Apple Gets Some Color, Tidepool App, Instagram Ads, Boston MixFest

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Top Story: iPhones Get Some Color

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Pre-orders for the recently released iPhone 5S and 5C are available starting today. The most talked-about new feature has to be the introduction of new colors into the iPhone’s previous black and white offerings. From the gold 5S that has fashionistas everywhere gushing to the spectrum of neon 5Cs that have preteens all hyped up, color is the most prominent update to the flagship smartphone collection.

 

In fact, the mystery has been officially solved – the “C” in 5C does stand for “Color” rather than “Cheap”. This harkens back to Apple’s heritage of integrating candy-colored hues in their products. Remember those iMacs?

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Back when computers were all shades of gray, Apple released their model in five fruit-inspired colors which saw massive success, immediately boosting sales by 24%. So whether or not Nokia wants to admit it, adding some color to the mix may just be what the iPhone needed to step up its game.

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What do you think?

 

Tool of the Week: Tidepool

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“Ever get that 2:30 feeling…” No, this is not another commercial for 5 Hour Energy. Mobile app Tidepool knows that people have unique patterns of highs and lows throughout the day – much like, you guessed it, the ebb and flow of a tidepool. The app takes these personality profiles – 60 in total – and makes recommendations on how you should structure your workflow for maximum productivity.

 

Personality profiles include The Chief Executive, The Architect, The Tried & True, The Swiss Army Knife, The Different Drummer, The Laser, The Ghost Writer, The Bullet Train, The Host, The Sparkler, The Pillar of Strength, The Painter’s Palette, The Connoisseur, The Charger, The Loyalist, The Cool Cat, The Maverick, The Microwave, The Paradox, The Well-Oiled Machine, The Super Sleuth, The Eye of the Storm and The Igniter.

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To find out which fits you best, you play a number of simple games through the app that assesses how your brain works. “For example, the Snoozer game assesses cognitive processing speed, a cognitive ability influenced by circadian rhythms, sleep, emotions and diet, among other factors,” explains Tidepool Co-Founder, Vamsee Nalamothu:

We are collecting information on processing speed over time along with these other variables. When we collect the information needed, including a game of emotions to be released by the end of September, we will provide users with novel information on how they can improve their productivity.

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Moving forward, Tidepool wants to incorporate other kinds of data, such as sleep and exercise information, for a more comprehensive profile for even more accurate recommendations. Tidepool is currently in Beta for iOS. Would you try it?

 

Under the Radar: Ads Coming to Instagram

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It was really only a matter of time and that time is about to come. Instagram is opening up its platform to ads. It’s been three years of ad-free photo sharing with a clean and simple design. The moment Facebook acquired it last year, we knew major changes were on the way. While no set date has been set, we can expect them to start appearing in the next year.

 

With the announcement of reaching 150 million users, Instagram is in a very valuable position for monetization. The captain behind the task of navigating the platform into the ad age? That would be Facebook veteran Emily White, now Instagram’s director of business operations. She has been charged with turning the billion-dollar investment in a company that has never made a single dollar into a profitable business.

 

Assembling a team of brand marketers, White’s biggest challenge is to figure out how to integrate ads onto the platform without taking too much from its inherent coolness. Instagram’s immense popularity with the teen and young adult demographics is a marketer’s dream, but too much overt advertisement can end up alienating its users.

 

White’s got her work cut out for her, but she seems to be on the right track. She understands that a big aspect of Instagram’s appeal stems from its uncluttered design and is looking to stay as true to that as possible.

 

Do you think Instagram will continue to be as successful with the rollout of advertising or will it turn off users who have gotten used to the ad-free space?

 

Around the Hub: MixFest

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Every September, Boston variety music station Mix 104.1 organizes MixFest, a FREE outdoor concert featuring some of their favorite major artists. Born in 1993, MixFest is held every year at the gorgeous DCR Hatch Memorial Shell and attracts over 150,000 attendees. Over the years, MixFest has hosted artists including TRAIN, Lifehouse, and Dido.

 

For the 10th anniversary of the series, MixFest will present 90s super boy-band The Backstreet Boys, Icelandic indie folk pop band Of Monsters and Men and melodic pop rock singer-songwriter Gavin Degraw.

 

Bring the family and friends out. It’s bound to be a great time.

What: Free Outdoor Concert

Where: DCR Hatchshell

When: Saturday, September 14

Time: Doors open at 1p.m.

Gavin Degraw opens the show at 4:25p.m.

BSB take the stage at 5:45p.m.

Of Monsters and Men close out the show starting at 6:45p.m.

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iPhone’s Latest Editions

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Let’s talk about the newest pair to enter the iPhone family: 5S and 5C. For months now we’ve been subjected to all kinds of speculation – wider screens, faster processing, color! As usual, photos were consistently being leaked leading up to the big reveal yesterday at Apple’s event.

What’s new?

5S:

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  • Color: No longer comes in black or white, but silver, champagne or space gray.
  • Processing: Faster
  • Camera: Now with a “True Tone” flash which senses the coloring of the portrait and chooses a flash color to match it. Added photography and video modes with burst photography and slow motion video recording.
  • Cool new feature: No more swiping to unlock! The Touch ID security feature can secure your iPhone with your fingerprint and also allow you to make purchases on iTunes.
  • Price: On contract $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB.
  • Preorder Date: September 20th.

Then there’s the 5C – Apple’s attempt at a more basic, affordable model for the masses in markets where it lags behind Android and Nokia shares because of its heavy price tag.

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  • Make: Plastic
  • Color: White or Neon – in Green, Blue, Yellow or Pink.
  • Features: 8 mega pixel camera, 4-inch Retina display and 4g LTE capability. This phone is designed to function better in low-light conditions and is capable of handling all the new camera features of the iOS 7.
  • Price: On contract $100 for 16GB and $199 for 32GB
  • Preorder Date: September 13th

 

So what’s the word on these new phones? It seems like most people are not impressed with the 5C. With a price tag of US $733 in China, the 5C isn’t quite the low-cost solution people hoped it would be. On the other side of the fence fashionistas around the world are rejoicing about the gold 5S. Some took to Twitter in hyperbolic fashion tweeting they would “kill” or “sell a lung” for the gold model, buying into the belief that it will soon become a beacon of social class and thus, a must-have.

 

Industry leaders and analysts are suggesting that Apple should focus more on profit growth than subscriber growth. Apple’s stock had been rising for the month leading up to the announcement of the new releases but has since fallen starting with a 5% loss on the day of the unveiling.

 

Meanwhile, other brands did not waste any time in capitalizing on the hot topic. Almost immediately after Apple’s announcement, Nokia UK took a quick jab at the 5C on Twitter, garnering 7,000 retweets in just 20 minutes:

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Even late-night breakfast food haven Denny’s took the opportunity to remind people that they’ve got plenty of gold to go around.

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What do you think of the new iPhones?

 

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Instagram 3.0 & New Blog, Klout Updates, Police Departments Using Social Media

 

 

Top Story: Instagram 3.0

On Thursday, Instagram launched version 3.0 of its app for Android and iPhone. This update includes a bevvy of new consumption options for the famed filtered photo-sharing tool including Photo Maps, infinite scrolling, and overall speed improvements.

The standout of the 3.0 updates is Photo Map which, if enabled by the user (you’re automatically prompted when you elect to update) shares photos based on geotagging you’ve done in the past. While some might have concerns over privacy with this new features, it is important to note that the feature makes it easy to remove photos geotagged to that location (say, if you want to untag photos taken in your home). This feature of the app is very interactive – you can really drill down to specific locations and see your activity in geographic format. It also allows users to more readily tap into older photos, which were previously buried at the bottom of their feeds.

Photo Map can be accessed through your user profile, which has also been redesigned, along with updates to the location and hashtags pages. Scrolling is now infinite – there is no longer an option to “load more” because this happens automatically. As for security – you can now report comments as abuse or spam to the Instagram police.

So, what does this say about social media as a whole? We are definitely getting more comfortable sharing things with the world, and application developers are helping us by proactively enabling feeding us security options to keep privacy top of mind. A good step forward, with no steps back.

Instagram 3.0 – Photo Maps Walkthrough from Instagram on Vimeo.

 

Under the Radar: Instagram Launches a Blog for Business Practices

While there have been some very successful on Instagram, from big gaining big followings, to using top users as reporters, most brands are still struggling to grasp how to use strictly photos to effectively engage their fans. This has been partly due to the fact that Instagram has not been catering to brands at all yet, with no brand-specific features or analytics, it is difficult for a brand to distinguish themselves and figure out what is and isn’t working.

It appears Instagram has recognized these challenges, and taken a small step to help businesses get their toes wet on their platform with their Instagram for Business blog.

The posts that have been put up so far include a spotlight on some of the most followed brands on Instagram, such as MTV, Victoria’s Secret and Burberry, and a best practices post. Both of these are good introductions to brands that are looking to leverage Instagram, but certainly not a game-changer into getting brands to join.

The big question is how much, if at all, Instagram will bend its user experience to accommodate brands. Being owned by Facebook, it stands to reason that we may see brand pages (like fan pages on Facebook), but this may push away many users who currently see Instagram as the anti-Facebook (no ads or interruptions of any kind).

Hopefully Instagram will navigate the line of user experience and brand experience wisely, but the blog was a step in the right direction.

 

Tool of the Week: Klout Updates Scoring System

 

 

Klout is certainly not a new tool in the social media world, but it is one that’s had much debate surrounding it. I’ve found that there are two camps when it comes to Klout- those who completely ignore it and think it’s ridiculous. And those who embrace it because they know they should… because marketers are. Klout insists it will help you “Discover and be recognized for how you influence the world.” The problem? Perhaps Klout can determine your influence to an extent, in terms of how much interaction you get on your updates and how many users are re-tweeting you. But it definitely favors users who update often (if you only update your social media accounts once in a while, does it mean you’re not influential on social media) and it doesn’t determine the type of people you’re influencing.

Last week, the team behind Klout rolled out a brand new scoring algorithm, which analyzes a lot more data than it once did. Allegedly, it factored in 1 million data points previously; it now factors in 12 billion. It also now takes real-world data into account, utilizing Wikipedia. Because, even if you’re not tweeting and Facebook posting a lot, you could still be quite influential. For instance, President Obama now tops Justin Bieber’s Klout score, as it’s been determined that he’s more influential in the real world.

Do these changes make a big difference? I do know that my Klout score went up 12 points when the changes were introduced, which is a huge amount. The changes haven’t been implemented long enough for me to see how my score is affected over time. In the past, my score would go down a great deal following days when I wasn’t posting much, which I always felt was a little odd. We’ll see if that continues in the future.

As a social media specialist, I pay attention to Klout for my clients, but don’t put too much stock into it. At all. But there’s another new feature (here for some; coming soon for others) that might actually have me reviewing it a bit more closely each month. The feature is call “Moments,” and it will be a way for you to see the updates you’ve made that have encouraged the most interaction from your followers. This information will be a lot more useful for improving social media accounts than a simple “score” will be.

Do you think Klout’s updates will help it become a more relevant, trusted social media tool?

 

Around the Hub: Local Police Departments & Firefighters Using Social Media

Social media isn’t just for fun anymore. Boston police departments and firefighters have ramped up their involvement in the social world to keep the communities informed with up-to-the minute information as well as responding to resident complains, comments, and concerns within the communities.

Twitter and Facebook have proved valuable to safety officials as an effective tool to communicate important information directly to the community. Boston Fire Department spokesman, Steve MacDonald (@BostonFire), walks the scenes of severe fire and emergency situations with an iPad in hand, snapping pictures and tweeting relevant info related to immediate dangers on scene.

Additionally, The Cambridge Police Department (@CambridgePolice) believes in social media to share updates in a more timely and efficient manner. The department uses Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, and they even have their own app available for download.

More emergency response departments in the Greater Boston area:

Boston Police: Twitter (@Boston_Police), Facebook, & Flickr

Cambridge Police: Flickr, Twitter (@CambridgePolice), Facebook, & YouTube

MBTA Transit Police: App, Twitter (@MBTATransitPD), & Blog

Boston Fire Department: Twitter (@BostonFire) & Facebook

Boston Emergency Medical Services:  Twitter (@Boston_Police) & Facebook

Somerville Police:  Twitter (@SomervillePD) & Facebook

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How Social Media Enhanced the Academy Awards

The 84th annual Academy Awards was a chaotic event to say the least. Between Sacha Baron Cohen dumping “Kim Jong Il’s ashes” on Ryan Seacrest’s designer suit, the cast of “Bridesmaids” presenting their Martin Scorsese drinking game, and J.Lo’s debatable wardrobe malfunction, viewers gave up their regularly scheduled Sunday night programs to see what other vagaries might ensue. While I’d like to congratulate everyone who walked away with an Oscar on Sunday evening (congrats Meryl Streep!), we should also acknowledge one noteworthy contributor to the show’s success that made their “speech” through a different channel…social media!

According to Bluefin Labs, the Hollywood, CA event generated some 3.8 million comments on Twitter, Facebook and other social media websites during its ABC broadcast (compared to last year’s 1 million). This statistic places the Academy Awards just above last year’s MTV Video Music Awards, which produced 3.1 million social media comments. The only award show having received more commentary through social media was this year’s telecast of the Grammy Awards, which had an astounding 13 million comments!

An estimated 57% of the Oscars’ comments were made by women, with the remaining 43% coming from men. Bluefin Labs further analyzed the results to determine that 22% were positive, 16% were negative, and 62% remained neutral.

 

High-traffic moments occurred somewhat predictably throughout the evening:

 

1. The most-talked about moment was the Best Picture announcement for the nearly silent film, “The Artist.”

Last year’s Best Picture: An English dude who couldn’t speak. This year’s: A French dude no one could hear.” – Andy Borowitz author/comedian

I am officially announcing that I am re-making THE ARTIST with sound.” – Alec Baldwin actor

 

2. The second peak of social media commentary took place when crowd-pleasing comedians, Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper presented three awards. Cooper’s mustache created a lot of buzz while fans encouraged The Academy to consider Fey as next year’s host.

Tina Fey should host next year.” – Kelly Oxford writer/famed tweeter

Bradley Cooper is just in from robbing a train. #Oscars” – Hulu online service for ad-sponsored video streaming

3.  Octavia Spencer’s emotional acceptance speech claimed the third most popular spot for social media discussion. Spencer’s comments additionally ranked highest in positivity ratings.

Congratulations to @OctaviaSpencer for her Oscar win! You truly deserve it! God bless!” – Kelly Rowland singer

Yes!!!! Welcome to the family Octavia !! Congrats!!! Amazing!!” – Jennifer Hudson singer/actress

Other unique moments during this year’s Oscars generated additional online discussions, and continues to prove how real-time social media platforms are changing the face of awards show commentary, as well as television watching in general. One such example was the somewhat controversial exposure of Angelina Jolie’s right leg. Viewers immediately shared opinions of Jolie’s wardrobe choice and, almost instantaneously, a Twitter account was created for “AngiesRightLeg.”  The Twitter account currently has close to 35,000 followers and about 30 tweets.

The above statistics and results only reinforce existing research in support of the effectiveness of social media. Clearly, with active individuals across such a broad spectrum, sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. can all assist in amplifying anything – whether that’s celebrity limbs or your brand. Celebrities who utilize social media for public relations’ benefits also have the opportunity to translate the increased popularity of their profiles and pages into potential business success. Advertisements cost $1.7 million per 30-second commercial, but given the popularity of the 2012 award show, it’s likely that this was money well spent.

Were you commenting on the Academy Awards via social media last Sunday?  What was your favorite part of the show?  Do you think social media is changing the face of television commentary? Tweet us @451Heat or share your comments below!

-Katie O’Brien, 451 Marketing Marketing Intern

@KGOBrien

Katie is a senior at Boston College majoring in Communication.

Thanks for the images:

1. www.gradley.net

2. www.laist.com

3. www.hollywoodreporter.com

4. www.blogcdn.com

5. www.cbswbbav.files.wordpress.com/

6. www.laist.com

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Exploring Twitter, An Uber Cool App, and Other Facebook Messages

 

Top Story: Twitter ‘Explores’ a New Look and Feel with Redesign

Twitter has redesigned not only its interface, but some of its terminology as well. They went to a simpler overall experience by giving more definite categories and designing the site to be easier to navigate.

Twitter added two categories – ‘Connect’ and ‘Discover’. While neither adds actual features, it changes how you view your content.

Connect – this is now where you will find all interactions: who tweeted you, who added you tweet to their favorites, followed you, or retweeted you. This is somewhat similar to the Facebook activity feed, if you ask us.

Discover – this basically is a news aggregator and it accomplishes this by, putting imagery, trending topics, and hot stories in one area. By pulling in more than just the words that are hot – they have made it into more of an actual news resource.

‘Discover’ is the feature that could really change how Twitter is used. It will now be more appealing to people solely looking to stay up to date in news real time because it has a dedicated page.

 

Under the Radar: Why is Facebook hiding messages from us?

Did you know that Facebook has been filtering your private messages for over a year? If you’ve never noticed your “Other” messages, you may want to take a look and see what you’ve been missing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all know what it’s like to be bombarded with annoying messages on Facebook. From event invites for parties located across the country to band performances from “friends” we talked to once in high school, it’s easy to feel spammed by Facebook on occasion. But what you may not know is that Facebook has its own form of a spam filter set up. It’s a section of your messages called “other” and you may have never noticed it if you haven’t bothered to look. But Facebook has allegedly been implementing this system since November of 2010.

I checked my “other” folder for the first time the other day and noticed quite a few messages in there. Admittedly, most of them are messages that weren’t important and I would have immediately trashed anyway. And, I thank Facebook for sparing me the creepy “I’d like to get to know you better” messages from faceless people. However, there were a few in there, like a special discount from a company I follow and a message from a friend (who I’m not connected with on Facebook), that I would have liked to see— messages that I had no idea were being hidden from me.

Am I mad? Not necessarily. I do think Facebook’s “other” folder is incredibly useful and has saved me much annoyance. But it’s also something that we should have been aware of from the start. I thank goodness for Gmail’s spam filter on a daily basis, but I still like to take a quick look at it from time to time to make sure nothing important is getting by. I’m thrilled not to get all those annoying Facebook messages to my inbox, but at the same time, I would have liked to know that my messages were being filtered and I wasn’t necessarily receiving everything that was sent to me. Check your “other” folder and see what you’ve been missing!

 

451 Labs Tool Review: Uber’s App—Making it easy to get a cab from your phone

Waiting on the side of the road waving your hand to get a cab to stop is so yesterday. With Uber, you can request a car right from your iPhone or Android. It will come in no time and be a whole lot less sketchy than many of the cabs you’ve likely ridden in before. But what will it cost you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you live in a major city, you likely know what it’s like to be frustrated trying to catch a cab. Especially if it happens to be raining out or you stay at the bar until last call and want to get home when every other city-dweller is also trying to hitch a ride. It’s enough to make you want to spend the winter huddled in your apartment to avoid being stranded far from home at all costs. Enter Uber.

Uber is a new service that makes it easy to get a cab. A non-sketchy car that is much more comfy and classy-looking than the average cab. All you need is the iPhone or Android app and you can request a car from anywhere. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can simply text Uber your address. A sleek black car with a professional driver will come pick you up, generally in about 10-15 minutes. Which means you can stick around the bar a little longer, instead of standing on the sidewalk with your hand up waving for a cab, while simultaneously shoving people out of your way and screaming that you were waiting first. Or maybe that’s just how we do it in Boston? (Tweet This!)

Adding to Uber’s appeal is the easy pay option. Instead of making certain you have cash on you or dealing with your cab’s faulty credit card machine (if they even have one!), Uber simply charges the credit card you have on file with them. It sounds super easy, but how much does it cost? Well, Uber charges based on distance traveled and time spent in cab and varies from city to city. In Boston, the base fee is $7.00, plus a $4.00 distance fee per mile, and $0.85 per minute time fee (for when the car is traveling less than 11 miles per hour). So, taking an Uber car will cost you more than a standard cab in Boston (which generally has a $2.60 base charge, plus a $2.80 per mile distance fee, and $0.47 per minute time fee). However, when you factor in the fact that you can avoid waiting and annoyance, along with a potentially sketchy cabby who’s chatting on his cell phone and swerving in and out of traffic, it seems pretty worth it for certain occasions. We’ll likely be saving the luxury for when we’re really stuck and want to get home hassle-free.

Uber’s services are currently offered in San Francisco/Palo Alto, New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Paris, and Washington D.C.

 

Around the Hub: Foursquare-Amex Partnership comes and goes in Boston

There was a lot of buzz about the Foursquare-American Express partnership when it was announced, but in Boston there hasn’t been much talk about it lately because it wasn’t really activated anywhere in the Hub.

About a week ago, Foursquare quietly rolled out specials at a number of local businesses that have a ‘Spend $10, get $10 off’ specials – provided by American Express. While we are excited to see this feature coming to Boston, it raises some concerns as well.

In Boston, they did not consult the businesses before putting this special up. While the money exchange is done on the credit card, many customers will likely ask the businesses about the specials. It makes sense that Foursquare would want to push this out to many businesses, however they should be giving merchants more information and training staff on the specials. If a local restaurant was consulted on this, they would be able to internally push the promotion to existing customers and get more reach overall.
              

UPDATE: As of this morning it appears the AMEX specials are gone in Boston

 

Will you be using the uber cool app for your next taxi? Will you be more keen to check your “other” Facebook messages, Will you be more tuned in with the new Twitter, or will you be checking in to see what new discount you can get? Join the conversation #451Labs and drop us a line.

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