The Top Five Technology Stories of 2009

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During the month of December, it is appropriate to take a look back and a look forward. In this first part of our series, Desiree and Joe  talk about the five biggest technology news stories of 2009 that made a significant contribution to the technology map moving forward. We also discuss what they might mean as we move into 2010 in our next podcast.

This is in no particular order as per the importance of the topic.

1)  The rollout of Google Wave
Google_wave_logo
With much fanfare and hype, the developers at Google announced a new product that was going to be the "next generation of email!"  The technorati were in a ferver over getting one of the limited number of invites, some even looking to purchase invites on eBay.  Slowly but surely the invites were being distributed and people had a chance to get a look at what Google Wave was all about.

At this point Wave continues to be an enigma to even the most ardent supporters.  There is no question that it is still a work in progress so even something as simple as an immediate notification of a new Wave is missing. 

There are some applications that appear to be best use cases. For example, if there is a need for a collaborative environment where multiple people need to be passing information back and forth with a single final output. Desiree's nephew Kyle is attending The University of Illinois-Chicago and has determined that Wave can be beneficial in his study group, so we extend the invitation to him to appear on an edition of The Bella Buzz to give us a review of their usage.

2) Twitter as a news source

When the news of the Iranian election uprisings broke this past June, right here on the Bella Buzz we called Twitter_logo it possibly one of the biggest news stories of the year … and our prediction turned out to be correct. The story from our perspective is actually broader than just the population of Iran taking to the streets (and still in the streets), the story was more about how Twitter posts and cell phone video uploads distributed the coverage far in advance of anything that the mainstream media could provide. It was such a blatant shift in our expectations of news organizations, that actually CNN went on the air to defend their actions.

By the time of Michael Jackson's passing later that month, we had come to expect that the pervasive, simple nature of Twitter would be getting the message around quicker than a news report.

3)  Facebook reaching 350 Million Users

Facebook In an open letter from Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of December, he stated that "more than 350 million people around the world are using Facebook to share their lives online."

This might in fact turn out to be the year that really puts Facebook over the top.  What was once the playground of college students, then early adopters, has now extended to baby boomers and beyond.  Facebook has fast become the way to connect, re-connect and to stay in touch.

Part of the reason for the expansion is adding functionality outside of the walls of Facebook such as Facebook Connect.  By allowing web sites to incorporate a login function using Facebook credentials, it extends the content from the site back into Facebook.  Web site owners like the ability to build a community that will port their content in front of a News Feed of potentially 350 million, while simultaneously making it easy for users to sign up for a Facebook account.

4) NASA adopts Social Media
Nasa
Somewhere in the halls of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration there was a smart decision made. There was a decision to implement some social media strategies to help the general population rediscover the exciting missions taking place in our space program.

Programs that used these tools include the Mars Phoenix lander, sending out tweets during it's trips around the Martian surface and its demise.

There was Astronaut Mike Massimino, known as @Astro_Mike. He continues to use Twitter to distribute information about his endeavors. He is getting lots of votes currently on Mashable for his nominated Tweet of the Year.

The coolest implementation happened around the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.  NASA developed an interactive web site, We Choose the Moon.org, complete with actual audio as it happened in 1969. They also established Twitter accounts for each of the parties as if they were using Twitter to communicate; Apollo CapComApollo Spacecraft, and the Eagle Lander.

Upon announcement of the 2010 NASA Budget, an additional $2 billion has been added to NASA's 2009 and 2010 budgets under the Obama administration.  President Obama nominated ="_blank">Charles Bolden as NASA Administrator.

5) Google Android Phones

The new open source operating system for mobile phones has reached the mass Google-android-logomarket.  The release of  the Droid phone from Verizon is the first in what will be a line of many phones that are incorporating the Apps and useability currently found in the iPhone. There is a now a decision to be made at the end of the AT&T contracts that users had to sign when they acquired an iPhone.  The decision now can be simply which carrier works best for me, which has the plan that I want, and which phone gives me the best value. 

Please let us know if we've missed any stories you would consider most important this year. Leave us a comment with any stories you think deserve a mention!   Look for next week's episode for the predictions for 2010 and beyond!

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You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Twitter Lists and Google Social Search; Two Breakthroughs for Social Media

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We have some major developments in the world of social networking to discuss on this week's edition of the Bella Buzz podcast. Desiree and Joe tackle the rollout of List functionality on Twitter, the integration of user's social graph into search results via social search, and a promise to review Google Wave upon a deeper use of the service.

The implementation of Twitter Lists will allow users to curate those we follow, and even those we don't, into various categories of our own choosing. This functionality should help reduce the often complained about clutter or noise that overpowers our Twitter stream.  As an example of how to make the best use of a list, Desiree points out that by creating a list called @desireescales/newstweeps, she is able to go to one single stream where she can expect to find the latest breaking info. 

Some of the initial excitement revolves around the ability to connect with other users again by adding them to a list.  The social currency can start to move away from the tired followers numbers, and migrate towards the number of lists a user appears on. Although we have steered you away from concern over follower number, the lists can actually be of value since they contain a bit of meta data … the context in which others view a person. Are they a techy? Are they a music lover? .. Why is this person of value for following?  The list can put it into perspective. 

As the List ecosystem springs into action, there is already a site called Listorious that shows the categorization of Twitter into various lists, identifying those on the most lists in total as well as the most lists within a specific topic.

For the small business owner, developing a quality list of Twitterers within a particular niche might be an effective strategy to getting noticed, especially within a geographic area.

Desiree used the List feature as a group Follow Friday #FF tweet.  A feature of the List is that it creates a complete URL of the list for distribution, of with the @ sign becomes part of a tweet.

The next topic that we tackle is a Google Labs experiment that we have all known was coming, a change is taking place regarding the factors that will influence the Google search results page that we see when searching a particular keyword.  Participation in this experiment, along with setting up a Google Profile,

The premise has been that the best search results will come from information obtained through people that you trust the most, rather than an algorithm. By incorporating the information gleaned from those connected to you through your social networks, Google intends to present search results that are weighted based upon their behavior.

These search results are intended to come from more trusted sources, and therefore should be more relevant to you.  It should help to eliminate many of the unreliable sources such as directories and made for adsense sites. 

As a brand, now more than ever, it will become important to enter the social sphere so that you are represented in the search results in this manner.

Let us know what you think.  Is Social Search a good thing for you? Do you believe that you will get better results based upon incorporating input from your social network?  Leave us a comment.

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You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Interview with Todd Eury – Pharmacy Technology Resource about Using Social Media for Independent Pharmacists

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Todd Eury, Executive Director of Pharmacy Technology Resource joins Desiree and Joe on this week's Bella Buzz podcast. Todd has established a fantastic niche as the "go-to" guy in the independent pharmacy industry regarding the implementation and use of Social Media and Web 2.0 technologies.

Before we get to Todd, we have a followup to the conversation on the October 13th Bella Buzz regarding Google Voice.  Last night on the Google Voice Blog they announced portability for your existing phone number. It is not total functionality yet, but it does provide you with Google voicemail features such as message transcription and custom messaging per caller.  Check it out!

Todd catches us up on how his business has taken off by focusing on a niche of the independent pharmacy and apothecary. Initially his social media efforts were implemented as a way to market his own services, but he has since adapted to include an educational element, where he is teaching his target market to take advantage of social media marketing.This is an excellent strategy in that it can be a challenge to champion the benefits of using new media tools to those that don't understand its significance.

America Pharmacist Magazine approached Todd about writing a 3000 word article regarding the use of these technologies in the industry. It worked out perfectly since he had already started developing an educational document on how to embrace social media as a community pharmacist. As part of his business plan he grabbed Pharmacyweb20.com as a location to start developing and posting his educational content.

Todd has the great approach for his clients in that he understands that social media must be part of, and complimentary to, an overall business plan and is married into traditional marketing tactics.  He points out that the community pharmacist has already built a reputation of trust, has customers visiting the store in person, and can be easily transitioned to greater levels of customer service via the web through an "offline ask."

A challenge for any independent operator these days, whether pharmacy or other industries, is getting exposure to the most relevant information regarding marketing strategies.  Todd is looking to establish a relationship with the Pharmacy School at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh to add an element of social media training into the curriculum.

The pharmacy industry is having initial discussions about how cloud computing will impact operations.  There are many privacy concerns of course, and this delicate balance exists within the realm of the larger US health care conversation. 

If you are in the industry, make sure to look for Todd at upcoming conferences where he is on panels and making presentations.

His various web locations you can find Todd at:

http://pharmacyweb20.com

http://www.pharmacytechnologyblog.com

http://www.pharmacywebsitedesign.com

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pharmacytechnology

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Improving Business Communications with Google Voice

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Voice_logo  It's all about Google Voice telephony service on the Bella Buzz Podcast today.  Hosts Desiree and Joe talk about their experiences using the free service that allows for phone calls to find them wherever they may be, using one phone number. 

This service was once called Grand Central until it was purchased by Google in the summer of 2007. They have refined and scaled the service so that it is becoming more readily available via invitation. (Complete this form here to get on the waiting list.)

With a Google Voice account you can have one phone number — forever.  As they say in the video below, the number is tied to you, not a device or a location. This free service can easily be set up to provide you with complete control over which phone rings and when it rings, voicemail transcription service, caller grouping that provides customized greetings, sms notification of messages and many more detailed functionalities.

Having a Google Voice number removes the concerns about losing contact with people who may have an old business card with an office number or a different cell phone number.

The biggest challenge out of the gate using a Google Voice number is getting all of your contacts and family to use it.  Of course the easy ways are to include the number as part of an email signature and business card, but you may also need some help with the process.  Here is a Lifehacker article about easing the transition.

There have been some regulatory as well as business relationship controversies about the service that we point out.  Initially battles developed over the use of Google Voice on the iPhone, with AT&T concerned over ability to text and talk for free via an App. The rationale behind the banning of the app is that the functionality is too similar to that of the iPhone. Google still continues to claim they've been banned, while Apple states it's under review.

Currently, the battle also incorporates Net Neutrality concerns regarding phone service getting blocked based upon specific locations.

For someone starting a new business, Google services provides you with a complete operational dashboard that includes phone, documents, email and the list goes on and on. It is a way to get off the ground immediately and just another way to keep your business in the cloud.

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Meet Brent Leary — Social Customer Relationship Management Rock Star

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ICRM Essentials Imaget is Brent Leary's turn to appear on the Bella Buzz podcast with Desiree Scales and Joe Magennis.  Brent is the co-founder and Partner of CRM Essentials LLC, a CRM consulting/advisory
firm focused on small and mid-size enterprises. CRM Essentials has
trained thousands of business people on the benefits and best practices
of implementing CRM strategies and technologies.

Brent and Desiree recently worked together on the Moving Business Forward panel this past July and will also be appearing together on September 25th at the New Media Atlanta Social Media Summit.

Brent is also the host of Technology for Business Sake and an accomplished author and writer. You can follow all his work via his blog. (He's hard to keep up with sometimes!)

Social CRM means developing a systematic approach to finding, catching and keeping good customers. The space has some very heavy hitting companies including Microsoft and Salesforce.com focused on the internal operations of CRM. Social CRM helps with the transition from the conversations that are taking place on social networks to the business functions within the sales channel.

As Brent discusses where he sees the future of Social CRM going, he points out that it was only just two years ago when there was any type of insight into the integration of social networks with CRM processes, so it is certainly changing at a rapid pace.  He specifically mentions that Twitter as part of the sales channel has become much more prevalent and integrated into the process. 

BatchBlue is a company that focuses on small business CRM services and has caught Brent's attention. (Company president Pam O'Hara recently appeared on an edition of The Bella Buzz.)

An interesting perspective that many small businesses need to consider concerns metrics.  There are a number of potential metrics to determine success of a social media strategy, however since we are all focusing on very specific niches, it is very challenging to determine what "success" actual means across each niche.  Brent points out that having the patience to acquire enough data so that a realistic analysis can be made is critical.

Brent also gives his insights into his passionate analysis of the Barack Obama presidential campaign leader's use of social media. His analysis first appeared as a webinar, later published in numerous blogs, magazines, and newspaper articles and has now been published in a book.  The web site can be found at Barack20.com.

It would be hard to keep up with all that Brent is doing these days beyond the New Media Atlanta event, he has an conference presentation in Orlando for American Express coming up, then he is off to Buenos Aires speaking at the International Direct Marketers conference…. but you can't overlook his playlists on Twitter during #fridaynightmix check it out!

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

The All-Powerful Share Button in Social Media

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Desiree Scales, CEO of Bella Web Design smoothly segues into our Bella Buzz podcast topic this week, using the Share button for distributing content. With co-host Joe Magennis, principal of Fluid Media in Atlanta, we chat about the mutually beneficial practice of sharing, re-tweeting and forwarding content on the web.

The greatest reward for content producers is to create something that readers, viewers or listeners find compelling enough to pass along to their social networks. As the momentum builds for the content, it continues to get shared with others on the strength of the message or entertainment value that it brings… the content becomes Viral

It is an unrealistic expectation to intentionally design content to become viral or share-worthy.  A small business owner should never embark on the process of creating content hoping that it will become the next "Chocolate Rain" video which has received over 38 million views!  Content should be developed strictly with the intention of communicating a message to a target audience.  If that audience deems the content to be worthy of sharing with others, they will pass it along in order to provide some value to the next recipient.

The share functionality has actually been with us on the internet well before the tools of Web 2.0.  The simple act of forwarding an email was the first level of sharing that we encountered.  Now that we are in the social era of internet services we have Re-Tweets on Twitter, we have numerous Share plugins for blog posts such as Share This used on both bellawebdesign.com and befluid.com and we even could consider a Trackback or a Link as a form of sharing content from someone else's blog.

Think about it for a second. How valuable is it to you as a content producer to have your audience share your content within their own circle of influence? Since we are much more likely to trust the content passed along from someone we know, we are much more likely to consume it.  If you employ the old shampoo commercial axiom of "tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends", your message will be transmitted far beyond your own social graph and will start to carry serious significance in your niche.

As with all things social these days, we are also living in a very collaborative environment. A good practice is to contribute to the distribution of other people's content by using the share button yourself.  Re-tweeting, Stumbling or Digging an article, linking to a blog post in Facebook or on your own blog will not go unnoticed and might lead to a reciprocal sharing of your content. 

Don't forget to use the reporting functions from URL shorteners such as Bit.LY or the dashboard within Share This to determine if you are producing the right kind of content. Witnessing small share numbers might indicate that you need to refine your content so that it communicates more meaningful information to your audience. You can also use the Hootsuite service to review the success of your campaign ROI, shared items is another measure of effectiveness.

We are interested in finding out from you what you would like us to share, we would love to see in the comments any topics or ideas that we can address in the podcast.  Thanks for Listening!

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You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

A Conversation with Online Conferencing Company Founder Stephanie McKee of Whistletree

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Our guest on The Bella Buzz podcast this week is Stephanie McKee from Whistletree, an audio conferencing and webinar enabling company. Hosts Desiree Scales and Joe Magennis first encountered Stephanie when they participated in the weekly SBBuzz.biz twitter chat, which we have discussed here in previous episodes.

During this past week's chat, the topic turned towards podcasting and various tools to use for turning conversation into digital content.  After the chat was completed we decided to invite Stephanie on the show to tell us a bit about the company's services.

First we hear about how Stephanie and her husband Ed, who is a founder and technical lead for WhistletreeWhistletree came up with the name while visiting Hawaii.  They came across a giant monkey pod tree that inspired the graphical branding of the company.

As with all good business ideas, the concept arose as a response to a need in the marketplace for a quality business to provide these telecom services.  The target audience that gravitates towards Whistletree tends to be clientele who are doing frequent multi user training calls.

Users can record a conference call via telephone or Skype, and upon completion the conversation is turned into an MP3 file and distributed through typical podcasting networks. The call can be listened to again via a phone call, or embedded into a blog or a web site.

Organizations who are having budgetary confinements to traveling are taking advantage of this service as well, gathering and communicating via a conference call format.

Whistletree also features an Authors' Corner at their web site where a current book will be featured by the company, and they invite an author to participate in a call where readers can interact directly. 

The company has been in business just over two years, with Ed having begun coding on the system about 2.5 years ago.  Whistletree prides themselves on excellent customer service and are responsive with help regarding any issue that may arise.

We were happy to have Stephanie on The Bella Buzz podcast, and wish her and the entire team the best of luck with their business!

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.