Twitter started rolling out a redesign today, with larger cover photos and profile pictures, as well as new features and a more full-screen layout that closely resembles Facebook.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison with our Facebook Page.
New features include the ability to “Pin” a Tweet to the top of your Twitter Timeline, showcasing it for followers. As well as a new, separate, Tweets & Replies tab.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone @biz on CNBC discussing the “value” of valuations.
For the full video, click here: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/cnbc/54653699#54653699
Facebook announced a new feature on Jan. 16 via blog post, Trending. A news section that features popular topics and hashtags that are being shared across the network.
Trending sits on the right column of the Newsfeed, though the feature is still rolling out to users, and just appeared on my feed today. Facebook said in a blog post, “Trending is currently rolling out on web in select countries and we are going to continue to test on mobile. As with other features, expect continuous improvements from us over time.”
Selecting a Trending topic from the list displays a feed of conversation, including activity from your Facebook friends.
Trending appears to be a move by Facebook to be more relevant in news, much like Twitter’s Trends, leaving an option open for Facebook to promote trends (also just like Twitter). Facebook also recently adopted Hashtags, though that feature seems slow to catch on.
Editor’s Note: Eric Zimmett is a tech writer and small business consultant who works at StateCollege.com assisting businesses with how to navigate today’s difficult marketing and advertising landscape.
In his inaugural tech column for StateCollege.com, Eric Zimmett gives you five things small business owners should be doing. His “Tech Talk” column appears biweekly on StateCollege.com.
5. Social Media
Social Media is a great space to interact with customers on a variety of fun, engaging platforms.
Use social media as a conversation with your customers – to strengthen existing relationships, build new ones and give a little taste of your personality as a business owner.
Today, your customers will expect you to be using social media. Participate: launch a Facebook Page; use Twitter, Foursquare or Pinterest. Engage and interact with your audience.
Facebook is an excellent hub for conversations, news, comments, contests and photos. Facebook also offers a small-business advertising program. A good Facebook Page requires quality content and regular frequency. Update your Facebook Page every day and respond to comments and questions promptly.
Facebook rolled out its new Timeline layout to all brand pages Friday. Read more about the new brand pages at facebook.com/about/pages. Not on Facebook Pages? Get started at facebook.com/pages/create.php
Twitter announced last week, on its sixth birthday, that it has reached 140 million users (in tune with its 140-character limit). The micro-blogging platform serves as a way to alert followers of news, specials, changes or insight into the company.
Foursquare is a mobile application that rewards customers for visiting your business. Reward check-ins with a special discount or offer. Or award your most frequent customer – which Foursquare dubs Mayor – with the highest prize.
Foursquare requires minimal effort to keep going. Unlike Facebook Pages and Twitter profiles, Foursquare is user-generated. Users check-in on their own. Users unlock specials that you’ve created and compete with friends on their Leaderboard.
Is your business already on there? Claim your venue at foursquare.com/business.
Pinterest is a pin-board for interests. Launched just two years ago the site has already eclipsed 11 million users, according to a January report by comScore, becoming the fastest site in history to reach the 10-million mark. Businesses have found recent success on Pinterest by interacting with users and sharing company photos and/or products. The best part of Pinterest is the ease of sending visitors from a Pin to your website or product page, especially when it comes to e-commerce.
A blog is a great way to share your expertise in your field, to brand yourself as an expert.
It’s also a great way to stay on top of trends, new information and be connected with your industry. Start a blog and stick to a regular schedule to keep your posts fresh and relevant.
Three leading blog services are WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr.
Keep your content focused. Don’t sell your business on your blog; that will happen organically after you’ve branded yourself as an expert in your industry.
The best part about YouTube – other than those funny cat videos – is that you can build your own online TV network free of charge.
Build a YouTube Channel and either link to videos in your industry (Informational Videos or How-To videos) or record them yourself. Creating the videos on your own allows the viewer to get to know your business.
A new feature introduced last week by YouTube allows for simplified video editing, making it even easier to get started with your own channel.
2. Get on the Street
Slow business day? Well don’t just sit there, hit the streets! Talk with your customers one-on-one. Offer samples, coupons, or ask questions. What better a way to get customer feedback than talking directly to them? Thinking of implementing a new menu item? Or changing your store layout? Ask people on the street. Some won’t want to talk to you. Focus on the ones who do.
Put your face in front of the business. Then your customers aren’t just shopping at the store on the corner, they’re shopping at your store on the corner: Bill’s office supplies, John’s book store, Wendy’s coffee shop. They’ll connect with your business on a more personal level.
Advertising isn’t just for national brands. Local businesses need it more than anyone. It isn’t enough to just open your doors and hope people come in. Advertising builds companies. It informs, sometimes entertains, and reminds customers that you’re there, and that you have the products they want and the expertise to service them.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to generate word-of-mouth. It’s called advertising. When you advertise your business, and advertise the same message often enough, you’re using word-of-mouth to build buzz about your business.
Search-engine marketing is an online super-highway where you can connect with customers who are searching for your products and/or services. Make sure your website is well optimized and contains information – skip on the fluff – that best portrays your business.
If you don’t know how to build an effective website or make it search-engine friendly, find someone who does. Being visible when customers are searching for you is an important step in acquiring new customers.
What are you waiting for?!
So get out there and talk with your customers; whether it’s in person, in the ads or on your blog. Be friendly. Be yourself. Have fun. Interaction is key. Show people how much you love your business. Because if you do it well enough, they will too.
See this original column on StateCollege.com.
Photo by Flickr user anniemole
Mobile is looking like Web 3.0 with the emergence of mobile devices like the iPad, Kindle and Nook; the rise in smartphone usage; and the explosion of mobile apps. It’s not just for work. Mobile is taking over our lives. Work and play.
We’ve compiled the Top Five tools for Mobile Productivity, from the workplace to strictly entertainment.
Top Five tools for Mobile Productivity
1. Cloud Drives
Storage & Music
Standalone Cloud storage services like Dropbox receive most of the press. But Amazon’s variety comes with a music store.
Amazon is also a great place to store your music. Music purchases from the Amazon mp3 store can be saved directly to your cloud. And thus can be accessed anywhere and with a growing number of devices including smartphones and tablets. Start off with 5 GB of free storage. Just sign in, sign up for your free 5 GB and start uploading files for backup, storage or to listen to your tunes without taking up space on your mobile device.
Hundreds of companies trust Amazon Web Services for their storage and hosting needs, including Netflix — which accounts for 25% of US Internet traffic — Yelp, Foursquare, PBS, Washington Post, Razorfish, SEGA, Urbanspoon, Tweet Deck, Airbnb, Harvard Medical School, NASA, Virgin Atlantic and more.
2. Google Apps
Calendar & Google Docs
It’s time to move on from Outlook, people. Google is the place to be. When I use Outlook for email or the calendar, it feels like I’m navigating a rotary phone…plus it’s tied to a machine. Google Calendar and Docs, as well as gmail, is tied to nothing; it’s all on the cloud. Access all of it on any computer, any smartphone, tablet or mobile device. Get calendar reminders on your smartphone.
With Google Apps (formerly Google Docs) user can save Documents, open Office products like Word and Excel — with or without Microsoft Office. When you save documents in the cloud — like resumes, presentations, pictures — they’re always with you.
Google’s smartphone apps — and native integration with most mobile devices — make all of your documents, calendar appointments and messages accessible anywhere with an Internet connection. Save documents, presentations or pictures as a backup or for instant access on any of your devices.
To get started, just sign up for gmail and click “Documents” at the top. [Note: if by the time of this post, Google has changed its navigation bar to a drop-down menu, just click the drop-down and find Documents.] Then start uploading files or Create a new document.
3. Smartphone Apps
There’s an app for that. It’s not just a saying. There really is an app for everything. News, Shopping, Books, Movies, TV, Social Networking, Checking in and just about anything else you can think of. Some of Tech Weekly’s favorites free apps for productivity and entertainment on the go:
- Pulse News Reader – News from all around the web in one place
- QwickMark QR Code Reader – Scan QR codes with this free app
- ShopSavvy – Scan product bar codes to compare prices online and stores near you
- Netflix* – all of Netflix instant streaming on your smartphone
- Crackle by Sony – Free movies and TV on your smartphone
- NFL Mobile – NFL News, Highlights and Live Streaming video
- Amazon – Browse and buy everything Amazon on your smartphone
- Amazon Kindle – Kindle’s library at your fingertips
- Amazon mp3 – Listen to your library of songs from Amazon’s cloud drive
- Slacker – Slacker Personal Radio on your smartphone
- Foursquare – Check in to earn points, become mayor and unlock specials
- Twitter – Follow your interests or tweet on the go with Twitter’s mobile app
- Facebook – Update your status, check the newsfeed, check in or chat with friends
- Shazam – Can’t name that song on the radio, just click Shazam and it’ll tell you
- Flickr – Take photos and upload them to Yahoo’s Flickr
- Yelp – Check reviews or find a new place to eat with Yelp’s smartphone app
MyFax makes having a fax machine unnecessary. In fact, MyFax improves upon the old-school fax and then some.
No download necessary, just sign up for a MyFax account and you’ll be assigned a MyFax number. (You can pick the area code.) Once you’ve signed in, just click “Send a Fax.” Then enter the recipient’s fax number and attach the document you’d like to fax. Either scan the page to your computer and attach to the MyFax interface OR if the file is already on your computer, just attach. MyFax comes with some cool features including Cover Page Style; Status Flag for Urgent, Review, Comment, etc; and a Message Box. The recipient receives the fax in his/her fax machine, just like a normal fax.
Receive faxes right in your MyFax inbox as PDF or JPEG files. MyFax alerts you immediately via email. In fact, you can view the fax in your email inbox. If you’ve got email on your smartphone, you can view the fax right there. MyFax is a must for mobile work.
Send 100 faxes per month and receive 200 for only $10. Other options include Send 200, Receive 200 for $20. Or Send 400, Receive 400 for $40. Or an unlisted option of Send 50, Receive 50 for $5 per month. The plans can be changed at any time, though you’ll have to call MyFax to do it. Ironically, for an online fax service, you can’t change plans online. Though email is taking over, many businesses still fax documents. So ditch the fax machine and extra phone line and give MyFax a look.
Netflix is the best thing to come to TV since color. It’s move to mobile only strengthens its hold on streaming movies and television content. And once you’ve got a Netflix subscription, it’s free on an unlimited number of devices. Use your one Netflix subscription on TVs, tablets, smartphones, etc. At home and on the road.
Until you’ve streamed Netflix content on a mobile device, it’s difficult to understand. A library of more than 20,000 titles available instantly with the tap of your finger. It’s as close to a dream as you’ll get.
To get started, just sign up for Netflix (streaming subscription starts at $7.99 per month after 1-month free trial) and download the Netflix app for your smartphone or mobile device. You’ll only have to sign in the first time after you download the app. From there on out it’s blue skies and smooth streaming.
Netflix is available on more than 700 devices including PCs; Macs; Internet-connected TVs; video-game consoles; Blu-ray players; Internet video players like Roku and Boxee; iPhone; iPad; Apple TV as well as Android and Windows devices…and more.
Netflix gets all the hype when it comes to cable-killing Internet video, but Internet superchannel Ustream might be a better model for the next online cable network.
Founded in 2007, Ustream offers an array of shows, both live and recorded, as well as Internet channels from some of our favorite brands and celebrities. The company has offices Los Angeles, Tokyo and Budapest. Ustream Asia launched in 2010.
From CBS and TMZ to more specific interests like Campaign 2012 — or genre-specific channels like TechCrunch or Leo Leporte Live, a technology-focused show by popular tech reporter Leo Leporte of Tech TV fame — Ustream has a channel for every interest.
Ustream offers 12 categories on the dashboard including On Air — happening Live — News, Campaign 2012, Pets & Animals, Entertainment, Sports, Music, Tech, Gaming, Education, Spirituality and More.
Each category lists available channels. The Tech Category for example — one of my favorites — displays featured channels as well as Live channels In the below screenshot you’ll see three featured channels: Leo Leporte Live, Android Central as well as Space Vid Cast. NASA also offers a Ustream channels.
Ustream’s categories and channels are like networks and shows on a typical cable network. In fact, many popular network broadcasts, like the 2011 Emmy Awards, are simulcast on Ustream. After a show broadcasts live on Ustream, content can be archived. Though not all live shows offer this feature.
Users can view the channels live, view recorded programs or click “Join Crowd” which essentially adds the channel to the user’s favorites.
Ustream’s Mission: “to bring people together around shared interests for amazing live, interactive experiences that build and maintain relationships” (Ustream.tv/about).
When streaming on a computer, users can communicate with both the show and other Ustreamers during a live stream. Some televisions are now incorporating a Twitter feed to foster interactivity through social media.
On Ustream, social media interactivity is intrinsic to its design. On pay-TV — not distributed through an Internet connection — social media can seem forced or out of place. Flip on ESPN on DirecTV for five minutes and see how many times they drop “Twitter.” It feels forced almost every time. When video content is distributed via the Internet –whether on a computer or on a television — social media chatter is second nature; it’s a part of the experience. And the possibilities for advertisers are obvious. Purchases and more information are only one click away.
It’s tie-in with social media like Facebook and Twitter also allows for instantaneous updates on what’s streaming Live and what’s upcoming.
Users can get in on the fun, too, as Ustream allows anyone to start an Internet channel and “Go Live!” by broadcasting via webcam. Even Anderson Cooper has a Ustream Channel.
Closing comments & my experience with Ustream
I’m kind of a newbie to Ustream. I first checked it out a year ago and added the channel to my Roku player, where it sat unused. But then last week, I dove right in when I spotted a post on the Facebook Newsfeed concerning F8. Ustream was offering a Live Broadcast complete with commentary from Leo Leporte. F8 is the Facebook Developers Conference, which brings together developers, entrepreneurs and innovators “who are building a more social web.”
Thanks to Ustream’s connectivity, I watched portions of F8 on three different devices. Started on my Droid smartphone, then switched to my TV via Roku, and finished up on my laptop on http:ustream.tv
In less than four years, Ustream has successfully incorporated everything pay-TV is still trying to perfect: content, connectivity — across an array of devices — and completely natural interactivity.