Monthly Archives: November 2009

Social Marketing News 11/25/09

(Covering the social news from 11/14 through 11/24)

With 2010 just on the horizon, we’re beginning to hear social media predictions and the new strategies that advertisers will be rolling out next year. Here’s a quote I liked from Chris Bruzzo, VP of brand, content and online at Starbucks: “People are saying this is going to be a big year for social media and we’re a microcosm of that. Whereas last year it was a curiosity, this year it’s a core part of the program.” Starbucks is planning to cut back on its TV spend and invest quite a bit more in social media. Read about their strategy in this story from Ag Age.

LinkedIn has been busy working on sweeping changes to its features and services. Earlier in the month Social Marketing News reported LinkedIn’s plans for a homepage redesign and the new ability to link Twitter with LinkedIn updates. On Monday, LinkedIn announced that it will open its API to third party developers, a strategy that has been critical to the rapid success of other social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Last week, LinkedIn announced a new program for advanced group pages, called Custom Groups. Currently, LinkedIn group pages are little more than discussion forums. With Custom Groups, organizations can transform their group page to a central, multimedia social hub that will allow groups to post videos, white papers and feeds. The program costs $50,000 a month, however LinkedIn will include advertising support to drive traffic to the custom groups. Lastly, LinkedIn and Microsoft are joining forces to sync Outlook contacts with LinkedIn information. In the 2010 release, Outlook users will be able to quickly view LinkedIn user activity and information of their contacts as a subpane of the email window. These are very smart updates to the LinkedIn product offering, and will ensure that LinkedIn becomes an even more powerful business social networking tool for individuals as well as businesses and organizations.

A couple small updates on the Twitter front:

The Twitter Geolocation API has been officially released, however we won’t see anything new on just yet. For now, the release is significant for several third party developers that have built applications that will utilize the Geolocation feature, like Foursquare and Seesmic.

Twitter has also made a small improvement to its new Twitter Lists feature, allowing users to add descriptions to their Lists. It’s a nice-to-have, but personally I can’t wait to see Twitter roll out the ability to search Lists. I believe the lack of a search feature is the single most crippling disadvantage for Twitter Lists.

HootSuite is a Twitter publishing and management tool preferred by many, including myself. New updates launched this week allows HootSuite users to connect their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts for the first time. In addition, HootSuite users can create new columns to pull in their Twitter Lists feeds.

YouTube also released new updates this week:

YouTube Direct is a new platform for professional news organizations to solicit and utilize video content from citizen journalists. It’s an API that news media can incorporate on their existing websites to allow individuals to submit video coverage around current events. The news organization’s moderate can preview submitted material on a backend interface, then choose whether to approve the material to be linked from their site. Get the details from MediaPost.

Google has matched its speech recognition technology with YouTube’s caption feature to unveil a new automated video captioning service. Laurie Sullivan from MediaPost explains how the new service will have a big impact on SEO.

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The Interactive Producer’s Approach to Thanksgiving Dinner


I have reason to suspect that many home cooks are natural born project managers. Consider the extensive detailed planning involved in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The end goal of pulling off a successful Turkey dinner is made possible only through the succession of individual tasks (the cooking and preparing of the Turkey and various appetizers, side dishes, and desserts; the setting of the table and preparing the house for guests; and the careful management of family drama), each requiring resources and careful time management. Poor planning leads to a chaotic fiasco in the kitchen, and the grumbling disappointment of your project stakeholders: the family and friends that arrive to partake in the grand feast.

In managing interactive projects, chaos is not a situation that a diligent Interactive Producer will tolerate. And like websites, widgets and apps, the food not only has to look good, but it has to function well and meet spec: i.e. the food should smell good and taste good, have the proper texture and form, and be consumed by the user/guest in the expected manner. Where an average person may tremble at the thought of choreographing such a delicate and important family tradition, the Interactive Producer (or the natural born project manager) goes forth boldly, meeting the challenge with structure and efficiency.

As a newlywed, I found it appropriate this year to volunteer to cook the family Thanksgiving dinner and contribute to a great family tradition. And as an Interactive Producer, I’m bursting with confidence and excited to take on this new project. As I posted on Facebook last week, I’ll use my “mad project management skillz to plan Thanksgiving dinner.” I even made a Gantt chart.

An unconventional approach to a traditional holiday? Perhaps. You would be hard pressed to find a Gantt chart in Norman Rockwell’s famous “Freedom from Want.” However, the skills I’ve learned as an Interactive Producer give me clear direction for something that I’ve never attempted, eliminating the fear and apprehension that I might otherwise experience taking on this task.

This is my methodology. First, before anything else, state the objective. “Coordinate and deliver a complete Thanksgiving Day meal to feed, satisfy, and impress 10+ family members by the deadline of 3:00 pm, Thursday, November 26th 2009.” Nice.

Next, identify the project requirements. At the bare minimum is the turkey. However, a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by moi would include the whole enchilada: not just any turkey meat but a whole 20-pound oven roasted turkey, brined for at least 12 hours. Of course, homemade stuffing and turkey gravy to accompany the main attraction. Butter and herb mashed potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole. Don’t forget the rolls, the cranberry sauce, and maybe another veggie dish – corn pudding perhaps? Other project requirements include hors d’oeuvres (to hold over those fasting family members counting down the hours and minutes to the turkey carving), a salad/soup course, and who could forget dessert? I’m thinking stuffed baked apples with vanilla ice-cream, and my homemade pumpkin pie. Yum.

Next, project scheduling. I have a standard kitchen oven, two portable roaster ovens, a stove and a crock pot to do the heavily lifting. There’s a range of dependencies and deadlines associated for each recipe, or task. And these culinary tasks require specific resources, the aforementioned ovens, stove and crockpot. Resources also include my suppliers (i.e. the grocery store), human resources (i.e. Mom), and informational sources (my favorites:, and when all else fails, Google it!).

With my tasks, deadlines, resources and dependencies identified, a project schedule can be created easily using one of my favorite programs, Microsoft Project. With Project, I have been able to create a simple (it doesn’t look simple but I swear to you it is) Gantt chart. Interestingly, I had to change my tasks from the default “As soon as possible” constraint type to “As late as possible.”  Otherwise Project would suggest that I preheat my oven two days in advance of the next step! Food projects are unique in this way, digital assets do not go stale or cold the way that food does.

Using my Gantt chart, I can clearly see that certain dishes like the corn pudding and sweet potatoes can be started earlier in the timeline, to create efficient and reduce the number of tasks that must be completed in the last few hours before dinner. This is a time savings made obvious only when I had a roadmap for the project. Though I’m sure a seasoned Thanksgiving cook would have realized this much sooner and without so much work. This kind of sophisticated project planning comes natural to them.

And for those who may not be quite ready for a sophisticated project like Thanksgiving dinner, there’s always the alternative: outsourcing. (i.e. Chinese takeout).

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Rachelle’s Thanksgiving Dinner Gantt Chart (PDF)

Fed may regulate employer access to social media sites

The Genetic Information Non discrimination Act (GINA) went into effect on 11/21 and set the stage for federal policy on the use of social networking sites like Facebook, Linked-in and MySpace in employment decisions. Among other things, GINA prohibits employers from deliberately acquiring genetic information relating to their employees and applicants.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with issuing the implementing regulations that will provide teeth to the GINA Act. While the Act became effective on 11/21, the regulations remain under consideration and could be issued any day. The EEOC has solicited comments on whether an employer violates the Act by viewing an employee’s or applicant’s personal website or social networking site. Some commentators are looking for a bright line rule removing the possibility that employers could stumble across prohibited genetic information like a history of Cancer. The comments are lining up about 50:50 in favor of and against employers being able to view sites like Facebook, MySpace and Linked-in to gather information about employees.

On the employer side, the Small Business Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others, are saying that publically available information contained in social networking sites should be available to employers without running afoul of the law.

Other commentators, including the ACLU and FDIC, advocate that access and use of this information on these sites should be prohibited.

The time for comments has closed and the EEOC is expected to vote any day on the implementation regulations consistent with the 11/21 effective date of the GINA Act. There are a number of possibilities:

• The EEOC could effectively prohibit employers from viewing social networking sites because an employer would not be able to filter the information viewed on a social networking site to ensure the employer only accesses permissible material.
• The EEOC could condone the practice provided the employer does not use the information to make otherwise unlawful employment decisions, such as refusing to hire a candidate on the basis of his or her race.
• The EEOC could add “intent” requirements which would further define when the law has been broken depending on how the information acquired by employers is utilized.

What’s significant here is that this is the first time a federal body, the EEOC, will take a position about employers using social networking sites in employment decisions. So, for employers out there who like to check Facebook, Linked-in and MySpace to read musings or other posts by current or prospective employees to see if there are any red flags, that tool could be eliminated by the EEOC.

If the EEOC does restrict employers’ use of social media in employment decisions, failure to comply with GINA would be enforced by the employee filing a complaint with the EEOC. This is a necessary pre-cursor to the filing of a lawsuit that could result in compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees and injunctive relief including back pay or reinstatement in the case of a termination.

Friday Inspiration – 11/20/2009

Just a few of the wonderful and weird things we discussed at this week’s creative meeting.

One of the best Facebook promotions ever by Ikea.

Now you can help brands advertise and get paid.

A great blog for typography.

Rob Schwartz, chief creative officer of Chiat Day, has put together a great bunch of Andy hopefuls.

A very creative way of hiding cable.

Sleazy bubbles make me feel fine.

An eye exercise to make you more creative.

Hungryman makes a chair fly.

Something we didn’t know existed – a page with all the malls that have gone bust.

I am addicted to iphone Scrabble. So I like this.

No longer available in the States. Hitting a bitch was that popular.

Beef Magazine; why?

A simple and tasty McDonald’s ad.

Here’s mud in your eye.

I’m being held captive by a sign.

McCann welcomes the leftovers at Sterling Cooper.

He’s a Guitar Hero in the body of a zero. Don’t we all feel that way?

Check out the funny ads but only vote for Chinchilli Day.

That’s all for this week. Thanks and good day.

Strike a Pose

A little while ago, during a Sunday night NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles, something happened that the NFL didn’t like. Brent Celek, a tight end for the Eagles, caught a touchdown pass, gave the ball to the officials, looked around to be sure he knew where NBC’s cameras were positioned, and promptly struck the Captain Morgan pose.

Is Celek just a big fan of the spiced rum that’s being aggressively marketed to 21- to 49-year-old males across a broad spectrum of televised sporting events? Maybe. But that’s not why he did it. Turns out he was doing it for charity. Really.

You see, Captain Morgan was in the midst of a promotion wherein the company would donate $10,000 to a charity called Gridiron Greats each time a player is caught on camera striking the pose during a game. The plan was to escalate the contribution to $25,000 for a playoff game and 100 grand for any player going “Morgan” on us in the Super Bowl. If you haven’t heard of it, Gridiron Greats is devoted to helping former NFL players who have fallen on hard financial or medical times since leaving the game. Certainly a charity one would think the NFL would be totally behind.

And they are. Except when it comes to players striking promotional poses during games. The league has informed Celek and the rest of its players that any further such displays will be looked upon with extreme prejudice. To its credit, the league did not fine Celek … this time. But they also warned that any future promotional posing – by anybody – would result in significant fines. So it’s “Farewell My Captain” for NFL end zones and telecasts in the future.

That’s fine. It’s their league and their product and their games. They have multibillion-dollar contracts in place with Fox, ABC, ESPN and NBC to provide a platform on which advertisers will pay billions of their own dollars to market their products to the league’s millions of fans. Some have even referred to the NFL’s stadia as the world’s largest television studios. Hell, the league even has its own cable network. Promotion, marketing and selling are what they are all about.

But in explaining the decision to a reporter from Yahoo!® Sports, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said something interesting. “A company can’t pay a player to somehow promote its product on the field. Every league has the same rule….”

Whoa, hang on there. Every league has the same rule? Really? Has he watched a Major League Soccer game recently? Did he not notice that the players on every team have their primary sponsor’s name emblazoned across the front of their jersey, in the grand tradition of Europe and South America’s premier soccer clubs?
And maybe he’s never seen a NASCAR race, where each car is basically a rolling billboard. The cars are never just “cars,” but always “ the #20 Home Depot Toyota” or “the #88 Amp Energy/National Guard Chevrolet,” and where every race ends in the comical Victory Lane spectacle of the winning driver continually putting on and taking off the hats of as many sponsors as possible in a ritual known as the “hat dance.” Coke even has a deal with the drivers on its payroll that pays extra if they are seen drinking a Coke product on camera during a pre- or post-race interview. Watch a race sometime. You’ll be amazed how thirsty these guys are when the cameras are on.

In professional tennis, you won’t see a player – male or female – without logos all over their shirts, their shoes, their equipment bags and stenciled onto the strings of their rackets. On the PGA Tour, Ryan Moore has received a lot of ink lately because he doesn’t have a bunch of logos and sponsorship deals. He’s the exception, the weird one.

OK, I know what you’re thinking. That’s soccer and stock car racing. Fringe sports. And tennis and golf are – well – tennis and golf. The NFL is different. Or is it? Next time you watch a game, look at the headsets the coaches are all wearing. You’ll notice that they are all Motorolas, just brimming with big, camera-friendly Motorola logos. Watch a lot of games. Tell me if you see any Samsung or Panasonic or Hitachi headsets.
I’ll save you the time. You won’t. All Motorola. Getting plenty of camera time, on the sidelines and in the booths, all during the game. Do you think that’s a coincidence? Do you think Motorola is getting all of that for free? Didn’t think so.

So there is promotion going on during the game and on the field (well, on the sidelines, anyway). The difference is, the league is controlling this promotion. The Captain Morgan stunt took them by surprise. If there’s one thing the NFL doesn’t like, it’s surprises (to be fair, Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL aren’t big fans of surprises either).

Don’t get me wrong. The NFL is a multibillion-dollar enterprise. They are absolutely correct in wanting to control all aspects of the product they put on the field, and broadcast into our homes. They owe it to the sponsors who pay them for the exclusivity a contract with the league ensures. But to insist that there is no on-field promotion going on in professional sports – even in their own – is asking us to believe something that the visual evidence says simply isn’t so.

That said, you have to tip your cap to Captain Morgan for giving it a shot. Taking on the monolith that is the NFL takes no small amount of guts. I honestly don’t know if they are currently an advertiser in NFL games. If they are, I certainly hope the league is willing to let bygones be bygones and allow them to continue to do so. The company has said that they will continue to look for ways to raise money for Gridiron Greats, which is a very worthy cause. Maybe the NFL and Captain Morgan can collaborate on a mutually acceptable way to raise brand awareness for their spiced rum while raising money for the league’s sometimes-forgotten former players. That would be a goal very much worth pursuing.

Jay Leno is TV’s new punching bag

Broadcast TV has had plenty of issues over the years, from media fragmentation to the Internet to DVRs, but when NBC announced last December that Jay Leno (after getting replaced from his own show with Conan O’Brien) would get his own show – again – five nights a week during prime time, the media world had a lot of questions.

Was it simply a way to tie up Jay Leno and keep him from going elsewhere (ABC was rumored to be looking to moving him to late night)? Or was it a cost-cutting effort to alleviate the network from previous lackluster 10 p.m. programs? Time magazine declared that, “Jay Leno is the future of TV – seriously.”

The decision to forgo scripted drama and all the costs that come with it (writers, actors, producers) was essentially a white flag from the network. NBC is telling the world that they don’t want to even try to produce original programming – it costs too much; they just want to get by. TV shows with expectations set so low that if a scripted drama earned them, they would be cancelled.  This is now considered acceptable by the new standards.

What the network didn’t seem to consider is the systemic bleeding occurring from that one program. According to, NBC has lost 1.82 million (or 49%) of their adults 18-49 audience at 10 p.m. so far this season. Law & Order, which was a time-slot winner last year at 10 p.m., now comes in last place at 9 p.m. NBC clearly underestimated the halo effect that this kind of programming would have at the 10pm time period.

Gannett, who owns six NBC affiliates throughout the country, saw their stock downgraded due to concerns that broadcast advertising revenue will slow.  This is due mainly to the time slot of The Jay Leno Show, which precedes news programming. Local news ratings traditionally live and die by their lead-in program. With the audience Leno is pulling in, affiliates too are worried about their local news ad rates. Instead of being the “future of TV” and Time-magazine announced, recent headlines have said quite the opposite: The Jay Leno Show Is Taking NBC Down – Yahoo! TV; “Is It Time to Pull the Plug on Leno?” – ABC News; and “Is Leno’s 10 p.m. experiment nearing an end?” – MSNBC.

Leno’s show is undergoing some revamping and retooling, moving headlines to the beginning of the program and essentially making it more like the old Tonight Show. The question is, how long will NBC hang on to this programming model? Saving money on programming is one thing, but what is the cost to the NBC brand?

Social Marketing News 11/14/09

It’s been known for a while that Rupert Murdoch has no love for Google. However, this week was the first time the leader of the second largest media conglomerate (News Corp.) said that he will prevent his news from being indexed by Google. That’s including sites like It sounds like Murdoch is quite serious about the claim, even though sites like could lose 25% of its traffic or more, according to some estimates.

Then a few days later, TechCrunch Europe published this article detailing a secret presentation by Microsoft to various leaders of UK news media. According to the article, Microsoft is developing something known as ACAP, “Automated Content Access Protocol,” to index content like news stories on Bing in a more robust way than Google’s robots.txt protocol. If a significant amount of news media corporations get on board with the new indexing protocol, it will have a serious damaging effect on Google’s popular news search,

Though it may be bad news for Google in the news media industry, the communications industry might be looking up. On Thursday Google announced that it had purchased Gizmo5, which will power Google Voice with VoIP capabilities. This move makes Google Voice a serious competitor for Skype, and could also be a really nice addition to Google Wave.

In the same week, Google also purchased the popular mobile advertising platform, AdMob, for $750 Million. With this deal, Google now has a powerful mobile display advertising product that it can add to its existing mobile search advertising offering.

Twitter is in the process of rolling out its Retweet feature, though the public launch of the feature may take a little longer than expected. Prior to this announcement, retweeting has been an established norm in the Twittershere but has not been officially supported by the Twitter API.  Due to its enormous popularity the Twitter developers have been working on incorporating the retweet action to become an official part of, but apparently they are still trying to figure out exactly how to do it.

Now here’s an interesting story in the world of social gaming. Personally, I avoid Facebook games like Farmville, Mafia Wars and Sorority Life like the plague, but I’ve always known that these games are popular among my friends. And I wouldn’t have guessed that a game maker like Playfish, the creators of games like Pet Society and Word Challenge, could be worth a whooping $400 Million. Last Monday, Electronic Arts (EA) acquired Playfish in a move that signifies just how lucrative social gaming has become. Be sure to check out this Mashable article, The Future of Gaming: 5 Social Predictions.

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Friday Inspiration

Some of the interesting and wonderful things we talked about at Friday’s Creative meeting.

MGM Grand will reward you for your sins. And why not?

Something we didn’t know existed – There is a Web site where you can watch all the ships out on the ocean.

Alex Bogusky started his own Web show.

Something we didn’t know existed – There is a Web page with a map of every theme park.

Some really big stuff: Here and here.

Is Boxee the next big thing?

The Walmart Outbreak

Mobile Strippers is just one of many exciting things that can happen in Las Vegas. Due to safety issues this exciting part of Vegas lasted about a week.

Did the Medium/GMC pairing go too far or was it perfect? 

Esquire’s Augmented Reality Issue.

Tiny Cows:


A really great page for designers.

How to sell something with enthusiasm:

That’s all for this week. See you next Friday.

Make your own news in 2010

It’s that time again when we set marketing and business goals for the coming year and some of us couldn’t be in a bigger hurry to break away from Old Man 2009. A rotten year for businesses? Uh, yes. A challenging year for marketing? Depends on which tactics mean the most to you.

Many people hire a Public Relations team to help supplement their advertising reach. And while very cost effective compared to buying billboards and air time, this year news outlets also experienced a business bust. Newspapers continued to file bankruptcy and find themselves without buyers. Broadcasters cut staff in response to fewer advertisers and viewers. And more of us turned to online news on-demand. Call it a perfect storm or a bubbling crucible, but it all means that your PR tactics should evolve in 2010 beyond the connotations we have now.

While traditional news outlets still are considered more trustworthy than social media sites, 28% of the public  say they will turn to a search engine when news is happening and they want to know more. If you don’t have your side of the story posted online somewhere, only one side of the story gets told – and it could be the side without your key message. Sure, it’s exciting to be on TV and push your message out to hundreds of thousands of viewers, but TV is prone to tight editing with just a 9-second soundbite from you. And unless the station or newspaper archives your story online indefinitely, it will soon be forgotten, too. Businesses in 2010 will do well to also follow the time-efficient, cost-efficient, targeted approach of making your own news and sharing it online.

I’m encouraging PR clients in 2010 to think and act like a newsroom. Find the compelling stories about how your business is breaking the trend or pushing innovation or reaching milestones, then act fast and create the story. PR practitioners can help craft online articles, blog posts, social networking updates and video or audio podcasts that are placed on your business’ website, corporate newsroom or unique URL. By also harnessing advertising or social media channels, others can be alerted to the self-produced news. Not only will you control the message completely (without risk of a reporter’s editing or error), but you also have more control over how long it lives online. And you can seek comments or respond without being left out of the conversation.

Let’s face it, as traditional media undergoes more changes that hurt the ability to win air-time or ink, we’ll only see fewer places to share a message with fewer reporters to tell it. But before you start crying at this funeral, you might just pop open the champagne for a newborn approach in 2010. You can create it, tell it, target it and share your self-produced message like never before.

Social Marketing News 11/7/09

Welcome to the Social Marketing News double-hitter! This week’s post will also cover last week’s headlines in social media. For the first time since I’ve been writing the Social Marketing News, I missed last week’s recap due to illness as well as being out of town. So here’s a two-for-one post to make up for it.

Twitter’s new List feature has been the talk of the town in social media during the past two weeks.  I first made mention of the new feature in the 10/23 SMN post.  Since then, there’s been thousands of articles and blog posts written up about Lists. Some of my favorites are these: Twitter Lists:  FAQ and StrategiesTwitter Lists and Real-Time Journalism4 Ways News Organizations are Using Twitter Lists, and The Brilliance of Twitter Lists and Suggestions for Improvement.  Twitter Lists are fantastic for grouping tweeps based on interest or profession, organizing various Twitter streams into topic categories, and allowing users to quickly access specific tweeps without having to be a follower. More over, an unexpected benefit from Lists is the creation of another way to judge popularity, authority and/or influence of every Twitter user: each Twitter profile displays how many times a user has been “Listed”.  In addition to how many followers one may have, the number of Lists that a user has been listed on gives us a quantitative value of their Twitter social status.

Lists have been praised as the most useful improvement ever made on Twitter. However, the TwitterPeek is a new gadget hailed as one of the most useless Twitter tools of all time. The TwitterPeek is a small, smartphone-sized device meant for one thing, and one thing only: connect you to Twitter. It doesn’t do anything that just about any smartphone can’t do, and I believe the price tag is a little steep for a one trick pony: $99 for six months of service ($8/month after that), or $199 for a lifetime service plan. I much rather have a new Coach wallet, thanks.

On Wednesday Apple announced that it’s iTunes App Store has reached 100,000 iPhone apps. But as ReadWriteWeb reports, new data from AppsFire reveals that of those 100,000 available apps, only about 20% of them are currently used. The other 80% of apps are not actively installed on iPhones, iPods or iTouch devices. Classic 80/20 rule. Click here for the long-tail graph from AppsFire.

Following the news of Bing and Google’s deals with Twitter to include tweets in search result a few weeks ago, Google announced a new Google Labs experiment its calling Google Social Search. Here’s the idea: you create a social graph on your Google user profile by linking all of your social networking accounts like Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed as well as Google products like YouTube, Picasa and Blogger. Once your social graph is complete, information from those networks will be integrated into Google search results.  When you search Google for a product, service, destination, or anything else, recommendations and comments from your friends, family and other contacts would be displayed alongside the normal Web results on the search page. In this way, the Google search engine becomes a recommendation engine. If this idea becomes mainstream, it will be a game-changer for SEO and SEM marketers, as organic search listings will compete against word of mouth from the user’s social circle. Watch the demo video and get all the details straight from the Google blog, and be sure to check out this great article from ClickZ: Social Media, Meet Search.

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