Could Photos Be the Saving Grace for Google+

Did you know that Google+ is currently running a conference in San Francisco specifically aimed at photographers? Me, either, but it’s true.

The conference description goes like this:

Scott Kelby is bringing Google+ photographers together for a history making conference to help photographers refine their photography skills, grow their online brand, and get the most out of Google+.

This amazing conference brings together some of the biggest photographers on Google+, some of the best instructors of photography and some of the geniuses of social media. You’ll learn from these a-list instructors during two jam-packed days of photo walks, live photo shoots, one-on-one portfolio reviews, panel discussions and photography workshops.

Here’s a picture from the event courtesy of the conference Google+ page:

Sears Trades Charitable Contributions for Product Reviews

A recent study showed that 84% of millennials rely on the opinions of others before making a purchase. That’s just one in dozens of reports that underscore the importance of good online reviews.

Studies also tells us that cause-related shopping is on the rise. When quality and price are equal, 53% of shoppers said a a social purpose would sway them toward one company over another.

Sears has brilliantly combined these two concepts in their new advertising campaign. They call it the “Love/Hate: Share Your Thoughts, Send Some Love” project.

How it works is simple. A consumer posts a review (good or bad) about a product on the Sears website. Then they get to vote for one of the charities on a short list. Every other week, Sears donates money and eliminates the charity with the least number of votes. The charity left standing at the end of the campaign will receive $100,000.

Huh? Oracle Buys Vitrue for Just 3x Revenue?

What just happened?

I thought the words “social media” and “huge valuations” went together like “Facebook” and “privacy issues?”

I was under the impression that we lived in a bubble world where any company that touched social media was afforded a valuation that would make even VCs blush. So how come social media marketing platform Vitrue just sold to Oracle for a reported measly three times revenues?

OK, so it’s not an official valuation, but TechCrunch tends to be “in the know” when it comes to these things…

TechCrunch has discovered and confirmed that software giant Oracle has bought social marketing platform Vitrue for $300 million. [Update: A press release has confirmed the buy at an undisclosed price, though we know it to be $300 million.]…Vitrue, according to a source, was on course for revenues of just under $100 million this year.

Google’s Brand Value Slips Again, While Facebook’s Soars 74%

Frank’s taking a needed break today, so you’re stuck with me. Remember me?

Of course, it doesn’t take much to get me back in the saddle, especially when a report is released about branding. ;-)

MillwardBrown has released its annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Brands in 2012. Among the findings are two little nuggets that caught my attention.

First up, news that once again Google has slipped in its rankings. Just two years ago, Google was the top brand on the list, but this year its gradual decline continues, with a drop to #3. I know, I know, that’s still pretty impressive, but a drop two years in a row sure does look like a trend to me. In fact, Google is dangerously close to being overtaken by McDonalds!

Huffington Post Teams with Brands to Create New Content Sites

A couple of days ago, I said that the best way to keep traffic flowing to your website was to create solid usable and / or enjoyable content. Whether you’re selling a product, service or yourself, a static page of information won’t bring customers back over and over again. Content does that. Articles, short posts, videos, how-tos, tip sheets, photos, user submissions, games, stories, interviews — these are things customers come back for and search engine spiders, literally, eat them up.

The Huffington Post knows this, so they’re expanding their content reach by reaching out to brands who want to become publishers.

Study Shows Social Media Slowly Replacing Face-to-Face Customer Interaction

IBM sat down to talk one-on-one with 1,700 CEO’s in 64 countries to discuss changes in how they do business.

First, let’s marvel at the logistics behind that. All those busy people. All those languages. All that data. Seriously, I don’t think we appreciate the effort that goes into these things. Now, let’s move on to the results.

To the right you see a chart with a surprising message. The CEO’s were asked how they engage with their customers. The top line represents where they are today, the bottom line where they expect to be in 3 to 5 years.

Reputation: Big Loser in Facebook IPO? NASDAQ

If you want to talk about whether the Facebook IPO was a success or not this probably is not the place for you. To be clear, the conspiracy theorist in me is alive and well and I think the whole thing is engineered for big money players to make bigger money and if you are a retail investor trying to figure this out you are playing with fire. (Since I am not an investor, I really don’t care if my opinion is right or wrong but you can say what you want about in the comment section.).

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the real damage that is a result of the Facebook IPO. That is the venerable NASDAQ Stock Exchange. Well, maybe venerable is a strong word. Especially after how it handled the most talked about IPO in history. Venture Beat reported