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Social Media Initiative – Help us Get 1 Million Trees Planted for Free

My good friend Rob Key of Converseon has asked us to help spread the word about a worthwhile effort to plant as many as 1 million trees.

The Second Chance Trees Reforestation Project uses Second Life as a platform to teach visitors about the planet’s endangered rainforests and the dangers of deforestation. For every tree you buy and plant in Second Life, a real tree will be carefully planted in the real world.

The project has gotten the attention of American Express who have listed it as a Top 50 finalist for The Members Project contest, with the winner getting as much as $5 million to fund their efforts.

So, here’s how you can help FOR FREE!

Zillow Adds Social Features to Keep Ahead of Realtors

It seems real estate appraisal service Zillow is preparing to take on real estate agents by offering what they’ve so far failed to. While realtors might be making life a little difficult for Zillow, the company has decided to tap into social networks and offer services that I’ve not seen elsewhere.

Here’s what’s been added:

  • Neighborhood Pages – 6500 of them across 134 cities. Packed full with demographic data, neighborhood discussion forums (for all that gossip about the strange family down the street) and photo sharing.
  • Zillow Discussions – Yahoo Answers for home buyers.
  • New Home Page – more personalization options.

With the recent addition of Vanessa Fox, we fully expect to see a Zillow Owners Console soon, with the following:

Google and Facebook Linked Again

Here at Marketing Pilgrim, we always seem to be ahead of the curve. Yesterday, we mentioned an AdAge article that claimed that Facebook should have Google shaking in its boots. Today, Adotas and Red Herring have taken on the topic, the former advising Google to acquire Facebook and the latter stating that Google’s already working on its own solution.

Adotas thinks that Google should pursue Facebook as part of their “recent spending spree” (starting with YouTube, which confirmed 8 months ago, but seems much longer ago than that). However, Adotas notes Google’s current agreement with MySpace, which they say “is responsible for about 11% of Google’s search traffic.” Adotas says Google should pursue Facebook without endangering that agreement (which has a noncompete clause).

Ning Secures $44M to Scale Personalized Social Networks

Forget Facebook, the real action in social networks is the ability to build and brand your own! Ning.com has been doing that for a couple of years and has today announced they’ve raised $44 million in “Series C” funding.

Co-founder Marc Andreessen explains where the money will be put to use:

We will be investing that money in our business — in scaling our operations to accommodate our traffic and growth; in our product design and development efforts; and in our platform evangelism and support programs. Apart from those investments, we plan on staying as lean and focused as we possibly can.

Having consulted with Ning, I’ve become a huge fan of their service and pretty much every client I speak to gets a recommendation to consider branding their own social network. Even large corporations are surprised to learn they can have their own version of Flickr or YouTube in just minutes!

Facebook All the Rage; Scaring Google?

Ever since Andy joined Facebook, things have been looking up for the social networking site. (What do you mean, there’s no correlation?) Today their numbers are up and there are rumors that Google should be very, very afraid.

Facebook is looking at major successes not only from their platform but also from the influx of new users this year. TechCrunch reports on comScore’s findings that over the last year:

Facebook saw an 89% increase in unique visitors to the site at 26,649,000 uniques, with a 143% increase in page views at 15.8 billion. The site’s stickiness has increased and then tapered off at about 190 minutes per average user.

Be Leery of Social Media & UGC: They Just Might Work!

Many a marketer contemplates using user-generated content and other forms of social media. Despite evidence of truly good UGC campaigns, marketers continue to express doubt about the usefulness of UGC and social media.

Studies show marketers and consumers doubt UGC and social media
The E-Commerce Times reports today on a JupiterResearch study released Saturday. The study stated that “The majority of online shoppers who have used social and community sites while researching and purchasing do not believe that such sites affected their purchase decisions, and few online shoppers said they spend incrementally more due to their use of social and community sites.”

JupiterResearch analyst Patty Freeman Evans told the E-Commerce Times:

Social Networks Going the Way of Reality TV?

By Roderick Ioerger

Are we inundated yet? Like reality television, social networking is getting to the point where the newness and creativity seems to be losing some of its luster. How many social networking sites can a person really effectively use and enjoy? (even Robert Scoble can’t keep up). Everyday there seems to be some sort of new social network to connect some niche vertical, today it was the baking network, tomorrow who knows? And really at this point who cares? I feel like I know what all my friends, relatives, and even casual acquaintances are doing twenty four seven and clearly they seem to have a pretty good idea what I am up to too.