Monday, June 15

I Can't Believe The Username "Assman" Is Already Taken

Late Friday night was Facebook's Username Landgrab kickoff. According to Facebook, within 15 minutes over half a million usernames had been registered. 3 million had reserved names within 12 hours (1.5% of their user base). Which means you probably missed your chance to reserve your actual name as your Fbook name.

The first question is Do you plan to register? I still believe it is not that important unless you are marketing a brand page (or yourself).

The next question is What name do you register? What is the next best thing to your actual name? Childhood pet? Street you grew up on? Fraternity nickname?

It is slightly amusing to random URL dive into Fbook and see what comes up.

Holiday icons [1, 2]

Obscure music references [1, 2, 3, 4]

Personal protest [1, 2, 3, 4]

Names only a techgeek can love [1, 2, 3]

The most expensive search term on Google - reserved by a lawyer, of course

And yes, the ones you picked drunk Friday night when you didn't realize it was permanent [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

Just wait for the HR recruiter to stumble on those. Perhaps Fbook has a viable revenue stream charging users to reset their accounts.

You know there is a freelance journalist scouring Urban Dictionary looking for the most outrageous ones that slipped past Fbook's watchful eye. Enough at least to fill a blog post or two and get crosslinked from

And mine? Well of course my real name was already taken. Me and the other 78 Stephen Strongs are out of luck. But watch out first-in-line StephenStrong. I'm doppleganging on you.

Tuesday, June 9

The Fbook Quarterly F*ck Up Is Here!

I was just thinking it had been awhile since Facebook screwed up a Big Site Improvement launch. Well, wait no more! The custom username URLs are coming!

That's right. Starting late Friday night, you can bum rush the site (assuming it handles the stampede) and try to submit your request first for a custom profile URL. Facebook's blog announced it today:
Your new Facebook URL is like your personal destination, or home, on the Web. People can enter a Facebook username as a search term on Facebook or a popular search engine like Google, for example, which will make it much easier for people to find friends with common names.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 13, you'll be able to choose a username on a first-come, first-serve basis for your profile and the Facebook Pages that you administer by visiting You'll also see a notice on your home page with instructions for obtaining your username at that time.

Think carefully about the username you choose. Once it's been selected, you won't be able to change or transfer it.
So let's assume I'm not the first of the 80 Stephen Strongs on Fbook to reserve our name. What do I get next: stephenstrong276? or maybe theotherstephenstrong? Not since the bygone days of AOL username picking has my self-identification stress level been sooo high.

But wait a second, why do I need a custom URL? Don't my friends already know how to find me? Shouldn't anyone wanting to be my "friend" get connected via one of my linked-friend's pages? Fbook has been successful because it is a closed-loop network. Not the freewheeling "everyone be my friend" chaos that doomed MySpace.

Hmmm. Not even sure if I should care. At least not about my personal URL. But I represent over 10 brands for my company online. None of which have an Fbook fan page now. Some might justify it in the near future. Some won't. But I definitely don't want a cybersquatter claiming the names for their URL.

C'mon Fbook! I know you're thinking about all the potential advertising revenue and a way to protect the 95% of brands who aren't on you yet.

Oh crap. Really?

So that's it? A basic Contact Us form? As an added bonus, you can only submit one brand name at a time. So the process is this:
  1. Fill out form
  2. Submit
  3. Back button
  4. Re-enter personal info
  5. Submit
  6. Back button
  7. Re-enter personal info
  8. Submit
  9. Repeat 10 times

And don't get me started that there is no explanation for the Registration # section. What the hell do you type in there? If you entered 123 for every entry like I did, then there's going to be some mass confusion in the old Fbook Customer Service cube tomorrow morning. [Update: it is for entering your brand trademark registration number. Good luck tracking that down in less than 3 days.]

But seriously, did they really have to announce this spontaneously only 4 days in advance? Can someone over there apply some common sense to these launches? They obviously haven't learned a damn thing from all their other Big Site Improvements. Most of which did not go over so well.

It's one thing to annoy and disappoint your average user. But marketers (the ones who could actually contribute to a revenue stream) don't have the patience for this type of thing. We're needy, pouty, and always expect to get our way when we bring the checkbook.

I'd hate to be the media sales rep trying to sell Big Industry on establishing an Fbook presence next month. Especially as he tries to explain why theothercompanythatsellsfriedchicken isn't such a bad URL to have. Much better than theothercompanythatsellsfriedchicken276.

Let the Backlash Countdown begin!

Thursday, June 4

Do You Need a Bing Today?

TechCrunch provides a Google Trends analysis of the recent search engine launches for Wolfram Alpha and Microsoft's Bing. Wolfram Alpha is fairly unknown outside the ubergeek circles. Bing will soon be unavoidable due to their massive brand campaign that just launched.

I saw my first Bing TV commercial last night. Primarily a manifesto video, it at least prompted my wife to ask "What is that about?"

Me: "It's Microsoft's new search engine."

Wife: "Why?"

Me: "Um, I dunno."

Wife: "What was wrong with their old one?"

Me: "Um, not many people were using it."

Wife: "Why not?"

Me: "Um, I dunno. Google?"

Wife: "That's dumb."
My wife assumes that somehow I am partly responsible for everything that occurs online: page takeover ads, Twitter, broken shopping carts, the sudden speed dip in our home's broadband connection.

This often puts me in the position of explaining (and defending) many things that I actually don't really understand myself. But I -- like any good marketer -- make it sound rationale. My wife -- like any good consumer -- calls bullshit on most of it.

So why does Microsoft need a new search engine? There's lots of opinions out there: rejuvenate their online advertising revenue, defend their technology street cred, rub just one more thing in Yahoo's face before buying them.

Whatever the case, my wife posed the obvious question: Do we really need another search engine?

I just completed 3 days of consumer focus groups, asking the average Internet user to visit a variety of brand websites. Literally 90% of the consumers started their online tasks at Google. Even when we gave them a brand name with a very-easy-to-guess URL. Even if they thought they knew the URL. A few even typed "" into Google.

The other 2 people had to start at their My Yahoo page. Otherwise they were clueless about beginning their online tasks.

Which clarifies an important point: It isn't necessarily about needing another search engine. It's about needing another starting point. If you don't start at Google or My Yahoo, then you are probably launching Facebook and jumping from there. 90% of the interviews listed that as their favorite website.

Which is your starting spot: Search Engine, Content Aggregator, or Social Network?

Is there really room for one more? Especially one that duplicates the offerings of these top 3 home bases?

The only time Bing came up was when the interviewee started their search with the browser toolbar. IE redirected them to search results, which resulted in the same conversation every time:

Consumer: "What is that?"

Moderator: "It's Microsoft's new search engine."

Consumer: "Why?"

Moderator: "Um, I dunno."

Consumer: "Can I go to Google?"

Wednesday, June 3


So you think writing semi-complete sentences in 140 characters or less is too time consuming? Welcome the next Damn I should have thought of that slacker trend:


One word status posts courtesy of

No need for pesky clutter like adjectives or punctuation. No room for adding mystery teaser short URLs. Forget out-of-context retweets. Just one word expressions of your current state of mind. Which for most Internet users is really all it takes.

Sure you could just post one word tweets on Twitter. But where's the competition in that? You'd just get a bunch of retweets from followers using up the other 130 characters available.

Parody 2.0 or Next Big Thing? Sometimes the silly ideas are the ones that actually survive.

Tuesday, June 2

Future Buzzwords Today = Macromicrobroadcaster

Twitter reached that coming-of-age state where the marketing industry can't quite decide what to do with this unruly techno-teenager. Its popularity continues to rise at the same time the only social network with a revenue model is starting to fall.

While getting kicked out of China is always a good sign you're doing something right, discovering that only 1/5 of the popular crowd wants to hang with you doesn't help your street cred. Especially since you repeatedly run out of beer when they do show up.

Then comes the report that 10% of its users generate 90% of its content. Hmmmm, peer-to-peer communication platform or the next microbroadcast model? And what happens when the microbroadcaster goes macro? If the macromicrobroadcasters threaten to revolt, then you definitely hit a nerve.

This all leads to ongoing conflict for marketers. Should we care about it or not? Consumer revolution or marketing devolution?

iMedia recently published their analysis of Twitter marketing Winners & Losers. Ford vs Nissan! Dunkin' Donuts vs Starbucks! My fave analysis is Dell vs Apple:

Apple, on the other hand, appears to be missing in action. As one of the world's premier brands -- a technology brand, nonetheless -- its absence on Twitter is puzzling to me and many others.
Fortunately Apple's stock price hasn't been affected... A chart displaying the number of followers per brand would end the whole conversation very quickly.

The report eerily reflects the days when Second Life received the same scrutiny over its early marketing adopters. Then the hype broke and these marketers -- recently lauded as being soooo cutting edge -- were chastised for being duped into spending real world dollars on virtual branding.

6 months from now will not having a Twitter presence catapult you to the top of 2009's Smartest Marketers? Will the first Twitter TV show sponsor be rewarded for their savviness, or laughed off the trade show expert panel? Will you be collecting accolades, spinning excuses, or just waiting with 95% of the other marketers to see what happens?