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Facebook’s Mobile Move and What it Means for Businesses

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As the social networking site with the most users by far – over 1 billion – Facebook has been springing forward to trail-blaze the next big move. With over 600 million of their users accessing the site through their mobile device, the launch of “Home” android app/operating system came as no surprise. The idea behind Home is to develop an ecosystem that puts people before apps – putting your newsfeed on your home screen so you see status updates rather than apps. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg presented Home as the “best version of Facebook there is.”

Facebook and HTC partnered to launch the first phone to have Home pre-loaded onto it, appropriately called the HTC First. The phone went on sale for $99 with a two-year contract through AT&T last month. Just last week, the HTC First dropped to the price of $0.99 and today, AT&T announced their decision to officially discontinue the phone. However, this does not mean the death of Home just yet.

Facebook VP Cory Ondrejka states, “Home is the first product we’ve released that’s really about ‘mobile-best’ and the transition beyond ‘mobile first.’” Facebook’s making their mobile intentions known and are going all out in their efforts. Perhaps Home is not revolutionizing the mobile experience just yet, but it has boosted “the number of daily comments and likes someone leaves on the news feed by 25%.” For a social networking site with over 1 billion users, 25% more activity is no small feat.

In fact, Home hit 1 million downloads just yesterday according to the Google Play store.

What are the features of Facebook Home?

Cover Feed: Streams of posts from your NewsFeed are right on your home screen. Whatever your friends are sharing at the moment is what you see. You can also set up notifications that will pop up on your screen, reminding you of events, calls, app updates, etc.

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Chat Heads: Just like Facebook Messenger, Chat Heads allows you to keep the conversation going even if you are using other apps. All your conversations are in one place and you can chat from anywhere on your phone.

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App Launcher: To access the apps you want, you can set up the app launcher with your essential apps.

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What does this shift from online to mobile mean for businesses?

Now more than ever, the focus of your content should be image heavy. On Facebook, photos and videos are far more successful at garnering engagement – likes, comments, shares – than plain text and links. Facebook is a visual economy, and the focus on mobile only intensifies the importance of images. Mobile users are far less likely to read text-heavy posts in transit and Facebook’s algorithm is more optimized to keep people on the platform rather than linking off.

The move to integrate social networking with tech devices seems to be the move. Just think of Google Glass or the Apple iWatch. The next big thing seems to be to engage individuals beyond their computers – on-the-go, all-day every day – whether it be in their hands, on their face, or on their arm. To keep up with the growing trend of constant connection, businesses should be sure to be more visual in their social media marketing efforts.

What do you think of the move to mobile and wearable tech? How will marketing change with increased levels of consumer engagement?

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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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Tips for a Successful Tablet Marketing Strategy

This past Christmas, my parents surprised me with an iPad2. Being the ever-diligent Communications student, I decided to do a little research on the marketing approaches that can be useful when developing a tablet app for your company or product.

According to an article by TechCrunch, there will be an estimated 90 million tablet users in the U.S by the end of 2014.   Of those tablet owners, approximately 61 million will be using Apple’s iPad.  That offers a sizeable opportunity that cannot be ignored.  Logically, marketing strategies are adapting in order to cater to these devices. 

Image from Pluggd.in

So how can your company create a successful app?

Here are a few tips:

1.  Your app should be easy to use.  The first is fairly obvious, consumers aren’t going to waste their time trying to understand an app that is unnecessarily difficult to navigate.  I’m sure everyone has downloaded and later deleted an app because it wasn’t as simple as it claimed to be.

 

2.  Your app should be free of charge.  This is an opportunity for your company to build its brand and to gain exposure, not to make money.  Treating your app as a revenue channel will only deter potential consumers from downloading the app.  When I’m browsing the App Store, I filter my results based on those that are free.  I’ve never paid for an app before and don’t plan to start now.

 

3.  Your app should be compatible with multiple tablets.  While the iPad continues to be the most popular device, you should make sure anyone who wants to download it has that option.  Don’t limit your brand’s exposure by failing to offer it to everyone.

 

4.  Your app should offer an additional benefit that your website does not.  For example, I have an app called Nike Training Club, which I use to workout when I’m at home.  Nike promotes use of this app by offering to unveil a celebrity workout plan if you use it for a certain amount of time.  The incentive of receiving my childhood idol (no judgment please), Hilary Duff’s, workout was enough to convince me to use the app more often.

 Image from Plugged.in

5.  Your app should be creative.  While this may seem to be a no-brainer, a mobile-marketer article, found that tablets offer a more interactive canvas, which allows creators to be more imaginative in how they connect with consumers.  Therefore users may be more willing to engage with a campaign than they would if it were print advertising or a TV commercial because there’s the added opportunity for interaction.

 

6.  Your app should take full advantage of the tablet’s capabilities. Tablets offer the functionality of a desktop PC with the mobility of a cell phone.  Magazine and other reader apps are good examples of how to take full advantage of this.  Because the screen is larger than that of a smart phone, consumers are likely drawn to the increased ease of reading.  In addition, the lightweight model allows consumers to bring their entire stock of magazines, books, newspapers, etc. with them without monopolizing any further space.  Apps can also capitalize on the tablet’s capabilities by encouraging direct responses from users through simple feedback channels built-in to the app.

 

These are some tips that could help promote your brand or product on a tablet.   What are some additional attributes that you look for in an app?  What discourages you from downloading an app?  Which tablet do you have? Tweet us @451Heat to share your thoughts!

 

-Katie O’Brien, 451 Marketing Marketing Intern
Katie is a senior at Boston College majoring in Communications

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Using QR Codes for Your Business – Do’s and Don’ts


QR codes are everywhere – on buses, flyers, shirts, banners – if it’s printed, it’s likely to have a QR code attached to it somewhere. Although it’s not a new technology (the “Quick Response Code” was initially used in Toyota manufacturing in 1994), the popularity of the QR code is growing at an astonishing rate. According to the Mobile Barcode Q2 2011 Trend Report, there are 20,000 new QR code application activations every day. The same report also cited that the top product catergories scanned is “food and drink” with 35%. Because of this QR code mania, the codes often go unnoticed or unused. That being the case, if your business chooses to use a QR code in its marketing, you should make sure that you’re leveraging this technology in the most effective way possible. Below, we have outlined some do’s and don’ts to make sure your QR code gets the most bang for the buck.

Don’t

  • Don’t have the QR code go to your website homepage – it can be a disappointment for one of your customers who takes the time to scan a QR code, wait’s for it to load, and then it goes to your restaurants homepage. They could have already manually gone to your homepage in that time. Content linked to a QR code should be different and exciting – something your customers don’t already know.
  • Don’t have your QR code be broken – This might sound obvious, but we have experienced multiple QR codes that don’t work, no matter what phone or app you use – it’s actually what inspired this post. This is frustrating to the customer and looks unprofessional. Make sure the link is working and that the QR code is large enough to be scanned.
  • Don’t forget about your QR code – If the information on your QR is advertised as being updated weekly or monthly, make sure you follow through with the expectations you have set.
  • Don’t have your QR code lead users to non-mobile content – This may sound obvious, but many people don’t realize how important this is. If the page your QR code leads to is difficult to view on a mobile device, it’s not likely to keep your audience’s attention. It is also a good idea for the content not to use a Flash. This way, more of your customers will be able to view your content and they will have a more pleasant experience doing so.

Do

  • Do have a compelling call to action –   If your business is a restaurant, some examples might be a recipe from your chef, a list of beers that are currently on tap, a coupon or discount that can be used immediately if the QR code is shown, a registration to a newsletter, being entered into a contest, nutritional facts, directions to the restaurant, etc. All of these types of content offer your audience a new, unique way to identify with your brand.
  • Do have special content – Like we said before – exciting, new, or exclusive content.  Scanning your QR code should bring your customer to some sort of special content – something they would have normally not seen.
  • Do have a nice design – If you have a unique design or placement of your QR code people will be more inclined to scan it.
Some examples of creative QR code design via @Mashable
  • Do have a teaser for your QR code – More people will scan your QR code if you have a phrase next to it like “scan this to find out our recipe of the week” or, “scan this to get a special deal.”
  • Do have an explanation for what a QR code is – Many people are still unaware of what a QR code is, or its benefits. Make sure your staff is aware of how to use a QR code, some apps to tell customers to download, and that they know what your QR code goes to.

Have you seen effective (and ineffective) use of QR codes by businesses? Do you have any tips to add? Please leave your comments in the section below!

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Has M-Commerce Finally Arrived? Consumers, Technology and What the Digital Wallet Means for You

 

During #FutureM week, Karyn Martin (@karynmartin) and I attended a session on the future of mobile commerce as part of the week-long conference here in Boston. The panel featured representatives from major players in the mobile landscape, such as John Caron (@jcaron2) of  Modiv Media, David Chang, (@changds) of WHERE, Ron Elwell (@ronelwell) of Shopximity, and Chris Mahl (@chrismahlny) from SCVNGR and Level Up. Needless to say, we were excited to see what their predictions were for this new frontier.

The major theme that started to surface was the tremendous amount of opportunity that retailers have with mobile commerce. They are able to gain insights about their customers’ behaviors, build loyalty and ultimately strengthen the depth of relationships with consumers. However – we are still years away from major adoption and have merely scratched the surface of what’s possible with mobile commerce.

We’re slowly getting there, though.  John Caron gave the examples that 22 percent of purchases from major internet retailer Rue La La are mobile and that high frequency retailers who have adopted mobile have seen a 10 to 15 percent increase in sales. Japan has had mobile payments for five years. However, retailers are still attempting to figure out what will help the technology cross the threshold into major adoption. Consumers don’t want something that will replace credit cards – those are easy enough to use. So what will mobile commerce offer us that credit cards won’t?

The key is the following concept: mobile commerce isn’t here to totally replace existing brick and mortar shopping experiences, but to enhance them. Adding targeted advertisements and personalized experiences to shoppers is how mobile commerce be able to burst onto the retail scene.

The panel also discussed the three stages of mobile technology:

  • Cute: A mobile app that is easy and fun to use but doesn’t add any value to the retailer. An example of this would be a Foursquare check-in. Cute – but does it translate to more check outs? Not yet.
  • Cool: A mobile app such as QR codes or Square; something that replaces using a credit card but doesn’t have any game changing potential yet.
  • Critical:  A game changer. Examples of this would be what companies like Apple and Lowes are doing – creating technology and habits that will change how consumers behave.

Most of mobile technology lives in the “cool” category for now. However, that’s not to say that some brands aren’t crossing over to “critical.” I wanted to share the following video that was shown during the presentation to give some insight into crossing into that elusive “critical” stage and what’s possible with mobile commerce. This particular video shows how an innovative supermarket in Korea has used mobile commerce to enhance and simplify shoppers’ experiences.

What do you think? How long do you think it will take mobile commerce to cross the threshold and change consumer behavior? How could it improve how you shop? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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