Oh, Pinterest. What a bummer.

Update: four months later, content marketing is on its way to take off
As marketers fight to engage with users [and] readers in a noisy, competitive world, marketers have all become publishers,” — Jed Hartman, group publisher of Time Inc. news and business, with oversight for Fortune via “Fortune will sell original editorial content to advertisers for up to $1 million”, AdAge

Day two after reading this and I am still confused. With the brand equity Pinterest has, they certainly could have been more creative at their first attempt to get closer to brands.

Pinterest is a goldmine for brands and advertisers.

  • 80% are women, 50% have kids and likely to live in a Midwestern state (read: Walmart demo = cha-ching)
  • Pinterest users who shop online follow 9.3 retailers while FB users follow 6.9% retailers and Twitter users follow 8.5%
  • CTA pin sees an 80% increase in engagement
  • Referrals spend 70% more money, also spend 10% more

The astounding stats go on and on…but they chose Business Pages and widgets?

I mean. Really?

From a brand perspective, what is the value proposition of having another business page to maintain? Business pages aren’t billboards on the Internet. Internet users expect more and paying Pinterest to add to workflows with sentiment, reputation and click-throughs as the ROI is backwards. And don’t get me started on widgets. What is this, 2001? Moving forward, major brands are becoming publishers, media companies, moving away from traditional ad models.

Pinterest is rich with content. If products like Pulse, the joke of the tech circle Mashable is experimenting and even brands like Coke and Nike can figure out content strategy to drive revenue, I’d assume the very smart people at Pinterest should be able to, too. Oh, well.

What a huge bummer.
(Top image screen shot of AdAge article found here)

I Told You So: Groupon Edition #dailydeals

When I first Tweeted this in January, I received a lot of backlash as Groupon -along with the other daily deal sites- are tech’s darlings. Or shall I say were, as today Groupon announced their IPO filing. When the public read Groupon’s S-1 the Silicon Valley tech crowd seemed the most astonished by -GASP- Groupon actually losing money despite their profits.

At first glance, the YOY numbers are pretty impressive:

  • 1Q 2011 Revenue: $644.7 million
  • 2010 revenue: $713.4 million
  • 2009 revenue: $30.47 million

And I’m not going to pretend a net loss of $146.5M wasn’t a tad surprising. And even more shocking is how Groupon hasn’t turned a net profit in any of its first three years of operations, including a net loss of $389.6 million in 2010.

But still. One doesn’t have to be an economist to see right through their faulty model. If you know how the Internet works, a scientific calculator is far from necessary to know: their customer acquisition budget is sky freakin’ high. How else did Groupon gain so much traction in such a short time? Google fairies?

What’s more baffling, is, even with these near comedic metrics, Groupon is still valuated at an astronomical figure. The founders and investors are walking away super wealthy. And I still stand by what I Tweeted back in January: Groupon’s legacy will be an economic dissertation or a B-school case study.

Though the real winner? Google.
For 1. not spending $6B because Groupon turned down the acquisition offer and 2. all the $ Groupon will continue spending on AdWords.

Either which way, I’m just glad the daily deal craze will finally slow down. I’m so sick of hearing how amazing Groupon et al. are, because frankly? They are not. Daily deals are (were?) a hot trend.  I’m ready for some innovation.  A product with such mind-blowing technology it will stun me stupid.

It’s days like these, I wish I was an engineer.

P.S. If anyone has any inkling on how much Groupon spends a month on Adwords, do share. I tried Googling with no luck. Even Quora didn’t have an answer.

Step Aside, Flickr. Instagram is Replacing You.

Poor Flickr.

For years, photographers and amateur photographers had only one hub: Flickr. I also used to be addicted to Flickr and made many great friends on there. It’s a huge bummer they became stagnant and really hard to use. I don’t even remember the last time I logged in…  And I noticed more and more of my friends using Facebook as their main outlet for photographs.

Enter Instagram.

Now I didn’t understand Instagram either, until I actually created an account and started using it. And the more I use it, the more it’s clear, Instagram is the next social platform for photographers. There are already ridiculous amounts of insanely talented photographers on there. I can’t wait to see the community keep growing.

So what makes Instagram so great? Well:

  • discoverability with solid filtering. The noise to signal ratio is on. point.  From the popular page to following your immediate friend’s photos, to even seeing activities from your friends (what they liked, what they commented on, etc.) Reminds me of the FriendFeed friend of friend feature, but it’s filtered, so you can choose to look any time you want to and doesn’t clog your feed. (News -> Following)
  • community: interaction is pretty much like Flickr, where people can talk to each other without reservations. Plus, you can use handles, which is rare for newer sites these days. Part of the reason so many Asians are on there, to protect their identities.
  • shareability is seamless — such a smart implementation, perhaps the best out there.
  • MOBILE — it’s in all CAPs because that’s how important mobility will become. I’m excited to see how Instragram will keep iterating its product. And when the Android app comes out? I think the adoption will snowball, trickling down to the mass.

Hopefully, the Instagram team is working on an archiving system with option to store photos at higher resolutions. But I still stand by my statement from a few weeks back: “Finally get Instagram. It’s like Flickr (community and discovery), Myspace-Livejournal (hot girls posting self portraits) but way better.”

If you’d like to connect on Instagram, my user ID is ‘monagram’

Bonus: Check out these two photos from me and Christine. We were at the same place, sitting next to the other, drinking the same thing but the photo, well, take a look.  It was so neat when it popped up in our feeds — we both said WOW at the same time.

Oh. Now I Get It. #netneutrality

I kinda got I should care about net neutrality because I love -well live- on the Internet. So I should be ashamed to admit I had no idea what net neutrality was and why I should care.

But I’m not.

I mean look. It’s not my fault most net neutrality articles read like research papers. The worst pieces are the ones that sound like LSAT sample questions. FCC this. Regulations that. Proposals. Rules. House. Senate. Law. Hmmm what?

In one ear, out the other.

Well.Thanks to Fred Wilson’s post here and USV’s post here, I finally comprehend what net neutrality is, why I should care and why you, fellow Internet user, should care too. So click on those links. Stat.

Still here?

Ok fine. How about this. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have Google (Gmail included), Facebook and/or Twitter always open in your browser?
  • Do you go on YouTube, Vimeo or any other video site?
  • Do you stream video on Netflix, Hulu or any other site?
  • Do you download music or movies? (it’s ok to say yes btw, I won’t tell.)
  • Are you an entrepreneur?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, net neutrality applies to you too.

Pretty serious, right?

No?

Ok then how about this: picture the Internet ending up like cable TV or worse, the radio, where the things we (the public) see or hear is controlled by $$$.

Do I have your attention now? Read this

Ugh. The notion of money hungry a-holes trying to destroy the Internet makes me ill. I mean it’s one of the last places where everyone has a voice, no matter who you know, where you come from or what you look like.

So gross.

ps: don’t forget to read this

Proof Number of Followers Don’t Matter on Twitter

It’s frustrating to see so much weight placed on follower count, but articles like these give me a glimmer of hope. From AdAge:

“[…]But his first round of magazine-cover appearances suggest that the conversion rate between dollars and tweets is still pretty unclear. And not everyone, it seems, can cash in yet.

[…]
The issue sold just more than 1 million copies at newsstand, about 20% below the newsstand average for early issues this year and 20% below its newsstand average in April 2009.

People’s later cover with Sandra Bullock, who doesn’t appear to have a Twitter account but does have an Oscar, sold more than twice as many newsstand copies.”


Separately, there was an article in HBR today dissecting Twitter followers and how it correlates to influence.

Totally gonna toot my own horn, but I’ve been saying since lord knows when: Grow out of the Tila Tequila mentality. Follower count does not equate to influence. If 3 million people are following, but no one is listening, are you popular and not an influencer? Why didn’t Beiber’s People issue sell more than Sandra Bullock’s issue? Does popularity equate to conversion? Or even reach?

Only time will tell, but me? I’d rather have a fraction of followers who actually engage. I think it’s time we re-think the terms: influencer and popular. #fridayfoodforthought