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Monday, 3 December 2012

Over 1 Million People Are Protesting The ITU With Google

In just a few hours, delegates from around the world will be meeting in Dubai to discuss changes to the ITU. The results of which could lead to further regulation of the Internet by less than reputable countries that want more power in controlling how and what its citizens access online. Google doesn’t like that for a variety of reasons, some self-serving, and the company has invited citizens from around the world to protest with them.
In a post on the Google Public Policy Blog, Vint Cerf details his hand in helping create the Internet. He says that “openness is why the Internet creates so much value today.” He also says that the Internet is “borderless and belongs to everyone.” That’s the basic gist of Google’s initial protest movement in getting people to share why the Internet is important to them. You can now see the results of that first movement in an interactive map.
Over 1 Million People Are Protesting the ITU With Google
That map shows a real time count of how many people are signing Google’s petition from around the world. It’s now at over 1 million people and climbing rather quickly. The largest number of those opposed to an ITU takeover of the Web are obviously in more developed nations, but citizens in less developed nations are doing their part to let their voice be heard. Surprisingly enough, even some people in mainland China have signed Google’s pledge.
The ITU negotiations will begin today and continue until December 14. You can add your voice to the growing number of those opposing the ITU until then. The sooner the better, however, as some governments may perhaps have a change of heart after seeing its citizens raise a stink. It worked for SOPA and ACTA. It can work here too.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Yog Hopes to Connect Runners in Real Time

tumblr_mdhyqjcedE1qejjfeo1_500Yog, a new social running app, has been launched as a method of connecting runners around the world to get them running together in real time.
The app allows you to arrange a run and invite people from around the world to participate. Or, you could “Run Now” to join in with one of the many runs that other “yoggers” may be doing at that very moment.
Audio notifications and a social running map aim to make the experience feel like you are right alongside other runners during the exercise.
Yog’s international community of runners are brought together by an iOS app which links the “yoggers” in real time. Using the platform, users of the app can organise runs by entering the date, time, and distance of their run.
The iOS app also accumulates all data during the run to give users the opportunity to measure and track their performance.
With social fitness products such as Nike+Strava, and MapMyRun already greatly popular with fitness fanatics and the like, Yog hopes to relate to the real life experience of running instead of just measuring and sharing your achievements.
Peter Pelberg, founder of Yog believes that “The majority of people don’t exercise enough . . . We’ve seen how exercising with others positively impacts the frequency and level at which people exercise. Yog’s point of differentiation is that the app is entirely synchronous. Our community members are not tracking activities in isolation and sharing them to a stream after the fact, they’re running together, from all corners for the world, in real-time.”
The social app was founded by former athletes who struggled to keep up with their exercise regimens while away from teammates. They began constructing the app in 2011 and have since had “yoggers” join in 55 countries from all over the world.
Will you be using Yog?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Gaining Facebook engagement through photos

This article was originally written by Sam Zastrow for Social Media Today. You can read the original here.

Several months ago, I realized our Facebook page was, well, kind of bad. Sure, we had optimized the page, added a Timeline photo and were posting regularly. But we weren’t getting the kind of engagement required to help our page realize its full inbound marketing potential. As a new, inexperienced social media manager at an agency that touts its expertise in social media marketing, it was my job to make sure our page was serving its purpose as a branding tool and piece of our overall marketing strategy.
I started by taking a look at what bigger brands were having success with on their pages and adding social media marketing blogs to my daily reading. My biggest initial takeaway was the fact that photos seemed to be driving a ton of Likes and comments for both the big brands and social media marketers. With all the changes Facebook had made in the last year or so to make its network more photo-friendly, it seemed logical that photos should provide the core for a winning social media marketing strategy.
Around the same time, I got my first smart phone (I know, I know) and a friend introduced me to Instagram, then a hot new social network that allowed users to take, upload, edit and share photos on the fly. I thought it was pretty neat, and it turned out we already had an Instagram account set up for the agency. My boss had his eyes dilated that week, and almost without thinking about it, I “Instagram’d” a photo of him wearing sunglasses while working and posted it to Facebook with a snarky caption.
Much to my delight, that silly photo got more engagement than almost any update we had previously posted. Thus began my obsession with a photo-driven social media marketing strategy, which I’ve outlined below.

1. Integrate Instagram with your page to give fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse into your business

While its marketing capacity is limited, Instagram is a great branding tool, especially for small companies. I say this because at many small businesses, personal relationships are a driving force in business-customer interactions. Chances are, your most loyal customers (those who are most likely to interact with your page) know a lot of people who work at your company. If they see someone they know in a photo you post to Facebook using Instagram or another photo uploader, they’re more likely to comment on or Like the photo.
Additionally, behind-the-scenes shots like the one I snapped of my boss give your followers the feeling that they’re getting exclusive content by following your Page. It gives followers a reason to come back to your page.

2. Attach an image to link posts

Our biggest problem with our Facebook presence before I started putting an effort into it was the fact that most of our posts were just plain boring. Blog posts can be really exciting, but when they’re shared as a headline with a link and Facebook’s lame pop-down preview, they’re certainly not going to catch anyone’s eye.
You can get around this problem by attaching an image to each post. By doing so, you’re ensuring your post takes up more room on news feeds and at least gets your fans to notice that it’s there, rather than merely skipping over it. Ideally, people will see the photo, click on it and then follow your link.
Hubspot does a nice job using eye-catching photos to draw attention to their link posts.

It’s best to use commercially available photos instead of any old photo you find on the internet to avoid legal issues, so use Creative Commons to search for commercial photos on photo search engines like Flickr. Also, do realize photos appearing on your fans’ news feeds look different when they appear on your page; 403 pixels by 403 pixels works best for both.

3. Include a screenshot of your content when you post a link to it

I stole this one from Social Media Examiner. They include screenshots with almost all of their blog posts.

Including a screenshot of your blog post (or of the first page of your eBook, for example) serves as sort of a teaser: it encourages your fans to click through to your website. Once again, just make sure your screenshot isn’t too big to display on your page properly.
One last thing: is there such a thing as too many photos? I think so. Facebook marketing queen Mari Smith recommends including a photo with 90% of your posts, but I think that may be pushing it, especially given Facebook’s recent move against link and photo posts. Still, recent research from Hubspot indicates photo posts tend to draw significantly more engagement, so don’t be afraid to include photos with a hefty majority of your posts.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Small Business Strategy: 10 trends to Watch

Originally written by Brian Solis for Social Media Today. You can find the original article here.
As you read this, the business landscape is shifting right under your company’s foundation. How customers make decisions, how they discover, communicate, and share, how they influence and are influenced, is evolving considerably. In fact, customer behavior is not only changing, it’s fragmenting and opening the door to new touch points. Your business will now have to compete for the customers you know and additionally, a new breed of customers that you need to know. And, to earn their attention and ultimately their loyalty, you will need to better understand the top technology trends and how they’re impacting customer behavior.
At the heart of this customer divide is technology. But this isn’t about the technology we once knew, such as PCs, laptops, iPods, ebook readers, DVRs, etc. This change in consumerism is the inevitable result of disruptive technology and how it has affected behavior and reshaped expectations. Smart phones, social networks, apps, gamified everything, Google Glasses, self-driving cars, smart appliances, the list goes on, are placing consumers at the center of their own universe connected to one another through shared experiences. These plugged-in and always-on customers are learning to see the world differently. They’re empowered and they’re entitled. As a result, disruptive technology is grooming customers to expect information and opportunities to find them.
Everything starts with surveying the landscape for how you reach customers today and how their behavior and expectations are shifting. But this is also about the people you don’t reach now. This research will help understand how to appeal to a new type of customer as well.
If you thought that having a social media strategy and presences in the most popular social networks was enough, think again. What of adding social buttons to your website or in your email blasts? Still not enough? How about developing apps for iPhone and Android platforms? Nope. That’s not the right approach.
It takes research to truly understand how customer segmentation is materializing and how new technologies introduce opportunities to engage effectively with each group. More importantly, it takes interpretation, strategy, and a culture of innovation to recognize and prioritize these new opportunities and execute against them while windows for engagement are open.
Just like customer service, sales, and marketing, technology and your ability to translate trends into opportunities, are now part of your everyday business strategy. To what extent disruptive technology impacts your customer landscape, differs from industry to industry and it is your research that reveals where to concentrate and balance your focus and investments. To help, I’ve assembled a list of 10 current trends to evaluate . But, this is just the beginning. Use this list to build a regiment of research and innovation within your business now and over time.
10 trends to review for opportunities…
1. Social Networks from Facebook to Twitter to Google+ and how they’re connecting to influencers and businesses (note: pay attention to nicheworks as well such as Path and Instagram.)
2. Geolocation check-in services such as Foursquare and Facebook location updates to share locations and earn rewards or opportunities for discounts
3. Crowdsourced discounts and deals including Groupon and LivingSocial and what’s valued and why
4. Social commerce services like Shopkick and Armadealo and how they create personalized experiences that are worth sharing
5. Referral based solutions like Yelp, Service Magic, and Angie’s List to make informed decisions and how shared experiences can improve your business, products, and services
6. Gamification platforms such as Badgeville and Fangager, and why rewarding engagement improves commerce and loyalty
7. How your consumers using mobile devices today and what apps they’re installing. Also, how they’re comparing options, reviewing experiences and making decisions while mobile?
8. The online presence your business produces across a variety of platforms such as tablets, smartphones, laptops and desktops. You must realize how consumers are experiencing the online presences you create and whether or not they deliver a holistic and optimized experience for each platform.
9. The consumer clickpath based on the platform consumers are using. Are you steering experiences based on the expectations of your customers? And are you taking into consideration the device or network where the clickpath begins and ends? Are you integrating Facebook F-commerce and m-commerce into the journey?
10. The expectations of connected consumers, what they value in each channel and platform, where they engage and how your business can improve experiences and make them worthy of sharing.
What would you add?
No company is too big to fail or too small to succeed. Simply knowing your customer is one thing. The connected customers does not replace your traditional customer, they simply introduce new opportunities to grow your business. How you’re marketing, selling, and servicing customers today are in many ways missing these important customers and thus limiting your ability for engagement and growth.
Understanding how connected customers make decisions informs more meaning strategies and ultimately effective and engaging programs, products, and services. Now more than ever, the future of business isn’t created, it’s co-created.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Increasing User Engagement on Facebook

If you use Facebook as a tool for promoting your business or brand, then you have probably noticed that Facebook has recently updated its EdgeRank, also known as its News Feed Algorithm.
Facebook is not trying to hide the fact that they want businesses to start paying to promote their posts. It is in Facebook's best interests if your posts are not showing up in people's newsfeeds. They want you to pay to have your posts appear there.
You might wonder if there is any hope in getting your posts noticed in Facebook's newsfeeds without having to pay to promote them. While it is not possible to have your posts appear to everyone who has "liked" your page (even if you pay to promote them), it is possible to improve your chances of having your posts noticed by keeping these tips in mind.
Keep Your Fans Coming Back for More
Many people post whatever comes into their head on Facebook, even on their business pages. Before you post, ask yourself if this is something that your fans would really be interested in seeing. The more posts your fans ignore, the less likely it is that your future posts will appear in their newsfeeds. Many people who "like" a page on Facebook never visit the page again. To get people coming back to your page, your content must be truly engaging.
Remember that negative interaction with your fans can actually count against you. If your fans think you are spamming them they can report your posts to Facebook, further reducing your chances of your future posts being seen.
So how do you get your Facebook fans to interact with your business page? First let's look at what Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm is measuring.
Facebook's EdgeRank Algorithm
EdgeRank takes into consideration how much you interact with your fans. The more interaction the better, especially if your fans are actively interacting with you by "liking" and commenting on your posts.
The EdgeRank algorithm also looks at what type of interaction your fans are having with your page. It gives greater weight to comments than "likes", and the more comments the better.
The algorithm looks at how long ago a post was created. The more recent the post, the more weight it is given.
It is important to remember that the more fans you have the better. If you have a big fan base and are showing ongoing interaction with your fans, the EdgeRank algorithm gives more weight to your Facebook updates.
Create Engaging Content
Before you post on your Facebook page, ask yourself what your fans would like to see. It is easy to fill your page with links to your web site or blog, which is not necessarily bad, but if your fans are not interacting with your posts, think about how you can vary or improve your content to generate more interest.
Images have been shown to create more fan engagement than just text links. People like to look at photos, and if you post some interesting pictures that people can relate to, they will be much more likely to leave a comment.
One of the most effective ways to get people to respond is to ask a question. Try to think of questions that many people can relate to. People like to talk about themselves, so ask a question that will get them talking about what is important to them. Their responses may just give you some ideas for new posts or articles.
When people do leave comments on your page, make sure to respond to their comments. Show your fans that you care about their thoughts and that you will respond to their questions and comments.
Contests and giveaways are also effective ways to increase fan engagement on your Facebook page. People always love to win things, and they will keep checking your page to see if they have won.
Time Posts to Increase User Engagement
Remember that most people are not logged into Facebook all day. Try to time your posts to the times of day when people are most likely to be checking their newsfeeds, such as first thing in the morning, at lunch time, and after dinner.
Unfortunately, there is no way to completely understand Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm. Facebook is slowly moving toward a pay-to-play model and business owners will either have to adapt to the new model or find another way to promote their businesses. Don't forget that creating useful, engaging content, however, will go a long way toward getting your posts viewed by more of your Facebook fans. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Ways to generate Online Income

The Internet has made it possible to generate many more forms of passive online income. Passive income is one of three types of income, as categorized by the IRS. The most common source of passive income is through online advertisements. 

Advertising models 

Online advertisers offer a variety of advertising models where advertising affiliates are offered payment in exchange for clicks, impressions or for each commission. For example, an e-commerce website might offer a percentage of the revenue generated from sales after a user arrives from the affiliate's link. 

Generating passive income 

The size of the passive income generated by the advertising affiliates comes from the number of users who see the link and are compelled by the advertisement or context that the link is embedded in. In order to draw in traffic and maximize clicks, advertising affiliates need to create content that is interesting to the users and can also draw in traffic that is likely to click on the links and purchase the product on the other side. 

The need for content 

For this reason, many websites that are advertising affiliates need content, which is most often text. However, the content can also include images, downloads, software, video and various other applications and forms of multimedia. Website owners earn a passive income through advertisements either by creating the content themselves or by subcontracting the creation of this content out to other content creators. 

Passive and active compensation 

This can be paid for either through passive or active payments. Some website owners choose to share a portion of the website earnings with the content creators, while other websites choose to pay content creators a flat fee, which represents an active form of income. Flat fees provide content creators with an immediate gratification for the content creator, but articles with a large amount of views can earn much more passive income. 

E-commerce and auctions 

Advertisements are only one way in which income is generated online. Another way to generate income is through the selling of products and services. Many products are sold on e-commerce websites and auction websites. E-commerce websites generally sell a select type of merchandise, with products sold usually at a set price. Auction websites allow buyers and sellers to meet online. Buyers can bid on products, with the highest bidders getting the item for sale. 

Private contracts 

The bidding concept is also used to sell services on a variety of bidding websites. In this model, clients can post projects and professionals can bid on the project. In this case, the bid represents the fee that the professional wishes to be paid for the project. The client can choose bidders based on the suggested fee, the professional's credentials and samples that are presented to the client. 

However, this only represents one of many ways that clients and independent contractors can come together. Many clients will advertise the need for services on online classified websites, content mills and forums. For more high-profile projects, talent is usually found through word-of-mouth or by the independent contractor advertising his or her services on a personal website. While clients might pay a flat fee for services, some clients and independent contractors work out an hourly rate or a revenue share system.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Best of All Worlds; new Invite-Only network

One of the pioneering figures of social media, the little known Swedish Count Erik Wachtmesiter, is back to launch his latest creation, Best of All Worlds.

The new site, which is expected to launch on the 27th August, will be highly exclusive and cater to the more elite levels of society. Naturally the site is invite-only at the moment, claiming around 25,000 members through the 5,000 invitations Wachtmeister initially issued. It is expected to continue in this vain as the network revolves around this exclusivity and seeks to unite the wealthy community pinpointed by Wachtmeister, providing a service that can really support their needs.

Speaking about the network, Wachtmesiter has claimed that Best of All Worlds will “deliver clever filters, cut through the mess and get information that’s relevant and we can trust”. The ‘About’ section of the site continues this view by stating the purpose of the site to be; to ‘discover people, common passions, and compelling information… in worlds of shared interests and friends’. Subsequently, Best of All Worlds will most certainly appeal to high-end marketers delivering such products as ‘yachts, watches, wine and liquor’.

Another potential selling point of the network is Wachtmeisters aim to allow users increased control over their data. In a move which appears to try and draw people away from LinkedIn and Facebook, Best of All Worlds offers the user ‘five modes to switch between’. These modes are entitled private, professional, family, social and party. After the user has picked their preferred mode, each one then provides its own set of photos, links, recommendations and suggestions. The idea is that this will enable like-minded people to connect in a ‘trusted environment’ and be able to discuss what really interests them. The categories of these discussions include ‘business, food and wine, health or a better world’, but this is expected to soon expand. 

A Small World

Back in 2004 Erik Wachtmesiter launched his first social network A Small World. Sharing many similarities with his latest creation, A Small World is an ‘invitation-only website that catered to a wealthy crowd where users could meet other world travellers, make business connections and find services’. After selling a significant stake of the business in 2009 and quitting his post, it seems Wachtmeister is fully focused on Best of All Worlds now. It appears that the Count has picked and streamlined the most successful elements of A Small World and can utilise the near 800,000 user base to promote his new venture. Reports have viewed this as an attempt to ‘poach’ users and this was extended when the two sites shared their mobile app launch on the 27th July. According to Wachtmeister this was a “total coincidence”, but these events do suggest the Count should be careful In the future. 

The potential competition between the two sites will be interesting to observe in the coming months and also whether Best of All Worlds can tempt the so-called ‘jet-setters and well-heeled away from Facebook Inc. and LinkedIn’. This should indicate whether the demand is actually present among these elite groups. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Social Media takes on the role of 'Church' in times of need.

Social media takes on ‘church’ role in times of need

Research has recently come to light underlining the pivotal role social media played during, and after, the Christchurch earthquakes.

Ekant Veer, a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Canterbury, has discovered that social media unexpectedly became the communal meeting place during the quakes. Veer has noted that the people affected increasingly took to social networks for help, to provide information and lend support. With the city undergoing such turbulent times - many buildings became unsafe for occupation and transport links were damaged - social media took on the role traditionally held by the community halls and churches.

The lecturer, who has revealed his findings in the lead-up to the Australasian Natural Hazards Management Conference, monitored a variety of social networks after the quakes and noted his findings. Overwhelmingly, it was found that people utilised social media for ‘immediate and timely updates’. In addition to providing practical information, such as where to find fresh water and food, social media was important in supporting those who were badly affected and created a great sense of community.

Some significant players during the quakes included Geonet and Civil Defence who tweeted regular and useful updates. The hashtag #eqnz also came into play, helping boost the informative element that became so significant. News channels, whilst maintaining importance in informing the public as a whole, could not keep up with the instant updates boasted by social media. Subsequently, the quakes have led to heavier use of the platforms and claimed many more users.

Positive reports

In a time when social media is continuously cropping up in negative news articles, this is something that reaffirms the importance it can play.

The Christchurch earthquakes cannot be viewed in isolation as social media has played a significant role in other natural disasters. The disasters in Japan, for example, saw a huge spike in social media usage, with users relaying their support under such hashtags as #prayforJapan and posting ways in which others could help or donate. Similarly, in Australia, a Facebook page was created when it was announced that the Cyclone Yasi would hit Queensland. The page provided key updates, information and a place for users to connect. Studies have further shown that social media usage ‘during natural disasters is comforting, empowering and can limit psychological damage’. Clearly, it helps fulfil a number of functions in these times of need.

Two sides

Although social media was cited as one of the catalysts behind the London riots, it was proved in the aftermath how the good side overcame the evil. Initially, social media helped gauge public opinion, showing how unpopular the riots were, and united people and communities in combatting the situation at hand. Facebook pages and Twitter accounts were created, along with the hashtag #riotcleanup, sparking people into action to help their cities. In turn, this gained many ‘likes’ and retweets, as well as receiving further exposure with inspirational images of communities cleaning up their cities. A similar movement occurred in Vancouver following the riots there in June 2011.

When the dust had finally settled, social media also took on an important role in discerning those who had been a part of the riots. The authorities were made aware of images portraying individuals involved and those who had utilised social networks to incite trouble. In addition, users were urged to come forward with any information they had concerning the rioters.

Despite not being a natural disaster, these riots similarly show the role social media can play as becoming the ‘church’. It is evident that it helps promote the community and allows people with no prior connections to work together for the greater good. Furthermore, social media promotes support for individuals affected by the events. The informative element must also not be forgotten as users can be instantly kept up to date with significant changes and information.

It is all too easy to criticise social media at present, but perhaps people should look back to these events to realise the important roles it has played. Were it not for these social networks the essential help, information and support may have been far less than what it was, and in no way as swift. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

3 Ways to Simplify Online Marketing

This post was originally written by Jonathan Gardner for Mashable

Technology makes the magical possible, but it’s also making marketing complicated. With ad exchanges, hyper-local targeting, and endless mobile options, it’s easy to get tangled up in an alphabet soup of advertising technology. Just one look at Terence Kawaja’s ad-tech landscape induces tears of empathy for over-marketed-to marketers. Basically, the time for simplification is here.
Simplicity is what consumers want, what marketers need, and what standard-bearers such as Apple andGoogle have shown as the way forward.
What did Steve Jobs do when he returned to Apple in 1997? He simplified the product line and, by extension, Apple’s whole business. That worked out pretty well.
The same goes for Google. Every once in a while the tech giant cuts products to move forward with new offerings. Sure, some of their initiatives — say, wind energy or self-driving cars — may seem to come out of left field. But Google’s basic promise to consumers is to develop products and services that help them organize and navigate the world in a better, geekier way. (I’m talking about you, Google glasses.)
We need to learn from these examples. When advertisers obsess over brand impact, and agencies insist on slicing and dicing every impression, it’s hard not to wonder if we’re focusing on the wrong things. For all the efficiency we’ve gained with the burgeoning of ad tech, we’ve lost a lot in the way of simplicity. Keeping marketing simple — delivering compelling ads and content that consumers actually want to engage with — could take the industry a long way toward improving performance for both brands and consumers.
Here are three rules that brands can follow to simplify their marketing for everyone involved.

1. Put Consumers in the Driver’s Seat

Let’s move away from strategies and metrics that aren’t really relevant for branding. Brands always look for some kind of number and stat to justify their online spend — CTR, view-through, attribution, “likes.” Does that make sense at all? Did brands worry about measuring the impact of a full-page spread in Vogue back in the day? The issue is over thinking the numbers and not thinking enough about advertising in the interest of consumers.
Give people choice, control, and relevance in their experience. Don’t put a roadblock between anyone and the story, images, or video they want to see. Create intriguing, value-add experiences that are relevant to the page, that make users want to click, view, and engage. Make it user-initiated and easy to start and stop engagement. Instead of real-time bidding (RTB), how about trying real-time relevance?

2. Get in the Content

We’ve seen a recent surge in attention for the “native ad,” sponsored content, and branded-content meme. But it’s really nothing new. Ever watch soap operas on TV? Those started out as radio broadcasts that were literally created by consumer packaged goods companies. Since the dawn of digital time, we’ve known that the traditional ad concept had to change and that brands needed to move into the content-creation business and get their content seen.
But what if your stellar campaign assets are part of the one-third of display advertising that, according tocomScore, goes unseen due to banner blindness? Even if you have awesome, entertaining, useful branded content like Red Bull or Unilever, you still need to surface it. How will your brand’s content be discovered by consumers who have literally zillions of content channels to choose from?
Focus your attention where consumer attention is focused: in the edit well online, on mobile, and on the tablet. Surface your content through advertising technology that gets you in the words and images where a relevant, immersive brand advertisement or content experience will really make an impression with consumers.

3. Simplify Your Strategy

Instead of doing one thing on mobile, another on tablets, and something else on desktop, consider puttingmobile at the center of the design process, then refining and customizing everything from there.
Brands can now respond directly to how consumers interact with all kinds of devices. In an era where we swipe, expand, and share an ad or useful brand content, it isn’t enough to rely on the same old creative approach. Brands need to leverage their great assets with amazing creative executions in high-impact, exciting ways that are native to devices, contexts, and formats.
So let’s leave the purchase funnels behind, and stick with these three simple rules. Chances are people will thank you with ever-coveted, ever-elusive, real engagement

Friday, 17 August 2012

Pinterest launch Android and iPad app

The virtual pinboard site has been ringing in the changes recently, much to the delight of its users, and this move will further add to the sites popularity with the greatly requested Andriod app.

Android users will be thrilled by this news after being ‘very vocal with their requests for an app’. Pinterest have ensured a job well done by designing the app to be fully functional on both Android tablets and phones, allowing users to spend more of their time productively on the site. This news will be similarly welcomed by Kindle Fire owners who can download the app from the Amazon Appstore later this week.

As well as addressing the need for an Andriod app, Pinterest have simultaneously released their iPad app, which they believe may be ‘the best Pinterest experience yet’. This is because the app makes it even more effortless to discover and pin new material. Furthermore, it has always been part of the vision of Pinterest as the sites co-founder, Evan Sharp, has recalled witnessing Steve Jobs demo of the iPad and realising that “Pinterest would be used [like that] sometime in the future”. According to the Pinterest blog post, the app will also offers new ways to engage with pins through the ‘embedded browser’ and swipe screen feature, which returns the user to the main screen. Whilst the iPad app has just been created, Pinterest have updated their existing iPhone app to allow users to see more pins in a more efficient 2 column layout.

Part of the aim behind these apps is to allow users to go out and do the things they love, inspiring them to later contribute to the site. By having it in the form of an app, users will be able to utilise the site when and wherever they feel. It is expected this will increase usage of the site and possibly even see a growth in the number of users. This may increase even further with hints that Pinterest will be working on an app for Windows mobile platforms.

Becoming a force in the mobile market may have another consequence in leading to further brand engagement. With already 51% of the top 100 global brands on their site, this is destined to rise. The brands must follow where the users go to maintain their status and Pinterest is often the perfect platform to showcase them. The creation of new categories will also suit these brands as it becomes even more crucial to their social media marketing work.

Overall, these new developments at Pinterest represent clear steps they have taken to address the needs and requests of their users. Maintaining a clear line of communication and stressing how invaluable the Pinterest community of users is, has really endeared people to the site. It must also be noted that Pinterest has risen to these impressive heights by working with existing social networks, not shunning them. A lot could be learnt from the examples Pinterest are setting. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Google+ to get custom "vanity" URLs

In a welcome change to Google’s social network, steps have been taken to finally introduce what they are branding ‘vanity’ (custom) URL’s.

The move will eventually see the removal of the elongated, and difficult to remember, URL’s, which irritatingly involve many numbers. In place of this, one’s URL will be a plus sign followed by their desired name. So for example, instead of BBC News having their current URL ( it could quite simply be This will make it far easier to share and discover sought after Google+ pages.

Already some of the major companies and celebrities on Google+ have been handed these custom URL’s (+davidbeckham, +TOYOTA and +hugoboss to a name a few). Google Product Manager, Saurabh Sharma, has noted however, that these custom URLs will initially only be applied ‘to a limited number of verified profiles and pages’. He continues to promise that they will be available to more brands and individuals in the future.

Judging by the comments to Sharma’s post, this is something many Google+ users have been craving. Most significantly it seems that many companies have been seeking this change to help increase their visibility and ease in sharing their page, not to mention the fact that it looks far more professional.

The time frame for this change has not been specified and it appears it could take a while to verify those who require custom URL’s. Nevertheless, it is a step by Google to bring their network in line with competitors Facebook and Twitter, who have offered this service for a while now. It proves Google are still investing time and advancing their social network despite it having faltered against competitors. Still there remain many companies who question whether a Google+ account is worth the effort as the ‘social give and take’ is far less than comparable sites. If anything though, this move should benefit businesses as more may potentially join the site looking to boost traffic and visibility.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Reality Television and Facebook?

Reality TV on Facebook

A Chance to Dance is a new American reality show that will become the first show to air both on a cable channel and Facebook.

The move taken by the show’s producers, Nigel and Simon Lythgoe, highlights their ambitions to generate more of a buzz and subsequently capitalise on this with improved audience ratings. It has been recognised, particularly from the recent Olympics, that viewers are often online whilst they watch, contributing to various social media sites. This is something that television companies could really look to harness and reality TV seems a perfect start.

Although there have been increasing steps to combine social media with reality TV in recent times, this move is the ultimate step and may see the show really prosper. In similar shows, Twitter has been utilised to involve the audience, creating hashtags to spark conversation and debate. In A Chance to Dance, Facebook viewers will be able to post comments and chat about the show, answer trivia questions, get access to exclusive footage and witness interviews with the producers. Clearly, the combination of the two will immerse viewers even more than before and will hopefully help build a bigger audience.

By targeting fans of the previous shows American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, the producers hope to see a large proportion of Facebook viewers during the shows air. These viewers will be required to pay $1.99 per show or $11.99 for seven episodes. The network company Ovation will not be using the Facebook credit service and will instead opt to use credit card or Paypal transactions.

Facebook credits

The decision not to utilise this service signifies part of a growing trend which recognises the relative inoperability of the service. Reality show Big Brother has experienced a great amount of difficulty with the service and recently had to completely suspend it for one eviction. Facebook themselves have begun to move away from the service, choosing to use actual money in their Bingo and Slots Friendzy games. The Financial Times has reported that Facebook are likely to discontinue the service ‘at the end of the year after hearing from merchants that the 30 per cent cut it took on transactions was unpalatable’.

Social media and other shows

Having Facebook stream live shows does make a lot of sense in the reality TV world but if this were to branch into other areas it could have detrimental effects. With reality TV, arguably the shows don’t require a great amount of concentration and social media lends itself to the format as viewers can voice their opinions and feel part of the programme. Conversely, if a new drama were to be aired on Facebook, viewers are likely to not pay it their full attention, possibly missing significant information and superior camera work. Whilst social media can be beneficial in generating the hype, perhaps keep these shows to television. In spite of this, viewers could be online anyway during watching a show. Either way, it is difficult to see credible shows turning to social media as another way to stream their shows.

It will be intriguing though, to see whether this move will be mirrored by other shows in the future. Were it to prove a success with A Chance to Dance, then it is likely to be seen again. Hopefully, were this to be the case, the shows would be given the same attention as if it were shown on television.

What do you see as the future for television and social media?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Twindex - Is this the future of political polling?

With the current US presidential campaigns in full flow, it has become clear how significant a role social media now plays. Polls have long played an essential part in gauging candidates’ popularity but the development of the ‘Twindex’ begs the question if these will ever be redundant?

Brought to life by data analysis company Topsy, in conjunction with polling firms North Star Opinion Research and The Mellman Group, the Twindex will provide a daily update of how the candidates are polling. Each day at 8pm EST, the Twindex will be updated, scoring the candidates from 1-100 as a percentile, Topsy explains. So in the present situation, Obama has a relatively neutral score (44) whilst Romney, the Republican presumptive nominee, is sitting at the more negative end of the scale (26). The tweets taken into account include those that directly refer to the candidate’s surname or their Twitter handle, but omit the use of hashtags and other ways of referring to the candidates.

Whilst the Twindex cannot be considered totally representative, only ‘15% of online adults are on Twitter (Feb 2012)’, it does help highlight the current overall trends in opinion of the candidates. When shown in comparison to the Gallup polls, the Twindex does generally reflect a similar view. Most notably with this, one can see Obama’s ratings universally shoot upwards following the death of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011.  The daily updates of Twindex can highlight the role of smaller scale events in their favourability. For instance, Twitter Government (@gov) has recently posted that Michael Phelps has suggested ‘#olympics gold-medal US gymnasts helped drive @BarackObama's +10 #twindex gain’.

So will the Twindex ever eclipse the need for traditional polls? Quite simply it seems the answer is no. Instead, if the two systems were to be used together, a more comprehensive view of public opinion would be possible. With traditional polls, a range of questions can be asked in a conversational, public style. Conversely, with the Twindex, insight can be gained into more private views, those usually limited to ‘coffee shops and water coolers’, but with lesser range. The head of government, news and social innovation at Twitter, Adam Sharp, views this combination as being the future of the Twindex. Still, one cannot totally rule out the possibility of polls exclusively utilising social media at some point. Voters could be asked to voice their opinions through social media on a range of topics and the results of this then collated into a chart much like what the Twindex uses. This would avoid any false answers and perhaps give a more realistic result. It is unknown where this creation could take political polling but there are definitely possibilities for change.

What the Twindex really shows us is the ever-increasing role social media plays in politics. With both candidates surpassing previous budgets on their digital campaigns and more people turning to social media, it is understandable how this is the case. Political Science professor Colin Moore has highlighted that ‘it allows candidates to… tailor their messages to specific demographics’. Furthermore, it can be important with those crucial undecided voters. The informative and influential role social media can have is able to directly contact with voters, arguably more closely than television or other forms of media. Ultimately, social media is slowly finding its form in the political realm and this trend undeniably has the power to expand. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

5 Tips on Becoming a Successful Internet Marketer

The internet is loaded with Internet Income Opportunities that you haven’t even heard of. And you’re obviously making a pass on every internet opportunity without even knowing it. It’s not a crime, of course but it’s a mistake you shouldn’t think of committing again. While it’s okay to do so, don’t make it a habit to let Internet Income Opportunities pass you by every now and then while wishing to earn more than what your day job can offer. That’s not going to happen. 

To make sure that you’re getting more out of the product of your sweat and blood you need to stick to the essentials of internet marketing. As a professional, you should know that nothing beats the essential. So you’d better learn them as fast and as early as now.

It is not a day dream to think that you can potentially earn big income online. You’re actually day dreaming if you don’t know that you can. To start with, the internet is a free flowing stream of different Internet Income Opportunities in and out of your country. Unfortunately, the obstacle you need to face in this type of business is that some great internet opportunities may not be offered globally. But hey, that shouldn’t stop you from earning even a little extra, right? 

Anyway, while you’re at it, here’s the 5 essential tips you should follow (seriously) to become a successful internet marketer. 

5. Don’t give up – Most people will give this advise at the end of everything they’ve convinced you of doing. But the thing is, giving up is mostly seen at the beginning of a goal. If you can’t bounce back from the first try or is too discouraged to even try again then that’s giving up. Don’t even do it! The point is, you need to start again from the beginning not from were you’ve stumbled. Why? Because it is essential to know what mistake you’ve made from the beginning which caused your fall. Start over if you must, change your strategy and approach but never give up. 

4. Learn and Relearn the basics – Think you’re too good to relearn the basics? Think again! If in the beginning you misunderstood the basics of doing things then you’re sure to fail the next time you take a step. So when you fail, go back to the beginning and study your mistake. 

3. Update – If you’ve been in the internet business for a while, you know how important updating is. If you want the traffic to thicken in your website then you’d better make sure that your contents are current and up to date. 

2. Advertise – Make yourself known to social networks. This is a great way to promote yourself aside form using catchy titles to grab the attention of audiences. Social networks are alive 24/7, 365 days a year and the best part is that social networks are internationally known. Make use of this tool to let people from different parts of the globe know what you are offering. 

1. Improve and Evaluate – Always make room for improvement. Evaluate if you must but most of all, make sure that as the time and season changes so does your versatility to the cyber world. 

So there you have it. 

What makes these tips important is the fact that they are easily forgotten. They are simple that’s why they are often underestimated by most professionals, which shouldn’t be the case. Little did you know that once you master these, they surely won’t let your business down the drain. Follow these and the next time you open your email, you’ll be reading mails sales and traffic on your site and other Internet Income Opportunities coming your way.