Years ago I wanted to develop a map based adventure interactive scenario, I think I even had a name for it, it would combine some things that existed and some things that didn't between all the vacation, restaurant, social, locational and attraction based interactive places on the Internet. The premise was to be able to map out an experience based on a location that offers multiple attractions, highlighting the hot spots, offering imagery and reviews, allowing you to create a custom experience and itinerary while you travel across the globe. A great idea?
Pinterest, the well loved image based social experience and search community has now basically come up with a way to do part of that by allowing users to add a map to their pin boards, adding locational connection to the pins or images they collect that depict potential destinations or experiences within geographical locations. The cool thing about this? It adds to the very reason social media gained momentum on the internet in the first place... the SOCIAL aspect.
Pinterst claims to have noticed users creating pin boards around their vacations or adventures or locational based experiences. They decided to help with their latest innovation 'Place Pins'. Place Pins are designed to combine the imagery, like you might see in vacation promotions or advertising or user photos with the locational functionality of a map and the obviously social ability to share with friends. Cool! It of course translates down to your mobile device so you can be on the go while accessing these adventures through the Pinterest App. They even include information on location and contact, so you can access this info while on vacation or a night out. So cool!
The collaboration and social opportunity here is endless, sharing experiences with friends, outlining your next adventure and uncovering hidden gems that you may not have known were there otherwise.
My mind of course can't help but think of the marketing potential for businesses. Another opportunity to draw an audience or enhance web content by making it easy for people to find your product or service by making it visibly and easily locatable. Map out your meals while on the road by easily finding restaurant locations and creating a road trip that includes your favorite foods. Locate products you love locally by seeing all the locations you can get them in other parts of the world, with the ease of Pinterest. Connect the things you have access to through memberships that may not be easily found or trapped in some database on a website that has been severely neglected in the mobile aspect and not easy to use. I am sure we will see Place Pins used in some creative and interesting ways, I am already thinking of a few myself for clients now.
The neat thing about social media? Connectivity through the media and functionality, the sense of completeness and community all within a familiar and loved network that people already use and is usually mobile friendly. Talk about meeting them right where they are, this could be cool.
I was chatting with a colleague the other day and we were looking at a website we were planning on revamping completely, it was not just bad, but most of the content was simply non existent or worse, and this was a published piece. We sat there baffled at the lack of, well everything ... except the Social Media Icons! I pointed them out in a confused, humorous rage, "but look", I said, "even with the lack of content and the horrible mis representation of actually being a website, they have Social Icons".
There they were in all their glory, resting on the side of the page, anticipating their usefulness, just waiting for someone to interact with them, to view the social grace that resides at the end of the social icon rope. The curios thing about prominently placed social icons is this - "Are they share buttons or do they take you to a page within that social network?", this is part of the enigma and the fun I suppose. I question this each time I click a social icon unless it is placed strategically next to content that is to be shared. In this instance, these buttons just floated precariously on the right side, seemingly mocking the user to interact.
I assumed they were general "Take me to social world" type buttons, but my colleague had a different opinion which he shot for instinctively by commenting, "This website is so bad, the user is going to end up sharing something negative and worse than doing nothing might slam the heck out of this starting a tyrade of user placed negativity bringing each new user to a heightened sense of protecting their fellow viewers by ripping this thing to kingdome come!". Well he didn't actually form those words, but that is what I was thinking as we expressed it in our shortened, more concise vernacular. If you don't give the user something good, constructive or conversational to share, like and talk about, they will find something to say or slam in their own creative way.
It occured to me that possibly negative publicity was better than none and as many Ad men say, "All publicity is good publicity". On the Internet though, that is not true. People are looking for quick gratifying experiences to connect with and if your visitor gets connected with these harmful comments it may just distract them enough to never know what it was you were trying to communicate. Like rain water off a roof, you will be diverting them to other, mostly harmful content and worse never sharing a user experience which should result in the conversion you are seeking.
It was funny to me how my colleague and I had different expectations at that moment of these randomly placed social icons. His, to share and share nothing good, mine to be directed to a place where the content was probably no better than what we were currently seeing, but either way from this perspective of social media icons, the need for content marketing within social media, your website and all branded communications, was certainly the prime directive.
I have seen on many websites that lack content but are littered with ads, a redundancy of social icons as if these icons replace the need for actual content. We hear the buzzwords from those friends that are "Experts" about the social media, "You gotta have it" or the plug and play CMS systems that include it out of the box. Before you place your social icons, ensure your destiny in marketing by providing something to share/like with that icon or a place to travel to that offers at least the same experience if not a better or different experience. Remember the term User Experience, we are only going to see it more and more.
As I decided to write this post on content marketing, a term that invaded our world some years ago, I sat here curiously pondering which category it should go in? I don't put blog posts in multiple categories, I try to stay centric to the category. So I made the decision ... this post shall live in the Social Media category and not the Marketing category. Why? Even though it has the word 'Marketing' in the title I felt this post was meant specifically for social efforts. As one might think this is about marketing, Content Marketing to be exact, so you would not be wrong to think it should be in the Marketing category. After all, social media has marketing prowess in its bag of tricks, so let me clarify my purpose and directive here.
15 years I have said 'Content is King' and I meant it, but socially it means something more.
I was thinking of content, even simple stuff like photos, the purpose of content and the promotion of content. Where we put it, how we disseminate it, what spin we put on it and how to place it out there in the world for people to see and share. I thought of the effort it takes to create content and to make it appealing. At the moment I was creating an image for an iPhone App or rather an image of an iPhone app that I designed for a client, to put the image on my blog and share socially to promote my capabilities. As many times before the thoughts of content marketing washed over me like a hot wave during a summer storm at Clearwater Beach. It feels like doing the work twice to promote elements of my work, as if it isn't good enough to just create something for the client to tell their story, now I have to be creative again to promote the sexiness of what I created in a totally different way ... Basically, my story.
Sort of like the difference of advertising baked beans by themselves, just the can, when they are so much more appealing in the hands of a super model ... with a story of how baked beans make her go wild.
So, the reason this post is in the social category? You can't promote socially if you don't have the content to market with, buying an ad is just buying an ad and it does work, but people want to take advantage of the place where people are. Someone in a network group once told me that my thirty second spiel of telling your businesses story through content creation and media was not understood and I needed to change my tune. Funny how he was doing exactly what I was talking about, he just had no clue he was.
I thought about the way information flows out into the social venues. What used to be a snails pace with email sharing, or traditional advertising now hits a social platform and has the potential to meet with thousands of smiling faces. It always had to be positioned someway, with some storyline, but now it is interactive amongst your peers and more than an ad in the newspaper. As I worked on promoting this iPhone APP design I thought, the promotion part can be simple at times, sharing the tasks of sharing the content. How we put something out there and people see it, like it, talk about it, pin it, tweet it and promote it for you, but what was bothering me was this:
You can't 'share' or 'pin' or 'like' something that is not there. You can create some new innovation for your business, a product, a service, whatever, but just cause you know it exists does not mean the world knows. Even as you create whatever it is, even as advertising takes shape no one really knows do they? No! You push it out there and offer it but you are not able to take advantage of that miracle of social awareness until YOU CREATE THE CONTENT THAT WILL TELL THE STORY.
Social media can not be taken advantage of without Content marketing, emphasis on the content, without telling the story, without creating something to feed the social beast, even tho you feel you have already created something in your innovation and pushed it out. We all have a story to tell, if you want others to hear it and hopefully share it, you gotta go tell it. Really.
So the old version of your Twitter feed embedded on your website stopped working, but you still want to embed the content. Good news, you can still include tweets from a particular Twitter account, favorites from an account, tweets by those on a Twitter list or Twitter search results for a particular topic, you just have to use Twitters new Embedded Timelines.
Twitter claims the new timelines are easier to integrate with "one line of code". The new timelines enable your visitors to reply, Retweet, and favorite Tweets directly from your web site, specific pages, mobile, tablet and so on.
Twitter offers customization, dimensions and client side options for customizing the look and user experince of the enbedded timeline. View options allow to pull tweets from accounts, favorites, searches and hashtags.
I have created a new embedded timeline on the West Pasco Youth Soccer Org website you can review, based on the account they use. Check it out.
All the wonderful information that About.com has to offer, truly a blessing.....but have you ever tried to really use it? It seems near impossible considering their interface is littered with links, tons of 'em, leading to more resources of what you searched for....... and Advertisements, and more links, and more ads. Sheeeeeeeesh! You can't really focus on your mission when you can't really see or use the info they offer, and they are not the only ones.
I end up searching for images of what I need rather than the text based searches we have been so programmed to use. And the results seem to always hit the mark. And, oh so time efficient it can be, unlike watching two minutes of video to get one simple answer. It's like texting over calling - simple!
No wonder why Googles image search became such a prolific and wonderous tool to use as well as one of the many great search entities Google offers. Me thinks this search tool is one of the greats and I am not alone as image search and review has moved beyond search and into social media and stepping further than how YouTube pioneered video search. Videos and the sharing of such is everywhere and it is awesome, knowing it takes longer of course to create, upload and make ready and if you are mobile it is sorta sluggish, not slamming video in any way, but what was that song from the 70's?
If a picture paints a thousand words, why can't I paint you? Well maybe you are trying to paint a picture with video and you are at Disney World and the wifi is slow as molasses and you just feel the world has to see your little girl wearing the Mouse Ears and dancing, SO, take a picture and share it. Instagram makes it easy to shoot, upload and share right from your phone app. Marvelous!
I digress......so back we go. The point of this post is to further validate the power of image search and how it makes sense in many cases beyond text search and as I seem to have stated without meaning to, video search also. Right now it seems pure and untainted, lets keep it that way. We live in a Visual Society and images make sense, especially since it seems there is no end to the resources people want to share, repost, repin, retweet, etc.
If you look at Pinterest, they have made image search fun as it is more than search it comes right to you at the press of a button if you follow and can be searched as easy as google, but has that sweet social feel that makes you realize you just spent an hour looking at images and the kids are screaming for food and your late..... for something.
For the record I think Pinterest is just getting revved up and will be one of the top search engines soon enough. Now stop reading and go look at something.
If you don't agree, challenge me on it. I would be more than happy to prove my self wrong....or hopefully RIGHT!
For years I have been preaching to clients to show "evolution of business" which is all part of my Advanced Business Presence philosphy (read more on this elsewhere in this blog). The concept has not changed, but the vehicle has. What was once considered NEWS, or communications of a clients Business Evolution is now called Blogging, Social Networking, Tweeting, Facebooking, pick your favorite there are plenty of these catchy phrases now to choose from. Clean, Exciting and Oh so Trendy is this Web 2.0 or shall I say Web 2.2 creature living inside most of our computers and for some, living inside our minds. Very addictive are they!
Now, keep in mind, Blogging is only the beginning. The Social networks make it possible to take what you are so diligently writing and send it to the furthest corners of the Earth. This task alone is far more than the last generations toolset had to offer or even hope to offer. I will write at some point on a comparison between the toolset of yesteryear and the current offerngs of today. I might even get DEEP on the parallels and what sets them apart, but I digress.....
Sales, promotions, news, events, discounts, inventory reductions, closeouts, new equipment, new offerings, monthly specials, monthly alerts, information gathering, information publishing, your new TV commercial and a whole lot more of this type of stuff, gives you the perfect reason to use some or all of the Web 2.2 offerings out there, namely Social Media.
Call me and set up an appointment if any of this sounds good or is totally confusing, either way I will help you wrap your head around it.
The Portfolio is based on event, advertising or branding campaigns, interactive projects or a collection of UI/UX elements designed and developed for a particular focus, advertising or promotional campaign.