Posts Tagged ‘mobile’

24 Hour News Cycle to Never Ending Cycle

February 15, 2011

In many circles, cable news, and specifically CNN are credited with creating the 24 hour news cycle.  This is something I am a part of, and understand it.

For discussion sake, lets call the 24 hour news cycle: reporting an event, reporting reaction to an event reporting repercussions of an event, onto the next event.  realistically there is more nuisance to it, but in essence that is the 24 hour news cycle.

With the advent of social media-the time from event to reaction is shorter-there is now instant analysis and instant reaction of events.  Want to track events in Egypt in real-time? Follow the #Jan25 hash tag. Want to go back further, see how the crash of an Air France Jet in Brazil played out in real-time in June 2009. Or think more contemporary, and the fate of Justin Beiber and perhaps the cooling of Beiber Fever?

The point is-for these events (and any others you like Esperanza Spalding, the fallout of the Islanders/Penguins brawl play out for days and months on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s almost quaint to say there is a 24-hour news cycle, when the reality is there is constant reaction and analysis in real-time 24/7 on events days and weeks after they occur.

While it’s still critical to manage the first 24 hours of an event, more and more its being broken down into hour-long cycles.  It will be interesting to watch how this plays out.  2012 will be an interesting campaign cycle–as seen in Egypt, the power of the masses all shouting out at once is tough to manage, and even tougher to silence.

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Identity as the Holy Grail

January 31, 2011

Despite my early tempestous relationship with Quora, I have found some great insights and moments to think and contribute.

One of them occurred last night as Quora’s designer posed an interesting thread (I am not sure it was in the form of a question but I supposed that’s OK for an insider) about identity-and specifically mobile identity.  You can read Rebekah’s thoughts here or follow her on Twitter here.

Rebekah poses that identity is more than just your email, or your pictures or your Twitter stream for that matter.  Your digital identity is how you manage access to your attention.  Will you read your Twitter or your Facebook wall?  Will you update your Tumblr or your blog?  How you manage external access to that attention is your identity.  The other pieces (email, SMS, Facebook etc) are all components.

Rebekah believes (and I largely concur) the battleground is your mobile device.  This is the access point to your attention, thus the access point to your identity.

Rebekah and I diverge on one point-which is neither huge or insignificant in that I include tablets as part of that access point.

When talking about the consumer experience in digital media and roadmapping over the next five years, the central figures are your cell phone (the assumption being the curve of feature phone to smart phone conversion holds) and I believe the tablet.  The two devices as Apple has shows work together in a lot of ways, and we’ll see that in 2011 from the likes of Samsung and others who merge the Android OS on phone and tablet.

The reality is, chances are if you read this blog you never leave your house without at least one cell phone (the assumption being that readers of this blog probably carry more than one) and more than 90% of the time the tablet it with you as well.  The laptop is easily forgettable, and the desktop is a distant memory.

When thinking about capturing and holding attention-designers need to think about utility and IA.  Content folks need to think about real estate and connection.

I am convinced the way I got my job at CBS Mobile more than 5 years ago was my understanding of the personal nature of the mobile experience–which means that as a product person I need to be able to clearly make the experience sustainable across devices and across OS experiences.

Understanding the way consumers take in data and control their data intake is at the heart of understanding identity.  In context, a news organization can have this generations equivalent of the Pentagon papers.  Unfortunately just having them is less than half the battle–presenting it to a highly connected audience that demands personalization is the key.

Watch as Faebook, Twitter and products that we don’t know yet introduce new ways to access information-that access point will become the key.  It’s a way to sync your self to your data and your phone (and tablet) are at the hub.

EMail, Spam and What Me Worry?

December 21, 2010

Its been a while since I was able to update this blog–a time when real life gets in the way of theory is the best way to explain it I guess.

Anyway, today an interesting confluence of events happened which prompted this–I was reading with some interest the New York Times write through on the updated Facebook email.  As Quincy used to tell me regularly when we were at CBS, I should not get my tech news from the NY Times.  But in this case, because of the aforementioned real-life stuff, I am a little behind, so I read the times.

As this was going on, I got a daily email from a company called Gilt Groupe which I can thank my 10-year-old for signing me up.  And then the final piece to this puzzle–one of the LIRR warriors I follow on Twitter, @hfleming checked in via FourSquare to Gilt Groupe.

So, this was a reminder to me that I needed to find out more about Gilt Groupe–since I am getting their daily emails, and since I have at least exchanged Tweets with someone who I think works there, I figured why not go to a source, rather than surf around?

I sent @hfleming a tweet (she does not follow me) with my email address in it, and I instantly got back a spam tweet from @emailbot telling me I just potentially opened myself up to spam email.

So, first-spam in my Twitter stream is far more annoying that spam in my email in box, or more likely in my spam folder where I will NEVER look at it.

Beyond that, I would think anyone on Twitter has a “social media” email account–where they expect to get spam, am I wrong about this?  In my case I use my itsonlytv@gmail.com email address.  Now, I still get that email to my iPhone, iPad and BB–after all it also has some useful communication on it via my social networks.  But it also has pretty aggressive spam filtering in place.

So spam away to my email–but leave my Twitter alone.

The Front Door to the Information Superhighway

November 3, 2010

I am willing to admit to being old enough to remember the promise of “the internet” as promoted by AOL

Or even before that Prodigy

Those early “web” services provided access to a vast array of information–some of it cataloged, most of it untapped.  Along came independent browsers and broadband at that pretty much all but killed the relative beauty of the dial-up service provider:

For those who did it–who can forget that pleasure of surfing looking for dial-up ports that would work, the second number and more….

As what one of those companies promised “the information superhighway” evolved–along game our friends first at Yahoo then at Google who were able to bring order to the relative chaos.  (Yes, I am leaving out the likes of AltaVista, Lycos etc)–you know the search engine.

Open up the page, type in some keywords and you have a menu of options to choose from.

But as technology improved, so did the capabilities of the information providers.  No longer was having a lane on the great information superhighway enough–we needed attention.  So came the skill of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). In essence rigging the system–making my content the top of the search returns, after all we all know no one scrolls.

But alas, internet time waits for no one.  The AOL commercial at the top of this post is from 1995.  A mere 15 years later, and that front door to content has once again morphed.

Think about the way you discover things on-line (if you are even still using a computer or laptop).  Yes, search engines still have their place.  And yes you still have that Yahoo email, but how do you find things?

My bet is more than 70% of the time its through your social networks.  An interesting link on your friends Facebook wall like this one?  Maybe something from your Twitter stream that looks like this?

The reality is we are so connected to our networks, that search engines are a secondary source.  Case in point, over the weekend when Fox Networks and Cablevision settled the two-week imbroglio (it’s the NY Post headline writer in me-sorry) about retransmission, it was on Facebook I found out.  My confirmation was from Twitter, before I hit Google to find out the details.

{Couple of interesting asides here:  1-nornally I get this information first from Twitter, but on an early Saturday evening, my Facebook network was right on it.  2-the email from Cablevision came 5 hours later (a comment on email as a point of dissemination)}.

Our social networks are the touch point we use between information and our day-to-day–and its possible that the front door to the vast reaches of the information superhighway have changed again–from 256k dial-up–to 140 characters.

Where we get and share information is an evolving point of contact, and very individualistic–because it has to serve our needs.  I know 90% of my Twitter is mobile, and less than 5% of my computer based Twitter is on twitter.com.

Think about where and how you get information–and see if perhaps its time for a tune up, or realignment.

From Film at 11 to We are Here Right Now

October 14, 2010

I don’t consider myself to be old, however, my daughters (the older one especially) likes to remind me that I am creeping up there in years.  So it’s with that backdrop perhaps that I got a little nostalgic as I was watching the live video of the miners being pulled safely from their underground home of more than two months.

I am old enough to remember the tag line “Film at 11.”  Now I don’t remember it in my professional experience–but growing up I can remember Chuck Scarborough on WNBC (Channel 4 in NYC) or the late Bill Beutel on WABC (channel 7 in NYC) saying that line during what I later learned was the :57:30 cut-in.  You know it as a tease for the late news that comes during primetime viewing.

For those without the reference–here is a one time ABC News colleague of mine Christina Lund with the familiar tagline (this one delivered on KABC-Los Angeles in 1976)

And that’s what happened.  If you wanted to see the story you waited for the news to come on.  In talking to some of the long-timers at places I work or have worked, by 1976 the conversion to videotape was well underway-but the myth of film at 11 lived on for years beyond that.

Fast forward to Tuesday night into Wednesday and the miners.  Gone was the quaint notion of video.  Obsolete the idea of waiting 10 minutes, much less until 11.  This (like so many events) played out in real-time in bits and bites transferred in real-time around the world–with instant commentary from Twitter, blogs and news organizations like CBS (where I work) CNN, NBC etc.

And as all of this was going on — generally in that lull when the rescue capsule was being sent back down to the miners and being reloaded and resurfacing — I was able to think about the change I have seen in the news model both as a consumer and a professional.

I did wait for film (or video) at 11.  I can remember when a reporter going live was a big deal.  I’ve sprinted across snow-covered fields in New Hampshire to a feed point to make slot.

I’ve also pulled out an air-card or MiFi and upload a video file, used QIK to send breaking news video back and updated a story via Twitter using my smart phone camera.

I am not sure I know the “tipping” point in all of this-when the idea of waiting became quaint, but its a good thing.  News  is a commodity as is information.

While I truly do not think “back in the day” that information was being hoarded and doled out–there was a certain eloquence to it.  I also would not have been subjected to Ali Velshi on CNN cramming himself into a model of the rescue capsule.

And that’s not to pick on Mr. Velshi (whom I do not know). It’s the rest of the story.  Because we demand to see these things unfold in real-time and unedited, the ability to package and present may be a victim.

Flashback to January of 2010 and the Miracle on the Hudson.  Gripping pictures, a story with a happy ending–and miles of instant analysis.

Even when the news is bleakest–9/11 is the moment that leaps to mind the need to “fill the void” was evident.  I can even think back to the crash of TWA flight 800 off the coast of Long Island–and the long night I spent on a boat listening to coverage that did not equate with what I was seeing (my Nextel died so I was on my own until the boat came in)–but it’s not all bad, it really is not.

Because all of those sources, all of that information–gives us the power to be the packager.  Yes, news organizations need to be the gatekeeper.  But I can be my own editor and decide what makes sense.

So turn to Twitter, see what your social network is sharing via Facebook–check the blogs watch the video–its part of the human experience and its the job of my colleagues and me to make sure its there for you with context.

Social, Gaming-There is More, Right?

October 10, 2010

In what are probably equal parts of influence between work, my kids, curiosity and boredom I have been spending time in the social game space lately primarily on the iPad, and I have to admit I am hugely underwhelmed.

For a bunch of reasons, Farmville never clicked with me on Facebook, I tried it–I was even one of the early players but I just never was able to “get into” the game.  There are friends in my feed who are on the game more than 12 hours a day.  In fact, it got so bad, I have actually hidden Farmville and its related links from my feed.

<Note to Facebook-it would be nice to be able to similarly hide that content and manage it from apps and mobile web.>

However, I completely understand the importance of “game mechanics” as a driver for engagement.  Hell, for really no apparent reason I manage check-ins on Foursquare and Gowalla regularly and BrightKite and Loopt with less frequency and I really can not give you a good reason for it.  There are aspects that are engaging.

1. The Work reasons:  Taking those aspects and building them into the broader experience–the so-called real-time web is a driver.  So, since this is my business I need to be in the space.

2.  The Kids excuse:  My kids are becoming voracious in social gaming–and since I need to be a good parent in 2010–and know what they are doing and provide guidance to safety and best practices, I am out there with them.

3. The Curiosity factor:  I still wish I could figure out the compelling parts of Farmville or even the ones I do play like We Rule (I am esd714)

and City Story I am esd714).

4. Boredom is a driver:  I have an hour-20 each way each day on the Long Island Rail Road.  Tack on up to 10 minutes to at least half of those trips each week for random “only on the LIRR” issues, and I have time to kill.

Even with that, and the connections to Facebook and Twitter there just is not anything overly compelling that draws me into these games.  The element of success in the game just does not carry enough excitement.

Of course, there are Second Life like experiences, and not really integrated into my daily web or consumption pattern–which probably helps make them less desirable to me.  If there were a way to hook this into my daily reading on hockey, or baseball or politics it may work better.

But still, there has to be more, right?  There is a bustling business model of selling for not a little money game components for these virtual world–north of $5B in 2010 so there should be a way to make this ring a little more indispensible, isn’t there?

Location Goes Prime Time

August 24, 2010

So an interesting thing happened in the world of location-based apps–they moved from quirky curiosity of the early adopter to main stream almost over night.  With the launch of Places, Facebook took a major step into the location awareness space and may have changed the playing field for the spunky upstarts in the game.

In this space, I have written about the upsides and downsides of some of the early apps in the location market like Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt and Brightkite.  So the subject matter is not new to anyone who is even a semi-regular reader.

But what is new is a product that while now is only baseline (just check in–no gaming features) has scalable user base.  No matter how you cut across the stats, while the upstarts are seeing hot growth the user base is still less than 5 million. Twitter founder  Biz Stone announced recently on Twitter that his service has more than 105 million registered users.  Facebook?  How about 500 million users, half of whom log in each day.

150 million of those daily users access Facebook via mobile applications–and according to Facebook those users are twice as active as online only users.

Say only half that base uses Places, that’s still 75 million users a day–a number that Gowalla and FourSquare have proven will grow.  It’s where the audience is.

Yes, Places is missing the concept of the mayor (FourSquare) or the items (Gowalla).  But it has the reach of your full network.  Again, based on Facebook numbers each user has an average of 130 friends.

While not a truly scientific case study, here are some interesting things I’ve noted using FourSquare, Gowalla and Places over the last few days:

  • Friday night I took my kids to a local chain restaurant.  I checked in on all three services within 10 minutes.  FourSquare had one other person listed in the place–neither of us was the mayor.  Gowalla had my last check in (two months ago) as the most previous-and no new items.  Places  had 25 people checked in to the place when we got there.
  • Saturday we went to the mall to get some back to school stuff.  FourSquare had seven people checked into the mall and 5-9 people checked into various stores we were in and out of.  Gowalla had up to six concurrent users in any of the places-including the mall at any given time.  Places had more than 50 in the mall, and one of the stores had 125 people checked into it.
  • Yesterday on a rainy Monday I took the girls to go see a movie at noon.  I was the only check in to the theater on FourSquare and Gowalla.  Places had 10 people checked in when we got there, and by the time we left another 15 people had checked in.

That’s scale.

As I have pointed out this does cause a problem–since I only follow and friend on location services people I know, while my Facebook (and Twitter for that matter) are littered with business contacts, people I just don’t know and people I really don’t want to share my location with–this will require some effort on my part to make Facebook Places work for me.

I suspect about the time Facebook introduces the gaming features and other elements that will make the service scale, I will be ready to tackle how to close of who knows where I am.  In the meantime, while it’s not quite game over, it’s a dramatically new playing field for location services–there’s a new leader on the board.

Would You Believe?

July 15, 2010

It was one of those days when through varied implied and implicit connections I managed to have conversations I had a seven in the morning ring true by four in the afternoon–without having any knowledge that one would lead to the other.  It’s a true Maxwell Smart, “Would you believe?” moment.

In the morning I was talking to a commuting buddy of mine about how blogs and social network can drive the news cycle.  The example we were discussing was the issue reported in the iPhone 4 device.  Here’s a good write through on that if you need the background.

The upshot of the discussion though was how a few bloggers can grab hold of something–and drive via Twitter, Facebook and comments a story until the “main stream” media picks up on it.

So today–what would happen if the BP capping of the well spewing oil in the Gulf was staged.

Step away for a moment.  How easy would it be for them to design a set similar to the one we’ve seen for more than 80 days from the bottom of the Gulf of oil spewing.  But this time–with no oil and this cap in place?  Switch the video source–and what do you know, it’s a capped well, right?

A few conspiracy theorists blog about this.  Spread it via Twitter.  A few Facebook shares–and you have a rumor ready to rumble along.

The final connection to all of this was an email today that CBS News was going to support the News Literacy Project.  One of the goals of this project is to help primarily students differentiate fact and fiction in this connected world.

Play it out–in Dallas in November of 1963.  Imagine a wired world, with instant mobile images and video.  Twitter to share the news far and wide and the second gunman theory? What would that look like today?

Would you believe we have the power to make things happen–to make people listen.  I guess it’s equally important to have something to say.

Out and About, But in All the Wrong Places

July 13, 2010

It’s no secret that each day we are deluged with data and information-all vying for at least 5 seconds of our attention.  Email tumbles in day and night.  Twitter clicks away.  Things are posted and commented on via Facebook.  Blogs are updated.  RSS readers gather information.  And to top it all off–we are so connected to it all from computers to smartphones to connected TV.  There is no off switch.

That is not the issue though.

The issue from a content guy is that with all those ways of putting my brand in front of you I take best guesses in how to reach the masses–and its very likely there is a good number of people I will miss.

Take this very blog for instance: people subscribe to its RSS; I auto share links via Twitter and Facebook; usually I will manually add a link to Twitter and Facebook as well; I share it to Posterous and MySpace.

You know what I don’t do though? I don’t email.  I don’t SMS. I don’t Yawa it.  Because my Twitter goes to Google Buzz, it gets Buzzed, but not directly.

In the case of this blog-since its more of a hobby and less of a vocation that’s OK with me.  But what would happen if disseminating my musings was my full-time gig?

Case Study 1:  Over the weekend, my beloved New York Islanders held its annual prospect scrimmage game Blue v. Orange at the Nassau Coliseum.  I knew because I follow the Islanders on Twitter the game would be available via streaming on the New York Islanders website.  I stopped by the game for a bit and then watched the skills competition at home on-line.

While reading a recap of the game on a blog not affiliated with the Islanders Islanders Point Blank I found out not all fans knew that the game was available on-line.  Perhaps these folks don’t follow Twitter?  Perhaps there was no email from the Isles announcing the game stream?  I really don’t know.  But clearly there was some swath of Isles Nation missed by publicity for the game.  To these people the term “fail” became part of the post-game lexicon.

Case Study 2: This one seems kind of quaint frankly, but its real.  As long time readers know, I work for CBS Mobile and part of my job is to bring apps for smart-phones to market.  The beauty of smart phones is that its like carrying a small computer in your pocket–and its capabilities are overwhelming.  Social media apps, sharing, SMS and even old-school (for new media) email.  Know what the one sharing mechanism that when it’s not there people want? Email.

It’s now standard in all the apps that my group brings to market-the ability to share the app and share content via email but this was not always the case.  Lesson learned.

Yesterday I spent some time reading some post-release notes from a highly successful app launch by a company called “tap, tap, tap.”  In it, the CEO of the company referred to email sharing as “of course.”  He too has learned an important lesson.

Be where your audience is.

Here are some non-scientific guidelines:

  1. Be accessible.  Don’t make a social strategy the beginning, middle and end of product–but make it ingrained and make it easy to scale so you can quickly react to the Flickr or Yawa audience you may be surprised by.
  2. Remember is social media–make sure its sociable from the product out.
  3. Beat the bushes and engage.

Your Social Media Influence

May 9, 2010

Something I spend time thinking about is how to gauge influence on social networks and how to gauge the impact social networks have in propagating ideas, content and ultimately in the commercial sense–clicks.

In full disclosure, I think about this from two perspectives-1) as a professional working at CBS News and charged with helping to grow audience in no small part by leveraging social networks and 2) as a straight up user of social media who would love for people to be active on this blog, view my You Tube channel (maybe not that so much) etc.

So, I can go into my Twitter and be pleasantly surprised that I have 1200+ followers. I can go onto Facebook and see that I have 700+ friends.  I can go onto Plurk and realize I have 150+ fans and friends.  I can hit up Friend Feed and see 350+ friends.  But what does it all mean, outside of the fact that I am not the only one with too much free time? (As an aside, one day I would love to figure out how much overlap there is).

So, the question then is I am able to reach 2500+ people on any one of several social networks, but what do they think of my message?  and how do I measure the value of my contributions? And then how does the way I influence my network mimic the way CBS News Twitter influences the 1.5 million followers it has, or the 73,000+ that Katie Couric has on her follower list (after all this is my bread and butter, right?)

For that answer, fortunately the smart folks at the Harvard Business Review have some thoughts, and its more than just a straight up numbers game.  HBR did a follow-up on some great thoughts and research by Adi Avint from August 2009.  His “Million Followers Fallacy” post opines that just the number of followers a user has is not a true indication of their reach.  Yes, a million people may read your thoughts 140 characters at a time–but given the nature of Twitter, probably not.

Instead, HBR suggests looking more at @ mentions and re-tweets as a better gauge of influence.  Meeyoung Cha opines that follower count as a stand-alone metric is a popularity contest, and not a true measure of influence.

follower count is not sufficient to capture the influence of a user (i.e., the ability of an user to sway the opinions of her followers). It only shows how popular the user is (i.e., the size of her audience). But, as we showed in our paper, retweets and mentions, which measure the audience responsiveness to a user’s tweets, do not correlate strongly with number of followers.

I have long argued that Twitter is more about conversation-and being responsive to what the people I follow post and more importantly be able to control the information flow that I consumer and tap into a stream of personal interest.  That can be Mets updates from a variety of sources, or the latest on the Islanders–the value of Twitter to me is the connection to information I am searching for, in real-time and in a passive state (all I have to do is open up a Twitter client on my laptop or mobile device).

Now I work for a major mass media news organization–and there is little doubt of the influence that CBS News will have on today’s news and ongoing stories throughout the news cycle.  But for me, Twitter (and the others listed) are more about niche topics and that is where the true value of Twitter comes from.

Cha says early research shows smaller publishers and smaller business-not just collecting followers have a competitive advantage:

But when it comes to non-popular or even niche topics, small businesses and opinion leaders were far more effective in engaging audience than mass media.

But the true measure of influence is still a work in progress.  Twitter is an easy study because of the open nature of the platform–but is simply counting RT’s and @’s enough to say “A” is more influential than “C”?  Because it’s a matter of what the interaction is.

The interesting Twitter data though comes from a different (June 2009) HBR study–the 10% most prolific Twitter users are responsible for 90% of the Tweets.

Which can lead to an easy conclusion that Twitter is a great content filter, able to sort through a cacophony of data.  Yes, some of it is gossipy, and yes there are still those who want (or need) the validation of the million follower club…

But the goal has to be engagement–both personally and professionally.  Imagine the folks at NASCAR if they read my Tweet taking a swipe at NASCAR:

Kind of a NASCAR in suburbia feel, no? http://mypict.me/6E8p73:11 PM May 2nd via UberTwitter

Knowing their social media strategy is to fan me up–and follow me?

It’s not the follower count, but the message.  As Mel Karmazin once said (in my presence at a meeting), “Content is King,” it’s up to us to maximize its value–and engage our audience.


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