Path App…. What is it?

After reading about the second round of investment that Path had received yesterday I was keen to find out a bit more about the social platform I had only heard mummers of faintly in the background until now.

“The smart journal that helps you share life with the ones you love”

The tagline from the minimalist website doesn’t give too much away so I had to dig deeper to find out why investors like Richard Branson and Jerry Murdoch are willing to contribute to a $30 million round of investment, currently valuing the company at $240 million.

Path was Founded in 2010 by some pretty big hitters. Dave Morin (previously Co-Inventor of Platform and Connect at Facebook), Shawn Fanning (creator of Napster) and Dustin Mierau (co-creator of Macster). What that means is that its already older than Instagram…. and it hasn’t really caught on has it?!

Path app review, what is path, path investment

But after downloading the app which is a platform built entirely for mobile use I can see what loosened the investors pockets. Path aims to be a combo of Facebook, Instagram,Foursqaure and maybe Twitter all in one. There is also a strong focus on close relationships, (rather than being connected with every Dick or Harry you went to summer camp with) with Path initially limiting you to just 50 friends. This has recently been increased to 150 friends, but the emphasis is that this is a more personal social network than others.

Users can use take pictures directly from the app and use many of the filters that Instagram has become famous for. Part of the attraction to Facebook of Instagram was its ability to take photos directly from the social platform in as few steps as possible. Path allows you to do it in three steps, which is comparative to Instagram.

Users can also check into places or add location tags to any posts they create. They can also let people know what music they are listening to providing a link directly to both listen to the song and to buy it from iTunes.

And of course comments and updates can be provided too.

What I think is key to Path’s appeal is its amazing user interface design (UI) and user experience design (UX) where ease of use and navigation features strongly. The platform itself is slick and aesthetically pleasing and anyone that I have convinced to sign up immediately likes it and wants to use it.

Creating posts is incredibly simple: click on an icon at the bottom of your screen and six buttons fan out in a quarter-circle. From here you can write whatever’s on your mind whether thats tagging where you are, who you are with, what you are seeing, how you are feeling or what your listening to. These all appear on a single screen along with your friends’ updates.

What is Path?, Path app , Path user experience

I can certainly see why, with its slick interface and focus on a smaller network between closer friends, Path is appealing. Facebook is the master of social networks, but I’m not sure that it is suitable for certain types of posts that I may want to put up. Photos on Facebook tend to be mainly of people and usually of them having a good time. Photos on Instagram tend to be of things. These arty, beautiful photos of a tree you pass feel a bit poncy and unsuitable on Facebook, yet fit in perfectly on Instagram. In the same way I think in a smaller social network letting people know who I am with and what I am listening to seems more appropriate.

The problem with Path is though that it currently has about 798 million less users than Facebook. No one I know was on it until I convinced a few of my friends to try it out and the fact is a social network is only as good as its network. But with such an interest right now on sites with design at its core like Instagram and Pinterest it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Path comes more and more to our attention in coming months.

If you are on Path let me know. My username is Barrytg! I have included a link to an excellent site about user design called Start ups this is how design works.

Also check out great blog by Shane O Leary.

Path app, What is path, path social platform, path investment

Winding Path to Success?

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Ford Gambles On Yahoo To Help Them Go Electric

Every time I fill up my car petrol prices seem to have risen again. A gambling man might say that the time of the electric car could be upon us. Well Ford have certainly taken a bet on Yahoo as they choose them to launch their social media campaign which will spear head their efforts to try connect with the younger more affluent “millennial” market.

Yahoo themselves have been in turmoil in recent years firing three CEOs in five years who havent been able to figure out how to stop sliding revenues and to capitalize on the increasing online advertising industry.

Yahoo decline, Yahoo 1st quarter results, fiesta movement, plugged inGoogle’s annual revenue has increased from $22 billion in 2008 to nearly $38 billion last year while Facebook’s annual revenue has soared from $272 million to $3.7 billion during the same period. Meanwhile, Yahoo’s annual revenue has crumbled from $7.2 billion in 2007 to $5 billion last year.

Yahoo recently lured Scott Thompson away from eBays Inc.’s PayPal in the hopes that he could come up with a better plan. He was quick to lay off 2,000 employees, or about 14 percent of Yahoo’s workforce, earlier this month, and is expected to give his vision for moving Yahoo forward after their first quarter results are announced next week.

Ford’s vote of confidence will come as a welcome boost but only time will tell if it will pay off. The campaign will center around a “reality competition” which sounds remarkably like a mini version of the amazing race to me.

The web series named “Plugged In,” will show two-person teams in various locations following clues and eventually meeting in a Los Angeles finale to try to win a Focus Electric. The ten minute episodes will be broadcasted on Yahoo’s streaming video site starting in May.

plugged in, yahoo, social media, web series

John Felice, general manager of Ford marketing said “I’m not going to say that TV and traditional media doesn’t play a role, but this is going to be exclusively an online launch,” 

Sixty-one million unique visitors come to Yahoo each month to watch videos, Ford said on Tuesday, citing comScore data. Viewers of the “Plugged In” reality show will be encouraged to post comments and engage with the videos. Right now there’s no indication how they will be encouraged….

Its not surprising that ford has turned to social media again after previous success with its “Fiesta movement” campaign where they gave out cars to 100 people and asked them to complete tasks and chronicle their activities on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other websites for six months.

Ford spent $5 million on the campaign to promote the model, which was returning to the U.S. market after two decades, in the year before its 2010 launch. After that campaign, 60 percent of Americans said they were familiar with the Fiesta brand.

Ford highlighted the incredible return on investment at a shareholder meeting that year suggesting getting the same results from traditional media would have cost in the region of  $100 million.

But with so much content available out there now are people really going to tune into a declining web platform to watch some people compete for an electric car?! Especially the mid thirty something year olds with enough money to afford the $40,000 electric car that Ford are aiming at?

Well we will have to wait and see if Ford’s Yahoo gamble pays off.

 

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The Dangers Of Driving In Heels!! Pinterest Competition

Confused.com an online website which provides people with online insurance quotes is trying their hand at using Pinterest for a marketing campaign.

The company is trying to highlight the perils of driving in heels using this fun video which you can check out below. Its shows a (fairly) elegant women strutting her stuff a long the high street getting admiring glances from passersby. When she gets to her car though that’s when her troubles begin.

To be in with chance to win a pair of Butterfly Twist lightweight folding flat pumps (very desirable i’m told!)viewers are encouraged to post their own pictures of the most preposterous footwear on Confused.com’s new Pinterest page.

The ad is clearly aimed to the female market which goes hand in hand with Pinterest usage which is strongly skewed to the feminine side!

According to Confused.com’s research, British drivers have some odd, and unsafe, habits. Forty percent of women drive in heels, while 24% of women and 22% of men have driven with bare feet. (And 46% of drivers eat while driving.) Not everyone even gets dressed before they get behind the wheel: 25% have driven while wearing their pyjamas.

There only seems to be about 7 entries so far so it might be worth getting out the old electric picnic wellies!

Lets us know what you think!

Pinterst competition, confused.com

The Next Pinterest or Twitter? Review of the next big Start Up Companies

Y Combinator was set up in 2005 and put into place a new model of funding for start up’s. They invest a small amount of money (average $18k) in a large number of start up technology firms. Each of these start ups’s will move to Silicon Valley for 3 months where Y Combinator will work intensively with them to get them in the best possible shape to pitch to investors. Each of the start up’s will then present to a large audience on Demo day.

To date they have assisted in the start up of over 385 companies. Here are my favourites from this years Demo Day which happened on March 27th.

the next big start up company, tech, silicon value, y combinator

Pair : This one is a little bit cheesy but it could be a lot of peoples dirty little secret!  A private social network for couples.  Pair lets two people create a private timeline where they share photos, videos, sketches, activities and more. The iPhone app, which launched just four days ago, has already garnered more than 50,000 registered users who have used Pair to send more than 1 million messages. Pair has received funding from SV Angel and Path founder Dave Morin, who told Pair’s team that Facebook has created social networking’s “cities,” Path is building its “houses,” and Pair is like its “bedroom.” I think the the one-click “Thinking of you” button could be a big hit with guys.

Priceonomics: With the ever blurring line between online and offline purchase decisions I think this one will be huge.  An online price guide for anything. Type in anything you want to own and it will tell you how much it should cost, like a Kelly Blue Book for smartphones, laptops, TVs, stereos, etc. Priceonomics crawls through hundreds of millions of transactions to find out what people are selling and how much they’re selling it for. It got 250,000 page views in March, plans to make money through targeted advertising, and already has funding from SV Angel, Andreessen Horowitz, CrunchFund, and several angels.

Sonalight: If anyone is on the road as much as me this will be great. I have even looked for an app like this before unsuccessfully so it is definitely going on my list.Touting itself as “Siri on steroids,” Sonalight is an app aimed at letting you send text messages while driving by using just your voice. The app purportedly works even while a phone is your pocket. Already, the app has been used to send 500,000 text messages at a rate of 50,000 per week since its debut back in October.

Midnox: Why is it that my perfect videos from a night out always seem so wobbly the next morning…?! Well  the Luma is an iPhone app that stabilizes the videos taken with a mobile phone in real time. The app also adds full resolution visual filters in real time, which are “non-disruptive,” meaning that they can be changed or removed after recording is over. The company has also built editing tools and sharing features for the videos taken with Luma.

Some really great start up’s there so keep your eyes open and I’m sure we will be seeing them in no time.

 

Chirpify – Will People Buy Things On Twitter?

With Facebook’s IPO on the horizon and the success stories of other tech companies like Google, Apple and even Netscape still fresh in our minds, there seems to be increased media attention on the latest start up’s potential tech stars of the future. I recently blogged about Pinterest, the fastest growing social platform online, and today I wanted to have a quick look at another company which has caught my eye.

Facebook IPO Social Commerce, Start Up Companies, Chirpify

Chirpify enables businesses and consumers to buy, sell, donate and exchange funds on Twitter, turning Tweets into transactions. Everyone keeps saying social commerce is the next big thing. On a basic level this means giving people the ability to purchase products directly through social media sites. This is already relatively prominent through the likes of Facebook even if a lot of these products aren’t actually real. Last year Zynga made up 12% of Facebook’s massive revenue, and that was largely through the sale of virtual components for their games.

Looking to the not to distant future though companies are likely to leverage the concept of influencers by offering people the ability to earn discounts by sharing products they like or have bought and thus encouraging others to buy them too.

Lockerz, which has received a whole bunch of funding itself over the last two years has just recently launched a Pinterest like pin board platform, where users can actually gain points which can then be used for purchases, by pinning items to their own boards.

So with these media rich social platforms all trying to coax people out of bricks and mortar stores and online to make their purchases, what hope does a company aiming to use 140 characters to get people to buy have?

There is already a certain degree of selling happening through Twitter. Brands send out links to discounted offers, or celebrities use the micro blogging site to flog their own merchandise to their followers but all of this happens outside of Twitter. People click on a link and are brought some place else where they can make purchases. The whole process isn’t exactly seamless.

What Chirpify does is to allow people to buy, sell, donate and transact directly on Twitter simply by replying to a Tweet. This is done by integrating Chirpify and Pay Pal directly with your Twitter account. Users can then purchase an item on Twitter by simple replying to a Tweet listing with the word buy. This could certainly make for some interesting drunken purchases if it is in fact as easy as this to transact.

Social commerce, buying things drunk, Chirpify

There also seems to be potential for donations and with the every tech savvy Obama camp gearing up for another election campaign, being able to get set priced donations directly from people on Twitter simply by them replying donate, seems like a huge benefit.

Another feature which I thought was cool was that it provides an easy platform for people to exchange money. For example if you and a friend or splitting a bill. One of you can simply pay the other person by directly responding to a tweet.

However the fact of the matter is that most of these things can be done already,directly through Pay Pal, but leveraging the huge user base of Twitter might just catch on.

Some start up’s get millions in funding, and the fact that Chirpify, formally known as       sell simp.ly got their first investment of just $50,000 recently, might suggest it is small scale. But with social media sites determined to do all it takes to keep users on their site rather than sending them elsewhere, perhaps…Twitter themselves might come knocking?!

Twitter interest in start ups

Facebook Insights Explained !!!

Status

I have just gone through a fantastic interactive tutorial for the new Facebook insights which has just been launched. By getting you to answer questions on the content you watch as you go through It gives you a great understanding of how the the application works! I would highly recommend anybody to give it a go.

One thing of note was what Facebook said about the type of posts that gets the greatest interaction

  1. Post between 100 and 200 characters (less than 3 lines) receive about 60% more likes, comments and shares than posts greater than 250 characters.
  2. Rich media content such as videos and photos have about 120% more interaction
  3. Post regularly. Your fans are more likely to engage with you if you stay on top of mind
  4. Ask for your fans opinions. Use your page as a place to have conversation. Use the info you get to get feedback on your marker
  5. ask questions using the Facebook question app. This makes it easy to get lots of information quickly.
  6. Try posting fill in the blank posts. Fill in the blank posts enjoy about 90% more engagement than other posts
  7. Give your fans access to exclusive information by liking a post. Make them feel special. Give them first look at products, or discount prices
  8. Reward your fans with deals and perks. Make these offers only available to fans
  9. Be timely. Your audience are more likely to engage with your post if it is about topics that are already in the front of their mind
  10. Localize your posts if the content is only relevant to certain fans. Use the Geo targeting feature to target specific areas

Social Network Advertising

I have just read an interesting paper on social  advertising called “Do ads work on social networks” by David Strutton of the University of North Texas. I found it particularly interesting because I have always been keen to see how the likes of Facebook, with its astronomical market value, would monetize its service.

He proposed that the success of social network advertising (SNA) depended on consumers’ acceptance. This acceptance is formed on the basis of a cost/ benefit analysis in the consumers mind. If the perceived benefit of the advertising was thought to be greater than the perceived cost, well then happy days, the consumer had no problem with the ads. On the other hand if they felt that the cost was greater than the benefit well then you have a problem.

myspace have had a huge drop off in usersMySpace’s dramatic plummet from the heights of social media stardom has been put down to multiple things. A focus too firmly on entertainment. Or simply people wanting to move onto the “next big thing”. But some people state that the amount of unwanted and irrelevant  advertisements certainly contributed somewhat to its fall.

The paper suggests that previous studies have attributed the reasons people go online to include

  • Structural reasons (simply passing time)
  • Content reasons (looking for information or entertainment)
  • Social reasons (wanting to connect with others)
I think it’s reasonable to agree that social media sites fill these needs pretty accurately. We all know how quickly time can pass when your engrossed in the likes of facebook. The same applies to both informative and entertaining content. And of course interaction with others is the whole purpose of social media.
So coming back to the perceived Cost/Benefit of advertising that we mentioned already.
The benefits fit in with the reasons that people go online
  • Can they help pass the time?
  • Can they provide either relevant information or entertainment?
  • Can they help us socialise by portraying the images of ourselves that we want to be put out there?
The costs of SNA falls into two categories
  • Privacy – The apprehension people have about the loss of their privacy. Very targeted advertisements can sometimes shock social network users as they illustrate how much information that can be gathered on them
  • Invasiveness – How much an ad effects your experience by being a distraction or irritation.
The findings of the study revealed that the most influencial element on a users attitude towards SNA was entertainment. In fact it was five times more important than any other factor! It did put in a caveat though that the ads needed to be target specific. Placing the wrong type of ad on certain peoples pages could be deemed out of context or inappropriate and increase negative feelings. The same applied to the next most important factor which was information provision. However the need to have target specific ads creates somewhat of a paradox. By using information from a users profile to place suitable content on their page, you are are risking creating negative feeling towards the ad as they may feel their privacy has be intruded.
But with Social media ad revenues expected to reach $10 Billion world wide by 2013, this is something that people in the industry are going to have to try get right.

Where is Marketing Going?

Right now we have entered into a period of vastly accelerated change in the marketing arena. Whilst many of the mediums that were used in the past to communicate at consumers still remain, the ratio that they are used and the emphasis that marketers are placing on them is rapidly changing. And yes, I did, purposely use the word “at” because really what we were talking about was one way direct communication by advertisers to the potential buyer.

In recent decades, traditionally television radio and print have been the most important forms of advertising. They captured the attention of mass audiences who had fewer options when it came to searching out entertainment and information. Therefore these were the ideal mediums for reaching potential customers in a cost-effective way.

But once the number of options available to people increased then the marketer’s messages became more diluted, as they vied for the attention of the consumer over a vastly increased media landscape. Perhaps this was a challenge that could have been considered a natural progression. Radio impacted newspapers just as television impacted radio. But now there are new unheralded obstacles being thrown into the mix. You would think that getting 21 million viewers, as CBS show NCIS did recently, would be a home run (as they say in America) for advertisers. But in reality how sure can we be that people actually watched the advertisements? With the ability to record TV comes the ability to fast forward ads, it’s as simple as that. Given the choice of watching ads or not, most consumers will not.

Television has always had competition, but with this generation this competition can no longer be considered secondary. Gaming, social media and watching content online are now just as important to generation Y as television. There doesn’t seem to be any research out there on the amount of current TV shows that are watched after being torrented online. But gone is the time that people routinely sat down at the same time each week to watch their favourite shows.  People now want to see content in their own time.  Regardless of it being illegal there is a vast community out there willing to share content and meet the demand for instant viewing.

So what does this mean? With the array of options out there for consumers surely the       impact of traditional advertising has lost some of its value? Advertisers therefore have to better understand the changing landscape and the associated impact of the advertising platforms available to them. If they don’t they are in danger of devaluing their service so much that it’s not worth paying for.

Marketing needs to move from a one way communication from advertiser to consumer to becoming a two-way conversation that allows the consumer to feel involved. Consumers place a greater value on word of mouth endorsements than ever before and there for the established push marketing needs to make way for more pull marketing. The marketer needs to forget about the traditional buying process where a trigger sets off a consumer need and from there their decision process is both linear and identical to other consumer’s. People today are constantly interacting with brands and any two buying processes can be completely different.

Marketers need to understand the multiple platforms available to them and see them as opportunities. Mobile advertising which includes display ads, search ads and mobile video ads, is set to reach $1 Billion in the US market this year for the first time. This is predicted to grow to over $4.4 Billion by 2015. The data that can be extracted using analytic tools means that ads can be more targeted and more cost-effective.

Yearly Mobile Advertising Spend Predictions

Yearly Mobile Advertising Spend

The changing viewing behaviors of consumers has driven television stations to respond by supplying more and more content online through their on demand sites. Perhaps one of the few types of TV content that is likely to be guaranteed to be watched live is sport. Yahoo have just launched their new Yahoo screen service where they have partnered with Yahoo Logomajor TV companies who are supplying content which can be viewed by customers at their leisure. By responding to changing consumer habits this way, advertisers have an opportunity to generate revenue through program sponsorship and advertisements before and throughout content.

Social media not only allows brands to interact with their customers like never before but it allows their customers to promote their brand to others on their behalf. With customers playing such an important role in shaping a brands identity it is important that marketers have processes in place to control and respond to the image being portrayed.

Despite this quickly changing marketing terrain, marketers who move with the times and stay on top of the available mediums and trends will no doubt find this a very exciting time.

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