June 29, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Apps

Filed under: Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 2:18 pm

I was recently asked about popular apps for business people.  Here are some more details on the apps I discussed, plus some others that I particularly like and use regularly.

Productivity

Evernote

Evernote is an app that you can download on your phone, tablet and computer, set up one account and it automatically syncs across all the devices. It stores text documents, photos, audio files and attachments, organized as individual files or in notebooks. It is really like your mental file cabinet, scrapbook and notebook or binder combined into one digital app.

I have used Evernote for a while now, but several weeks ago I left my actual, physical notebook at home and was lost for the entire morning until I could go home and pick it up at lunch. Since that day, I never travel or go to a meeting without pulling all my work documents needed for reference into an Evernote notebook so they are accessible on my phone and tablet for easy reference. I hope to never be dependent on a piece of paper again.

Wunderlist

That same day that I left my notebook at home was the day I set out to find the perfect to do list app (my to do list was a strip of paper with sticky notes attached and stuffed in the back of my notebook). And in my search, I found Wunderlist. And it is indeed perfect. So much so that many of the staffers at Stone Ward are now also using it.

Like Evernote, Wunderlist can be downloaded across multiple devices and using one account, the user can sync the to do lists. Multiple lists can be created (for example, one for personal, one for work, one for travel, etc.). The list can be sorted, scheduled and annotated. Additionally, you can share the lists and even add items by email. And there is a checkbox to mark when you complete the item, if you need that satisfaction of checking something off your list. No more sticky notes.

Travel

TripIt

I love this one so much, it has its very own review on Ms. Adverthinker.

Instapaper

With the introduction of iOS 5 and it’s new features in Safari, Instapaper may become extinct. But until then, it is great for travel when on planes or in areas without Internet access. Instapaper is an app that you can download for you phone and tablet, as well as bookmark on your desktop browser. When you find articles you want to read, but simply don’t have time, or want to save it for later, click the Instapaper bookmark in your browser.  When you open the Instapaper app on your phone or tablet, the articles sync to that device and make them available without Internet access. Then through Instapaper, you can save the article to your favorite social bookmarking provider or share via social channels once you have had a chance to read it. The social integration feature is brilliant and may keep Instapaper alive once iOS 5 launches. Tip: remember to launch the app and sync before you get on the plane, while you still have Internet access!

Presentation

Keynote

Keynote is the alternative to PowerPoint, and it is so much better. It is easier to use, creates more beautiful presentations and nicer transitions. However, it is only available for use on Mac computers. And it is now available on the iPad and iPhone. Through the app, you can create, edit and present. For those with these devices, but no Mac computer, you can now experience the difference between Keynote and PowerPoint. You will never want to go back to PowerPoint again.

Remote for Keynote

This app syncs with via Bluetooth with your MacBook to control your Keynote presentations. No more remote needed. And every presenter can sync their own iPhones to control their individual parts of the presentation. It is both handy and impressive.

Staying Current/Education

Twitter

Twitter has its own app that allows you to view all links, photos, videos and follower details right within the apps sliding windows. The interface is friendly and gorgeous. There is no reason to use another third-party Twitter app.

Reeder

I am a huge Google Reader fan. I scan my 100+ feeds throughout the day on all of my devices through Reeder. It pulls them seamlessly in through the categories I have set and syncs across the devices so it knows which ones I have read already. Additionally, it has a built in sharing feature, so I can bookmark the ones I want to reference later through my Delicious account, save them to Instapaper, share to Facebook or Twitter, among many other options.

TED

I am addicted to TED videos. The topics are always interesting and thought-provoking, and never longer than 20 minutes. The TED app is just as beautifully designed as the website, allows for easy search and access to all TED talks.

Public Radio

Public Radio is simple: local NPR stations streamed through an app.

iTunes

The iTunes U podcasts are an amazing resource. Free to download and listen at your convenience and from the best schools in the country. My current favorite series is the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcasts. Check them out now and thank me later.

Convenience

Starbucks Mobile

This one is just cool to use. Register your Starbucks gift card through the app and when you are ready to pay at Starbucks, simply pull up the app and scan the barcode that appears on your screen with the scanner at the register. The amount of your purchase is automatically deducted from your card balance. No more fumbling with payment; it is all on your phone. You can reload the card or add the balances from other cards to your account through the Starbucks website. Love it.

Wordbook

It is a dictionary. I am a terrible speller and I am always concerned that I am mispronouncing words, so I use this app frequently. The definitions include an audio pronunciation.

What are your favorite apps?

Technology Company to Watch: Square

Filed under: Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 1:47 pm

This week I talked to Roby Brock at Talk Business about technology IPOs, specifically social media IPOs. Although not a social media company, Square is a technology company that is much talked about of late and one to keep an eye on for future growth.

Square, founded and run by Jack Dorsey (also co-founder of Twitter), is a product and software that allows any smart phone user to accept credit card payments through their phones. The company announced late yesterday that it had raised $100 million in venture funding. “The new round of funding means that Square’s value has jumped more than 6x in the last six months.”

It seems that Jack Dorsey has been everywhere lately. He was recently honored in Fast Company as one of the 100 most creative people in business for 2011. And, he has a great talk available through the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast series.

Keep Square and Jack Dorsey on your radar for great things to come.

June 28, 2011

Talk Business Interview: Social Media IPOs

Filed under: Social Media,Talk Business — Emily Reeves @ 10:20 pm

I recently sat down with Roby Brock of Talk Business to talk about social media companies as the next big thing in tech stocks. Watch the interview here:

Tech companies are staying private longer and building up evidence of actually being able to generate revenue. Now that social media outlets have been established and are continuing interactions with large databases of users, they are starting to enter the public ownership realm.  What makes companies such as Groupon, Zynga and Facebook valuable is the list aggregated information they have on individual populations of people and sectors.

“For the most part, today’s social media companies are generating (or at least forecasting) real accounting earnings.   And nearly all of the popular offerings are based on businesses that actually have customers (instead of just a concept). But it is quite amazing to see the flood of capital competing for ownership of social media companies, and the implied company valuations.”

The response to LinkedIn has set the stage for other social-media IPOs, including Facebook, which is being rumored to go public in 2012.

June 9, 2011

Tripit Travel App: Review & Recommendation

Filed under: Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 7:02 am

I travel pretty frequently for my job at Stone Ward. So, I am constantly on the search for the best suitcase, toiletries bag and laptop bag for Eloise. None of these things have been secured as the perfect fits yet, but I can firmly recommend a travel app for iPhone users: Tripit.

I have been using Tripit now for several months and recently upgraded to the “Pro” version for the added features. I don’t know how I traveled without it before.  Here is why Tripit rocks:

  • Forward my email itineraries in whatever format they come to me to the Tripit email address and all the travel details are automatically uploaded into the app: flight, car rental, hotel, confirmation numbers, and maps.
  • Check into flights directly from the Tripit app.
  • Push notifications of delays and gate changes.
  • Automatic sharing of travel information with the people that you put in your “inner circle,” like family, friends, co-workers, etc. This is my favorite feature. (Now my dad doesn’t have to write down all my travel on his calendar; he can just access it in his own Tripit app.)

I love that I can pull up Tripit and see all the details for the four upcoming trips I have booked without having to search emails or shuffle through files and papers. If you are a traveler, definitely check it out.

June 7, 2011

Let’s Play

Filed under: Social Media,Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 7:42 am

Another trending topic at South by Southwest this year was the incorporation of game dynamics into social media, communications and generally any type of task where people need to be motivated to participate. The big question, however, was how are marketers going to leverage this idea and trend in their communications. We are now starting to see some experiment with game incorporation. Here is a round-up of examples:

Subway

Subway has partnered with Scvngr to promote adding avocado to its menu. Twenty-five Scvngr players can win two free tickets to the premiere of “The Green Lantern.” Other players can receive free tickets to see the movie in their local theater. “Scvngr players can win the tickets by earning points with the following game-like activities: ‘Superhero Fuel’ points will be rewarded to players who create their own sandwich with avocado as a central ingredient. ‘Quote It’ points can be accrued by users expressing their favorite Green Lantern quote. ‘Flex for the Camera’ points will be rewarded to those who take a photo of themselves next to a Subway logo, while flexing their muscles.”

Sears

“The retailer is offering shoe discounts to Scvngr players who check in at stores, complete challenges, and upload content to the app. The challenges include: snapping a photo of sneakers/shoes; picking three sets of colorful footwear and taking a picture; and telling a brief story about where the player would like to walk to if she could go anywhere in the world.”

New York Public Library

I love this one! Not only does the New York Public Library have its own Foursquare badge, but in May they launched a promotion that allowed a limited number of participants to sign up and spend the night in the library to go on a scavenger hunt. The promotion appeals to the younger, tech-savvy target and gets them into a place that rarely need to visit anymore: the library. Smart.

“’Find the Future: The Game,’ devised by renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, is a series of ‘quests’ delivered via an app on players’ mobile devices that can be completed at the Library’s 42nd Street location. … The challenges are designed to encourage players to explore and reflect upon the objects from the library’s collections. A player might be tasked, for instance, to scan a QR code located at the Declaration of Independence, and then respond to a creative essay prompt. Once enough quests have been completed, they will be “unlocked” for the public, who can begin playing the game online May 21.”

There is even a video to go along with it:

Snoop Dog Fragrance

Through Facebook, the more people that like the Snoop Dog fragrance, the cheaper the price gets for the fans to buy it. Kind of fun.

Buffalo Wild Wings

Earlier this year, Buffalo Wild Wings partnered with Scvngr to allow “customers [to] complete challenges on their smartphones and win prizes, like Buffalo Wild Wings and Coca-Cola, which are redeemable on the spot. Such challenges, like snapping a photo with a fan of an opposing team, earn fans points that go toward winning the grand prize of a trip to see the NBA finals with Scottie Pippen, formerly of the Chicago Bulls.”

There are many other examples brands experimenting with game dynamics floating around out there, and most of them seem to use Scvngr as their partner in the efforts. While results remain to be seen, the approaches seem on track and look to be engaging for customers.

June 6, 2011

The Opportunity for Transmedia Storytelling

Filed under: Marketing,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 7:26 am

One of the hot topics at South by Southwest this year was transmedia storytelling, the idea of using various channels to tell different aspects of your story. New research from the IPG Media Lab and YuMe lends further credence to the argument for use of transmedia storytelling:

“The study quantified some long-suspected but never quantified aspects of media behavior. Distraction media was ubiquitous, with 94% of TV and 73% of online video viewers using some type of companion/distraction media. While companion media included everything from laptops, video games and crossword puzzles to physical mail and musical instruments, the smartphone proved to be the true “disruptor” in regards to video attention levels. Of all of the companion media used, the smartphone accounted for 60% of TV and 46% of online video distractions.”

The article goes on to give statistics about the level of engagement with commercials and how viewers who fast forward through the DVR version actually pay more attention to the commercials than those that simply put their heads down to engage with their smart phones while the commercials continue playing. Think about the opportunities that exist for marketers using a transmedia strategy to drive the viewers to their smartphones purposely for the story and message continuation.

Photo Sharing Popularity Proliferates

Filed under: Culture,Marketing,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 6:58 am

Back in January, we outlined predictions for the 2011 technology year that included an increase in mobile photo sharing. Half-way through the year, and we are seeing that prediction come true.

Instagram is now up to five million users and is adding about a million users a month.  According to a New York Times article this weekend, “Those who study the way people socialize online say cellphone photos are becoming an integral part of sharing and communicating.”

“Professor Sundar said people once tended to take photos on special occasions, like birthdays and vacations, then post a big batch on services like Picasa and Flickr and share a link with friends. But with the introduction of smartphones with improved cameras, coupled with the rise of services like Facebook and Twitter, people are more accustomed to constantly documenting moments and sharing throughout the day.”

And brands are starting to experiment and use the tools available to engage their customers with photography.

“Brands like Oscar de la Renta, Brisk Iced Tea, Kate Spade, Starbucks and Red Bull are also on the service. Cecilia Liu, digital marketing manager at Kate Spade, said the company added Instagram to its social media lineup this year. She said it was appealing because the company could mix in a little more personality and behind-the-scenes glimpses than it would on Facebook and Twitter.”

Starbucks was one of the first brands to sign on to Instagram.  Now, when you search the Starbucks tag on Instagram, over 10,000 photo hits come up.

“We’ve been using Instagram for a couple of months and think it’s a fun, different way to share photos of what’s going on behind the scenes,” says Product Manager Brad Nelson. “We’ve also found a lot of people already sharing Starbucks photos, so it’s been a joy to look through those.”

As people are using mobile photography and sharing to these sites to document their lives, what are they taking the most photos of? Food, of course.

And, to find all of this great photography online, last week, Twitter introduced a new version of its search that incorporates photos and videos.


Brands that are figuring out how to incorporate photography sharing into their engagement strategies are connecting with their consumers on a more intimate level.

Make Sure You Are Solving the Right Problem

Filed under: Account Management Training — Emily Reeves @ 6:58 am

Our account management group has been talking a lot lately about improving ur creative briefs. During this process, we stumbled on to this video from the founders of Instagram and liked what they said about being sure that the problems you are setting out to solve are actually the right problems.