How Apps Are Ruining the World

Tesla: Master of Lightning. That would look cool on a business card.

Between our iPad, iPhone, and three iPod Touches, my family has over 100 installed apps. Amazing utilities, clever social apps, and plain old silly stuff.

I love my apps, but they are ruining the world. Sad, really.

Here’s the thing. Programming something for iOS isn’t exactly easy. There are some tools that cut your time, but if you want to maximize your app, you’ll have to put in the time or pay someone to do it. Someone smart and patient.

I’m all for creative entrepreneurs generating a profit from their hard work. I’ve certainly done it myself, so I wouldn’t begrudge someone else the opportunity to earn money. Unfortunately….

Unfortunately, some of the smartest people in the room aren’t solving problems anymore. They’re not figuring out the kinds of things that need figuring. They’re not inventing or improving inventions. They’re not even experimenting.

Nope, they’re coding apps that they’ll sell for 99 cents. And if they’re lucky (because luck is part of success), they’ll make some money. If not, they’ll just make another app. That’s where the gold seems to be. Continue reading

Bad Advice Given Well (and How to Spot Phony Experts)

Danger Bad Advice Ahead

Danger Bad Advice Ahead

You may not want to hear this, but at some point, you’ve received — and then shared — bad information online. Information so erroneous that it defies logic. Ideas that just don’t make sense. And, like many netizens, you’ve shared this with your family and friends.

Don’t worry. Everyone has done it at some point or another. (Don’t you feel better?)

Here’s the thing. There’s good advice given by smart, informed, and qualified people (sometimes they are even professionals). The information they provide can educate and motivate you.

And then there’s that guy that wrote “that blog” on “that website.” He could have been right, especially if he took a moment to look for truth instead of just disguising his opinion as truth. But he was wrong. Didn’t know what he was talking about, and unfortunately, his advice got stuck in your head. (Sorry, Oreos don’t make you thin.)

You are, as many of us have been, a victim of bad advice given well. Guidance from a self-proclaimed expert who is more self-proclaimed than expert, but probably has a nice-looking website. Maybe someone who has a lot of Twitter followers.


How This Happened

Back in the early days, the media business was a one-way affair. Those of us who studied Journalism and then worked at media outlets learned that we were the “gatekeepers” of information. The publishers and editors were the gatekeepers, but we were part of the gate. I was a journalist and I worked the gate at newspapers, websites, and magazines.

We were sharers and reporters of truth. We opened the gate to gather and disseminate truth and facts. Slammed it shut on information we perceived as wrong or irrelevant. Continue reading

Measuring ROI of Your Social Media Marketing Campaign

Google Analytics to measure your social media campaign

Google Analytics to measure your social media campaign

Stop. Before you go any further in this blog about social media marketing, stop and ask yourself, “am I ready to do what’s required for my campaigns?”

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, particularly in Marketing. That’s because modern Marketing isn’t easy anymore.

It’s hard and it requires math. (I know I just lost about half of you when I said the other M word…math.)

Today’s marketer must be part mathematician, part magician, and seemingly omniscient. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.

I’m not kidding. The app is “analytics.” (Okay, analytics is more than just an app, but I’m working on my segues.) But if you don’t use analytics and other appropriate measurements, you can’t measure your social media campaign. Continue reading

Guy’s Guide to Pinterest: Pinning Testosterone

Guy's Guide to Pinterest

Guy's Guide to Pinterest

The statistics are incredible. According to ComScore estimates, Pinterest is the fastest growing social network ever.

In this age of social networking sites, you’d think that we had enough places for people to like and share stuff. Apparently not.

But a curious thing happened on their way to becoming an Internet phenomenon. Pinterest became an overwhelmingly female destination. By some estimates Pinterest is to 50% to 70% female. Everyone has an opinion about why Pinterest attracted so many women and what it means for social media marketing.

If you’re a male, you’re probably wondering why you should bother with Pinterest. Well, for one, it’s really kind of fun. (I hated typing that sentence, but it’s true.) It’s also a platform that shows huge potential for marketing and branding, since people are sharing the products and services that they love. If your campaign includes content marketing, you know that great product images can help your brand message go viral.

For a change, though, I am not here to talk about your content strategy or anything marketing-y like that. I’m here to help the fellas out there get started with Pinterest. Continue reading

The “Idea Etherverse” (or How to Be More Creative at Work)

Idea lightbulb

Did that lightbulb in your head just go on? Maybe it’s coming from the Idea Etherverse.

In my line of work, people talk a lot about creativity. As a content strategist and copywriter at a marketing agency, people look to my creative services team for fresh ideas.

They appreciate unique angles, bursts of inspiration, and the proverbial lightbulb-over-the-head.

Yet, that creativity doesn’t just come from “the creatives.” Not at all.

Ideas can come from anyone in any role, if you encourage people to express their own ideas. Account managers, project managers, quality assurance testers, proofreaders, and traffic coordinators have come up with ideas that rival the best copywriters, art directors, and other people typically associated with “ideas.”

The problem? Most “non creative” people feel boxed in by the words printed on their business cards. They incorrectly assume they are less qualified to share new ideas or whatever. It’s really just “whatever.”

 

The Big Secret Revealed: Where Creativity Comes From

For a few years, I worked as a professional comic book writer (which was outstanding training for new media). At comic book conventions, fans and aspiring creators would sometimes ask where I got my ideas. Continue reading

Write a Website, Not a Novel

Stack of keyboards

Write less. Write better.

Never use ten words, when you can say it in five. Never use a ten-buck word, when a five-buck word will do.

These are old phrases that I remember from my days working as a journalist. The idea was not to dazzle people with your thesaurus, but to communicate and report your story. Save the flowery language, they used to say, for your novel.

If you’re developing your content strategy for your new brand website, be sure to include a section in the style guide about writing. Let your whole team know that the purpose of your website is to serve the needs of your users. It’s not an opportunity to stretch your legs as a writer and express yourself with brilliant prose. Continue reading

11 Things Worth Paying for Online

Here’s something awesome…the Internet is still (mostly) free. Despite the sometimes mammoth costs of launching and maintaining a website, social media campaign, or interactive tool, the cost has remained about the same. In same cases, it’s actually become less expensive.

As the end user, just about everything is free, even though we know darn well that it’s not free to create. There are technical people, writers, designers, marketers, and everyone else…all working together to create stuff online. Some of it is supported by advertising and some of it is paid for by the target user.

So why would you pay for anything online? Well, I guess there are just some things worth paying for. Here are 11 things I’m willing to pay for (and maybe already do) on the web.

It’s worth noting that almost all of these are freemium services. That basically means that you get the core service for free. If you really like it, you can pay for an upgrade. Freemium is the ultimate in “try before you buy” solutions for brands to market themselves and their services.

Top 11 Things I’m Willing to Pay for Online Continue reading

SOPA Blackout Screenshots Including Google, Reddit, Wikipedia

It’s been a long time coming. The SOPA blackout is finally here and a clear message is being sent to the US government.

There are many places to learn about SOPA. I’ll provide links at the bottom.

What I find fascinating are the blackout pages, which were spread virally. I’ll provide some SOPA blackout screenshots here on the blog. Others will appear on my Flickr page.

(Oh, and before I forget…all websites are (c) their respective owners! If you are a copyright holder and want a screenshot removed, please let me know.)

Wired Censored SOPA Blackout and News
Wired SOPA Blackout Page Screenshot
BoingBoing SOPA Blackout and News
BoingBoing.com SOPA Blackout Page Screenshot
Craigslist SOPA & Pipa Blackout and News
CraigsList SOPA Blackout Page Screenshot

See More Screenshots Continue reading

Why Klout and Social Influence Really Matter

Klout.com Logo

Klout.com is a social influence measurement tool.

What’s your Klout score? It’s a question that you hear more often, particularly if you’re in the agency world.

So what is Klout and why is it important? That’s the more important question!

First off, if you haven’t tried it yet, go to Klout.com. If you’re signed into Twitter, it will ask you to connect your two accounts. Twitter has a pretty good application programming interface (API), so you can link two different services and share data. It’s pretty easy.

At first, Klout will probably give you a low score because it does not know how you interact with other Twitter users. But in time, it will give you some indication of your “influence.” You can read about how Klout scores influence, but suffice to say, it attempts to measure how many people repeat (or retweet!) what you say. It’s a modern, online version of how cool you are among your peers.

The mechanics of Klout aren’t as important as the concept behind social validation. So what is social validation and why should you care? Glad you asked! Continue reading

Mobile Video, NetFlix, and Mass Transit

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

As I was riding the bus to work this week, I observed at least two people streaming Netflix to iPads.

The lower-end iPads include WiFi, but the upgraded models offer 3G wireless service. That makes it easy to stream Netflix wherever you are. Like, for instance, the bus.

This may seem like a minor point, but for content creators and content strategists, it is a significant development worth considering. For example, as you develop your content strategy, you’re probably thinking primarily about the website and mobile experience. This means a robust website that scales appropriately for mobile users.

If you create transmedia assets, you may also be thinking about familiar channels like YouTube and Vimeo for video. Maybe Slideshare for presentations. Perhaps an eBook on Amazonor at BarnesandNoble.com. Again, this all makes sense.

Have you considered the bus? I mean, you know that mobile users are accessing your website on mobile device, and they may be on a bus. But when you think about long-form streaming video, you probably aren’t thinking about an iPad 2 streaming video on a bus. Continue reading