Thursday, February 23, 2012

Conflicting Natures of User Growth and Privacy Protection, and how companies must exercise caution to maintain business integrity and brand reputation

As social networking fast becomes the theme of burgeoning tech start-ups, user growth has been adopted as the standard metric for forecasting success. Major social networking sites such as Facebook have shown incredible user growth, currently owning more than 800 million registered users and projects to surpass the 1 billion mark by August 2012. Pinterest, the most talked-about social networking site in the recent months, has achieved the unprecedented 11 million registered users within the first year of its launch.

Pinterest has recently faced questions and challenges for not being completely forthright with its users. Pinterest swaps out the links behind product pins, using a third-party service called Skimlinks, with its own affiliate links. A pin that points to a product on Amazon, for instance, passes the clicker through to the product page with a Pinterest affiliate code thrown in for good measure. And should that person go on to make the purchase, Pinterest pockets the affiliate money. This type of affiliate marketing is commonplace; however, Pinterest makes a strategic error by not disclosing it to the public, and worst of all, getting caught for it. (Pinterest has since dropped the Skimlinks service within a week of exposure, a a testament to the vulnerability of brand reputation).

Pinterest’s story is an example of how user growth has an inverse relationship with user privacy. As user base of a social networking site like Pinterest grows, its user data becomes exponentially more valuable and more susceptible to marketing manipulation. Pinterest most likely did not anticipate the explosiveness of its growth, and probably did not fully foresee the marketing potential of its expansive user base. (it was founded by an architecture major from University of Chicago that has an keen eye for UI aesthetics, not a MBA graduate from Harvard). Now imagine the amount of purchasing behavior data Pinterest is able to collect judging from its already incredible user growth, and it’s not difficult to position Pinterest as another eBay or Amazon. In other words, who knew?

Lockerz is another social ecommerce site that leverages its users to execute social networking marketing for various retailers. The company recently announced its new “Locker” look, which allows users to curate “decals,” or the equivalent of a Pinterest Pin, on its website. Those decals can be categorized into groups such as makeup, clothing, and gadgets to be shared around Lockerz and other social networks. The incentive to share these decals is to get points. These points are similar to an arcade ticket. The more you earn, the bigger the prize you can buy at the gift shop.

The difference is that Lockerz announces its monetization model to its users from the get-go, and users are incentivized to share the products they purchased to earn reward points and discounts. Lockerz never claims to be merely a socializing site, like Pinterest does, where you simply share galleries of arts and crafts with others. While Pinterest has done a tremendous job on creating an unique, pin-board style user interface that gains fast appeal amongst those aesthetically-inclined between the ages of 25 and 44, it did not establish a solid business model from the outset, and invited criticism for its seemingly deceptive marketing tactics.

CybEye aims to stay clear of the dubious path that Pinterest had taken by clearly stating its business model : $99/year for premium membership including features such as importing bulk contact list to event follower list while expanding its user base through FB and Twitter log-ins without compromising user privacy. As CybEye’s user base expands, it might face the same temptation that Pinterest experienced to take advantage of its user volume for financial gains, it still recognizes users are the most precious assets of a social network, and it would be disastrous for the ever-so-fragile brand reputation to lose the confidence and trust of its customers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

CybEye's Event-Based Social Networking Model

With growth in location-based social networks (LBSNs) experiencing explosive upward climb,
a new type of social networking has emerged that borrows some of the mechanics andincentives from location-based services: event-based social networks (EBSNs).

EBSNs associate location data with specific events (such as wedding, sporting events, etc) which
tie users from different backgrounds that may not have been connected otherwise.

CybEye also adopts the event-based social networking model. CybEye currently categorizes its events into 4 different types: public events, social events, private events, and recurring events. (These are the 4 major event types, and there will be other types of events where users can only follow but not create, and will be discussed further).

Public events are open and visible to anyone on the CybEye network. These events will be listed in the public event directory and will serve as an advertising platform for businesses who would like to market through organizing promotional events. For example, the Robert Mondavi winery at Napa Valley would create a special wine tasting event by posting illustrative photos and perhaps offering special discounts for those that join the events during certain time.

Social events are created for group activities that are time and location sensitive. An exmaple would be a ski trip to Utah with a group of 20 friends taking 5 cars. In order for the trip leader to ensure timeliness for the trip, he would create a social event and invite the drivers to join and auto checks in. The trip leader can then see on the map view where everyone is during the trip and see if anyone has lagged behind or gotten lost.

Private events are created mainly for photo-viewing purposes and are not time-sensitive. For example, you have accumulated a photo gallery for your week long Europe trip and would add your friends and family as followers to view the photos. The followers do not have to check in to view the photos.

Recurring events, like its name suggests, are those that occur on a schedule, repetitively. The participants, or followers, would also auto check-in and check-out at specified times. A Taxi service company would create such events and add the drivers as followers. These drivers would auto check-in at start of shift and check-out at the end of of shift. The dispatch can then see where the drivers are while on duty and dispatch ride requests accordingly without constantly making phone calls to check locations. These events would also recur according to the shift schedule.

CybEye categories events into practical categories that apply to normal everyday users for leisure use as well as businesses and professionals. CybEye recognizes that events are the true drivers for social networking and provide a dynamic model that accomodates different usages.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

CybEye for iPhone Domain Intelligence

As we become more reliant on mobile devices for emails and
other internet usages, CybEye for iPhone offers users another
great feature : Domain Intelligence.

An average internet user comes across 3 to 4 new sites daily.
While you are surfing on an iPad or your iPhone at a local
Starbucks waiting for your mocha cappucino, you may
spot an interesting site by incident, and would like to learn
more about it. Googling the site name would give you a list of
pages and articles about the site, but you would also like to
gain a better understanding by finding information such as
its competitors and its popularity (or ranking).

Fire up the CybEye for iPhone app and add the domain name
as an item to follow, you will instant get its site report, uptime
report, competitor report, related photos and social discoveries.
CybEye for iPhone Domain Intelligence provides users mobile
access to domain intelligence and help users gain a better idea
about the site, its products, competitive products and news.
This kind of business intelligence used to be limited and
only available for business professionals who are willing to
shell out premiums. CybEye aims to commoditize business
intelligence, a luxury that was not available to small and medium
businesses under limiting budgets.

CybEye domain intelligence is built on top of a robust database
of more than 9 million domains.
There were 200 million domain names in year 2010 and the number
is still growing. Domain name has become synonymous with the
business itself; it is the central exposure location about the business,
branding, reputation, and it represents one of the major assets for
the business. Domain owners are spending more and time to monitor
their domain info, performance data and social media data.
Domain followers such as those in PR, marketing, sales or customer
service, not only need to care about the quality of its own domains, but
also those of its competitors.

CybEye Domain intelligence is also available on the web;
CybEye offers business professionals access to these critical business
data points either on the browser at the comfort of your
home (or office), or on your mobile at the palm of your hand.

CybEye Domain intelligence is a free service, and for more details,
please visit us at or download the CybEye for iPhone
app at the Apple AppStore.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rise of Photos in Social Networks

As social networks like Facebook and Twitter become commonplace, users, espcially young teenagers, are looking for new and cool apps to satify their ever shortening attention spans.
Here come the hot new up-and-coming Pinterest and Path.

Pinterest has increased its traffic by 4000% in the last 6 months, and Path has grown its userbase to almost a million in one year. Both still face doubts and cricitism surrounding their
business model, but there is no question they are the hottest new social networks around.

What is making them so "cool" is their focus on images and photos. Pinterest is is a vision board-styled social photo sharing website and app where users can create and manage theme-based image collections. Path is a social networking-enabled photo sharing and messaging service for mobile devices.

Both understand that images, not text, are the most important content to immediately grab users' attention. As mentioned earlier, users' attention span is getting shorter by the minute (a social issue worth a separate discussion). They don't like to read; they like to see something they can understand and relate immediately, and pictures do just that. And why not? if pictures can relay the message effectively and efficiently, that's what we should provide - immediate visual gratification and instant impression.

CybEye also builds its event-based networks around photos. CybEye allows you to post photos to the event and share them (either one by one, or in its entirety) by SMS or email. These photo shares visually engage the users and tell the story about the event. CybEye's main advantage over its competitors is its ability to share with anyone by email or the phone's contact list.

Pinterest grabs your attention with its pin-board style, Path gives a unique way to display your daily life with vivid imageries, and CybEye allows you to share with the easiest convenience with anyone on the phone contact list. Big players like Facebook and Twitter are also more and more photo-driven than ever before.

Photos are undoubtedly driving the direction of social networking, and CybEye aims to use them to provide users an engaging social networking experience.

Please visit us at or watch our tutorials at