Twitter – the 1-Stop Shop?

After reading a few months back that Twitter had began promoting businesses within its Tweet deck, I was a little annoyed. But, to be honest, I haven’t found the paid advertisements to be nearly as annoying or intrusive as those that you find on Facebook, both online and on your mobile device. Pinterest is pretty much just one HUGE mobile billboard, which is ok because that’s what its original intentions were and it has worked well. However, Twitter just announced that you can buy and sell items now directly from your Twitter feed using Ribbon. It lets merchants offer an in-stream payment option on Twitter. And for the first time, consumers can find a product or service for sale through Twitter and complete the purchase without ever having to leave the news feed.  Thankfully Twitter has limited the number of characters per Tweet to 140, so companies cannot begin to inundate our feeds with lengthy product descriptions/advertisements. Or will they be able to? What’s next with Twitter? Do you think they will change the character limit to allow businesses to put more text into their advertisements? Perhaps if this Ribbon idea takes off and is successful, that could be the case.

Beneath the text and link in the tweet, customers will see a picture and description of the product and can then proceed to click through and enter their personal information and credit card details to make a purchase. Mashable.com provided a sample of what Ribbon looks like within the Twitter feed:

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Yes, I am in a Master’s Degree program working toward my marketing degree, and am all for promoting businesses and products. But, when I am using Facebook and Twitter, I am on there for mostly social and interactive reasons, and to see what’s going on in the world, not to browse for products. My personal thoughts on this type of marketing is that it is for a platform that is intended to promote products. What are your thoughts?

Fashion of the Future?

Can you picture yourself walking down the street wearing a coat that could detect when your body is cold and automatically turn up the heat? Or eyeglasses (or even sunglasses) that could navigate you as you walk down the street wearing your stylish WARM coat to the hippest spot in town? And a watch that can read your text messages to you? These ideas may seem futuresque, but these new ideas for technology are closer to reality than you might think!

ImageWell, I wrote about Apple’s new idea for the watch a couple of weeks ago. This week, I want to tell you about what is next on the radar.  Google Inc., the world’s largest Internet company, has been testing augmented-reality eyeglasses that feature cameras and use voice recognition. The idea behind creating these fashion gadgets is to integrate technology into our everyday basics. Just thinking about these possibilities makes me want to buy a pair of jeans that would adjust to my thigh and waist size each day to always guarantee the “perfect fit”. Wouldn’t every woman love to own a pair of those???

So what does all of this new technology do besides create more techy gizmos and gadgets?  Well, developers say that it will create a more seamless experience with technology that involves fewer devices to carry around and less time digging through your purse or pockets.  But it also creates buzz. It includes the ABC’s of buzz marketing: Alphas – the prime influencers (Google’s execs that are raving about the Google Glasses), Bees – the messengers (all of the bloggers and news media relaying the message), and Consumers – all of us (looking for a new product that will set us apart from friends and neighbors). You could probably even say that Google has made some pretty good use of “crowdsourcing” – the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people. Google has done this and done it well by only offering the Google Glass to only a few select  individuals to participate in the Google Glass Explorer program, which you had to pre-order during the Google I/O 2012 conference last June or make it through the recently announced #IfIHadGlass application process. By doing this, those individuals feel like they have something the rest of the world wants to be a part of, but can’t until at least late 2013.  This allows those individuals to go out and tell the world about their privilege.

There are still numerous challenges to overcome before these types of techno-fashion gadgets will be readily available such as improving battery life, scaling the technology down and making the products affordable. The other task for companies to overcome is to convince consumers that digital devices and fashion can coexist.

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Currently, these wearable technologies exist in the sports and health markets. For example, goggles made by Oakley help to assist snowboarders with a display that integrates GPS capabilities, Bluetooth and sensors that gauge jump analytics such as distance, height and airtime. These goggles also have smartphone connectivity and the ability to locate and track friends on the mountain via an app. WOW! These are awesome! And could help so much in emergency situations on a mountain! Genius!

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iWatch – Tick…Tick…

I’m sure we have all wondered what Apple would come up with next. iPods, iPhones, iPads. What’s next? Well, it appears that rumors are out that Apple is working with its major manufacturing partner, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. to explore things beyond the smartphone and tablet…to create an iWatch. The New York Times cited “people familiar with the company’s explorations,” who said the watch-like gadget would be made of curved glass. Corning’s Willow Glass, or tough Gorilla Glass, is used on the iPhone, as well as other smartphones.  As Corning notes about Willow Glass: It will “help enable thin, light and cost-efficient applications including today’s slim displays and the smart surfaces of the future. The thinness, strength and flexibility of the glass has the potential to enable displays to be ‘wrapped’ around a device or structure.”The New York Times calls this “Disruptions: Where Apple and Dick Tracy May Converge“.

iWatch

I wonder if the new iWatch will eventually evolve to have web 3.0 and include the capability to gather information about the user? Will it have Siri built in? Will it have mobile widgets? Will it have the capability to capture comprehensive website data such as names, email addresses and other profile information? Will banner ads begin scrolling across the screen when it detects movement? Advertisers will find a way to inject their ads into any type of mobile device. It will only be a matter of time before they figure out the best and most effective way to use the new iWatch for this very purpose.

PebbleOther recent smart watches that have been placed on the market are the Pebble, which retails for $150, which launched via Kickstarter.  The Pebble can show incoming calls, emails, calendar alerts, Facebook messages, weather alerts, Tweets and more.

COOKOOThe other is the COOKOO Connected Watch, which retails for $129, and uses either an iOS or Android app to let the user know when there is an incoming call, an appointment or a new Facebook message.

FREE?! – It can’t be!

This week, our class was discussing what it takes to make a successful website for a company.  It’s pretty much a unanimous consensus that if a business plans to be successful in the future, it needs to make sure that its website is mobile ready since the majority of people will be accessing websites via mobile devices by 2015. The use of mobile apps were mentioned in one of our discussion posts. Mobile apps are a great way for businesses to move toward being “mobile ready.”   Businesses can even make their own mobile app for FREE! WHAT?!?!?! Nothing is free anymore! But, yep! You can build an app for your company for free. Amazing! This idea could be brilliant for small business owners who may not have the time, large enough staff or budget to do something so helpful to an organization.  Granted, building an app is not always going to be beneficial for a company, but there are a lot of small businesses that it could and would be helpful for.

This could be a great way for photographers to help promote their business and allow customers to easily and quickly share their latest photo shoot images with their friends and family, as well as purchase images.  Showing your awesome family photos to your friends and family is most likely going to make others want to get their adorable children or family some awesome photos too, so guess what? More business.  This could also be very helpful for small retail shops to allow their product to be sold in a mobile format and would also allow for the stores to announce any sales or special store hours or events. I have also used apps to get a discount/coupon for frozen yogurt. 🙂

Below is just one example of a free app builder site (theAppBuilder).

freeappI am sitting here pondering how I can use this for my photography business, as well as getting my husband’s high-speed internet company to begin using this. He could allow customers to see how much bandwidth they’ve used per month (because there are charges for going over their allotted bandwidth), pay their bill, change their package, receive push notices when there is a network outage and/or scheduled maintenance to be performed, and even provide education on how to troubleshoot when they cannot get their internet at home to work properly, and even have a trouble ticket that they could submit if they are unable to resolve their connection issue to request assistance.

What types of small businesses do you think apps would be beneficial for and how?