Apple is certainly a newsworthy company. In the past few weeks, Apple released the iPad mini, the patent war between Apple and Samsung has escalated and iPhone 5S and even iPhone 6 rumors have begun circulating the Internet (only three months since the launch of the iPhone 5). Not all Apple news is positive, however. The infographic below is particularly timely given the recent tumble in Apple shares. “Peak or Plateau: What’s Next for Apple?” is certainly a good title for this infographic as the data points look at the success from Apple in recent years and considers the falling stock as the tech giant looks ahead to the future. Whether the future for Apple is gloomy or sunny, you can be certain Apple will continue making big news.
Remarkably, Apple is able to remain in the limelight incessantly while still holding out on social media. Indeed, Mashable recently had a nice write-up on four huge brands still not on social media. There Apple was, the largest company in the world, at the bottom of the list. It seems silly. For the amount of traditional advertising the company does for each new product launch, it seems like a natural next step would be to layer social media on top of that and create online communities to further push its messaging throughout the Web. Maybe social media is finally in Apple’s future?
From the looks of this infographic, Apple might need to shake things up a bit to be sure it doesn’t ‘plateau.’ As you can see Apple has gained some huge ground in the past five years. For one, the iPhone alone now has higher sales than every product Microsoft has to offer. With a $500 billion value, the company is either going to continue thriving or simply flat line. This infographic even says its fan base is leveling out. But the underlying question? Is Apple’s financial skyrocket peaking or is it merely preparing for the next big launch? Check out the infographic from onlinebusinessdegree.org below and draw your own conclusion:
Foursquare is definitely one of the most underutilized social media platforms. Sure brands such as the History Channel and Starbucks are completely killing it on Foursquare, but the location-based app is fantastic for businesses of all sizes. Small businesses in particular have a great opportunity to gain exposure, reward patrons with deals and earn customer loyalty. Chances are, your business already has a spot on Foursquare. Wouldn’t it make sense to claim your venue so you have control of it?
There are plenty of articles about Foursquare success stories and you can skim through a few case studies on the app’s website. Probably the best reason to get your business on Foursquare is for the check-in specials–those are deals users can unlock after a certain number of check-ins or for becoming the ‘mayor.’ Check-in specials are only the beginning though. The following is a quick how-to on getting the most out of Foursquare–without spending any money.
Setting up a ‘personal’ account:
Create a new account for your business. To make this happen, go to foursquare.com and download the free mobile app.
Fill out profile completely. This includes a good profile photo/logo, location, phone number, Twitter handle, and your company’s bio (160 characters).
Add people you know & people in the area.
Create lists & add tips. This is why setting up a personal business profile is important. Maybe you’re a restaurant owner who also serves pizza by the slice at local sporting events … might as well add a tip to those venues for fans to grab a slice during intermission. As the social media manager at KVSC-FM, I created a list of “KVSC’s Favorite Eateries.” The restaurants on the list are all underwriters for the station and the tips include special discounts for members of KVSC (a public radio station). Being a college radio station, I also created a list of tips for venues around campus such as “If you’re walking through campus or driving around town, tune to KVSC 88.1FM for college radio awesomeness! You can listen on mobile devices too. Just go to http://www.kvsc.org/listen.php” and “Make sure you get to hockey games in time for the pre-game intro. It. Is. AWESOME! Read more.” What’s really great about adding tips and lists is that you can link to websites and you can easily check the stats (e.g. “10 people have done this tip”).
Connect other apps, check privacy settings. Foursquare has a number of apps you can connect such as Foodspotting, Instagram and The Weather Channel. If your business is on Instagram for example, you can sync Foursquare to automatically check-in at a venue when you share a photo (by the way, if your business is on Instagram, go ahead an connect your Tumblr and Twitter accounts too). Since you’re a business and not an actual person, be sure to make your privacy settings as loose as possible–make it easy for customers to get in touch.
Setting up your business page:
Create/claim your venue. Unfortunately, this can be quite a drag–taking up to a week or more. This is good though because Foursquare is doing its best to make sure only real venues get claimed by the rightful manager. To get started, head to foursquare.com and sign in using the business account you just created or your personal account–doesn’t matter which. Search for your business and look for the “Do you manage this business?” and hit the “Click here” button. After that, just follow the steps. You will need to verify using the phone number of the business.
Fill out profile completely: Profile photo/logo, Address, phone number, Twitter handle, website, hours and keyword tags. Restaurants also have the ability to add menus and prices.
Create a special. Now that you’re managing your venue, go ahead and create your first check-in special. Foursquare offers a variety of specials to attract new customers or reward existing customers. Choosing a special for users who check-in to the venue for their first time might be a great way to get started. You can create multiple campaigns and test which ones work best.
Add employees and managers. If you’re a busy manager or owner of your business, it might be a good idea to delegate the responsibilities of general venue upkeep to another employee. Also, you can add employees to your venue so they can’t become the ‘mayor’ and reap the rewards that your actual customers should be getting.
Promote. You should get a window cling from Foursquare when you secure your venue … put it somewhere visible. Create fliers, Tweet it, include it in your eNewsletter, put it on your business card, train your employees to tell customers about it, add links to your website and anything else you can think of. Just be sure to follow the Foursquare brand guidelines.
There’s been a lot of chatter about cyberbullying lately and this new infographic from onlinecollege.org has some amazing stats to provide insight to how technology is affecting youth. I’ll let the infographic do most of the talking, however there are a few stats worth noting.
With girls aged 14-17 sending nearly 3,000 tweets per month, there is bound to be some negative conversations now and then. Kids are now growing up in an increasingly interconnected world where using mobile technology and online social networks is commonplace. As many would agree, a problem with online communication is that people can hide behind a persona and ‘bully’ others from a distance. Indeed, 7.5 million Facebook users are under age 13 and 81 percent of today’s youth say bullying online is easier to get away with than in person.
Please take a look at the infographic below and consider the teens you know in your life, or maybe you are one:
Source: Accredited Online Colleges
Lately I’ve been obsessing over Draw Something. It seems I am not alone. The newest sensation in the world of smartphone apps gained 20 million active users in just a shade under two months. Available in both the iOS App Store and Android Market, Draw Something is a simple idea created by OMGPOP, which was acquired shortly after its launch by mobile gaming powerhouse Zynga for $180 million. The concept of the game is to–you guessed it–draw something for your friend. The hook is that the other player gets to watch you draw the picture in a Pictionary-style animation. Definitely a game for people of all ages.
The first few weeks I spent on Draw Something mostly consisted of stick figures and outlines of objects. With a limited, yet diverse word bank to choose from before each turn, I have expanded my skill and creativity by pushing myself to draw more detailed drawings. Some people have gone a little overboard, but there are definitely some amazing drawings floating around on the Web.
Hopefully the acquisition by Zynga will not harm the simplicity of the app as they work to further monetize off the early success of the app. I came across a clever animated infographic on Mashable earlier today and just had to share it. The folks at MBA Online created the infographic and have gathered some staggering statistics regarding the success of Draw Something.
When I decided to buy an iPhone 4 a little less than a year ago, I was mostly excited about being able to update social sites from my phone, check email and keep my life better organized. Little did I know … the iPhone 4’s camera turned out to be my favorite aspect. That does make sense considering I’m a photographer. However, I really did not think I would be using my iPhone as much as I do to snap artistic, high-quality photos.
The mobility of the iPhone (it is always with me) and the high quality images produced makes it the perfect everyday camera. The Apple iPhone 4 has unparalleled specifications including five megapixel images, optional HDR, tap to focus and a 2.8 F-stop. Add in thousands of photo apps available in the iTunes market, and the iPhone is hard to beat. Listed here are my 13 photography apps I keep on my iPhone:
Instagram is a must for photographers or anyone with creative intuition. This five-star rated app creates a social experience based around the application of a variety of filters to photos taken in the app itself or from photos in your iPhone’s photo library. Added bonuses include tilt-shift generation, ability to tag your photos and share your creations on several social media sites and email. 100 million users can’t be wrong. Read my full Instagram app review here. Price: free.
Adobe Photoshop Express (PS Express) allows basic edits to photos such as contrast, exposure, saturation and tint. There are also a few basic filters, effects and borders you can apply. I have the free version and is all I need for quick edits. The $4.99 upgrade might be worth it if you do not plan on purchasing any additional photo apps. Price: free.
MagicShutter is a great concept, but not very intuitive. The idea is for the app to turn your iPhone into more of an actual SLR camera by being able to control exposure lengths. I have definitely made some cool photos with this app, but every time I use it, I have to re-teach myself. Still fun though. Price: $2.99.
TiltShiftGen is another favorite photo app of mine. If you are familiar of tilt-shift photography then you will love this app. When I first got into tilt-shift photography, I was using a long, complicated post editing process in Photoshop and it was hard to get the effect just right. This fantastic app does all the work for you and has the necessary saturation, brightness, contrast and vignetting features to get exactly the effect you want. Price: $0.99.
SnapShot Postcard is another great concept and one I wish I had when I was traveling through Europe–finding postcards, correct postage and a place to actually mail them while traveling can be a pain. This app does all that for you. The best part? You get one free postcard with your download. Price: free.
PostalPix is a similar concept; only instead of sending postcards, it simply allows you to order prints directly from you phone. Prints start at 29¢ and offers some miscellaneous products such as metal prints and mouse pads. Price: free.
Tiny Planet Photos is a novelty app that is really only fun a few times. It turns your photos into a … you guessed it, a “tiny planet.” You have to have the right style of photo for it to work right. Here’s my best photo, with the “early bird” filter applied using Instagram. Price: free.
360 Panorama is another app that has a great concept, but is a little difficult to get good results. The app creates a full 360 degree panorama in real-time. You just hold the phone out and hit record. Kind of fun, but I think I wasted my money on this one. Price: $1.99.
AutoStitch is similar to 360 Panorama, but it does not capture the image in real time. Instead, the users takes several photos and then lets the app stitch them together automatically. This is definitely a cool app and very easy to use. Price: $1.99.
Halftone is another novelty app for bringing a little life to your pictures. The app provides several comic book-like filters and the ability to add captions and thought bubbles to photos. Definitely a fun app. Price: $0.99.
Photosynth is another real-time panoramic photo app developed by Microsoft. It has a five-star rating, but I find it a little difficult to use. The most recent upgrade allows users to submit photos to Bing maps. Try it out for yourself. Price: free.
Postagram is an awesome app similar to SnapShot Postcard. What sets this app apart is the ability to choose photos from your phone, Facebook or Instagram. Additionally, you can add a personal message, save addresses and the photo pops out of the card! Also, an online version of the card is saved as well and the recipient can easily post it on Facebook or thank the sender. If you have Instagram, this is a must have. I send Postagrams as thank you notes all the time. Price: free. *Bonus – follow this link and you and I will both get a credit to send a free card: http://sincerely.com/u/2oo4s6.
WordFoto is a really cool app that acts as a word cloud for photos. Take any photo, add some text and the image automatically converts to words. Sort of a hard concept to explain, so look at some images created here. Price: $1.99.
A while back, I wrote an article about my experience in using QR codes at KVSC-FM and how I have used them personally on my business cards. Now almost two months later, I have a few more suggestions for the successful use of QR codes in marketing. QR codes are still quite the craze and I am seeing more and more show up on event flyers, print advertisements and even as profile pictures on Twitter. Many of these examples were flawed in some way and this article is meant to help prevent others from making the same mistakes.
The first advice I might give is to not include a QR code on something just to have a QR code on it. I admit, I have fallen victim to this. In creating a few print advertisements for an upcoming concert sponsored by KVSC, I really wanted to include a QR code to fill some blank space in the ad. However, both kvsc.org and the online ticket site were not easy to use on a mobile device and the only thing I could think of was to have the QR code link to the box office phone number to purchase tickets. We decided to remove the QR code. Why? Although the QR code likely would have raised curiosity, the destination would most likely serve as a disappointment to anyone who scanned it. We were better off just posting the phone number (old fashioned, I know).
Another thing we can learn from the above example is that it’s usually best to link to a mobile site. If the ticket service we were using was a site such as stubhub.com, then the QR code would have been a great addition to the print ad because the user would probably be discovering something new and would be excited about using the mobile site to purchase tickets. Along these same lines, linking to my ePortfolio from my business cards was probably not the best idea as I implied in my previous post on QR codes. Although my ePortfolio looks fine on a mobile device, the text is small and navigation is difficult. When I print new personal business cards, I will link to this blog because WordPress automatically directs users to a mobile version.
Lastly, I would highly recommend using a URL shortener service such as bit.ly to create your QR code. One problem I have seen with some QR codes is that they are too dense and thus, difficult to scan quickly (if at all). I do not completely understand the science behind QR codes, but I do know that dense QR codes are not only more difficult to scan, but are also less attractive. By using a URL shortener (namely bit.ly), you will not only avoid this problem, but you will also be able to track basic analytics of the QR code. With bit.ly, you can track the number of scans, location of the referrer, if the link is being shared on social sites, when the code was scanned and whether the referral came from the QR code or from the link posted elsewhere.
For those of you who watch CSI, here’s a simple definition of a QR code:
I hope these additional tips help you in creating more effective marketing campaigns through the use of QR codes. As always, if you have any tips or questions, please comment below or send me a message on Twitter: @eric_wheeler. And remember, sharing gets you more friends!
QR codes are the latest marketing craze. The QR, or Quick-Response, code was invented in 1994 by a Japanese company called DENSO Corp., a subsidy of Toyota and was initially used to track parts in vehicle manufacturing. Though QR codes have been commonplace in Japan for some time, they are only just now becoming popular in the United States. With over 73 million smartphone users in the US, marketers are embracing the technology in some very unique ways. In this post, I will give a few examples of how I have used QR codes at KVSC 88.1FM, at a personal level and what I have learned along the way.
My first venture with QR codes was in promoting “Superheroes of Trivia,” KVSC’s annual Trivia Weekend. The poster I was designing for the event was to resemble a retro comic book with a modern twist. After I had placed a traditional (non-scanable) bar code at the upper left of the poster to make it look more like a comic book, I got the idea to make it interactive by using a QR code.
The idea was simple enough; I would place a QR code on the poster and have it link to an MP3 file that could be changed out with different audio files. This seemed like a great idea because this was for a radio station that was running a three-part promo on air and we could use the poster to bridge a connection to the series. However, it didn’t quite work out. The QR code worked fine, but the audio file would only play on Apple devices. When the audio file was opened on any other device, it would not play due to some type of Apple encryption with MP3 files. So I learned two things:
1. Always test your QR code on multiple devices/operating systems.
2. It’s better to link to an HTML document with an embedded audio file than to link directly to the source.
Also for Trivia Weekend, I placed a QR code on a table tent (shown above) encouraging students to volunteer for the event. The QR code simply linked to our volunteer resource page on the KVSC website. Though not as cool as opening an audio file to be entertained by a three-part trivia epic, the QR code on the table tent raised curiosity and drove traffic to kvsc.org.
At a personal level, I am in the midst of an aggressive job hunt and have placed a QR code on the back of my business card. Most people use QR codes on business cards to link to contact information. Personally, I have linked it to my online portfolio at eFolioMinnesota.com. I feel this is more appropriate for me since I am advertising myself as a job candidate and not myself as a business. Another tip to keep in mind when creating a QR code is to make sure the link is easy to use on a mobile phone. I initially wanted to link the QR code to my about.me page because it is much more visually appealing. However, it takes too long to download on a mobile device and is simply not sized correctly to be viewed on a 3.5 inch screen.
Another way to avoid compatibility issues with a URL or media file is to simply link to a text file. This can be used to direct the user to take further action or act as a coupon with instruction to the customer and cashier on how to redeem the offer. A good example involving text was with the concert venue First Avenue promoting an upcoming concert. A QR code was posted on its Facebook wall with the caption “We’re going hi-tech with today’s Etix ticket giveaway and it’s a doozy. Decode the QR for your chance to win.” When scanned, the QR code directed users to a text which simply read “Leave a comment with where First Avenue tickets will be available this Friday.” This is a great use of a QR code because it not only integrated social media, but also prompted users to learn about the venue’s new online ticket purchase option (eTix).
Here’s a list of ways I’ve heard of QR codes being used:
Let’s call this my first iPhone app review. In my very first blog entry I promised to throw in some posts on photography. Living up to that promise, I want to talk about one of my favorite iPhone apps: Instagram. This is the perfect iPhone application for someone who’s into art and wants to share his/her world with others through photos.
Taken from the Instagram website, Instagram is “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures.” The app definitely lives up to its motto and it is super easy to use. All you do is choose a photo (either by taking one using the app itself or by choosing from your iPhone’s camera roll), apply one of the filters, name the image and you’re done! The app even has the option to apply tilt-shift to make your pictures look miniature or more mysterious by blurring the edges. In short, Instagram is a great way to make otherwise boring or uninspiring photos come to life with simple filters. The photo in my Gravatar at right was manipulated using Instagram and I now use that same image across all my social media platforms (this might be a good time to attribute the photographer: Danielle Morris).
The Instagram iPhone app also is very much a social media application and even mimics some of the same features as Twitter. Users can create hashtags, use @mentions, add a location and follow other users. With photos of people you follow showing up in a photostream, Instagram is essentially Twitter, but with photos. Another fun aspect of this iPhone app is that you can send your creations out across a number of sites supporting photos. I typically add a location via Foursquare and send the photo to Facebook or Twitter (sometimes both). The photos you see in the sidebar at right are Instagram photos synced to my Flikr photostream.
The one drawback of Instagram is that the actual website is worthless from a user standpoint. Although every Instagram photo published on another site has its own URL, the site contains no way to share the image, comment or rate the photo nor does the site contain links to any other photos. Basically, the site does not support user profiles. This is a little frustrating and disappointing all at the same time. However, I’m sure the developers chose to keep the website simple and maybe they are still laking the infrastructure needed to host the nearly 300,000 photos uploaded each day. This means Instagram is limited only to iPhone users (as well as iPad and iPod Touch users).
Many organizations are using Instagram already and it will be interesting to see what type of marketing campaigns will be launched using the app. I currently follow NPR, the Boston Celtics and MTV just to see what type of images they come up with and to see how they are using Instagram to connect with their audience. Although KVSC-FM does not have an Instagram account set up, I have used the app to create interesting photos to post on the station’s Facebook wall. Organizations with a larger following could easily conduct contests or use the app for awareness efforts of national or worldwide events. How do you see Instagram being used as a marketing tool?
More specifically, life is different with my Apple iPhone 4. I think most people see me as a tech savvy person, mainly because my Tweets and my blog focus on social media and its relation to the field of public relations. Anyone who knows me at a more personal level knows I cannot be away from my iPhone for more than a few minutes. However, it was only a few years ago when I purchased my first cell phone and only a few months since I upgraded my seemingly worthless Sony Ericsson slider phone.
I waited as long as I could to purchase my first cell phone. I was a sophomore in college when I finally walked into AT&T to start my first plan. This came as a necessity. I was president of my fraternity and vice-president of the student body at the time and I was always needing to contact someone and having to go home to look up a number and make the call from my dad’s land line was not very practical. So I caved in and bought my first phone.
As I upgraded phones through the years, I gradually started using more and more features–from text messages to video–my phone was becoming more important. When I put my slider phone through the wash a few months back, I decided it was time to make a true investment and upgrade to an Apple iPhone 4.
I was never really satisfied with any of my prior phones and this was a major step for me, which coincidentally came with a larger monthly bill. I ultimately made the decision based on a plethora of needs. I was becoming more tech and social media minded and I felt this would be the perfect way to really help me become more influential in the social media world. Besides that, I was forgetting things all the time–meetings, deadlines, due dates of class assignments, etc. Getting a smart phone would hopefully alleviate some of these problems.
Sure enough, I was able to sync the handy email and calendar to my Google account and now I get notified anytime something important comes up and I almost never forget anything. Google apps makes it easy to search by typing in keywords, speaking into my phone or even by snapping a picture–so the answer to any of life’s questions are always just a moment away. I downloaded Textfree so I could send unlimited text messages without running up my monthly bill. I downloaded a few games to keep my attention when I’m bored (may I suggest Angry Birds?). I have several photography apps for my creative side (instagr.am is awesome). I have several news apps so I always know what’s going on in the world and most importantly, I have several social media apps to help me build my online reputation.
In short, I feel lost without my iPhone and I am always using it, tweeting, checking email, reading news, checking weather, using the GPS and of course communicating with friends and family. Lastly, I would pitch the iPhone 4 specifically for the FaceTime function. It’s great to walk across campus while video chatting with a friend. It’s even more fun to FaceTime with to my niece in Texas who I never get to see.