Great read over on Wired about Facebook’s slightly creepy but insanely cool Graph Search…

How Facebook Builds a Digital Signature for You (And Your World) | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com: “Until around 2010, the information now mapped by the Entities Graph lived in your Facebook profiles, as plain text, and these strings of text weren’t linked to any additional information — information that would describe, say, what a school is or which of your friends may have gone there. But then Facebook rolled out object pages, the Like button, and check-ins, making it possible for people to interact and connect with things much the same way they did with people.”

Why Are Most Apps Free?

July 20, 2013 by

Interesting…

The History of App Pricing, And Why Most Apps Are Free: “Each time we download an app, we reveal a little bit about ourselves. A glance at the apps on your phone can indicate whether you are a fan of sports, gaming, or public radio, and whether you love to hike or cook or travel. But our choices of apps also reveal our individual tolerance for advertising, and how we feel about the trade-off between paying for content directly, or paying indirectly by (implicitly) agreeing to view ads.”

Blogging Isn't Dead

July 20, 2013 by

I’d have to disagree with this…

Blogging is Dead – But Long Live the Blogosphere – exploreB2B: “While the thought process remains the same today (‘Here is what I think, read my blog’) – the effect is minimal, if anything at all. A viewer may read an article on your blog, maybe even find it interesting, but then never return. Memory of the author, ideas in the post (and certainly the URL), are long forgotten amongst the array of activity online.”

The main reason I would disagree with the sentiment that “blogging is dead” is because it isn’t. Sure, the concept, tools, and way we write our blogs today have changed since the inception of blogging back in the late 90s and early 2000s, but blogging is far from dead.

Even though people aren’t doing the type of hyper-personal blogging which they were doing back in the late 90s and early 2000s anymore, blogging as a medium is still very valid and a great way to carve out your own space on the web. Blogging is a key part of what we consider the open web since it uses “old-school” components like RSS and a blog isn’t a walled garden you have to log into. The type of trade-offs you have with walled gardens such as Facebook are nonexistent when you start your own site given that you run it on your own server, etc. It’s a geeky process and takes a little bit of heavy lifting here and there, but it’s worth it considering that you keep control over what you do.

I started my first blog (and I still write there) on a whim back in July 2011 and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done on the web. The magnificent thing about writing your own site is that you can learn so much from others and yourself. You practice and become a better writer and as you devote a little more time to it here and there, you learn about a few other things too (like design, SEO, moving things around on a server, and what you should and shouldn’t put on a site). Looking back at some posts I wrote in 2011 and last year, I have to cringe and scratch my head a great deal, but that’s part of the learning process that comes with anything on the web.

I’ve learned a ton and continue to learn from writing my own site and writing here on MarketingTrends. I’ve blogged elsewhere in the past, but there’s something about writing your own blog that’s so satisfying and in a way, fulfilling to yourself as a writer and user of the internet. While folks who say that blogging is dead have a point because the way we view blogs and publishing in 2013 has changed and adapted a lot over the years, declaring blogging “dead” isn’t justified. Blogging, while old-school (also see email marketing and RSS, neither of which are “dead”), is still one of the best ways to build a solid reputation and name for yourself on the web.

I’d say the feeds that I’m subscribed to in my RSS reader of choice (currently ReadKit) are a solid 50/50 split between bigger sites and smaller blogs written by folks in the industry or just people whose stuff I enjoy reading.

One of the first things I tell anyone looking to go beyond the walled garden principle on the web is for them to go buy a domain name. It’s dead simple and pretty inexpensive. If they want to go beyond that, I’d tell them to go get their hands dirty with a hosted solution first (Tumblr is great for this and I also love Shareist) and eventually move their stuff over to a self-hosted WordPress site (or Movable Type if you’re into that). With all the things we have at hand in 2013 (Squarespace, WordPress, etc), there’s no excuse for why you shouldn’t have your own space on the web.

“And if your words are good, people will read them.”

Thanks for reading our blog.

Devin

Well, this is really creepy (but an easy fix):

New Gmail Inbox Features Ads That Look Like Emails, Above Promotional Email Subscriptions | MarketingLand: “If you’ve converted to the new Gmail inbox, you may have noticed in-line ads that resemble regular emails at the top of  your Promotions tab. These new native-style ads function as paid-for-placement email messages, and essentially circumvent standard email marketing practices. The ads do have a shaded background and ad symbol to differentiate them from the other promotional emails and newsletters users have to actually opt-in to (theoretically, at least).”

I hadn’t noticed these new ads since I don’t have the “new inbox” enabled, but it’s super creepy. GMail is just a business and I know they have to make money somehow, but there’s better ways to do it than placing CPC ads directly in your users’ inboxes. It’s basically spam.

Good for advertisers though… Wonder what kind of click-through rate they’re getting though (I presume a lot of people overlook the “Ad” sticker on them a few times)?

Strange days indeed.

Mobify has a great post with a few informative links and stats about mobile traffic and its implications for marketing on the web in 2013…

13 Stats to Convince Your Boss to Invest in Mobile in 2013 | Mobify: “To help you pitch your boss and frame the situation from their perspective, we’ve prepared a collection of the most exciting numbers around the mobile web. It will help you get the attention of any skeptic, be it your manager, your client, or your mom.”

Mobile has been a massive traffic source since Android, iPhone, etc came along and that trend only continues to grow. However, a lot of our industry has been slow to adapt to that change and is still catching up. If you’re not analyzing where your traffic comes from on your sites (things like Google Analytics are great for this) and optimizing accordingly, you’re missing out on important traffic that can ultimately lead to conversions. In other words, if your site doesn’t work well on mobile, you’re losing money.

Affiliates need to stay on top of their game and be optimizing their sites and apps for mobile. Responsive design (we love Squarespace for this) is a great way to optimize your sites. iPads, Android tablets, and smartphones (think iPhone, Android, Windows Phone) are accounting for an increasing number of pageviews across the web. Especially if you rely on referred traffic from social media, you need to be thinking about and making changes as needed to make sure your site works well on mobile.

In 2013, there’s no excuse for horrible mobile themes or having to pinch-and-zoom a million times. Also, you’re probably losing some search traffic to sites with optimized designs.

Mobify’s slide deck also has some good pointers and excellent statistics that elaborate on what mobile means and why you should be optimizing your sites accordingly:

50 Must-Know Mobile Commerce Facts and Statistics from Mobify

Evernote is one of those apps I’ve always had an on-and-off relationship with. I’ve used it and quit it more times than I can count, but now that version 5.4 for iOS adds Skitch support, I’ll be using it a whole lot more for annotating images I use here and various other places (client work, etc)…

July 18 2013 at 1115PM

Neat. I don’t know what I’d do without Skitch on my MacBook and I use it from time to time on the iPhone to annotate screenshots there as well.

Evernote for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store: “Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. ”

Wow…

90% Of Customers Will Recommend Brands After Social Media Interactions – Business Insider: “This showed that four out of five consumers would be more inclined to buy a brand more after being exposed to their social media, with 83 per cent happy to trial the product in such circumstances.”

Not bad.

TechHive has a good post up today on what Facebook’s Graph Search (beta) does and what it means to us as users:

How to use Facebook’s Graph Search (and why you would even want to) | TechHive: “Once Graph Search is on, Facebook prompts you to ‘search for people, places, and things.’ Start typing. Graph Search is supposed to recognize natural language and try to guess what you’re looking for, though that feature is hit or miss at the moment. You’ll quickly learn the phrases that will help you get to some sort of result: ‘Friends who listen to Daft Punk and live in San Francisco’ or ‘Friends of my friends who work at TechHive.’ It’s not exactly a conversational way to search.”

I’ve been playing with the service a little and while I’m impressed, I’m also a little spooked by the privacy factor of it. Graph Search indexes just about everything you’ve ever done on Facebook, which might put a lot of people at a disadvantage if they don’t regularly clean up their Likes, etc. I’m guessing a lot of folks will be doing some spring cleaning of their Timelines to hide some things they don’t want to show up in Graph Search when full functionality rolls out to all users.

Nonetheless, the service is looking very intuitive and could be very useful for businesses in the future. I tried a few search terms and the results are pretty solid. For example, if I do a search for “my male friends who live in Spartanburg, South Carolina” (it’s not rocket science but it’s the first thing I could think of), that’s a pretty big demographic (>100 friends) since I’ve lived there for the past 3 years and know people from there:

fbgraph.jpeg

You can also narrow it down to some other stuff like “my friends who have been to Washington, DC,” that narrows it down to fewer than 100 (makes sense).

Creepy but nifty.

Facebook also has a pretty good video outlining what Graph Search is and what it does:

Strange days indeed.

AdAge reports that the beloved location-sharing service Foursquare is rolling out check-in ads (with Captain Morgan, in this case) that show up directly after you check in to a certain venue. Captain Morgan and Toys R Us are leading the way with their new ads:

Foursquare Rolls Out Check-In Ads With Captain Morgan | Digital – Advertising Age: “The new ads are also being used to help retailers or merchants lure consumers who check in outside of their locations. Toys R Us has started to use this capability by targeting people who check in at family-friendly locations such as parks, playgrounds and daycares. A June 19 post from website About Foursquare shows the author being served a 20% off, limited time use coupon for use a Toys R Us or Babies R Us after checking in at a public swimming pool.”

In the past, Foursquare has frequently had specials pop up after checking in to a restaurant and the various venues that show up when you launch the check-in menu oftentimes have ribbons indicating a special offer (like so):

foursquare-special.jpeg

For right now, this new ad option is huge for bigger brands and could be largely beneficial to small businesses in the future if Foursquare continues to develop and add to the program.

Whether you’re looking to get new customers to come to your venue based on a similar venue they’ve checked into or wanting to offer a coupon to existent customers who come in and check in via Foursquare, this new ad placement allows for both. While the targeting that Foursquare currently offers doesn’t go as deep (or creepy?) as that of Facebook, brands can still narrow down a solid demographic to display their ads to post-checkin.

I’ve loved Foursquare since I got my iPhone last year and have a few hundred check-ins there. It’s a great, clean service that allows me to keep a private (or public) journal of where I’ve been and when. I’ve even set up a Foursquare channel on IFTTT to grab my check-ins and a map image and post them privately to my own site. (Feel free to copy here).

If your business depends on walk-ins or local customers and you’re not on Foursquare, you’re missing out.

Go add your business or update your details if one of your customers has already added it on Foursquare.

July 15 2013 at 1140PM

One of my favorite (and indispensable catch-all) apps added background syncing today. Yes, I know that’s not a big deal to most people, but it’s insanely useful because it means I can set up various locations (such as my house) where OmniFocus will automatically sync my to-do items upon leaving. Nifty if you’re like me and forget to sync from time to time and wonder why you’re not getting “Due” alerts, etc (or maybe I’ve been doing it wrong?).

Nonetheless, OmniFocus is one of those apps that has a learning curve (and it’s not for everyone), but once you get it to work your way, it becomes a necessity. It’s not cheap and it’s not easy, but it’s well worth it if you’re ready to get serious about getting things done…

OmniFocus for iPhone for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store: “OmniFocus for iPhone brings task management to your fingertips. Keep track of tasks by project, place, person, or date. With OmniFocus for iPhone, you’ll always have your important information at hand, whether it’s a shopping list, agenda items to discuss at work, things to do at home—whatever you need.”

Sign of the times, I guess.

Original link via MacStories.

Pretty cool:

Introducing the Virtual Pass Option for Affiliate Summit – Affiliate Summit: “This pass will provide access to all of the videos, and they will be available approximately four weeks after the conference.”

Interesting…

How does Instagram video stack up with Vine? | InsideFacebook: “Some findings, studied among the Interbrand 100 from June 20 to 26:

  • Instagram videos are being used by twice as many brands, and more videos are being posted.
  • Instagram videos are seeing significantly higher (over 2X) engagement than Instagram photos, suggesting brands should focus more time and energy on them.”

Instagram is the older company of the two, so brands were already familiar with the medium prior to its addition of video back in June. On top of that, Instagram gives users 15 seconds rather than Vine’s 6 which enables brands to create longer videos that push out bigger messages.

Instagram has a key advantage over Vine: it also has pictures. Instagram originated as a picture-sharing service which had a huge adoption rate, so it had a strong user base even before it launched video. Vine, on the other hand, originated as a pure video sharing service and had a niche user base which is hard to build on, especially when it comes to trying to get brands to use their platform.

In my own circles, I saw a very quick shift from Vine to Instagram when their video feature launched. There were lots of comments along the lines of “well, if Instagram has video now, why should I have an extra account on Vine? I’m already on Instagram.” Users (especially the prized 18-24 demographic which lots of brands market to) want a syndicated experience rather than having to jump from service to service just to get caught up.

These brands know that and have seen significantly bigger engagement from the audience on Instagram.

In simple words, Instagram tends to get better results and higher engagement for businesses looking to foray into the video space with their marketing campaigns.