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Social Media + Mobile Highlights: Sensis E-Business Report 2012

Sensis have issued the 2012 e-business report, and it’s full of interesting trends in the social and mobile spaces. CosmicVillage has been following these reports over the last 5 years which have reflected the increase in Social and Mobile activity in SME (Small-Medium Enterprises). Five years is not a very long time for the amount of change SMEs have had to endure, but this is the pace of technological change – and as such it’s adapt or suffer for most SMEs.

Below are a few highlights from the report with a commentary (the full report link is placed at the end).

SMB Social Media Presence

All SMEs showed a 9% increase in having a social media presence, with Facebook being the primary social networking site of choice.

Impact of Social Media

Many businesses fear using Social Media and with the recent ruling that Facebook pages can now become legal minefields, I have heard many businesses question using social media. However, the Sensis report shows that there is 50% likelihood of positive or zero impact vs. a 2% chance of negative impact.

Advertising in Social + Mobile

SMEs are now dedicating a portion of their advertising budgets to Social Media and Mobile, with almost 1/5 of advertising budget dedicated to Social Media.

Digital Strategies

SMEs are now incorporating both Social Media and Mobile into their digital media strategies. Not surprisingly, Mobile remains higher than Social Media as was the case in 2011. This may be due to SMEs recognising the shift from web to mobile based services and the development of apps.

Apps

SMEs are still reluctant to develop applications for their business, even though they recognise the importance of Mobile.  This was a rather surprising result and could be due to the high cost of application development and lack of knowledge from a SMEs perspective. Apple of course dominated the application market, however another surprise was the low rate of tablet applications being developed.

Internet Access Preference

The report indicates a growing trend that Australians are now accessing the internet through their mobile devices with over 55% of respondents affirming this.

Mobile Usage by Age

The majority of all respondents across all age demographics are now using mobile phones to access the internet, reflecting that we have now definitely moved into the mobile web and use it as a form of keeping connected at work, home and whilst out.

Social Network Usage by Age

Social networks are now also being accessed by all age groups with obvious results for Gen Y and under demographics, but also a large and growing portion of 50+ Social Networking users.

Frequency of using Social Networks

Two thirds of all respondents surveyed admitted to using Social Networks more than once per day, and 59% responding with at least once per day, indicating that we use our social networks to communicate and keep up with the latest news from our circles.

For the full report click HERE.

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From Cash To Mobile: How Our Payment Methods Are Changing

This week an agreement between international coffee giant Starbucks and mobile payment facility square was announced with what technology analysts are saying will be the start of a ‘seismic shift’ away from cash.

Square is a mobile payment service which allows users to facilitate transactions using their mobile phones, either by utilising the app or by attaching a square reader to the phone itself.

The deal with Starbucks is significant because Starbucks is a huge international player, and opens the door for Square Inc. to expand into international markets. This has the potential to revolutionise the way we make our payments and could kick-start international growth for mobile payment facilities.

It’s interesting to look back and see how our payments systems have evolved with our technology.

Before the digital revolution, cash was always king, being accepted everywhere around the world as forms of currency. The introduction of credit cards then changed things with the need to carry cash reducing as a simple small piece of plastic meant that we could sign or swipe for our goods and services.

Next came the e-commerce / web shop facility and consumers simply could shop from the comfort of their own home for products that could be accessed from anywhere in the world.

Now we are seeing the next step in payment evolution. As the social media and mobile revolution drives us into using our mobile smart devices and away from the familiar desktops, businesses around the world are catching up with consumers and tapping into the mobile market for point-of-sale revenue capture. With ever less effort, businesses are allowing their customers to streamline this payment method that is both convenient and self-service reliant, which in turn increases efficiency and trust from the customers perspective.

Social media is also starting to emerge as a payment facility, with current social networks integrating their platforms with financial institutions. Once such example is the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s Kaching payment facility which allows registered users to pay their Facebook friends by linking their bank account to their Facebook account.

Even our phones themselves, with the assistance of applications, are slowing turning into our wallets replacing credit and debit cards. One such example is Google Wallet.

As new technology, such as Social TV, begins to gain momentum – mobile payment facilitation will become as normal as online transactions across many industries. Businesses who embrace this technology as early adopters will more than likely stand ahead of their competitors whom lag behind, just as we saw occur with early and late adopting businesses when it came to social media.

Consumers – are you comfortable using mobile payment systems?

Businesses – will you embrace this new technology early, or wait for it to become more established?

As always, please share + enjoy!

Let’s Connect:

Twitter: @cosmicrami
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PATH Upgrade Makes Mobile More Social!

At the beginning of 2012, I wrote about a new mobile social networking site called Path. Since then Path has grown in user numbers significantly, with a majority of my network of friends alone jumping onto the app.

The beauty behind Path not only resides within is multiple platform features and functionality (it’s a music player/store; it’s a phone camera with filters; it enables check-in and tagging; it can push updates through to other social networks) but also that Path is becoming what the new representation of personal social networking will look like – a more niche and limited network of connected friends and a social network based purely on a mobile platform.

These two factors are very important as we start to see a decline in growth in web based social networks (excluding micro-blogging sites) and a trend towards more visually stimulated content through mobile platforms (e.g. Instagram, Pinterest, Viddy).

Path has recently released their latest update, version 2.5 with a few new features:

Personal Content – Path users currently have the ability to share what music they are listening to, and now will also have the ability to share what books they are reading and what movies they are watching. The books we read, and films we watch are rather personal choices which in turn helps drive that core personal social networking within the platform as our connections engage with these content drivers. Book data is pulled from iBooks whilst Rotten Tomatoes and Flixster integrate into our movie selections.

Personal Engagement – To help users keep the network active, Path has introduced a couple of new features to ensure your community self-polices users who have become stagnant. With a new ‘nudge’ feature, similar to the Facebook poke, users can now remind people in their networks that they should come back to Path and share content on the network. User’s friend lists now provide details of when each connection was last on Path, but then also go on further to allow each user to send a ‘quick update’ request to the people in their networks by requesting to: (i) Take a photo (ii) Provide location; and (iii) request their current status.

Additional Filters – Path’s Instagram like photo filters have now also been upgraded with four additional features to allow users to capture their ‘moments’ and share this with their networks. The new functions available are Glow, Depth, Zoom and Cropping of images.

Overall, Path is simply heading in the right direction of ensure its customers are provided with necessary tools to make social networking more personal, and more efficient using smartphones.

How often do you use Path? Religiously or hardly ever?

As always, please share + enjoy!

Let’s Connect:

Twitter: @cosmicrami
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Review: Social TV – You’re already hooked.

Lately, I have noticed that Social Media has begun to slowly sink its many tentacles into traditional media.

It has begun to utilise these mediums by linking back social metrics about our likes, habits, behaviours and wants into mainstream media, that brings a strong need to connect with brands, due to the way our brains are wired after the Social Networking revolution (circa 2004 - current).

Here our brains make the connection between: Familiar Advertising Methods (e.g. TV) and Social Media Data (e.g. Our ‘Likes’).

Over the weekend, I got to preview some new technology coming out towards the end of this year. For many, this is going to blow your mind. But before we get into this, let’s highlight the current context of Social Media infiltrating traditional media.

It all began as businesses started to get on board that good old beast called Facebook. Suddenly, adverts in print, radio, billboard and TV started appearing with “Find us on Facebook” … this slowly evolved to “Find out more about this deal on Facebook”.

Twitter came along and with our mobiles, allowed us to converse in real-time with brands, on the spot if we had to, rather than having an experience, getting home, writing a letter / email and sending it off to the customer relations team. No, these days the complaints letters are tweets and updates on Social Media against your brand (hence the importance of Social Monitoring).

There was also a time not too long ago when print ads asked you to call a number or visit a website. These have now been replaced with QR Codes, which deliver the user straight to the appropriate destination.

Australian twitter users would probably see lots of online conversation with the hashtags #qanda #thevoiceau in their streams …. Oh yes – we’re all already hooked on Social TV!

But the best is yet to come. This year, we will see a revolution that will more than likely have impacts on the way we watch TV, gather information, do our shopping and generally interact with brands and businesses.

As mentioned, over the weekend I got to preview some new technology around the Social TV. As this was not an official release, I will not advise the source or the stakeholders. I won’t even advise on all the new features. I will advise that it did most certainly WOW me.

One feature I really enjoyed was the Multi-Screen Feature.

Imagine watching your favourite cooking show. This is the first layer in your multiscreen. Along with the usage of Hashtags and Social Polls, it will pretty much contain what you know as TV today.

Now comes the beautiful technology integration.

The second layer. This sits behind your first layer, and can be accessed very easily. This layer now contains all the information you will need to make an informed choice about purchasing whatever has been placed into the first layer. In our cooking show example, this is the recipe to the dish being made. The method on cooking and the required ingredients.

But it doesn’t stop there. The third layer, sitting comfortably behind the second layer, is that list of ingredients with prices. That list links straight into your local / favourite grocery store. And with the press of a few buttons, your credit card is debited, and you have just purchased the items you have selected on the show you are watching.

Oh yes, the future is certainly here. Still a bit more tweaking to go with these features, but they are well and truly existent. I got to play around with them and am already hooked.

And as I said – that is only One of many brilliant, futuristic and mind boggling features coming out with Social TV.

As always, Share + Enjoy!

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Introduction to your Mobile Wallet

Over the next 3 weeks, I am blogging a 3 part series about how Social Media and Smartphones are the best technology marriage we have seen in years, how smartphones are driving a new web environment and how are smartphones are going to replace our wallets. Tune in to the finale week below!

Most of us have a wallet or a purse. Well, we have some form of flat pocket or hand sized case which we use to store and transport our money, cards, ID, photos, receipts and notes. Wallets are not a new concept. They have been around since the times of the ancient Greeks (yes, even Perseus carried Medusa’s head in his Kibisis or Wallet!) all the way through the renaissance and to the modern age.

However, the wallet is going through a radical change, and it’s all due to Smartphone technology.

The traditional wallet is being replaced by the digital wallet (of which there are four primary models). QR Codes, NFC Chips and the some well established organisations are driving this change with relentless speed, and we should see our business and currency environment start to change rapidly, beginning from the end of this year.

Are Mobile Wallets going to be the next leap in our economy and technology? Let’s delve a little further …

The days of your thick bulky wallet with all its receipts, credit cards and coins are over. Well, we now live in the world where you can surely ‘leave home without it’

As we move into a more digital and mobile age, we leave behind the needs of the old world. We no longer need to present our IDs as we carry it around on our phones. We can easily swap contact information and business cards with apps like Bump. Our smartphones have great cameras on them, with some funky apps, so our photographs can now be taken and stored without the need for any printing.  These days our receipts are emailed to us, and we can simply log into our email accounts to check this on the spot. As can be noted, the need for a physical traditional wallet is now falling into the same that as that of the camera, the walkman, the bookstore, the record store and the newspaper.

So how does a Smartphone become a wallet?

There are four primary models to utilise mobile technology into making a Smartphone into a wallet. These are:

Premium SMS Based Transactions

Consumers send an SMS text message to the billing party, and the cost of the goods or service is billed against the consumer’s next phone bill, as provided by the Phone Network Service Provider.

Direct Mobile Billing

When a consumer is on an e-commerce site through their Smartphone, they have the ability to make a payment through the online facility (e.g. online gambling or gaming site) and this charge is then carried onto the consumers Smartphone bill. This avoids the need for the consumer to set up a credit card debit, or even have to register with sites such as PayPal.

Mobile Web Payments (WAP)

Using Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), this option allows the consumer to use applications which have been downloaded / installed on the Smartphone (or web pages) to make the payment. Sometimes this requires pre-registration of the account to be debited, other times the mobile account is directly charged through the Phone Network Service Provider. This is similar to the services that Amazon Payments and PayPal offer.

Near Field Communications (NFC Chip)

The hot topic of the moment. NFC chips. Most new smartphones are manufactured with them in it. If you purchased a phone from some of the big name manufactures (e.g. LG, Nokia, Motorola, RIM, Samsung, and Google) from 2010 onwards, then you are more than likely already equipped with an NFC chip. Apple are rumoured to release the iPhone5 with an inbuilt NFC Chip.

The NFC Chip has many uses, to name a few:

·         File Sharing

·         E-Business Cards

·         Ticketing

·         Boarding Passes

·         ID Card

·         Door Entry Key Card

·         Coupons Delivery

·         Tour Guide

·         E-Money

So how do Smartphones actually interact with the real world? What brings the NFC chip outside of the Smartphone environment and integrates it with the world around us?

Two ways Smartphones allow information to be read, converted and used are:

QR Codes

A QR code is 2 dimensional square, which appears to look like a jumbled barcode. QR Codes can store information such as text, website URLs, ticketing information, tracking codes and purchase information to name a few.

NFC Readers

NFC Readers are devices, often connected to the point of sale / purchase / redemption of a product or service. They charge the NFC chip inside Smartphones, after a simple swipe of the Smartphone.

With all these uses, combined with the replacement of all the items your wallet you use to hold, it is easy to see why the Smartphone is very quickly becoming the wallet we will all use in the future. It will revolutionise the way that businesses operate, the way we manage our money and the way we interact with businesses.

Have you ever used your Smartphone to make a purchase? Leave us a comment about your experiences below.

As always, Share + Enjoy!

Lets Connect:

Twitter: @cosmicrami

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The Web is becoming … Mobile! #MobileWeb

Over the next 3 weeks, I am blogging a 3 part series about how Social Media and Smartphones are the best technology marriage we have seen in years, how smartphones are driving a new web environment and how are smartphones are going to replace our wallets. Tune in to week 2 below!

How much do we use our Smartphones? Stop and think about this. Now, how much do we rely on our smartphones?

Recently, I have been watching how we are all constantly addicted to our smartphones, how we cannot put them down for more than 30 minutes and how we all use them to gather information from where ever we are, whenever we are there.

Yes, the web is becoming more and more mobile, and smartphones are driving this change. We have more phones accessing the internet than ever before, we perform more transactions on the spot, we are sharing more opinions and reviews through our networks, we’re gathering the latest news at the touch of our fingertips and generally spending more of our spare time on our phones.

Is this a good or a bad thing?

The days were we sit at our desk, log on and browse the internet are slowly fading. We now live in an age where all things mobile, all things on the go require the internet. Yet, if we look back about 5 years, can you even remember a world without browsing the net ‘on the go’? This massive leap in technology which has allowed us to constantly stay in touch and remain connected to the web can be taken as a positive or negative (depending on your views, and we all know what David Cameron thinks!)

Recently, Mark Pesce wrote an article about how a research company has now found that 49% of Australians own smartphones. That’s the largest in the world. Tiffany Shlain, displayed through her beautifully filmed documentary ‘Connected’ how we all really are connected.

We constantly want to tune into the conversation, add to the conversation, build the conversation and debunk the conversation online, yet we all don’t have much choice in maintaining our driven and ever efficient lifestyles.

As such, we turn to our technology. To our personal computers we carry in our pockets. To our Smart Phones.

And why shouldn’t we? Smartphone producers offer us a connection to a world we all are now addicted to be a part off. Businesses now allow us to search and interact with them at the point of purchase, sale, waiting for our food, finding a daily deal or joining their online presence as part of their digital assets. Consumers now spend time searching their social contacts and databases for opinions, feedback and ratings before making a purchase, because businesses no longer control the purchasing power – the collective voice does. And what better way to access this information? From your very own Smartphone when you need it most – before you make that purchasing decision.

Using our smartphones we are now also posting our reviews and sharing these within our social networks. For businesses this means having a 24/7 Social Media monitoring policy to quickly find, mitigate and turn around any negative feedback about their organisation. We all know how fast the effects of viral negative-word-of-mouth can be against any business or person. What some businesses don’t know is that this is so damaging, it actually reduces revenue down the track in a chain reaction manner.

We love to be able to share our satisfaction and dissatisfaction about where we are, what we are doing, what we are buying and how we are being treated. However, we are not keeping the thoughts in our heads, waiting until we get home to post this. No, rather we are simply taking our smartphones out of our pockets, and posting this information to every possible connection we have. What is fascinating, is that never before in history, have we all been so connected to so many people.

This brings about an amazing feature from our smartphones. Being connected to so many people, we have in our very pockets a powerful global news network that is 100% user generated content. This helps spread information so fast, that it has now eclipsed the traditional news methods and we can now source our news from our smartphones from any location whilst we are on the go. Once again, have a think about the implications here. Breaking news out of Washington DC (24/08/2011) reached us in Sydney within minutes of it occurring. We have the power to make decisions about global events that impact our purchases whilst on the go from anywhere we are when we check our Smartphone.

This feeds into our addictions of being connected to the constant stream of information. This feeds our desires to find the best value for our hard earned money, and best outcome for our choices. This addiction only keeps growing with more and more of our time being spent online. Not because we are spending more time in front of a computer. No, rather because we are now spending more time being connected to the world through our smartphones.

So where does it stop? When does the addiction end? When do we go back to the way we use to be? Simply put: Never. As mentioned above, it’s literally hard to remember a history without the use of phones. Even harder to remember what we use to do in our spare time when we were ‘unplugged’ from the global grid. Later this year, we will be able to use our mobile phone as our wallets, thereby replacing all cash and card requirements. Google Wallet will launch this year. Most phones now come with a NFC chip or are being manufactured with this chip, to allow for transactions using your phone. Businesses are now also starting to utilise QR Codes, allowing content to be decoded at high speeds. Not from our desktops, but rather our smartphones. But more on this next week.

For now, I conclude in saying feed your addiction, don’t fight it. We are all headed in the same direction and are using our smartphones more and more for everyday purposes – both personal and business orientated. Utilise the power of the web at your fingertips whilst on the go, and this will help you in making better choices for your purchases, wants and needs out there in a big bad (digital) world.

So leave me a comment, and tell me … How much do you use your Smartphone? Nay, how much do you rely on your Smartphone?

As Always – Share + Enjoy!

Next Week’s Blog Teaser: Introducing the Mobile Wallet?

Let’s Connect:

Twitter: @cosmicrami

Google+: Rami Mandow

LinkedIn: Rami Mandow

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Hashtag: #MobileWeb