SoLoMo: Social, Local, Mobile

Everyone has a smartphone these days. Almost, anyway. Almost everyone with a smartphone is also on a social network. Almost all of those people are using their device on the go. This has provided a huge opportunity for marketers to create touchpoints for consumers on their most personal device, just feet from a physical location.

Foursquare is so confident in the power of their mobile-local platform, that they won’t collect from advertisers unless a conversion happens. Circle identifies themselves as a “local network” and not “social.” Apple’s iAds can optimize in-app advertisements for a certain geolocation. In a previous post, I wrote about the power of urgency SnapChat could leverage if they create location based snaps.

With search residing at the end of the funnel for digital purchases, SoLoMo resides at the end of the funnel for physical purchases. As these platforms expand, you’ll see offers popping up on your phone wherever you go. It could be for a pair of shoes at a shop around the corner. It could be for a gas station 10 miles ahead when you start to get low on fuel. It could be a restaurant having a lunch special when you Tweet that it’s almost time for food.

It’s almost invasive how powerful your smartphone with a GPS is. But with the rate technology and targeting is improving, your smartphone will give you exactly what you want, with some kind of incentive, before you even know that you want it.

Advertisements

Search, SEO, SEM, PPC, OMG

Search has become a whole new animal with SEO, SEM, retargeting, and social networking. If you’re doing everything perfectly (and maybe not even then), you’ll be at the top of the search page when someone Bings your brand, or a relevant keyword. You won’t just be at the top. Your paid ads will be first, followed by your website. Then they’ll see your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Maybe they’ll see your Google+ page, and a Wikipedia page about you.

If you do everything perfectly, your competitor won’t even be on the first page. Unfortunately, no one is perfect, and no one has an unlimited budget to pay for all the best keywords, optimize their site perfectly, and spend enough time on social to make every platform shine through. So, how can you possibly win the search game?

Bad news is you can’t really WIN. The good news is that your competitors have the same challenges, especially if you’re doing things correctly. Take the time to optimize your website, deliver great relevant content, and add in the correct Schemas and you’re well on your way. Make sure you’re present on all of the correct social networks. If you’re not sure which those are, look for your competitors. If they’re on it, you should be, too. If they aren’t, it could be an opportunity for you. Bid on some keywords on Bing and Google. Maybe you need to buy your own brand keywords, maybe you don’t, but you should have something relevant.

Improving your search rankings takes time and effort, and usually some money. Search is very closely related to the end of the conversion funnel, though. Make sure the rest of your marketing efforts aren’t wasted. When someone is interested enough to search for you, you want to be able to close the deal.

Programmatic Buying, RTB, and Display

I have a love-hate relationship with display ads. The ‘hate’ comes merely from the fact that they exist, and they are all over the websites I frequent, asking me to buy this, or sign up for that. The ‘love’ comes from RTB or Programmatic Buying.

Buying ads from a premium publisher are a fantastic way to get your ads in front of your target audience, on a relevant site, and only spend your entire budget. Even these premium publishers can’t guarantee a good click through rate. RTB solves these problems by spending a bit of money to find your target audience, and then spending a bit more to find the best customers, and then knocking it out of the park spending just a bit more.

When you buy ads through an RTB network, they’ll start off displaying your ads on a wide range of relevant sites at a very low CPM. Shortly after, the optimization kicks in, finds where the most clicks are coming from, and spends more money in those areas. This process continues and cycles until your target audience is found, the best publishers established, and the optimal price point is set. When reviewing the campaign and analyzing the statistics of it, you’ll see a few things.

The first is that your weekly impressions will drop over time. That’s bad, right? Not necessarily. While those impressions are dropping, you’ll see CPM going up, too. Wait, that’s even worse. Sure, but then you notice your clicks and CTR. They’ve skyrocketed. This is because the RTB network has found where your clicks are coming from, and spending more money to make sure you get the highest quality impressions. So, while your total impressions are going down, the quality of them is maximized, and you’ll end up getting more clicks and more conversions for less money overall.

I love display ads.

Content Rich Websites

The old days of pumping your website full of metatags and embedding ridiculous code to improve your search rank are over. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are all too smart with their fancy algorithms to let you get away with that. If you want to get found in search without paying a ton of money, you have to cram your website with great content.

This content can be anything your users find valuable: pictures, videos, links to other awesome articles, your own thoughts. The problem with pictures and videos and your own thoughts is that these algorithms can’t see them, and they’re not always sure about the context. This is important, because while content is king, context is God.

Lucky for us, the geniuses over at schema.org have created these incredibly confusing, but even more incredibly useful Schemas. If you’re serious about SEO, and you should be, you’ll need to utilize them as much as possible.

“Great! How do I use them?” you might say to me. Well, they’re sets of HTML code you can use to give context to something extremely abstract. For example, if you’re writing about a movie directed by someone named John Smith, there’s no way the spiders crawling your site will know that he’s directing a movie. Therefore, no one searching for John Smith, movie director, will find you.

This is where the Schemas come into play. By adding the movie schema code to that bit of your article, and adding the director code around John Smith’s name, the spider crawling your page will know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. On the surface, readers will see John Smith, Director, and search engines will see the same on the back end.

You can have the best content in the world, all of the stuff that readers love, but it’s not always the same stuff search engines love. Using Schemas ensure that we’re all on the same page.

BREAKING: SnapChat is trying to destroy you.

SnapChat released an update today, and it’s probably going to confuse you for just long enough for you to potentially embarrass yourself. Lucky for you, I’m here to save the day.

SnapChat Stories
What are these? Basically, you can take a Snap as you normally would, and add it to a timeline. Then, all of your friends see your name/face under “recently updated” in their friend list, where they can watch this timeline IN ITS ENTIRETY for 24 hours.

But wait. After they’ve viewed your story in their recent updates, it doesn’t go away. All they have to do is scroll down to your name, and tap and hold. They can view your embarrassing story as many times as they want for those 24 hours.

Still doesn’t make sense? Allow me to walk you through my discovery.

I received a Snap from a friend about needing coffee (a pretty typical Snap for me to receive). Then I replied with “me too. SNAPCHAT UPDATE” and sent it to her as well as “my story” which I had just noticed. At that point, it just seemed like a Snap I could view myself. No. I added another Snap to my story: “SNAPCHAT STORIES???”. Then I started to see other people’s stories appear, and I realized I could view them over and over again by tapping on their face in my friend list. 2+2=4 and I realized everyone could see my story as well. Over and over again. for 24 hours.

So, don’t post anything to your story you don’t want all of your friends to see. They’ll have plenty of opportunities to Screenshot you.

EDIT: You can delete pieces of your SnapChat story. False alarm.

What’s next for SnapChat?

SnapChat was valued by investors at over $800million. What makes it worth that? Over 350 million snaps are sent each day, up from 200 million in June. People are flocking to this social sharing tool that allows its users to share photos, videos, and text for up to 10 seconds before it disappears into cyberspace forever. While those numbers are impressive, value comes from somewhere else.

Marketers and Advertisers are always looking for the newest unique way to get through to their customers, and I think SnapChat is going to be a huge channel very soon. Capturing someone’s attention has always been a challenge, and getting a message through clearly only adds to the complication.  SnapChat has, in a way, solved both of those problems by adding an immediacy to the platform.

Users will stop what they’re doing and direct their full attention to their phones every time a snap comes through, because they know it will be gone after a few moments. Users will even attempt to “screenshot” a snap, just so they can hold on to the moment for a little longer. Marketers would pay good money to be guaranteed 10 seconds of their customers attention to send them any message they want. That is where the value of SnapChat lives.

Take that attention grabbing power SnapChat already has, add a few simple features, and you’ve got a remarkably powerful tool to reach your customers. If users could “follow” their favorite brands, knowing they’d receive some benefits in return, brands would have a highly targeted group at their beck and call. If there was some location-based targeting, brands could send an offer to their fans the moment they walk into their store.

Imagine the power of delivering an offer straight to your customer’s hand, at the point of sale, that they are forced to act on immediately. Do you think that’s worth $800 million?

Why I Hate Google Glass

If you thought people with Bluetooth headsets were annoying, I can’t imagine how you’re going to feel about Google Glass’ers. Walking around, talking to their fancy high-tech monocle. Mr. Peanut would roll over in his grave. (Is Mr. Peanut even dead?)

Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 2.50.36 PM

Look at the terror in that kid’s eyes. His dad has clearly become a Skynet deathbot, and he’s connected to everything we know and love.

What It Does 

Sure, you can check out the OFFICIAL “What It Does” page, but the pictures don’t really explain a whole lot. Basically, Google Glass is a headband with a piece of glass that floats in front of your eye, and listens to your every command. Think “Siri meets sunglasses.”

While you’re stumbling around with this piece of glass obstructing your vision, you can talk to it. Start by saying “okay, glass,” and it will wait for a command like “search” “record video” or “start hangout.” This is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, especially if it works. After you’ve given a command, it does whatever you’d told it to do. It takes a picture of what you see (ish). It records a video from your point of view. It begins video chatting your friends, showing them what you see.

Why I Hate It

DragonballZ-Episode001ws_89

Okay, I don’t really hate IT. I hate the idea of it, and this has nothing to do with my undying love for Apple and its products. I actually have my reasons, and here they are:

  1. You’re wearing a headband with a piece of glass in front of your face! Not only do I hate wearing sunglasses for the same reason, I’d be talking to said piece of glass. It’s distracting, and it’s unsightly. You look like those Dragon Ball Z guys.
  2. Data. In order for it to do anything remotely cool, it needs a data connection. And if you’re going to be running around having Google Hangouts and uploading videos to the YouTube, you’re going to need a lot of it. The world isn’t entirely wireless enabled yet, and most networks aren’t open to the public. You’ll need to purchase a monthly data plan for the thing. Knowing how much it costs to have a data plan on an iPad that’s probably connected to WiFi most of the time, this could get pricey.
  3. The camera is going to suck. It’s not actually going to take a picture of whatever you see. It’ll be distorted. It’ll be distorted because the camera isn’t directly in front of your eye, and it won’t move with your eye movement either. Sure, you can see a preview of the picture, but you have to move and tilt your head to line it up correctly. Quick snapshot? Sure. Would I use it to take family photo? No.
  4. Streaming video. Anything that I would do that would be worth streaming to my friends is probably too dangerous to do while wearing the thing. Am I going to ski down a mountain at Mach 6 and half? No. Would I go bridge jumping into a river? Definitely not. Besides, I want people to see ME doing those things, not what I’m seeing. And if I’m going to record someone/thing else, I’d rather be able to move the camera with my hands, not my neck.

Okay, so maybe this is the direction the world is going. We’re becoming more and more connected. It might look silly now, but once everyone has one, you’ll look silly without it. I still think it’s a long way off before it’s mainstream, and I have no problem waiting until then. Feel free to disagree with me, I’m just saying I won’t be getting one anytime soon.

(Ah, who am I kidding? I’ll get one just to say I have it.)

Jailbreak, the legal* way

While I don’t consider myself a “power-user” by any stretch of imagination, I do consider myself a bit more savvy than the average iOS user. I’ve recently decided to wander into the land of the jailbreak, with a little help from our friends over at evasi0n. Some like having full control over their phone, adding themes, widgets, and custom lock sliders. I, on the other hand, love the overall look of iOS and only installed some minor tweaks which I’m going to share with you …

Evasi0n

Evasi0n is the latest tool for jailbreaking iPhones, iPods, and iPads. It works for any device running iOS 6.0 through 6.1, and it works magnificently. Here’s how it works: You download it. You plug in your phone. You press go, and tap the jailbreak button when it tells you to. That’s it, literally. (I do recommend reading the rest of the directions on the website, though.)

Once the jailbreak is complete, you can open up Cydia, let it do its thing, and start downloading tweaks and stuff.

SwitcherActivator

Activator gives you a slew of new options to activate (title line, eh eh?) different functions of your phone. Among these options include swipes from different parts of the screen, pinches, spreads, volume button presses, status bar taps, and the list goes on. You can use these gestures to launch apps, close apps, change the volume, open a new text or email, and again, the list goes on. A lot of other tweaks require Activator in order to function. It’s kind of a big deal.

I, personally, use it for one main reason: the App Switcher (shows above). We all know iPhones aren’t perfect, and I’ve had more trouble with home buttons than I care to admit, so this is my solution. Instead of jamming the home button twice to open the switcher, I’d much rather simply swipe up from the bottom. I’m really not sure why this isn’t the standard feature to begin with, but I guess some cars still have manual transmissions, too.

IMG_0002

Aside from that, I use a swipe across the status bar to launch the Tweet composer. It’s really nice when I think of something incredibly witty to Tweet and I don’t want to forget it between the home screen and the Tweetbot composer. (It happens more often than you think. Probably why I don’t seem that funny.) It’s a simple little tweak I could probably live without, but hey, I like it.

Oh, I also use a 3-finger-pinch to launch Cydia, which I’ve hidden using Springtomize.

Springtomize ($2.99)

It’s described as the only jailbreak tool you’ll need, and it’s pretty close. You can use it to customize most aspects of the UI. You can change the speed of animations, the look of the dock and lock-screen, the size of the icons and labels, and what appears on the status bar.

IMG_0003For me, I changed the size of the icons, and how many appear on a line. I don’t like swiping through pages or folders if I don’t have to, so having more icons on the homescreen is nice. I also hid some of the apps that I don’t use or ever want to see ever again (like Newsstand), and the carrier from the status bar to make more room for notification icons.

If you don’t feel like shelling out just under $3 for a custom look and feel, you can always install Winterboard and test out a couple of the hundreds of free themes.

OpenNotifier

This little gem brings neat little icons to your status bar to remind you if you have missed calls, email, or messages waiting for you. While the Notification Center has taken care of most of the issues with missing emails and texts, these icons are a perfect safety valve.

IMG_0004You can customize which icons show up for which notifications. Some make sense, like the envelope for emails, the chat bubble for messages, and the phone for missed calls. There is also an exclamation point (!) that you can set to anything you’d like, and a little bell with a slash through it for when your phone is on silent/vibrate.

Dietbar

Since the iPhone has no “back” button, most apps require a navigation bar to get around. This takes up screen space (which is already limited because it’s SO SMALL) that could be used for something else.

IMG_0006Before

IMG_0005

After

I know, it’s not a huge difference, but I like the skinny (ah, Diet, get it?) look of the dieted bars, and I don’t mind the extra 20 pixels of screen space either.

Others

Those are the major tweaks I’ve installed, but there’s some other smaller ones that I think are worth mentioning briefly as well.

  • PasswordPilot allows you to enter your AppleID password once, and not have to worry about it again. When you go to install a new app, and the annoying little window pops up, BAM, your password is already there.
  • MapsOpener will open addresses in the Google Maps app instead of the default Apple Maps app. Simple.
  • ShowCase is a keyboard tweak. When typing, your keyboard will show capital letters when you’re typing capitals and lowercase letters when you’re typing lowercase.

Jailbreaking is a great way to take some control of your phone back from Apple’s closed system. Just a few simple additions and you’ll have the added function and customized look you’ve always dreamed of.

If you have any other tweaks or apps you think are worth mentioning, feel free to add them in the comments.

*Jailbreaking is apparently legal for phones, but not for tablets. I don’t know the details, I’m not a lawyer, so I’d double check before doing anything if you’re worried. I also take no responsibility for any problems you have with your phone due to jailbreaking. I’ve never had any, and there’s a safe mode just in case, but I don’t want a lawsuit or anything.

 

Are we anti-social? or hyper-social?

My friends and I play a game when we go out to bars, restaurants, or even if we’re just sitting in the same room together. Maybe you’ve heard of it, or seen it on Pinterest or something. We don’t really have a name for it, but I’m going to call it ‘Basket Master’ for the sake of this post. Basically, one person takes everyone’s cell phones and puts them in a basket, and the first person to touch their phone (with certain exceptions) has to buy a round or some other kind of punishment. The purpose of this is to get us to interact with each other instead of our phones.

This got me thinking, which is sometimes dangerous. We live in this connectivity-age where everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., and most of us are probably using them on mobile, too. We’re constantly on these ‘social’ networks, having chats, catching up on gossip, liking cat pictures, and being, well … social. At the same time, we laugh and criticize ourselves for being so attached to our phones that we’re reluctant to put them away for an hour while in the company of the people we’d probably be checking up on anyway.

So here’s where my thought process got caught in an infinite loop. Are we (‘we’ meaning everyone on these networks) anti-social because we are sit and home on Facebook instead of actually going out a lot, or are we hyper-social? I’m leaning towards hyper-social, and here’s why.

We go out and party, play sports, eat fancy food, see movies, and go to classes. These are the things that drive the Facebook and the Twitter. If we didn’t do these things, we’d have nothing to talk about. When we’re done with those activities, we go back to our phones and laptops, and we tell everyone about it! After we’re done being social, we go have some more social with some social on the side.

We’re social creatures, and we crave that interaction. We’ve spent decades developing these new mediums to connect to each other with. It’s one of those characteristics that sets us apart from reptiles, mosquitoes, and amoebas. It is what we do, and we’re making ourselves more accustomed to being connected all the time, so we fill those very small voids.

So, next time you’re hanging out with your friends and you take a 2 minute Twitter break, don’t laugh at yourself. Don’t feel guilty for ignoring your friends. Tell the world how much fun you’re having, or check that game score. Just remember to put it away at some point, and go get the next round. 😉

Pilot

Pilot is what they called the first ever episode of every TV series, right? I guess that makes sense. Anyway, this Pilot post is merely informational. I’m not going to make any promises about how often I’m going to post, or give you some kind of awesome incentive to read like prizes or whatever. I’m going to write about my two favorite things: techy gadgety things and social media chit chat.

I like to think I’m a fairly informed source of information, especially when it comes to Apple, cell phones, computers, and other consumer electronic stuff. I’m not an expert, but I listen to the experts and form my own opinions. A lot of times, I regurgitate what they say in a more simple way for my friends who aren’t quite as savvy.

I was also that kid that slept next to his AOL Instant Messenger so he didn’t miss a message. Getting booted off in the middle of the night and losing those super important IM’s from a crush was arguably one of the worst experiences of my childhood. Now I just sleep with my cellphone. It’s a lot easier that way.

So, feel free to follow along with my thoughts and opinions on this stuff. It’s important to me, and seemingly to plenty of others as well.

Cheers.