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Online Fortune Teller: Sort Of

The Google Trends interface has evolved over the years, making the tool a lot more user friendly.

Here are a few graphs generated in Google Trends that show how data can be presented and compared using the tool.

Whatsapp vs. WeChat vs. Skype

Facebook vs. Twitter vs. YouTube vs. LinkedIn vs. Myspace

Social Media vs. Online Marketing vs. SEO

Using these comparisons, we can clearly see how the popularity of different platforms, networks and terms has changed over time.

Exploring trends can be useful for different business functions, for example:

  1. Market forecasting
  2. Market comparison
  3. Keyword research

A good digital strategy looks at the past, the present – and plans for the future.

Are you working with the trend or against it?

Digital Strategist
Victor Chan

Photo Credit: Dave Worley

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10 Ways HuffPost Live is TV of the Future

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.

Huffington Post Live

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.

Erin

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Using Hashtags in your Digital Strategy!

#hashtags are being used across all social media platforms. So what’s the deal with hashtags anyway? Is it imperative to use them for your digital strategy? Do they help optimize your social media presence? If used effectively, yes, they can help your digital presence.

A hashtag is used to mark keywords in order to facilitate an unmoderated ad-hoc forum type discussion. Hashtags are words, or strings of words and characters stuck together with no spaces and marked with the # symbol, like this #hashtags. If a hashtag is promoted and used by enough individuals on one social network, this can result in a “topic” or keyword to start “trending,” inviting more people to join the discussion.

Although hashtags first appeared on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) networks in the late 80s, it wasn’t until Twitter rose to popularity that hashtags gained mainstream appeal. Hashtags are now being used on Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Orkut, Twitter, and several other micro news websites such as Gawker, Gizmodo, and Jezebel. Most people don’t understand the purpose and effectiveness of hashtags. Other people over use them. Below are 5 examples of how you can use hashtags effectively to help optimize your digital presence.

  1. Engage customers in a poll or questionnaire. Ask your followers on Twitter or Google+ to participate in a poll or questionnaire for a new product launch. For example, for clothing retailers, asking consumers what they think of a new color or collection #summercollection2012.
  2. Run a contest. Using hashtags to run contests on Twitter and Instagram are very popular. When running a contest, ask your followers to share or RT by including your company’s hashtag #magnifygiveaway.
  3. Create real-time dialogue. This technique is a fantastic way for events, conferences, and festivals to create dialogue online and build a larger audience outside of attendees. By promoting the hashtag on all marketing materials, including speaker schedules, and program brochures, attendees will know how to share the content as it is presented. Television shows that are broadcast live also utilize this method to engage with fans watching at home, for example, #americanidol2012.
  4. Run a promotion. Offer a discount by asking followers to share your promotion. For example, users can save 10% by retweeting your brand’s promotion using the hashtag #magnifysavebig.
  5. Use photos or images. With Instagram gaining popularity, businesses can engage followers on this network by asking them to upload a photo for a contest, or giveaway, including a hashtag to enter. For example, LEVI’s ran a campaign looking for their next model, and asked users to upload a photo of themselves on Instagram with the hashtag #iamlevis. They received millions of submissions.

My prediction is that we will see hashtags being used more and more across digital platforms. Hopefully these examples will help you understand how hashtags can be an effective way of promoting your business online!

Maryam Mehrtash
@socialmaryam

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Make the Right Choice

After watching a video about Google Goggles, I was reminded of its potential.. and was motivated to give it a whirl. However, as I walked through the activation steps in the app, the final screen asked if I wanted to Enable Search History.

It read “With search history, you’ll be able to view and manage saved copies of the pictures you take. Your images will also be retained by Google to help improve our service.” The finer print explained my IP address, and all my information available through my Google Account will also be retained by Google, in association with the picture, for up to 5 weeks.

Knowing that, which would you choose: Disable or Enable?

The trouble with this is I can’t know how I will use Goggles. I don’t expect there would be any reason not to enable this setting, but then, might I regret that some day? How could I know? How does anybody know?

I suppose, if in doubt, I should choose Disable. But then I’m not contributing to the enhancement of a tool I’m using. Seems a bit contradictory, no?

What’s at issue here is the false appearance of empowerment that companies like Google give us. They’re telling us we are in control by choosing privacy settings such as the one stated above, but when we can’t possibly comprehend the impact of those choices, how empowered are we?

To explore how Google Goggles works, simply click on this picture below to launch a video.

Erin
@eringarrity

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5 Social Platforms to Put on Your “Fadar”!

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):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

Maryam Mehrtash
@socialmaryam

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