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Advice on Destination Weddings

Planning a destination wedding is one way for a couple to lessen the time it takes to plan the wedding. With destination weddings, the majority of the work is done by the staff and others at the destination. While these…

Destination

Alaska Holiday & Tourism Guide

Bush pilots, active volcanoes, calving glaciers, wild salmon and king crab: Alaska is a wilderness. From moose in downtown Anchorage to remote fishing in glacier-fed rivers, visitors will find a wealth of adventures awaiting. Choose a cruise in Prince William…

Destination

Cheap Summer Vacation Ideas for a Family

Financial difficulties and economic uncertainty can prevent many families from taking their dream summer vacation. However, families can discover plenty of cheap vacation options through careful research. Local entertainment, free museums and service opportunities can contribute to an unforgettable family…

Destination

Roman Catholic Religion in Luxembourg

In Luxembourg, people often have large families. It is normal for them to raise in a city and to remain there for the rest of their lives. Therefore ties and obligations to other members of their families are very close….

Destination

The Best Honeymoon Destinations on a Budget

Weddings can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, and the average honeymoon can cost around a few thousand depending on where the couple decides to vacation. There are so many options for newlyweds when it comes to choosing…

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I spend a fair amount of time reading other sites these days. In fact, my reading of printed books and other publications has dropped dramatically since I started using Google Reader and subscribing to a number of new RSS feeds from various sites. 90% of these feeds are from blogs, plus I read a number of news sites directly. Periodically I also check out Digg and a few other social networking sites to see what the latest popular news is. I would venture to say I am a fairly high volume consumer of online articles.

Through the course of this reading, most of the sites I frequent have user interaction in some form or another; mainly in the form of user comments or forums. There are times when the user comments on an article can be as interesting and informative as the originating piece, which is particularly true when dealing with some of the photography sites I frequent. Even in the least controversial of topics there can some that participate seemingly for the sole purpose of stirring up trouble. Today I was a bit analytical on these type of users.RSS feeds

I have written previously about Online Trolls and the admonition not to feed them. Though similar, the angry user is a far more dangerous species. Trolls typically try to get the confrontations going simply for their enjoyment and out of a complete abundance of time on their hands. A troll has nothing better to do and their sad, pathetic lives revolve around deriving some childish pleasure from making some ridiculous comment that will obviously inflame the others on the site. Usually, these types just go elsewhere in search of their needed attention if you ignore them, hence the advice to not “feed the trolls.”

With the angry commenter, you are never quite sure of their motivation, but you are sure of their passion. An angry user will never back down from their position in an argument, no matter how clearly the community has been rebutting them. If logic fails, the user will resort to name calling, swearing and other childish behaviors in the continual need to somehow feel like they have come out ahead. Truly this is like a child who lacks the mental maturity to have a rational debate and have the ability to concede when an opposing viewpoint is proven to be truer in the context of a specific discussion.

Of course, not all and perhaps most online conversations are not based on topics that have a definitive right and wrong answer. Most discussions revolve around matters of opinion, which of course are the flocking grounds of most visitors looking to express what they know is the way things are but is in the end simply their strongly voiced opinion. Opinions are powerful things, and discounting someone’s heartfelt stance is typically all the spark needed to get a raging fire going.

RSS feeds

Take a look at any site like Digg, Slashdot and any other active forum of public commenting and you will see that seemingly the majority of people posting are those looking for some head-to-head debate. Some approaches in intellectually, but many (I hesitate to write most, but many qualifies) simply like to throw out a quip and see where it goes. The downside of this is that most comment threads veer quickly off topic, leading to worthless conversations that are unrelated to the reason I clicked through to the discussion, so I leave.

Comments are popular because they invite interaction that leads to site loyalty and users revisiting the site “ but in some cases when commenting systems are frequented by these angry users, it drives away many of your more silent regular users. Depending on the nature of the site, for every comment made, there can be tens if not hundreds or more of users that choose to read and not comment. That is the case with this site. Very few choose to comment, but there are many other visitors to the site according to the traffic logs. That’s ok, commenting is not for everyone. Most of the sites I visit I am not an active participant unless something really strikes me.

RSS feeds

So in the end, I think the angry commenter can be both a good and bad thing to a site. The angry tone can drive away some of your more silent regular visitors, yet in some discussion, it can engage the more resilient ones and create an atmosphere of active discussion. Angry users of like minds also tend to band together, and that band of not-so-merry users can be your biggest advocates one day, and another day move their growing power to work against you. Walking that tightrope can be a difficult task.

On this site, I hope most users find our topics enjoyable, often humorous and non-offensive. If a particular post pricks your conscious to where you think we have “gone too far” then perhaps you can take a moment to look inward and see if there is more truth to the topic than you would like to admit. I strongly believe that we all only have the right to laugh at others when we are willing to first laugh at ourselves. If we can commit to this simple belief, we can find much more to laugh about and have more fun each day.

Gold’s rebound from the biggest decline in more than three decades is sparking a revival in exploration – and for one Brazilian focused-miner it’s worth the risk of crossing paths with jaguars.

Beadell Resources Ltd. hired armed guards earlier this year to protect its exploration team in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil after they stumbled across the largest of South America’s big cats.

“Shareholders have gone from rewarding companies for doing no exploration, no expansions and cost reductions into rewarding companies for value-accretive exploration,” Beadell’s Managing Director Peter Bowler, said in an interview in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, at the annual Diggers & Dealers conference. “About 70 percent of our shareholders would prefer us to drill, drill and drill.”

Producers from Gold Fields Ltd. to Northern Star Resources Ltd., who both attended the conference, are boosting exploration budgets that were trimmed as companies sought to cut costs amid gold’s 28 percent tumble last year. The mood mirrors comments last month by Rio Tinto Group Chief Executive Officer Sam Walsh who noted renewed investor appetite for spending.

“At some point you have to recommence spending, and in difficult times you’ve got to understand how to prioritize that spending,” said Roric Smith, vice president of discovery and chief geologist at Sydney-based Evolution Mining Ltd. “If you don’t replace your reserves, you’ve got a go-out-of-business strategy.”

Beadell rose 8.6 percent to 0.505 cents in Sydney trading, while Northern Star rose 5.5 percent.

Armed Guards
Exploration work will accelerate over the next 6 to 12 months, according to MinEx Consulting Pty, whose clients include Newmont Mining Corp., the second-biggest gold company, and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., the third-biggest.

Beadell has allocated as much as $15 million for exploration in Brazil this year, up from $12 million in 2013, and may add funding, if teams in Brazil and in Australia make discoveries, Bowler said. The Perth-based company’s geologists encountered the jaguar when they were looking for deposits near their Tucano mine in Amapa state.

“That was enough to sharpen their senses,” said Bowler on Aug. 5. “We do see jaguar tracks in the morning around the mine site quite regularly.”

Spending on gold exploration in Australia, the second- biggest producer, fell in the three months to March 31 to A$81.7 million ($76.4 million), the lowest quarterly total since March 2000, according to the country’s Bureau of Statistics.

Constrained Budgets
The exploration budgets of some companies remain constrained. Barrick Gold Corp., the biggest producer, allocated $200 million to $240 million to exploration in 2014, compared to a 2013 budget of $230 million to $250 million, according to its annual report. Newmont also has trimmed spending on exploration, though Chief Executive Officer Gary Goldberg says it remains a critical task.

“You’ve got to be constantly adding to reserves and resources around existing mines, but also out and looking for other things,” Goldberg told reporters today in Melbourne. “It’s the least expensive way to acquire a new asset.”

AngloGold spent $34 million in the three months to March, compared to $92 million in the same period a year earlier, according to a May filing. “The level of exploration that we’ve got now isn’t something that we’d be satisfied with in the long term,” AngloGold Executive Vice President Planning and Technical Graham Ehm said by phone from Perth in a July 31 interview.

Customer Record
Gold investor demand showed signs of rebounding in July with holdings of BullionVault customers rising to a record after gold rallied 10 percent in the first half. Gold, which traded at $1,307.12 at 3:50 p.m. Sydney time, rose 10 percent in the first half and may rise to $1,400 by 2017, Citigroup Inc. said in a July 13 report.

Johannesburg-based Gold Fields has increased its Australian exploration budget to A$55 million from A$25 million last year and will probably raise it again next year, Executive Vice President for Australasia Richard Weston said in an interview. Northern Star, which has more than doubled this year, has allocated A$50 million in 2014, compared to a previous annual budget of about A$10 million.

“Companies have got their businesses back into shape and they are now starting to look to the future and get back out into the field,” said MinEx Managing Director Richard Schodde. “The good news is that the costs of drilling services are cheaper now then they were a year ago, so you can get more bang for your exploration buck.”

Search Costs
The cost of exploration activities including drilling and the testing of samples has reduced by as much as 30 percent in the past year, according to Peter Bradford, Chief Executive Officer of Independence Group NL, which collaborated with AngloGold on the 2005 discovery of the Tropicana project, in Western Australia, which began production in September and may hold as much as 7.7 million ounces of gold.

Independence Group, which has gained 53 percent this year in Sydney trading, may seek to invest in or acquire advanced exploration projects held by smaller companies with dwindling cash reserves, according to Bradford. “People just don’t have the money of their own and need to progress projects, or run the risk of losing tenure, so we are directing more dollars to that,” he said.

New Jersey offers a wealth of Italian restaurants, and many of them provide the opportunity for diners to bring their own wine or beer to enjoy with their meal. Enjoy authentic Italian cuisine, and then explore the streets of Westfield, Princeton or Hoboken for a delightful evening.

Theresa’s

Theresa’s, a bring your own bottle Westfield landmark, is recommended by the prestigious Zagat survey and is featured in the New Jersey Monthly. They offer pasta made fresh every day. Diners are invited to bring their own wine or beer to enjoy with dinner. The dinner menu includes a wide selection of antipasti, including crispy calamari, crusted fresh mozzarella and stuffed artichoke. Salad specialties are arugula and roasted pears with gorgonzola cheese and spiced walnuts and baby spinach salad. Homemade pasta choices include penne with broccoli rabe, and dinner entrée offerings are pistachio crusted salmon and asiago chicken. Diners can enjoy exploring the streets of Westfield with its upscale shops after a meal at Theresa’s.

Theresa’s
47 Elm St.
Westfield, NJ 07090
(908) 233-9133
Theresasrestaurant.com

Italian BYOB Restaurants in New Jersey

La Mezzaluna

According to the Trenton Times, La Mezzaluna in Princeton is a “charming and unpretentious” restaurant serving authentic Italian food. The restaurant is located on Witherspoon Street in the heart of historic Princeton and within walking distance of the world-class university. Lunch and dinner is served daily. Specialties of the house include a spinach, apple, watercress and walnut salad with a berry vinaigrette; fettucine with smoked salmon, artichokes, mushrooms and grape tomatoes in garlic olive oil; and hazelnut and walnut encrusted rack of lamb in a mustard demi glace.

La Mezzaluna
25 Witherspoon St.
Princeton, NJ
(609) 688-8515
Lamezzaluna.com

Italian BYOB Restaurants in New Jersey

Anthony David’s

Anthony David’s is highly rated by Zagat for its Italian cuisine, brunch, outdoor dining and tasting menu. The restaurant started as a gourmet market, take-out and catering facility and developed into a popular Hoboken dining destination. Although Anthony David’s is considered a BYOB restaurant, an arrangement with a nearby wine merchant will have your wine order delivered to your table within minutes. Traditional Italian dishes with American flavors are offered on the menu. Selections include pan roasted Chilean sea bass, grilled lamb tenderloin and crispy duck breast. This Hoboken Italian BYOB serves brunch daily and dinner from Tuesday through Sunday. Hoboken’s bustling Washington Street is nearby for a walk after dinner.

Anthony David’s
111 Tenth St.
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 222-8359
Anthonydavids.com

Writing about mice ugly little rodents is not on my priority list, but given the time of year when mice are looking for a warm place to hide I think it might help my readers in some ways.

I live in the middle of orchards and vineyards so mice population around our home is pretty large.We have been in a process of remodeling and renovating our home so I’ve been facing little rodent problems for over a year now.

Few months ago we finished our home renovation and I’ve been told by my hunter-gatherer-protector husband that my mice problems are over…..house is completely sealed and there is NO WAY for any mice to come in unless we leave the doors open for a long time.

Well, few weeks after my husband left town (and is not due home till December) my pantry was attacked and lots of food damage was done…..never mind the fact that when I opened my eyes after my morning meditation I saw a mouse sitting on top of my curtain rod starring at me with those little creepy eyes. I Declared War On Mice & Things I Learned

So this is the way I see it……either my kids have very bad door closing habits or my husband was WRONG!!!….Personally, I know it’s the second one….

….and this is how I know….

….after catching 5….yes, 5 dirty disgusting mice in period of two weeks I decided to call in the professionals (well, I had hubs do it long distance to give him the satisfaction of still being the man of the house)….and they found not ONE, but…….TWO little tiny holes for mice to attack my home and ravage my pantry.

My knight in shining armor a.k.a Pest Control dude not only filled the holes, but gave me a little mice 101 education.

Common House Mice might not be as bad as other rodents, but having mice in your house is not a laughing matter.

  • Mice might not eat a lot, but they can contaminate all the food they come in contact with and cause you to waste lots of food from your pantry (I am painfully aware of this).
  • Mice can cause huge structural damage to your home.They can chew through electrical insulation and cause fires.
  • Mice can cause contamination of the environment by leaving droppings inside the walls and inside the home insulation.
  • Food contaminated by mice is almost 10 times bigger then what they will eat.Therefore throw away even a big bag with a tiny hole.
  • Mice and parasites they carry can transmit many diseases like Salmonellosis, Rickettsial Pox and Hanta Virus.
  • Bacterial food poisoning occurs when foods are contaminated with infected rodent droppings. Mice also carry many types of tapeworms and roundworms infectious to pets and humans alike.
  • Hanta virus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), which causes severe illness and even death in humans is transmitted by several mouse species including the common house mouse.

To reduce the risk of contacting organisms transmitted by mice, you ALWAYS should:

  • Clean up mouse contaminated areas by using wet methods which includes disinfectants with bleach
  • Always wear gloves when cleaning or handling mice
  • Avoid sweeping and vacuuming if possible
  • Discard ALL foods that have signs of being nibbled on and food that were open
  • If mice droppings were found inside your cupboards disinfect ALL pots and pans and other utensils

I Declared War On Mice & Things I LearnedRemember, as dangerous and gross as mice droppings might be the invisible (most of the time) mouse urine is much worse for spreading diseases.

There are few things you should to know to keep your home mouse and rodent free:

  • Under normal circumstances (not living in the middle of orchard or farm) mice don’t come in unless there is something inviting that brings them in like open doors or garage doors with dog/cat food or grass/bird seeds inside.
  • The most effective and humane way to catch mice is simple snap trap.
  • Once they in the house mice have the same routine…..they run along the walls and edges always in the same area so place mouse traps along the wall where you see mice droppings.
  • Mice prefer food they’ve already eaten. Put in the trap food they gotten into like cereal, pasta, chips….
  • Mice love nesting material like dental floss, strings, threads. You can use them as a bait.
  • If you suspect mice problem or if you live in rural area it’s a good idea to call Pest Control before winter to make sure there are no ways for mice to get into your home.

There are so many rodent products and traps on the market these days, but most of them are just waste of money.

  • Catch & Release traps are useless….it takes long time for mice (if ever) to enter them and the mice will be killed by exposure shortly after release.
  • Poison Bags & Bricks are dangerous for domestic animals and children. Also they kill mice making them dehydrated from the inside and likely dying slowly in the middle of your kitchen or room trying to get to water source.
  • Plug-In Ultrasonic Mouse Repellent are the biggest waste of money. In my experience they don’t do absolutely anything to keep mice out.

Do you have any other Mice Prevention tips or ideas? I would love to hear them?

Bush pilots, active volcanoes, calving glaciers, wild salmon and king crab: Alaska is a wilderness. From moose in downtown Anchorage to remote fishing in glacier-fed rivers, visitors will find a wealth of adventures awaiting.
Choose a cruise in Prince William Sound, a flight over America’s highest peak or ride one of the country’s great railroads for your holiday. From whale-watching to the Moose Dropping Festival, you are guaranteed a unique stay in the Land of the Midnight Sun’s remote splendor, where backyards in Anchorage have more small planes than automobiles.

ALASKA 1 Anchorage away

While Juneau is the capitol, Anchorage is the hub of Alaska. Itself a destination with the picturesque Chugach Mountains to the east and Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm to the west, Anchorage has fine restaurants, museums, salmon-watching and downtown salmon-fishing on your lunch hour as well as hikes, glacier walks and wildlife-viewing.
It is also the terminus of the Alaska Railroad, which will take you south to cruises or north to Denali country and Fairbanks (www.akrr.com).

Choose a cruise

Cruises take off from Whittier and Seward, with Prince William Sound and Kenai fjords the ultimate destinations for animal-watching, calving glaciers, icebergs and spectacular scenery. Don’t worry about missing a whale or bald eagle, the captain will stop the ship (or train or bus) if necessary to allow everyone a good camera angle. Cruises run from two to six hours and have naturalists on board to point out the sights.
Many visitors know Alaska from major cruises from the Lower 48. Ships dock in Anchorage, and cruisers can take trips inland to see Mt. McKinley or Fairbanks.

ALASKA 1

Flightseeing

With the highest percentage of bush pilots around, the chance to book a flight to a remote lodge or to see glaciers or McKinley from the air is irresistible.
Talkeetna, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Anchorage, is the nearest town to Denali National Park and the base of most of the flight-seeing. Pilots get so close that it feels like the wings are brushing the sheer cliffs. Landing at Base Camp filled with climbers waiting to start their ascent is a thrilling option.

ALASKA 1

Fishing

With 34,000 miles of coastline and sprinkled with rivers and lakes, Alaska is a wonderland for fishermen. There are five species of spawning salmon that begin in March each year and are followed by trophy halibut. Trophy fish are caught regularly.
Guides offer ocean adventures as well as interior power boats and canoes and kayaks to suit every taste.

ALASKA 1

Festivals

Alaska is full of festivals, especially in the summer. Find a full listing at the Anchorage Daily News site, www.alaska.com/events.
Two in particular are world-famous: the Iditarod dogsled race in March and Talkeetna’s Moose Dropping Festival in July.
The Iditarod starts in Anchorage, then again from Wasilla the next day. Nome is where the tired teams cross the finish line nine to 15 days later and offers a great view of the winners and also-rans.
Discover quaint Talkeetna, the gateway to Denali, at the annual Moose Dropping Festival. There is a parade that turns around and passes twice and a chance to win cash with your own personal moose dropping and a festival with Denali as a beautiful backdrop.

Cheap Summer Vacation Ideas for a Family Financial difficulties and economic uncertainty can prevent many families from taking their dream summer vacation. However, families can discover plenty of cheap vacation options through careful research. Local entertainment, free museums and service opportunities can contribute to an unforgettable family summer vacation that stays within budget.

Local Entertainment

Families can save big on recreation but still enjoy a relaxing, entertaining summer vacation by staying in their local area. Save the money you would have spent on hotels, travel expenses and food costs by staying home and discovering the attractions in your own backyard. Coordinate a “Staycation” with popular summer festivals—such as the Ann Arbor Summer Festival in Michigan—to enjoy free classes, shows and activities. Peruse the city newspaper for free summer concerts, low-cost film series and outdoor children’s theatre. Visit at least two of the area’s most popular tourist spots, such as aquariums, zoos, sporting events and museums. Plan one unique activity for a summer splurge, such as an afternoon of horseback riding or parasailing. Enjoy summer outdoor activities through hiking, fishing, canoeing and bicycling.

Free Museums

Families able to drive or snag a cheap flight to Washington, D.C., can enjoy many museums that have free admission. The Smithsonian Museums along the National Mall are some of the most-visited museums in the world. Discover the history of aviation at the National Air & Space Museum through hands-on exhibits and interactive flight simulators. Hours of entertainment await at the Museum of Natural History, where children will squeal in delight over dinosaur bones, mammal representations and famous artifacts (such as the 45.52-carat Hope Diamond). Other D.C. attractions include the newly reopened National Museum of American History; items on display include Kermit the Frog, Dorothy’s red sparkly shoes from “The Wizard of Oz” and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat. An added bonus in Washington, D.C.? The monuments are also free for viewing.

Cheap Summer Vacation Ideas for a Family

VolunTourism Vacations

Consider serving others this summer with the family by your side. VolunTourism—a newly coined word that references vacations based around community service—provides the opportunity to make a summer trip meaningful. Head to the Big Easy and work with Hands On New Orleans. Visitors can receive free meals and housing while volunteering in the local community (check with the organization for age limitations). Save on vacation lodging and food expenses and fuel up on emotional fulfillment. Volunteer at St. Margaret’s and socialize with the residents, lend a hand with home-building in needy neighborhoods, plant trees in community gardens or change city lightbulbs to energy-efficient styles.
Are you a family of animal lovers? Spend a summer in toasty Utah at the Best Friends Sanctuary. Take care of more than 2,000 homeless pets—pigs, dogs, horses, birds, bunnies and cats—and help boost their chances of finding adoptive homes. Cheap cabin lodging is available nearby.

Sometimes even the most well known brands change their messaging. This is usually done during a re-branding process, implementing a makeover to redefine key messages to consumers, but sometimes a brand makes changes when they are missing a portion of their target market.

Every week, I go to my parents’ house to watch American Idol. One night a few weeks ago they were tuned in with my sister, and being the outcast of the family who doesn’t watch Idol, I sat on my laptop in the kitchen playing music through my headphones in an attempt to drown out the nauseating voices of the judges (it’s appalling to me that a certain female judge can be considered a reputable gauge of musical talent). Commercial breaks were used for their own judging sessions, while playing on their phones or in my mom’s case, reading a book. During one break, a catchy tune from the TV prompted a lengthy, uncommon silence from the peanut gallery.

Nike Runs

The spot was a Nike ad unlike any I had seen before.

Instead of an intense pump up song, the tune sounded like it was straight out of an Apple ad. The short musical strays from Nike’s typical messaging, telling a non-sports related story that evokes love and humor, certainly not the emotions we are used to feeling from a Nike TV spot. The “RUN STRONGER” slogan is new. Even the action of closing the curtain is scandalous for a Nike ad, as its implications could ruffle some conservative feathers. Despite these differences, the ad has been well received. It’s received over 1.6 million views on YouTube in 4 weeks, and can also be found on the bottom of On-Demand for certain cable users.

Nike Runs

For the most part, Nike devotes different campaigns and budgets to their various product lines, which they seem to have for every sport imaginable. Most of the TV spots for these various product lines are consistently creative and inspiring – yet all monotonous. Someone must have realized that the serious tonality in each of these campaigns was missing the target audience for Nike Running. The new, lighter campaign is an example of how a brand can stray from the norm and alter their messaging depending on what product line they are selling. A brand like Nike has the ability to do this because of their extensive product differentiation. A smaller brand that offers only a few products would likely encounter great difficulty if they tried sending various messages without confusing the consumer.

Nike Runs

When we perform thorough brand evaluations with our clients, we recognize it’s important to pore through the brand’s equities, their target consumer, the environment in which they operate, and their vision for the future. Not every company can come close to the breadth of a Nike, but they can take a strategic look at their own messaging, and decide if a new angle is needed.

In Luxembourg, people often have large families. It is normal for them to raise in a city and to remain there for the rest of their lives. Therefore ties and obligations to other members of their families are very close. Parents play an important role in their children’s lives, often choosing the career and education their heirs will follow. Thus, one can say that there is a form of social hierarchy, which is quite obvious. Most of those living in Luxembourg are of Roman Catholic religion and most Catholic holidays are national holidays.

LUXEMBOURG

Luxembourg residents tend not to expose their lives in public. They are close to friends and family, but not to strangers. Very rarely you can see someone displaying emotions or other sides of behavior outside the house. They don’t usually ask personal questions because they respect others privacy. The line between business and personal life is extremely obvious. People are friends at work, but the business relations are separated from the social sphere.

LUXEMBOURG

As for the greetings, Luxembourgers tend to be formal and conservative, until the moment they develop a strong personal connection between them and their interlocutors. The common gesture of greeting is represented by a quick handshake. In the moment people start to know each other better, they start to kiss on the cheek (which only happens between women or between women and men but never between men). You must address people by their last name adding “Monsieur” for Mr. and “Madame” for the ladies.

LUXEMBOURG

If you’re invited to someone’s home in Luxembourg, it’s a nice gesture to bring some chocolates and flowers as a gift. Even if you’re invited only to tea, it’s still a good idea to bring a present. The flowers must be given by the husband, but avoid the number 13 and the chrysanthemums.

In the latest, and certainly not the last round of updates in the ever-growing battle for social supremacy among brand managers, both Facebook and Google+ announced updates – each designed to help brands and brand marketers to engage more with their fans and customers.

Facebook, the big dog on the social media block of course with its over 800 million member base and counting, announced the creation of what is essentially a direct message feature, to borrow a Twitter term. The new feature will allow consumers to send a private message to brand via the brand’s Facebook page. Heretofore this was not an option as if a consumer wanted to send their favorite a brand message via Facebook it would have to be posted for all the world to see.

facebook

The folks at The Next Web referred to this latest update as “a significant introduction that will allow businesses to interact more closely with customers on the service than ever before.” And they are right for this will indeed provide brands and businesses to engage on a much more personal level than previously able and having the ability to engage at an even greater detail is surely significant. In their article The Next Web also played up the fact that in their opinion, B2C brand marketers having even a greater interest in this new update…

“Consumer facing businesses will find the feature particularly useful as it enables more personal communication with individual customers, opening the possible of a greater level of customer service on Facebook.”

Now, when I read this last line I said to myself, ‘here we go again’ as in here’s another example of another person, in this case the writer of the article, failing to realize the obvious fact which is we are ALL consumers. This change to Facebook affects both B2C and B2B marketers alike. When the writer says Consumer facing businesses will find the feature particularly useful as it enables more personal communication with individual customers…” does he not realize that Even Though It’s Called B2B, There’s Still A “C” On The Other End?

facebook

That’s the title of a post written back in May and it’s still painfully clear that people simply lose sight of the fact that there are is a person on the other end of that line, a human being who wants to engage in a personal communication just like any other human being.

Sorry, didn’t mean to go off on a tangent there, let’s get back to the new Facebook feature.

While it’s great that brands can now engage in a personal, private conversation there are some caveats that brand marketers need to be aware of…

All private messages must be initiated by the consumer and eve though once a private conversation is initiated it is open to both parties, it’s not recommended to use the private message feature as another avenue to promote and sell.

One very real and negative effect of the new private messages is that the messages will in fact be private which could mean less organic growth for a brand. As The Next Web puts it “Facebook socializes each fan’s interactions with a page — sharing likes, shares, comments, and other interactions fans make there, with their friends — which can help raise a page’s visibility. So, more private messages may lead to less public comments, which could curtail this growth somewhat.”

g+

As for Google+…
Google+, rights for Google+… Or as Mark Zuckerberg referred to it “Google’s little version of Facebook” they too released some updates one of which directly impacted brands and their business pages on Google+…

Here’s how they announced the changes on their official blog:

Improvements to Google+ Pages
Google+ Pages have already provided brands and businesses a new means of connecting to and deeply engaging with consumers. In the weeks since launching pages, we’ve been listening to your feedback and we’re pleased to make some of the most oft-requested features available.

You can now delegate up to 50 named managers as administrators for a page.
A new notification flow will ensure that these managers stay in the loop on all the activity that takes place on a page, giving managers the ability to stay involved in page conversations.
We’ll now show an aggregated count of users that have engaged with your page, either by +1’ing it or by adding it to a circle. This way, both you and your page’s visitors can get an at-a-glance summary of who is interacting with your page.

g+

It was quite surprising when Google+ Pages was first released there was only one admin allowed per page. That simply made no sense and the criticism and outcry was as expected. But now they’ve made the requisite change along with several others, Google+ is demonstrating that they are in fact listening to the people – the brand marketers and so on who manage a given brand’s Google+ Page.

Not sure why anyone would need 50 managers for a Page but be that is it may the new notification system will allow for all of them to stay up to date in real time just as they can in Facebook and Twitter on their particular brand Page and what they’re fans and customers are talking about.

So what do you think of all the changes and new features to Facebook and Google+?

How do you see the use of private messages helping you engage with your fans?

And for Google+ it is essentially the same question… How do the new changes to Google+ Pages help you interact with your fans?

And as for the B2C and B2B discussion… what type are you?

If you’re a B2B brand marketer do you use Facebook and Google+ and if so, how?

And if not, why?

When ICANN, (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) the organization that oversees the web name space, announced plans to offer new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), which will allow a company to own what are being called .brand domains, it opened the door for tremendous opportunity for marketers and advertisers alike. For the moment however not many CMOs are all that excited.

CMOs Need To Look At New Domains As An Opportunity, Not A Trademark Protection Nuisance

The Big Opportunity CMOs May Miss Out On

Marketers debate usefulness of ICANN’s new domain names

Those were headlines from two recent articles I came across regarding the apparent apprehension on the part of CMOs and marketers in general. Accordng to Forrester Research principal analyst Jeff Ernst not many CMOs are buying into what Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the ICANN board said in regards to the new domain names. “Today’s decision will usher in a new Internet age. We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration.”

Enrst, in an article for Forbes on this topic, wrote “Many of the CMOs I’ve talked to over the past year either weren’t aware that this was coming or didn’t recognize what a company could do with a “.brand” TLD that they couldn’t already do with a .com.” And on his own Forrester blog he wrote “Many marketing leaders I’ve talked with look at this as a nuisance and are skeptical about whether Internet users will embrace [the new domain names].”

The Big Opportunity CMOs May Miss Out On

Now truth be told, there will be an application fee of $185,000 for any company wanting to register one of these new .brand domains but why wouldn’t a company like say Home Depot not want to pay the $185K for the rights to .homedepot? I agree completely with Ernst when he says “A .brand TLD gives marketers much greater control of their online identities. You can now promote your brand at the root of the Internet with shorter, less technical URLs. You can combine all your Web properties, including product sites, campaign microsites, and country-specific Web sites, under a single brand umbrella.”

Is it me or is this a no-brainer for brands/advertisers/marketers?

Yes, there is the $185,000 fee plus the cost to maintain the infrastructure but there is also the issue of fraud. As Jim Nichols recently pointed out in a column on Forbes.com, “The risk of an unscrupulous person trying to hijack your company’s identity will have a tougher time when official pages end with a .brand extension.”

So, what do you think of all this?

Is it much ado about nothing?

Should brands/advertisers/marketers not even worry about all this?

Or do you agree and think there is tremendous value in owning your own TLD?