Close

Opinion

The dangerous desire to believe in the next big thing

From time to time there comes a rising star, which quickly gets picked up by social media enthusiasts, news sites, advertisers and soon after there already are some creative „pilot” campaigns. While these campaigns create buzz around them and are great examples of creativity and benefits to being a pioneer, others quietly come to conclusion that this actually might be the next big thing (which might grow into mainstream thing). This is the dangerous part- while these first pioneers have gained momentum, their more subtle followers might end up empty-handed when the hours of work will be for nothing and the next new big thing will drown in limbo. It’s easy to believe that some new tool will somehow fix all the communication problems and turn your company into a social media superstar. This thought can also be very deceiving. The truth is- you already have all the tools you need to communicate with your audience at your disposal. You have e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, phone, foursquare (if you have a physical location(s)) and phone. If you can’t manage & build your audience with these tools, the problem might very well lie within you, not any of these channels. Data is what should guide you when you decide about long-term goals involving social media. Using social media and content without precise data and strategy is a gamble. Would you risk 1/8 of your salary on the gamble that your Pinterest activity will be worth it after a year or two? That’s what you do when you spend an hour of your day there. Being the first is overrated. It’s being the best that counts.

May 29, 2012

Possible future of social networks: Niche social networks

A little backstory: I was lucky to participate as a listener in lecture/discussion “Talks of those, who create- backstage of twitter & draugiem.lv” (title is translated; it might be a little off). People giving presentations were Kristaps Skutelis, Jānis Palkavnieks and Artūrs Mednis. The one which raised most of my interest was the one given by Jānis Palkavnieks- he’s spokesperson of Latvia’s biggest social network draugiem.lv. The points I did not agree in his presentation were: a) draugiem.lv is more like home, while Facebook is more like McDonalds; b) Path is an example of how location, twitter and instagram becomes unified in one social network and that it might be the future of social networks. This is my take on things and I really respect draugiem.lv for what they’re doing and trying to do, so don’t take this the wrong way. These are all speculations and only future itself will determine who’s right. If I’m right this will be my proof, that “Ha, I said so!”, but if I’ll turn out to be wrong, the joke is on me. However, it’s possible that the truth lies somewhere in between… Here are my arguments Draugiem.lv is more like home, while Facebook is more like McDonalds While people might see draugiem.lv as “our” social network and as more approachable company than facebook, in its essence it’s a tool- tool, which helps us stay in touch with our family, relatives, close friends, friends, acquaintances, etc. Any one of world’s social networks could be compared to “home” if all of our friends were there. I would like to compare social networks to phone operators. Does anyone really pay more attention to network provider itself, than to those with whom we can connect using it? This is very important point. This idea of “us, being cozier” network can lead to carelessness, while others keep on working on innovations and new & better features and tools. My point: Social network is a platform (just like mobile network carrier, city or gym) and its level of homeliness is determined by people with whom we interact on that platform, not platform itself. People tend to choose platforms which help them to get stuff done and then get out of the way. Path is an example of how location, twitter and instagram become unified in one social network and that it might be the future of social networks. Path is very interesting app- as social network, great mobile design example and niche product. But I do see some flaws in it’s concept. It’s meant to be as a tool to connect with family, relatives and close friends. After all it has a friend limit of 150. They have taken some the best features from Instagram (photos & filters), Twitter (short updates), foursquare (locations, check-in’s), shazam (song recognition, sharing of them), facebook (friend concept, tagging people) and even added some features by themselves (sleep/wake time + the app learns over time). The problem lays elsewhere- if this sharing is intended […]

May 21, 2012

Building a mobile app. Do it step by step. Literally. There are 3 reasons.

This thought has been brewing in my mind for a while. Reason is that lately there are more and more businesses that have decided that they should deliver on mobile as well. That’s cool. I completely support that and urge others to think about this. The better you will cater to your customers, the more returning business you’ll have. Problem: Mobile apps are clumsy, ugly and instead of doing few things really well, they do everything & badly. There are just a few out there, which do what they are supposed to do and do it well & easy. Solution: Build your app step by step. Start with one feature & add others on top of that. Of course, this won’t work for those daredevils who want everything & right now and this will cost you more than app that is done at once. In my opinion, benefits of developing app in stages, outweigh monetary losses in long term and are worth the wait. And it’s cheaper to get it right with the first time than to build an app and then rebuild it from scratch. Reason 1: Focus It is clear that a lot of businesses (especially those who can afford to develop mobile apps) offer their customers more than a few services. Main reason why most apps are clumsy and difficult to use is that, when a company decides that they want to support their customers on mobile, they try to copy the desktop (web) version of their services & just try to squeeze everything in at once. This is a mistake. Mobile is taking over the world, but desktop computers aren’t leaving just yet. There are things that are easier to do on desktop computer than on mobile. And it’s completely ok. And your customers feel the same way. Instead, just think what your customer needs most when he’s on the go. Find your killer feature and start from there. Start with clear understanding that it’s better if your app is great at at least one thing than bad at 15 things. Reason 2: Feedback Nail every feature of your app. Start with the one that is most needed; perfect it and then move on to the next one. And while you develop the new features for the next update- create fixes for known bugs, improve user experience for existing features and rethink what is the next most important thing. Feedback from bloggers, social media users and field experts will help you understand what you have done right and what needs more tweaking. How do you do this? Simply, release the first version of the app (which might look naked) and what the response is. Reason 3: Research the feature There are a lot of apps out there that do every imaginable thing. When you have found the feature you are about to focus on, download every app that has something similar in it. And on top of it, download Foursquare (location & gamification example), Path (design […]

May 17, 2012

Future of file storage in cloud– don’t cancel your dropbox just yet

As I tweeted when the news about Google Drive broke out, I believe that “It won’t be about GBs, it’ll be about the service.” For those who have taken a stand on one end of this dipute or another, I would like to bring up some topics which are relevant when we try to predict which of the services (Dropbox, Google Drive, Skydrive, iCloud, boxnet, etc.) will come out of this as winners. So, here we go. 1) Everything already is on cloud. It’s not future, it’s already present. Gigabytes (and the number of them) aren’t going to matter too much. Why? Cloud is already part of our lives and those, who have been savvy enough to use services like Dropbox, are already using the benefits of cloud. Media that people purchase is already accessible via cloud from anywhere with internet connection. iTunes, Spotify and other streaming services let anyone to consume media via their streaming options. Media files are the most space-consuming type of files out there and if there is no real need for keeping these files on computer or all devices at all times, there goes the need for those many-many gigabytes. 2) Real use. It is really convenient to always have up-to-date files with you- anywhere and at any time. This is where I see the cloud’s power. At work, at home and on mobile while on the go. Usually those .ppt’s, .doc’s and .xls’s don’t take up so much space to easily fill up gigabytes of space. 5GB is completely enough for such tasks and for this even the standard 2GBs of dropbox are enough. At this moment cloud is used as flash device for moving files minus the hassle with carrying that little thing around and finding the USB ports 3) Services. Dropbox has been around for a while and a lot of 3rd party developer applications (especially on mobile devices) have already integrated Dropbox as storage option into their features. It’ll take a while until Google Drive and others catch up on this. Until all the apps I use daily will implement Google Drive, I’m not moving away from my Dropbox. And even after that– switching all the automated tasks would take a lot of time & patience. I would think twice about this. 4) Features. Added value. Right now, in my eyes Dropbox adds value with having decent iPhone & iPad apps, but Google Drive lets me edit my files on their platform. Ideal combination would be a decent app and ability to view & edit files within it (most computers have office suites, so there isn’t an actual need for Google’s web interface for most people). One more- Google saves file revisions, so this is +1 to them, since Dropbox doesn’t do this. 5) Personal hard disk is still necessary. While we talk about having EVERYTHING up in the cloud, most of these services at the moment keep exact file duplicates of those we have in our Dropbox, Google Drive and […]

May 1, 2012

IMDB.COM – opportunity to be a great tool & niche social network

This actually disturbs me on regular basis. I am a registered member of GetGlue, but I haven’t logged in to the service for a pretty long time (for the sake of this post I did, but you get what I’m talking about). On the other hand, I regularly use imdb.com– I browse “top” lists for movies I haven’t seen. I’m not a big fan of “liking” things and checking in to movies or TV shows. I see myself as a more practical person. I’m more of a guy who could say something like this: “I have seen this movie and I really liked it- what should I watch next?” or “Wow, this actor is cool, are there other big budget movies with him?”. So what’s the fix that could make imdb.com much more better for me? The only way of making lists I have noticed while browsing imdb.com is adding movies to watchlist. That’s it. Where’s the tick-box for movies I have already seen? Dear imdb, most movies that you recommend me (and precisely, most of recommended movies were truly enjoyable) I have already seen. Such list for movies I’ve seen combined with recommendations would instantly turn imdb.com into movie discovery tool and a great service. And I’m fully aware & sure that I would use such option to the fullest. There are only so much great movies, please imdb.com help me to disover them! This also makes a great opportunity for other gamification tools which would make imdb.com even more pleasant to visit. One more- show me the top movies between my friends and people I follow on twitter, let them curate movie lists, etc. Be proactive, don’t wait until GetGlue or some other startup surpasses you! Getglue? I don’t trust them. When I was testing the service it gave a lot of dublicates and images that were scraped from somewhere. Missing information & other flaws make it unworthy my trust. But imdb.com on the other hand is web’s most trusted source of information regarding movies & tv shows.

April 23, 2012

Television gone digital: What to expect – It’s not where they watch, it’s where they engage

Samsung-Poland

TV streaming is not new. It has been done for a while and it will stay with us in future as well. A lot of communications, including video (TV), are moving from their traditional channels of delivering the content to using IP protocols. TV industry has begun to make this shift and won’t stop until it will be done completely. I’m no specialist in technologies of communications, but it might be that using the same cables for both internet access & TV content delivery is also more cost effective than keeping up two separate infrastructures. If it is not now, it should be in near future. A relatively short time ago first affordable/mass production “smart” TVs were introduced. The most important thing about them is that they implement the “app” phenomena and are constantly connected to web. That’s for introduction to internet-connected TVs. Some time ago biggest Latvian social network draugiem.lv introduced it’s newest initiative- web based media platform draugiem.tv which includes streams of Latvian & foreign TV channels, radio streams, movie rentals and some other features- with promise to expand the list of services available on platform. By doing this they made a challenge to biggest Latvian internet & TV provider Lattelecom- since it also provides a browser based media streams. For a short while it was all silent, until recently Lattelecom made it known that they are looking for a person who could make their TV more social. That means just one thing- Lattelecom has understood that Draugiem can be a serious competitor in Latvia‘s market. It has been a few days since it is on my mind, so I decided to weigh in on what has happened & what could happen in near future. Draugiem.tv I don’t know what’s the masterplan for this so platform, so in this paragraph I could be very very wrong. Anyways, here we go. In my opinion the very idea of building separate media platform for social network so massive was not the best one. Even more, Draugiem.lv already have an integrated music platform- combination of the music platform, brand pages, groups, news feed and all other social network’s aspects are a great place for innovation and building a truly social TV consumption environment. We can see how Spotify and other music services want to integrate in Facebook, how news outlets use Facebook, how Apple tried to enter the social media with their music-based social network “Ping”, how Netflix & Hulu wants to be social and how YouTube from video hosting platform is becoming of more and more social network. Overall, it’s not bad, I actually like the platform- there’s not much, but it’s easy understandable, has live chat section next to TV streams and movie rentals are pretty easily done via sms payments. Since it’s just beginning (it hasn’t even been a month since public launch), the platform has a room to grow. The sections which are not live yet (TV Shows & Stage) also carry a hope that this will be a platform which let’s media creators sell […]

April 18, 2012

Hey, @twitter, here’s this one thing you should fix

jpg_iphone_missed_call

TL;DR: If protected account follows someone, that someone should be allowed to see protected account’s tweets in which this someone is mentioned. About mentions It’s no coincidence that the title of this article contains a word which is formatted as twitter „mention”. Mentions are great help to users, marketers and everyone else who uses twitter for communication with friends, brands, companies, local businesses, peers, professionals and opinion leaders. It is a great way to ensure that we are heard by account holders who don’t follow us. I enjoy and use this feature both as brand marketer and simple everyday user. Thanks for that! But there’s room for improvement: Protected (Private) accounts The other thing is that all the accounts can be divided in two groups- the ones which are protected (or private) and the ones which aren’t. On this occasion I will talk about the ones which are private and how twitter handles mentions for these accounts. Relationships between accounts Right now there is just one kind of relationship possible between two twitter accounts- either one is following the other account or it is not. Yes, there is this one thing for protected accounts- they can choose whether to allow someone to follow them or not. But that’s it- after allowing someone to follow them, they become simple followers (who have the privilege to see tweets made by this account). What’s the problem? In order to see tweets mentioning me (or just simple plain replies) from protected accounts I have to follow them. There is no other way. This is not a problem for accounts like Justin Bieber’s which follow thousands of users (and it’s clear to everyone that no one could ever read all those tweets). It is problem for opinion leaders, sophisticated brands (who follow just professionals of their professional field), small business owners and everyone else who have short following lists (which are actually being read) and a lot followers that he, she or brand doesn’t follow and for whatever reasons has no intention to follow (or to follow just the ones with protected accounts- for the same reasons). Why it’s a problem? On several occasions, when I go through the follower lists to see if there’s someone I know (or should follow for some other reasons) I have found such persons with protected accounts and when they approve me, I usually look in their streams to see what they are up to. Sometimes that’s the first time I see that they have responded to my tweets or mentioned me in tweets to other persons. And by the looks of it I’m 100% sure that they had no idea (and still don’t have) that I haven’t seen those tweets previously (when they were tweeted). To them I seem just ignorant or worse, they suppose that their opinions or answers to my questions don’t mean anything to me. This is a bad PR both for brand or person. The same goes for brands. I have been managing several accounts for […]

April 18, 2012

Few thoughts after the #LattelecomTV event/discussion

First of all, thanks to Lattelecom for the initiative and the event (under the hiperlink there are visual materials from the event). While I was a bit sceptical about almost everything throughout the event, after some thinking I’m sure that it was worth it. One of the first and main things that were stated: television already is delivered via web (if we look at it technically- it is mainly delivered via internet protocols- at least in Latvia). The main question is: how will we consume the content and in what form it will be delivered to consumers? Some speakers stated that the move (switch) from TV sets to mobile phones and tablets is inevitable(1). Also, some predict that the linear television is destined to die(2). And these two points are the ones I would like to revisit and state my opinion on them. (1) I do not agree with this statement. There will always be people and situations for whom the TV on the go (mobile) will be irreplaceble, but these cases and people are and will be just an exceptions. At, least for a couple of years until glasses with built-in displays or other technologies will become an everyday reality. Television on mobile devies, in my opinion, has three main disadvantages: it drains device’s battery exceptionally fast (especially on phones, tablets are in a bit of a better situation), the coverage of mobile network’s isn’t good enough and video content is at its best when viewed in good quality and on large screens. (2) I have heard this before, but it’s not true. While video-on-demand and YouTube is and (at least for a while) will be consumed in massive amounts, the linear TV is here to stay. I can’t find the article anymore, but I will try to retell it: There was at least one TV show which was aired weekly and after a while it was being offered also as an “video on demand”- it was made available for streaming each week at the same time as the cable TV users watched the show across the country. And as long people (experts) predicted that this will be good for rating, because people will  be able to choose when to watch it, the numbers showed that most people (if possible) chose to watch it at the same time as everybody else. Other sources and article I tweeted today state the same– people want to watch content at the same time as it becomes available and if they are not able to do so- majority of them watch it in the first 24 hours after it comes out (becomes available). Why? People just love to consume things and products while they are fresh & new. The same stands for TV shows. Another (and quite important) thing is that watching the same at the same time as everybody else allows to become a part of a group or tribe, if you will. It let’s to share emotions with people around them (in […]

April 18, 2012

News & Social Media. Relevancy & Content Localization

This blog post is intended to be about relevancy. I got thinking about this subject when I noticed how Latvian web news outlets are limiting themselves in social media, but that doesn’t mean that these same ideas can’t be used when thinking about how to deliver brand’s content in a way that’s relevant for the consumers.  The two topics I want to write about are location and subject. Topics This is simple. Different subjects are the reason why brands need long term content strategy. Strategy defines subjects which are relevant to consumers brand wants to communicate to and helps to stick to these subjects, so the message is consistent throughout long terms. Right now the big news outlets have some kind of presence in social media. They have their pages on Facebook and Draugiem, twitter accounts and other kinds of social media real estate. Frequancy of posting links to articles differ from one media to another- from posting every article (automatically) to being silent and not using these channels on a daily basis. Just like news sites have their sites divided in sections by subjects, their social media presence should be built the same way. No one is interested in all of the news of the world. Some are into cars, some are into fashion and beauty, others follow politics, some more others are interested in economics. It’s a pretty bad idea to try to “sell” politics to people who rather read about cars. Why is it important to split different subjects? Think relevancy, engagement, CTR (click through rate). Of course, it takes time, work & money to maintain separate accounts on every social network for every subject, but it will pay back eventually. In traffic, engagement and CTR- because each of these separate accounts will lure in highly more intererested audience. Each posted message will reach engagement levels which will never be reached by operating all the kinds of content from just one account. My example: a little bit more than a year ago I created twitter account @rdinamo. You see, sportacentrs.com have a separate RSS feed for news regarding Rīgas Dinamo. What I did- I just connected the RSS feed to twitter account via twitterfeed service. That’s it. Account bio contains information that these are news from sportacentrs.com. In 1 year and three months this account has gained 700 followers. It’s no record or anything, but just an example how sportacentrs.com have missed out on a way how to drive traffic by themselves. And they have already invested in maintaining the separate RSS feed- they just have failed to feed this feed to social networks. From their perspective- they should make such accounts for every kind of sports & some for specially popular sportsmen & teams. It’s a free traffic, you just have to know how to pick it up from the ground. There has to be a reason why global news services and blogs do this (think TIMES, Mashable, etc.). Populate people around specific topics! Location Latvia […]

April 18, 2012

Television gone digital: What to expect – It’s not where they watch, it’s where they engage

TV streaming is not new. It has been done for a while and it will stay with us in future as well. A lot of communications, including video (TV), are moving from their traditional channels of delivering the content to using IP protocols. TV industry has begun to make this shift and won’t stop until it will be done completely. I’m no specialist in technologies of communications, but it might be that using the same cables for both internet access & TV content delivery is also more cost effective than keeping up two separate infrastructures. If it is not now, it should be in near future. A relatively short time ago first affordable/mass production “smart” TVs were introduced. The most important thing about them is that they implement the “app” phenomena and are constantly connected to web. That’s for introduction to internet-connected TVs. Some time ago biggest Latvian social network draugiem.lv introduced it’s newest initiative- web based media platform draugiem.tv which includes streams of Latvian & foreign TV channels, radio streams, movie rentals and some other features- with promise to expand the list of services available on platform. By doing this they made a challenge to biggest Latvian internet & TV provider Lattelecom- since it also provides a browser based media streams. For a short while it was all silent, until recently Lattelecom made it known that they are looking for a person who could make their TV more social. That means just one thing- Lattelecom has understood that Draugiem can be a serious competitor in Latvia‘s market. It has been a few days since it is on my mind, so I decided to weigh in on what has happened & what could happen in near future. Draugiem.tv I don’t know what’s the masterplan for this so platform, so in this paragraph I could be very very wrong. Anyways, here we go. In my opinion the very idea of building separate media platform for social network so massive was not the best one. Even more, Draugiem.lv already have an integrated music platform- combination of the music platform, brand pages, groups, news feed and all other social network’s aspects are a great place for innovation and building a truly social TV consumption environment. We can see how Spotify and other music services want to integrate in Facebook, how news outlets use Facebook, how Apple tried to enter the social media with their music-based social network “Ping”, how Netflix & Hulu wants to be social and how YouTube from video hosting platform is becoming of more and more social network. Overall, it’s not bad, I actually like the platform- there’s not much, but it’s easy understandable, has live chat section next to TV streams and movie rentals are pretty easily done via sms payments. Since it’s just beginning (it hasn’t even been a month since public launch), the platform has a room to grow. The sections which are not live yet (TV Shows & Stage) also carry a hope that this will be […]

April 18, 2012