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Glass Half Full

  
  
  
  
  

Samsung is hoping to beat out Google in the latest tech-race to be the first provider of a computing eyewear device. Samsung calls their version “Galaxy Glass.” The device would connect directly with your smartphone and offer many of the same capabilities that have been advertised with the “Google Glass,” including push notifications, music display info, and photo capabilities. Since Google has put off the launch of their Glass to the latter half of 2014, we’ll see if Samsung can come up with a quality product before that time, or end up producing another flop like the Galaxy Gear. Either way, I raise a glass to their efforts.

For more information check out this great article on TechCrunch.

galaxy glass

Do you think Samsung will beat Google to the punch? If so, will you hold out for Google Glass?

Using Facebook Graph Search for Your Brand

  
  
  
  
  

Graph Search is officially here! That is, it’s available for individual users, but we know that won’t stop you, the savvy marketer, from thinking about how you can use it. We know you’re ready to take advantage of the next biggest thing since the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button.

It’s important to note that because Graph Search is connected to a your personal profile, results are ordered by the connections closest to you or by the number of fans of the pages. 

Facebook created the dynamic, long-tail, natural language search tool so that users can find people and pages with nearly infinite combinations of variables. For example, you could use Graph Search to find oxymoronic results like “People who like Beer and joined Alcoholics Anonymous” or “Christian Males who like Fifty Shades of Grey,” but that’s probably only good for a few laughs (or if you’re a troll, a few weeks worth of amusement). Putting self-amusement aside, Graph Search has serious implications for your brand.

 

Christian Men who Like 50 Shades of Gray

Now that Graph Search has launched, consider cleaning up your social media policy as soon as possible. The last thing you want anyone to find is that your brand is listed under “Places where people who like Racism work.” But how far you go as an employer to tell your employees what they can and cannot like is an ethical issue you’ll need to work out in your own company.

The real value of Graph Search lies in its ability to support your marketing research. The easiest and most obvious way to use this functionality is to find out who likes the brand and what their interests are. Search for “People who like [your brand]” and click on “More pages they like” on the right column of the screen to learn more about your fans. After figuring out their common interests in brand page, combine multiple brand pages in your long-tail search to find which brands are similar to both. This can have great insight to complementary brands. Now try selecting “Activities they like” in the right column and you may find a few sponsorship opportunities.

 

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By going through these steps you can find a broad pool of people you can potentially convert into fans based on the brand correlations you found above. You may even include geographical constraints to see where in the world you should concentrate marketing efforts.

Finally, another way to use Graph Search is to research your competitors using the same steps. Where are their fans located? What do they like? Which activities do they do? See, we knew you weren’t going to be deterred by the fact that Graph Search is only open to individuals, not brands. You savvy marketer, you!

 

Social Media is the Aleph

  
  
  
  
  

In his short story “The Aleph,” Jorge Luis Borges recalls an experience he had gazing into an aleph. He describes it as “one point in space that contains all other points. The only place on earth where all places are—seen from every angle, each standing clear, without any confusion or blending.” This fictional story regards the aleph as a both a gift and a curse because it gives the gazer a chance to see and know everything on earth. That is what social media has developed into today. Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and countless other sites, we now have the opportunity to see all—to see into people’s lives and to see the world like never before. Social media has opened up the unimaginable universe. Like peering into the aleph, checking your newsfeed or your Twitter timeline provides insight into everything in our world, from every angle—simultaneously, infinitely.

The aleph is significant beyond Borges’ short story. Its symbol is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and is literally a part of the word “alphabet.” It is venerated by Kabala and other mystic traditions that put value on an aleph as the pursuit of truth. Like the aleph in these ancient traditions, social media is the means by which we seek truth in modern times. From companies to customers, from artists to fans, from friends to family, and from your PC to mine, we can now paint a more accurate, “truer” picture of the people we interact with via social channels. Social media offers us an endless amount of communication that is continuous and extremely transparent. Through following people, companies, bands, etc. on social media, we can see who their friends are, what interests them, where the have been, where they plan to go, their religious, and political stances and a plethora of other information that we otherwise wouldn’t have discovered.

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"Aleph Sanctuary" - Mati Klarwein

Thanks to the advances of social media technology and the massive amounts of information these sites are processing, we have transitioned into the age of the “recommendation.” There are logarithms, programs and software that can now introduce you to more people, places, and things based on what you already like and your physical location. You can discover when concerts and art festivals are happening in your area, what news is breaking, and what song will go well with your mood for the day. Other sites will recommend vacations spots, restaurants, lawyers, and doctors. Heck, these sites can find you a job or an employee—all out of the comfort of your living room! This age of “recommendation” is giving us options like never before and it is shocking how incredibly accurate the recommendations are.

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As our technologies grow and progress, we must accept that our lives are no longer veiled in secrecy. You can be a pessimist and see this as an intrusion on your privacy, but if you are receptive to this information exchange, the possibilities are endless. The more you share, the more people will share with you. The more you follow, the better recommendations you will get and the more useful social media will be for you. So instead of being wary of this connectivity, you could revel in the endless possibilities of this aleph. It will undoubtedly open your world to bigger and brighter things while introducing you to more people and experiences you would have never had an opportunity to access before.

Jake Annear

Will Video Kill the Instagram Star? Video-sharing Apps Compete for “Next-Instagram” Title

  
  
  
  
  

Without a doubt, one of the biggest social media stories of the year has been Facebook’s cool $1 billion dollar purchase of Instagram, a free photo-sharing mobile app that allows users to edit, stylize, and upload photos to several social media platforms. Instagram’s popularity and success can be attributed to a variety of things they recognized about the social media world and its users. First and foremost they appreciated the growing importance of social media on the go, and made their app fast and efficient for mobile use. They also saw the potential in enhancing a mobile photo into a work of art with digital filters: people have the tendency to be more enthused about a personalized pretty picture they created than a regular ol’ snap shot on the iPhone or Android. Since the new Facebook with Timeline has become increasingly oriented around photos and aesthetics, it is not surprising that Mark Zuckerberg would decide to purchase the best app best suited to enhance this aspect of Facebook users’ experience (and perhaps even knock out future competition). Although Instagram is still immensely popular, social media stops for no app, and the company’s success has only energized other start-up tech companies to come up with the next big media-sharing app. And this future big app on campus will undoubtedly be a video-sharing equivalent of Instagram.

 

The Front-Runner

Leading the way for video-sharing apps at the moment is Socialcam, which is second only to Instagram in the Apple Store’s most downloaded free Photo & Video applications. Boasting over 10 million downloads, Socialcam allows users to upload their videos to social platforms and edit videos right after taking them on their mobile device. While the formula seems to follow that of Instagram to a ‘t’, Socialcam also allows users to further personalize their mobile movies with soundtracks and custom titles, as well as with Instagram-esque digital filters.

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Socialcam is one of many hopefuls in the race to be the next Instagram, and the competition is sure to heat up with apps like Viddy, Klip, and others gaining momentum. Because these apps are all free, users are able to discriminate by personal preference, aesthetic, and desired capabilities.    

 

The Competition

Viddy allows users to upload 15-second videos to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr. Like Socialcam, Viddy allows you to edit your mobile movies on the go with music, digital filters, transitions and more. The Viddy celebrity community is spearheaded by Britney Spears, who has 28.3K followers.  While Viddy is the 9th most downloaded free Photo & Video app, it might be able to amass more of a following if the app was available for Android phone, as only iPhone users can enjoy Viddy now.

ViddyBritney    

Klip, another iPhone-only app, offers users 20 real-time video effects. On klip.com, users can upload directly and share their movies with the klip community publicly or more privately.  Klip also encourages social media platform integration not only by sharing movies on a variety of platforms, but also by enabling searchable hashtags on the klip site. Users can use hashtags in the title of their videos, track trends or find like-minded movie makers.

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Video might not kill the Instagram star, but these apps are certainly the ones to keep an eye on in the upcoming months.

  

Have you downloaded a video-sharing app? What do you think the next Instagram will be? Let us know what you think.

- Emma Neisser

#TheVoice: Setting the Trend for Social TV

  
  
  
  
  

Everyone has their guilty pleasures. One of my many is watching singing competitions on TV.  American Idol is in its 11th season, and there are only so many ways Ryan Seacrest can suspensefully inform a singer of his or her fate. So I was beyond giddy when I heard about The Voice for two reasons: 1) Christina Aguilera 2) social media.  Let's just get Xtina out of the way — I love her, she’s my favorite singer ever. I could gush on and on, but let’s focus on what really makes this show stand out: its social media integration.


Christina AguileraOk, moving on for real now...


WHY IS SOCIAL TV SO IMPORTANT?



According to B&T, 27% of people polled watched a TV show based on a recommendation from a friend via a social networking site. On top of that, 26% of people polled also reported being made aware of the existence of a TV show by seeing a post about it on a social media platform (I first heard about The Voice on Twitter). Furthermore, Nielsen, the holy grail of TV ratings, recently released a study that reports 45% of tablet owners, and 41% of smartphone owners, use their device while watching television. So why not just steer the viewer’s online conversation? The Voice has done just that by strategically placing #TheVoice on the screen when they think people are most likely to tweet about the show.

Adam Levine
The powers that be think we should feel compelled to tweet about Adam's sultry stare.


Producers at The Voice attribute their high ratings to use of this hashtag. As many as 70% the show’s tweets during the first live episode included the hashtag “#TheVoice,” which is about twice the industry average. Upwards of 3,000 tweets per minute are hitting the web during its airtime — and that doesn't account for the thousands of tweets during the other 21-22 hours of the day. The Voice has successfully become a 24-hour social media conversation.



WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE VOICE?



What separates The Voice from other TV shows is that it doesn’t use social media only as a marketing tool — social media is the core of the show and its integration is organic. One of the first things contestants are given when they land in LA is a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, and training in blogging and social media use. The Voice has a room dedicated to social media, and contestants interact with fans on the air when they're not singing.  Several times during the show contestants answer Tweeter’s questions live. Leading the social conversation on air is The Voice’s Social Media Correspondent. Last season, Alison Haslip held down the fort, and since The Voice was considered so successful in the realm of social media, I am unsure why she was replaced by singer Christina Milian for the second season.

The V Room
The V Room is where the social media magic happens!



STARTING A TREND



According to Bluefin's rankings, The Voice has one of the highest levels of social-media engagement among all shows. During its first season, it held the #1 ranking among all episodic TV shows. This is in part because the official twitter account for the show, @NBCTheVoice, keeps time with the West coast broadcast.  Now that The Voice is in its second season, the competition with American Idol is really heating up.


American Idol is copying many of the social media techniques utilized by The Voice, but not well. AI contestants' Twitter handles (quite obviously created by some higher-ups, with no respect for individuality) are now being pushed onto the audience regularly. The show has started showing screenshots of Twitter conversations between the contestants and the artists whose songs they've been covering. There have been rumors that AI judges (unlike the "coaches" on The Voice) have been asked not to use the phrase, “the voice,” when providing feedback to singers. But The Voice definitively knocked any competition between the two by the wayside when Kelly Clarkson, arguably the most popular American Idol winner, tweeted she was cheating on American Idol by watching The Voice. Then in season two, Kelly was brought on The Voice as a guest mentor.

Kelly Clarkson


I have to admit, while I love the concept behind the blind auditions and coaches in The Voice, American Idol still has better singers. My interest in the expanding world of social media, and love for Christina Aguilera, however, are what keep me tuning into The Voice each week.  I have a feeling we are going to continue to see crossover elements in both shows, and I hope the competition to stay atop the ratings benefits the viewers, and continues to pave the way towards more social television shows.

The Voice Coaches

 

Do you think the social media integration found in The Voice is the future of television?
 
- Allison Rossi 

Steve Jobs as a marketing maven

  
  
  
  
  

Apple announced Wednesday that its co-founder, two-time CEO and face of the company, Steve Jobs, had passed away after a seven-year struggle with pancreatic cancer.

To detail each of Jobs’ game-changing creations would prove too lengthy for a single blog post.  Suffice it to say that a number of articles, books and even a movie have already delved into the life of the college dropout who went on to become one of the most successful and recognizable tech whizzes of our time.  The first authorized Jobs biography will hit shelves later this month, giving both the fanatics and the Mac-curious more to digest.

While a great deal of attention has been paid to the awesome (and I mean “awesome” in the truest sense of the word) gadgets conceived and created by Jobs, little has been said about his adeptness on the commercial side.  Business 2.0 once called Jobs “easily the greatest marketer since P.T. Barnum.”  Indeed his charisma, stage presence and signature style (black turtleneck and jeans) secured him the status as Apple’s most popular MC.  Although his role as marketer and showman was secondary to the innovator mantle, it still supersedes other CEOs and digital gurus.

To honor Jobs, here’s a look back at some of his most memorable marketing moments: 

1. “1984” Macintosh Ad, 1984: Directed by Ridley Scott, aired once during the Super bowl and named best commercial of the decade by Advertising Age. ‘Nuff said.

 

2. “Knick Knack,” 1989: The first animated feature created by Pixar, which Jobs purchased from LucasFilm and took to new heights. While not a reflection of his marketing prowess, the streamlined cinematography seemed to channel the crisp iMac ads that would run nearly a decade later.

 

3.  “Think Different,” 1997: While Jobs might not have created the iconic slogan, family, friends and followers consider him the embodiment of the phrase.

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4. Silhouette iPod ads, 2001: Watching those dark figures rock out against candy-colored backgrounds gave you the irresistible urge to buy an iPod and join their legions.

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5. “Get a Mac” campaign, 2006 to 2009: Probably the funniest Apple ad series of all time. Laidback Mac (Justin Long) always outshined his hopelessly flawed counterpart, PC (John Hodgman).

 

6. “New Soul” MacBook Air commercial, 2008: Yael Naim’s feathery voice provided a nice backdrop to the introduction of the first laptop to fit in a manila folder. Everyone was humming the tune throughout the year.

apple mac air envelope1 

7. iPad ads, 2010: Like its iPhone predecessor, the iPad commercials highlight a user-friendly interface and diverse functionality.  A neutral voiceover and soft piano keys add a simplified touch.

ipad advert e1268053004115

 

Farewell, Steve Jobs. Thanks for the gizmos, the tech revoultion and the vision.

Nicole Duncan

The many faces of a social network

  
  
  
  
  

To the chagrin of many users, Facebook has given itself yet another facelift.  The latest changes include a Top Stories feature, a real-time chat and comment tool and a revamped album view. 

Top Stories is an enhanced version of Facebook’s tailored news feed, which now features blue tabs, indicating which stories have occurred since the user’s last login.  The new ticker tool shows real-time updates in a small corner on the upper right side of the homepage.  When the chat box is opened, the ticker attaches itself at the top. (Please note: this feature does not appear active on my account at publishing time).  Among the other changes are a Friends lists (‘Circles,’ anyone?) and subscribe buttons.  The full details of the new settings and tools are posted to Facebook’s FAQ page.

While many of us are still adjusting to the new features, even bigger plans are underway for a complete renovation— one that will make past nips and snips seem inconsequential.  As Mashable’s Ben Parr reports, “The Facebook you know and (don’t) love will be forever transformed.”

Before this social czar becomes unrecognizable, here’s a stroll down memory lane of previous (and often equally infuriating) changes.  If you’re still longing for the simple Facebook of yesteryear, The Social Network briefly showcases several past versions.

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2004: Fresh, streamlined an innovative.  It was a time when college students were asking their distant friends, “Has your school signed up for the Facebook?”

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2006: The homepage gets its first major overhaul with news feed. Facebook groups with names like, “Bring the Old Facebook Back!” crop up. This was also the year the floodgates opened to the public, not just students.

facebook 2008 640

2008: Perhaps taking a page from Google’s Gmail, the social network adds a chat feature.  If you’re like me, you haven’t been signed in since then.

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2010: What had started as an intimate webpage now feels like an overcrowded party.  Privacy concerns soar while the The Social Network paints a less-than-flattering picture of founder Mark Zuckerberg.

2012: Facebook takes over the Internet?  Everyone jumps ship to Google+?  Share your thoughts in our comments section.

 

Nicole Duncan

Foursquare Flail

  
  
  
  
  

describe the imageIn 2009, Twitter became the talk of the town.  The next year, daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social kept the social media community on its toes. As 2011 approached, Geosocial applications like Foursquare and Gowalla looked as though they would become the newest communications craze. Even Facebook prepared for such a possibility by adding a Places feature to its networking options.

But as the third quarter winds down, the year no longer seems ripe for a check-in revolution. A survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals that while 28 percent of cell phone owners use location-based services for directions and recommendations, but only 5 percent are checking in.  When looking specifically at smartphone owners, the former figure jumps to 55 percent while the latter only increases to 12. 

If Facebook were an oracle hinting at Foursquare and Gowalla’s potential growth, perhaps it is also a harbinger of their decline.  Just two weeks ago the social networking giant dispatched Places in favor of more versatile (and less stalker-like) location functions. 

The failure of geosocial services to find traction could be attributed to a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is privacy.  While some critics might site safety concerns, others simply do not want to broadcast their location across the various networks.  Although check-in applications didn’t become this year’s social media darling, such services could always make a late-game resurgence.  After all, it took Facebook six years to turn a positive cash-flow.

 — Nicole Duncan  

Offline is back on

  
  
  
  
  

gmaillab unpluggedSomewhere along the way to smartphone ubiquity and tablet trendiness, offline became an unsavory word.  Not as repugnant as dial-up or spam, but certainly not magnanimous like 3G.  Social networks, web searches and general connectivity became more important than offline activities like word processing and Minesweep.  The short-lived popularity of netbooks is a testament to the notion that if you’re not connected, you might as well turn your [insert device] off.

But what if you’re in a cafe that has no wireless?  What if your Aunt Elsie’s house is out of range of your 3G network?  Unless you had the foresight to download your work beforehand, such situations serve as flashbacks to pre-2008 computing.  The only difference is that now your choice of activities is even more limited as offline has been left to the wayside by many digital innovators.  

One of the tech behemoths that started this shift was Google: It introduced free programs like Gmail and Google Docs much to the chagrin of software developers.  This May the company released its own netbook, the Chromebook, which seemed to solidify its commitment to the online occult.  

You can imagine my surprise when I learned that Google was rolling out an offline version of Gmail.  The application, which can be downloaded through the Chrome Web Store, is similar to its tablet version in appearance and functionality.  As a dumbphone user who loves frequenting wifi-free cafes with my laptop, the ability to read, respond and sort through old e-mails without a connection is a major boon.  Traditional mail servers like Outlook, Thunderbird and Apple Mail have worked offline for years, but their mobility limitations, screwy settings and bland appearance kept them from reaching Gmail rock star status.

Google announced that it plans to extend this capability to Google Calendars and Docs as well— the latter of which will prove tricky given its collaborative nature.  And if the search-engine-turned-tech-giant decrees “offline” to be an option for the 3G world, others may soon follow in its path.

Nicole Duncan

Socially disconnected at the worst time

  
  
  
  
  

twitter and facebook for 2011 hurricane season updates

Mother Nature seems to have it in for the East Coast this week, which began with an unusually strong earthquake and will end with an unusually far-reaching hurricane.  In moments of crises and bizarre weather, being in the loop is not just comforting, it can also be crucial to staying safe.  

While the four major wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) are preparing for high activity levels and potential outages, Hurricane Irene could knock out electricity, Wifi and wireless towers.  Shortly after the earthquake Tuesday, many carriers (especially Verizon) were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of calls and texts.  Even Washingtonpost.com failed to load for several minutes, presumably due to extreme amounts of traffic, although a shaken server could also be to blame.  

If the default sources of communication including cell phones, landlines, e-mail and social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc., were down, what would you do? Granted, the chances of an Armageddon-like outage is highly unlikely, but it still begs the question.

PC Magazine has a roundup of the best devices and apps for disasters.  While some of their recommendations like the weather apps and FEMA Twitter feed would require some wireless waves, others like the hand-crank radio work regardless of connectivity.  

Not to say that you should blow your savings on a solar-powered oven, but if the past week is any indication of natural disasters to come, a couple of Walkie-talkies might be a worthwhile investment.

Nicole Duncan

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