Now Playing Tracks

Tools I like: Qualaroo

This one is actually one of my favorites.  It’s free, unless you need the premo features, and it is such a useful tool.

Qualaroo provides quick surveys and nudges at the corner of your web page that are unintrusive, and really provide valuable feedback.

I use it to know whether a wiki help section was useful, why people haven’t downloaded our product, and to opt-in to our newsletter (a list which you can easily export as well), and I have received a lot of actionable feedback, and grown our user-base quite nicely.

I really hope they’ll be able to provide more analytics-based features, or integrations with  existing analytics tools, since that’s really the only thing I feel the tool is missing right now.

And like all of my favorite tools - it’s free.

Check it out:  http://www.qualaroo.com.

Google+ - 500 Million Strong…and Growing

I recently read that Google+, while perceived by many to be a failing enterprise, has actually passed the half a billion user mark.

I’m going to dive into why and how I think they got this right.

  • 1. Google Hangouts. No one can dispute that Google is a great company from a technology perspective. And I think at first the value of this tool wasn’t so apparent, and I will dive in further to other tools like Google Hangout in a post I’m putting together (such as Join.me & others). I believe the ease in which you can start a group conversion - public or private, even ad hoc with screen sharing & even recording - has actually been a real game changer for Google+ & adoption catalyst for many users. It has drawn many people in, and has given Google+ a real fresh value vs. its competitors. 
  • 2. Mobile Apps. Google did a phenomenal job of launching both the site & mobile apps simultaneously, which links back to my previous post of mobile apps to support desktop apps. But they didn’t stop there. They worked hard behind the scenes to constantly improve those apps, and I can honestly say that from a UX perspective, my Google+ apps are probably my favorite apps (Android & iPad) today. They’re beautiful & fully featured, and with the caliber of users, I often find myself catching up on news & such via Google+ even over Flipboard (which provides a similar UX to me). 
  • 3. Communities, Pages & More. Combining features from other successful social networks, and while this doesn’t demonstrate much originality, it does demonstrate Google’s desire to really provide its users with the maximum.  Taking the communities idea from Linkedin, and pages from Facebook, Google+ now enables companies to really leverage Google+ as a viable alternative to other tools.
  • 4. Controlled Sharing. With many social sites these days, there is a real concern about loss of control, and privacy.  I think from early on Google+ did a really good job of addressing this issue, especially when it comes to photos, and other sensitive material that it is often times quite difficult to understand how to limit visibility on with other sites.  The circles and the quick settings, enable people to feel confident that their posts are being viewed by the people they’d like to have see them.
  • 5. Seamless Integration & Instant Upload.  Google+ definitely learned its lesson from the whole Google Buzz debacle.  They learned that if people want to use your tool, they will, and you don’t have to shove it down their throat.  While leveraging their massive Gmail user base, they unintrusively provide a quick link in the corner, next to the rest of the quick links, for those interested in quick access.  Those who aren’t interested, can opt out.  Another perk is the instant upload that comes built-in with the mobile app.  Not sure if this is just for Android or all mobile devices, but this is probably one of my favorite features.  In contrast to DropBox, that provides a similar option, but doesn’t provide you with more space to take advantage of this perk, Google+ doesn’t limit your upload (or hasn’t yet for me at least - so I’m guessing the capacity is pretty large).

I’m happy to see that Google have learned lessons from past mistakes, and are taking the user experience to heart.  I think this tool definitely is a plus in their direction following previous flops such as Google Wave and Google Buzz (whose technology they definitely leveraged to make this tool a real success).

Tools I like: Bambuser

I have the opportunity to play around with lots of tools as part of my very diverse marketing job, and feel the need to give props to those who provide you with something really useful for nothing.  It’s the least I can give back. One tool I’ve been using quite often for the purpose of streaming meetups and events has been Bambuser. I’ve tried other similar tools like Justin.tv and such - but keep coming back to Bambuser - since it’s so easy to use, and is cross-platform.

Bambuser enables you to quickly and easily stream video from a PC or mobile phone, and even embed your dedicated player in any site. The reason I love this app so much is that there is no hassle, and it’s so easy to regroup - which makes you able to depend on it.   I recently wanted to stream an event from my laptop using Bambuser, and was having trouble with my laptop recognizing my webcam - so I quickly regrouped opened my Android app - and was broadcasting within seconds.

Some caveats when broadcasting a serious event from your mobile:

1) Find a way to be close enough (otherwise the sound won’t be great…this is actually true for a webcam too - unless you use a dedicated mic).

2) Make sure to have a way to have the phone stand independently or your arm will be quite sore by the end.

3) Remove your SIM card, so you don’t have any glitches due to phone calls and SMS’ in the middle.  (Only if you are broadcasting via Wifi - if not - please note this takes a lot of data, so only if you have an unlimited plan, consider doing this). Visit their website to check out all the features - including setting up events in advance and more.  And the best part - it’s free. http://bambuser.com/

Making your digital footprint your own

As a person who works in tech, I find it’s often hard to draw the line between what you do on the job and your public digital persona. You take it for granted that if you have a digital footprint for your professional endeavors - that will translate over to your personal digital footprint. Not so. I decided to revive this blog, just for that reason. I found that all my personal wealth of experience and execution were being swallowed up in my company’s digital footprint, and decided that needed to be remedied.

Some suggestions to help make this happen:

1) Blog/[INSERT PREFERRED DIGITAL ACTIVITY HERE] for your own sake. I know this sounds pretty silly and obvious - but we get so sucked up in our work, that at the end of the day we sacrifice our own causes because we’re tired, or just can’t fathom doing more of that today. So take the power back - even if you blog, promote social media, or do any other online activity on the job - remember to invest in yourself too.

2) This is a two-part suggestion. A) Separate ‘em out + B) Own your name. Don’t ever assume that anyone has any idea that you are the face behind your company’s profile. Make sure to have your own digital profile - and here is where the second part comes in - that can easily be associated with you. While fluffydog417 is an adorable Twitter handle it doesn’t do you any justice from a digital footprint perspective, be proud of your name and own it - and state professional and personal convictions with pride. I learned this the hard way. It took me a very long time - and I’m still learning mind you - one example, of this is how long it took me to separate my company and personal Tumblr. You’ll notice that I have only recently been posting on my company’s Tumblr blog in my own name. Your work is yours to own - that’s why you’re paid for it - make sure the world knows to attribute it to you as well. If you need to blog on the job in a white label approach - make sure to maintain a digital portfolio of your work. It’s yours.

3) Don’t be afraid to have your own opinions. Once you’re speaking in your own name you’re allowed to be yourself. You don’t need to hide behind some corporate agenda that you may not be completely onboard with. That doesn’t mean trash your company publicly or publicly support their competitors, but you can have a completely objective opinion and take on things, and promote them in your own name. If you’re a staunch supporter of animal rights & worked for BP during their oil spill crisis - you can indeed continue to promote your cause if you believe in it. You’re a person too.

4) Moderation. While we all like to support and promote our companies - considering that’s basically what we’re measured on - don’t let this come at the expense of alienating your own followership. If there’s a perfect match between what your company does - and your own personal interests - that’s a major win. But for most of us, while we may enjoy what we do and even take pride in our company’s technology - we have other interests too, and our following is basically built on that trust - that your content will be based on the personal interests you flout. So even if you’d like to retweet work stuff - don’t do it so excessively that the people who follow you for other reasons will no longer want to do so.

5) Engage. While I know that most people just want to be heard - nobody likes people that just talk at you, social media formats these days are there to actually create a conversation. I have learned and grown immensely from some of the online relationships I’ve cultivated. Leverage these - you’ll never know what you may discover - and how it may serve you going forward.

I’ve found that not enough people these days - and I’ve been 100% guilty of this as well - have learned to exhibit their skills publicly. With head hunters using your digital profile to establish who you are - without even meeting you - you need to be sure to be happy with how you’re represented, or surprisingly NOT represented digitally.

Companies I Envy: SodaStream

Working for a company that is an underdog with superior technology - I can’t help but really respect a company that took on a giant, and succeeded, something I’m constantly trying to do.

While I can say that doing this with a consumer product is easier than complex technology (I’ve got to add some Jewish disdain -it’s almost illegal to just hand out compliments with no strings attached) - I just love me smart marketing that knows how to communicate a competitive edge, and is easily digestible. (I say this - not only because I’m familiar with people on the SodaStream marketing team).

So, yes - I would like to to publicly give massive props to the SodaStream marketing team for their brilliant “Cage Challenge” campaign that managed to even get under Coca Cola’s skin.  I love the green angle they took, and the hot new media formats they went viral with.

Check out their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TheCageChallenge

Tools I like: IFTTT

IFTTT has literally changed my life.  I can’t believe that I initially couldn’t gauge the value in it - when my spouse (an early adopter of all things tech - or at least early “knowerabout” all things tech) came to me in his excitement to show me this amazing new tool.

Then I had the epiphany.  The reason I initially couldn’t gauge the value in it - was because I was looking from a personal perspective, not a professional one.

IFTTT is my marketing dream tool.

While I hate the spammers who just multi-post the exact same tweet/share on every social network without targeting the message - IFTTT helps you do this a lot more gracefully.  While I do use Hootsuite for sharing across websites like Twitter/Google+/Facebook/Linkedin for specific updates - I use IFTTT for more intelligent engagement - and to MOBILIZE my in-house cadre of social networkers.

I can send an RSS feed from a Stack Overflow tag to our tech team to make sure they respond (via Yammer or even email), I can choose the specific parameters of posts to share on which sites (so my cloud tagged blog posts go one place, and my scaling posts go to another), and bunch of other brilliant recipes with infinite capabilities.

One thing I’d like to note is Twitter’s raining on the parade.  I don’t know what’s happened to Twitter lately, but they’ve become real party poopers.  The fact that IFTTT can no longer use Twitter, is really sad and even pathetic on Twitter’s part.  No one is impressed with a bully.  Twitter - don’t forget you were a fledgling start-up once too.  (Quick tip - use Hootsuite as a workaround for Twitter posts).

Caveats:

1) Make sure to intelligently choose your recipes so you don’t wind up double posting. (There will be some trial and error here).

2) I made the mistake of creating a recipe for a tag that literally spammed my inbox - so be careful with these too.  You want the tool to be useful, not burdensome.

3) For now - you can’t connect multiple channels that are the same to the same account - i.e. a work YouTube and personal YouTube with the same username.  It’s one channel per account.  Hopefully they’ll change this soon.

Other than that - yet another freebie that will change your life.

Sign up here: https://ifttt.com/

For all the Apple fan-people of the world, who claim Apple flawlessness - this one’s for you.

Rooting/Unrooting - Put to the test

Since I can’t manage to get myself together enough to finish my marketing-related post, I’ll go with the easier Android post I’ve had in the works.

I never really understood why all the Apple fan-people of the world use words like flashing and modding like they’re expletives -when to me they’re synonymous with freedom.

So on the note of rooting and unrooting [this isn’t going to be some kind of a flashing guide for noobs - so fear not]…I just wanted to say that contrary to popular perception - one doesn’t NEED to do this for their “phone to work”, they do it for the fun of it, and the customizability of it - and it EFFING WORKS.

I recently fell flat on my face, quite gracefully mind you, with my rooted CM10 modded Galaxy SII in hand, and for the first time - had to send my phone in to be serviced with my mobile provider, due to a shattered speaker. Unfortunately no modding in the world can fix hardware. 

I have to say the experience of unrooting and reflashing the stock ROM was so seamless and easy, I fell in love with Android yet again.  What’s more - since I did a nandroid backup and a Titanium backup - it took me all of 15 minutes of config to get my phone back to its configuration from two days ago.  I sent the phone to get fixed and got it back - no questions asked, and no warranty issues encountered.

I’m not some kind of tech wiz.  My tech understanding comes down to basically being able to read - and knowing which forums to trust (yes XDA), and it was a no brainer.

So noobs of the world - do try rooting and unrooting at home, it’s virtually noob-proof.  Just DO follow directions. 

To Tumblr, Love Pixel Union