BuzzFeed Invites Users to Binge On with new Video App

BuzzFeed’s videos have quickly become some of the company’s best performing content, with viewers coming back for episode after episode of videos from Tasty and the likes.

Capitalizing on this, BuzzFeed launched their own standalone video app at Mobile World Congress – the event that’s quickly becoming as important for product announcements and launches across verticals as CES once was.

The app, which is devoid of ads right now, is perfectly poised for regular ads (think pre-roll) and native content either created by brands or with BuzzFeed’s internal studio.

Users are met with a Trending view when entering the app, showing that BuzzFeed’s technology for picking up trending content is at the heart of everything they do. There’s also a “Shows” view where users can discover and subscribe to shows they’re into. Imagine all the binge watching and then binge eating you can do with Tasty videos now!

I’m pretty stoked on the Corgi in the icon, myself. 

  
   
 

Why We Should All be Rooting for Twitter

Everyone hates the Patriots. OK, not everyone, but a lot of people. They don t hate them because they’re bad, though, they hate them because they’re the best. It sucks watching Tom Brady somehow find a way (Excelt for losing to Denver tonight!) time and time again. We all want to root for the underdogs… we want to get behind those scrappy teams that don’t have all the flash and glitz. The teams that we grew up on that are fighting.

That’s how I think of Twitter.

 I sent my first Tweet from a classroom computer at the School of Visual Concepts where Clay McDaniel and Andy Boyer taught me more than I’d known before about the world of social marketing. After that class, I told myself I’d be doing that as part of my job… I started working for Clay and Andy 5 months later (and then returned to teach that same class for three years).

  
Facebook is, by all accounts, the leader in today’s Internet – and don’t get me wrong, I like Facebook a hell of a lot more than I like the Patriots – and they earned it. They took down MySpace. They grew even as Google was biting at their heels and making plays. 

Twitter, though, came up at roughly the same time and, for all intents and purposes, had the same chances Facebook had to be the biggest on the block, but they didn’t – for a number of reasons.

But instead of LOLing at Twitter’s continued attempts to keep growing and to make products that bring more value to its user base, we should be cheering them on. Twitter, after all, is still where many go for “breaking” information. It’s where you can learn about a trending topic in an unfiltered feed of people you follow – sans algorithm.

Facebook probably wouldn’t be the Facebook it is today without Twitter. Their pushing and competing between 2010 – 2014 brought us more advancements and features in the mobile world than we’d seen the previous 10 years before that. Competition in the social space is just as important as competition in the world economy — it keeps innovation flowing.
The people I’ve worked with at Twitter are incredibly smart and laser focused on users and the brands that help make Twitter what it is.

Is it weird I miss this guy? #failwhale

A photo posted by Ron Schott (@ronschott) on Jan 23, 2016 at 10:44pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

I made a joke the othe night about missing the #FailWhale — and I was only slightly kidding. The days when you’d get a #FailWhale were exciting because Twitter was growing so quickly and so many people were engaged around a single topic (usually) that the servers literally couldn’t keep up. It was kind of fun. I’m also a fan of the Robot who’s arm fell off.

As an advertiser, Twitter’s ability to target real-time conversations has always been an incredible draw for me. They’ve innovated quickly to bring new formats which aren’t just exciting for brands, but engaging and interesting for users. With the addition of Periscope, Twitter has an opportunity to tap into real-time conversations and situations that can put anyone from anywhere in the middle of the action.

So, I’m excited for what @jack and the team have in store. I’ve always been a fan, but I think more people have an incredible opportunity to see how awesome Twitter really can be.

Let’s root for the underdog.

Disclaimer: This post and the entirety of this blog are my personal opinions. Content included in no way is the opinion of my employer, Microsoft. I was not and will not be compensated for this post. I also like Facebook and Instagram — even YouTube… They just aren’t getting slammed right now. 

Location: The Last Piece of Twitter’s Success Puzzle

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Twitter has been eating Facebook’s lunch recently – and I’m loving it. They’re moving quicker and breaking more things than the Facebook crew… and those things they’re breaking are barriers and ad revenue goals.

One thing, though, stands in the way of Twitter and true success in the ad space – Location.

They’ve Been Thinking About Location Before
It’s something the Twitter team dealt with even before Twitter was Twttr – back when it was a Jack/Noah/Ev concept. At that time, Dodgeball was buzzing in NYC, letting people drop notes to their friends, via SMS telling them where they were. Odeo was dying and Apple was gobbling up any podcasting goodness out there as the “status” idea started to morph into something.

Dodgeball, as we all know (or maybe not because I’m learning not everyone is a nerd like me) was eventually bought by Google – which them shut it down. However, it was resurrected as another playground game-named service as (you guessed it) Foursquare!

Location. Location. Location.
Since early on, Twitter’s mobile applications (and indeed its API) have let users share location data with Tweets. How much that actually is used varies depending on which report/study you read (and how they’re done). A USC study and resulting app says one in five tweets carry identifiable location data – either actively shared or in metadata. That number seems much higher than the previously assumed 1-3% that’s been discussed around the net for years.

That low number starts to provide a hurdle when looking to have an active part in that all-important proximity to point of purchase for Twitter.

The Mobile Holy Trinity
They’re already pushing hard in the mobile game with their MoPub buy (which will bring rich content experiences to the mobile Twitter feed soon – and holy crap it’s going to be awesome) and their opening up the ability to created Tailored Audiences, essentially bringing actual retargeting to mobile devices via data partners.

If Twitter could (and it’s going to take more than tech – a change in user behaviour) connect the three: rich ad units, retargeting, and location… you might as well just give them the advertising prize for a social network right then and there.

So, how do they do this?
That’s a tough question, and one that teams at Twitter are no doubt toiling with. Content that’s being targeted to users based on location now is only taking into account location data entered by users in their profiles – an imperfect targeting solution, but effective enough for brand campaigns aimed at increasing recognition and other “softer” metrics.

If Twitter wants to build confidence among traditional retailers and businesses, they’ll need to get closer to the register.

Change The Rules
While not ideal, changing the terms of service to allow Twitter to use real-time mobile device GPS coordinates to serve content is a way forward. The company is already testing a “Nearby” function that lets users see content being published in their vicinity. It’s only a short step from that to using the same location info for ads.

Likelihood: Medium

TwitSquare
Buy ’em. Foursquare has been struggling the past few years. The app is great – don’t get me wrong. They’re just not proving a great platform for brands to bet on. Crawley is trying his ass off and I think they’ll get it right eventually, but will it be too late?

If Twitter could buy Foursquare and get some of the “here I am” goodness from that platform to rub off on Twitter (not to mention all the local business recommendations, etc.) it could offer a whole new dimension to their platform.

Likelihood: Low/Medium

Get Physical, Physical

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I probably talk about these at least once a day, but iBeacons! iBeacons! iBeacons! If Twitter invested in this technology and linking it with their platform, push messages could be sent to users when they were browsing near products.

Likelihood: Medium

The Full-on Dream Sequence Scenario
This is how it’d go down in a perfect world, a literal combo punch of everything above.

It’s June 2014. Twitter, having just bought Foursquare in February is rolling out the latest version of their app – complete with Foursquare’s location-aware push notifications. John is walking near Regent St. and gets a push notification from Twitter: it’s a rich ad unit showing the nearest Gap stores to him (there are 3) and advertising their 30% off sale. John clicks he location that’s also right next to an Itsu because he is craving some sushi.

When John enters the Gap store, his phone vibrates, welcoming him to the store and reminds him that he was looking at some of the new 1969 Original Skinny Jeans and a cardi on the website earlier – then it points him to where they are in the store.

When John wanders over to the denim section, the iBeacon near the Original Skinny Jeans beams info on the jeans to his phone along with a special, Email subscriber only deal for an additional 10% off denim (because Gap knows John loves denim).

John goes to the register, pays with his phone (because I’m pretending we’ll all be doing that next year), and leaves the store. Since his digital wallet is linked with his email and store accounts for brands like Gap, H&M, JCrew and more, John gets a Tweet after he’s a block away telling him to drop them a Tweet about how the new jeans fit and linking him to a customer satisfaction survey.

At the End of the Day
We may be a little further off from that than I’d like, but right now Twitter is flying toward that reality at full speed. If they can crack the location issue, I think they make an incredibly strong case for being one of the most-important marketing tools of our time (even more so than they already have).

Spotify Play Button: Awesome

I’ll probably start using this a lot more. Super-simple copy/paste execution.

Draw Something: Growth Like Whoah

MBA Online did a great job pulling together this animated infographic (in Draw Something style, of course) showing the crazy growth the app has seen since launch (a mere 7 or so weeks ago).

http://mbaonline.com/draw-something-embed

Created by MBAOnline.com

 

HomeAway Gets Social with Second Porch Purchase

Image representing HomeAway as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

One of the largest vacation rental portals around, HomeAway, increased their focus on social-aided vacationing with a purchase of Portland-born Second Porch.

Second Porch, started in 2009, uses your social graph to help you find and rent vacation properties from owners, while also giving owners piece of mind in knowing (at least in a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” sense) to whom they are renting their properties.

I had a chance to work with Second Porch (briefly) as they were getting their social presence and tool figured out and can say it’s a great product when you have a social graph large enough to take advantage of. However, since many users are simply using it as a second HomeAway, many listings are open to the general public.

Check it out and head to TechCrunch for more info.

Facebook/Google Battle for the Hearts, Minds, + Dough of Skype

A recent Reuters piece points to talks between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as possible clues to a potential buyout or partnership between the 500+ million user social network and the Luxembourg-born communications platform.

According to the piece, Facebook isn’t the only caller courting SkypeGoogle is also making a pass (or at least looking for a heavy partnership).

Analysts put a potential Skype + Facebook/Google deal between $3-4 billion based on an expected IPO (maybe still in the second half of 2011?) of about $1 billion.

Read the full Reuter’s article here.

Norelco Goes the Cause Marketing Route, Is Still Funny

When Norelco first came out with their body groomer a while back, the online experience site for the new product was down right hilarious. It finally took aim at something guys had been talking about in locker rooms for years – grooming – and put a face (and other parts) on it.

Now, as everyone and their uncle Jim is involved with some sort of cause marketing, Norelco brings us the “Deforest Yourself. Reforest the World.” campaign, complete with another great site that lets you find out what kind of “tree” you are while creating a decidedly naked version of yourself (complete with hot cartoon leaf holder).

Here’s the one I made (I’m calling my leaf holder Shannon… why? Why not?):

The site, while still trying to sell you a glorified razor, is pretty entertaining. I found out I was a maple tree, but I don’t remember that that means. Maybe it’s hinting that I should be Canadian?

Anyway, check out the page here: http://www.shaveeverywhere.com/deforestation.html

Happy shaving.

P.S. Speaking of socially-awkward products with weird marketing, remember the ClearBlue ad that got really awesome at the end?

A Place for Every App and Every App in its Place: Do You Keep a Clean House on Your iPhone?

Now, the App Store for the iPhone is something that anyone can easily go overboard with. I’ve even found myself looking to download some wonky apps just for the pure fun of it. Then, I look at my little iPhone and feel bad about crapping up the screens with useless apps.

So, I try to keep things in 3 screens: Essentials, Usefuls, and Rarely Opened.
I try to move things that I haven’t used further back in my pages about every two weeks or so. If I haven’t opened an app in two weeks, I move it. If I still don’t use it, I move it back again. If I don’t use it then, I delete it.

Essentials

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  • Camera – I keep this up toward the top so I don’t always accidentally finger it when I’m messing around.
  • Maps – It’s always useful to know where you’re headed, especially now that they have King County Metro routes.
  • Clock – I keep this one here mainly because I change my wake-up times pretty often.
  • Settings – Kinda obvcious, right?
  • Twinkle – I’m addicted to Twitter, even on the go.
  • Facebook – I hate MySpace, so Facebook has a spot on my first page.
  • Qik – Real-time video to the Web. Ummm… what’s next, holograms? I love this app, but you need to make sure your friends don’t whine about you posting videos to the Web. You can also send out Twitter updates as you’re filming that let people catch the live stream.
  • Night Stand – If you don’t have the $150 to blow on an iHome iPhone-capable alarm clock, this is the next-best thing. Displays a cool-looking alarm clock-esque display that can stay on all night.
  • iPod – Me like music.
  • Pandora – Let’s you easily discover new bands, songs, etc. with music suggestions based on your input.

Usefuls

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  • Photos – I like to update my Flickr on the fly. If I’m not already in the camera app, this lets me access and e-mail the photos to Flickr for upload.
  • Calculator – If you see me messing with my iPhone when you’re talking numbers at me… I’m not ignoring you, I’m using the calculator because I am horrible at math.
  • Contacts – This is where I keep track of people I pretend to like.
  • Calendar – Don’t use this tooooo often since leaving Owen Media. Doesn’t get updated with my Outlook calendar items anymore.
  • Shazam – “Who sings this?” Never have to ask that question again with Shazam. Hold it up to a speaker and identify song, artist, album, etc. Then you can buy it on iTunes.
  • Urbanspoon – Sometimes it’s hard to make decisions for a group of people about where to eat. My solution: Urbanspoon. It’s the Magic 8-ball of dining.
  • i.TV – Sometimes I get anxiety when I don’t know what’s on TV or in theaters.
  • Weather – It’s usually pretty easy to look out a window and see what the weather is like, especially if you live in Seattle. However, sometimes I like to know what the weather is going to be like and don’t feel like watching Steve Pool.
  • Yelp – After I find a good place to eat (or what I think is a good place), I always try to Yelp about it to help others make decisions.
  • SimCity – I’m addicted. I blame Foothills Middle School for having SimCity on the computer in my classroom.


Rarely Used

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  • CheckPlease – Like I said, I’m horrible at math, so sometimes I bust this out to divide up checks at brunch.
  • Notes – Although I am big into sticky notes, I don’t carry them with me all the time. Notes helps me out… and offers me a place to jot down blog ideas I get on the fly.
  • Shake Mates – Read about this on Gizmodo earlier and had to check it out (NSFW)
  • YouTube – I watch movies of monkeys falling over on my laptop, so this doesn’t get used.
  • Stocks – I don’t own stock that’s worth watching intently.
  • iTunes – Don’t do much downloading directly to my phone.
  • Cydia – App downloader for jail broken iPhones
  • App Store – Apple’s official application store
  • Installer – Another app downloader for jail broken iPhones. Not sure why there are two.

And there you have it. All my apps, all in their little places. How do you handle your apps?