Yearly Archives: 2013Blog

Twitter IPO: Why Social Is the New Low-Fat

Everyone in the tech world wants to come up with the ‘secret sauce,’ the ‘killer app’ — the one ingredient that makes their product or service irresistible and essential. With Twitter’s successful IPO everyone should recognize by now that that ingredient is social media.

It reminds me of several years ago when fat-free foods were the rage. Reducing fat in our diets was believed to be a key factor for longevity and robust health, and this is probably true. But what was amazing was how quickly food producers began touting their low-fat products, or creating low-fat versions of products that normally are ‘full fat,’ including low-fat donuts, ice cream and pizza. It wasn’t long before almost every edible product we could buy had a low-fat label on it. And if that was all that was necessary to ensure good health it would have been a great thing.

With social media we’re seeing the explosion of something on the Internet that’s been arising since its beginning, and that’s the power of mass interactivity. Because communication on the Internet is two-way, brands can target ads, gather data, follow users from site-to-site, create profiles of their activity online (if not specifically identify them), all towards the end of getting advertising messages in front of them. But what’s different today is that interactivity is bypassing the brands altogether. Consumers are now talking to each other via social media about brands, products, services and prices before making buying decisions.

People on social channels are ‘curating,’ (gathering things of interest to post online), and ‘recommending,’ (sharing things they like with others online). These two activities are what makes social so important. Depending on whose statistics you read, anywhere from 80 to 95% of consumers prefer a recommendation from someone they know over a search engine result or an advertisement for a product when deciding to buy something. In fact, the very notion of a ‘brand’ is changing. It’s no longer what you say about yourself that matters, but what others are saying about you.

So, what does this have to do with low-fat? Soon, most websites will need to find ways to incorporate social tools for their users. This means not just providing ‘share’ links out to social media websites, but tools that allow customers to connect with each other within a site. Imagine users being able to curate items into a ‘set,’ and then sharing their sets with others to solicit opinions and comments. Or tagging, naming and saving sets, which others can then search for, add to their accounts and edit. Social tools like this could be implemented for everything from clothing and household items, like on Polyvore, to color palettes and swatches like on Adobe Kuler to content on news, movie and TV sites. Customers will be able to learn from and be inspired by other customers. In fact, consumers will begin demanding these tools, just like they did with low-fat foods.

Businesses need to get involved with social media now, if they haven’t already, and start gaining experience. The Twitter IPO, if nothing else, will open the door for investment in sites that offer ‘social commerce’ solutions that attract customers. With close to 2 billion people already using social media we’re way past the learning curve. And consumers will only continue to tune out advertising. The only caveat is that you won’t get away with selling potato chips that merely reduce a portion from 300 calories to 280 and calling it ‘low-fat.’ You’ll need to provide quality tools that give customers the ability to learn from others, enlighten others, and obtain useful recommendations that lead to sales. Consumers are ready for that kind of buying experience. Which is why social commerce is the prescription today for future business health and longevity.

Content Strategy

Search, social, penguin, panda … a website requires a content strategy today, and someone to oversee it.

When you consider that people have been on the web for content since day one, it’s amazing that content hasn’t gotten the premier position it deserves until now. But that’s what social media has done. Sharing content via social networks increases its value exponentially through the power of recommendation. If a user says something is good it carries much more weight than if a brand, media outlet, agency, or salesperson says so. And content can literally be anything, whether it’s hot off the press or exhumed from the archives. A creative touch can put value on anything and it becomes content.

“a head of Content Strategy, Creation and Distribution … should be at least vp level and report to the CMO. It makes sense that this person live in marketing, but he or she is going to have to build relationships and bridges to every part of the organization and teach companies to think about all published materials as content. Very importantly, they must evangelize the importance of content in driving business results and help the entire company think about whether or not a piece of content is worth sharing.”

Soon all the social networks will want to use your likeness and words to place implied recommendations on anything that’s for sale. The further your content can be shared — or the more shareable content you can publish — the more social-power will come into play in your sales process. Every website today needs, no, requires a content strategy, and someone to drive it. Think “content.”

Read full story:

Controlling a PC from an iPad Turns Tablets Into Genuine Work Devices

I have a problem with the whole “Post-PC Era” marketing hype. The problem is that, for me, trying to do any real work on a tablet is a miserable experience. Typing and keyboard issues aside, there is so much that you can’t do on a tablet that we take for granted on PCs. Much of that has to do with the limited tablet interface, and the fact that desktop applications are so much more full-featured than apps. Also, file management doesn’t exist at all on tablets, which at times is absolutely maddening. In my opinion, the only “serious” work that can be done on a tablet is email, web browsing, taking notes at meetings (which, when combined with an app like DropBox, works nicely), and perhaps writing, if you can live with the touch interface or a flimsy add-on keyboard. I call my iPad my “couch computer.” It’s a handy little device to have around, but it’s good for little else.

What would be nice is a way to access and control a desktop computer, and all its applications and files, from a tablet. The only remaining obstacle to doing real work would be the tablet interface. But full functionality and access to files would be re-established, with the tablet simply serving as a portal to a full computing experience.

Such solutions have existed for a while, such as GoToMyPC and LogMeIn. But these run into their own interface problems because PCs rely on precise control of a mouse, which is difficult to emulate with finger-controlled tablets. However, a new product, called Parallels Access, may have solved these problems. Reviewed by Walt Mossberg, Parallels Access apparently succeeds at turning the desktop experience of a computer into a full-screen tablet experience that makes controlling a PC remotely quite easy.

Unlike many others, [Access] doesn’t force you to constantly try and emulate the precise mouse pointer for which most of these computer programs were designed. It runs them like iPad apps, in full screen, and at the iPad’s resolution, yet preserving full functionality and the ability to switch among open apps and windows on the computer. It works over both Wi-Fi and cellular connections.

File  sharing is still a bear, but Parallels is said to be working on a solution. Also, the program is quite pricey — $80 per YEAR, per computer accessed. Ouch! But for the ability to do real work on the road, the price may be worth it. Read the article, check out the accompanying video, and be sure to read the comments, where a less expensive program with similar capabilities called Splashtop is discussed (with Splashtop’s CEO providing some interesting notes).

The “Post-PC Era” may be brilliant marketing, but it requires good post-PC apps if it’s going to succeed — and apparently a remote PC to access, as well.

Read full article:

TV’s Changing Landscape

Kevin Spacey recently gave a clear explanation of TV’s changing landscape. The future is user driven, and the established order doesn’t like it. What Spacey notes is that time, place and length don’t matter anymore. Users want to control when and how they consume media.

If you are watching a film on your television, is it no longer a film because you’re not watching it in the theater?’ Spacey asked his audience. ‘If you watch a TV show on your iPad is it no longer a TV show? The device and length are irrelevant.’ Labels are useless, the actor told the suits, ‘except perhaps to agents and managers and lawyers who use these labels to conduct business deals. ‘For the kids watching the shows, however, ‘there’s no difference watching Avatar on an iPad or watching YouTube on a TV and watching Game of Thrones on their computer. It’s all content. It’s all story.’

This, of course, runs completely counter to big media’s business model, which is still anchored in the 20th century. As we’ve seen before, tactics always lag behind technology, and those who adapt fastest win. That’s the result we’re seeing with Netflix, which is purchasing new seasons of TV shows and releasing them in bulk, at a very nice profit. The moral of the story? If people are buying digital devices they’re going to want, and find, digital content to enjoy on them. The media industry may be digging in its heals, guarding an old business model, but change happens. Better find a way to make money digitally because that’s where customers are going.

Complete article:

WordPress: Now Is the Time

WordPress is mainstream with almost 19% of the web using it, and its development is in high gear. We can expect three new releases by the end of this year alone. That’s the news from WordCamp, the annual WordPress conference.

WordPress’ features for the modern web just continue to grow, which makes it very attractive for bringing the company website up to current standards in one fell swoop. We’ve been onboard for the last few years and now recommend it regularly for clients. Just consider everything that comes with it:

  • Content management for in-house publishing
  • Media management
  • SEO management
  • Social media integration
  • Accessibility ready
  • Mobile ready with responsive design for tablets and mobile screens
  • HTML5/CSS3
  • Hugely extensible
  • Readily adaptable for custom designs
  • Open source software with regular security and feature updates
  • Easy-to-learn interface and growing population of users with skills
  • Large development community for custom applications

And by the way, Automattic, the company behind WordPress, just received $50MM of new financing that will push the platform even further.

If it’s time for an upgrade of your company’s web strategy, consider WordPress. It’s mainstream now, and will take you to the front of current web capabilities faster than anything else available today.

Read full article:

Google’s Latest Products Make Video Collaboration Easy

Video is at the forefront of technologies that both enable enhanced communication and serve as a viable business tool on the web.  With Google’s latest product announcements it’s evident that collaboration within all forms of businesses will soon be best conducted online using video. It’s now possible to transmit high-quality sound and images to remote locations so that disparate parties can work together. No longer is video communication hampered by the restraints of bandwidth and machine capability. The resulting efficiencies allow the best people to work as if in the same room regardless of location. Add to this web-based collaboration tools and cloud storage and the need to travel is almost completely wiped out.

The following article points out how Google’s new products, specifically Chromecast, Hangouts, and the Nexus 7, make video the tool of choice for these kinds of collaborations. Think of the possibilities of consulting with ad hoc teams from anywhere in the world — or within your own locale — to assemble on short notice, work on ongoing projects, or bring in special expertise. The time is right for businesses to get up to speed on these kinds of video and collaboration tools.

Read full article:

Reports of Apple’s Death, Exaggerated

When a skyrocket starts to falter, that’s news, I suppose. Apple’s seemingly unstoppable run got snagged last Fall when it’s stock price began a drop of over 40% . Theories flew about, but really, what company could possibly keep up the rate of success that Apple has had in recent years?

In the following article, which is actually a recap of Apple’s recent developers conference, some rock-solid numbers are given:

[Apple] continues to dominate mobile and personal computing, capturing 57 percent of global profits in the smartphone industry—to the tune of $7.1 billion—in the first quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. It commands nearly 40 percent of all tablet profits, more than the next four competitors combined, according to IDC. Mobile-browser company Opera Software (OPERA) says iOS users are responsible for nearly 45 percent of Web traffic on mobile devices, while the Android devices that outnumber them account for 31 percent.

Apple is still churning out profits, and it’s cash reserve is the stuff of legend. But they are vulnerable. Over 70% of their revenue comes from just two product lines, iPhones and iPads. An able competitor with a new idea that registers with consumers could send Apple into a genuine tailspin. That is unless Apple has something new up their sleeve that becomes the next industry-changing, “must have” hit. Come to think of it, that’s probably Wall Street’s beef — Apple hasn’t “changed the world” in over two years now. Something must be wrong with them …

Read full article:

Internet Trends Report

Knowing how and where people get information is the best way to know how and where to deliver our messages and services. With that in mind, Kleiner Perkins analyst Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report is a valuable compilation of research and observation that sheds light in these areas to help us keep up with the constantly changing business/tech landscape. This year’s report, delivered at the recent “All Things Digital” conference, highlights several notable trends.

The move to mobile is in full throttle. Laptop and desktop sales will continue to decline as smartphone and tablets become the devices of choice in the ‘Post PC” era. Apple and Samsung claimed a combined 51% market share of global smartphone unit sales in Q4 2012, making them the dominant players in the field.

  • Tablets are being adopted even more quickly than smartphones. Measuring the first 12 quarters after launch, iPads have sold 3-times faster than iPhones. Tablet sales also eclipsed sales of desktops and laptops for Q4 2012, and projections are that annual tablet shipments will surpass laptops in 2013, and total PCs in 2015.
  • Mobile Internet traffic is now 15% of total global internet traffic.
  • Time spent with print and radio continue to trend downward while TV and Internet remain steady. Mobile, on the other hand, continues to trend upward. Interestingly, the money advertisers spend on print is 4-times greater than the time spent there, while money spent on mobile advertising is one-fourth the time spent, pointing to a $20B opportunity as advertisers catch up.

The entire presentation is 117 slides and provides information on topics including media, global browsing, and wearable tech.

View full report: [no longer available]

The Mobile Challenge and Opportunity

Everyone is talking about the shift to mobile devices. We can expect changes in the way business is done and how people get information as smartphones and tablets continue to proliferate. This article points to three strategic problems that businesses must solve as  workforces become more mobile.

Just as the internet fundamentally changed consumer behaviour and the way we do business in the 1990s, the continued rise of mobile is set to be a major disruptive force over the next decade … That is backed up by a recent Gartner survey of 2,000 chief information officers (CIOs) worldwide, with 70% putting mobile top of the list ahead of other trends such as big data, social media and cloud computing as the technology that will disrupt established business models most for the next 10 years.

There are many benefits, mostly economic, that will drive the spread of mobile technology. In our own businesses, it’s a good time to develop strategies to meet our customers and partners when they’re on the go.

Read full article:

Some Trends to Watch in Digital Media

The twin forces of mobile and social are creating changes across the board for online businesses.  While it can appear overwhelming, there are opportunities if we grasp the trends and develop plans to position us “on the wave.” Here are five interesting trends that will continue to grow and, as a result, change things in ways that cause us to further adapt as the digital world speeds on.

We are all simultaneously creating, being disrupted by and exploiting an incredible array of changes in the way our digital world works. While these shifts can sometimes seem overwhelming because they are proliferating and accelerating so fast, their broad themes can be simplified to help us understand their underlying meaning.

  1. Multi-Screen Proliferation
  2. Advertising Precision
  3. Accelerating Automation
  4. Interruptive to Native
  5. Static to Real-Time

Read full article: