Posts filed under ‘Social Commerce’

We’ve Moved to


By Kyle

Yes, the rumors are true.  We have closed on this site and are officially moving our digital digs to (check out the new design). The new site is also now accessible by clicking on the RaceTalk link in the upper right corner of the Racepoint Group Website. 

We got too big and popular and decided we needed our own domain.  Plus now we can actually take control of all the reigns and take the blog in the direction we want to go.  Expect more of the same including more exclusive RaceTalk Q&A’s.  We’re also looking forward to launching some new RaceTalk created video content that we hope to start populating the blog with in the upcoming months.  

So change your bookmarks to and we’ll see you there.


Our new sister blog: World 2.0 Blog, is up and running at  Check it out and bookmark it as well.  The World 2.0 Blog will pick up on some of the stories we’ve been covering on globalization, sustainability and corporate social responsibility by taking a deep-dive on those issues.


March 26, 2008 at 9:16 pm Leave a comment

Facebook Inserting Itself into Middle East Conflict?

By Ben

Since the state of Israel was established in 1948, the country’s borders have been constantly changing with every war and peace agreement. The West Bank and Gaza strip have been particularly sensitive areas, with a lot of fighting and uncertainty.

However, in Facebook’s attempt to assign a network to the people living in the West Bank, it automatically assigned them to the Palestine network – a pretty bold move.


As one could imagine, pinpointing an entire region as Palestine did not sit very well. Every person in Israel defines themselves differently depending on their background, family, and religion. To label an entire region of people with such different backgrounds and identities seems to go way beyond Facebook’s goal of being a “social utility that connects you with the people around you.”

David Shamah, a reporter for the Jerusalem Post writes, “I think it’s very unfair of Facebook to take sides in an ongoing dispute by making official (the creation of a state called Palestine), something that the United Nations has not even decided on yet.”

After receiving a lot of complaints and being accused of having a political agenda, Facebook has now started to allow people living in these areas to chose whether they’re listed as being a resident of Israel or Palestine.

March 18, 2008 at 12:41 pm 5 comments

Corporate Social Responsibility — Getting Beyond Philanthropy

By Peter Prodromou

People can find something to criticize about everything, including the transparency of Bono’s “Red” campaign. The Red campaign was started a little over a year ago and includes corporations like the Gap, who donate a portion of sales proceeds from Red branded merchandise to help with medical issues in developing countries. It seems the New York Times has questions about how much of that money is getting to these countries.

The Times article comes on the heels of Dell Computer joining the campaign and publicizing its participation during a Super Bowl ad.

That’s the problem with today’s brand of corporate social responsibility (CSR). It simply too sporadic and even if it isn’t — the way it’s executed leaves people with the best intentions open to criticism. This trend points to the glaring need for companies to reform their views and execution on social corporate responsibility. Companies today need to ingrain in their DNA and their corporate positioning the spirit of CSR.

We applaud Dell, Gap and every other participant for joining the Red campaign. Now we ask them to be truly bold. They can begin by reframing their corporate images around a handful of the most important issues in the world today – whether the environment, solving poverty or something else. They should think not only about giving, but empowering societies by developing and providing them with the tools they need to elevate themselves.

Imagine a cleaner world brought to you by a Green General Motors, or a future bastion of democracy in the developing world with entrepreneurialism powered by accessible computers. That’s the true spirit of CSR – the kind companies must focus on to lead and compete in the 21st century.



February 7, 2008 at 7:27 pm Leave a comment

It’s a Brave New World (2.0)

By Peter Prodromou

It’s been nearly 80 years since Edward Bernays changed the face of PR by marching a bunch of women down Madison Avenue smoking cigarettes. Yet even with the passage of time, you could argue nothing’s changed. Companies and governments still use the same tired approaches to publicize their agendas:

1 Part Wall Street Journal + 1 Part Charitable Act = Successful Reputation Management

The problem with that formula is that the world has passed it by.

The Wall Street Journal is still important and, let’s face it, who can argue with the righteousness of charitable acts? But the reality is, today’s audiences are more fragmented, sophisticated and connected than ever. The power of the internet and digital media has given everyone and anyone the power to drive perception. At the same time, the public is more issues driven than ever. Just think about how many of your friends and neighbors talk about the environment… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The companies and countries that are going to define this century are going to need more than economic might and an audience with print and broadcast media. They’re going to be tapped into those issues and, equally important, they’re going to have to understand the value of new technology and web media for not only communicating a story, but creating conversations and on-on-one constituent relationships.

They’ll do it through digital media, blogs, forums and other discussion sites. They’ll do it visually, using the web to spread their message far and wide. Most important, they’ll do it credibly with true commitment to the issues that concern the public today and through true relationship building.

So who’s getting it right? Think One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) – empowering people all over the globe to gain access to knowledge and talking about it on the web, as well as through traditional media. Think British Petroleum, moving to transform from an old oil company, to a next generation energy resource – and is proud – and daring enough — to talk about it.

These are the organizations that give you hope for a better tomorrow and a view into real leadership. These are the model organizations that work now or will work with World 2.0.

February 6, 2008 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

Give One Get One!

By George

Racepoint Group has been working with One Laptop Per Child for more than a year now. It has been an incredible experience. The non-profit organization headquartered in Cambridge, Mass. has a simply mission with an extremely difficult end-goal: to use education to eradicate poverty in developing countries.

To undertake this noble mission, OLPC has created and is now manufacturing the XO Laptop — the so-called “$100 Laptop” (which currently costs about $188, but with economies of scale kicking in, the cost should begin to migrate downward toward $100).

The organization believes that supplying children with laptops will open up their worlds, unleash creativity and exploration, and ultimately lead to a revolution in education.

The technology achievements in the XO Laptop are amazing. It is the greenest laptop ever devised and contains these remarkable features:

  • Rugged design and sealed case to make it water-and shock-resistant
  • High-resolution screen that can be read in direct sunlight, as well as indoors in the dark
  • Low power consumption using only 5-10 percent of the average wattage of a normal laptop
  • Can be powered by solar energy and human energy with pull cords and hand cranks
  • Mesh (peer-to-peer) network that turns each XO laptop into a full-time router connecting each laptop and allowing for easy Internet access
  • No moving parts, except for rabbit ears (for the mesh network) and the hinge
  • Runs on free, open source software
  • Contains no lead, mercury, cadmium or PVC

Racepoint has had enormous success in driving the public relations program for OLPC with global coverage for the project numbering in thousands of articles, blog posts, and television and radio coverage. Some of the highlights: 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, FOX-TV, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, NPR, Associated Press, Time Magazine, and People magazine.

The XO Laptop is designed for children in developing countries, but for a limited time (from November 12 to November 26) the laptop can be purchased by people in the United States and Canada. North American consumers can buy one for $399 U.S. dollars and get two computers. They keep one – and the other goes to a child in a developing country. The program is called Give One Get One.

The support so far has been amazing. If you’re looking for gift that can make a real difference – look no further.


November 12, 2007 at 7:09 pm Leave a comment

Continuous engagement… the death of market research

ESPN pulled the plug on their cell-phone product after investing $150m including $40m in advertising. This is precisely the failure market research is intended to prevent. How can business harness customers and prospective customers to improve their hit rate and time to market?

The following simple figures demonstrate the difference between traditional market research and continuous engagement.

Traditional market research

Continuous engagement loop

There are dozens of differences between the two approaches. Research is ad-hoc or at regular intervals whereas continuous engagement is, well, continuous. Research is one-way, and engagement is two-way. Research is devoid of any direct brand benefit (and research purists will claim this is beneficial) whereas continuous engagement inculcates brand loyalty. Here’s a list of the primary differences:

  • Research is ad hoc or regular interval; engagement is continuous
  • Research is one-way (+ prize or payment!); engagement is two-way (mutually rewarding)
  • Research is unemotional; engagement is emotional
  • Research is independent of loyalty; engagement inculcates brand loyalty
  • Research has a tight focus; engagement has a wide focus
  • Research deals with sequential parameters; engagement is multi-parametric
  • Research is designed to achieve statistical confidence; engagement is designed to detect weak signals.

The disadvantages of traditional market research

Ad hoc or regular intervals

  • Your last data set getting on a bit?
  • Trying to read between the lines because the last survey didn’t ask exactly the question you now need answering?
  • Is your market speeding up relative to your research frequency?
  • Do you need to ask new questions, but want to continue trending previous survey data?


  • What’s in it for your respondents?
  • Ever wondered if they’re answering your questions conscientiously?
  • Are they likely to benefit or suffer as a consequence of the information they share with you?


  • Quite simply, do they care?

Independent of loyalty

  • Ad hoc, one-way, unemotional interaction does not drive brand loyalty.

Tight focus

  • How long can you keep them interested for the remote chance of winning an iPod?
  • Once you’ve collected the demographics, how long remains to get to the crux?
  • By what degree can you change the subject?
  • How many times can you change the subject before their brain starts hurting?


After all that, it’s no wonder you need some mathematics to determine the statistical confidence.

Social media

The best way to understand your customers, is to have a relationship with them. Online. On the mobile. In store.

Social media is defined on Wikipedia as:

“the democratization of content and the understanding of the role people play in the process of not only reading and disseminating information, but also how they share and create content for others to participate. It is the shift from a broadcast mechanism to a many-to-many model, rooted in a conversational format between authors and people”.

More simply, we define social media in the context here as:

“all integrated channels through which you can get people discussing you and your market, with each other and with you”.

Wide focus

Anything and everything is discussed by your customers in social forums. For each topic, you can choose to interact or just listen.

You can also seed the forums with topics relevant to your business tomorrow, not just today. Test their reaction. Harvest value-added feedback; qualitative and quantitative.


Traditional research addresses a limited sequence of parameters, whereas social media can embrace multiple parameters.

Nevertheless, your product roadmap may encompass hundreds of parametric permutations. In this instance, you could chose to present ideas based on “runs” (parameter groupings based on Taguchi orthogonal arrays) to your most loyal and valued social media participants.

Detect weak signals

Weak signals are easily overlooked in traditional research. But understanding how to identify the most authoritative members in your social media, and learning to listen to them, can place you weeks if not months ahead of your competition in timely new product launches.

New skills

Supplanting or supplementing market research with continuous engagement requires:

  • A new strategy
  • An implementation framework
  • New analyses methods
  • Sound corporate performance measurement to close the loop

For and against

Unsurprisingly, there are advocates and detractors from this point of view. Take an interview with Bill Neal of SDR Consulting for example:

“..But I have some real problems with consumer generated media as a source of credible and reliable information. In many ways it combines the worst elements of non-scientific research – self selection and advocacy – both positive and negative.

The information they generate may be true, or not true – there is no way to discern which. Therefore, the information generated by those folks is neither credible nor reliable.”

However, this perspective could not be more strongly countered by the assertions made in the Cluetrain manifesto:

“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter – and getting smarter faster than most companies.

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.”

OK, continuous engagement may not signal the death of traditional market research, but it marks a distinct and influential turning point; a turning point leading companies are adopting today for competitive advantage.

October 29, 2007 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment


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