Welcome to my Cosmic World!
Three simple steps to stop social media broadcasters

Lately, my social media feeds have been flooded with lots of debates, discussions and images related to people’s personal views. I know what you are thinking – “Well duh?”

But lately it has been a little extra than normal. Why? I can only pin it down to one reason – Australia’s oncoming and early called federal election.

The country is at fever pitch with opinions being shared and discussed online. Friends are battling friends, weak connections are aligning and supporting strong ties, establishing new relationships and people are picking fights where once they would have just turned away.

One of my friends, Josh, made a comment on Twitter recently that his feeds have become the political battlegrounds of his connections. The distressing views expressed in his rolling timeline collection of status updates, is revealing the true skeletons in the closet.

This is expected with the rise of social platforms giving people a pedestal to broadcast from. People want to express their frustrations and tribulations. People want to scream their ideas and examples from the rooftops. People want to be heard, and pick debates to get their points across.

And why shouldn’t they? After all, it is their wall. Their own digital real estate that they are contributing too.

What I told Josh, the same as I tell all my friends, clients and anyone who listens – you are in control of what you want to see in your feeds. There is no point complaining about it, when it can all end with a few clicks (see options below).

I like to always give the AM Radio analogy. You’re driving along. You have the radio on listening to AM talkback radio. You hear a topic by the host you find annoying and a stream of public calls, you find offensive. Do you shout at the radio to change the topic? Do you call into the radio station telling them you don’t appreciate it? No.

You choose to tune in. It is your choice to tune out. Change the channel or play a CD. You are responsible for your own social platforms, as you are for your own radio stations.

Here’s how you can do it:

Hide / Mute – Hide status updates on Facebook, or mute hashtags and users.

Block – If someone annoys you, block them. Most platforms allow this.

Delete – If they really annoy you, delete the connection from social media.

All of the above are self-managed strategies. If, as adults, we cannot understand how to use these – instead of throwing our toys out of the pram, kicking and screaming every time someone uses social media in the way they choose, then what hope do we have at all?

I say it’s time to face the facts and the reality – social media is a voice, a broadcasting channel and a microphone for many people and the topics they are passionate about. If you don’t like it – simply switch to another channel or stop listening.

As always, Share+ Enjoy.

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Rami Mandow
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Benefits of Google+ for business

I’m going to go out on a limb here. I actually like Google+. There, I said it. It’s out there and I can’t ever take it back. For me the platform provides a rich media outlet where images are not static, they are dynamic. Videos are linked very easily to YouTube. The ability for community managers to administer multiple pages from the one account. Hangouts working better than Skype these days. It simply ticks all the boxes for me. But as I said, this is a personal choice.

The question is – should businesses be using Google+?

The answer – yes if you have the time (or an internal / external community manager)

Benefits of Google+ for business

Growing Platform – Whilst Google+ does not have the popularity of Facebook, it does have a fast growing member base. As at April 2012 Google+ had 170 million active users and expected to attract about 400 million users by the end of this year. (Source)

Development – Google+ is a young social network, and still has opportunity to roll out functionality / services that will benefit business. Being tied into the world’s most powerful search engine, these opportunities may place early adopters with an advantage.

Indexing – Google+ posts and a Google+ business page is going to be found by people using Google a lot faster and easier, after all when in Rome, erm – Google.

Functions – Google+ has given us lots of great functionality for business use. Hangouts for video conferencing, linking dynamic media such as animated GIFs, Images that are indexed into search, circles which helps your business segment your stakeholders and the +1 button that is now all over the web.

Customer Service – you can use Google+ to help provide customer services via video conferencing (hangouts) or online social conversation. Creating circles for your High Net Worth clients and your new prospects helps you provide the correct level of service to each of these stakeholders separately.

Community – Google+ is mostly made up of a male population with a high number of software developers and college students. There is opportunity here to tap into these two markets for your business directly

Overall I have been using Google+ since it first came out, and found that just by sharing content from my site, links back to my site and social media posts my PageRank has increased by a factor of two. And I have never paid a single cent for SEO.

I truly believe that Google+ is underrated and should be explored more by SMBs as a useful tool that you will grow to love. The key here is to keep using it, and interacting. Put the effort into Google+ and you will reap the rewards.

As always, Share+ Enjoy.

Let’s Connect:

Twitter: @cosmicrami
Google+: 
Rami Mandow
LinkedIn: 
Rami Mandow
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CosmicRami
Pinterest: 
Rami Mandow
Instagram: @CosmicRami
Website: 
www.cosmicvillage.net

Social Influence is in your tribe, not Klout.

Many social media users have been joining sites such as Klout and Kred to distinguish their social media influence. But what exactly is social media influence? What is implied by the term influence when dealing with online relationships?

Social media influence involves at the very minimum two parties: The influencer and the person being influenced. As the relationship of trust in content, trust in personality and trust in credibility build over time, the person being influenced grows more attune with the influencer. The result is that content delivered by the influencer is then shared with the network of the person who is being influenced.

This further builds the engagement and interaction within the relationship and fortifies trust. The key here is the content, as it is the source of all credibility. If there is no content, then influence is merely an empty shell. There are numerous people on my social media streams who continually provide +K’s to their colleagues and tweet the +K’s they have received about Klout! And yet, not a single blog has ever been written by these people. Others claim to be ‘social media gurus’ and yet there is no content that they generate – simply a barrage of mashable retweets. Where I ask, is the influence in this?

Social media users have access to numerous ‘Social Influence’ ranking sites – which help quantify and measure a person’s influence among their network. These sites are: Klout, Kred, PostRank, Twentyfeet, PeerIndex, Empire Avenue, Sprout Social, Crowdbooster, Twylah, My Web Career and Appinions. Clearly, there is no shortage of measuring one’s online social ego.

Many times I have mentioned to my clients and online friends that these sites are great to gauge some level of feedback, but should also be taken with a grain of salt. These are not the be all and end all of where you rank in the social media food chain nor should they be used to make bolstering statements about your ‘guru-ness’ in social.

The real social influence on business (and in social media) comes from your tribe. Your network of people who find your content influential enough to read, comment, argue, share and promote for you. These can be both strong and weak ties in the world of social, but these guys are the people who take the time understand the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve, and agree with your model holistically enough to understand that their input (into your content) and output (shared with their network) has a resourceful value to the greater goal you are aiming for.

One such company that has captured this model, and successfully built a platform to implement it is Social Chorus. A cloud based software, Social Chorus allows members to directly measure the result of their influencers through brand advocacy, ROI and scale that is big enough to capture the whole downstream flow into the net.

What Social Chorus do that is so right is that they have developed the pro-active step of recruiting your influencer network (opt-in) and reduced the chaos and confusion that comes with manual outreach programs. Personally, I don’t work for Social Chorus, but have reviewed their product and had the pleasure of having Skype conversations with members of their team who have helped me understand a much more meaningful value of social influence over other platforms.

To give you an example of how I implemented this new knowledge into a foundation I developed recently, we used our social influence and tribe to influence the public about the premier of the powerful documentary BULLY. Once again, the key here is the content – the film itself. We tapped into our niche audience (we are an anti-bullying foundation) but used our influential members within our tribe (celebrities, key twitter persons, passionate sharers) to help distribute the message that we were screening the film. The result – we sold out. Twice.

So my tip for social media influence is not to simply use services such as Klout because you want to have clout within social media, but really find the people who your content, messages and branding works for – engage with them and build the relationship from a weak tie to a strong tie. Soon enough, these guys will become your most powerful distribution network. However, never lose sight or respect as to why they continue to help spread your content – and continually feed them with what it is they love – your content which they connected with in the first place.

Then, feel free to give them a +K as a simple thank you gesture for their efforts. Or even better, become an person who is influenced by their content and reward them for their topics that you helped share with the world. Circle of Life complete. 

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.

As always, please share + enjoy!

Let’s Connect:

Twitter: @cosmicrami
Google+: Rami Mandow
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Website: www.cosmicvillage.net

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
Google+: Rami Mandow
LinkedIn: Rami Mandow
Tumblr: CosmicRami
Pinterest: Rami Mandow
Instagram: @CosmicRami
Website: www.cosmicvillage.net

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
Google+: Rami Mandow
LinkedIn: Rami Mandow
Tumblr: CosmicRami
Pinterest: Rami Mandow
Instagram: @CosmicRami
Website: www.cosmicvillage.net

Kaliido (formerly Gay Mecca) Review

I am a lover of technology. Especially when it comes to Social Technology. I am also a lover of watching technology connect people for the purpose that it does: Relationships, Activities, Food, Revolutions, Networking the list simply goes on.

Originally from a financial / analytical background I now dwell in Social Media circles enjoying the professionalism that has emerged in this industry over the last few years. Rapid change is something that I am use to, and to stay ahead – we must always be connected to our technology. You may not want to agree with me, but we are very reliant on the technology that surrounds us to keep up with our connections (How many times do you check your phone during dinner or your favourite show?)

I am also a gay male (partnered) who is interested in networking professionally with other LGBTIQ business owners.

And here is where Kaliido comes into the equation.

I’ve had the privilege of being one of the first people to review Kaliido and introduce it to you and the world. The name was recently changed from Gay Mecca to be more suitable and inclusive. I like the name Kaliido … it’s a great way to think of this platform – like a kalideoscope – one that you look into and lots of colours are present all working together to form beautiful fractal shapes.

Kaliido is an online space where gay men can interact and engage with each other (plans for both Lesbian and Transgender are being briefed already). No, this is not Grindr. There is no sex facilitated on the site. Nor is this Facebook, LinkedIn or E-Harmony. This is simply a platform where gay men can interact, engage and build meaningful relationships.

Like most features of a Social Network – users have the same functions they would in their everyday social networking, the wheel here has not been reinvented. The ability to ‘like’ and ‘comment’, the ability to play music and answer polls, the ability to join groups or create events, and of course the ability to upload and share photo and video content. However, the unique angle that Kaliido is coming from is that it is all there for Gay Males.

In my preliminary review, I thought to myself that there was no way that this platform would not become another Gaydar or Grindr. But it’s not. The platform rules stipulate that there is to be no nudity or exchange of nude images. Not even shirtless ones. And why would you want to? Surely the gay community deserves one home on the web (or mobile web) that is not going to be another pick up site.

 Then I thought, what’s the point of this platform – after all, it’s just another Social Network I have to maintain. This is true. But how many social networks are solely dedicated to the niche I fall under in my local community? Gay Professional Male living in Surry Hills, looking for like-minded business owners and entrepreneurs to network, build business relations and collaborate on future projects. Not your typical Grindr ‘about me’ bio.

That’s not to say that romance is dead. Digital is the new nightclub, and we’re all going in there to hang out every night. So there’s nothing wrong with meeting new people (safely) online. Kaliido’s approach to this is based around who you are, and who you might be compatible with. Shared interests, activities and even using ‘personality matching’ to help you match with other guys who are into the same things you are – as I said, meaningful relationships. Then you simply take it offline and let it flourish in any way you like (ok, now you can have the sex).

Currently being rolled out on the Ning Platform as a social website to gather community interaction, Kaliido will soon be rolled into its own platform as it expands beyond Social to Professional and Personal (still not sex involved!).

My favourite feature of Kaliido is that it is an open source platform for developers. As the world rapidly advances into the mobile realm, apps are the new tools that help us collate and stream the info that we need and want. Imagine building an app for your business that will be available to be targeted directly at demographics such as Male, 18-24, Gay, Surry Hills, University Education, Digital Savvy, Rock-climber …. niche markets are focused with laser accuracy and targeted advertising blossoms more ROI for your business. And that’s just one way of looking at it!

Kaliido’s future plans include building a social commerce platform of engagement based around your likes, wants and needs. Not around what advertisers send your way. You control what you see, without the hoops that other platforms make you jump through. Your information is in a closed private network and not used as a commodity that Kaliido sells to business, like, erm …. That book.

So as a male who loves social technology, a self-declared hyper-connected gay living in Sydney – Kaliido gives me a new look at how I can reconnected with my community, without the pressures of sex and dating and allows me to tap into a very affluent market of which any business owner would be silly to miss.

I know there are many of you out there who can relate. Join the pilgrimage. See you on Kaliido!

Please Share + Enjoy,

Rami Mandow

CEO – CosmicVillage.net
Chairman – The Community Brave Foundation

Disclosure – After writing this post I have been offered and accepted the role of Chief Operating Officer at Kaliido. This post however is being released under my independent profile, before Kaliido is launched.

Let’s Connect:

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Review: community engine Platform

There has always been a bit of a gap between Social Media & Selling through Social Media. Too many in the industry, to do both together is somewhat a bit of a taboo. But as Social Networks grow and flourish with users (Customers), businesses must learn to adapt to this market and have the ability to be able to not only use these platforms as a form of communication, but to monetize them.

Many people will read the above paragraph and think, “Social Media is not for sales” and simply not read on. However, we are fast entering a phase of Social Media where Social Commerce will become just as important as the media itself. Look around, we are already moving into a world where Mobile Wallets are being used, Social Media data is used for targeted advertising and big players like Amazon, Facebook and Google have implemented their own commerce facilities.

Recently, I was invited (and happily accepted) to participate in the beta release of a new Social Commerce Platform, called community engine.

What struck me first about this platform was the beauty of all being about me. If I wanted to follow a business, I would see its offers and notices. This has a deep connection with consumers such as myself, because frankly, I tune out to all the white noise online and only watch, listen, see, read and engage with the content that is relevant to me.

Coming from the world of Social Media & operating a Social Media company, I have used many platforms in my day to day activities. My phone has 32 Social Media related apps that I use at least once per day for both business and pleasure. But community engine seems to link all the pieces of the puzzle together in a perfect symphony that appeals to every one of my Social Media Receptors as a Consumer and a small business owner.

For the small business side – I am able to create my own piece of real estate on community engine and explain everything about my business. Surely this feature is available on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ but it is only on community engine that you are able to integrate this with a sense of Community amongst other businesses in your network. Be that current stakeholders or new invitees!

In fact you can build a community from scratch around your business, by creating the space and sending out invites. There is no intrusive ‘adding to a group’ feature like Facebook, or the constant begging of people to follow your business profile like that on LinkedIn. A simple email is delivered to the recipient and if it is in line with their interest, they accept and become part of your Community.

Think that none of your customers will want to visit yet another Social Platform? Here is where community engine has made it very simple. Import your existing mailing lists / database into community engine and the invite is sent automatically to them.  Such simplicity derives such beauty in the connections we need to make but struggle to find the time to do so in our daily activities.

community engine is not like a Facebook page where you can leave a post and your fans have to visit the page or see the post in the active news feed to interact with. No. community engine offers a real-time communication network with your community, your members through the usage of the noticeboard and newswire.

The newswire behaves like a status feed of all your connections recommendations and posts – be that news, a special offer or a notice. The left hand column provides a chronological history of real social qualitative data that your network has communicated – this ticks the first box because it reduces the white noise of everything else you really do not want to read about. The right hand column still gently reminds us that we are part of a network of businesses that have products / services we are interested in – deals, offers and promotions in an easy to digest presentation.

The Noticeboard, which behaves much like a Pinterest exploration tab, gives the user an overall easy to scan view of all the output the communities they follow have shared on community engine. This helps me as a time limited business owner to review visually the right information I need to make that engagement possible. No fluff, no time wasting.

To make this platform even more social, each business can claim their own business (most are already preloaded for you) and use the platform to customise their profiles, message, receive feedback and obtain recommendations from customers, in addition to the general social media buttons we have grown custom too (‘Like’ & ‘Recommend’). This completes the circle of Social Interaction between business and Customer. A direct social channel to help all forms of communication is now open through the community engine Platform.

And if you think all this has nothing to do with Social Commerce – community engine once again integrates the perfect facilitation of transactions between business and customer. The platform contains an online payment facility driving the customer to purchase from the business (through community engine) with the click of a few buttons. In the past many companies have struggled to obtain a merchant facility that can help drive this revenue back from the digital platforms into the ledger books. In fact attempting to obtain a merchant facility can prove to be bigger than Ben Hur these days. But the community engine platform has just revolutionised this with one quick step that when linked to offers and promotions. These purchases are based on offers directly created by the business and not based around the terms of a deals conglomerate (e.g. expiry date, limitations) with the intent on making a quick dollar.

Sure these might be a special offer, but as they are not created to be sold on mass, they won’t create a negative experience. If a business has a special deal to place, it places it directly, and within a 1 week turnaround time, Community Engine facilitates a smooth payment transition between business & customers. Goodbye Groupon. Hello respectful Social Commerce.

Thus there are many features that businesses can use on the community engine platform that help make life for business owners, in one word, simple. Yes as a business owner, it’s my favourite word to hear on a daily basis too.

As a consumer, I can tell you that these features are so in line with what I want. I don’t want to be harassed by business in any way, shape or form. This includes my Social Media newsfeeds being flooded with constant invaluable information or selling from companies. I don’t want to have to go through a middle man such as the Daily Deals companies where I may or may not receive the end product with ridiculous clauses and restrictions. I don’t want to have to scroll through a never ending feed of jargon that doesn’t apply to me.

I simply want to glance over the things I’m interested in, have special offers capture my attention, communicate with the communities I’m interested in (on my own terms) and use Social Media in my own way. After all, this is also my piece of digital real estate. I am your customer, but I am not just another statistic on your social metrics.

Speaking as a Social Media professional and as an everyday customer, community engine offers an extraordinary experience that feels respectful of my needs and wants. It has bridged the gap between Social Media, Social Commerce and the customer in a way that allows Social Media to be used as a selling tool without having to do the selling.

Most importantly for me, it opens up the doors to small business owners around the country to a new tool that allows them to harness the power of Social Media to something more than a communication channel. And teaches our customers that they are the biggest influencers and assets our businesses will always have.

Simple.

As always, Share + Enjoy.

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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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Facebook Timeline for Brands is Here!

So this morning (Sydney Time) I got to tune into FMC (Facebook Marketing Conference) NYC for some of the upcoming changes on Facebook for Brands – and the big announcement is that Timeline is coming to Brands.

The biggest and most notable change of course will be the Timeline header – an image that will be the opening advert for your business. Remember the saying ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ – well in the land of Social Media, the time-deprived customer will take one look at your header image and if it’s not for them, they will not go any further. However, if you captivate them – they will be willing to spend a little extra time scrolling through the rest of your page and making it more ‘sticky’.

With this recent update, it’s now time to think about what is working and what isn’t for your Facebook page and campaigns and what you can do better. Seen something that your competitor did 3 months ago, and you really liked it? Work with that. Have a light bulb idea of a new campaign, build around it. Now is the time for change, and we are given an opportunity to prepare for it. Timeline for Brands goes live March 30.

Like any good cleaning work or seasonal changes, have a quick look over all your current info on your page – is it all relevant? Is there anything you need to update? Anything you need to delete or add? How are your apps performing? Anything that is gaining lots of activity vs. little activity? Can it be removed or replaced with something more efficient to your brand?

Talking about Facebook Apps – there may be some ‘transition issues’ with a few of them, so keep your eyes out for them – but these will be sorted out between the Third Party App Developers and Facebook, so you won’t need to worry about a thing. Be sure to record all your apps in case they do drop off – and locate proof of purchase, so you don’t have to repurchase them again!

There will also be an update to the information that page admins view and use. The display unit of the new insights looks more user friendly, more open and much easier to navigate your way around. I have a feeling that with the recently slow services experienced with Insights, Facebook might actually be implementing real-time reporting to launch with Timeline for Brands – but this is only a hypothetical!

Lastly – remember that on your personal Timeline you can highlight stories to make them bigger and more prominent. This feature will also be available on Pages Timeline, so take some time going back through your history and recording date & time of updates which you want to highlight. This will save you lots of time doing this when the roll out occurs. Remember, think to yourself:

What is my Facebook (& Social Media Strategy)?

 What Image of my brand do I want my page visitors to see / feel?

Is my Page attractive and sticky enough to keep someone longer than 10 seconds?

As always, Share + Enjoy

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Twitter: @cosmicrami

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