We actively monitor the trends in the TV industry and take pleasure in predicting the road ahead. These past couple of years have seen an explosion in social TV apps, like GetGlue, SocialGuide, Miso, and the list goes on. Each of these apps continues to evolve and change, each app trying to lead the way to a new kind of television watching experience. There have been some interesting developments along the way but I have personally never seen a closer glimpse into the future of television than I did today. And it wasn’t in the form of an app.
This week the Huffington Post went live with HuffPost Live. The Huffington Post, known as an online news outlet, now offers live TV-like coverage of news, entertainment, sports, tech and science. But how it does this, in my mind, is the closest anyone’s come to the future of TV and TV watching. Here’s why.
1. Like traditional television news broadcasts, HuffPost Live still decides which stories it will serve up and in which order. This will be familiar to a passive audience and satisfy that desire for conventional TV watching. However, a more engaged audience is also served by the Featured Videos bar at the bottom of the screen offering past segments like so:
This gives control to the viewer. There is no need to sit through a segment of no interest like one has to with traditional TV watching. One can browse the archive and play only the pieces that pique curiosity.
2. There is live integration of comments from the audience in every segment. A live Twitter stream is featured prominently on the right-hand side of the screen inviting viewers to “Join This Segment”. Anyone can participate in the conversation at any time.
3. Even though HuffPost Live offers “live” coverage with real-time audience engagement, it also caters to time-shifted viewing by offering not just archived content, but also the archived conversation generated when the piece first aired. So it’s not just the content that can be seen again, it’s also the experience.
4. Every news item comes with a list of resources. Now viewers who wish to learn more than can possibly be covered in a 3-4 minute conversation, can read up. Furthermore, the resources are categorized in a helpful way. For example: “Key Article”, “Background”, “Big Picture” and so on. Of course some of the articles are from Huffington Post, but not all. Viewers can also review at any time, who the guests are. How many times have you been listening to someone speak and wished you could rewind the part where they showed the speaker’s name and title?
5. Many guests participate via Google+ Hangouts. Google+ Hangouts are entirely accessible by anyone in the world with an internet connection and a Google account. No fancy, expensive satellite trucks required… which is a great segue to the next point.
6. HuffPost Live is accessible to anyone with an internet connection. No need for a TV. No need for cable service or TV antennas.
7. HuffPost Live just might make live TV broadcasts more meaningful by letting viewers look ahead to what’s coming up – and prepare. Not only can viewers browse upcoming stories, they can also read articles related to the story in advance of its live broadcast. This could create a more enhanced understanding of the broadcast, not to mention a more enhanced television experience overall.
8. It probably won’t last but for now, HuffPost Live is commercial-free. TV of the future doesn’t have to include advertising.
9. Video playback sources on HuffPost Live include YouTube and other online video sites. Once again, no state-of-the-art playback machines required, not to mention mountains of tape.
10. Streaming live on the internet has never been so seamless. I was tuned in for almost 3 hours (in the background at times) and not once experienced significant drop-outs or buffering issues.
I’m very excited to see such a successful attempt at making the TV experience more social, more accessible and more meaningful for viewers. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
Over the last several years lots of social platforms have come and gone. Some are slowly fading away. It’s really hard to keep track of where to spend your time and energy! 2012 will remain a big year for big players such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn and similarly, we should also expect to see exponential growth for newcomers like Pinterest. However, as newcomers gain momentum, we will start to see other social networks fizzle off. Here are 5 social platforms we think you should put on your “fadar” (aka fading radar):
- Quora: The question and answer platform was predicted to be the next big thing in 2010. However, half way through 2011 the big buzz surrounding the site slowly started to fade off. The site still receives decent traffic, with an estimate of 500,000 users, however, as new social sites emerge Quora might not be at the top of social minds.
- Digg: The once beloved site-sharing website has been dying a slow death for several years. It hasn’t been able to compete with sites like Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter. It is my opinion that it is just a matter of time before it completely fizzles off. A few months ago it did launch a new version of the site, however, it doesn’t seem like users found it very appealing. A couple of years ago a great article would have received on average 3000 Diggs, now you’re lucky if you even get 100.
- Delicious: This social bookmarking site had everything going for it back in 2005. It was new to the scene and had no real competitors. What happened? As new bookmarking sites started to saturate the market Delicious didn’t reinvent quickly enough. Rumors are it might shut-down or sell its technology.
- Gowalla: This location-based site was once a fierce competitor for foursquare, both entering the market at about the same time 2 years ago. However, foursquare quickly gained momentum with over 1 billion check-ins to date, leaving Gowalla in the dust. Gowalla’s leadership has now joined forces with Facebook. According to industry insiders, Facebook has not purchased the technology, only the talent. Gowalla will slowly fade out.
- QR Codes: There’s a huge online debate about whether QR (Quick Response) Codes are slowly starting to die off before they’ve even had the chance to really take off. Some people may think, why would QR Codes be on the “fadar”? I see them everywhere? Well, that’s exactly my point. The ubiquitous use of QR Codes in often ill-conceived marketing efforts, is what might lead to its demise.
What do you think? Do you take issue with any of the above observations? Are there networks or tools you feel should be on the fadar?
As all 62-million of us continue on our learning curves of Google+, here are a few “good-to-know” points that you may find useful or fun. We start with personalized search (the hot topic of the month), then talk hashtags and doctored photos. Let’s get started.
You’ve likely heard by now that Google has introduced personalized search for logged-in Google users, called “Search Plus Your World“. This means when you conduct a search on Google, the results you see will be based in part on what you’ve shared on Google+, what others in your circles have shared, and from your personal search history. Personalized search results on Google are not new, but the emphasis on G+ content and profiles is. This places a lot more importance for brands to establish and build a business page on G+. If Google is going to rank G+ content over everything else in search results, businesses would be smart to invest some time there, and fast.
For the record, there is a way to turn personalized search off. Read all about that here.
If you’re like me, reluctantly placing more trust in Google than in Facebook, especially in light of this recent Facebook development, then you may have content of a private nature in your G+ profile that you’re only intending to share with a limited audience. Trouble is, if you use the same Gmail account to log into other Google accounts like Analytics, Webmaster Tools, or Adwords, you run the risk of others inadvertently tripping into your G+ account. There are ways to get around this, of course, by not sharing access to GA using your own Gmail login, but you would be surprised how many people do just that. Don’t. Here’s how to share access to GA without sharing your personal login.
On a completely separate note, G+ now includes auto-complete for common #hashtags. Watch it in action here. Hashtags are useful for grouping content and making related content more discoverable.
And to wrap up on a fun note, search #funwithphotos on G+ to see how you can now add text on top of photos. Here are a few for inspiration.
If you’re still feeling a little in the dark about Google+, especially with regard to its relevance into the foreseeable future, I encourage you to read this comprehensive FAQ article by Marketingland. It links to multiple articles on G+.