Friday, November 9, 2012

Want to be successful? Be inconsistent

Recently 37signals published an article titled Some advice from Jeff Bezos. This wasn’t your usual advice, and I found it interesting to read and how familiar it felt as I read each next line. The post was all about “changing your mind”. The way I would describe the overall theme, is “inconsistency”. Here’s the key part of the post, paraphrased:
People who are right a lot of the time, are people who often change their mind. Consistency of thought is not a particularly positive trait.
I find this fascinating, because one of the biggest challenges I’ve found as a founder for the last few years is the times when I change my mind, when have a realisation and I become inconsistent on a thought I previously had. This is amplified as your startup grows, because you have users, co-workers and stakeholders who you are in touch with who are there to witness and be affected by your inconsistency.

Success and inconsistency

If you’re part of a startup, I believe that your success might actually be defined by whether you are willing to be inconsistent. This means that actually changing your mind is not just a good trait as Jeff Bezos has mentioned, but “staying consistent” might actually be the reason your startup fails. I think this also probably applies to a much wider context than startups: I think your success might be determined by how willing you are to be inconsistent.
The reason you need to let go of consistency at times, is because as a founder you need to act and move forward without having complete information for each decision:
“Entrepreneurs make fast decisions and move forward knowing that at best 70% of their decisions are going to be right. They move the ball forward every day. They are quick to spot their mistakes and correct.” - Mark Suster
Making decisions where 30% of the time you will be wrong is just the pace you need to move at to make progress with a startup. It’s a change from a normal job, where everything is laid out. It also means that when you realise which were the wrong decisions, you’re going to have to make changes - you’re going to have to be inconsistent.
When you’re early in a startup, a founder or one of the first few people to join, you will at times realise that new information from customers or a smart mentor shows that what you were working on for the last weeks or months is the wrong thing to do. The hardest thing now is to accept that and move on to other things. Letting go completely is really tough, but you can’t “keep it going on the side” and expect to succeed. You’ve just got to move on to the next thing you’ll try. If you’re a leader, it can also be hard, because you’ve got to be the one to deliver the news to someone who’s been working and had their mind immersed in something you’re about to ditch. It’s not easy at all, but these are some of the key calls to make.

The inconsistency of my startup journey

If I look back on my journey with startups to where I am today, I cringe with how many things I’ve changed my mind on, with how many things I was super passionate about for a while, and then dropped completely. It causes so many ups and downs, and you question yourself and your ability a lot, but I’ve now realised that this was exactly what I needed to do. In fact, I’ve also had this on my lessons page from the very start of my blogging journey:
I don’t know whether the same lessons will apply to you, but I hope you’ll find my thoughts useful. Take what fits, and tell me what doesn’t work for you: I’m always learning. I’m pretty sure I’ll even contradict my own advice at times as I learn more.
Here are some other examples from my experiences in the last few years:

The study project turned startup

Back when I was at the University of Warwick I worked on a little project, or at least it started small. It was something I did with 4 of my Computer Science classmates, and it soon took over my life and I saw it as a true startup. It was a location based startup on web and mobile, but this was back when the first phones with GPS was released, the Nokia N95 and N82. It was early days.
I ended up at an event and was asked on the spot whether I wanted to join the panel. I said “sure!” and ended up speaking in front of around 50 people. I was asked “where do you see lasyou being in the next 3 years”. I said I would see it expanding from just Warwick and be global, with millions of users. I was passionate, and I wasn’t just saying it, I truly believed we could pull it off.
Fast forward a few months and I’d decided that I couldn’t continue with lasyou, and I moved on to another startup. That time it was a realisation about the dynamics of the team that meant it couldn’t work. I went back on my word which I had told everyone at that event, with such determination. And it’s exactly what I should have done.

Bootstrapping vs fundraising

One of the things I’ve probably been most inconsistent with in my journey as a startup founder is the decision about whether to raise funding or to bootstrap. It’s one of the most widely debated topics, perhaps the most interesting discussion was Jason Calacanis vs. David Heinemeier Hansson on This Week in Startups.
So, I’ve been a huge believer in bootstrapping and still am, we’ve also taken funding for Buffer. With our funding announcement, someone called me out on my inconsistency in the comments on Hacker News, pointing to slides from a presentation here I advocated bootstrapping:
Joel was standing in front of me practically a year to the day in the UK advocating bootstrapping and now he’s suddenly raised $400,000
So why the inconsistency? Well, the answer is quite simple. I gained new knowledge, new information. I spoke with Hiten Shah and some smart folks who had been through YCombinator, and someone who had sold his startup. I had conversations and realised that with the position we were in after 10 months of bootstrapping, raising money made sense. We could move faster by having funds to hire people.

Let’s focus on web. Let’s focus on mobile.

On the product side at Buffer, we’ve also gone back and forth many times in lots of different areas. We focused for many weeks on doing consistent updates to the Digg Digg WordPress plugin, then practically stopped working on it to focus on other areas. We created basic mobile apps, then decided we should instead fully focus on creating a great web experience. Then we decided we were wrong to drop the mobile apps, and we’re now so focused that more than half our engineering effort is in mobile. To some, it looks like we’re very indecisive. However, right now we’re in a better position than ever and there are some super exciting things on the way for Buffer users.

Embrace being inconsistent

My conclusion on the topic of consistency is that it’s not required for success. There is a lot of talk about hard-nosed businessmen needing to be true to their word and never change their mind. I think a better approach is to be open to making adjustments as you learn more. That’s the smarter thing to do. It’s also much more difficult.
I’m glad to see Jeff Bezos mentioning this and 37signals sharing it so openly. I was also glad to see Travis Kalanik, the CEO of “Private Driver (read: not a taxi) service” Uber, stand on stage yesterday at Startup School and announce Uber TAXI, a cheaper, more taxi-like service.
Even Zuckerberg said in an interview from the early days of Facebook that they’d never expand beyond being a college network.
Inconsistency is everywhere when you actually track successful people for long enough and notice the patterns. My failure with a previous startup I worked on for a year and a half was largely that I didn’t change the idea in a big enough way, quickly enough - that I stayed consistent. So go ahead and be inconsistent, it’s exactly what you need to be. Some don’t realise it, and you’ll drive a few people crazy by doing it. You’ll also feel weak and guilty every time you have to tell people you’re changing your mind, but you just need to get used to doing it, repeatedly.
Have you found changing your mind and your path difficult as you’ve learned more? Have you been inconsistent many times? Or do you think you could do better by being more inconsistent? I’d love to hear from you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

People love talking about the election on Facebook

Barack Obama posted this image on his Facebook page Tuesday night.
Barack Obama posted this image on his Facebook page Tuesday night.
  • Election Day inspired 71.7 million posts and comments on Facebook in the U.S.
  • A photo of Barack and Michelle Obama hugging is the most-liked post of all time
  • On Tuesday, more people talked about Obama than Romney on Facebook
(CNN) -- Facebook, where people love to discuss politics and complain about other people discussing politics, saw a huge surge in Election Day chatter on Tuesday.
In a stunning nod to the power of social media in this election, Obama's first public acknowledgment of victory was a post shared on Twitter and Facebook. It read "Four more years" and included a photo of Barack and Michelle Obama hugging.
That single post was the most retweeted in the history of Twitter (more than 700,000 times), and on Facebook it raked in an astounding 3.5 million likes and almost 500,000 people shared it on their own Timelines.
Over the course of the day, there were more than 71.7 million election related posts and comments on Facebook in the United States and 88.7 million around the world.
According to Facebook's internal Talk Meter, which measures how much buzz events get on the network, the election was the most talked about event in 2012. It was especially popular among 25- to 34-year-olds and in D.C., Mississippi and Virginia. It was also a huge topic internationally. Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia were the top countries posting about the election.
Twitter's pivotal role #2012election
Obama was mentioned 10 million times on Facebook during Election Day. In just one hour, from 11 p.m. to 12 a.m., he was mentioned 4.1 million times on Facebook -- more than Romney's 4 million total for the entire day.
Not everyone appreciates having political posts fill their Facebook feed. Heightened emotions have let to angry fights in comment threads, interfamily drama and unfriendings. The negativity has even caused some to declare they are leaving the social network for a while.
Quitting Facebook isn't the only way to cut out the politics. You also can install tools that remove political posts automatically, such as the browser extensions Social Fixer or Noppl. will not only block the offending posts, it will replace them with the ultimate bipartisian animal, cats.
Top Election Day terms on Facebook:
1. Obama
2. Vote / Voted
3. Romney
4. Election
5. President
6. Country
7. Win / Wins
8. Line
9. Four More Years / 4 More Years
10. Ohio

Obama Outspent Romney 2-1 in Election Spend

An infographic from ReTargeter took a look at election spend and found that Obama spent $52,006,072 compared to Romney's $26,230,293. The $52M Obama spent is about $12 million more than it cost to build the Lincoln Memorial and $26 million more than Romney spent.
I guess today we'll know whether or not the spend paid off. See the full infographic below.

Monday, November 5, 2012

LinkedIn is Missing Something Huge

Next time you’re heading out to meet a perspective client, have a look at their linked in page before you go. Do some preliminary research, arm yourself with specific knowledge. Assuming their profile is somewhat up to date, it could save you time if you already have most of the basic information you need to establish common ground. It’s a great place to read up on industry news  and your future customers involvement.
You can also participate in groups and send messages to people in your network. You can upgrade to premium service and expand the number of people that you can reach out to. It also give you expanded profile information and offers integration with other services like LexisNexus.

There is one thing missing from LinkedIn, and it’s significant

crm 001a 300x234 LinkedIn is Missing Something HugeWhere is the CRM? Customer relationship management (CRM) is a widely implemented model for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients, and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes. A year ago it looked like LinkedIn was going to add CRM to their service with the purchase of an existing social CRM service. Nothing has come out of that yet. We’re still waiting for LinkedIn to add this much needed feature. There is a wide gap between the reality and the hype of CRM. LinkedIn is in an ideal position to fill this space.
LinkedIn is a gossip site, but it’s also the social center for businesses. There’s no reliving past indiscretions from younger days and no pointless lists of followers with nothing to contribute. LinkedIn has managed to remain professional and stay above the mindless clutter on other popular social sites.
A CRM integrated into LinkedIn would allow customer information to be automatically updated when the client changes information on their profile. Your CRM database would be kept constantly updated by the very people it contains. The CRM could also show all the interactions my clients are having with each other and those members of my networks. A LinkedIn CRM would allow the user to develop a large and well-connected list of relationships among colleagues, clients and potential customers.
LinkedIn needs to remain the leader in business social media. If they don’t want to deploy their own CRM, they need to open up their data to CRM software producers. CRM software would benefit from constantly updated and evolving data and provide portals to the wealth of the LinkedIn database.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

BBDO Re-Imagines AT&T's ' Whiz Bang' Ad For Halloween

Aligning AT&T with the Holiday Spirit, BBDO New York has re-imagined its Whiz Bang commercial for Halloween. The agency added in several "ghost bombs" behind and around the happy 4G mobile users as they go about their daily communications.

Lebron James Shares His Day With Samsung Galaxy Note II

Courtesy of 72andSunny and Samsung, we've been given a snapshot, day-in-the-life of Miami Heat star LeBrom James. We are treated to LeBron having breakfast with his family, a text message interchange with Magic Johnson, a trip to the barber shop, an encounter with screaming fans and game prep all while LeBron totes the Samsung Galaxy Note II along for the ride.
The 1:30 was directed by Mark Romanek of Anonymous Content.
We previously saw the Samsung day-in-the-life thing with James Franco who shared his extremely bizarre day and his incredible multitasking abilities.
With over 1.2 million views in just one day, LeBron has certainly done some good for the brand.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

You are blind

Blind people don’t have an easy life. But in some countries their lives are more difficult than in others. Russia, unfortunately, is one of those places where the society still treats blind people like disabled who can do nothing without help. To raise awareness around the problem and, most of all, to come up with solutions to solve it, the charity association “The right to smile” together with the agency Hungry Boys, launched a project targeted at the creative community. Personalized envelopes containing a blindfold were sent to creative directors of leading advertising agencies and chief editors of major media. The call to action encouraged the recipients to put the blindfold on, and experience what being blind means, by trying to do simple things, like making tea, a phone call or even just try to move around the office.

An additional message invited people to virtually experience blindness in a more complex, emergency situation. On the website they had help a young visually impaired kid getting to a pharmacy, walking around using their body movement tracked by the webcam and being guided just by the environmental sounds of the city. But this is not it, after completing successfully or unsuccessfully this sensorial experienced, users were prompted to submit their ideas on how to improve Russian cities to make life easier, or at least decent, for visually impaired people.
The results were pretty good, with dozens of ideas being submitted. I definitely invite you to give it a try, the sensation is pretty impressive, and the task is much more challenging than you would expect, and you can still submit your ideas to support the cause.

The Hobbit takes over Air New Zealand in-flight safety video

This is probably going to be the coolest in-flight safety video you’ve ever seen and for sure the only one you will watch from start to finish. Air New Zealand is now officially the Airline of the Middle-Earth. To prove the new positioning, and to promote the upcoming release of the Hobbit movie, the Kiwi airline released an hilarious and super well produced in-flight safety video featuring some unusual but well recognizable passengers.

Among the other Hobbits, the Unexpected Briefing features a cameo appearance by Peter Jackson and even by Gollum himself.
The negative thing is that, maybe, the video is a bit too long, but since they are actually providing real in-flight safety instructions, I guess there was no way to make it shorter and more “online” consumer friendly.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

10 Reasons Customers Might Resist Windows 8

Software giant Microsoft is launching the Windows 8 version of its operating system this week, and suffice it to say that it's radically different from Windows 7. The familiar Start button and menu are gone, for example, replaced by a series of large, colorful tiles. And there's a new feature called the "Charm Bar."
Give Microsoft credit for innovation. But will corporate customers rush to embrace the change, or will they resist it at first? Signs point to resistance, according to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the Ernest L. Arbuckle professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and a leader in the field of change management. "Even in an era where young techies are looking to get the hottest and latest, people are resistant to change," she says.
Microsoft's launch of the new operating system accompanies its launch of a new tablet PC, the Surface RT, which will compete against Apple iPad. And industry observers have noted similarities between Apple's tightly-controlled marketing tactics and Microsoft's marketing campaign for the upcoming OS—Microsoft is even using indie rock music in its Windows 8 advertisements.
But what works for Apple might not work for Microsoft. Alas, when it comes to embracing the latest technology, consumer hardware and corporate software are as different as apples and orang… well, as different as Apples and corporate software. "Software is the method by which people do their work, and if you're requiring a radical change in how they do their work, it's a lot to ask," Kanter says.
"If you're requiring a radical change in how they do their work, it's a lot to ask"
In a September blog post for Harvard Business Review, Kanter discusses 10 of the most common reasons people resist change, in the context of leadership. This week, Kanter sat down with HBS Working Knowledge to discuss how these same reasons might hinder corporate adoption of Windows 8.
1. Loss of Control—Unsolicited change naturally meddles with autonomy, and the world's IT directors and other department heads may not appreciate having a completely different operating system thrust upon them from on high. "People don't like it when they're forced to change their plans, rather than determine the changes they want to make," Kanter says.
2. Excess Uncertainty—"People will often prefer to remain mired in misery than to head toward an unknown," Kanter explains in her blog post.
"There will be questions about Windows 8," Kanter says. "Will it work? Will it help me? Will this require further upgrades as Microsoft fixes the bugs? People might wait until there's more certainty, reasoning that if the current software works well, then why should they change?"
3. Surprise, surprise!—Sudden change almost always faces resistance, Kanter says. To that end, Microsoft has made a point of preparing the public for Windows 8, briefing the press months in advance and even offering downloadable preview version. Still, Kanter wonders, "Has there been sufficient time for the influencers to get used to this and help other people get used to it? And why launch on October 26? There's a lot going on in the world right now."
4. Everything seems different—Drastic change is more uncomfortable than incremental change, Kanter explains. And early reviews indicate that Windows 8 feels like a journey into the unknown. She cites the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, who reports, "even its most devoted users won't recognize the venerable computer operating system in this new incarnation."
Windows 8"Of course all change brings difference, but how many differences can we handle at once?" Kanter asks. "In Windows 8 there's the tile interface, there's no more start button, there's this 'Charm Bar'… These tools may work well, but human psychology says that if it's too different and too jarring, you turn away from it. You don't want to have to think about the tool. You want to think about the job you need to get done."
5. and 6. Loss of face and Concerns about competence—Let alone dealing with a change that wasn't their idea, people don't like it when a change makes them feel incompetent. And some early reviews of Windows 8 indicate that it's not much of an ego booster. In the comments section of a review on, beta-testing computer science teacher 'jabnipnip' vented: "Sure it loads fast, but you lose productivity time just trying to figure out how to do things like print! No joke. Open up a PDF in the native viewer and you have to 'intuitively' know to press ctrl + p to print the file. I can't tell you how many times I've sat there getting angry trying to figure out how to get something done. I'm not an idiot when it comes to computers, but this OS made me feel like one."
"Your software should not make anyone feel like an idiot," Kanter advises.
7. More work—This is an unavoidable biggie. Change generally requires work. That can feel like an irony when it comes to a software upgrade that's advertised as a tool to make work easier. Even the most positive reviews of Windows 8 have acknowledged a steep learning curve, which is likely to induce some chafing among the weary corporate masses.
"We're talking about an incredibly overloaded population of people who don't need more work," Kanter says. "They need something to do the work for them, like Siri."
8. Ripple effects—"Like tossing a pebble into a pond, change creates ripples, reaching distant spots in ever-widening circles," Kanter writes in her HBR blog post.
"Your software should not make anyone feel like an idiot"
There are key ripple effects inherent in adopting a drastically different operating system, she says. Confused individual users are likely to overload the IT department with "how-do-I" requests. Managers may be late for meetings as they try in vain to find their calendars with the new user interface. And so on. Some problematic are more likely than others, but "concern about ripple effects can cause considerable foot-dragging when it comes to change," Kanter says.
9. Past resentments—"Leaders should consider gestures to heal the past before sailing into the future," Kanter writes. "The ghosts of the past are always lying in wait to haunt us."
We have two ghostly words for Microsoft: Windows Vista. It's been nearly six years since the launch of that version of Windows, but harried IT managers may never forget the glitches. (PC World magazine rated Vista the Biggest Disappointment of 2007.) "Microsoft has had problems in the past," Kanter says. "The company tries so hard to do something disruptive, but then all it accomplishes is getting disruptive to users."
10. Sometimes the threat is real—In her blog post, Kanter explains that many people fear change because it can be truly dangerous, posing a threat not only to old ideas but jobs as well. In the case of the Windows 8 launch, there's a threat to Microsoft's competitors-including Apple, Google Inc., and—who could lose market share if the operating system and the new tablet prove successful. "Competitors certainly resist the change," Kanter says. "They are going to do everything they can to try to capitalize on any wary customer and fan the flames of user resistance."
And the dramatic overhaul of the operating system is also a risk for Microsoft, which needs Windows 8 to succeed in order to maintain its own market share, especially among consumers.
"Microsoft has produced a bold innovation in Windows 8, and the company deserves applause," Kanter says. "But its marketplace success will depend on whether users are ready for such a giant leap. Does this big change activate too many classic sources of resistance? That is the question."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Social media follow Hurricane Sandy's destructive path

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are how many Americans are keeping in touch and keeping up with superstorm Sandy. The social media spread news, photos and personal updates.

8:28AM EDT October 30. 2012 - Sandy is a massive storm, poised to bring widespread flooding and billions of dollars in damage to states from North Carolina to Maine.
And it's no slouch when it comes to social media.
In the past day, #Sandy has had more than 4 million mentions by almost 400,000 unique sources on Twitter, says Radian6, which tracks social media use. Mentions of #Sandy have had a potential reach of more than 3 billion Twitter followers, the site says.
"Hurricane Sandy" was the top phrase on Facebook in the USA in the past day, the social media giant says. Other terms in the top 10 include "stay safe," "storm," "East Coast," "my friends" and "prayers."
On the mobile photo sharing site Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, there were 233,000 photos with the hashtag "Sandy," 100,000 under "Hurricanesandy" and 20,000 under "Frankenstorm" as of Monday afternoon, according to the Associated Press.
"There are now 10 pictures per second being posted with the hashtag 'Sandy,' " said Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom in an e-mailed statement. "I think this demonstrates how Instagram is quickly becoming a useful tool to see the world as it happens -- especially for important world events like this."
The storm's path -- and the destruction it wrought -- could be followed all day Monday in photos of flooding on the streets of coastal communities in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. People in New Jersey, braced for a direct hit from the storm, photographed themselves in rubber rain gear in thigh-high floodwaters. Photos showed water partially submerged cars, fire hydrants and parking meters.
News spread quickly on the social sites, from the rescue by the Coast Guard of the crewmembers who abandoned the sinking replica ship the HMS Bounty to the collapse of chunks of a building's facade in downtown Manhattan.
Twitter and Facebook became a key method for friends and family to check in on each other and wish those on the East Coast to be safe.
"Sending my thoughts to all in the path of #sandy ... looks pretty bad," read a typical tweet.
Some people posted updates on whether they had power or on the strength of the wind and rain where they were.
"Eerie, flooded streets in Atlantic City, two hours after landfall. No wind and only a light rain falling. #sandynj," wrote one poster, @aubreyjwhalen.
The beginnings of controversy surfaced as people took sides when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie blamed Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford for not pushing residents harder to evacuate.
Those in the path of the storm could find practical tips, too. FEMA urged its 163,400 Twitter followers to use texts or social media to keep tabs on their friends and relatives because phone lines get clogged during disasters. It used its Twitter feed to tell people to use social media for the latest news on the storm's path and to offer tips such as never drive across water flooding a road.
Not surprisingly, there was a fair share of jokes and parodies. One site hawked blue rubber stiletto heels with flippers in front.
And as photos were shared by the thousands, several fakes made the rounds. One showed the Statue of Liberty with a menacing spiral cloud looming in the distance. Another had a shark swimming in floodwaters. Another purported to show soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns in a driving rain on Monday. The photo, however, was taken in September.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

KEA playing with their friends

IKEA in the UK presents this charming video as part of their “Entertaining” campaign. A group of kids are in perfect synch with a bunch of oversized play friends, from cuddly bear and robot to action figures. Watch the reveal at the end of the spot and don’t miss the ‘Making Of’ which is told and led by a very Scottish ‘Darren, the Bear’.
Client: Ikea
Agency: Mother
Song: “Playin’ With My Friends” by Masters in France

Friday, October 26, 2012

TV Fail Causes Anarchy and World Disorder


Remember all those studies that told us TV rots the brain, causes anxiety, makes you fat and causes a whole host of other problems? Well, perhaps it's the opposite. In this Scholz & Friends-created German commercial for TV provider Saturn, we see the devastation and disaster caused by poor TV reception.
Is TV really this important to us?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

LG’s scary monitors


 LG has decided to use a scary marketing approach to promote its new IPS monitors. To prove how life-like the picture on such monitors can be, they re-fitted the floor of an elevator with nine screens and produced a special effect like the bottom of the elevator was falling apart.
The idea is really cool but, after you finish watching the video, you are left with the feeling that it’s just a fake. Or, at least, this is what I personally felt even before reading the negative comments on Youtube.
Fake or not, the creative idea is good, and video is definitely generating some buzz: over 8.4 million views, almost 27K likes and 3K dislikes. I’m not saying this is going to be another Nike Ronaldinho’s cross barscommercial (I couldn’t find the original multi-million views one on Youtube), but I also think it’s not as bad as Nokia’s fake Lumia ad.
What do you think? Am I too forgiving?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Marketer's Scoop on Instagram and How to Use It


instagramOh good, another social network/website/app thingy. You may have heard some buzz recently over something called Instagram. Or maybe you didn't, because you're now purposefully blocking out all mentions of anything new happening in the social world to maintain your mental health. We're here to break down what Instagram is, let you know without social media buzzwords whether you should care, and if you decide after that section that you do care, we'll tell you the best practices to follow so you can get started smoothly. Sound good? Let's get started.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo sharing application that lets users take photos, apply filters to their images, and share the photos instantly on the Instagram network and other social networks like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Foursquare. The app is targeted toward mobile social sharing, and in just over one year, it has gained almost 15 million users. Currently, it is only available for iPhone devices.

As an inbound marketer, should I care about Instagram?

Not everyone should be on every social network. But here are some reasons that, as a marketer, you should at least keep an eye on Instagram, if not begin participating.
  • There are over 14 million users, growing at a rate of 2 million users per month.
  • Instagram is quickly outgrowing Foursquare, the largest mobile social network.
  • 91% of US citizens have their mobile phone within reach 24/7. 25% of people in the US have totally abandoned their laptops for exclusive use of their mobile device. Mobile apps have been downloaded 10.9 billion times and are expected to peak in 2013. Mobile is huge, and its growth is not stopping.
  • Social media is not just for twenty-somethings; it is part of everyone's daily life. In 2004, it was just for college kids. In 2008, the age of the average user jumped to 33. In 2010, it was up ever further to age 38. Over the holidays, be prepared to help grandma remove Farmville from her account.
  • People love visual content. We're visual creatures, and photos are engaging pieces of content that transcend the boundaries of language.
  • Photos tell stories. Storytelling is crucial to the social success of your content, and the emotions associated with photos carry a lot of weight. HubSpot has been carrying on a caption content using Instagram that literally asks users to tell the story of what's happening in the photos. That kind of engagement is hard to come by in non-visual content.

That's a lot of data that seems to imply I should use Instagram. Is that what you're trying to tell me?

No. What this data means is that Instagram has created something that successfully taps into the mobile and social marketing trend, but that doesn't mean it will inherently help advance everyone's marketing objectives. While the application for service providers is not as easy to see, there does seem to be potential for product-oriented businesses to utilize Instagram.

Creative Ideas for Using Instagram in Marketing

  • Ever seen the show How It's Made? Do your own version on Instagram that shows the process of creating your product and the smiling faces who do it every day.
  • Get feedback on products as they are in beta. Snap a photo of a new interface, and see what suggestions your users have to improve it.
  • Highlight out-of-the-box uses for your products. You can upload photos of a creative way to use your product, or even better, your customers can!
  • Don't have a name for your latest creation? Upload a photo of it to Instagram and have a naming contest! Most creative name wins, and revel in the pre-release buzz that comes along with it.
  • Offer a discount to customers who snap a smiling photo and check in at your storefront.
Will some marketers out there find ways to incorporate it into their mobile and social strategy? Yes. Again, HubSpot has been doing a caption contest with Instagram to which people have responded well. The ROI is not crystal clear, though. The results are more in the realm of "more engagement" and "stronger branding"; very important, but harder to measure. If you're rocking other major social media networks like clockwork and have some time to dedicate to Instagram, go for it. Not doing so, however, will not cripple your inbound marketing.

If I want to try Instagram, what best practices should I follow?

If you've read this far, you think Instagram may be able to improve the inbound marketing strategy of you or someone you love. That's great! Here's what you should look out for to ensure you don't get off to a bumpy start.
1.) Maintain a consistent posting frequency. People should come to expect the same amount of content on a daily or weekly basis if you want to see follower growth.
2.) Care about quality photography. That's the medium in which Instagram operates, so people on there tend to care about it. Focus on posting interesting images with good production value.
3.) Tap user-generated content. This helps increase engagement, feed your content machine, and get more followers.
4.) Integrate your Instagram strategy with other social media networks. You can use hashtags and share images on networks like Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and Foursquare.
5.) If you think you'll get started on Instagram in the future, snag your username before someone else does.
6.) Engage in the conversations that are going on, both on your account and others. You can do this via likes and comments. You won't increase your follower base by staying in your own little corner!
7.) Tag your location to make it easier for people to find your account when searching for you.
8.) Research what people in your industry are posting by searching relevant #hashtags. This is also a good way to find new people to follow.
9.) Speaking of which, start following people in your industry and interacting with them. You've got to let them know you're out there!
10.) Make use of apps. I know, an app on top of an app; it's insane. But there are some cool apps out there that you may find helpful. Once you get your sea legs with Instagram, browse what apps are out there to make your experience even better. The Beginner's Lens has curated a nice list of Instagram apps to get you started.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Coke Awards 'Skyfall' Tickets to Bond-Like...Actors?


Coke Zero, following its lackluster James Bond "Skyfall" tie-in commercial, has crafted an intriguing stunt that requires people to get to a particular train platform in 70 seconds. Sounds easy except for the fact there are plenty of obstacles to overcome on the way to the platform. Some have suggested the people accepting the stunt are actors, not random people. Which, of course, makes perfect sense as Coke's lawyers would certainly have something to say about placing people in harm's way just to win a free ticket to a movie.
That said, it's fun to watch and it's far more interesting than the lame commercial. And, apparently, it's been

European Mainstay Platige Opens Shop In NYC

After more than 15 years of developing groundbreaking VFX and post-production work from its Warsaw bunker, the Oscar- and Emmy-nominated, BAFTA-winning Platige has arrived in the U.S. The newly launched NYC studio extends the reach of the company’s Warsaw headquarters to the US market, and will service all areas of CG, animation, and VFX in advertising, broadcast and film.
“What truly makes Platige stand out from other post houses is the number of artists we have who are self-taught,” said Julian Cade, Managing Director of the NY studio. “Poland’s broadcast market is less than 20 years old and Platige has been around for most of it, so we have naturally attracted a lot of the country’s early innovators and biggest names. We also believe our new Brazilian partnership will add value to our overall operation, as we will be able to offer directors and live action production from this location to help service our clients. Platige maintains a supportive creative environment for our artists that makes us capable of attacking a project at any stage, from concept through completion.”
This unique environment has helped to foster both commercial projects and several short films made by Platige artists, many of which have gone on to enter prestigious film festivals all over the world. As a result, Platige has amassed a varied in-house director base, leading to feature film credits including Melancholia, Antichrist and Essential Killing, as well as commercial work for Kellogg’s, Listerine, Duracell, Orange, Vodafone, Air Wick, Orbit, and Gillette.
Working at the forefront of stereoscopic 3D technology, Platige has produced a wide range of technically innovative commissions. The studio was recently called upon by the Museum of Warsaw to build the world’s first 3D reconstruction of a 2D painting, a stunning rendering of The Battle of Grunwald by Polish artist Jan Matejko.
The Museum of Warsaw also commissioned Platige to create City of Ruins, a 3D rendering of the city of Warsaw in the direct aftermath of World War II. Studying 50,000 still images from a three-year period, Platige artists replicated a low-level aerial flight over the city with an incredibly precise street-by-street reconstruction of the devastation. The result is a film crafted to be deeply powerful, both visually and emotionally.
Platige’s expertise extends well beyond complex 3D commissions. The company specializes in liquids, fur, character animation, stylized animation, and 2D as well, while offering treatments and concept-design services, live-action directors, and art directors.
“Creativity is what has motivated us for 15 years—what continually pushes us to stay on the cusp of technological innovation. This is what has led us to open a shop in the largest and most competitive market in the world, one that we believe will find our creative angle interesting,” said Cannes Gold Lion-winner and Platige NY CD Matt Subieta.
Oscar-nominated Platige director Tomek Baginski has also successfully led Platige into the gaming market with The Witcher, a cinematic spot that helped the eponymous video game to debut at the top of the UKIE Top 40 Entertainment Software Chart. This has led to exciting opportunities from top game firms including Sony and Ubisoft.
“Gaming pushes your skills to the limits and beyond. In that industry, you can really show your skills,” explained Baginski. “But it also involves constant discovery of new techniques and, over the last 5 years, and we have built a core game team which can now handle any challenges.”
The US studio is currently working with a number of New York based clients, and has completed projects for History Channel, Nickelodeon, Listerine, and Braun.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Facebook App ‘Vote With Friends’ Advocated Voting With A Social Twist

Vote With Friends Facbook App
A new Facebook app called Vote With Friends has just been released and its sole purpose is to create voting advocacy among Facebook users and the friends they influence.
The app was created by internet advocacy group Fight For the Future and it allows users to check whether or not their friends on Facebook are registered to vote or whether they have pledge to register. The program also tells users if their friends actually went and voted on election day.
According to Mashable:
“The idea? Take Facebook’s “Poke” concept, and use it to bring a little positive peer pressure into democratic participation”
Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder and co-director of Fight for the Future says of the Vote With Friends app:
“We think [voting] is essential to what makes a vibrant democracy. Especially in the United States, we’re seeing that what your fiends are asking you to do actually affects whether or not you go vote. If that’s a part of voting in America, we should absolutely have the ability to do that online.”
The app uses the Votizen API which is based on public voter data collection.
The hope is that friends will nag one another to vote, thus creating stronger voting numbers. The app could be most beneficial to the Democrats as study’s have shown higher social media use among that group of voters.
You can search for Vote With Friends on Facebook if you want to take part in the advocacy program.

Social Media Goes to School

So many schools nowadays have websites as they represent a really effective way of communicating a message. This brings us to the next step which is Social Media ; schools really do need to get in on the act here. Social Media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are a great way of getting information out quickly.

In The Bleak Midwinter…..

In the harsh winter conditions of 2010, when much of the UK had ground to a halt due to the severe weather, social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter really came into their own.
Millions of people all over the UK used these platforms to get real-time up to date news on transport and work/school. The weather was so intense that it became difficult to make decisions on whether or not a school or workplace would be open the next day.
Schools, local authorities, transport providers and work premises took to the internet to publish the very latest situation reports. People were checking on Facebook or Twitter to see if:
  • Local schools were open for kids
  • Local public transport systems were running
  • Their place of work was open for business
Social Media very quickly became the go-to resource for people organizing their day. This just highlights the potent power of social media and is a great demonstration of how useful it can be for schools.

Not Just An Up To Date News Channel …

While Social Media is great in times of crisis (if you can call British weather a crisis  — personally, I think British weather is a crisis…). However, the time has come for schools to adopt social media as a means of mainstream communication whether there is a crisis or not.
Social Media is a great way for schools to promote parental involvement. Reach out and communicate with all the parents on your register (this will also help to solve the problem of the kids who forget to hand over school handouts to their parents – there really is no excuse any more). Social Media can be used not only to publicize school events, but can be a great help in organizing them. Tweet your needs or post them on your schools Facebook page – get more parents onboard. If you need somebody to organize a cake stall shout out for help on the internet. If you need somebody to face paint at an event, tweet to let everybody know. If you need volunteer parents to go on a school trip, offer it online.

Reach Out And Touch …

Having a great school website is just not enough anymore; you need to reach out using Social Media platforms to broadcast your message to as wide an audience as possible. "Big up" your school: praise your pupils and their achievements. Everything your school has to be proud of, from exam successes to awards and scholarships, all these things can be shared with more people by using social media effectively.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Obama Posted Here

With election season upon us, Chris Thomas and Julia Thomas, partners at the Brooklyn-based design studio Hieronymus, are revisiting 30 Reasons, their popular month-long e-mail and internet poster campaign encouraging voters to reelect President Barack Obama.
Bonnie Siegler.
The project started four years ago during the last presidential elections and ultimately drew over 100,000 views. "But, better than that," the curators note on their website, "President Obama won!""And now that we’re facing a crucial election again, we’ve revived 30 Reasons and asked 30 talented artists and designers to each create one poster describing their reason to reelect President Obama. In another year when the direction of this country seems so fragile, we are hoping that we can contribute with design in some measure. We all have the ability to speak up, to stand up, to impact the course of this country."
The question, of course, is how effective partisan poster campaigns can be when the airwaves are teeming with well-funded 30-second skewers. Look at the collection here and draw your own conclusions.
I know some of our readers do not support the President's candidacy, but as yet the Daily Heller has not seen a similar campaign for Mr. Romney. If one surfaces, we'll cover it here.
Woody Pirtle.
Elizabeth Amorose.
Ted McGrath.