Monday, May 28, 2012

Facebook flu

I have written about initial public offerings of social media companies before, and the Facebook IPO confirms my thought that social media companies are not the best in which to invest.

In the Facebook IPO, several aspects went wrong:
  1. A big customer wasn't happy. Just days before the IPO, General Motors pulled its entire $10 million advertising budget from Facebook. I have heard that Facebook's advertising department doesn't have the best customer service; now may be the time to improve it.
  2. There were reports of insider selling. Apparently Morgan Stanley and other underwriters warned privileged clients that analysts had lowered Facebook's growth prospects. "This has proved the game is rigged," said Charles Geisst, a finance professor and Wall Street historian at Manhattan College, to the Los Angeles Times. "There's just too many questions about the integrity of the stock market, and I think people are starting to realize this -- individuals, at least."
  3. The Facebook chief financial officer overestimated demand. David Ebersman, the Facebook CFO, increased the number of shares available for sale, which practically ensured that the shares would fall below the offering price of $38. According to Maxwell Murphy of The CFO Report, this may have a beneficial effect when the lock-up periods that prohibit early Facebook investors from selling stock begin to expire.
  4. Facebook Flu
    Performance of LNKD, ZNGA, GRPN, P and FB over past year.
  5. There were technical trading glitches at Nasdaq. The glitches delayed trading in Facebook by 28 minutes. There was confusion about who bought what shares at what prices, and as a result, the estimated financial hit from Facebook among brokers is above $100 million.
Since the Facebook IPO was such a hotly anticipated one, something called the "Facebook Flu" has been spreading among other tech companies that were considering IPOs. Companies including Corsair Components and Tria Beauty have postponed their offerings because the Facebook debacle has truly shaken investor confidence in IPOs.

On a side note, the graph above compares the performance over the past year of LinkedIn Corporation (LNKD), Zynga, Inc. (ZNGA), Groupon, Inc. (GRPN), Pandora Media, Inc. (P) and Facebook, Inc. (FB). The only stock above a break-even point is LinkedIn, and it's not by much.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How to build a mobile website

More and more, customers are conducting searches on mobile devices. While mobile devices have not replaced desktop PCs, here are some interesting statistics that demonstrate the importance of having a mobile site:
  • Forty-six percent of U.S. consumers own a smartphone (American and Internet Life Project, March 2012)
  • In 2013, more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online (Gartner, 2010)
  • There will be one mobile device for every person on earth in 2015 (Cisco, 2010)
  • According to Google, mobile searches have grown by 400 percent since 2010
  • Sixty-one percent of smartphone users call a business after searching and 59 percent visit the location (Google, "The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users," 2011)
  • Seventy percent of mobile users have compared product prices on their phones (Lightspeed Research)
Build a Mobile Website
So, how does one build a mobile website? An excellent resource is GoMo, a Google initiative. On their site, one can test how mobile friendly one's site is, use a do-it-yourself site builder, and learn about best practices for mobile sites such as:
  • Keep it quick
  • Make it easy to convert
  • Simplify navigation
  • Make it local
  • Be thumb-friendly
  • Make it seamless
  • Design for visibility
  • Use mobile site redirects
  • Make it accessible
  • Listen, learn and iterate
Check it out today to learn about how to improve your website, conduct a mobile advertising campaign and more.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A pleasant Minnesota surprise for PRWeek editor-in-chief

Minnesota Public Relations
Steve Barrett, PRWeek Editor-in-Chief
In his first trip to Minnesota, Steve Barrett, editor-in-chief of PRWeek, learned that his perceptions of our state were quite different from the reality.

"I saw 'Fargo' and I know that Prince lived here," Barrett told a group of approximately 60 public relations professionals and students. "You have something green called grass, which we don't have in Manhattan."

At the Minnesota PRSA event hosted by Carmichael Lynch Spong, Barrett discussed what's driving agency growth, how PRWeek is changing, and how agencies are evolving.

Calling this "the most exciting time to be writing about PR and to be in the communications industry," Barrett said that integration is the way of the future for public relations agencies.

With skills perfectly suited to the modern media environment, PR professionals are integrating with the marketing and investor relations fields like never before.

Barrett pointed out that last year PR agencies were up 10 percent, while the national gross domestic product was up 1.7 percent. Social media and content generation are two of the keys to that growth -- providing PR agencies a way to bypass traditional media and, in the case of social media, a cheaper way to connect with customers.

"Advertising is expensive," Barrett said. "As the saying goes, 'Fifty percent of advertising is effective, and we don't know which half.'"

This growth could lead to a billion-dollar agency possibly within the next five to 10 years.

Other aspects of this growth include globalization -- particularly in Latin America and China -- with agencies filling in the gaps to have a consistent offering around the world.

Three years ago, PRWeek changed its format to a monthly print publication, and continues to evolve.

"It's hard to peer into the crystal ball, although I can say we are integrating print with digital," Barrett said. "We have 22,000 Twitter followers and a YouTube channel. Our Tumblr blog is perfect for stories that wouldn't make the front page of the website."

Although there are no plans for a PRWeek iPad app, changes on tap for PRWeek include:  more special events, possibly a more global perspective, and more webcasts.

In regard to agency trends, Barrett noted that agencies are getting to become choosier about their clients and in which RFPs they participate.

He added that measurement continues to be the holy grail. Agencies -- and corporations -- are building their own analytics tools but are secretive about it because of the inherent competitive advantage.

Speaking of transparency, Barrett also touched on the mistakes that caused the CEO of Yahoo! to resign, as well as Best Buy's CEO and founder to give up their positions.

"Everything is transparent these days," Barrett said. "You're playing Russian roulette if you think that something isn't going to come out."

Feel free to come back to Minnesota anytime, Steve. Maybe you can experience the joy of a good snowball fight or the thrill of catching a big walleye while ice fishing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

That's the Spirit

I never have flown on Spirit Airlines and probably won't anytime soon, but I commend the airline for starting to understand the power of public relations.

spirit airlines complaints
In a recent incident, a terminally ill man named Jerry Meekins had purchased a Florida-to-Atlantic City ticket on Spirit Airlines to visit his daughter. Meekins knew that he had esophageal cancer when he bought the ticket, but subsequently found out that he was terminally ill. His doctor told him not to fly, so he requested a refund from Spirit Airlines.

Spirit Airlines told Meekins that "rules are rules," and wouldn't get a refund since he didn't buy flight insurance. Probably not the best approach, considering Meekins' situation -- and the fact that Meekins served in Vietnam as a member of the Marine Corps.

To make the situation worse, Ben Baldanza, the CEO of Spirit, told, "We feel very badly for Mr. Meekins, however, this is a country and society where we kind of play by the rules. And he wanted to really not do that and that's really not fair to the 10 million other Spirit customers and that's why we made that decision."

Given the onslaught of negative publicity that Spirit Airlines then received (including a Boycott Spirit Airlines Facebook page that has more than 41,000 likes), the airline subsequently decided to refund Meekins' $197 airfare and donate $5,000 to Wounded Warriors.

I'm not sure that this about-face will turn around the negative sentiment toward Spirit Airlines, but at least the airline now is on the correct public relations flight path.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Pinterest is the newest kid on the social media block. The social networking site is described as "a content sharing service that allows members to 'pin' images, videos and other objects to their pinboard."

Pinterest is all about images, and it's resonating with Internet users. According to comScore, unique monthly visitors to Pinterest have surged from 400,000 in May 2011 to 18.7 million in March 2012.

Here are some of the basics of understanding Pinterest:
  • To join, visit Click on "Request an Invite." You will need to enter your e-mail address and will be notified when you can join Pinterest (usually within seven days).
  • Install the "Pin It" button to your browser, which will allow you to grab images from websites to add to your Pinterest boards.
  • Start to think about what you want to pin, and how you would like to organize your boards. You can pin images and videos. Today it was announced that Flickr has added Pinterest buttons to photo sharing, which will assure that all images will be properly attributed.
  • The most popular categories on Pinterest are:  Food & Drink, DIY & Crafts, and Women's Apparel. That being said, pin what interests you. Express yourself.
  • To pin an item from a website, click the "Pin It" button (which you installed earlier). It will show you all of the images that can be pinned from a website.
  • Your pins can be integrated with your Twitter or Facebook account by visiting Because of the integration with Twitter, the @ sign and hashtags can be used in Pinterest as well.
  • Keep captions short. Pinterest users are interested in the visuals. If you have something lengthy to say, include it in the comments section of your pin.
Many people wonder if they should be on Pinterest, considering all of the other social networks out there. Well, Pinterest is driving more referral traffic to websites and blogs than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. When Pinterest users find something interesting, they usually click through to get to the original source -- typically a website or blog. Happy pinning!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...