Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Reducing Technical Support Costs by Leveraging the YouTube Platform.

In these tough economic times where there are mass layoffs, companies are looking to cut or reduce costs anywhere they can. One of numerous ways to cut costs is in the technical support department. Many joke that Marketing departments are cut first when it comes to layoffs. Not true anymore as EVERYONE now is vulnerable. A colleague of mine who is a product manager for a Silicon Valley firm recently lost ½ his technical support staff due to layoffs. The company, and the tech support group, is now overwhelmed with customer “issues” (bugs). With half the staff gone, he was looking for ways to “bridge the gap” for his small tech support group. He asked me for recommendations. I told him straight up to look at a web 2.0 platform to alleviate the tech support crunch, specifically YouTube.


Create a YouTube channel specifically geared towards your company, brand or product you need to support. Buy some cheap Flip digital camcorders ($149.99), and give them out to your team or product manager. Dig through the technical support bug or “issue” database and sort out the top 10 issues or bugs that customers complain about. Sit down in front of a computer with the Flip camera and record how to resolve each bug step by step and narrate.

This can work for hardware or any product that needs technical support. Sit down and go over frequently asked questions (FAQ’s). They can be simple setup questions or advanced features questions. Get CREATIVE in your videos. Record all possible workarounds surrounding your products issues.

Post the link to your YouTube channel from the technical support site section on the company’s web page. One advantage of using the YouTube platform is that you do not have to incur the cost of hosting the videos yourself. This can be costly, especially if the videos are large in size and the data download price of high traffic (MB/month).

The YouTube Advantage
  • Zero MB/month traffic usage costs
  • Zero hosting costs associated with these videos taking up space on your servers
  • 24/7 YouTube up time for customers around the world

You get the idea. This is a major value-add if your technical support team is understaffed. Hopefully, in time, the technical support call volume (email) will decline.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How to Monetize Twitter

Rumor has it that 2009 is the year Twitter finally will monetize its website. This chatter has been growing the last few months from Internet Industry experts and media pundits. The latest rumor has it by end of Q1 2009, Twitter will debut its monetization plan.

For newbie’s, here is a quick review of Twitter. According to Wikipedia, Twitter is a "free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length". But this doesn’t tell half the story. Twitter is much more than a micro blogging platform. Twitter has morphed into a new media channel where you can gossip, opinionated interaction, news reporting, info (web) commercials, links to news and articles. With old Media dying a slow death (today only four in 10 households subscribe to a daily newspaper compared to a more than 100% household penetration in 1950), Twitter has emerged as a new powerful media channel. Twitter is also useful for small to large corporations i.e., from media relations to product technical support.

New uses of Twitter arise every day.

How would you monetize Twitter? Easier said than done. Being a big fan of Twitter, I'm getting a bit restless waiting for them to announce or roll out an idea or platform they can generate revenue from. My guess is that the plan will be this year and management (and their VCs) are not ready to show their hand yet. So with that, I’d like to give my 2 cents and show them the money!

First, you want to monetize the Twitter network while at the same time increase its user base. My overall idea centers on giving each new and existing user a small amount (%) of ad revenue. What! Am I crazy?! Nope. Let me explain. The new ad section would focus on user’s profiles (tweets). Only ads that are “click thru” on the individual user profile will get a % payout. Rectangle box at the end of Twit section will serve as ad section.

Ad section:
- Simple box
- Contextual advertising in tweet box. Figure users psychographic profile. Useful in Market segmentation in serving up individual ads.
- Use entire Twit section background as some sort of a movable ad or movie preview clip with twit text clearly outlined as to make it the focus first, background ad second. No Ads in every single consecutive tweet. Make them appear in every other Tweet or every "third" tweet. Look at psychographic and behavioral variables so as to not lose the focus of Twitter.

*For hard-core twitter users (traditionalists), create a box upper right corner "Ads OFF/ON" switch. Twitters annoyed with ads, click =ADS OFF. Twitters who want to participate in ads = ADS ON. The Ad revenue system inside Twitter is the killer app. New Twitter register users can opt into participating in ads or not. Existing Twitters will receive a note, email, or Twit to ask them if they want to participate. They can turn on or turn off the ads. Hard core Twitter enthusiasts could choose to not run ads.

Why would a Twitter user want to choose to run ads? Twitter users allowing ads to roll on their profile would get (for example) anywhere from 1 cent to 10 cents for every unique click thru. Revenue sharing (Twit ad sharing). This would depend on how popular your profile is at the time (just like buying keywords). Revenue would be payable through PayPal or check when revenue hits say $25.00. Paid out monthly. This is just the basic idea.

Results: More users will sign up for Twitter and this free ad money giveaway will go viral. Everyone will want to sign up. Profile/User base will approach MySpace and Facebook user numbers.

Benefits to Twitter:
1. Increased user base
2. Real Revenue
3. Ad options will satisfy the Twitter hard core base (no backlash)

Infrastructure strategy and costs? Depends. Twitter can build their own ad server infrastructure or get a third party ad server company to help integrate (much cheaper). One thing’s for sure, the ruby on rails platform will have to go. Make this new ad-centric platform more robust = no more predictable downtime. The Google Adsense and Adwords platform would be easy to implement inside Twitter. Of course, once this has been implemented, Google (maybe even Yahoo now that it’s under a new CEO) will have to pay a higher price to acquire Twitter.

Random thoughts: Since this is a “web 2.0” company, why not…
1. Ask their users to provide feedback on monetizing ideas (harness the collaborative feedback loop).
2. Roll out a preview or beta and ask the Twitter community to test (bugs). Again, harness the collaborative feedback loop.
3. Give the Twitter user control over the ad content on their profile tweets.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The New Website Refresh Quick Review

First things first. About time! I received an email note from someone over at to check out the new website refresh. In my opinion, the site has been getting long in the tooth. I recommend most website do a refresh every couple of years, especially when it sees its traffic and readership decline. To me the old was nice way back when. It’s been getting stale as of late so when I went over today to check out the new design and tools, I was very pleased. The first thing that struck me as consistent throughout was the use of online video on the main page, and in the individual sections. I love their use of online video, and right off the bat my eyes and ears enjoyed the experience and the layout.

I also loved the career tools section. Bright and shiny new with new career paths and benchmarking tools. I could not thoroughly check out the new profile section as I do not have a profile on The “search jobs” layout is fresh with clean lines. I love the clean lines. Both the single line and Multi-line option is eye pleasing and doesn’t cram a lot of information and words in small spaces that would frustrate me. Of course you can search by relevance, date, company, distance. The best feature I like so far is the balloon box besides each job listing. Click on the balloon and the exact job location min-map (Google Maps) appears. This feature is by far ahead the best feature and as far as I know, not available on or even I recommend job seekers to check out the new website refresh and test drive it yourself. Now I only wish the rest of the stale online job sites would refresh or ad more intuitive features as well.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Prediction: Twitter Will Finally Come of Age

2009 will be the make or break year of Twitter. I believe it will be the make year as the company (CEO) will finally come out with his plan to monetize it by Q1. I've watched users develop Twitter strategies this last year from branding to company giveaways. Sports & Music stars are starting to really get into it. I wonder if the next wave will be movie and television stars getting Twitter to help their shows and careers? Whatever this New Year brings, Twitter has to now step up its game and finally prove its going to be a strong media channel and start monetizing it.