Google Chrome Extensions – Fourth Edition

One of the most attractive characteristics of Google Chrome when it launched in 2009 was its speed.  Everyone I knew had already added enough plugins to Firefox to choke the browser as it tried to load.  Even worse, Firefox add-ons, which the industry now calls plugins or apps, were an integral part of the browser’s loading time.  A misbehaving program was enough to crash your browser, potentially losing work and certainly losing time.  By comparison, Google Chrome seemed mysteriously sleek, like a racehorse running on an empty track early in the morning.  Even better was the way Chrome handled crashes for its extensions, allowing one part of the program to crash while keeping the browser intact.

I vowed to never add so much baggage to Chrome to cause the program to lag.   And I’ve been fairly faithful, pruning unused extensions whenever they’re unused.  That cyber-take on the “stop sending the report and see who complains”  has kept Chrome running fast.   The time to launch Chrome on my system, the only one I care about, is about 3 seconds.   Firefox typically runs 5-6 seconds unless it’s updating an add-on, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was apparently tested for speed using a sundial.   That’s one takeaway for you as a small business leader:  it’s nice to know how software and machines perform in magazine testing, but you should ultimately care about how they perform in your office.

Since then, Big Thinking has published a list of must-have Google Chrome Extensions with a short explanation of each.  The list was divided last year into extensions for everyone and extensions for marketers, and that’s still a method that works well for me and readers who have commented.   Since the first list in December 2009, only StumbleUpon has been on the list each time, but the venerable page recommendation engine is on my endangered list because I know I’m not using the tool very often any longer.  Whether the lack of use is due to lack of time or burnout after years is irrelevant because it will be uninstalled if still aboard Chrome when it’s time for this summer’s list.

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Size Matters For YouTube

The axiom of recall and comprehension rising when more senses are engaged has a factual basis.    A Harvard Medical School publication urges subscribers to actively engage, stating “The more senses you use when you learn something, the more of your brain will be involved in retaining the memory.”

That’s one reason why YouTube clips go viral more than plain HTML pages.

You may read something you want to share, but when a video plays and engages you with video and sound, the effect is much more pronounced.  And experts say that’s what helps boost memory and retention.

Now YouTube has announced that the new limit for videos is 15 minutes.   Five extra minutes of video is huge.

Success stories surrounding video are all over the web.

A company selling $400 blenders for the home market made its case with a funny viral series and laughed all the way to the bank.

The debut album from an amateur singer pushing 50 years old outsold Lady Gaga and Rihanna on both sides of the ocean.

A teenage and her friends began uploading makeup videos.  Their tutorials go viral and a19 year old becomes Lancome’s video makeup artist.

Your takeaway as a small business leader is that you are probably not doing enough video outreach.   How-tos are big.  So is anything entertaining.  An entertaining how-to is a ticket for success.  Consider these examples:

  • A catering service could shoot video on how to frill up a table for an intimate dinner for two.  How do you get the napkins to do that?  What about the candles?  And, of course, the food.
  • A towing service might show a series of simulated roadside problems and how to deal with each.
  • A consultant can upload past talks that they’ve given to public audiences.
  • Any retail store can give product demonstrations of any merchandise.

We know that big television networks used pretty people, but YouTube has the been great democratizing force in video.  If you have something worthwhile to say, there’s an audience for you no matter what you look or sound like.

And now you have 5 minutes more to get your message across.

Google Up, Yahoo Down, World Continues Spinning

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Google’s share of U.S. search was up again last month

Oh, you’ve heard it?  Good.  Google up a fraction, according to comScore.  Yahoo down a fraction.  Microsoft holding around 11%.  Ask and AOL combine for a little over 6%.

It’s a big world.  Billions of searches.  One tiny percentage of one percent is huge.   And that’s what comScore calls the core search market.  Add in properties like YouTube, which has more searches than Yahoo! according to this study and Google laps the field.  comScore sizes overall search at 22.2 billion searches with Google properties accounting for 60% of search and Yahoo! accounting for 11%.

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There are really two places you need to be aware of as a businessperson:  craiglist at just under 3% and Facebook closing in on 2%.  I think the Facebook number is grossly underreported.  Even if Facebook’s search number is accurate, comScore says Facebook search traffic grew 10% between January and February.

When you’re dealing in the hundreds of millions of anything, ten percent is a staggering number.

Fast Flip: Google’s Newsstand

Google Fast Flip

Google's Future Newsstand - Image by Esteban Trigos via Flickr

I love magazine subscriptions.

I especially love free magazine subscriptions, but I love all sorts of print.   Magazines, newspapers, catalogs.   How many marketers do you know who still keep a copy of Famous Catalogs on their bookshelf between a PHP book and Robert Spector’s book about Amazon‘s business model called Get Big Fast?

In a world of Kindles, on demand cable television and smartphones, print may be dying as a media, but the print layout is something many still seek.  Google Reader add-on Feedly is maybe the best RSS platform I’ve ever used.   And now Google itself enters the fray with Google Fast Flip, currently in development in Google Labs, but available to all.

Fast Flip is just about the coolest news platform ever.   Enter the microsite to be greeted by your choice of periodical, subject or popular stories (with links to the most popular in each category).  The periodicals are simply A-list: The Washington Post, BBC and The New York Times are just a handful of the news periodicals available.  Subject-specific periodicals like Billboard, Cosmopolitan and Popular Mechanics are also here.

Fast Flip gives a thumbnail view of a periodical page.  Text links float around the top or bottom (Google is always testing, after all) although simply clicking the thumbnail itself brings forward a copy of that publication’s online article.    Subjects are on target for world events.  Today’s topics include Nigeria, Facebook, Pakistan, Tsunami — actual news.  A recommended link will undoubtedly make smart use of Google’s algorithims and create a newsstand populated by your previous choices, biases and likes.

In its quest for increasingly granular micro-targeting, Google started with big brands and refines their content to the reader’s biases.  What’s not to like about a fast Google rendering with a familiar New York Times logo showing that someone was at least paid to edit and fact check the article?

Fastflip isn’t the end of print.  Print already ended.  We’re simply watching its slow death now.   But the thin-slicing of Google information about its users and search patterns are fast resulting in something that could easily converge with YouTube and challenge CNN or the BBC with enough video content.  That’s a future phase.  Right now, FastFlip seems content to be an electronic newsstand.

Executive Summary:  Google’s Labs features enhancements and new services you should stay on top of to see where the search giant is headed as it morphs into an information services company.  The latest foray, Fast Flip, reproduces the online pages of traditional print media in an appealing filmstrip layout.

Cool Content Ideas Can Drain Profit

Internet Evolution’s David Silversmith, who has guest blogged at Big Thinking for Small Business before, has folks buzzing about his article on the estimated drain YouTube creates on Google’s profits.

Silversmith authored a study projecting YouTube drains Google profits.

Silversmith authored a study projecting YouTube drains Google profits.

Silversmith used data from Bear Stearns (yes, they still exist) and Credit Suisse to calculate that Google is losing about $1.5 million each day.

There are indeed times when market conditions dictate a product or service launch before profit is expected.  I’ve worked at more than one organization for whom speed to market was key.  In at least one case, that wager paid off handsomely.   In others, well, we got to market fast and first.

No single rule exists for product development, especially in small business, except the iron clad law that cash is king.   Beyond that, spend it if you got it, but make sure the road to profitability, not the road to revenue, is clearly mapped. Too many times, our audits of a small business conclude with a recommendation that one or more programs be shuttered.  These might be affiliate programs with big admin costs that only have a handful of super affiliates.  Or perhaps a company offers a product extension that drags down profitability in an attempt to be as vertical as possible.

Virtual organizations can work.  So too can an organization teeming with specialized knowledge workers or service technicians.  Your company may invent a better widget, but if you build it,  you may not sell the darn thing.  That is precisely what Silversmith’s analysis at Internet Evolution shows about YouTube.

In one of the worst financial environments in several decades, Google gushed cash in Q4 of 2008, able to spend $5.3 billion and still finance everything thorough operating cash flow.   The search company’s current and quick ratios are 8.7.   Remember Microsoft?  Their ratios are at 1.5.  Which company can afford to let money flow out that fast?

But should they?   Who cares.  The question here is:  should you?   Knowing when it’s time to cut and run is a critical business skill to have.  We often spend so much time developing our businesses that we forget to test the floor for when an exit strategy is necessary.  Unless your business is generating billions in cash flow each quarter, leave YouTube for the big players and break down your own business’ service and product lines to see if you’ve got a cahs leak somewhere.

Perhaps our friends in Mountain View should heed Kenny Rogers’ advice from three decades ago right before the last economic crisis of this magnitude.  Thankfully, Google’s YouTube service let us watch Kenny sing with The Muppets at no charge.    You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em…

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