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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Google+ Vs. Facebook: Social Network Showdown

Google+ has already captured the fond devotion and attachment of social networking users around the world. Of the 10 million users estimated so far, most find it truly engrossing and expansive. Hopefully, it can continue to grow and fill the demands of those unsatisfied with the leading social networking site, Facebook. However, most users aren’t disappointed with Facebook’s cutting edge style. We all know Facebook is awesome… but what kind of innovation does Google+ have to offer?
Well, one of the biggest features introduced by Google+ is the organization of the friend list. Google+ offers Circles which allows for the separation of people into different groups depending on relationship. Many agree that this system is the best way to share posts with just your close friends rather than your family or co-workers. However, Ben Parr from Mashable.com feels differently, considering that “people don’t want to organize their friends” because it’s a “tedious task.” This may be an unnecessary bother to some, but overall Circles is a huge hit to those who have experienced Google+. One feature nobody can disagree with is Google+ Hangouts, which allows video chat for up to 10 people at the same time. Along with Circles, Hangouts have proven to be an amazing installment to social networking and have been a “killer feature” for users. Already, these incredible tools have been useful to fans around the world.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Google+ is just beginning, and innovation is always probable when Google is involved. If not having a search tool is a disappointment considering how Google is the top search engine online, this application may be implemented in the future. Bill Gross, founder of Idealab and Ubermedia, predicts that Google+ will see a bright future estimating “‘100,000,000 users faster than any other service in history.’” If this assumption becomes reality, it would be a huge step for Google+, but one should look at the true goals of the competing network site. Technology Journalist, Marshall Kirkpatrick, focuses on the bigger picture of what Google+ is trying to represent. He states that Google+ is not trying to “kill any competitors” but rather force open “the walled gardens (Facebook in particular)” to “open up interoperability enough that their users can communicate with… people in their lives that use a different social network.” Kirkpatrick has a significant point, and hopefully this idea finds success, but only time will tell how the forces of Google+ will affect Facebook. Fortunately, this battle for social networking dominance will draw out new, innovative technology and social services through the competition that Google+ is displaying. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
So far, which social networking site do you find more attractive… Facebook or Google+?
Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fresh Off The Web

The Smarter version of the best stuff on the web. From new Apple products to Google rappers, the finest of what’s new and cool on the web is featured here, every Friday, for your convenience and pleasure. Enjoy!
The Launch of the iCloud. Ohhhhh, shiny, right?! Now there is so much buzz, it’s hard to figure out what it actually does, but after much researching, I found a reliable article that gives a simple approach to exactly what the iCloud can offer the consumer. Usually these huge tech releases are so overrated and anyone who isn’t a huge tech geek, either couldn’t figure out, or wouldn’t need it, but this isn’t one of those. iCloud is, without any sarcasm, the coolest sharing program so far.

McDonalds Interactive Billboard Game McDonald’s new approach to “the giveaway” gives the average person the chance to be featured on a huge interactive billboard plus your favorite McDonald’s meal for free! They created a game, controlled by your phone, but shown on a huge interactive billboard in real time, and all without downloading an app. If you win the game, you receive your favorite item from McDonald’s. Although this is only in Stockholm now, it was very successful and will probably be around the corner from you soon. Game on McDonalds lovers!

The UN Declares Internet A Human Right. A top story this week was the United Nations’s choice to state that Internet, at a speed that allows people to access news and other educational materials, is a basic human right and should be treated as one. Good magazine provides a great inquiry into why the UN would think this necessary and how far they might be willing to go in order to protect this right.



Facebook’s Real-Time Feed Facebook is now experimenting with real time feeds, that will allow users to view the regular home page with a sidebar that will show exactly what friends are “liking” or posting at that minute. I think this is a complete waste of time and resources because we already see what everyone is doing every second of the day, who needs it in real time? What do you think?



Hoodie Allen: AKA Steve Markowitz, was a Googler before he left to explore his real passion, music. He uses his marketing skills to promote his music, and pretty well if he’s made it this far. His second album, Leap Year, will be out in July and it features influences from his experiences and classical MCs. You can also find all his music on his website as a free download. He’s different, but ushering in a new era of music. Check it out!
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Staff Picks

 

Bam Margera's First Interview After Tragedy: MyFoxPHILLY.com

Bam's Reaction

Damon:

Damon’s link starts this week’s picks out on a somber note. As you may or may not know, Ryan Dunn, of Jackass, recently died. Damon’s pick is a video of his best friend, Bam Margera, at the crash site where Dunn died.

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Mezzanine

Josh:

Josh’s pick is a fascinating story about Oblong Industries, headed up by John Underkoffler, who advised the creators of the really cool computer system in Minority Report. According to Josh’s article, that sort of computer, called Mezzanine, is very close to becoming a reality.

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Speed of Fencing long version from Holly Buechel on Vimeo.

Slow Motion Fencing

Scott:

Scott’s link is an amazing video of fencers in slow motion. You can clearly see all of their motions, which is remarkable because according to the article, the tip of a fencing blade is the fastest moving object in the Olympics besides a bullet.

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Miracle Whip vs. Mayonnaise

Quentin:

Quentin chose a different this week and chose a funny website rather than a graphic design based website. It’s all sarcastic, and all very funny, and although it’s more humor based, it’s also very well designed.

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Real-Life Social Network

Jenny:

Jenny’s link is both hilarious as well as pertinent to our social environment. It shows two men going around in public asking random people to provide them with the same information that Facebook asks for when a new user signs up.

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Check In On The Moon

Zoe:

Zoe’s link is a great example of ways in which social media can help with marketing. Foursquare has teamed up with 7-Eleven and the movie Super 8 to promote all three companies.

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My Diamonds Are Reckless

Andrea:

Andrea’a link is in line with what appears to be a trend of funny links this week. Hers is a site that takes lyrics from rap songs and presents them in a funny, sarcastic, way. It points out the ridiculousness of rap lyrics beautifully and succinctly.

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The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

The Milky Way In A Week

Shelly:

Shelly’s link is a visually stunning video of a time lapse of the Milky Way over a mountain in Spain. It’s gorgeous as well as interesting!

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Stuxnext

Corianda:

Corianda’s link this week is mind blowing, since it describes a computer virus called Stuxnext that was poised to cause huge nuclear explosions. It really makes you think about the fact that people are both incredibly smart and incredibly stupid, since we invent amazing things that do nothing but kill us.

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iPhone 5

Margaret:

Margaret’s link takes you to a slideshow of rumors surrounding the possible upcoming release of the iPhone 5. As an avid iPhone user, she can’t wait to see which ones are true!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fresh Off The Web

The Smarter version of the best stuff on the web. Tune in each Friday as we show you our picks for the top stories in the industry. Enjoy!

Utah Gunman Updating Facebook:

Jason Valdez took a hostage, in a hotel room, after the police tried to arrest him on a felony drug charge. During the 16-hour standoff, he was actively updating his facebook account with pictures and statuses (that received any number of responses from “be careful” to tips on police activity). The new uses for social media are officially endless.

New iPhone

Out of everyone who has heard about the new iPhone, I can’t be the only one thinking, “I can’t keep up!”. It’s getting ridiculous how fast people have to keep updating (or become outdated), but yet, it doesn’t stop me from wanting it any less. So in the spirit of today’s fast paced technology… anyone looking to buy an iPhone 4?



WAJAM!!!!

Sounds like a really cool karate-chopping badass noise, but it’s actually a new browser extension that brings up your friend’s posts in a regular Googlesearch. I have been using it for a couple of days and I have to say, I like it. The name is enticing enough, but it actually works really well.



Charging T-Shirt

So you are at Coachella, it’s around 7 pm, and you have been constantly updating facebook, twitter etc, but you realize your battery is dying! What now! Well not updating every social site imaginable isn’t an option, so they came up with a solution. A t-shirt that uses the sound energy from the festival and charges your phone! Best. Invention. Ever.





Epic Romanian Ad Campaign:

Do you remember where you were when you first saw the Old Spice ads? Well you need to remember where you are right now, that’s how epic this campaign is. Warning: this video may cause one’s mind to blow and greatly increase your desire to share it on your facebook/twitter/tumblr pages – Watch Out!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Staff Picks

Here at Smarter Social Media, our team is constantly sharing interesting, funny, or thought-provoking links with one another. So to share some of our genius, and a lot of our humor, we present to you our weekly Staff Picks. Enjoy.





 

Textures Galore

Quentin:

Quentin’s pick this week is from CG Textures, which is a website that offers thousands of textures for people to use in graphics and images, so you don’t get in trouble for stealing. It offers a huge variety of textures, and it even offers a 15 MB daily download for free! http://www.cgtextures.com/

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Digital Fashion

Jenny:

Jenny’s link mixes fashion with technology. It’s a somewhat geeky, but incredibly cool collection of pictures from an Anrealage fashion show, titled “low”, since all of the outfits are blocky like images in low-resolution. It’s very creative, and also pretty funny.

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Groupon Files To Go Public

Jaspar:

Jaspar’s link is very pertinent to the internet-business environment, since LinkedIn just went public. His article discusses Groupon filing to go public, and what it would mean for the business world, as well as for the three founders. Groupon may be valued at 20 billion dollars, which could potentially make the net worth of the three founders over 7 billion dollars.

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BeachMint's Enormous Valuation

Bryce:

Bryce chose to share an article about BeachMint, the company that owns online jewelry club, JewelMint. BeachMint’s valuation raised $23.5 million to $150 million.

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Mango's Evolution

Jarred:

Jarred’s article discusses the evolution of the Mango logo, which was recently changed to a more modern font. It’s interesting how a slight change in font can completely change the feel a store has, with Mango’s new font, it seems slightly more modern and sleek.

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Travel The World

Shelly:

Shelly’s link is a great list of the most famous streets in the world. From Lombard, in San Francisco, to the Las Vegas Strip, all of them are world-renowned. Maybe someday Shelly will have to opportunity to travel to every street on the list!

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Blogs For Business

Josh:

Josh’s link is one that all small business owners should read. It tells the reader exactly why all small businesses need a blog on their websites. It claims that blogs keep customers interested, while providing more information and pulling more people in.

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Truth Through Social Media

Margaret:

Margaret’s link goes to show the power that gossip through social media and the Internet can have. It’s an article about the now-famous couple in a photograph from rioting in Vancouver, who are laying on the ground kissing between rioters and police. Through social media, the public has now learned who the couple was, and what was really going on.

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/uploads/2011/06/sweet-peas.jpg

Organic Pesticides

Damon:

Damon’s pick this week tackles a topic that’s constantly debated and argued over, whether or not pesticides are used in organic farming. His article is not only informative, but also interesting as far as its objectivity goes. Organic food can be a very touchy subject, and Damon’s pick discusses it in a manner that won’t make anyone mad!

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The National Mall by BLUEBRAIN. The First Location-Aware Album from BLUEBRAIN on Vimeo.

Location-Based Album

Zoe:

Zoe’s link is really interesting, because it’s about a band that is releasing an album as a location-based app, rather than a more standard approach. The band wrote the album while walking around a certain part of DC, and the cd will only play while people are in that area.

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Why Macs Are Better

Scott:

Scott’s link is surprising, coming from such an avid PC-user, but upon actually viewing the video, it’s obvious why he chose it. As everyone knows, Apple makes products that people can easily use for creativity, and this video of a man using an iPad to create a really cool, beautiful guitar piece is absolutely amazing.

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Twitter's Taking Over

Corianda:

Corianda’s pick for this week illustrates her love for social media, as well as photo sharing. She chose an article from Gizmodo that discusses the fact that Twitter’s new photo-sharing service is predicted become the most important in the world. Since hashtags will now link users to potentially millions of photos, it will be very interesting to see if this prediction does, in fact, come true.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Digital Summer Round Up

Summer is full of activities that don’t mesh well with technology. Whether you are lounging at the beach or sunbathing poolside, technology is the one thing that always tends to be left at home, or at least tucked away in a shoe or backpack. By taking your camera, iPod, or phone with you close to the summer fun, there is always that chance that it’ll get wet and ruined, not to mention the overuse of your technology that kills the battery. This summer is all about keeping your technology with you, safe and charged! Here’s a list of things that can help you stay connected this summer:
Solar Powered Bikini I know how scary it can be when your phone or iPod is about to die and you still have five more hours left at the beach. Well that no longer has to be a problem, thanks to creator, Andrew Schneider. He recently created a Solar Powered Bikini so girls would no longer fret about their technology dying too fast. They also won’t have to worry about staying disconnected from Facebook or Twitter. With all the applications and abundance of songs we can add to our mobile phones and iPods today, no wonder their battery life doesn’t last as long as it should. With Schneider’s new Solar Bikini, this no longer has to be the case.
Waterproof Camera Case If you prefer a digital camera to a “mupload” (mobile upload) because the quality of the picture is better, then this is the perfect digital summer accessory. With this device you can share every little detail of your summer vacation. Now you can take your camera to a water park, or a pool and never have to miss a Kodak moment again with the Waterproof Camera Case.
Waterproof Kindle Skin Personally, I find nothing more relaxing than reading an interesting book on the sand. In fact, I wouldn’t be caught dead on a beach without my Kindle. Especially now with the new e-book trend on the rise, Kindle's have become more of a beach time necessity rather than a hobby. And if there’s one thing I know, it is water and technology do not mix. Well thankfully Nexcare came out with the perfect solution—a waterproof Kindle skin. Now you are able to read your favorite e-books without the fear of ruining your e-reader.
iSport It’s bathing suit season and that means one thing—getting in shape. This summer you can do that and keep your technology clean while doing it. A new type of headphones has arrived—the Monstor iSport. This new technology allows you to not only wash your headphones to keep them in tip-top shape (not to mention they are sweat proof!), but are also capable of answering a phone call with their microphone and hands free button. With the ability to control the noise level from the headphones makes it perfect for an athlete, a beach lounger, or musicians alike.
Portable Speakers The last thing you want to do is lug around some large speakers—and why carry more when you don’t have to? The perfect summer accessory is the Pyle--Mini High Volume Portable Rechargeable Speaker System. With the ability to plug in iPods, mp3 players, computers, and mobile phones, Pyle’s mini speakers are ideal for a beach or backyard barbeque. All you need is a device to plug them into and you got yourself a party! Pandora streaming from your smart phone has never sounded so good!
Friday, June 24, 2011

Turntable.Fm: Believe the Hype

It's 11:15 on Monday morning at Smarter Social Media Headquarters in Santa Monica, and there's a rager going down. The DJ has just dropped a sick beat, and the crowd erupts. The room is rapidly filling up, everyone is dancing, and the music doesn't stop. If this sounds a little irresponsible for a functioning company on a weekday, don't worry-- the scene I'm describing is purely virtual. It's all happening via Turntable.fm, the brand-new social music web app/phenomenon that looks to do for music what Facebook did for friendship, Flickr did for photography, and what CougarLife.com did for, um, cougar-ing. Turntable, which has accrued over 140,000 unique users since launching last month, is a web platform for aspiring DJs, music aficionados, and the merely bored alike. It's beautifully intuitive to use-- you simply join via invitation from a Facebook friend, choose a DJ name and select an avatar, and voila-- you're ready to start spinning. If your taste and timing is impeccable, you can rack up fans and "awesome" points and maybe even bump your avatar from an average animated humanoid to something slightly more imrpressive. If, however, you've been playing George Michael's "Careless Whisper" on repeat, you'll likely watch your rankings drop towards "Lame", and might even get punted from the room. The points system adds an addictive, competitive edge to an otherwise amicable online environment where the focus is really on sharing and discovering music. The "social" aspect is enhanced by a wonderful chat feature that enables communication and/or trash talking. And that, essentially, is all there is to Turntable.

If this sounds vaguely reminiscent of late-90s AOL chat roms, trust me--Turntable has the potential to really revolutionize the way we experience music, which, after all, is one of the most fundamental social tools we have. Once upon a time music was used to unite/define generations, but then came the iPod, personalized Pandora stations, and "remix culture", and the trend seemed to be shifting towards increasing isolation in the way we experience music. Here's where Turntable has the potential to restore music to it's rightful place as a communal experience. It's particularly useful in an office environment, and even thought it's getting a reputation as a massive time-suck, I found that it boosted my motivation and energy throughout the morning. I'll be interested to see if Turntable can avoid it's sketchy legal issues and manage to field the huge influx of new users (and, inevitably, trolls). For now, though, it's a blast, and not a bad way to spend a Monday morning.

Sources:

http://www.betabeat.com/2011/06/16/turntable-fm-yep-its-totally-viral-but-could-it-burn-out/

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387485,00.asp

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Staff Picks



Here at Smarter Social Media, our team is constantly sharing interesting, funny, or thought-provoking links with one another. So to share some of our genius, and a lot of our humor, we present to you our weekly Staff Picks. Enjoy.

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The Lonely Funeral

Corianda:

Corianda’s pick for the week is a radio program called “The Lonely Funeral” from KCRW about two men in Amsterdam who conduct funeral services for people who have died alone. It’s touching, and incredibly interesting, since these men take people who haven’t been claimed from the morgue, and give them a proper funeral service.

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Carrot Vs. Ninja

Scott:

Scott chose to share a funny video by The Mill Visual Effects Studio titled “Carrot vs. Ninja”, which chronicles the faceoff between a carrot-consuming man in a car and some surprisingly rambunctious rabbits. Scott is clearly a ninja, not a carrot..

 

Going Hard

Damon:

Damon’s pick for the week is a song called “Going Hard” by Steve Arrington, produced by Dam-Funk. The song’s laidback, funky feel completely coincides with Damon’s day-to-day attitude!.


 

PSD Graphics

Quentin:

Quentin’s choice showcases his interests, since it’s a website called psdGraphics, which features awesome Photoshop templates and backgrounds. The templates and backgrounds are vividly colored, sleek, and the license to get them all is under 12 bucks.

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Altly

Jaspar:

Jaspar’s link this week is an interesting article from TechCrunch about a possible alternative to Facebook. The company, Altly, aims to provide another way for people to use social media, without as many privacy concerns and confusing options. We’ll see how it goes!.


 

The End of Blippy

Bryce:

Bryce’s pick tells the tale of the downfall of a social media website called Blippy. The TechCrunch article discusses Blippy primarily, but it’s interesting to see that what happened to Blippy happens to many other companies every year. Apparently adding the social media aspect to a company doesn’t make the company fail proof!.


 

How Ashton Invests in Tech Companies

Jenny:

Jenny’s pick is a surprising video and story from TechCrunch about Ashton Kutcher’s requirements for investing in technology companies. As Jenny said, “Ashton Kutcher’s a lot smarter than he looks!”.



 

LinkedIn Stock Soars

Jarred:

Jarred chose to break the trend of sharing links from TechCrunch, and instead provided us with an article from NPR about LinkedIn’s stock soaring because of high levels of interest in social media companies. LinkedIn is a great example of social media done right!.


 

Roasting Facebook

Margaret:

Margaret’s link is a funny CollegeHumor video, which features a faux Comedy Central Roast of Facebook. It takes the current social media environment and popular culture and brings them together in the form of a hilarious parody video!.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Airlines can Teach Us about Social Media

We're all familiar with travel horror stories--those of lost luggage, epic delays, and questionable on-flight food. Once upon a time, a disgruntled flier could only share these tales of woe with a small circle of family and friends . With the advent of social media, however, it's possible for a lone complaint to rapidly reach a wide audience. Take the case of Dave Carroll, a musician whose $3,500 guitar was damaged on a United Airlines flight. Mr.Carroll, who was repeatedly snubbed by United's traditional customer service channels, put his grievances to music and uploaded the catchy little ditty to Youtube, appropriately titled "United Breaks Guitars" . The video went viral (as of this writing, it has over 10 million views), and United was finally forced to pay attention. Clearly, Social Media is a PR disaster waiting to happen for many airlines-- which is why many of them have some of the best, smartest social media strategies around. All the major airlines have solid online presences, and have leveraged social media to improve their relationship with customers, streamline the travel process, and build strong online communities. Here's what we can learn from them:

Offer deals: JetBlue and United offer special fares to online followers via their "Cheeps" and "Twares" programs, respectively. Online followers get exclusive deals, and the airlines can get rid of last-minute unsold seats while simultaneously building a strong online communities. In addition, American Airlines and Virgin America use Facebook applications as an alternative booking platform.

Engage: A number of airlines are using the blog as a way to interact with customers. Southwest's blog is a prime example of successfully engaging the customer (check it out here). It's well-organized, up to date, content-rich, and, well, pretty, incorporating a twitter feed, links to videos and other social profiles, podcasts, and regular updates. When director Kevin Smith tweeted his outrage and being removed from a flight for being overweight (in his words: "You {messed} with the wrong sedentary processed-foods eater!") Southwest had a burgeoning PR disaster on their hands. But thanks to a rapid response over twitter and an insightful blog post/interview with Smith, the airline was able to minimize damage.

Build a community: JetBlue's Flickr Group has over 3,000 photos and videos submitted by customers, fans, and employees. The company has one of the strongest online presences, and even though social media might not translate directly into financial benefit, JetBlue has noted a payoff in customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/business/global/30tweetair.html

http://mashable.com/2009/05/21/twares/

http://www.centreforaviation.com/news/2009/08/27/airlines-and-social-media/page1
Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Turning Hashtags Into Dollar Signs: Why Companies Need Social Media

Ok, so it’s not exactly radical news that companies are flocking to the Internet in even greater numbers than LOLcat enthusiasts. But even though the anecdotal evidence is indisputable, statistics and studies across the board continue to support the soaring importance of social media in the business world. A recent analysis by Nielsen revealed that 79% of the Forbes “Top 100” use Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, or a blogging platform to communicate with customers. Given that Internet time spent on social media sites has tripled in the past year, it’s perhaps less than shocking that these industry giants are jumping on the virtual bandwagon. But what is surprising is just how creative these titans of industry can be when it comes to creating a strong online presence. Though by no means exhaustive, the following list highlights four of the most innovative and successful means of harnessing the power of social media.

Going viral: Best way to create buzz for your brand? Give people something to talk (or, preferably, laugh) about. In promoting the Sienna minivan, Toyota marketed its Sienna minivan as a “Swagger wagon”, a bizarre mash-up of hip-hop and soccer-mom sensibilities which has currently racked up over 9 million hits on Youtube. And remember that Old Spice guy commercial that even your great aunt Mildred can quote verbatim? That campaign, boosted by a tidal wave of online enthusiasm, increased sales for the flagging brand over a hundred percent in just one month.

Free stuff: Let’s be real-- everyone loves free swag. Realizing this, many companies now offer exclusive discounts or freebies as an incentive for, say, “liking” something on Facebook or following a brand on Twitter. In 2009, United Airlines offered a limited number of free fares exclusively for Twitter followers, dubbed…wait for it…”twares”. Burger King’s “sacrifice ten friends” Facebook application took this freebie frenzy to its logical extension, offering a free whopper for purging ten Facebook friends. Although the app was swiftly shut down (because, well, it’s kind of mean) over 50,000 friends were sacrificed during its short life span, proving that humor + free stuff = $.

Going Mobile: Companies are frequently developing applications for smart phone devotees. Kraft foods recently launched “iFood Assistant”, a wildly successful 99 cent application for IPhone and IPod users with a slew of recipes literally at their fingertips. It doesn’t have to be as addictive as Angry Birds, but connecting with customers via their phone is perhaps the most immediate platform for engaging with consumers. Be aware, however, that not all companies automatically require an iPhone presence—for example, we could all probably do without Charmin’s vaguely icky “Sit or Squat” public bathroom finder app.

Interacting: Perhaps the simplest reason for adopting a strong social media presence is to develop a relationship with the customer. Starbucks created its own social networking site--My Starbucks Idea-- to crowd-source ideas for improvement; in its first year visitors submitted a mind-boggling 70,000 suggestions. CEOs can now give a shout-out to individual customers, companies can quell potential PR scandals, and disgruntled customers can have their complaints swiftly addressed. Creating a relationship between company and consumer has never been easier, or more fun.

Sources:
http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/social-networking-and-blog-sites-capture-more-internet-time-and-advertisinga/
http://mashable.com/2010/12/02/fortune-500-social-media/ http://www.squidoo.com/fortune500-social-media