1. Is Google + really a Minus?
A lot has been written about Google + since it launched half way through this year, with a pretty even divide between those who love it and those who could, well, live without it. Here’s a must read article from e-zine Slate. It raises some good reasons why, less than six months since launching, Google + has already lost its opportunity to compete with Facebook.
A key point raised by the article’s author Farhad Manjoo is that Google + fails to bring anything new to the table. It’s pretty much Facebook except that the Like button is now called ‘+1’.The two distinctive features that initially did set it apart - Circles (the ability to group your friends into separate networks) and Hangout (the ability to set up group video chats)- have already been imitated by Facebook. This means Facebook users no longer have any compelling reason to leave, let alone complicate their lives by getting involved in yet another network.
Manjoo is also critical of the seemingly rushed launch of Google +. Google reps decided to go ahead with the launch despite the fact that the business page technology was not yet ready (these business/brand pages were only released last week).
Google’s “launch-first, fix-it-later strategy” raises a good question about when is the best time for companies to launch new products. Is it more important to get your product out there ASAP in order to secure a foot in the market, or delay until the product is 100% complete?
Google + hasn’t necessarily failed, it’s just that it doesn’t offer anything new. Pete Cashmore,from mashable.com doesn’t see this as a problem. He argues that the question is not ‘Can Google + beat Facebook?’ but “Is Google is better off with Google +?”. To that he answers yes, pointing out that the +1 button allows Google to keep up with the reality that internet content is increasingly be shared via social networks (hence the +1 feature). It’s a good point made by Cashmore and one to keep in mind as Google + continues to forge ahead.
2. Remember When? Virgin First Times Facebook App Generates Warm Fuzzy Feelings.
This is cool- check out Virgin’s new “First Times” facebook app. They’ve launched it to coincide with their global social media marathon’ initiative.
First Times uses the new facebook timeline technology and allows Facebookers to rediscover their own ‘first time’ experiences as shared with friends on Facebook i.e their first liked page, first photo together, first event, first check-in etc.. These experiences are then turned into a Virgin-branded scrapbook page.
It’s a nice idea from Virgin. This modern day take on nostalgia marketing gives facebook users another tool through which they can strengthen their friendships online whilst ensuring Virgin receives some of the love generated through the reminiscing. Warm fuzzies guaranteed.
3. Helicopter parenting moves to the iPhone
Here’s a neat idea for parents who feel like keeping on top of their family’s jam packed schedules. ImOK is a location based- check in system that rewards kids with points for letting their parents know where they are. Think Four Square for families.
The iPhone app is free to download from the Apple App store and, once registered, a family is able to create a secure, private network. Using geo-tagging, status updates & photo tagging, kids are encouraged to tell their parents what they’re up to by being rewarded with points, which can then be exchanged for things they want.
The points-based system in ImOK is a good example of how game design thinking- or gamification- can be used to motivate individuals to engage in and change behaviours they have traditionally avoided
Whilst ImOK is a great idea and is sure to be embraced by those parents struggling to keep tabs on their adventurous children, it does bring up the question of how much is too much. Is this just an extreme example of helicopter parenting? Or is it just another great example of how technology can be used to help out the modern day parent.
4. The rise and rise of social blogging
Mashable have just released an infographic demonstrating the impressive rise of social blogging site Tumblr.
The leading statistic from this graphic is Tumblr’s growth- 900% over the past year alone. Compare this to Facebook and Twitter which grew by 14% and 31% respectively over the same time period.
Why is Tumblr experiencing such monstrous growth? Well one key thing that sets it apart is its simplicity and useability. Its intuitive, user-friendly platform allows individuals to post content fast. Fans also speak of its vibrant and interactive community- with built in share buttons enable people to follow like minded bloggers, reblog their posts or ask readers to submit a text/web/image/quote-based response.
Brands from Alexander Mcqueen and Rolling Stone Magazine through to Comedy Central - even Presidents are moving Tumblr, attracted to its strong community and growing reputation as the ‘visual’ blog platform. 42% of original posts on Tumblr are photos and a quick flick through the top rated Tumblr blogs also show an emphasis on visuals first, stories second. As a result fashion labels and other premium brands have begun to flock to Tumblr, viewing it as a strategic piece within their social networking strategy. Digital Marketing Manager of Kate Spade Cecilia Liu recently explained the benefits as this: “[Tumblr] seems like a really great platform for us to get our voice out there, not just as tweets and text, but through images and color, which is the DNA of the brand ” .
5. Bring a cold to life via Twitter
Finally over-sharing on Twitter might actually be of benefit to society. Well, only if you are sharing the fact that you have a sore throat, nasty headache or some other cold-signifying symptom. Kazemill is a geo-twitter platform developed by McCann Healthcare Worldwide that aims to capture these cold and flu tweets and make them ‘visible’. The technology, developed with the Tokyo University’s Centre for Knowledge Structuring, scans for specific tweets relating to the symptoms of a cold or flu and then visually maps them using a series of colour coded balls.
The platform was premiered in Japan earlier this year as part of a campaign for pharmaceutical company SSP Japan. Whilst the campaign report card has yet to come in, the value of Kazemill has been recognised as going beyond purely promotional purposes. It has been tipped as the possible future of global health management, with its ability to prevent the spread of epidemics by warning both authorities and citizens alike where the latest illness hotspots are.
It will be interesting to see how this story develops, with Kazemill set to launch globally over the next 12 months.
6. Last but not least…some exciting news
Word just out. Google has finally revealed the details of its latest project, Google Music. Customers will be able to purchase music from an online store (via computer or Android phones) with the option of downloading the file straight away or storing it online using Google cloud. Positioning itself as being about the discovery, purchase and sharing of music, it will be interesting to see how it stands up next to industry leaders iTunes and Amazon.