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Some of Social Media Specialist, Kari Embree’s most memorable moments:

Reconnecting with Social Fresh organizers I met last year as a volunteer, and making new connections who I look forward to getting to know both personally & professionally.

Getting super fresh w/ speaker CC Chapman

Being completely energized by the excitement & brain power of the SocialFresh speakers and attendees. I met everyone from absolute social media beginners to experts at high-profile companies, with everyone being super cool and non-attitude-y, and everyone sharing and spreading knowledge.

Having “mobile, mobile, mobile” backed up by EVERYONE (makes me want to refresh my web development background…)!

Being reminded that if you aren’t measuring and analyzing your social media data, you’re missing a huge opportunity to improve and optimize.

Getting to try on the San Francisco Giants World Champs ring

 

Some of Sales Executive, Robert Barber’s most memorable moments: 

Robert getting into character for Social Fresh

Social Fresh West 2013 was an amazing event where I was able to meet thought leaders, entrepreneurs, bloggers and social marketing gurus.

I learned so much that it’s hard to pick just one tip that really stood out. One thing that I have taken to heart and have spread the word to my friends is to use “Quotes, Quips and Questions” when you need extra content. Also, using Over or other image editing software, you can create beautiful content with little effort. It’s time to bust out that old journal!

 

Some of Director of Business Development, Anthony McCabe’s most memorable moments:

SiteLabbers at Social Fresh- Anthony, Haley, Robert and Kari

Everything should be designed and laid out for Mobile devices first.  In the past, we as an industry designed for the desktop and then adapted the website to the mobile platform.  We now need to switch gears and think mobile first.  Desktops are becoming a thing of the past.

Employees should be number 1 and customers should be number 2.  If you have happy employees, then you will have happy customers.

This was the best conference I have ever been to.  Our industry is buzzing with excitement and innovation.  It was great being around that for two solid days.  It was hard not to walk out of there with a smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BONUS! My team, the “Crazy8′s,” won the Social Fresh War. Now, my tweets are fresher than ever!

 

Overall the SiteLab team was thrilled to be part of such a wonderful learning and sharing experience.

On a scale of charcoal filtered vodka to Grey Goose, Social Fresh is definitely Grey Goose.

 

 

Top 3 takeaways from Social Fresh

September 3rd, 2013
by Haley

So much social knowledge in so little time.  I was fortunate enough to represent SiteLab, a sponsor of this year’s Social Fresh West 2013 conference.

This was my first year attending Social Fresh and I was simply blown away by the talent and the knowledge I was exposed to in a matter of two days. What was so great about the conference was that there was no fluff, no hour and half presentations with mindless information. The presentations were to the point but in depth with overall strategy and key tips. I believe this was made possible because the conference was so focused on feeding high value information to a focused set of social media professionals. With only 400 people in attendance, it created an intimate environment where networking and learning from attendees was not only do-able, but encouraged.

There is no way I could sum up everything I learned in one blog post, because every single presentation was stimulating, but I do want to share the top three takeaways that stuck out in my mind.

Top three takeaways

1.   Mobile IS your Social Media Strategy! 

“Mobile is the 1st screen.”  – Tim Hayden, TTH Consulting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why? 60% of Americans 12+ are carrying a smart phone in their pocket and 70+ % of social media consumption is happening on smartphones and tablets. It’s safe to assume all of your customers have smart phones, make sure you are reaching them there ALL of the time.

Visual storytelling and listening should be some of the very first steps in your social media strategy, to ensure that not only all of your content and images are mobile friendly but that your links are too. How annoying is it when you’re on your smart phone and the link you click can’t be found? Everything must be fully responsive for mobile FIRST, then ensure it’s desktop and TV responsive.

Hayden’s finishing line was a prediction that left a big impression on me, “The mobile commerce revolution is going to be like putting the collaborative economy on steroids.”

Check out the rest of Tim Hayden’s slides here.

 

2. Keep the relationship growing

“Keep the relationships growing AFTER influencer marketing.” -C.C. Chapman

C.C. Champman, quite the influencer himself, spoke on the dos and the don’ts of influencer marketing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the first things C.C. mentioned was that influencer marketing is a two way relationship. Be professional but be personal, create those relationships that support the brand but continue to leave a lasting impression on youand the brand. Take the time to actually personalize an email and not just send out an auto response to 500 bloggers, treat them like the influencer they are. DON’T mail merge, use all caps definitely, and don’t be fake. A tip from C.C.: Keep it short and get to the point, influencers don’t want a ten paragraph long, sobby, heart drenching press release pitch. Also, the very first email you send should provide them with all of the assets they need to make this relationship and campaign as seamless as possible, e.g. images, videos, links, press releases, PDF documents and sometimes even Dropbox access.

Also, it’s crucial to keep in constant communications with these influencers! Whether it be emails checking up on them, video chat, phone calls, Retweets during and AFTER the influencer marketing campaign; you need to stay in touch. After all, effective social media is social, so communicate! Who knows what that relationship could turn into? The leads you receive could create the possibility for collaboration on future campaigns.

Check out the rest of C.C. Champman’s slides here.

 

3. Provide a Reason to care AND a reason to share

“Leadership is a pool, vision is singular, use it.” – Adrian Parker 

Adrian Parker, global head of social, mobile and emerging media at Intuit, spoke on how to “put a ring on it, moving beyond social engagement.” He related social engagement to the relationship with his wife, and his presentation had my mind blown one minute and laughing out loud the next.  Funny and to the point, Adrian made it clear that ROI is what we gain divided by what we gave, with extra attention on the what we gave! He stated that when trust is high, speed of business is high, therefore ROI goes up.

To fully understand why you must provide a reason to care and a reason to share you must know about the “Leap of Faith Hypothesis”.

The Leap of Faith Hypothesis is the notion that if we create a simple social solution for recognizing and rewarding professionals for sharing their stories with us, they will eagerly participate and amplify our voice. Once you have taken this leap of faith, figure out where your conversation is, evaluate it and then ask yourself, is this something I, as a consumer, would want to hear about?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the rest of Adrian Parker’s slides here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out all of the Social Fresh West presentation slides here.

So, so fresh!

 

 

 

Sitelabber Erin Adler, is reporting live from the trenches at the annual Outside Lands, at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Originally touted as a music and arts festival, it has now broadened its features to include “music, food, wine, beer and art”, with attendees numbering around 65,000. Also in attendance are the sponsors of the event, companies giving out free items or just a place to relax from the crowd. Erin made a few observations about the brands that took advantage of this unique sponsorship opportunity to reach a younger demographic at the now eco-friendly event.

“There were a few brands that tried to make their mark amidst the mayhem of this year’s Outside Lands music festival. Hashtags were a-plenty, showing that brands are getting more savvy with their print and social efforts.

Hit - Toyota again was the standout with their Rav4 photo booth, hair station and mini-show line up. They definitely had everyone talking about their brand and products. Key integration - fill out a survey with your contact info and interest in products, and if a sales rep in your area can contact you. You had to complete this survey prior to having access to the goodies. On top of that, for use of their hashtag #toyotagiving throughout the day, they would give a donation to veterans charities.

Hit - PayPal not only had charging stations, and a cleanup beauty station, but they gave away slap bracelets with their hashtag on it and had booth workers promoting use of them, offering $5 for downloading their app.

Almost – Chipotle gave away free tacos and had a chill-out area near one of the stages. Great idea, but they buried the hashtag.

Ehhh – Esurance. They offered an RFID bracelet (‘radio frequency identification’ – a little plastic chip/tag on the wristband that is associated with your personal data and social media permissions. When you walked up to the booths to “tap” it it would scan the tag and connect your ID to post your location on social media and let you take photos with it). Cool idea right? ACL (Austin City Limits festival) and Coachella already offer this standard as part of festival entry. The trouble with Esurance’s tactic was you had to know to pre-register. I showed up to try to get a band, and was handed a business card with the URL on it, no nice branding piece, no mobile stations (my companion without a smartphone couldn’t sign up). “Just type this into your phone browser.” Then, once I got the wristband, the darned thing was faulty and the line was too long to get another. Oh well. My lawyer friends refused to sign up anyway saying the contract terms and how much info you relinquished was “sketchy” at best. Malfunctions aside, the branding Esurance was listed on each check-in station. But none of it memorable, no hashtag, no reason for me to switch to their product.

Oh well, great time anyway and always great to see brands getting creative to be memorable.”

Last Friday, three of us SiteLabbers attended Interactive Day San Diego 2013, a conference highlighting the latest trends and best practices in marketing. There were quite a few well-known presenters from agencies and companies on the cutting-edge, including Danny Gray from Google, Wade Forst from Razorfish, and my personal fave, Rand Fishkin from Moz.

After a full-day of sessions about topics ranging from search marketing to social media to mobile and content development, I could see some real trends emerge. Here are my insights into what’s now and what’s next according to the presentations and conversions I had at Interactive Day.

Insight #1 – The Consumer is overwhelmed

Presenters from the agency side talked about the overwhelmed consumer and how we have to come up with ways to attract them to our client’s content over a competitor’s. Those on the brand side of things emphasized the importance of producing good content meaning content that the customer actually told the brand they want, the brand listened and produced it.

My favorite presentations was by Rand Fishkin called “The Nudge is mightier than the sword: What’s in store for SEO, Social Media & Content Marketing”. In it, he talked about how the consumer is overwhelmed with choices and there are several ways that we as marketers can “nudge” them towards the optimal choice for us and them.

One of the “nudge principles” that Rand and Dan Zarella of Hubspot both talked about is the fact that “Fewer choices lead to more actions”. The example they both used was the gratuitous display of sharing widgets on many websites, with well-known social media blogs like Social Media Examiner and Mashable being among the worst offenders.

Source: Rand Fishkin, MOZ presentation (Download: bit.ly/mightynudge)

Rand found that instead of offering as many choices as an Greek diner menu, offering one choice, like the OK Cupid blog does with Facebook, results in the most action (more likes).

Source: Rand Fishkin, MOZ presentation (Download: bit.ly/mightynudge)

Similarly, Dan Zarella found that the more links a brand posts, the less attention each one will get (and therefore lead to less action – a click). He told us to “Stop crowding out our own content. Let it breathe”. To do this, Dan had suggestions such as spacing out tweets and posts throughout the day; also, don’t be afraid to post during the weekend when you have the most captive audience and the least amount of noise from other brands.

Audience motivation is so important for increasing your chances that your content will be seen. As Dan said “the more value you feel you get by interacting with me, the more you’ll want to interact” — true for interactions online and off. Some ways that a brand can create value include scarcity (“I’m the first one to tweet this – cool!”), novelty (“I’ve never heard of such a thing – cool!”), and social proof (“My smart best friend likes this brand, so I do too”).  And sometimes, just by asking your audience to do you a solid by including a social call-to-action (“please retweet”) is motivation enough.

Insight #2 – Mobile. Is. It.

Anyone who mentioned mobile at Interactive Day, mentioned how it’s a must. It’s a non-negotiable. You have to consider mobile in any website, campaign, or initiative you take on.

During the morning keynote, John Durham of Catalyst S+F explained the importance of mobile very simply. It’s part of the user experience. The way we, as consumers, use your product or service through mobile is the way we use your product or service in your lives. John also called a mobile device a “life device”. He asked the audience “What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Look at your mobile phone”.

In a panel called “Sharing Economy”, Brandon Lachance of Carl’s Jr. was asked what he thought about platforms touting “mobile first”. His reply is that Carl’s Jr. won’t even consider a platform or option unless they put mobile first.

To demonstrate how we consumers put mobile first, Qualcomm’s Liya Sharif told the “Content in Context: Breaking Through The Noise In an Age of Digital Marketing” session audience about the “Born Mobile” campaign Qualcomm launched last year. In a rather disturbing, yet compelling YouTube video showing a “baby’s first text”, Liya showed how large-scale thematic campaigns using less highly produced videos like this one can be highly effective in breaking through the noise.

Insight #3 – You only need one digital marketing strategy.

Though each session followed a track, the marketing silos weren’t as clearly defined as they had been in previous years. Instead of the “social media”, “search”, “paid media” tracks of yesteryear, we went to sessions on “digital research”, “digital content” and “lead generation”.

Then Jonathan Renteria of Saatchi & Saatchi LA finally said it: “There are not many different marketing strategies (for SEO, social media), there is one digital marketing strategy.”

So, what are some ways we can build a comprehensive digital marketing strategy as brands with multiple agencies or as agencies with multiple brands? The speakers all had suggestions.

Brandon Lachance of Carl’s Jr. emphasized brand voice. He told us brand voice needs to be dialed in to make decisions and move quickly in social media. Also, a company like Carl’s Jr. has at least three different agencies – a PR agency, an agency of record, and a media buying agency. Brandon said all three agencies “play nicely” and work together to come up with campaign ideas, always going back to the brand voice and marketing goals to make decisions.

John Durham’s entire presentation was about media, not social media, paid media, or earned media, but media. He started his presentation by answering “What does media mean today?”: It’s all about the ME in MEdia. Media IS content that is going to reach ME, the consumer. And all media is digital at the core. John also said “screen size is the most important thing”. If you look at a typical 21-year old college student, they have an average of 6.9 gadgets – how are you going to reach them? Look to your digital marketing strategy.

The consumer must be at the heart of your digital marketing strategy, John says. The consumer experience is more important as ever. As marketers, we have a tendency to forget about that user experience, but it’s the only way you’re going to make a difference in reaching your goals.

To support your strategy and goals, it will also be important to look at the “new hire”. The jobs you’ll need to fill will be the designers, copywriters and technologists (read: content! content! content!) and analytics will be more crucial than ever.

Insight #4 – Media and journalism are converging

Don’t worry you unemployed journalists… you’re going to have a job in the very near future. Hint: Begin your search at Qualcomm.

All of the presenters emphasized the importance of good content, but there wasn’t an example of doing it on a greater scale than Qualcomm. Liya Sharif of Qualcomm began her presentation by telling us storytelling hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. People are still looking for conflict > drama > resolution. While many brands are losing grip on their own identities with all the feedback online, and attention spans are getting shorter and shorter (average 30 seconds), storytelling is a tried and true tactic for breaking through the noise. In fact, 78% of consumers trust brands who create their own content (tell stories), says Liya.

Qualcomm has recently undergone a major shift from exclusively marketing to a B2B audience to reaching out to consumers to care about “what’s inside” their phone too. To facilitate this challenging shift, the marketing department still is retooling to focus on brand journalism. The first outcome has been Qualcomm Spark, a digital magazine that attracts influential people like celebrities to tell the Qualcomm story through their words, pictures and videos.

Brand journalism is a new (or maybe revived) media approach industry-wide, with AMEX and Red Bull, and now Qualcomm leading the way. Everything Qualcomm does related to Spark is content-driven. Spark ad placements on influential tech sites include snippets of content that update in real-time as the content is updated on Spark. The site is lightly branded to allow for authentic, interesting or helpful content to take center stage. Video is emphasized.

Most helpful were Liya’s tips for selling brand journalism to the top. She says start with small KPIs. Also show the top brass how other people benefited from sharing your content. And my favorite, she says “Don’t be afraid of polarizing your audience. If everyone likes you, something is wrong.”

David Moye of the Huffington Post gives a tip for writing polarizing content: “Pitch to the heart and lower parts, not to the brain”. Also, remember to write press releases (and I’d say blog posts, articles, anything you’re going to be sharing) like you’re talking to your friends over beers, not to your parents over dinner. This is what gets people going.

I love going to these marketing conferences because it gives me a chance to see what’s going on outside of my little shared office in our boutique agency in La Jolla. From what I heard at this year’s Interactive Day San Diego, what’s going on is good. There was so much more emphasis on the consumer than I had ever heard before. Also, everybody is simplifying – from marketing plans to messaging.

I can dig that. Can you? Let us know in the comments if you’re seeing some of the same trends from your cubicle.

Well, are they? When you see the staggering figures of mobile web growing 8x the speed of the internet and that 1 billion people will own smartphones in just four short years, the question is not “Should I do mobile?”, the question is “Why don’t I have a mobile presence already?”Mobile Confusion

So where do you start if you don’t have a mobile presence? Start by thinking AS your consumer. Often as marketers or branders we forget to do just that. You’re on your mobile device, how would you first go about looking up your brand on the go. What would you be looking for? Odds are you would look up the brand name or product info in a search engine. You might be taken to a competing website or you might be taken to your website depending on the search optimization of your site, which yes, matters for mobile as much as it does for desktop web.

Next, you’re on your site, can you easily view on the tiny screen what you’re looking for? Are your store hours readily available? Can you find where your product is nearby? Can a consumer easily find how to get to your location? Can you easily find the basic stats on your product?

If you were unable to do these things, you can see why a customer may be frustrated with your brand’s mobile experience. It’s time for you to invest in a mobile-friendly website, even if it’s just a page to relay basic information before launching your full website for more information. And if you’re running any in store campaigns or coupons, there should be a mobile experience for that as well.

It’s important to have a basic mobile strategy, because it is no longer an option. If you look at the analytics for your website, you can see just how many missed mobile opportunities you could be losing. Mobile should be a part of your overall brand strategy. In this real world example 25% of the visitors to this website are on mobile devices which equals 50,000 visitors per month. Imagine frustrating the entire population of the Caymen Islands with your mobile experience.

Google Analytics Mobile Statistics - 25% Mobile

Other ways you could be frustrating your consumer:

  • Having flash elements on your site that are not compatible with mobile devices and tablets. This includes videos that are not compatible with mobile devices
  • Excessive PDFs or large files, if it takes more than 5 Mississippi’s before your file downloads, your consumer could have already given up
  • Your advertising takes the consumer to a non-mobile friendly experience. Even if you’re trying to promote your Facebook or Twitter feeds, it should be integrated as much as possible with mobile versions of these applications.

We know, you’re already juggling your website presence, your social marketing and your online advertising, and mobile is a whole other thing to think about, but at this point, it’s too important not to.

comScore recently released their 2010 Digital Year in Review Report with analysis of many online marketing trends.  There are some great trends in the report we’d like to quickly comment on.  You can request a copy of the 2010 Digital Year in Review Report here.

E-commerce Spending Growth Returning to Past Explosive Levels

The first trend reported shows e-commerce spending by month in 2010, along with year over year (YoY) trends:

2010 Monthly E-commerce Spending Graph

These trends are especially promising for e-commerce spending in 2011 as YoY spending increases continued to accelerate from mid-2010 til the end of the year.  This trend could indicate that 2011 is the year that online marketing spending finally returns to the huge YoY growth figure of years past.

Local/Group Buying Sites Opening New Ways of Consumer Purchasing

The growth of Groupon in 2010 and its implications for group-buying web sites in general, is a very interesting trend that recently developed:

Groupon Growth in 2010

According to this graph Groupon grew by about 600% over the course of 2010…. (more…)

On Wednesday, June 16th Sitelabbers Rion Morgenstern (@rionSD), Matt Parisi and Jenn Barber (@jennichols) attended the 6th annual Interactive Day at San Diego’s Hilton Bayfront. The San Diego Ad Club set a new record for attendees (420) by nearly doubling last year’s attendance.san-diego-interactive-day-passes The Ad Club’s outstanding planning and organization brought us thought leaders from Facebook and Google, marketing agencies, and media providers who led us though sessions and panel discussions workshops.

The sessions were very informative and tactical but it was in the main sessions that the strategic thinkers were heard from. The keynotes started off in the morning with Jack Myers of the M.E.D.I.Advisory Group and a call to innovate. The lunch time keynote was given by Paul Ollinger of Facebook who believes the future of the internet is defined by authenticity and relationships (provided Facebook can get the privacy thing figured out). In the wrap-up panel discussion, Brian Lynch, an Account Director from Yahoo! summed up the day by saying the future was Social, Mobile, Video; we think he is right on target. SiteLab has seen a strong uptick in new business and client requests for this kind of content. Most recently we launched a mobile site for Hass Avocado Board (Mobile Site) to help you select an avocado and our Social Strategy practice has had great success with Sunkist (Facebook).

Here are some highlights from our team:

Rion Morgenstern (Director of Business Development)

Highlight of the Day?

For me personally the highlight of the day was listening to Paul Ollinger, Regional VP of Sales at Facebook speak during the Luncheon Keynote “The Identity Web”. I believe in a strong community strategy and his vision fits right into that idea. Recap on the Interactive Day Facebook Page.

What did you learn?

According to Google, paid search (PPC) gets 14% of clicks on a result page with the balance (86%) going to the organic search results yet the allocated budget numbers are skewed. Last year $20 Billion was spent on PPC yet only $2 Billion was spent on SEO. This teaches us that customers wanting to get the most value from their online marketing budget need to look to an Organic strategy before blowing the bank on PPC.

Matt Parisi (Search Marketing Specialist)

Highlight of the day?

Rand Fishkin from seomoz.com was right on during his Advanced SEO session. He drove home the fact many people believe SEO to be about playing games and tricking search engines, when in reality it’s more about creating valuable content and ensuring it’s in position to be found. This is a belief that we have long held and used to benefit our clients.

podiumWhat did you learn?

The session Google Analytics: “Must Know” Features (Google’s Joshua Knox) reaffirmed how important it is to stay on top of the new developments like the new Google Adwords Search Funnel Reporting. It is clear Google is working on ways to break down the “last click” mentality that exists in online marketing, where only the last click gets credit for a conversion/sale; also, measure and monitor the whole visitor/customer experience.

Jenn Barber (Interactive Media Strategist)

Highlight of the day?

I loved how Jack Myers, Founder of M.E.D.I.Advisory Group, started the day with a vision for 2020: It’s hard to motivate a crowd to think “innovation” at 8:30AM, but Jack did a great job by defining the issues that face each of us today as agencies, marketers, and media companies. Today, companies spend somewhere between 0 and 30% of their operating budget on innovation with most woefully falling below 5%. When asked why not more, companies answer that it’s all we can afford. Jack answers that to be around in the future, you can’t afford not to.

What did you learn?

How to answer a popular question from our clients: “How do we decide which marketing channels to invest in?” thanks to the Marketing Convergence-Are You Ready? session with Warren Raisch of Digitaria. Answer: Start with the most measurable medium first to more easily see and report early successes.

So what do you measure? You measure 3 things – your Brand (image and reputation), Direct (Lead generation and sales conversions), and Social Activity (Customer Engagement). Most importantly, measure from a holistic point of view and don’t just jump to conclusions.

The team came back from Interactive Day San Diego energized and informed. Moreover, we brought some great information to help our clients and new customers succeed online. If you are a Facebook member you can check out the recaps and notes from the day  on the Facebook event page. You can check out the twitter stream from the day by searching for #IDSD. In addition, SiteLab has put together a one pager that has key resources from the day as well. If you would like a copy, use the contact me form and put #IDSD in the address section and we will send it to you in an email.

The San Diego Business Journal interviewed two of our illustrious founders, Mike Zemans and Marlene Matheson, for an article entitled, “Interactive Advertising Leaps Forward With ‘Wizardly’ Technology“.   Indeed, the online marketing world is full of these “wizardly” technologies.  Every day the immense offerings of online marketing companies change as online behavior and technologies evolve.  Today’s Twitter is yesterday’s Pets.com and today’s Facebook is yesterday’s Friendster.  Read the article for our insight on the direction of online marketing, especially in regard to emerging social and location-based technology.

The following is an account of one user’s trials and tribulations being among the first adopters of Apple’s latest and greatest technology, the iPad.

It’s been 30 days since the iPad has found its way into my hands. Has it lost its charm or is it still magical and revolutionary? Though far from perfection, I believe I’ve found the word (of course, after scanning pages from it on Webster’s) that sums up my iPad experience to date – Addictive.

The Release (Saturday, April 3rd 7:00am)

line outside apple store for the ipadI was one of the first in line for Apple’s iPad release. Surprisingly, the other enthusiasts and I were greeted by Apple Store employees offering free coffee and donuts – a small consolation for the $500 we were about to drop on the iPad.

At 8:30am, a whole half hour before doors open, the front of the line began to cheer. One curious fellow jumped out of line to see what was going on. As he got back he informed us “They just put it on display. The screen looks great!” The excitement in the air reaffirmed this was history in the making; for the iPad had finally arrived.

30 Days Later (Saturday, May 2nd)

Typical day with the iPad

Alarm, shower, and get ready. I pick up my iPad and sit on the recliner. I visit my favorite site http://oursignal.com and find the data visualization feed functions nicely on the device. Minutes before I walk out the door for work I sift through my e-mails. Quickly I shove the iPad in my backpack and head out. While sitting in the bus I open up iBooks to finish reading Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. The cafe near Sitelab has free WiFi and you know what that means…lunch time is “iPad time”.

In the evenings, I like to sit close to my wife on our couch and surf the web while she watches her favorite cooking show. If I were to choose a second word to sum up my iPad experience it would be Freedom.

iPad Review

With the iPad, I browse the Internet, read books, and watch videos – nothing magical or revolutionary here. The only miraculous thing it’s managed to accomplish is to free me from the shackles of my man cave. No longer am I confined to an office, chair, table, lap, or even shoulder position. Should I decide to rest my back on the floor and read a blog about the Zombie Apocalypse, I can. Unlike my computer or television I don’t stare at it – the iPad stares at me.

isaac and his ipad

As I mentioned, the iPad is not perfect. First, it’s a fingerprint magnet and wiping the screen with a cloth has become an annoying ritual. Compared to a laptop, the iPad is lightweight. However the iPad still not light enough to hold with one hand for long periods of time.

From the moment I turned it on, I noticed how quick and responsive it is to load. Technically, you have to first connect it to iTunes to activate it. Apple made it very clear that the iPad is not going to replace laptops any time soon.

My biggest issue with the device is the screen. It is so shiny it is nearly impossible to use it in direct sunlight. Forget the hopes of using it in my patio. Surprisingly, the iPhone is more readable than the iPad in the sun. And there is that other issue you may have heard about – no Adobe Flash.

To be honest, the lack of Flash is not as bad as I thought. YouTube, Netflix, and TED have plenty of videos to offer. And thanks to the rise in jQuery use, most sites function just fine without Flash. Last week I missed an episode of Lost and was able to catch up the next day using ABC’s free iPad App. As a Flash programmer I’m a little disappointed; as a user I hardly miss it.

iPad Pros: Lightweight, portable, decent size screen. Starts up very quickly (much faster than my G5 Macbook). Freedom to browse the web anywhere, comfortably. Ultimate PDF reader. 10 hour battery life is enough for a day’s use.

iPad Cons: Fingerprints (collect much more than the iPhone). Glossy screen doesn’t display well in sunlight. 3rd party apps are buggy. Issues streaming HD Videos. Touch event has a slight lag.

Again A-D-D-I-C-T-I-V-E. Despite its flaws, the iPad is an awesome device that’s hard to put down. Describing it as magical may be overkill, though I have experienced some special moments with it. The smile on my dad’s face while he played a game of pinball was a perfect Kodak moment. Sharing photos with my mom was a fun way to relive our last vacation. One Saturday morning my wife and I decided to eat a bowl of Lucky Charms in bed while watching the first episode of Voltron on NetFlix.

So now does my 13″ Macbook feel like a clunky piece of machinery? You bet it does. The iPad is my window to the world and it’s been worth every dollar.

We are at the beginning of a new era of online marketing. Mobile web usage is one of the fastest growing online market segments in the information and communication space. The U.S. mobile internet market grew 74% between Feb 07 and Feb 09 and continues to grow at a rate of over 2% month over month according to Nielsen.  Also considering that there is four times the number of cell phones in the world versus PCs (4Bn vs. 1Bn) and 20% of all U.S. households are now “mobile-only”.

So what does that mean for you?
Mobile marketing provides a unique opportunity to grab the attention of the “always on” mobile group and target them while they are within reach not only online but also physically.

Top trends for 2010

  • Game changing player – the Apple iPhone has continued to change the mobile market as we know it ushering in a new age – the age of the smart phone. The Apple iPhone currently only accounts for 21% of American wireless subscribers according to Nielsen but with new players like the Google Android quickly growing market share smart phones are projected to reach 49% market penetration in 2011.

    So what does that mean?
    It means there is a growing market of users with faster connection, cooler tools and easier access to mobile video and advertising than traditional mobile web users. It opens the door to new marketing and advertising opportunities to target your consumer. Also, the wider adoption of these devices will increase the need for ever growing technology to better the user’s experience. Look for even faster connections, better hardware, and new avenues like augmented reality.

  • Give them what they want, when they want it  – Millennial Media calls it the Mobile Triple Play of 2010 – Location x Relevancy x Immediacy being able to target consumers with relevant content faster than ever before based on where they are and what they’re looking for. Geo-fencing and carrier positioning will open up to allow advertisers to begin targeting consumers signed up to receive updates and coupons while they approach your store. Location will be a key targeting tool not a hindrance as mobile retailing is also set to grow.

    Really? So what does that mean?
    In 2010 and beyond we will see growing privacy and industry advertising standards to hone frequency and range to give consumers more security with the mobile space and thus increase their adaption of it even further. Giving you an open door to begin talking to your consumer base with more relevancy and immediacy. With waning price sensitivities and budget conscious consumerism – coupons and discounts will have a new role in 2010. The reinvention of the interest-specific coupon and loyal subscriber base opt-in coupons will be critical. Mobile offers new ways to promote successful couponing and advertising campaigns through SMS text messaging, bar coded “green” couponing (phone scanning), pay by phone discounts, and increased real-time data based couponing.

Okay…so now what do I do?
Evaluate your target market demographics and evaluate mobile marketing opportunities based on how they fit into your overall brand objectives and strategy. Contact us for help with creating a mobile marketing solution that combines your existing mobile visitor base and your goal target audience to work for you.

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