Welcome to my Cosmic World!
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
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Rami Mandow
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Rami Mandow
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Rami Mandow
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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. 

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
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Instagram: @CosmicRami
Website: www.cosmicvillage.net

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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Professional Social Media Profiles

Social Media is well and truly wrapped in our personal lives, but many of us are now using Social Media for professional services. Sites such as LinkedIn, MeetUp and Networking for Professionals have pushed us into the unfamiliar territory of using our Social Networks not for play, but rather for business.

Whilst an obvious different approach should be taken between personal and business Social Networking, one of the more important things on your Profiles, is your professional bio.

Whilst Twitter only allows a short 160 characters, and most people like to put something about themselves + something witty (overused?), it’s always good to ensure your professional Social Networks have up to date, keyword enriched bio’s that reflect what your entire career and capabilities in an easy to digest format.

Below is my guideline into how to write your professional social media profile. Whilst it’s not set in stone, it is a good idea of some of the things you need to include in your Professional bio. Each paragraph should be concise and not fluffy. Think of it as a combination between your CV and an Elevator Pitch.

Don’t be afraid to market yourself effectively to reach your goals!

Introductory Paragraph

This paragraph should state current position and companies that you work for. It should also summarise and list your areas of expertise.

Short Summary Paragraph on History of positions held

This short paragraph should state period of service in total, positions held and for which companies.

Value to Organisation paragraph

This paragraph should highlight strengths / what you currently bring to the companies you work for.

Specialties

List by comma separation all the speciality skills you currently have.

Achievement 1

This paragraph should state an achievement that has occurred in a previous position that can be related to your current positions. Provide the Year of the achievement, the action you took and the result this achieved.

Achievement 2

This paragraph should state a contribution you have performed to the benefit of a former employer or business. This can also be an involvement of charity work. Once again state the Year of the achievement, the action you took and the result this achieved.

Achievement 3

Highlight any other achievements that add value towards your bio. Ensure that by this paragraph these are significant and not minor achievements.

Awards / Recognition

If you have been awarded any merits or recognition at business / industry level, list these here. List the year, the company who awarded it and the title of the award.

Current Project Paragraph

List current big-scale business / industry projects you are working on, who these projects are for and what your role is in these projects.

Contact Info

Provide a contact email or website address.

Any more fields we should be including in our Professional Social Media profile bios?

As always, Share + Enjoy

Let’s Connect:

Twitter: @cosmicrami

Google+: Rami Mandow

LinkedIn: Rami Mandow

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An Introduction to Social Monitoring

Social Media plays a huge role in our lives today. Most of us use it on a daily basis as a minimum, and many of us use it on the go, from our smartphones. Needless to say, Social Media now plays a vital role in our daily communications and obtaining information. As businesses have begun to recognise the value of our time on Social Media sites, they too have now jumped into the Social Media game, by having a presence in Social Media. It is here where the two meet: Consumers and Business. And it is here where, businesses must monitor, like any marketing strategy, what is working and what isn’t.

Social Monitoring is the process of using Social Analytics Tools and applying this data to measure, review, evaluate and highlight business achievements and campaigns.

As businesses are starting to see the value of their presence in Social Media and start communicating, engaging and influencing through their Social Media Platforms with their customers, naturally, they would want to see the value of using Social Media and the metrics it can provide into how effective Social Media is for them. As such, businesses can now use a whole range of Social Analytics tools to help them understand their brand engagement on Social Media Platforms.

Thus, it is not enough for businesses to only have a Social Media presence but also to be monitoring their activities, their customers and their success through their Social Media presence.

Social Analytics and Social Monitoring tools can provide businesses with a huge array of data for them to pour over, analyse and utilise to their advantage. For example, businesses can measure their positive vs. negative sentiment ratio which measures the number of good vs. bad mentions about the business. Businesses can also measure detailed demographic data such as Gender, Age and Location of their customers. The ability to also gather data across all Social Media platforms (along with the web) to continually monitor any negative feedback, and address this in real time is extremely imperative in a world where every Smartphone is now a consumers tool to praise or destroy a business – in real time.

One very important aspect of Social Monitoring is that you are able to tie this back to your Return On Investment. Remembering, now we don’t only measure ROI in financial terms, but also in digital assets, in online reputation management and in brand equity, businesses can tie this data back to their one true reason to exist – revenue.

An example of this would be to graph over x amount of time, the number of positive sentiments a business received as measured through Social Media Analytical tools. Then on the same graph, overlay the revenue the business earned for the same period. Any correlation?

Another example would be to measure the value of revenue generated out of Social Media campaigns. Graph this against traditional marketing campaigns. Now look at the underlying costs of your Social Media campaigns vs. your traditional marketing campaigns. Which provided a better net return? Which had a bigger reach? Which required fewer resources?

Social Media Monitoring tools come in different shapes and forms, and all of them can provide you with the tools you need to get started in measuring your campaigns.

There are free tools such as: Twitsprout; Klout; SocialMention; Facebook Insights; Twitter analytics and there are enterprise tools such as BuzzNumbers, Radian6 and Dialogix.

Generally, the free tools provide you with a high level overview, however for a much more focused and accurate result, purchase and usage of the enterprise tools is highly recommended. Whilst some businesses may see this as an additional investment in Social Media and be reluctant, but can businesses really put a price on the data and information these tools can provide? If so then businesses are only achieving half of what they should out of Social Media, after all, there is no use of jumping into any marketing campaign unless you are able to measure its effectiveness. That includes Social Media.

As always, Share + Enjoy!

Lets Connect:

Twitter: @cosmicrami

Google+: Rami Mandow

LinkedIn: Rami Mandow

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An Introduction to Social Commerce

Music Producer David Guetta, recently released an album through Facebook. With 24 million fans on his Facebook page, Guetta utilised the ability to use Social Platforms like Facebook to sell directly to the people whom want to buy his product – his biggest fans. The fans that spent the time to ‘like’ his page.

This is the start of the Social Commerce age.

But what is Social Commerce? Why should businesses take note of Social Commerce? Who is currently using Social Commerce and utilising tools like the Facebook Store (FB-Store)? And where is Social Commerce heading in the future?

Social Commerce is a new and emerging field that is the next step of evolution in Social Media. Whilst businesses and customers have now been thrown together at high velocity in what we term today as ‘Social Media’ this engagement will more than likely not be enough in the near future. And its businesses whom are driving this change.

As economies contract, businesses are looking for the most efficient and effective way to reach their customers utilising free media tools, such as Social Networking  and Microblogging sites. Whilst businesses today are starting to respond to the need to be ‘were the customer is’ they have still found it difficult to monetise this presence in Social Media.

A question I am nearly always asked when speaking to businesses about Social Media is:

“How can we make money from this?” or the more direct “Show me the ROI?”

This burning desire to capture every dollar out of every connection to the business is the holy grail of business revenue dreams – and Social Media the catalyst!

Enter stage right, Social Commerce.

Whilst many old school business owners would shudder at the thought of transacting over social networks or social media sites, this is the direction we are headed in.

Social Commerce moves businesses away from traditional ROI models of financials into 4 quadrants of Social ROI: Financials (of course); Brand Equity; Online Reputation Management and Digital Assets.

Social Commerce is thus then reflected through businesses transacting through platforms like Facebook (Social Networking Sites) and Mobile devices.

Social Commerce already exists, and several large companies like Coca-Cola, Startbucks and Disney are already transacting through their Facebook account. That is they are directly selling on Facebook.

Want more proof? Here are some statistics on Facebook Commerce:

Number of Diapers P&G sold on its FB-Store in under an hour: 1,000

Number of retailers who have opened up a FB-Store: 50,000

Starbucks customers using their e-commerce-enabled FB CRM loyalty program: 1M+

Customer using Wal-Mart’s group-buy FB app on day of launch: 5,000+

FB-Store conversion rates: 2% - 4%, which is on par with most web-stores: 3% - 4%

Click through rates on Facebook Walls: 6.5%

And it doesn’t end there. With the web now becoming the MobileWeb, we are all more connected to our Social Media platforms through our smartphones. The introduction of NFCs and the Mobile Wallet will mean that businesses and consumers now have a way to transact through the MobileWeb. And Social Media will lie at the heart of this.

So what should we expect to see in the next few years in Social Commerce?

More than likely it will branch into two types: The first will be based on consumer to consumer recommendations through Social Media – where connected friends on Social Networks will drive sales based on experience, preferred brands and the way businesses behave in Social Media. The Second will be based on special offers, loyalty and incentive programs. The most certain prediction is that both these scenarios will be played out on the mobile platform utilising mobile wallet and Smartphone technology.

To conclude, Social Commerce can be summarised in a great quote by Sumeet Jain, Principle of CMEA Capital:

“It’s a matter of time – within the next five years or so – before more business will be done on Facebook than Amazon”

Now businesses, I ask you: “What will be the impact on your ROI if you don’t get involved in Social Media Now?”

Next week, we look at an Introduction to Social Monitoring

As always, Share + Enjoy!

Let’s Connect:

Twitter: @cosmicrami

Google+: Rami Mandow

LinkedIn: Rami Mandow

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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

Google+: Rami Mandow

LinkedIn: Rami Mandow

Tumblr: CosmicRami

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?

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Twitter: @cosmicrami

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Social Media + Smart Phones - Who Controls Our Tech Freedom?

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 for us all and how are smartphones are going to replace our wallets. Tune in!

The UK Riots were ‘apparently’ caused by Social Media networking on Smartphones; the San Francisco BART operators shut off 4 Mobile communication towers to avoid protestors organising themselves and several witnesses all used their smartphones to capture the moment a concert stage rig collapsed in Indiana.

It seems everything we hear on the news there is some involvement of Social Media and that it is mostly generated by the general public using their Smartphones.

This week the question was raised if the Social Media and Smart Phone marriage was a benefit or limitation to our societies. Personally, I think it is a benefit and has helped our society come a long way. Below I describe why.

The biggest topic last week was as @pembo put it so eloquently in his article (featured in The Punch) ‘The World’s Biggest Bludger Uprising’. The London Riots. The riots caused by many youths have been linked to Social Media and Smartphone usage, as a key driver in the organisation of such a destructive event. Twitter was blamed for the social network to host the organisers’ information, and Blackberry the tool used by the culprits to communicate. After 4 days or rioting several government officials played around with the idea of having a ‘kill switch’ on Social Networks.

To be blunt, this has to be one of the most hypocritical ideas in history. Only several months before, these officials were praising the use of Social Networks and Smartphones for the liberation of countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

The mechanism, communication and tools were the same. A large mass of people organising themselves using the latest technology to revolt against a common cause. But are the Social Networks and Smartphones to blame here?

No. They are neither the cause nor effect of the outcome. They are simply the medium through which the outcome travels. As such, placing a ‘kill switch’ at the power of a few to control the masses is not only a huge leap backwards, it’s actually counterproductive. What would have happened if Mubarak or Gaddafi had a kill switch on their nation’s social networks?

So in conclusion, the parallels between the benefits of Social Media and Smartphones to our way of living are very clear, and derive a positive outcome for societies around the world. We are more connected, we now have all the information we need in real time, we have built a web of trust on our connections opinions and we can save more lives in events like natural disasters.

Should anyone person, organisation or government control Social Media, or have the ability to switch it off? No. Social Media, like the internet does not belong to anyone of us. It belongs to all of us. As such, we should be able to use it as we like. 

What do you think? Should Social Media be controlled or should it remain free for all to use as they see fit?

As Always – Share + Enjoy!

Next Week’s Blog Teaser: How Mobile is your Web?

Let’s Connect:

Twitter: @cosmicrami

Google+: Rami Mandow

LinkedIn: Rami Mandow

Tumblr: CosmicRami

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Hashtag: #MobileWeb