Tag Archives: Yelp

Amazon Launches ‘Home Services’ To Take the Guesswork Out of Booking Goat Grazing Services

Written by: Rita Mogilanski
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Amazon recently launched Home Services, a portal that allows users to find, schedule, and purchase professional services through Amazon. The services that are currently provided include appliance repair and installation, home cleaning, music lessons, iPhone repair, and so much more (including Goat Grazing).

Why Use Amazon?

Amazon handpicks the service providers to assure quality by performing background checks and verifying insurance and licenses. They remove most of the risk associated with choosing domestic help by suggesting only verified vendors and giving customers standardized, prepackaged prices. Amazon will match prices if customers find a lower price for the service provider elsewhere, and you are only charged after the service is completed.

4.1-1This service will prove helpful for users making purchases that need installation. When shopping for an air conditioner, I was served a link to book a professional to install the appliance. This seamless integration relieves much of the stress around installing major appliances. Consumers already trust Amazon and will be willing to go with the professional services the platform recommends to expedite the process.

4.1-2
How is it Changing the Industry?

Other similar platforms like Angie’s List and Yelp provide users with trustworthy reviews. Unlike Angie’s List, there is no membership fee for Amazon, and unlike Yelp, you can book directly through the site. Competing platforms may choose to increase the services they provide to be more robust in order to compete with Amazon’s one-stop shop experience.

TaskRabbit, which is a platform that provides services very similar to Amazon Home Services, has partnered with Amazon in such a way that allows Amazon users to hire fully-vetted “Taskers,” or TaskRabbit’s service providers, through Amazon.

Small businesses that rely on the local community may feel the pressure of competition from businesses listed on Amazon. For professional services looking to get their business on the website, they can apply here. Businesses pay Amazon a portion of the profits, and Amazon handles payments and customer complaints and issues, taking some of the stress off the professionals as well as the customers.

If you’re looking to take the risk and guesswork out of booking professional help, Amazon Home Services is a great tool. They are currently making life easier for customers and small business owners in most major US cities. For similar platforms, however, the competition just got real.

Image: Amazon.com

Image: Amazon.com

 

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Facebook Launches New Places Directory to Rival Yelp
Facebook has quietly launched a new Places Directory, which lets you search for the best destinations in cities across the world. The results are ranked by user ratings and show comments from friends and others in your Facebook network.

Social Spend Will Double by 2018
Social media advertising spending will more than double in just five years, according to a new forecast from BI Intelligence. The group predicts social ad revenues will jump 40 percent from $6.1 billion in 2013 to $8.5 billion this year and 195 percent to almost $14 billion in 2018. Factors driving this growth: increased reach, improved targeting, improved measurement capabilities, and the rapid expansion of programmatic buying options.

Twitter Announces Several New Features
During Twitter’s Analyst Day event, the company promised to launch new services including new messaging, video creation, and content curation features in the coming months. The goal is to make the social network more engaging to new and existing users. Some of the new features announced include: Timeline Highlights, Instant Timeline, breaking news alerts, real-time video editing and sharing (native Twitter video), improvements to private messaging, and more stand-alone apps.

Facebook Debuts ‘Say Thanks’ Video Feature
Facebook launched a new feature called “Say Thanks” that helps users create “video cards” for friends and family. To create the cards, Facebook automatically combines content featuring users and the person they’ve chosen to commemorate. Users can then edit that content and choose from different card themes before sharing them.

YouTube Unveils Music Streaming Service
YouTube launched its new music streaming service this week. Music Key will be ad-free and begin on an invite-only basis with a promotional subscription price of $7.99 per month — discounted from $9.99. YouTube is also adding a music-focused tab that includes favorites and recommended playlists. YouTube’s Music Key also includes a subscription to Google Play Music.

Global Social Media

The Countries Where Facebook Censors the Most Content
As Facebook expands, countries are increasingly interested in making content on the social network disappear. Censorship on Facebook increased 19 percent between the first six months of 2014 and the last six months of 2013. But censorship isn’t distributed evenly. Some countries are more trigger-happy than others. India leads the list with 4,900 pieces of content restricted. Turkey and Pakistan follow closely with 1,800 and 1,700 “pieces of content” removed. Facebook only restricts content when it is “illegal under local law.”

Noteworthy Campaigns

JetBlue Launches Fly It Forward
JetBlue Airways recently introduced a new program called “Fly It Forward” that enables customers to spread goodness from one to the next. The program is inspired by the airline’s crew members and is carried on by customers passing along one ticket on a continuous journey throughout the JetBlue network. To celebrate the launch, JetBlue released a video featuring the first four fliers to participate in the program. The video also calls for the public to submit their own nominations for deserving travelers. Consumers can follow stories as they unfold at jetblueflyitforward.com and help write the next chapter by submitting their own entry through Twitter using #FlyItForward.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Twitter Launches New Look
Twitter’s new design starting rolling out this week along with some other changes to the platform. The profile page now comes with a Facebook style large photo at the top and profile picture inset. Tweets with more engagement appear larger than ones with less engagement. Users can choose to pin their favorite tweets at the top of their profile feed. Users can now incorporate emojis into their tweets. In addition, users will start to see pop-up notifications when others on the platform engage with them. And finally, Twitter launched several new ad varieties including app installs, click-to-call and email signup options. Check out the new layout here, here and here.

Facebook Updates Ad Design 
In the coming months, Facebook will be rolling out a new design for ads in the right-hand column. This updated look will make right-hand column ads more visually consistent with the ads that appear in the News Feed (aka bigger). In early tests, Facebook reported seeing 3x the engagement from people who saw the new design. Some advertisers will start seeing this option later this month. The rest, later this year.

Facebook Aims to Clean Up News Feed Spam
Facebook this week announced a series of improvements to the News Feed to reduce spam from pages that are deliberately trying to game the system to get more distribution. The update targets three broad categories of feed spam behavior including: “Like-Baiting” (when a post asks News Feed readers to like, comment or share a post in order to get additional distribution beyond what it would normally receive),  Frequently Circulated Content (posting repeated content over and over), and Spammy Links (stories that use inaccurate language or formatting to trick people into clicking through to a website that contains only ads). Facebook is updating its algorithm to remove or adjust the frequency of all of the above.

You Can Buy Nielsen Ratings on YouTube Starting Next Month
Google is now confident enough in Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings product that it’s going to start selling guarantees to advertisers based on OCR ratings one month from today. And as of the end of 2014, Google will have OCR integrated direction into its Doubleclick platform.

Global Social Media

Yelp Goes Live in Japan
Yelp stepped into Asia when it launched in Singapore in September 2012 and now, nearly a year and a half later, its finally expanding its presence in the continent after going live in Japan. The move into Japan is a good one considering that the country overtook the US on global mobile app spending last year.  Yelp is now available in 26 countries.

Noteworthy Campaigns

SodaStream Targets Ocean Pollution
SodaStream has launched a cause-related campaign that aims to raise awareness of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a collection of mostly plastic waste that is twice the size of Texas. The campaign encourages consumers to sign a petition (hosted on Change.org) that will be sent to world leaders “urging them to work to address the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans.”  Additionally, the initiative incorporates contests, social media sharing tools and branded entertainment to humorously take a dig at the soda industry – which it blames for environmental damage. SodaStream dubs the Pacific garbage patch “The Secret Continent” and using satire treats it like a “resort” destination. Visitors to the Secret Continent site are invited to explore the “fun plastic heaven in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.” They can scroll through colorful images of the “rare and enchanting fish,” including the “Plastic Fish” (water bottle), the “Common Piranha-Cola” (soda bottle), the “Carryfish” (plastic shopping bag) and the “Rubber Snail” (condom).  In case you miss the irony, an FAQ section explaining the joke is made clear on the site. If users can come up with catchier names for The Secret Continent or design its flag they can win SodaStream machines.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Facebook Lets Users Create Their Own “Year In Review”
Twitter and Google have both launched their year-end reports, and now Facebook has put a personal spin on 2012. Users can visit Facebook to see the 20 biggest moments of their year, including personal life events, and their most popular shared stories. They can also find out how many friends they’ve added and how many pages they’ve liked this year.

Amazon Integrates with Facebook to Launch Social Gifting Feature
Amazon just launched a new feature that lets you connect your Facebook account to the site in order to keep track of your friends’ birthday and anniversaries, as well as their shopping wish lists. Amazon is billing the new Friends and Family Gifting feature as a central hub for gift ideas throughout the year. Once you connect with Facebook, you’ll be able to see the wish lists that your connections have created on Amazon as well as information about things they have liked through Facebook.

Twitter Adds Photo Filters
Starting this week, Twitter users can edit and refine photos right from Twitter. The latest versions of Twitter for iPhone and Android will also allow you to enhance the images you tweet through a partnership with Aviary, which powers filters and effects. Eight filters are now available ranging from black & white to vintage.

Twitter Introduces Negative Keyword Targeting to Make Ads More Relevant
This week, Twitter began offering “negative keyword targeting” for Promoted Tweets, which will let advertisers buy a term but avoid having the ad shown in contextually irrelevant situations. For example – an advertiser that buys the term “bacon,” as in, the edible product, could make sure it doesn’t show up near conversations about actor Kevin Bacon. In that case “Kevin” would be a negative keyword.

Google Launches 18 New Google+ Features
Eighteen new features are now available for Google+ including new mobile, photo, event and Hangout updates aimed at making “sharing and communicating easier and more fun than ever.” The new Android feature allows on-the-go profile editing, along with improved posting tools. Google is also offering full-size backups of photos for free via its instant upload tool.  Photo spheres are now available in the mobile stream. Google is also pushing live support for animated GIFs, birthday reminders in Google Now, and a dedicated lock screen widget. For Events, Google is now offering the option to send messages to specific guests and see who has opened your invitation. Hangouts can now be operated on very low bandwidth connections. For an overview of all of the updates click here.

Facebook Gifts Roll Out to All Users in the US
Just in time for gift giving season, Facebook has made its new e-commerce platform, Facebook Gifts, available to everyone in the U.S. With Gifts, you can send your friends real gifts through Facebook. With the official launch, users can give gifts from over 100 retail partners as well as virtual subscriptions  from Hulu, Pandora, Rdio and more. Users can also give gifts to charity in their friends’ names.

 

Global Social Media

Iran Launches Its Own Hyper-Censored YouTube
Early last year, reports appeared that Iran intended to build a “halal Internet,” using the Muslim term for what is morally “permissible.” In October, concrete evidence of this shadow Internet began showing up with secondary IP addresses being assigned to a large number of personal computers. A further piece of the plan has now come online. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has launched “Mehr” a kind of hyper-censored YouTube, approved for virtuous Iranian use. Mehr means “affection” in Persian. Mehr aims to attract Persian speaking users and promote Iranian culture.  Iran has long been a bellwether of Internet oppression. Its censorship and record of arresting social media users is only second to China. Iran has censored YouTube since 2009.

Yelp Launches In Turkey
Yelp announced this week that they have launched in Turkey. This marks the 20th country that Yelp has expanded its services to.

 

Noteworthy Campaigns

Old Navy Goes Social With BuzzFeed
Old Navy has launched a marketing partnership with social content channel BuzzFeed that includes a branded microsite, “Deck the Web,” and video content and tie-ins to the Old Navy Facebook Page, along with a promotion called the “Griswold Lightacular Challenge,” in honor of their seasonal advertising campaign. The “Deck the Web” microsite has an app that lets users add virtual “Holidays All The Way” ornaments to any website through a click-and-drag feature. The “Griswold Lightacular Challenge” allows users to upload photos of their holiday lights and general set-ups for a chance to “Out-Griswold the Griswolds.” The effort dangles either a $10,000 Clark Griswold award or one of two $2,500 Rusty and Audrey Griswold awards. Wrapped up with the online work is a 60-second video featuring JORDAN KNIGHT OF THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK.

Top Travel Tips

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Getting there is half the fun, right? Rarely. If you are like us, you are always searching for the best deal and the best advice when you are planning your vacation. There are a tremendous amount of resources out there to help make this process a little less painful and a little more enjoyable. Social websites, blogs, and applications have proliferated over the past few years and we’ve done our fair share of testing many of them.

If you’re looking for reviews from people who have “been there,” WhereIveBeen is for you. Want to sidestep the Internet cafes and use your mobile phone or laptop, the Wi-Fi Finder is the must have app. Wondering if you chose the best seat on that transatlantic flight? Seatguru.com is for you. In search of exclusive hotel deals, don’t forget to visit the Hotels.com Facebook page. Running through the streets of Rome and need a bathroom, SitOrSquat will be your best friend. Having a little staycation, don’t forget about your daily steals on GroupOn and LivingSocial. Whether you’re headed out on the open road, hopping on a plane or spending a little quality time with the family poolside, let Fanscape help you make the most out of your vacation time with 10 more of our favorite travel apps and resources.

TripIt (Free: Android / Blackberry / iPhone / Online)

TripIt makes order out of the paper trail (virtual or otherwise) that has been created by planning a trip. It is a hub for all of your travel plans to reside – from flights to room reservations to rentals. After you’ve created a free account, simply email your confirmations to plans@tripit.com and TripIt processes the information and creates a master itinerary for you. The service also connects you with local weather, directions and city guides to help you make the most of your vacation or business travel time. This information can also be shared with your friends, family and associates. The “Pro” version offers travel alerts, frequent flyer mile tracking and exclusive travel benefits. And at $49 per year the Pro version could be a life saver for the well-traveled business person.  USA Today’s AutoPilot (iPhone.iTouch only), is a very similar service, but is designed to sync up with TripIt.

Yelp (Free: Blackberry / iPhone / Online)

True, Yelp has been around for a while now, but there’s hardly ever a time where this doesn’t come in handy when trying to figure out where to eat – at home or away. If your taste buds feel adventurous you can always try UrbanSpoon, but Yelp and its more than 11 million user-generated reviews can help you find the perfect restaurant, event or special offer. Businesses can set up accounts, but it is the users who provide the reviews in an unfiltered and unbiased manner – allowing for us to pick places based on real-life experiences.

Around Me (Free: iPhone only)

If you like to go where the day takes you, or even looking for the nearest gas station, try Around Me. It let’s a traveler or even a local quickly find information and businesses based upon your location. For every listing you can see the location on a map or view from where you are.

Travel Channel GO (Free: iPhone only – coming soon to Android and Blackberry)

The Travel Channel’s GPS-enabled travel tool allows you to explore the world and experience a city like a local – discovering the best things to do and see. Discover nearby places that were featured on the Travel Channel and get tips from trusted Travel Channel hosts. You can also share travel hot spots and experiences with your friends as well as fellow travelers.

Trip Journal ($0.99 iPhone / Android)

This is one cool app. Google Earth integration allows for friends and family to follow your routes, locations, full screen photos, video and blog entries. The app is also integrated with Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter, making this a f-u-n and highly interactive app.

VRBO.com (Online)

VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner – is a fantastic site to find some of the best privately owned vacation rentals, homes, condos, cabins, villas and apartments. They have a blog that’s brought to you by the VRBO bear highlighting some of the actual rental properties available. You can search for a rental and even list your own property.

CruiseCritic.com (Online)

If you are a fan of the cruise ship lifestyle, CruiseCritic.com is a must visit site. This site offers editorial content, offers and news. What’s great about this site is its member review section. The member reviews are extensive and honest – providing specific information on cruise lines, particular ships and destinations as well as ratings on different aspects of the experience such as entertainment, excursions, family and children’s options.

TripAdvisor.com

TripAdvisor is like a trusted friend – helping you plan and have the perfect trip. Hotels, flights, restaurants and rentals, the site has’em. Unsure of where you even want to go? They also offer recommendations based upon your preferences. They’ve taken to the social space with a Facebook page and Twitter account than is the perfect complement to its website – offering discussions and relevant travel news for those about to depart.

Jetsetter.com

Get yourself invited! Jetsetter is a private online community geared for the more sophisticated traveler that provides its members with great insider access to special sales to some of the world’s greatest resorts and destinations. If you’re familiar with Jetsetter’s sister site,  discounted high fashion shopping hub, Gilt Groupe, you’ll understand that once you’re invited to be a part, you’ll have access to some great merchandise at fantastic prices.

Gadling

This travel blog is part of the AOL family of blogs and is chock full of travel information and pictures. The great thing about this blog is it isn’t centered around one city or one component of travel, but rather covers just about everything – from deals to healthy road trip snacks. Interested in info on the Opryland Hotel, they have that too (psst, it’s re-opening on November 15th).

As we mentioned at the start, there are an incredible amount of travel resources at our fingertips – all devised to help simplify our lives. The more socially plugged-in we become, the easier it gets for us to make the best travel decisions and purchases. The result is a more carefree and enjoyable experience. Just what a vacation should be.