Why do Giant Companies Step on Consumers Toes? Part 2:

Real Examples of Giant Corporate Mistakes

By Hector Cisneros

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
You know that giant corporations make mistakes, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose. The closer the company is to being a monopoly, the greater the chance they will step on our toes. This week’s article will delve into recent real world examples of giant companies stepping on customers’ toes. We will name names and tell it like it is. We will look at some of the big players who are well known Like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook (plus a few lesser known companies). So read on and be ready to learn about real world examples of giant corporations biting the hands that feed them because they can. Now that I have shared many of the ways giant companies step on client’s toes, let’s look at some recent examples.

Before I dig into the giant companies and their marketing/PR mistakes, I want to lay out what I feel are the common precursors to these mistakes. The primary precursor is when a company becomes really big, its internal communications level goes down. This is easy to understand, because when you have a lot more people in the mix, it makes it easier for miscommunication to take place. On top of this problem, many of these companies have become giants because they were first to market or have achieved a quasi-monopoly status with their product or service. When a company controls market share, it seems to believe it can do no wrong. This usually sets even the biggest companies up for a pratfall, because they start believing their own hype and stop paying attention to what the public wants.

Courtesy of  commons.wikimedia.org
Let’s start with Google - Like most giant companies, Google often assumes that their audience and loyal customers read their blogs and regularly search their website for product announcements. Wrong! Take Google+, a product that Google has been fiddling with since its launch in 2011. First, they bundled many of their premier products into Google+, making it easy for people to find and use their products. Then they began to strip out products one by one. They moved Google Local into Google+ then they moved it back out. Next they changed Google local to Google my Business. They also did the same with Picasa. Moved it in, then out, before replacing it with Google photos. Hangouts was in, and now it’s out. As a rule, most users found out that these changes took place when they couldn’t find the feature they came to use. For more details, read - Is Google+ Dying as a Social Network and Is Google+ adding up?

Googles Issues don’t Stop There. Google is constantly changing their algorithm for organic search. Some say between 400 and 600 times a year. This costs businesses billions of dollars each year in lost revenue and additional R and D, plus site retooling. Google has stated publicly that these changes fall into 3 categories. Updates to improve the customer experience (i.e. The user gets what they are really looking for – not just content, but what they intended). Updates have also been initiated in an effort to thwart professional SEO marketers and criminals from gaming the system.   

Courtesy of  www.youtube.com
All you have to do is look at the multitude of updates named after cute animals over the past 6 years to get an idea of how pervasive the constant changes have become. Updates like Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird and, pigeon all wreaked havoc on tens of thousands of businesses. There are also other updates not named after cute animals. Last year Google announced an update that had a profound impact on all websites. Google decided that websites needed to be mobile friendly. I agree with this, but since most websites were not ready for this change, it immediately removed millions of websites from mobile search.   Thus the update was nicknamed Mobilgeddon.

Google's update cost billions of dollars each year. Every time Google makes an update, there are millions of businesses who become big winners and others that are huge losers. If you're lucky (or really paying attention) you win. If not, you lose big. Do the math. If one million of the 500 or so million websites on Google need to update the site, because of a Google algorithm change, and it cost them $1,000 to address the update, they would spend a billion dollars.

An example of this was when many realtors lost their page one position after working so hard to reach that position last year. Google’s new algorithm changed the emphasis from primarily content, to being in directories to rank for local search. Those sites that had used content as the primary ranking factor lost out.

Now, I am not saying that Google is doing things in an arbitrary way. No sir, they are very deliberate. They pick who are the winner’s and loser’s will be – it’s their search engine. They aren’t targeting individual companies mind you, Google emphasizes what they want companies to engage in.

Google Does It Again - Google latest algorithm changes will soon force more businesses
Courtesy of  pixabay.com
to depend on GoogleAdWords
for traffic. Google recently changed the number of organic search listings from approximately 12, to 7 organic listings.  With the reduced number of search page result listings now in play, fewer businesses in the same industry or category can be shown at one time. That means it's even harder than ever before to get on page one of Google search. I just hope that other search engine companies realize that this is a perfect opportunity to steal away search users and business customers from Google. If they offer a search product that provide a more useful listing set, than the mere seven listings Google is now serving up, they could gain market share. This is especially true if Google tries to gouge its customers with its monopoly in pay per click.

Speaking of Google pissing off millions of users, not long ago we reported about how Google was spying on every keystroke you make. It’s a fact that every Google property from Gmail to Google+, Google Search, and YouTube is tracking your every move. Back then this caused an uproar, however, that uproar is dying down and is now almost forgotten. Read The Piracy of Privacy – the looting of Privacy in America for more details.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
What about Microsoft - For the most part Microsoft has a monopoly hold on the PC OS market. This has allowed them to take whatever direction they chose. They did not ask the consuming public what they wanted. Because if they had, products like Millennium, Vista and Windows 8 would have never come to pass.

If you remember, Microsoft launched Millennium, back in 2000 and it ended up being one of the shortest lived products they ever launched. Most Microsoft customers hated it because it was full of bugs and because it was a big change from windows 98. The following year they replaced it with Windows XP (which had a legacy support look and feel) which extended XP’s life span to become one of their longest lived MS products to date.

When they launched Vista, it fell flat on its face because it looked so different than Windows XP.  Then they got smart and fixed that problem with Windows 7. But guess what, they could not leave well enough alone. They launched Windows 8 and again pissed off the masses. Windows 8 was such a big flop that Microsoft had to bring Windows 7 back from retirement. They quickly figured out that new PC’s were not selling with version 8 and started offering PC’s with both Windows 7 & 8! 

Courtesy of  www.flickr.com
With Windows 10, Microsoft has shown that it has learned some lessons from its prior mistakes (even though they seem to make the same ones repeatedly). This new version has been a big success, but not without its own gotchas. I recommend reading – “What’s Up with Windows 10 - the good the bad and the ugly” to get some insights. Also Microsoft is trying to get people to use their free One Drive storage. However,  they recently shot themselves in the foot when they downgraded the free capacity from 15 gigs to 5 and also took back the unlimited capacity for office 365 users.  This flies in the face of common sense since Google, their arch rival, recently made it possible to get 30 gigs on Google Drive for free and even possibly a terabyte of free cloud storage.

How about the many Face of Facebook - Facebook, in recent years has raised the hackles of its subscribers on a regular basis by constantly changing how Facebook works. Facebook seems to revel in making its user base angry. They have made what seems like continuous changes to the way the Newsfeed and timeline works. They seem to shuffle the deck where commands and function are located, making it harder for businesses trying to manage their fan pages. This has profound effects on both subscribers and businesses using Fan pages for marketing. 

Courtesy of  www.youtube.com
Not long ago, they suddenly changed how contests could be run. Lately, they have made the filtering of the timeline so strong that businesses are mostly forced to run pay per click ads, if they want their follower to see any of their corporate posts. As a general rule, Facebook seems to be enamored with changing things, from the location of features to advertising rules. Privacy is almost nonexistent on Facebook. If a person died suddenly, their pages may be stuck on Facebook forever. If the significant other doesn’t have the username and password for the deceased person’s page, they can’t have the site taken down.

My last pet peeve with Facebook is they have zero phone tech support. On top of that, their email tech support gets a poor grade as well. I know I am not dissing Facebook as much as I have Google and Microsoft, but take it from me, they seem to work hard at making sure that the only constant is change.

Courtesy of  www.youtube.com
Smaller Companies are not Exempt - I could go on and on with hundreds of examples. However, the examples aren’t just with the mega corporations. Smaller companies and even some startup are guilty of the same kind of mistakes. Take Fitbit as an example, they tried to explain away accuracy errors in their activity health trackers, as minor, which eventually caused the creation of a class action lawsuit. This also caused a lot of fervor in the social arena as well.

Many have experienced the headache of Apps going from great to bad when Apps update themselves and cause the user’s smartphone to crash or lockup.  Recently, one of my all-time favorite Apps, call WAZE, caused me to uninstall it altogether. That App updated itself while I was driving. That update immediately locked up my Android smartphone while I was taking a call! Boy was I livid!

You have a choice and a decision to make. – As an informed consumer, it is your duty to share your product and customer service experience with the rest of the world. This is the only thing keeping giant companies on the path to happy customers. Today giant companies no longer can provide poor products or customer service as long as you report what they are doing. Social media has become the great equalizer. If you do not use your rights as a consumer to complain (or sing their praises) on social media when you have been taken advantage of, it’s on you. Don’t let giant companies squash you like a bug. We can all fight back by sharing stories of poor customer service, bad products or corporate lying. You can also help these companies by praising them when they do a good job. Social media has given you a real voice. It’s given you a carrot and a stick to keep them in check.

In this article I have discussed how giant corporations often make their customers angry through marketing and PR mistakes. This article provides several real examples of recent ways these mega-corporations have stepped on consumers’ proverbial toes. I also recommend reading the related part one article, which also lists the most common mistakes corporations make. It further includes ways that consumers can act to force improvements to poor service, support and product quality they receive.
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That's my opinion, I look forward to hearing yours.

You can find more articles about marketing mistakes and technology by entering those phrases in the search box, at the top of this blog. I also recommend reading the articles: “Why do Giant Companies Step on Consumers? Part 1: Ten Common Mistakes Made”,  "It’s a New Year and the Rules Have Changed" and “Are You Prepared for Mobilgeddon?” just to name a few. Don’t forget to Plus us on Google+.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

Lights! Webcam! YouTube action!

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
By Danny Murphy

Did you ever wonder how some businesses have the time and resources to make videos for YouTube and other social media outlets? What is the difference between videos that go viral and videos that are just out there? What does it take to make an effective video for a small business? This article is about the way some businesses are using video as part of their marketing mix. One surprising thing it that production costs are way down and it doesn’t take much to get started. Read and learn from this week’s Working the Web to Win article about businesses that use video and how you can get video to work for your business.
These days almost anyone can make a video and put it on YouTube. Millions and millions of videos are being produced, posted, and shared. Here are a few interesting stats from YouTube. 
  • YouTube has over a billion users — almost one-third of all people on the Internet — and people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views.
  • YouTube reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
  • Growth in viewing time on YouTube has accelerated and is up at least 50% year over year for three straight years.
YouTube isn’t the only place to upload videos. Facebook is also doing quite well with video. According to Josh Constine of TechCrunch, “Facebook now sees 100 million hours of daily video watch time.” Businesses can also show off their content on their social nets and on other internet channels via Roku/internet video players.
People tell their friends about videos that must be seen to be believed. Which videos get shared the most? Funny videos. Matt Harding made his first Where the Hell is Matt video in 2005. As he travelled throughout the world he would have a friend record video of him dancing in many far-flung places. He doesn’t dance particularly well, and that’s one of the things that made the video funny. It’s goofy.

Another thing that made the videos popular was Matt’s interactions with the people around him. His videos are uplifting. Matt’s 2005 video has gotten over three million views. Stride Chewing Gum underwrote his travels to make more videos. Matt’s 2006 video got over nineteen million views and his 2008 video got over 49 million views. Another memorable and funny dance video that went viral was Gangnam Style. It has been viewed over 46 million times. 

Drama can also work with videos. One of the most epic videos of them all was when Red Bull sent Felix Baumgartner to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere and he jumped back. It was all caught on streaming video. I remember it well because once I tuned in, I could not take my eyes off it. It was truly amazing! The video has been chopped up into small pieces on YouTube. All told, these videos have been viewed hundreds of millions of times. 

Ok, so what if you have a small business and you can’t afford to travel the world and have a friend record you dancing a little jig? What if you don’t have the capability to produce something as slick as Gangnam Style? And what if the idea of jumping back to Earth from outer space makes you queasy?
Is there a practical way to add video to your marketing mix?
Properly optimized video can improve your search ranking dramatically. There are dozens of ways to employ video for your business. Videos that are funny or dramatic are good, but so are informative videos and how-to videos. You could put together a how-to video or share your expertise with viewers. If you have special knowledge about some product or industry, there could be an audience that would be interested.
I was thinking of doing some work on my car one day and I decided to watch a video about this particular procedure before I got started. There was one screw that had to be removed which would have been impossibly difficult for me because I didn’t have the right tools. Seeing that video saved me the hassle of trying to do a job that would have led to frustration and probably scraped up knuckles.
I’ve watched many videos that have helped me with a variety of projects. I recently watched several videos on making videos. So what good does it do to make a video that will help Danny Murphy make his own video or do something around the house? Well, someday I might need something that you can sell to me. 
If you have a level of expertise that is of value to others, video could be the channel through which you impart some of your wisdom. The key question is What do I do in my business that would be of interest to the general public or to a specific group?” Once you’ve given viewers some useful information, you can hit them with a short pitch about what you do or what you sell.
To go viral, a video has to set itself apart from all the others in some way. It must either be entertaining, hilarious, informative, educational, have plenty of eye candy, or all of the above. The production values have to be good. Also, many of the most popular videos are promoted in some way. 
One guy who exemplifies what a small business can do with video is Chuck Testa of Ojai Valley Taxidermy. His funny 2011 video has now been viewed over 16 million times. In a blog post about 17 Viral Successes that Prove Small Companies Can Win with Video Marketing, Tim Ryan writes, “The video works as a great example of how any industry can succeed with video marketing. All you need is a bit of creativity, a good story and a splash of humor.”

Before you get started, check out the YouTube resources on how to make videos. After that, watch a few videos about making videos, like this one. 

Video can be one of the most cost-effective ways to market your business online. Unlike TV commercials, airing a video on YouTube costs nothing. What does it take to get started? Surprisingly, very little. Many smartphones have good video capabilities now, or you can get a decent webcam for under a hundred bucks. You can also get a camcorder for less than $250.
Sound is important. If you can get a camera with a mic jack, that will improve the quality of your video. Otherwise, just make sure you’re close enough to the camera so that it picks up your voice fairly well. Also make sure you use a tripod or have some kind of anti-shaking capabilities (video stabilization). Nothing ruins a video like shaky cam.
Remember that short videos of one to two minutes can be very effective. You’ll need software for editing. YouTube has some built in capability for basic editing, so even if you don’t have any editing software, you have YouTube basic editing, and it’s free. I’ve been using MS Movie Maker and it’s working out OK. As with other things, there is a learning curve. It will take some time to learn how to edit, but not very much really.
You’ll have to make a few videos before you get the hang of it and a few more before you get good at it. After you’ve produced a video, watch it and ask yourself honestly, if you think anyone else would watch it. If you think the answer is yes, post it, tell your friends, and see what happens.
Viewers have an insatiable appetite for video!
Many viewers like to see people who are real. The door is wide open for entrepreneurs to create Web TV series around their businesses. With a bit of creativity, wit, and wisdom, it is now possible for individuals and businesses to create and broadcast their own reality shows, talk shows, and variety shows.
If you can make videos that are funny, or informative, or both, you could be on your way to YouTube stardom. Real estate agents, chefs, loggers, fishermen, and pawn shop owners have become stars in their own right.  Meanwhile, their businesses have grown.
How many videos does it take to succeed?
One video per week is a good rate to work towards. Once you get into a routine, you’ll find that it’s not so difficult. The more you produce the better you’ll get at it. If you can tap into the humor or the drama of your workaday existence and bring it to the masses on a weekly basis, video could become a key part of your marketing mix. So pick up your smart phone, webcam or camcorder and get started. Don’t let the fear of failure get in your way. You can do this. Before you know it, you could be on your way to fame, fortune and internet stardom.
In this article I have discussed using videos for marketing. A good video can help a business to get to the top in search results. Production costs are way down and almost anyone can produce an entertaining and informative video now.
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If you liked this article, share it with your friends, family and co-workers. Working the Web to Win has previously produced several blogs about using video for marketing. For more information I recommend reading, “A Movie in Every Mailbox”, “Will Web TV Change the World as You Know It?” and “Using Video as a Social Media Platform”. You can also use the search box at the top of this blog to find even more article by typing in video in the search field.
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If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Danny Murphy is the Lead Blogger at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also the author of Humor 101: How to Tell Jokes for Power, Prestige, Profit, and Personal Fulfillment which is available from Amazon on Kindle.

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Is Google+ adding up?

Courtesy of  www.youtube.com
By Danny Murphy

There’s no shortage of hype about the Internet and product launches related to it. When Google+ launched in 2011, there was a lot of hype. Google+ was Google’s response to popular social media networks including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Google wanted their piece of the social media market. However, Google+ has not lived up to the hype. Some big changes were recently made to Google+. Naturally, Google cranked out some hype over those changes.

“Today we’re taking a big step toward making Google+ an even better place for your interests. To do so, we’ve drastically simplified nearly every aspect of the product. You’ll see this clearly in our new navigation centered around Collections and Communities. Collections let you immerse yourself in content about topics like surfing or tiny tilt-shift photography scenes. Communities enable groups of people with the same interests to join up and geek out on anything from Game of Thrones to Painting. With Collections and Communities, discovering amazing things is simple: just follow or join whatever happens to pique your interests. But we didn’t stop with Collections and Communities; the new Google+ also makes it easier to post, search, connect, and keep up with great content in a fully redesigned home stream. And we’ve worked hard to make our new web experience load fast and work beautifully on devices of all sizes.”

Here are some of the significant changes:

  • Profiles in the new Google+ were simplified. They include Collections, Communities, and Posts.
  • The "Photos" tab on Google+ profiles no longer shows up. Google Photos, a standalone app, is available to store, share, and manage your photos.
  • The new Google+ doesn't include Hangouts. To use Hangouts, users can visit the Hangouts homepage or download the Hangouts app.
  • Games have also been removed from Google+. Games can now be found on Gameplay.

Google+ Communities debuted in 2012. Communities are essentially groups and forums which bring users together around specific topics. There seems to be no limit to the types of communities that can be created. There are Communities about Running, Gaming, and Tea. There’s even a Facebook Community with over a million users. The Photography Community has nearly two and a half million users. There are lots of other Photography Communities with specific focuses, like Nature Photography (six separate Communities) and Sports Photography (six separate Communities).
Communities are not the same as Circles. In Communities, users ask questions and make comments related to the area of interest they share with other users in that Community. For example, posts in a cooking community will generally be related to food. For businesses, Communities are like niche markets where you can easily network with potential customers who have interests related to your product or service. If you don’t see a group that fits for you, you can create one. However, if you choose to do that, you’ll also have to grow it.
Google+ Collections debuted in May of 2015. They’re similar to Pinboards on Pinterest, allowing users to organize content around topics and themes. Collections are sets of posts focused on a particular topic. There are collections related to Taiwan, Railroads, and Street Art. Collections can be shared privately, publicly, or with a selected group.
According to Google, the users who like Google+ the most are people who connect with others around shared interests and passions. Other users can follow Collections, with or without following someone’s Google+ Profile. When you follow a collection, it appears in your stream. Featured Collections are also promoted in Streams. When you see something you like in a Collection, you can easily get to similar content by that author.
One of the features of Google+ that people have liked the most and used a lot has been Circles. Circles allow users to organize their contacts into groups.  Circles can be customized and there’s no limit to the number of Circles you can be associated with. You can have a Circle for work, another Circle for the family, another for hobbies – the possibilities are endless.
Circles also enable users to filter their streams so that the user’s Circle selection controls the stream. The Circle you select can determine which posts you see. You choose who you'd like to share content with. For example, someone in your Family Circle will probably not be interested in something you're thinking about sharing with your Work Circle. Circles are helpful for keeping your content relevant for the people you’re presenting present it to.
Courtesy of  www.flickr.com
The New Google+ is user friendly and it focuses on the features that users have been using the most: Communities, Collections, and Circles. If you make the switch to New Google+ and you’re not crazy about it, you can easily switch back to Classic Google+. There’s a link in the lower left corner of your Google+ page which enables you to make the switch.
(Here, I must digress for a moment. Google itself refers to “Classic Google+”. Ah, so  Google+ is a beloved brand, like Coca Cola? Newsflash: No, it’s not. Google+ has only been around since 2011 and its performance has been a bit disappointing. Google redesigned Google+ because it didn’t catch on anything like they hoped it would. There probably won’t be very many people who are going to lament the day Google+ got refurbished.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all still going strong and there’s no reason to think that Google+ will displace them in the very near future. On the other hand, Google is a major player on the internet and it appears that they want to be much more of a player. With this redesign of Google+, Google has shown that they’re paying close attention to the ways people use their services.

“While this is an exciting new beginning for us, we’re definitely not done yet.We got here by listening and learning, and will continue doing so.
Luke Wroblewski of Google on November 17, 2015

Meanwhile, Google is relentlessly pursuing ad revenue and that’s what the redesign is really all about. With the pinpointed focus of Communities and Collections, businesses may find that Google+ is worth looking into for marketing purposes.
Working the Web to Win has previously written several articles about  Google and Google+. Check them out.
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In this article I have discussed the New Google+ which now focuses on Communities, Collections, and Circles. While Google+ has yet to prevail among more established social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, this redesign may help. Communities and Collections may be of particular interest for business marketing.
If you found this article useful please share it with your friends, family and co-workers. The sharing buttons are below, including the all-important Google+ sharing button. Also, you can search for other articles on this subject by entering Google+ in the search box at the top of this blog.
If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Danny Murphy is the Lead Blogger at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also the author of Humor 101: How to Tell Jokes for Power, Prestige, Profit, and Personal Fulfillment which is available from Amazon on Kindle.

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