Archive for February, 2011

Linked In Does Not Equal Opt In

Posted on February 20, 2011. Filed under: Human Business, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Marketing, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

Today’s tune – “Hearts Take Time” sung by blues/jazz vocalist and pianist Diane Schuur – refers to a romantic relationship gone wrong. This post is about the customer/client relationship online and how to begin and nurture it — starting with how not to.

Earlier this week, I received a Linked In invitation from an acquaintance who I know recently changed careers and is now in the financial services industry. I met her through someone I’m very close with and who has known her for many years.

She sent the invitation from her personal Linked In profile, which listed her by her nickname and gave her personal email address for contact. I like this person and promptly accepted her invitation.Business Relationships by Reality Quote

Later the same day I received two emails in a row from her business email address. One informed me that she had added my email address to her marketing list and that I would be receiving information from time to time. The other was a sales message offering me products and services that I had never inquired about.

Both emails did have opt-out links. But that put me in the somewhat awkward position of letting this person know that I do not want to be contacted further about business.

She made the incorrect assumption that my accepting a Linked In invitation was an open invitation to be marketed to. My emotional response to that was very negative. I felt that it was a violation.

My reasons for connecting on Linked In are to widen my network, to refresh my memory about who I haven’t been in touch with for too long, to learn and to share information. Many other reasons, too. None of them is to make myself a target for an unsolicited sales pitch. By the way, this goes for all social media I engage with. In addition to a breach of social media etiquette, this person at best showed lack of knowledge and at worst bad judgment, which does not inspire confidence.

If she had taken a different approach, there’s a possibility that we might have done business together. She could have sent me a personal email asking whether I have any current needs in her area of expertise and/or pointing me in the direction of some info about her business offerings to build credibility in the event I knew of someone else who could benefit.

If I did indicate some level of interest, she could then use the opportunity to ask me to opt in to her list with the clear understanding that I could feel free to opt out at any time – that an opt-out would not have any impact on our personal relationship.

Even though it’s well-known that permission-based marketing works best, business people regularly ignore this best practice. If you do so, recognize that you may very well permanently kill an opportunity to develop a meaningful business relationship – including ongoing referrals – over the longer term. Hearts take time!!

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What’s the Semantic Web? Watch Jeopardy!

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Internet Research, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Marketing, Media, Online Search, Semantic Web, TV, Web 3.0 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Over the past couple of years I’ve attended several presentations on Web 3.0 – aka the Semantic Web – which has been touted as the next great thing online. Unfortunately, the presenters were all tech people who were unable to really explain, “What is it?”

Last night I got a really good idea when I watched IBM’s latest challenge to human intelligence, the computers collectively known as ‘Watson’, play ‘Jeopardy!’ against two of the show’s all-time top winners – Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The result of the first of three nights of competition was a tie between Watson and Rutter. A stunned Jennings came in a very distant third. (In honor of Watson’s ‘maiden voyage’, today’s tune is Herbie Hancock’s tune of that name played by the composer and a stellar quintet. You’ll finish reading before it’s over, but stick around and listen if you’d like.)

Until last night I had the general sense that the Semantic Web had to do with contextual responses to search queries. In other words, currently search engines simply find keywords in text on web sites and blogs that seem to match a query. Applications on the semantic web would determine the meaning of the query, text or other data and then create connections for the user. Still not so clear.

I did a Google search for ‘example of semantic web search’ and it yielded a mess of results – none of which really answered my curiosity. However, the Wikipedia result offered at least a true vision of the Semantic Web as described in 1999 by Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium and coiner of the phrase. In an online parallel to Martin Luther King’s famous speech, he said:

“I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.” (Interesting note: If you click on this ‘intelligent agents’ anchor text it will take you to another Wikipedia page that will confuse the hell out of you. ;-})

Anyhow, last night I watched in amazement as Watson properly interpreted most of the questions, ‘pushed his response button’ and weighed in first with correct answers (actually questions in Jeopardy! terms) in an appealing non-computer-y voice. And I got it! This is what the Semantic Web will mean. Actually it reminded me a bit of Oz behind the curtain.

And an article in today’s Boston Globe described the game show experiment in more specific terms, “IBM scientists launched the Watson project to test whether a computing system could rival a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed and accuracy. The “Jeopardy!’’ format was chosen because the game’s clues require analyzing meaning, humor, riddles, and other subtleties that humans can process, but are difficult for computers.” Difficult until now it looks like!

I’m looking forward to tonight’s continuation of the man-machine contest and its denouement tomorrow evening. Even though Watson appears to offer an exciting peek into the future, I can’t help but root for Ken and Brad. May the best – er – intelligent agent win!

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