Tag Archives: technology

The Power of Google in Social Media Marketing

Written by: Hannah Redmond
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Hannah.pixOn March 7, Google knew it was my birthday and served me a birthday Google Doodle. When I left work, my Android phone told me that it would take me 32 minutes to get home, that an Amazon package was waiting on my doorstep, and that a new episode of my favorite show would be on TV that night. I didn’t set up any of these alerts; Google just knew to tell me.

Since Google implemented a new design and Single Sign-On (SSO), requiring Google Plus accounts for all users, it knows what I search for (Google Search), where I’ve been/where I’m going (Google Maps), and what I buy (receipts in my Gmail). Google Plus ties this all together to create a database of information to deliver custom digital experiences.

As a user, I love this integration. It makes my life easier and makes running errands more efficient. And I am happy to let Google learn more about me and deliver these custom ads and experiences if it means that this wonderful service will remain free for users.

As a marketer, it’s exciting to think about how this will impact the work we do for our clients. Google is tracking loads of behavioral data on what consumers are doing online and offline every single day, creating an opportunity for incredibly innovative and targeted marketing.  For example, if we know that our target consumer is reading reviews of pet food during a lunch break, we could potentially send them a coupon when they’re about to pass by our pet food store on their way home.

Users’ experience on Google Search is becoming more custom, as well. Based on variables like a user’s connections, friends, search history, and location, Google Search results are unique. As a marketer, I want to give consumers a voice and a platform to publicly talk about and review my clients’ products and services to help insert them into more search results. I want to make sure our clients have a strong, optimized presence on all things Google – from Google Plus to YouTube – since Google social channels are the only social channels indexed in Google Search, unlike Twitter or Facebook.

Google is becoming a foundational platform on social, and the brands that win will be the ones who are harnessing its influence across platforms.

Why Google Has the Best Shot at Making the Killer Smartwatch

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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Saw this on Wired and had to share.  I’m only massively enamored with “wearable tech.” First watch the video, then read the article. I think you’ll want this too!

Why Google Has the Best Shot at Making the Killer Smartwatch

Last week, Google unveiled its vision of the smartwatch, the elusive Next Big Gadget. It takes the form of Android Wear, a new version of the mobile operating system designed specifically for on-the-body devices. It’s a good deal more sophisticated than the smartwatches we’ve seen hitherto, relying on the company’s unparalleled voice recognition for registering simple commands and promising to serve up the “info and suggestions you need, right when you need them” thanks to the same predictive, personalized algorithms that power Google Now on Android phones.

Amidst speculation that Apple’s long-fabled iWatch might in fact be a health-specific wristband, Android Wear is clearly aiming for something much bigger. And that makes sense. If there’s any company today that has a chance to make the multipurpose smartwatch we’ve all been dreaming of, it’s Google. But it’s not just heaps of data and algorithmic might that make Android Wear promising. It’s also Google’s approach to the endeavor–its willingness to let third-party developers deeper into the stack and, potentially, to let users define the experience for themselves–that could help make it a hit.

Context Is King

Context is the holy grail of wearable devices. With the limited real estate of a watch face, knowing what app, service, prompt or data point a person needs at a specific moment becomes paramount. The shiny promotional videos Google released this week show how context plays out in Android Wear in a number of situations. On the bus, your smartwatch might show you the next few stops; if there’s a meeting coming up, it’ll remind you who it’s with, and offer directions for how to get there. The video suggests a few less obvious use cases, too. If your Android Wear watch feels itself shaking around and its microphone hears music, it might figure out that you’re dancing, and tell you what song’s playing.

But context isn’t just about using sensors to intuit your environment and activity. It’s also about tying your scattered digital existence to your actual, physical self. It’s about looking at your calendar, your inbox, and your contacts in concert, cross-referencing them, and coming away with a more human understanding of your schedule, your to-do list, and your circle of friends. When it was released in 2004, Gmail did away with the hassle of organizing email by letting you search through your inbox. At its best, a contextually-savvy operating system like Android Wear takes the next step, doing away the hassle of search by surfacing the stuff you need automatically when you need it.

It’s this second, more intimate type of context that Google is so uniquely poised to conquer, according to Nick de la Mare, principal of design consultancy Big Tomorrow. De la Mare, who worked extensively on wearable projects as Executive Creator Director at Frog, sees Android Wear signaling a move to contextually-driven simplicity over the “maximalist,” computer-on-your-wrist approach of watches like the Galaxy Gear.

“There are very few companies that have that repository of data to provide that simplicity,” de la Mare says. “Google is one of the only organizations that can take the management away from you and provide something meaningful.”

Revisiting Our Assumptions About Apps

Image: GoogleContextual awareness is the key to a functionally robust smartwatch. What will make one truly useful, however, is how easy it is to use. The metric for success is simple: for a smartwatch to make sense, it has to let you do things more quickly than you could by pulling your smartphone out of your pocket.

This is where a lightweight user interface is key, and it seems like Google’s got a promising foundation, mixing concise, swipe-able cards with optional voice commands. From one perspective, it’s the logical continuation of the card-based UI that took root with Google Now. From a different viewpoint, however, it’s something considerably more radical: a reinvention of mobile apps as we know them.

The Android Wear UI is based on two core functions: “suggest” and “demand.” Suggest is the term Google uses for all the notification cards that make up the watch’s “context stream.” These could include urgent notifications, like text messages, that buzz your wrist when they come in, or morsels of data that get silently added to your stack, like scores of sports games.

But these aren’t “notifications” in the smartphone sense–hollering flags that pull you back into a third-party app. On the watch, they serve as the apps themselves. Google lays out strict guidelines for how these should work: “Omit needless text from your notifications. Design for glance-ability, not reading. Use words and phrases, not sentences. Show, don’t tell: Where possible use simple icons, glyphs, and visualizations to convey your message.”

A smartwatch has to let you do things more quickly than you could by pulling your smartphone out.

Notifications can be supplemented with additional “pages,” which people can access by swiping sideways on their smartwatch screen. These can add additional information or actions users can take on the data. The example Google gives is a reminder for a picnic. The notification itself reminds you that you have a picnic scheduled with a friend; the next page tells you that you’re responsible for bringing bread, cheese, and wine; and the third gives you a button for navigating to the spot.

It’s worth reiterating: This is Google’s idea of a smartwatch app. Timely notifications and relevant actions, all bundled up in a relatively strict visual language. Apps, in this vision, become much more homogenized; they’re about utility, service, information and action more than anything else. In this new model, you don’t tap icons to summon apps. Instead, they just pop up when you need them, triggered by contextual cues like location, time, or activity.

The other part of the Android Wear interface is “demand,” encompassing something Google refers to as the “Cue Card.” This is a list of commands that can be spoken or tapped on screen. From the look of things, it seems like these will include a preset list of actions for calling cabs, taking notes, sending messages, setting alarms and the like. These can either be triggered by tapping the screen, or by saying the command aloud. In Android Wear, apps aren’t to be thought of as discrete programs but rather as actions you can take.

Here’s an important bit: Google’s developer documents state that users will be able to choose which app corresponds to these demands. This is where Google’s willingness to let users choose could be a huge boon to their smartwatch efforts. Presumably you could pick whether saying “call me a cab” triggers Uber, say, or Lyft.

stack

Compare this to Siri, where Apple decides which third-party services get folded in and dictates what information you receive. Think about what happens when you ask Siri what movies are playing that night. You get a few seemingly random movie times, with zero opportunity to fine-tune the results, sorting by reviewer rating or by a preferred list of movie theaters. Hypothetically, with Android Wear’s more flexible model, you could map that same “what movies are playing tonight” command to whichever movie times app worked best for you.

We can say little with certainty when it comes to what we’ll want from smartwatches and the apps that run on them. But the approach Google’s seemingly taking with Android Wear–to let third party apps in, under strict UI and UX guidelines, and to let users choose which they want to rely on–seems like a smart compromise.

Humility and Flexibility

Android Wear is a compelling vision for smartwatches. But for now, it’s just that. Google and its partners have been mum on hardware details, and much remains to be seen about how they’re planning to power a full-color, always-on display. Even if they do figure out the hardware, there are many ways in which Google’s smartwatch efforts could falter.

For one, let’s not forget, these are the people that make Google Glass. The scene in the promotional clip that shows a guy on a crowded bus talking to his watch says it all. Google continues to live in a world where wearables are an inevitability, cyborgs are cool, and talking out loud to your gadgets is as normal as striking up a conversation with the person next to you. “Google is sometimes a little bit tone deaf in terms of the social mores,” de la Mare says. And wearables, as much as anything, are devices can live and die with social acceptance.

There’s also the question of balancing utility and personalization. Google’s already working with a number of hardware partners, promising a diverse range of looks for potential Android Wear devices. Watches, at day end, are accessories, and having different styles will be a big draw. But is Android Wear itself going to be as flexible? Will users be able to pick what watch face is showing? Or to tweak the predictive powers of the “supply” stack? A mainstream smartwatch won’t likely be a one-size-fits-all solution, and having software that can accommodate different types of users and use cases will be important, too.

That gets to the more foundational question, of how much people really need a smartwatch in the first place. Is a wearable screen, as Google shows it, viable as a mainstream product? The video shows many of the vanilla use cases we’ve talked about for years: reminding you about appointments, showing you how long it takes to get to work in the morning. But not everyone has a packed calendar and a potentially gridlocked commute. Right now, Android Wear is a purely utilitarian endeavor, leaving little room for the do-anything magic that sparked the smartphone’s huge success. “There’s definitely some poetry that can happen with a smartwatch,” says de la Mare. “That’s something they’re not really exploring.”

Of course, the fact that Google is exploring at all, and inviting developers to explore with them, seems like a shrewd course. Where the multitouch wonders of the smartphone were quickly obvious, it stands to reason that finding the perfect fit for a smartwatch will take a greater level of trial and error. Apple will refine and rework its wearable device, whatever it may be, until it feels like it’s figured everything out. Google, it seems, is more inclined to do that process out in the open–like they’ve done with Glass, for better or worse. That willingness to feel things out, to see what makes sense, could be the key to its success. “If they tell everybody what the answer is, they probably will fail,” de la Mare says. “But if Google does this with humility, there’s every possibility of it becoming ubiquitous.”

Software Will Eat The World

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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Photo: Nigel Parry (from Wired)

Every few weeks I read an article that inspires me and it becomes the thing I talk about to everyone that will listen. On a recent plane ride I got caught up on my reading and found that latest inspirational article. It’s the cover story of the most recent Wired. Wired is doing a series of regular profiles of icons that have changed the world. The first one is an interview with Marc Andreesen, the man who co-invented the first web browser, pioneered cloud technology, and invested in companies like Facebook, Groupon, Twitter, and Zynga.

Read this article if you want to get a glimpse into where technology is headed. Below are some of my favorite quotes, but I highly recommend you read the entire article here: http://bit.ly/LlqYL6.

Marc Andreessen: Technology is like water; it wants to find its level. So if you hook up your computer to a billion other computers, it just makes sense that a tremendous share of the resources you want to use—not only text or media but processing power too—will be located remotely. People tend to think of the web as a way to get information or perhaps as a place to carry out ecommerce. But really, the web is about accessing applications. Think of each website as an application, and every single click, every single interaction with that site, is an opportunity to be on the very latest version of that application. Once you start thinking in terms of networks, it just doesn’t make much sense to prefer local apps, with downloadable, installable code that needs to be constantly updated.

[Wired Editor-in-Chief] Anderson: Assuming you have enough bandwidth.

Andreessen: That’s the very big if in this equation. If you have infinite network bandwidth, if you have an infinitely fast network, then this is what the technology wants. But we’re not yet in a world of infinite speed, so that’s why we have mobile apps and PC and Mac software on laptops and phones. That’s why there are still Xbox games on discs. That’s why everything isn’t in the cloud. But eventually the technology wants it all to be up there.

————-

Andreessen: The application model of the future is the web application model. The apps will live on the web. Mobile apps on platforms like iOS and Android are a temporary step along the way toward the full mobile web. Now, that temporary step may last for a very long time. Because the networks are still limited. But if you grant me the very big assumption that at some point we will have ubiquitous, high-speed wireless connectivity, then in time everything will end up back in the web model. Because the technology wants it to work that way.

————–

Anderson: [Edited]  For every million that Craigslist made, it took a billion out of the newspaper industry. If you transform these big, inefficient industries in such a way that the value all accrues to a smaller software company, what’s the broad economic impact?

Andreessen: My bet is that the positive effects will far outweigh the negatives. Think about Borders, the bookstore chain. Amazon drove Borders out of business, and the vast majority of Borders employees are not qualified to work at Amazon. That’s an actual, full-on problem. But should Amazon have been prevented from doing that? In my view, no. Because it’s so much better to live in a world where that happened, it’s so much better to live in a world where Amazon is ascendant. I told you that my childhood bookstore was something you had to drive an hour to get to. But it was a Waldenbooks, and it was, like, 800 square feet, and it sold almost nothing that you would actually want to read. It’s such a better world where we have Amazon, where everything is universally available. They’re a force for human progress and culture and economics in a way that Borders never was.

Again, read the whole article here, and, if you get as inspired as I was, definitely check out this video of a fireside chat Marc did with Wired’s Chris Anderson at a recent Wired Business Conference.

SXSWi Recap

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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If you ask me how SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) was this year, I’ll tell you it was fantastic and that I was personally inspired on multiple levels.  Yes it was crowded, I’m not sure the exact number but I heard tale of 20,000 plus attendees, and yes it rained for part of the time.  But SXSWi is all about what you make of it; I went with an open mind, a light agenda, and the desire to learn, and I had a blast.

To summarize SXSWi 2012 in just a few words, it was a place to get motivated for what’s next.  The sessions I attended and the people I met were all looking forward and not back. This year wasn’t so much about what the next big technology was, it was more about what the next big concepts are.  Concepts like The Future of Content, The Start Up Revolution, Storytelling, and Distinguishing Your Product.

Here is a (relatively) short recap of my trip to Austin (Sessions link to the audio when I could find them)…

About Austin / SXSWi

Inside ACC Day 1
  • Long Lines – It started a little rough, the line to get my badge stretched through the entire building.  Estimates were 2 – 3 hour wait time.  #humblebrag, I was able to sneak in with some friends who were sponsors, but I felt a little guilty about it.  This signaled that this year would be much more crowded than in year’s past and made me realize that if I wanted to see specific sessions or attend parties, I’d have to plan on getting there early.
  • Beyond ACC – A few years back the only place you would need to be during the day was the Austin Convention Center.  But now sessions are scattered amongst multiple hotels, bars, restaurants, and private homes.  You learn quickly that you just can’t go to everything and you have to plan your day around travel.  The upside is that Chevy provided free rides if you could “Catch a Chevy” or test drive one of their new cars.
  • Rain – For the first two days it rained hard.  It put a damper on the companies that had outdoor installations and it also made it challenging to get from place to place. The upside was that crowds weren’t too bad and Bing was offering up free food and drinks to lure you in to their soaked city.

Sessions

  • Lots of Sessions about “Me” – The first panel I attended was the CEO and founder of Thrillist talking about… well, Thrillist.  I also saw sessions where leaders from Google Plus, SCVNGR, Funny or Die, and Living Social talked about themselves.  There were quite a few of these, and some were better than others.  The best ones were where the speakers spoke about mistakes they made and gave insight into what was coming.
Kawasaki + Gundotra
  • Great session about “Me” – I watched the Fireside Chat between social media celebrity Guy Kawasaki and Google+ Plus mastermind Vic Gundotra.  Kawasaki literally grilled Gundotra about Google+ with questions like, “Why don’t you open your API already like your competition?,” “What are you doing about the SPAM issue?” and “Will we see advertising around everything we do in Google+?” I give Gundotra credit, he answered every question with articulate professionalism and he didn’t shy away from anything.  He took full responsibility for the API issue saying that his mission was to open it up by year’s end but that because of the Google ecosystem that includes search, Gmail, and Android, he needed it to be of the highest quality and he wasn’t willing to allow things to break all the time like they do on a certain other social network.  He claimed that they were hyper focused on the SPAM issue and pointed out that because of Gmail, they were the best at figuring this out.  And he stressed that while you will see advertising, because of the laser targeting capabilities that Google has, you should be seeing incredibly relevant advertising.  He also stressed that not everything will have advertising, he said that you should not expect to see ads when you open content like photos.  The main takeaway, and the most important point for marketers like myself was that Gundotra wanted everyone to stop thinking of Google+ as a social network and instead think of it as Google 2.0.  He said that for the first time, all Google products were working together including search, documents, email, social, and mobile.  This is just the start of a major renovation for Google, he said, and you will see a continuity like you’ve never seen before.
  • Great session about storytelling – I went to the session titled, “Does Your Product Have a Plot?” by R/GA’s David Womack.  A full house watched as Womack described the structure of a good story and how some brands have mastered the art of storytelling and how others have not.  I am a huge fan of storytelling and as Womack was talking I found myself scribbling thoughts on how to improve many of the projects I’m working on right now.
Tim O’Shaughnessy and Steve Case
  • Another great session about “me” (Part 1 – Steve Case) – My favorite session of all was the Fireside Chat between AOL founder Steve Case and LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy in a session called, “Tapping Into America’s Secret Sauce: Entrepreneurs.”  Both were there to promote their own initiatives but the insight that O’Shaughnessy gave about building his business and where it was going was truly enlightening.  Case promoted his political initiatives surrounding the Small Business / Start Up act which is culminating right now in the Senate.  He explained that 40 Million jobs in the US are attributed to small businesses and that we should be promoting growth in this sector vs. large businesses which ultimately don’t net a lot of new jobs, they just rise and fall and essentially stay even.  Case also spoke about the Sharing Economy and some of the investments he’s made in transportation (zipcar) and hospitality (Exclusive Resorts). He also referenced his appearance on the Colbert Report and how Colbert asked him about sharing toasters.  Additionally he discussed the idea of Crowdfunding concepts like Kickstarter and how the Start Up bill would allow this to happen on a grander scale and relieve some of the restrictions that currently prohibit companies from having more than 500 investors.
OgilvyNotes Interpretation
  • Another great session about “me” (Part 2 – Tim O’Shaughnessy) – Case admitted in full transparency that he was an investor in LivingSocial but then proceeded to ask some incredibly challenging questions of O’Shaughnessy like, “When will you go public?” and “Why did you partner with Amazon?”  O’Shaughnessy handled the tough questions well and consistently referred to Groupon without calling out their name.  He explained that the climate was not right to go public (Groupon!) but that it was a necessary step to compensate both investors and employees.  In reference to Amazon, he said that LivingSocial is a local company and Amazon is a massive national/global company and together they were ideal partners.  This is where it got interesting.  He explained that LivingSocial’s mission is to be the local company that powers businesses that have things to sell.  Meaning that LivingSocial was looking beyond just “deals” and finding ways to help small businesses grow through their platforms.  One example he had was that LivingSocial was helping restaurants create new businesses such as cooking schools in their less busy hours.  He said that the “deal” business was just one step in their plans.  When Case asked “What mistake did you make that you could advise others to avoid?” O’Shaughnessy replied, “Move faster.”  He explained that LivingSocial started as a Facebook-based advertising-based business that was earning $1 Million a month and then scrapped that business for the “deal” business.  He said that was a hard thing to do both for his employees and investors but that in hindsight he wished he’d done it faster.  He said that 3 months could have made all the difference (alluding to the fact that Groupon got the jump on them).  The final point that resonated with me was when O’Shaughnessy explained that they realized the impact of Facebook ads before anyone else.  While other web-based companies were using mostly Google search, they realized that their audience was responding tremendously to Facebook ads.  He told the audience to pay attention to new forms of advertising and marketing that others haven’t figured out yet.

Conversations

Aside from the great sessions I attended, I received tremendous inspiration from the countless conversations I had primarily with people I was meeting for the first time or hadn’t seen in quite a while.  The topics that motivated me the most revolved around:

  • Content – It was clear from all the major media companies and countless start ups that content geared for online and mobile viewing is being produced at a rapid rate.  I have a personal point of view that within the next two years, once the connection between our mobile devices and our televisions becomes seamless, there will be an explosion of content.  We will go from 1,000 channels on our television to hundreds of thousands; that we’ll see far fewer shows that reach 5 million people and more that reach 10,000.  But those shows will be targeted.  We’ll see shows about home improvement, gardening, tax preparation, education… you name it.  There will be seemingly endless niche-based programming that will not have major ratings, but it will be appealing to advertisers and sponsors because of it’s hyper targeting.
  • Innovation – Riffing off of something that Tim O’Shaughnessy said in his panel, true innovation is not about improving another company’s product by 10%, it is about complete reinvention.  There was a lot of bouncing of ideas with people and improving each others’ concepts.

Sponsors 

Lots of them.  It is really hard to stand out at SXSW because there is a ton of competitive noise and very little space to properly brand yourself. That said, there were a few standouts:

  • Chevy – You could not miss Chevy at SXSW.  Their cars were everywhere as was their signage.  As previously mentioned, they provided tremendous utility with their “Catch a Chevy” program which helped people get from place to place – a significant help with the bad weather, the spread out sessions/parties, and a huge lack of hotel rooms.
  • Bing – Great setup with food, drinks, and games.  Bummer on the rain and the technology breakdown of trying to register on non-working laptops was comical given the Microsoft sponsorship.
  • Nike – Amazing installation for people that owned the Nike Fuel band.  Block long exercise court lined with massive digital walls.
  • The Sponsored Cafes – CNN and Fast Company took over restaurants and offered free food, drinks, entertainment, and co-sponsored interactions from the likes of 3M, Samsung, and Kind.

Parties

Also lots of them.  The best thing I experienced this year was seeing music at some of these parties.  I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to avoid music to just focus on tech, but sometimes  you just can’t get away from your true love.  And this year I ran smack into a couple of amazing bands that ended up being highlights of my SXSWi experience.

Ghostland Observatory
  • Friday night I was introduced to Ghostland Observatory at the Start Up America Partnership (Steve Case’s cause) party and was literally blown away.  I haven’t been this excited after seeing a band since the first time I saw Nine Inch Nails play.  Turns out I’ve been living under a rock and these guys are already huge, but thanks to @Brad Alesi at The Marketing Arm for introducing me to these guys.
  • Speaking of Brad Alesi, he also introduced me to Green River Ordinance at the AT&T w/ Jason Falls party.  Again, I didn’t go expecting to see a band, just to hang with some AT&T folks and to have great hot dogs @Frank, but turns out I got treated to a great band, who like Ghostland has been around for quite a while and has a huge following.  I must be living under a rock.  But glad I climbed out to see these bands.

In conclusion, I had a great trip, saw some amazing sessions, ate like a fool, rocked out, and came back invigorated!

Here are some other reports back from SXSW that will give  you some additional perspectives:

Social and Digital in 2011

Written by: Digitally Approved
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At the beginning and end of each year, recaps of the previous year are always prevalent.  Lists of best songs, movies, and books are the norm in blogs, newspapers, and magazines.  So too are predictions of what is to come, especially in the technology and marketing/advertising space.   At Fanscape, we also have our opinions about what we expect to see in the coming year.  What we’ve compiled here is a list of our predictions along with a few others we’ve seen that we completely agree with.

1. Smartphones as common as the toaster. 2011 is the year smartphones take over. With an expectation of smartphones nearing 50% penetration in the US, Verizon adding the iPhone, and tablets taking over, we’re all going to be walking, talking, emailing, playing, and sharing while we chew gum. Mobile extensions to your social marketing plans are a must. Optimize your messaging for iPhone, iPad, Galaxy, Blackberry, Droid, et al.

2. Companies will integrate social feedback into their decision making process. In 2011, we will see a growing number of companies finally go beyond using social channels merely for building awareness and providing support. Expect to see a rise in companies who, by end of year, will be recognized for socially-informed innovation, customer focus and work environment, much like Zappos and Amazon were a few years back. (Predicted by Ravit Lichtenberg on Read, Write, Web)

3. Social Commerce. People like their Facebook, that’s where they spend most of their time online.  Facebook would prefer you didn’t leave.  So, why not buy all your stuff right there? Right now on Facebook you can book your Delta Airlines flight and buy your buddy a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream.  We’re definitely going to see more of this transactional business directly on Facebook this year.  And then we’ll start seeing it in other social platforms, not to mention on our phones.

4. Website Evolution. Websites will continue to become more social. Should I have a website or should I just be on Facebook?  You need both.  In fact, you need to be in more places: LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress/Tumblr/Posterous.  And this list will grow.  Start by making your website more social.  Integrate Facebook open graph; allow people to “like” and rate the content on your website.  Overarching plan: give people a reason to return or else they’ll grab your store hours or client list and never come back.

5. Groupon: here today… Prediction is that we’ll burn out on the current incarnation by year’s end.  But that doesn’t mean it is going away.  Let’s call it what it is, the digital version of the guy with the sandwich board handing out flyers.  Retailers have more opportunities to drive people into their stores than ever before.  Ask a retailer if they liked their Groupon (and similar) experience and about half will say no.  Consider this a brilliant innovation or a retail marketing disrupter, but we’ll see more of this.  Google wasn’t going to spend a fortune buying Groupon for their health.  This is the evolution of targeted advertising.  Foursquare had you check in, Groupon had you buy a deal, expect a merging of the two: meet your friends at the local bar, the whole table gets a discount.  Reward the loyal and those who return, not just the lookie loos.

6.    The Digital Talent Pool The real talent—the ones you really want—are entrepreneurial and creative, and they’re not waiting around in your lobby to get a job. They’re trying it on their own.  Media outlets will find future talent on YouTube, iTunes, or other popular audio/video on-demand sites like BlogTalkRadio. NBC Universal announced an initiative last week where they will select 20 popular “tweeters” in each market to create content for their websites, broadcast segments, and other distribution channels.  (- Jessica Northey on Social Media Today)

7.    Video, not just for looking at babies and cats. YouTube is the number 4 most viewed website and guess who just cracked the top 20?  Netflix.  (per Alexa) Most of the sites on the rest of the list serve up plenty of video too (Facebook, Yahoo!, CNN, etc.).  Pay attention to sites like eHow and Howcast if you want to know how to build a table, bake a cake, or change a car battery.  People like visuals.  Show and tell is easier than ever and again, it’s what people want.  And going back to mobile, people can watch this on the go now too.

8.    Digital and Social immersion. Merge radio frequency identification (RFID) with smartphones and social networking and you complete the loop of total immersion in connectedness.  One word: EpicMix.  See what they are doing at Vail ski resorts and you’ll get it.  Your ski pass is embedded with a unique ID.  It knows where you are, how many miles you’ve skied, it tells you where your friends are, and it provides a platform to add photos and video.  You unlock badges that automatically update to your Facebook page.  You don’t need to do anything.  Imagine the extensions to shopping, dining, and travel.

9.    Cause Marketing. Expect brands to integrate a little extra feel good into their strategies.  Over the last two years charity started at home, but we’re starting to loosen our purse strings a little bit.  When it’s apples to apples, we’ll lean towards the more socially conscious product.  And technology is making this easy through things like text donations for NPR podcasts and fundraising apps such as kickstarter.  Remember this term too: Crowdfunding.

10.    Social Search. We put this at the end because it really started last year.  We just don’t believe everyone quite understands it yet.  At least not its implications for brands and their products.  Realize that when people now have conversations about you via open social networks (i.e. Twitter – for the moment), that filters into the search query.  Immediately.  So when you are looking up where to buy a barbecue, you’ll see real time conversations about the exact same thing!

Innovations and honorable mentions, a.k.a. things to keep an eye on this year: Quora, Social Scrapbooking, Social news on your tablet (e.g. Flipboard), near field communication (i.e. mobile payments, mobile ticketing, QR code reading, etc.), entertainment check-in apps (e.g. GetGlue, Philo, Miso), and of course, web-enabled televisions.

Google Wave: The Future of How We Communicate?

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Catching up on industry news…have you heard of Google Wave?

About Google Wave
Google Wave is a new model for communication and collaboration on the web, coming later this year.
Here’s a preview of just some of the aspects of this new tool.

google-waveWhat is a Wave?

A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.

A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

google-wave2

I Knew I Was Old When…

Written by: Digitally Approved
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I truly believe that age is relative to how you feel. Some people at 23 years of age feel ‘old’ while some people at age 73 feel ‘young’. I am constantly reminded of how old and how young I am through the advancement of digital media, communication and tools.

When I understand Twitter I feel young. When I don’t quite get “Call of Duty 4”, I feel old. Then again, I also feel like a girl with better things to do.

My latest feeling ‘old’ or ‘young’ moment happened the other day while reading one of the many emails Media Post sends me daily. This one featured a blog post titled “Engage: Kids 6-11 – At the Forefront of the Era of User Choice and Control”. Now this ongoing blog series is designed to keep me aware of how to engage youth, so I’m already knocking on ‘feelin old’s’ door, but not even one paragraph into the piece, I read something so powerful that I had to stop to write this. It says that today’s 6-11 year-olds can basically get their entertainment anyway they want – through television, video games, merchandise, etc. That is no earth shattering revelation, but then the post concludes by calling us (adults), digital immigrants, and them (kids), digital natives.

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