Time is On Our SideThings are happening fast. I mean freaky fast. News stories are being broadcasted  to the internet via flip phones, protests are being organized on Twitter in minutes, and I’m watching it all happen right in front of me on the computer. AND let’s not get started with Google’s new speedy search tool Google Instant. By predicting your search and showing results before you finish typing, Google Instant can save 2-5 seconds per search. I guess I can’t waste time on Google anymore. Now I feel bad college kids, this will totally messed up their procrastination clock.  Kidding, this is amazing technology. A little annoying but amazing.

This new “internet time” has companies on edge. Let’s go back to Twitter, the microblogging site that allows users to send and receive 140-character-long messages services from their phones. I finally gave in to the spreading Twitter epidemic and opened an account (my only hesitation was I didn’t have a Smartphone. I know, soo 2002.). I started following Oakley, one of my favorite brands. I looked down at past entries and Oakley had responded in real-time to complaining Twitter users but more importantly, to complaining customers. Below you can see the complaints on the left and Oakley’s responds on the right.

Oakley Tweets

Speed becomes not only a competitive advantage but also a strategic necessity. The more quickly businesses can adjust to customers’ actions and desires––the more quickly they can learn from them and try to stay ahead of them–– the better business will be.

Jeff Jarvis is spot on and Oakley is the perfect example. Mobs can form in a flash and so can fans. While most companies and individuals use Twitter as an extension of their brand, some still haven’t quite nailed how to use Twitter. Ad Maverick, Josh Fleming explains the Top Ten Reasons You #Fail At Twitter. Don’t worry, I’m still working out the kinks but learning google-fast. The internet has caused us to lose control many things: brands, reviews, secrets, relationships with advertisers, price settings, and now TIME.

Pressure to respond is higher than ever. Companies feel the need to give information out to the demanding public in a seconds notice.  I see no problem with this as long as the quality of fact-checking doesn’t  decrease.  Bogus speedy responses like BP’s junk shot technique to clog the oil leak with a golf ball, rubber particles, and hair… then I think Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House energy committee investigating the oil spill, said it perfectly to CBS’s Meet the Press interview,

I have no confidence whatsoever in BP. I think that they do not know what they are doing. They started off talking about golf balls going in as a junk shot. People thought they would be dependent on MIT or Cal Tech instead of the PGA and golf balls…

Key word in Rep. Ed Markey quote, no confidence. I hope we all just breathe, think and then respond. Even if the clock is ticking.

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Truth in Transparency We have been given power to contribute to the marketplace of ideas.  Are you using it wisely? The phrase “truth will out” can be dated back to John Milton’s Aeropagitica written in 1644.  He wrote,

Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter.

In other words, information should be available to all, both that are true and false. When you have a marketplace of ideas then the truth will survive. The truth will surface. Information has become democratized. There have been several instances where companies have not told the truth.  We can forgive those who don’t know but what about the companies that do know they are lying? Companies like BP that underestimated the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf. In a New York Times article, BP downplayed the catastrophic results to a measly 5,000 barrels a day, which turned out to be four to five times that amount…Opps. The press conference and immediate press release follow these events. It’s not the mistake that matters but what you do about it. For some it’s a little too late. They have been “Black Listed”.

The Least Transparent Companies:

The Most Transparent Companies:

This isn’t a corporate Red Scare but recognizing those who use transparency. We should give thanks to those companies that allow the public to know their business practices, business decisions, and factors that go into making those business decisions. Let us remember, “truth is both arms and armor”.  Transparency can increase brand identity and create brand personality. It can even increase return of shareholder value.

Growing up in this post-media generation, we expect honesty and directness. And we respect those who speak with truth and bluntness. Companies can’t spin their way out of trouble, especially not today with the Google monster growing stronger and stronger. It will eventually get you and when it does, POOF. There goes years of trust and brand loyalty. There is a barcode for each story stored in today’s digital library, the internet. That barcode is a link. A permalink, permanently available for all of us to see. Truth is just one Google search away.

Jeff Jarvis wrote in What Would Google Do?,

“Companies shouldn’t be democracies. But neither should they be dictatorships. They should be ––but too rarely are ––meritocracies. Your challenge is to get good ideas to surface and survive from within and without and to enable customers and employees to improve your ideas and products.

Transparency is cool. Transparency is smart.  What is your favorite transparent company?

Google JuiceUmmm Ummm..gggGoogle Juice. Not to be mixed up with Beetle Juice. Google Juice is another word for your PageRank from search engines, the biggest one being Google. If you blog or have your own site then you might already have heard of this Search Engine Optimization (SEO) term. SEO is basically getting your site in web users search results. This usually mean more traffic to your site. But let’s break down this system at its most fundamental part…the link. What a beautiful thing….no seriously.

Meg Hourihan said it best in Jeff Jarvis’s book What Would Google Do?,  “What we say isn’t as important as the system that enables us to say it.” I stopped for a moment to think about the importance of linking. Bloggers and journalist can link related in-depth stories, giving readers the choice to click for additional information or skip it. It’s can be used as a educational source or to increase creditability and connectivity. Now I guess we all owe a great deal of thanks to Google, creating an amazing infrastructure to organize all theses websites and links.  Jeff Jarvis hit the nail of the head when he wrote,

“In retail, media, education, government, and health–everything–the link drives specialization, quality and collaboration, and it changes old roles and creates new ones. The link changes the fundamental architecture of societies and industries the way steel girders and rails changed how cities and nations were built and how they operated. Google makes links work. Google is the U.S. Steel of our age.”

Thanks Google but a basic thanks will do. I can be only so thankful when according to last July Wall Street Journal article Google’s revenue rose to $6.82 billion from $5.52 billion in the same quarter last year and have an estimated $30.1 billion in cash. That’s with a B and well deserved. For a basic understanding of how Google’s linking system works, watch Matt Cutts and he’ll explain it in just a couple minutes. Listen.

So the more links and clicks you get, the higher you rise in Google’s search results, which ultimately gives you a chance for more clicks in the future. To get all juiced up you should know these 5 simple tips about SEO.

  1. Check and monitior your search standings. Use online analytic tools to see your stats. It’s great way to know what people are clicking on and how they got there.
  2. THINK KEYWORDS! No tricky wording. Cleverness can hurt your search results. Be clear when creating tags and titles.
  3. Sharing should be easy. Use other social media outlets to your advantage to let other viewers share your information to friends.
  4. Simple design works.  Search engines can’t read information in fancy technology like flash. Plus, it’s a little distracting.
  5. Update and keep it fresh. More content, the better. A great way is have update content is to incorporate a tweeter feed and blog within your site.

For more useful SEO tips, check out Richard Burckhardt’s 55 Quick SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love.

Google Juice is great until is goes sour. In my next post, I’ll share my personal experience when my juice becomes “rotten”.  Until then, pour yourself a glass and watch your sites hits keep rolling in!