Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Searching for your company brand online?

Many a time, I’ve reiterated on this blog how important Google search results are to your online brand. You may recall the article in the Wall Street Journal, over a year ago, that announced you’re a nobody if your name doesn’t Google well.

In the age of Google, being special increasingly requires standing out from the crowd online. Many people aspire for themselves — or their offspring — to command prominent placement in the top few links on search engines or social networking sites’ member lookup functions.

What’s your company’s online brand?

Jeremiah writes in a recent post how integral a company search results are to their online brand. There are a couple of ways for professionals to build their online brand – building a blog and/or build out a LinkedIn profile. On a similar note, here are three possible ways for companies to strengthen their online brand:

1. Traditionally, companies have always focused their efforts on the development of the corporate website, which today is faced with the mandate to evolve.

2. Corporate blogs are an easier way for companies to maintain their corporate brand by allowing your different teams to keep your users updated. Here’s the LinkedIn blog, which features over 50 of my colleagues’ blog posts.

3. Using the same analogy as above (personal brand = blog + LinkedIn profile), there’s another way to reflect a company’s online brand – LinkedIn Company Profile, which we blogged about here.

LinkedIn Company Profiles

LinkedIn Company Profiles

What is a LinkedIn Company Profile?

Starting now, you’ll be able to see over 160,000 profiles of companies on LinkedIn, ranging from Fortune 500 companies (e.g. eBay) to philanthropic organizations (e.g. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) as well as LinkedIn’s own Company Profile page.

Company Profiles on LinkedIn is a succinct overview of a company’s industry data in combination with LinkedIn data along certain key metrics. You’ll get a better picture of it as I show you a quick demo and an overview, after the jump.

Does your company have a profile?

If you’re interested in this article you’ll also find these other posts I wrote interesting:

1. Building your brand online with LinkedIn – 3 starter steps
2. The easiest way to control your online reputation
3. I told you so, Google Search = Identity

Filed under: Miscellaneous

And, so can LinkedIn Answers…

Lauren from the, has a nice write-up on how social networking can be a small business’ friend when it comes to “professional networking”. She suggests LinkedIn Answers as an easy way to find quality answers to questions you have on macro topics. Actually,

Cynthia Trevino, a small-business owner who also maintains a blog called Small Company Big Image, needed to find a referral for a customer near San Francisco, about 500 miles away.

Guess where she found her answer. On LinkedIn Answers:

I went online to LinkedIn early that morning and posted this question to everyone who works in the Bay area,” she says, “and I got 20 responses within two hours.

Lauren then goes on to suggest that LinkedIn may not be the best forum to discuss issues on narrow topics such as handling payroll issues or firing an employee. But, I beg to differ. LinkedIn has probably the most extensive range of Answers on almost every professional topic under the sun.

Couple of things to keep in mind.

1. Search on LinkedIn is super-easy

LinkedIn Search

LinkedIn Search

Read more about it in this piece I wrote recently. Search through Answers to find Q&A threads on professional topics.

2. Even topics you may consider arcane are generally well-represented on LinkedIn, owing to the Long Tail of knowledge across different professional groups.

For e.g. the 2 examples suggested by Lauren have a depth of Q&A’s on LinkedIn that I was able to find with a simple search. Here are some questions on payroll issues and here are some on employee hirings/firings. In addition you can delve into categories such as Employment & Labor Law, Personell Policies, Career Management, etc…

So, what are you waiting for? Pick a topic and go searching for answers on LinkedIn. BTW, I work at LinkedIn as community evangelist. Follow me on Twitter.

Have you found an answer on LinkedIn you couldn’t find anywhere else. Share.

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Filed under: LinkedIn Features

Top 15 Free iPhone Productivity Apps (1.0 and 2.0)

This is the 3rd post in my coverage of iPhone apps. As Kara Swisher says: “Apple has built a platform for adults” although IMO the free ones, in the midst of the 59 productivity apps, cannot be easily discerned by the average user.

What one also forgets are the FREE productivity enhancing apps already existent in version 1.0 of the web app ecosystem. This post is meant to help you navigate free apps in the iPhone (1.0 or 2.0).

Brace yourself for the FREE iPhone productivity goodness at your fingertips (right after the jump).

iPhone productivity apps

iPhone productivity apps

I’ve broken down the productivity apps into 5 categories, which include Office style, Mobility, Lists, Tasks and Knowledge Apps.

I. Office Style Apps

When one says productivity, the first thing that comes to mind are office style apps that help us get the job done. You know, mail, docs, calendar and news consumption apps. And, it looks like Google has cornered the market in the iPhone with simple apps that enable you to very easily to extend your online experience to the mobile platform. Here are five of them.

1. Gmail

Of course an alternative would be to use the iPhone’s own mail client, which (in it’s latest avatar allows for POP and IMAP access.

iPhone's Mail Client

iPhone's Mail Client

2. Google Docs

If you use Google Docs and Spreadsheets regularly, their optimized iPhone client allows you to view all the documents created. Unfortunately, you cannot edit the documents as of today.

Paid Alternative: File Magnet (Read Mossberg’s review here)

FileMagnet, which costs $5, places a small program on your computer, and then wirelessly transfers any files you drag into it to the FileMagnet program on the phone. It works with Microsoft Word files, PDF files, images and more.

3. Google Calendar

Frequent users of Google Cal and iCal are probably aware that you can subscribe to separate Google calendars in iCal, which is then reflected both on your Macbook as well as your iPhone.

Another Free Alternative: iCal (Apple’s own existent iPhone/Mac app)

4. Google News (Google Reader)

Google Reader is the best RSS reader out there IMO, and their iPhone app further fine-tunes the service to provide you only the necessary information in summary form, yet allowing for starring, viewing entire content, sorting by feeds, tags and all other Reader goodness.

Another Free Alternative: NetNewsWire (Read Joel’s review here)

I’m a user of NetNewsWire on the Mac, so this app had me excited. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the experience I had hoped for, and not only that, but it won’t seem to download my entire collection of feeds as synced with Newsgator.

II. Mobility Apps

If you travel a lot, you need information at your finger tips without the hassle of navigating crappy mobile apps. On the iPhone the following three apps, helps you find information, people and places in a very user-friendly manner.

5. Google Search

And, the killer app of them all: Google’s prized search engine, fine tuned for the iPhone. Let me tell you, you’ve got to use this on the iPhone to feel its productivity in terms of time saved searching on your iPhone. There’s even a tiny scroller that’s used to provide a macro level overview of results to direct you.

Google's Search App

Google's Search App

The best part of it all, is the ability to search through your phone book on iPhone (which surprisingly thus far does not possess search capability).

Google's iPhone Book Search

Google's iPhone Book Search

Let me add a couple more Google Apps that are equally important productivity god-sends esp. when your job’s a traveling salesman.

6. Google Maps

Yet again, fine-tuned for the iPhone. The new version (even in the non 3G phones helps triangulate your location, hence allowing apps to serve you location specific data.

Google Maps on the iPhone

Google Maps on the iPhone

7. Google Chat (on the go)

Works flawlessly!

Google Chat on the go (iPhone)

Google Chat on the go (iPhone)

Alternative Free chat client: AIM (Read Mossberg’s review here)

It lacks some of the more rarified features of the PC or Mac versions, but does the basic text-chat thing quite well. One downside: because Apple isn’t allowing third-party programs to run constantly in the background, you can’t receive new messages in AIM while doing other things.

To learn how to set up different bookmarks for Google Apps on the iPhone, check out the Google Mobile blog.

III. Lists

There’s a slew of paid apps out there that allow you to make lists. But, the easiest way for you to take notes would have to be iPhone’s own native Notes app. A simple, no-frills solution to note taking. In addition, the 2.0 version has two new FREE apps that allow you to take notes with audio (Jott) and pictures (Evernote).

Since I’ve already reviewed these two apps, I’m not going to repeat myself. Check out the reviews here.

8. iPhone Notes

9. Jott

10. Evernote

IV. Tasks

This is the one area of productivity that I’d rather not get a free app, but rather a fully functional app. My choice has been to purchase the web based version of the RTM app, which plays well with Gmail (there’s a terrific Firefox plug-in that displays your tasks in Gmail).

But I digress, theirs was one of the best version 1.0 apps built for the iPhone made better by their ubiquity and ease of access, whether it’s on Google Apps or the iPhone. However, you can also access RTM for free in a not so great looking app, if you access this site here.

11. Remember the Milk ($20.00) – iPhone 1.0 web app

Alternative Paid version: OmniFocus ($19.99) – iPhone 2.0 web app (Read Joel’s review here)

OmniFocus is a great GTD task management application. It’s a “port” (and I use that word loosely) from Omni Group’s popular desktop application of the same name. Though it’s on the pricier end of the available iPhone apps, the functionality offered can be accounted for.

V. Knowledge Apps

What’s more important than knowing time, money, language and knowledge itself and having those at your easy disposal through apps that make that process simple. Here are four apps that help you do that, two of which belong to the native iPhone app system and the last two of which belong to the old iPhone 1.0 web app system but equally worthy of mention.

12. Clock

Ah, an app for the globe trotter in you. Well, how many times has setting up a meeting with disparate teams been a headache for you. I’ve always been impressed with how simple yet effective, the iPhone’s native clock app has been. I guess the screen shot below pretty much sums it all up.

iPhone Time

iPhone Time

13. Calculator

I know there are a lot of futile senseless paid apps out there that for e.g. allow you to calculate the tip in a restaurant. C’mon! You’ve got to be kidding me. The iPhone has the best calculator out there, which has been upgraded with a scientific calculator which reveals itself when you turn the iPhone.

iPhone's Basic Calculator

iPhone's Basic Calculator

Now, that must be a selling point for any student in any part of the globe. Screenshot below.

iPhone's Scientific Calculator

iPhone's Scientific Calculator

14. Dictionary

This is a terrific web app that formats the dictionary in such a way that it makes it very easy for me to pull up words, both from the dictionary and thesaurus, when I’m reading books and come across words that are mind-twisters.

iPhone Dictionary App

iPhone Dictionary App

15. Wikipedia

Looks like this web app comes from the same company. Formats the wikipedia in such a way that allows you to access it in a very user friendly manner formatted for the iPhone’s screen.

iPhone's Wikipedia Web App

iPhone's Wikipedia Web App

And, that pretty much covers it all, I’m sure. Wait… have I missed anything? Let me know if I have, by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post. Thanks for reading.

Are there any FREE iPhone productivity apps this list misses?

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Filed under: Miscellaneous

Apple’s foray into Corporate Blogging – Lame!

It pains me to say this, as one of Apple/Steve Jobsbig admirers, but it’s true. I have always been pretty vociferous in my attempt to get Apple blogging in an official capacity. I’ve always felt that blogging should originate from a need to communicate and converse with your legions of users and NOT as a crisis management tool.

However, Apple has chosen the latter. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Historically, Apple has shied away from blogging (e.g. the Apple vs. Cisco name trademark issue). More recently, Steve Jobs has blogged on two occasions (here’s the green apple example). In the latest example, Mr. Anonymous blogs after being instructed by his Steveness himself. I quote:

Steve Jobs has asked me to write a posting every other day or so to let everyone know what’s happening with MobileMe, and I’m working directly with the MobileMe group to ensure that we keep you really up to date.

What?! Anyways, first things first…

Where they got it right?

1. They promise regular postings a few times a week

2. Support from the higher echelons of the company, in this case Jobs himself, inspires trust

3. Provide exclusive breaking news

4. Honest transparency

Be assured people here are working 24-7 to improve matters, and we’re going to favor getting you new info hot off the presses even if we have to post corrections or further updates later.

5. Empathy

In the 14 days since we launched, it’s been a rocky road and we know the pain some people have been suffering.

Where they got it wrong?

Alright, that’s a good first step, but good next steps would be

1. Revealing who this new Fake Steve Jobs’ blogger is?

2. Have a consistent face/person associated with the blog.

3. Allow comments, which are obviously passed on to the teams involved.

Why is this a big deal?

1. Because they are Apple? And as the company that invented and made “product evangelism” a by-word in marketing, they can do way better.

2. I’ve always lamented the fact that my favorite tech company hasn’t stepped into corporate blogging yet, especially since they have such a passionate following. This is a tiny but important step towards a fuller embrace of corporate blogging at Apple. Or, so I hope.

As is expected, the whole blogosphere has gotten itself into a tizzy about Apple’s attempted entry into corporate blogging, with some like MobileCrunch pointing out its deficiencies and rightfully praising the effort. Here’s an example of a blog done right – Sony.

What do you think Apple could have done better? Or worse?

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Filed under: Business Blogging

LinkedIn + 50 Free Moo Cards = Business Cool

Look what I found through my daily twitter search for the LinkedIn brand. A bunch of folks talking about some free moo-linkedin business cards. I know what you’re thinking. You love Moo cards and you’d love to craft a real world business card with your LinkedIn profile. Then, here’s your chance to do that – for free!

(Image Source: Dark Matter)

Now for those of you who are wondering. What are Moo cards? Here’s a primer.

They are a style of mini-cards that use your photo stream from Flickr to create a snazzy line of cards or business cards. Here’s how they look.

But, I digress. If this piques your curiosity and if you’re a LinkedIn user, then here’s an opportunity to get 50 such business cards (with your own images from Flickr or Facebook or Etsy) printed for free. Now, I’ve no idea how long this limited offer lasts or if it’ll still be available when you check it out. But, it’s worth giving it a shot.

Go get your free LinkedIn-Moo business cards here

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Filed under: Miscellaneous

¿Hablas español? So does LinkedIn!

Do You? Speak Spanish? Well, I’ve learned French while in high-school and tried to speak really broken español in college, but nothing could prepare me for my terrible audition. A video published on the LinkedIn blog announcing the launch of LinkedIn en español, marks my debut. Check it out below.

I love the intro graphics, my colleague Rob‘s post-production skillz and of course the “flawless” Spanish pronunciation from yours truly as well as Dan, Reid, Patrick, and others. Well, why don’t you just check out the video for yourself. It’s your one chance to catch me spout Spanish in the middle of a terrible hair day! Too bad, we couldn’t get my colleague and friend, Adam Nash, into the mix.

For those who’d just like to check out the Spanish language LinkedIn. There are 2 easy steps:

1. Log into LinkedIn with your existing id.

2. Go here and switch the language field.

What do you think of the video? And, how about my Spanish? Do I have any hope?

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Filed under: LinkedIn Features

Three Top 10 iPhone App reviews you shouldn’t miss

It’s only been a week since my review of the Top 10 FREE iPhone apps, and since then I’ve amassed a ton of information on the coolest free apps on the store. And, I’m glad to announce, there’s not much that you’ve missed.

If you’re thirsting for more, here are three other reviews you shouldn’t miss. Interestingly, I found an interesting app I’d missed from each of the reviews below.

1. Walt Mossberg’s Top 10 iPhone Apps review (click here)

2. Lifehacker’s Top 10 Free iPhone Apps review (click here)

3. Mashable’s Top 10 iPhone Apps (click here)

Expect another iPhone post shortly. This time on the serious stuff.

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Filed under: Miscellaneous

Corporate Blogging in India

I’ve always wondered how corporate blogging continues to evolve in other regions of the globe, outside of the US. Two countries we constantly hear about these days are India and China. Yesterday’s discussion on the evolution of the corporate website yielded a few interesting comments, one from an Indian company entering the world of corporate blogs.

Jeremiah, whom I quoted in the post, clarified his take on the future of corporate websites:

To clarify, a corporate website is in it’s last throes in it’s current form. It’s about to soon evolve into something greater, where the focus is on customers and community –rather solely on products

And, soon Priyanka from Mahindra,  a $6.7 billion Indian automotive company mentioned the addition of a corporate blog with four distinct themes to their corporate communication efforts:

We at Mahindra & Mahindra have recently started a corporate blog, around 4 themes innovation, sustainability, globalization and customer centricity. Mainly we want to create a 2-way communication portal between our customers and us. Definitely corporate blogging seems to be a very interesting extension to a corporate website.

Feel free to share corporate blogging examples from other countries

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Filed under: Business Blogging

Should every company have a corporate blog?

In case you didn’t hear my panel at SXSW, let me reiterate: it depends! I was reading a blog post by the Freshleaf blog, which asks the question: “Should all companies have a corporate blog?“. Reminded me of the Q&A exchange I had with some participants at SXSW.

My response was that your social media strategy should revolve around specific marketing goals that you and your team have currently. It shouldn’t be a mandate  to start a corporate blog?! Having said that, I cannot advocate a much more effective marketing communications tool than a corporate blog under the appropriate conditions.

As my friend, Jeremiah, has mentioned many times – the corporate website is in it’s last throes, while a corporate blog (to me) presents an interesting alternative. And, that’s where the Freshleaf post outlines some of the reasons (please bear in mind, that they are a design agency helping design corporate websites for customers).

Here are some points I concur with:

1. Humanizing the corporation: Corporate blogs permit a human-human interaction, presenting a completely human side to business that corporate websites have NEVER been able to achieve.

2. Enabling conversations: Blogs also allow the blog post author (product manager, engineer, etc…) to chat directly with the users of the product in a public forum.

3. Current, up-to-date and easily refreshed data on the company: One wonders how long some corporate websites take to update. On the other hand, corporate blogs are as easy to update as writing an email!

4. Develop brand leadership: Have you ever thought of establishing your brand leadership in your industry space. Imagine writing blog posts on all the latest topics which are then easily indexable and searchable.

5. It’s just the tip of the iceberg: Having said all of the above, a corporate blog is but one of the many ways you can achieve the above. Complete social media immersion in a rapidly changing social ecosystem is essential for brands to survive in the customer mindset.

Does your company have a corporate blog? Why?

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Filed under: Best-of, Business Blogging

What are the five strengths of a Community Manager?

As I’d mentioned in my most recent post, last week was a mix of furious blogging and a quick break, which was forced by a ton of stuff at work, off-site meetings, speaking opportunities, etc… In the midst of all this structured chaos, I enjoyed taking the Clifton Strengths Finder Test (that I highly recommend).

Since I’m both a community guy and a blogger, I assume these themes are replayed in the work lives of other community managers/corporate bloggers as well. Here are my five key work themes arranged in order of importance and prominence to me as a professional:

#1: Positivity

People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.

#2: Connectedness

People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

#3: Communication

People who are especially talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.

#4: Includer

People who are especially talented in the Includer theme are accepting of others. They show awareness of those who feel left out, and make an effort to include them.

#5: Activator

People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.

Well, looks like I just found my dream job! Something I’ve been saying for a while. Interestingly, my role as a chief blogger benefit greatly from traits 2 and 4. The need for a community manager to take feedback from users to team and team to users is enabled by trait 5. And, positivity is an all-round indicator of how well a community manager can connect users with a positive brand impression & experience.

So, what do you think? Are there any traits of a community manager that’s missing here or that you think is critical. Would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment. Or better still…

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Filed under: Best-of, Miscellaneous