tool to share the testimonials on your site which would certainly add to your brand credibility

Create an RSS feed. Twitter has removed the link to your Favorites RSS feed, but it's still working and can be found here: https://twitter.com/favorites/TWITTERUSERNAMEHERE.rss.

2. Pinterest

Pinterest may have plenty of possible applications -- one of which is to let people better understand your business. So creating a separate board to feature your social media testimonials, like those you pulled from Twitter, can be a good idea. This will allow your followers to opt out if they don't want to see your testimonials in their timelines without unfollowing you. This will also serve as a page that can rank on Google.

To take items like tweets and put them on your Pinterest board, consider using Pin a Quote. (See the example below.) Another way to share your text testimonials on Pinterest is with Screen to Pin or Url2Pin.it. Both of these can instantly create a screenshot of a page and share it on Pinterest. Finally, consider pinning videos, which make for great exposure on this site.

3. Content Curating Sites

Most content curation sites support Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other key content sources you need to curate for your brand mentions. (To better understand what content curation is, I highly recommend this article by Gianluca Fiorelli.) Here are three curation tools I use and recommend.

Storify: Summarizes Twitter search results, especially around your official hashtag.

Themeefy: Creates tablet-friendly magazines you can easily download.

ScoopIt: Aggregates sources into one RSS feed.

Are you collecting and re-packaging your social media testimonials to promote them? Please let us know your tactics!

Want Your Startup Name in the Dictionary? Choose Wisely
Thursday, May 10, 2012 2:39 PMBrandon Smith

The English language is constantly evolving. Experts at Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary perennially add words that have been invented and accepted in our daily lexicons. The practice can be controversial, however, since it sometimes involves removing other, older words entirely.

For instance, the term "cassette tape" was recently extracted after it was deemed unnecessary and redundant. Both "cassette" and "tape" were in the dictionary already, and the words naturally refer to each other.

Lit majors and writers may get emotional when certain words disappear, but the practice nonetheless reveals where our language is heading. When examining recently added words, it comes as no surprise that many of these words are tech-related.

In particular, for a brand to gain entry into one of the world's foremost dictionaries it must be deemed a universal, generic term. Take "Xerox" for example. The brand name is so common that it has since become a verb, as well: "Sheila, xerox that memo for me, would you?"

SEE ALSO: 10 Sassy Brands on Social Media

You've probably noticed that many startup names, especially those in the tech industry, appear rather strange at first. What did you think when you first heard about a little website called Twitter? Admittedly, using a word potentially associated with caffeinated agitation was a little risky.

Startups intending to make a splash walk a thin line during the naming process. If successful, brand name chatter can help drive awareness and fuel much-needed buzz. So, how should a startup go about creating an orignal, memorable name that will perhaps earn a place in the pantheon of iconic brands?

David Placek, president and founder of Lexicon Branding, knows a thing or two about brand names that stick. He and his team have created several extremely well-known brand names, such as BlackBerry, PowerBook, Pentium and Swiffer, to name a few.

Placek shared three things to keep in mind when creating a new brand name. First, be distinctive. Coining a new word will help set a brand apart, and may even help a business move more quickly through the marketplace. "Think of Java or BlackBerry," says Placek. "Both are food-related, but when applied to technology brands, they suddenly take on new meaning."

Second, the word should be catchy and interesting. "Twitter invented a new routine of communication, and so they necessarily invented a name that signals innovation," says Placek.

Finally, Placek believes the name should sound positive. "The name Twitter is light and easy, and has a nice blend of letters," he says.

So, how do other tech brand names fare? The Name Inspector blog has compiled and organized a list of companies by their linguistic tendencies. Site creator Christopher Johnson divides well-known websites into groups, like "Real Names," "Blends" and "Affixed Words."

One particular naming convention caught our eye. Many startups have chosen to use the "-ster" suffix, as in Flixster, Friendster, Napster, Dogster, Feedster, et al. Placek maintains this convention is an easy way to "indicate action." The original usage can be traced back to 1936, to a word you may not realize also doubles a brand name: Dumpster. The Dempster brothers played on their last name, and the term became the industry term for a "standardized metal waste container."

To better understand how brand names are entered into dictionaries, we touched base with Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster, Inc. We wanted to know if brands like Google are close to gaining entry.

"Before a brand name can be entered in the dictionary, we usually look for evidence of generic use: Kleenex, Dumpster, Q-Tip, Jeep," says Sokolowski. "As a verb, 'xerox' means 'to make a photocopy,' not 'to use a Xerox-brand machine.' Google is a bit different, since it usually does mean 'to use the Google search engine.'"

Brands like Google aren't quite at the Xerox level yet, although we reckon they are close. Yahoo and Bing, as well as some other niche search engines, still have enough market share that the verb "to google" isn't yet ubiquitous. That is, the verb refers to the process of using the Google search engine, not to searching in general.

The same goes for "facebooking," "tweeting" or "youtubing," says Sokolowski. "Obviously 'facebook' as a verb is specific to that one site. The same could be said for 'youtube.' The model for these words is 'google' (as a verb) and not 'xerox.'"

If Google still has a ways to go, then your startup has even further. But Placek has some advice for startups, citing two quotes that guide his own work. First, from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: "A man's mind once stretched, never goes back to where it was." And second, from author George Orwell's essay Why I Write: "Good prose is like a windowpane." Both speak to the power language has to enhance our perception, and both suggest that time spent envisioning a great product name is not spent in vain. In fact, Placek believes we should be dedicating more time to this part of the process.

"Fundamentally, a name can do a lot for you," Placek continues. "It can add several dimensions. It's the beginning of your story...It can make a great product move in the marketplace more efficiently, and then it can become a stronger brand, in the end."

As prevalent as brands like Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube are in our daily lives, they've not yet reached the pinnacle of brand success: becoming verbs unto themselves. But we predict a few of them just might make the jump in the coming decades.

Which tech brand names do you think will eventually become so commonplace that they reach contemporary dictionaries? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Flickr, missha, Xavier Encinas, Kalexanderson

Why Carlsberg's Toast to Courage Went Viral
Thursday, May 10, 2012 1:53 PMTodd Wasserman

The Behind the Social Media Campaign Series is supported by Oneupweb, a relentless digital marketing agency focused on search, social, and design for mid-to-enterprise level brands. Ready to start marketing relentlessly? Download our free digital marketing magazine, The Merge® today.

Picture this: You walk into a movie theater and almost every seat is full of burly, mean-looking bikers. If that wasn't already an intimidating situation, the only available seats are right in the middle of the center row, meaning if you want to watch the movie from a seated position, you'll have to make your way through aisles of bikers who are staring you down.

What do you do?

If you're like most people, you'll enter the room and utter sentiments like, "You've got to be kidding me" and "This is not what I paid for." You might even walk out and maybe head to the box office to ask for your money back. But if you're among a brave handful, you'll sit down anyway, wait patiently for the movie to start and ... receive thunderous applause and a fresh Carlsberg to toast your courage.

The Impact

It's a simple premise that struck a chord with a lot of people. The video, released in September 2011, had 11 million views on YouTube as of early May 2012. Elke Janssens, senior account manager at Duval Guillaume Modem, the Belgium-based ad agency behind the effort, says that there have been 16 million views worldwide, more than 1.5 million shares on Facebook, 364,000 mentions on Twitter and free publicity in more than 900 blogs, 150 news websites, numerous TV shows, newspapers and magazines -- all with a correct brand attribution of 98%. In addition, there was a 4.3% increase in sales, by volume, in the third and fourth quarter of 2011, Janssens says.

What's remarkable about the campaign is that the bit of theater Carlsberg created tied so closely to the brand's positioning.

Janssens noted that Carlsberg introduced a new tagline in early 2011 -- "That calls for a Carlsberg." The slogan underpins a new creative strategy, essentially making a Carlsberg the reward for an act of courage. "Starting from this strategy, our creative team came up with some viral ideas for experiments where people have to step up out of their comfort zone and show courage," Janssens says.

Hence the theater full of bikers.

The History of the Surprise Video

While there's a long history of ads that involve Candid Camera-style trickery to extol the benefits of a product (like the ad for Folgers coffee above), in the viral age, such videos seem to have greater oomph. Perhaps that's because of the medium. If you saw that Folgers commercial in the early 1980s on TV, you knew it was an ad. But if someone dropped the Carlsberg viral video on Facebook, you probably had no idea what you were getting into.

Carlsberg isn't the first brand to capitalize on this phenomenon. We've also seen Punk'd-style campaigns of late from startup Replyboard and Contrex mineral water, not to mention TNT's uber-successful "Dramatic Surprise on a Quiet Street."

Powerful Emotions, Powerful Resonance

Unruly, a London firm that monitors and markets viral videos, dubs the stunt craze the "IRL trend" for "in real life." However, not all IRL ads take off, obviously. Sarah Wood, COO of Unruly, says the difference is that there's a real art to the Carlsberg execution.

"Carlsberg Bikers is a powerful micro-story and a sophisticated example of transmedia storytelling. The ad is a subtle play on a classic cinematic trope -- the inexplicable tendency of screen characters to do things that are clearly irrational. How often have we yelled at characters on the screen from the safety of our spectator's armchair, 'Don't open the door to the cellar!' 'Don't invite the vampire in!' 'Would you want to spend the night alone in that haunted house?' In this ad, we see a series of 'unsuspecting' couples take their seats amongst an auditorium filled with threatening bikers. What are they thinking?! This means trouble, right? The suspense builds up to an unexpected reveal that delivers a powerful surge of relief, when the horror movie scenario is revealed to be a branded stunt with a happy ending and applause and Carlsberg beers all round."

The fact that the video evokes a universal response doubtlessly plays a role in its success. Wood cites recent research from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, based in the University of South Australia, that found that videos evoking physiological responses like laughter, anger, crying and shock are the most likely to be shared.

That may seem fairly obvious. After all, Don Draper could have told you in 1966 that a successful ad is one that evokes a response. Perhaps the genius of the ad actually lies in Carlsberg's positioning. We've all seen ads that made us laugh or even cry, but how many have made us feel courageous? The palpable relief that comes from experiencing the ad is almost the aural equivalent of a popping open a cold beer -- a Carlsberg, of course.

Series supported by Oneupweb

The Behind the Social Media Campaign Series is supported by Oneupweb, a relentless digital marketing agency focused on search, social, and design for mid-to-enterprise level brands. If you're seeking an agency partner that attacks online marketing challenges with proactive solutions and delivers measurable results, look no further. Download our free digital marketing magazine, The Merge® to learn more.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, hakusan-

Expertise Is Everything When It Comes to Startups
Thursday, May 10, 2012 1:41 PMMashable Video

In the last episode of TechStars, we saw why finding honest and experienced mentors is crucial to the success of a startup.

In this episode, we'll watch as one startup learns how important it is to have domain expertise on your team. If you're planning to build a space craft, you better have some rocket scientists at your company.

Watch the Full Season of TechStars on Mashable

For investors, it's a huge red flag when a startup team doesn't have members with precise expertise. You can't build a successful startup with just business smarts and passion -- you need to really know the product and what makes it tick, too.

Check out the latest episode above, and be sure to leave your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.

TechStars on Mashable

Getting into a top startup accelerator program can make the difference between a company making it big and being lost in the ether. Mashable is going behind the scenes of that experience by bringing the show TechStars to our community.

We've made the entire series available on-demand, and chopped it up into short segments that are ideal for Internet viewing. Over the course of the next couple of months, we'll also be sharing each episode as part of a Mashable post, giving our community a chance to discuss the themes of each show in our comments section. You can read more about TechStars on Mashable here.

Can a Bamboo Bike Revolutionize World Transit? [VIDEO]
Thursday, May 10, 2012 11:59 AMLauren Hockenson

Name: Bamboo Bike Studio

Big Idea: BBS holds bike-building workshops where students can craft their own bamboo bicycle -- a sustainable form of transportation made in a sustainable way.

Why It's Working: Bamboo Bike Studio uses the money from stateside workshops to fund a bike factory in Africa, where bamboo can be harnessed into reliable, sustainable transport for very little money.

Bamboo Bike Studio, a Camden, Me. DIY startup, didn't intend to make its thoroughly tested, natural bamboo bicycles available for the mean streets of the urban U.S. In fact, CEO Marty Odlin says that the workshop -- now available in five locations both stateside and in Canada -- always has one eye on its original project: developing bikes in Kumasi, Ghana.

"The original goal that we started with was to bring low-cost transportation as a bicycle to people who otherwise couldn't afford it," Odlin explains.

The sturdy, easily harvested bamboo is the answer to transportation in the African country, which is home to Bamboo Bike Studio's first factory. Run by locals, the factory produces bikes for $75 -- a much less expensive option than the imported metal-frame bicycles many Ghanaians currently use. The Chinese bikes are not only expensive, they are also wasteful; imported bicycles rack up environmental costs in packing and shipping each individual unit. Odlin says that the company chose to create bikes out of bamboo because it is found everywhere, easily harvestable and remains sturdy for long periods of time. Plus, Odlin adds, bamboo is a natural fit for a bike frame.

"When you're riding the bike, it's just very smooth," Odlin explains.

Odlin and his team have utilized their bike-making abilities to not only teach citizens in developing nations, but also back in the Americas. Gung ho, eco-conscious DIYers can attend a weekend-long bike workshop to create their own customized bamboo bikes. Or, the more cavalier can receive a building kit from Bamboo Bike Studio and even choose to harvest their own wood. Odlin says that the operations on this side of the Atlantic are instrumental in funding the work in Africa.

"We needed to fund the technical development, the supply chain, all that," Odlin says. "So we came up with the concept of teaching people how to make a bike in the U.S."

Bamboo Bike Studio has now set its sights on developing a factory in Quito, Ecuador. And of course, those interested in developing their own eco-friendly bamboo bike can sign up for the many workshops the organization holds throughout the year. All that aside, Odlin says that the most important thing is to be conscious of your own footprint.

"Buying stuff that's wrapped in three layers of plastic is not the best way to be," Odlin explains. "I think the DIY bike thing is a part of a bigger cultural undercurrent, which is a reaction against this over-consumerist thing that's going on right now."

Series presented by GE


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