Find Me On.. Where?!?!


Social Networks

Maybe we have too many social networks.

I mean, think about it. Facebook and twitter. Instagram and Vine. Quora and Google+. Yelp and Foodspotting. And on and on and on.

You need a scorecard just to keep up, and an entire afternoon just to be remotely relevant on any more than one on two.

I’ve read more than one article this week about younger people rejecting Facebook.

And Peter Shankman this week opened up a storm of controversy when he predicted Yelp! would be out of business in two years.*

I think it’s just a matter of time before more people are migrating to something else. Who knows what that is. But if I’m feeling that way, I can promise you, it’s already happening.

I must have more than 100 apps on my iPhone. Truth is, I don’t think I use half of them. And I have no plans to.

So I’m opening this up for discussion, because I am really interested in what you think: which social networks/apps are becoming less relevant? Which should I close out or delete, and which should I keep? Which do you use on a regular basis and why?

I don’t want to hear any brand-bashing. This is not meant to take jabs at anyone. I’m just really interested in what others are thinking.

Leave a comment below!

*This post has been amended to accurately reflect Shankman’s prediction on Yelp. Thanks Peter!

It’s a Jungle Out There (Trying to Get an iPhone5)


Waiting In Line For an iPhone

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Unless you were living under a rock (or you’re just a hater) you know that Apple announced the iPhone5 yesterday. The response was mixed, with some even harping that Apple has stopped innovating.

Of course, that didn’t stop pre-orders from going off the charts. One article even noted that iPhone4S sales raked in more money than Google made in all of 2011.

Personally, I don’t think I will be upgrading, and in fact I’m hoping I’ll be able to get a deal replacing my iPhone4S with the cracked screen.

Will you be buying iPhone5? And do you think Apple is tapped out when it comes to innovation? Let me know in the comments below.

Speaking of things that may have lost their lustre, are you still using Google+? The youngest of the big social networks (I’m not counting Pinterest, for reasons I may write about next week) just doesn’t seem to have caught sustained fire the way facebook and twitter did.

So for Friday ShareDay, let’s check in with our buddy Michael Stelzner for a great podcast “Why Marketers Should Not Overlook Google+”

I’ve Got Your Back (But We’re Not Talking Obama)


I've Got Your Back Obama

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Over the weekend, my six year old PC finally breathed its last, surrendering to the dreaded blue screen of death one final time.

Without the funds to acquire my coveted MacBook Air, I went to plan B: another PC that I’ve been saving for just this moment. It’s a newer (only four years old, versus six) PC that hasn’t been powered up in about four months. So on startup, I needed to update software, virus protection, and then bring iTunes (including all the apps I use on my phone) current.

Somewhere in that process, I lost about 40 apps that were on my iPhone but for some reason not synced to my profile. Now begins the long and painful process of finding and reloading those apps – one by one – and rearranging them on my phone’s more than 9 screens. Yikes.

My dilemma brought to mind something we should always be aware of in the PR world: backup and contingency plans.

We always aim high, and plan to succeed. But this world also hands us a fair share of “what if things go wrong” and so we need to have a couple aces up our sleeves at all times.

A few thoughts:

1. Have a backup plan and a backup man (or woman): You can’t be the boss all the time. Sooner or later, you’ll need to delegate, and that means having a wingman who is as well-versed in the big picture of what you’re trying to accomplish as you are. Appoint a backup man at the start of your planning process to make the inevitable bumps smoother.

2. Plan for the worst, hope for the best: We all want our campaigns to run smoothly. But the world is full of chaos, and we need to be ready for it. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Plan for that and you’ll never be surprised.

3. Let your client know there’s a backup in place: There are some folk who like to practice “mushroom PR” – that is, keeping everyone in the dark because you think they will complicate things. While you want to save a client from your minutiae, your most potent weapon is your client having faith in you, and you can only accomplish that by demonstrating to them that you’ve got everything covered.

What’s your backup plan?

Sunny Friday ShareDay


sunshine

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In New York City, we’ve declared winter officially over, less because of the official start of spring and more because of the amazing weather we have been having! (You all can thank me, by the way. This year I acquired my first gas-powered snowblower, thus ensuring a snow-free winter.)

Also in 2012, my family started our conversion to Apple devices – we picked up a pair of iPhones and an iPad so far and we are instant fans (see last week’s Friday ShareDay post). MacBooks are next on the list.

All that data consumption on our wireless devices has us becoming more and more mindful of our data plans and on what seems like a constant quest for wifi.

The first time I got an iPhone in my hands, I understood (and frankly, changed my mind) on the need for free wifi hotspots in major traffic areas, incluing downtowns, at train stations and in commercial buildings. The wireless companies are making huge investments in their high speed networks, mostly to cash in on expensive data plans that power social media, streaming entertainment and texting. But even the best 4G/LTE infrastructure can’t measure up to a robust wifi hotspot.

So this article on a wifi usage study from TechCrunch comes along almost serendipitously, showing that we’re not only not alone in our mania, but quite normal. What do you think?

Happy Weekend!

Target: Apple


Apple & Target

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Over the weekend, Mashable reported news that Apple would soon experiment with mini-stores inside Target locations.

Pair this with the news that plans for the Steve Jobs action figure have been abandoned by its creators (thank goodness), and it raises a question I’d like to throw out for debate: is Apple in danger of watering down its brand?

There’s no argument that part of Steve Jobs’ genius was his showmanship, and his understanding of what when into great marketing of a product to turn it into a mega-brand.

My perception of that genius has, at its core, the balance of an “exclusivity of brand” with a “there’s room for everyone” concept.

Jobs communicated that Apple products are special, and so the people who use them are special.

But admission to that club came – and still comes – at a price: whether it’s a $99 Apple TV or a $2,000 MacBook, you aren’t a full member of the tribe before you have one of those shiny new gadgets in your hand.

Even the process of purchsing my iPhone4S recently had an “induction” feel to it; I stood with a store employee who actually high-fived me once the phone was set up (or maybe I high-fived her?). That was a first.

Jobs balanced these two concepts well, so the thought of making Apple so ubiquitous that you can pick up an iPad3 two aisles down from the laundry detergent and dog biscuits seems odd to me.

Yes, Best Buy sells Apple products, but that seems right – it’s a personal electronics/gadget store. And so putting the MacBooks across from the gaming consoles and OLED TVs is more of a fit than alongside toothpaste and motor oil.

I’ll probably have to eat these words in a year or two, after the Target experiment has been crowned another stellar Apple success. But for now I’ll call it an unusual choice, and admit I’ll be watching this closely.

What do you think?

The Power of Positive Thinking


PositiveThinking

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The last couple days I’ve been in a creative rut. Really bogged down, no initiative.

This morning, quite accidentally, I shuffled my iPod (no, I don’t have an iPhone, yet), and a favorite song I hadn’t heard in months came on.

Usually I would spend my commute pecking away at my blackberry. Instead, I hid it away in my bag, pushed work thoughts aside and just sat staring out the train window watching the world go by. My mind drifted to all the good things in life that I enjoy: my family, my home, and the things I enjoy doing in my free time.

Almost magically, I could feel the cobwebs being swept out of my brain. I smiled. The fog lifted. Boom, I was back on track.

Life is like that sometimes: we all need those mini-brain vacations that let us approach what we do from a fresh perspective .

Sometimes its more than just a jolly thought, and approaches putting yourself in a meditative state. But it can be simpler than a weekend on a beach. Whatever it is, we all have our happy place. I think we visit them regularly if we’re going to be productive and happy. Because you don’t want the opposite.

So what are YOUR favorite ways to recharge your creativity?

RIP, Steve Jobs


Red Apple

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I let out an audible gasp upon hearing the news. I don’t gasp, but this was one of those moments.

So much will be said and written in the coming days about Steve Jobs and his contributions to technology. But he was more than a computer guy, gadget maker or technological innovator. His creations went far beyond that little magic brick in your pocket. He literally changed the world.

For better or for worse (and I think better) Jobs can be credited with:

iTunes forced music companies to rethink distribution, and all but abandoned the concept of the “record store.” Purchasing music, movies and books instantly, the moment you want them, is now the norm.

– He created a new economic model with the 99-cent song and provided a platform to buy only what you wanted, obliterating the concept of the “album.”

Mac-based music and video production put once expensive tools into amateurs’ hands, allowing art that may never have been able to be made to flourish and spread. And make money where they might never have.

Pixar created a treasure trove of movies and opened new pathways of storytelling. There’s a slew of Academy Awards that were basically created for this genre of movie-making.

The major telcos are far richer because of the iPhone and have created entire divisions solely dedicated to making sure voice and data pushed across their networks function properly. The explosion in subscribers and the data they consume is directly attributable to iPhone, which paved the way for all other similar devices.

Running after Apple is an industry unto itself, with thousands employed in the sport. Hundreds of magazines, books, reporters and publishing companies owe their existence and profitability to covering Apple products.

To say Steve Jobs will be missed hardly does his passing justice, because our world won’t get to see where he was going to take us next.

Apple Still Shiny


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The news that Steve Jobs is stepping down from the top spot at Apple is certainly a surprise, but not altogether shocking (or maybe the reverse?). We’re all aware of his ongoing health battles, and we wish him well.

Jobs’ statement said nothing about leaving Apple; in fact, he took pains to explain the roles he would still like to play. As corporate statements go, this one was remarkable in its specificity and humanity. But Jobs has always done business that way, and had his company/employees do it the same.

Jobs’ decision is one of a good CEO: he’s outlined a succession plan, and started to make his company less about him. (See Mashable’s great Post-Jobs org chart) And the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg wrote a great breakdown of Jobs’ and Apple’s impact on not only computing, but the entire world.

We’ll certainly miss those annual stage presentations, and incoming CEO Tim Cook will have large shoes to fill just when it comes to that. It will be interesting to see how that piece of the puzzle fleshes out, and if he chooses to do them at all, or reinvents them somehow.

Wall Street will no doubt make a mountain out of a molehill here, and the stock will dip. (It was down 4% overnight, so silly.) It will also rebound. My advice: buy. And here’s why:

Apple’s product line is strong and its pipeline is full. iPhone5 is rumored to be coming in October; an iPad3 should follow. And let’s face it, Apple make products that are more popular with a broader base of consumers. Barring a major catastrophe or shift in culture (unlikely with Jobs as Chairman of the Board), Apple will continue to do well.

So while the company’s business and strategy will be relatively unchanged, you will read stories over the next few days that will lead you to believe the opposite. Go ahead, Google it.

Here’s how I see it: if my 2-year-old, upon waking from a night’s sleep, continues to ask for “my iPad” before “milk” or “cereal” the way he’s done for a week now, Apple will be just fine.

Google’s Gamble on Motorola’s Mobile Patents


Google Loves Motorola

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There’s nothing new in saying that the future of social media, communication and sales is in mobile.

And so it should come as no surprise to see any major technology company invest significantly in the ideas, products or technology that advance mobile marketing, as Google has done with the Motorola Mobility acquisition. (I’d call $12.5 billion a significant investment, wouldn’t you?)

But I don’t think Google is out to create an iPhone killer. Or wants to create a new Google phone. Or any piece of hardware, specifically. Yet.

What Google has gone after in this deal is Motorola’s intellectual capital: the ideas and patented technology that run all those little gadgets we’re so fond of, especially the booming tablet market.

An Ad Age article that came out as I was writing this post outlines this well. It also talks about the future of the Android market – one that has an astonishing nearly 33% market share – better than I ever could.

What will be interesting to watch from here on out is what Google does with this intellectual capital.

For sure, they can just sit back and charge millions in licensing fees.

They will undoubtedly also develop new software that uses the patents. One area ripe for development is the connection between your TV and mobile device, which Motorola Mobility already has the lead on. Even though the days of cable TV set-top boxes may be numbered with the growing use of smart TVs, there’s still plenty of room for enhanced functionality there, making your smartphone (and your tablet, for that matter) both a remote control and a content provider.

Your move, Apple!