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Biz Stone’s Super: The App Users Deserve, But (Maybe) Not the One They Need Right Now

When you’ve done great things before, it’s only natural for people to look at every thing after that and compare new ventures to those previously-successful ones. When you’re Biz Stone, a founder of Twitter, those are some big expectations to live up to… but he doesn’t seem like he’s trying to meet or exceed everyone’s expectations – and that’s just fine.

Stone’s latest app Super (iOSAndroid), from his seven-person team at Jelly joins their app with the same name. Jelly allows users to post questions with images and solicit feedback from the masses.

This time around, the team created a platform for sharing interesting content all built around a set list of prompts. The prompts, when paired with user-shot photos or stock artsy images are then fed into a feed where other users can “Love” them or respond via their own post.

I’ve decided not to come up with some slick and pithy marketing description for Super. I’m also not going to proclaim that it’s the most innovative thing ever or that it’s going to save the world. It’s not, it’s just fun.
– Biz Stone writing about Super

There’s actually something to be said for the way Stone seems to be approaching life after Twitter. He’s out there creating fun, entertaining experiences focused on user interaction and enjoyment. He’s not heads-down focused on creating “The Next ______ ” or “The _________ Killer.”

I recently read Stone’s Things a Little Bird Told Me and I keep going back to a part in the book where he talks about how he and Ev Williams used to take new Twitter employees and tell them how and why the company came to be and went over their “six assumptions:”

Assumptions for Twitter Employees
1) We don’t always know what’s going to happen.
2) There are more smart people out there than in here.
3) We will win if we do the right thing for our users.
4) The only deal worth doing is a win-win deal.
5) Our coworkers are smart and they have good intentions.
6) We can build a business, change the world, and have fun.

Excerpt From: Stone, Biz. “Things a Little Bird Told Me.” Grand Central Publishing, 2014-04-01.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/kBaZO.l

It would seem to me that Stone (and in turn, Jelly) still heavily believe in number three. It’s also probably fairly certain they’re living by number one as well, since it’s yet to be seeking Super sees a better growth rate than Jelly (which is still alive and kicking).

This app will be compared to Secret and Whisper and probably even Snapchat (what isn’t?), but at its heart it’s about joining everyday conversations in a different, more communal way and giving people a chance to express themselves while doing it.

I, for one, am pretty excited about it. You can follow me at @ronschott.

Here are some screen grabs from Super:

After opening the app, you’re treated to a crazy pic of Bill Murray (yet to be determined if he knows he’s part of this).

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The default view is the feed screen:

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You can control what you’re seeing in the feed here

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Start a post by choosing a prompt

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Enter your text and sign it (or stay anon)

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You can even add links and locations to your posts (something that could be attractive to brands – a differentiator from Instagram)

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Logo Party (and How I Tried Fiverr)

I kept getting ads in my Facebook News Feed for “Fiverr” the online marketplace where you can get pretty much anything done for $5 (or more).

I haven’t really ever had a need for the service, but one of my goals is to get back into blogging more since things here are starting to slow down finally after moving from London, starting a new job, and buying our first home. So, in thinking about writing more, I wondered to myself “Self, why doesn’t this blog have a logo?”

That’s how I ended up finally clicking an app install ad on Facebook.

The process was pretty smooth.

I flipped through a bunch of “logo designers” – most of which were not U.S. based and looked to speak poor English. I’m sure they’re great at what they do, but for my first experience I wanted to have great communication.

After I submitted my order, the artist messaged me with a short questionnaire:

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I answered back (and was probably super unhelpful):

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Then a day later:

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Just like that, four “custom” logos.

I’m not 100% sold on any, but they’re not terrible. Seeing as I paid $5 for them, I guess you get what you pay for.

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Audi Uses Snapchat for Latest Social Campaign

It may be filled with selfies and slightly NSFW content, but brands are starting to dip their toes in the Snapchat water… or, in Audi’s case, they’re taking a flying leap off the diving board and doing a cannon ball.

Their latest use of the ephemeral, image-and-video app is called:

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Here’s the full snap:

Audi’s use is pretty great. Brands like Taco Bell and Nordstrom are playing with Snapchat, but this is perhaps one of the better campaigns/contests I’ve seen.

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Will People Keep Using #AmazonCart? Maybe

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When Amazon announced their #AmazonCart integration with Twitter, the internet nearly tripped over itself in lauding the inevitable coming of age of social shopping. But, what’s really going on?

Our team at Simply Measured looked at the uptake of the #AmazonCart hashtag and did a great job shedding some light on how the program is going thus far:

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After all those tweets, the top-discussed item was a romance novel – wow.

Our team spent some time batting ideas back and forth about how we could see how many people were actually completing orders of the items they were #AmazonCart-ing about, but without API access, that would be a bit hard. Users are prompted to Tweet or FB post about the item the ultimately end up buying, but I’m guessing the people choosing to do so aren’t numerous.

If that was the case, you could actually start tracking initiated #AmazonCart transactions and follow them through to completed transactions by matching someone’s initial tweet:

Then you could see when Amazon replied to them:

Then, once they bought, you could see (if they shared) their confirmation of purchase:

But, like I said, not many people seem to be posting their purchases. One problem I encountered was seeing a number of things I wanted to add to my #AmazonCart, but not being able to send a tweet to Amazon because I had already said the same thing to them 5 minutes ealier: Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 4.16.00 PM Not very helpful. The other bit that, I’m guessing, might trip most people up is that you still have to actually venture to Amazon to complete your purchase. With American Express’ Twitter integration, you didn’t have to do much beyond tweet to get the things you wanted, which took the friction out of the equation. If #AmazonCart could take going to the website out of the equation, I’d certainly use the service more. As it stands right now, if I’m looking around the web and see a cool Amazon product, I’ll probably go straight to the site to add it to my cart and buy – heck, got to take advantage of the Prime membership, right? Just for fun, take a cruise through things that people are buying with this Twitter search:

https://twitter.com/search?q=+just+bought+Reply+w%2F+%23AmazonCart

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Moving Forward

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It’s been a while. Actually, it hasn’t been all that long, but a lot has happened.

In the past couple weeks, I left my job at IPG Mediabrands as the head of Spring Creek UK, packed up our belongings (in 8 checked bags), flew across the Atlantic (and Canada), and moved in with my wife’s parents (ultra glam, I know).

Moving home has given my wife and I a chance to be closer to family as some developments arose during our time in London – that’s the ultimate reason for leaving.

The thing I’m really excited about, though, is joining the team at Simply Measured.

I’ve been a #SimplyFanboy for quite a while, after meeting CEO Adam Shoenfeld years ago. At Spring Creek Seattle, we worked closely with Simply Measured as they grew and continued offering incredible reporting to augment (and empower) our in-house teams.

I started my career in PR, so I’ve written a FAQ to help with the details:

What’s your title?
Director of Client Services

What do you do all day?
I work with an awesome team that sits under Mari-Frances Bentvelzen, our VP of Account Services, that focuses on helping our clients build reports (dashboards, scorecards, you name it) that fall outside the scope of the current Simply Measured product suite (which is awesomely extensive). We are a small, but determined team made up of hardcore analysts and ex-marketers (that’s me). So, let’s same Jim owns a string of BBQ restaurants and puts a lot of time into social. He wants to see how his sales data meshes with the love their seeing on social. So, he comes to our team and we dig into their customer-side ERP system and start looking for correlations and a great way to show the relationship. After we’re all done, Jim has a report that clearly shows him that when his team puts out promotional deals on Facebook and Twitter, they see a 20% lift in per-ticket totals the following weekend. Jim’s gonna need more ribs.

Can I have a job?
If it were just up to me, sure! We do have a ton of roles open right now though and a super-smart HR team. Learn more about the company and check out the open roles here: http://simplymeasured.com/about/.

Why did you leave advertising, Ron?
I actually don’t look at it as leaving advertising behind, because I actually get to work with brands and agencies to help solve their problems. In fact, I think digital analytics and reporting is going to continue to be the backbone if successful brands and campaigns, and Simply Measured is going to be the leader.

What’s your favorite thing about Simply Measured so far?
The people are incredibly passionate. From the leadership team to the newest hire (of which I’m one), you can tell people are excited about what they’re doing and where the company is headed. They should be! A close second is the crazy awesome snack situation in the office.

What about Simply Measured has surprised you?
I’d have to say I was definitely floored by how much I DIDN’T know about the products and their capabilities. I’ve used Simply Measured for years, but people at Simply live and breathe this stuff and I learn more every day, from engineers, analysts, sales people, account people, and everyone in between.

What’s the meaning of life?
This
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Seattle Council’s Limit on App-Assisted Rideshares Is a Blow for Tech Innovation and Competition

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Ugh… How can a city with so much potential, momentum, and energy get things so wrong sometimes?

This afternoon, the Seattle City Council approved driver limits on app-powered ride sharing services like UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar. The final decision from the council comes after a similar decision from the city’s committee charged with oversight of taxis. One positive thing: the vote did make these operations legal under the City law, giving them a path toward recognition and acceptance (after they fulfill certain requirements).

Why should hard-working people who want to earn money doing something they like get told by the city when they can and can’t work? Why should the city dictate business and consumer choice?

Seattle is a beacon for some of the brightest minds around… which could very well change if the City Council makes a habit of siding with dinosaur-like industries which refuse to adapt to the times and offer less-than-desireable consumer experiences.

What’s next, the City Council takes on Airbnb to make sure the city’s hotels have higher occupancy rates? How about limiting the number of email addresses operated in the city to create more work for letter carriers? Insist Apple sells iPhones sans calculator apps to help the struggling calculator salesmen of Puget Sound.

How can Seattle simultaneously push ahead for marriage equality, higher minimum wage, and marijuana law reform, but at the same time reward and protect an industry that literally hasn’t upgraded their way of business (except for the new Crown Vics) since the ’50s?

How can we hope the next Airbnb, Spotify, Zillow, or Snapchat is started in Pioneer Square, South Lake Union, or Georgetown while we let our City Council restrict choice and limit technology and innovation?

We can’t. We shouldn’t. We owe it to the city and our future as a center for tech innovation to open up the gates and say “If you think you can do it better, take a hack at it.”

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How BuzzFeed Could Become the Next Big Publishing Platform

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Animals is the new Leisure section – Jon Steinberg, COO BuzzFeed

10 Reasons Your Older Sister Is the Worst. 32 Reasons Why Boat Shoes Are the Best. 17.5 Reasons Why Decimals Are Awesome. Which Supreme Court Judge Are You?

While they’re not real BuzzFeed posts (yet), you could probably easily see those as headlines popping up in your Facebook or Twitter feeds – and they probably will sooner or later.

BuzzFeed is incredibly well-known for the fact that their image-laden, .GIF-happy posts spread around the web like a… oh g-d, I’m going to say it… virus . they’ve invested heavily in editorial staff and they’re actually BREAKING news, not just remixing it. They’ve doubled-down on video content and have built out some great teams to handle that. They’ve even created a nice little native advertising niche for themselves and partnered with our sister agency UM.

The next big thing, that’s only going to continue driving BuzzFeed’s success (content and traffic wise) is going to be the continued growth of their Community platform.

Dead Simple Publishing
Think about it, people are posting more and more content on the internet and the idea of being a “blogger” is still somewhat of a “cool” thing in the eyes of many. However, most people don’t have the capacity to actually keep a blog up and going (See exhibit one: me barely keeping this one running). BuzzFeed’s Community section allows people to dip in and out of the content creation pool whenever they feel like it.

Couple pictures here, some funny life observations there, finish it off with a .GIF and boom – internet gold.

When you’re looking at how people use their mobile devices – and make no mistakes about it, consumption is happening mostly on mobile – they’re using them for 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there. You have to figure that if people are creating content they’ll be doing it in the same, short bursts. Which, is why I can’t believe BuzzFeed’s app doesn’t support content creation via mobile (something I’m sure will be fixed soon).

Game Mechanics
OK, so not incredibly accurate section header here, but for those who like to see stats move up and to the right, BuzzFeed’s Analytics dashboard makes for a fun time.

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The image above shows the Dashboard view, which gives you a quick look at a number of your posts over the last 30 days.

You can go deeper and see how each post is performing. Here’s a look at a post I made back in August that made it to the BuzzFeed front page for a bit. You can see that after a while, when it was doing well “organically” BuzzFeed actually started kicking in and giving it preferred placement or “Seeding.”

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The Analytics, matched with the fun of watching your post or your friends’ posts climbing the ranks of cat-powered content means users spend more time on the site and quite possibly more time checking out sponsored content. Not just any sponsored content, but actually funny, engaging, and interesting content – I know, right?

What’s Next?
I’d really like to see BuzzFeed out some effort into building out the Community aspect. There are some writers there that I read regularly and their Leaderboard is a great way to discover new topics and writers.

If I’m wearing my marketer hat, I’m looking at the writers on that board and thinking “That’s someone we could partner with for content.” I actually brought this up when I met with BuzzFeed’s COO Jon Steinberg at an event in London a while back – asking “Is BuzzFeed looking at ways they can help connect brands and content creators from the Community section?” It wasn’t something they were thinking about at the time, but I think there’s an opportunity there somewhere (similar to YouTube’s ever-popular personalities).

Cobble this all together and you’ve got a mashup (because who doesn’t like mashups?) of blogging, images, and self-sharing that the internet of today runs off of.

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