Social Media Aspects: Social Media for Activists

Posted on: June 3rd, 2013 by iDesign

Social Media is an often-used term which may mean different things to different people. Social Media has multiple facets or aspects which can be explored for use by organizations to further their causes, promote products, and market services.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

By beginning a campaign with a key group of social media workers and using them to build a small and passionate network of people who care about your cause, you can quickly build viral mass. Remember, you want to make relationships with people.

RELATIONSHIPS ARE VITAL

Social Media will give you opportunities as your connections grow. You can make real relationships. Those relationships can bring donations, more activists and fresh ideas to your cause and campaign.

GET STARTED NOW

Author, Dave Carter, presents Volume 1 of his Social Media Aspects series. This booklet is a simple guide designed to get Conservative activists to take the plunge and develop comfort with social media. He covers important aspects of successful social media management for your campaign or cause.

 

Social media aspects are covered for some of the key channels for content such as:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Google+

Make a difference with the tips found in this book. Mobilize your team with tools to get a clear message distributed, energize activism, and call people to action.

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

 

Social media for campaigns, causes and activists

Social Media for Campaigns and Causes

Sample Candidate App for Android

Posted on: June 22nd, 2012 by iDesign
Android App: Mitt Romney 2012

Mitt Romney for President, 2012

 

Mitt Romney’s team should be looking at an app! We build mobile websites and Smartphone apps for candidates and political groups across the US.

Seven Steps to Success With a Custom Mobile App

Posted on: January 30th, 2012 by iDesign

By David C Pratt

If you’re already using a mobile phone app (smartphone app) for your business, then you’re likely able to appreciate the power of mobile apps. Whether you’re using an app to view YouTube videos from your corporate channel or Twitter to communicate with potential customers, apps have become more significant with businesses. Even custom apps for businesses, apps that are built specifically for a business or enterprise, have found a definitive niche. However, going down the path to creating an app for your business is fraught with peril. There are some basic steps you can follow to help ensure your success with a customize mobile phone app.

The steps to Success are:

  1. Begin with the end in mind
  2. Understand how your app will be used
  3. Clearly document your app before it’s built
  4. Document your distribution strategy
  5. Research and research the developer
  6. Test the application before and after distribution
  7. Perform a post-mortem

I’m a seasoned professional in the Information Technology sector. I’ve spent years working with the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and appreciate the nuances needed for successful full-scale program/project implementation. Although I truly believe that many of the SDLC steps should be followed for mobile app development, I also realize that many companies don’t have the bandwidth or the financial resources to fully implement an app for smartphones based upon the SDLC. A new app developed under a detailed SDLC project framework can cost an enterprise thousands of dollars and a significant investment of resource time. Since many of our small and medium-sized businesses may want mobile apps but need to operate in a leaner fashion, the steps outlined here can serve as a ‘starter plan’.

When you begin with the end in mind, you can and should visualize the end result as completely as possible. This means do your research and look at existing App Store and Android Marketplace apps. (You may find an app that has already been created which matches your needs 85% or more.) Make a list of the features the app must have and a list of the features the app should have. If you’re artistic, go ahead and sketch the app’s look and feel so that you can convey to a developer what is desired in the User Interface. This whole exercise should not take too long. You will revisit this document again shortly.

Solicit the input of others and consider how your app will be used. Is it for customers to use exclusively? Will it be a B2B tool? Will it be something prospects will use as an adjunct to your business or perhaps a value-added feature or service? All these considerations are important. When you have a clear picture, add this to your working document.

This document is vital to the successful construction and deployment of your app. You will find that the more you ‘put things down’ the less you forget and the less you have miscommunication with development resources. This document should include the results from the prior steps and from all further steps. Be sure to document everything (even brainstorming notes – you will be surprised how useful these can be).

Now that your app is beginning to take a real shape – at least on paper – you should consider how it’s going to be distributed. Let’s say you’ve decided that existing customers will use the app and possibly share it with others (your prospective customers). This may take a simple distribution model: App Store for download and a share utility (like for Twitter or Email) within your app itself. This gives you a method to have a download for your customers (they go to App Store) and a method for them to share (using Twitter or Email). You may also have point-of-sale (POS) QR scans or information (marketing collateral) for the downloadable apps to ensure that current and new customers get the information for the downloadable app at the time of sale.

Once you’ve developed a clear app document, you’re going to need a developer. If you already have an in-house developer, then you’re work is done – give them the document you have and guide them through the project. If you’re running a lean operation, then you’ll need to find a developer to do the work for you. With the search for a developer, you want to make sure they provide for you a clear path to the end result (which you’ve documented), including the distribution. There are plenty of development toolsets that allow you to ‘do most’ of the development work yourself using App hybridization (also called ‘mash up’). These work great for many apps. You’ll have to research the offerings thoroughly to be sure you find your best fit. Don’t fall victim to the “cheapest” on the development side if you find that the ongoing support or even the distribution help is non-existent.

Once the development is completed (and during), you’re going to be testing the app. Test the app with the target audience in mind. Put yourself in their position and run the app through the gauntlet. Distribute your app and run through the tests again.

Now that your app is ‘on the market’, assemble your team and figure out what went right and what went wrong. Document what things you want in any update to the app (this seems to be an ongoing process for many). Also, stick with your marketing plan for the app and be sure it’s promoted properly. An app that is unused turns into a hole into which you pour money and time.

If you follow these seven simple steps, you’re more likely to generate a successful implementation of mobile apps for small to medium-sized businesses. If you’re looking for a far-reaching and complex app, then you’re likely to need more of a formalized SDLC model to achieve success. Take the time to document and follow each step completely through to the project’s completion. You’ll be amazed what a mobile app, properly built, can do for your firm.

David Pratt is a creative consultant with iDesign Mobile Apps, a smartphone application development company located in Nevada and North Carolina. Smartphone users can take advantage of technology by using smartphone apps which help them improve their lives. Mobile apps and mobile web solutions can be discussed with the experts at http://www.iDesignMobileApps.com.

Take advantage of an EzineArticles referral special and get a one-hour consultation on ‘Deploying social media and mobile technology’ for your company. Contact iDesign for details.

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Best Thing Since Sliced Bread: Push Notifications?

Posted on: January 30th, 2012 by iDesign

By David C Pratt

If you’re the user of a smartphone, you’re likely already experienced in the usefulness of Push Notifications – Or are you? You may see push notifications as intrusive status updates from friends in the Facebook realm. Perhaps you see them as bothersome updates from Twitter or your calendaring program. While these feelings and situations may hold some basis in truth and reality, you may not realize the full potential of notices via the push tools from smartphones.

As a developer of smartphone applications, I’ve been accustomed to building applications for customers with their specific needs in mind. This means I build the interfaces, the look and feel, and the behavior of the app to be just as the customer requests for their needs. This typically is the best approach – give the customer what they want. However, what they want may not take in mind what they can do.

With push notifications you can send messages directly to the people who have installed your app, even when the app is closed on a device. What does this do for you? If you’re the customer, you get notifications of sales, services, events and more. If you’re the merchant or provider, you get the ability to share with the users of the app in ways far superior to email or other media alone. With notifications, you create customer engagement by delivering directly information that can be immediately applied to their needs (the customer needs). This can be sports scores, breaking news, game updates, social media posts, stock price quotes and so much more. Each can be tailored to your audience.

There are tools that your developer can employ such as Urban Airship’s Push API, which allow you to send messages to your entire audience, to break your total audience into specific subgroups or to actually use push notifications to the individual level (stock prices, account updates, etc.). These tools allow you to specifically address your customers’ needs while keeping your interactivity level high. The more you’re interacting with your customers, the more you’re able to assure that they are consuming your information and services.

Without getting into the wealth of technical aspects required to make this work, let’s consider some of the applications of the push notifications. Some of these have already been mentioned such as the social media posts and sports stores. You may receive badge updates from Facebook games, notices from friends and similar. But from a commercial perspective, there are plenty of uses beyond this. Consider the following:

  • Inform Customers of Sales and specials
  • Announce Special Events
  • Post job openings (I’ve seen this with a coffee shop!)
  • Coordinate activities (A local Bowling Alley uses this to get tournaments set)
  • Build activist involvement (Political groups find this to be invaluable)

I helped a local beer and concert pub that needed a band (rather unexpectedly) to replace another band that cancelled at the last minute. A Push Notification sent out to the app users for their pub received almost an immediate response from a local band (of rather amusing technologists from a large networking company). The concert pub not only got a replacement band for their Friday night crowd, the ‘Johnny on the spot’ band got exposure (and more bookings).

I’ve seen push notifications in place with sporting groups and similar. A local Bowling alley uses push notifications to fill empty bowling lanes by creating instant App specials (“For two hours only: 10 can bowl for the price of 1!”). These push specials are most often immediately read and people make spur of the moment decisions based on this immediacy of data. A local subscription based gym and athletic club uses their app with push notifications to not only announce new classes (Zumba class is the big new announcement), but they inform the app users when the pool closures occur due to maintenance and inclement weather.

I helped a Midwestern auction house create an app which uses push notifications to not only inform users of upcoming auctions, they allow their users to subscribe to auction notices which allow for lot notices to be pushed to users so they can bid via phone easier. They don’t have to worry about the lots they want – they get notified when those lots are approaching bid and they can make the call to the auction house. Not only does the auction house interact constantly with their customers, they give them a value added service that greatly improves the customer relationship that drives far more sales than before. Push notifications allow you to build your customer touch points and your revenues. (Have you considered the constant opportunity to ‘brand’ yourself with your app? The push notifications underscore the branding.)

If you’re considering the push notices you’ve received, then you can relate back to the practical uses for the push notifications and they become less of an intrusion into your life and more of a benefit. If you’re a marketer (a merchant with an app), then you must consider using push notifications with your apps.

Wow, I just got a push notification: “Don’t cook tonight, come by for gourmet take out!” from a local deli!

David Pratt is a creative consultant with iDesign Mobile Apps, a smartphone application development company located in Nevada and North Carolina. Smartphone users can take advantage of technology by using smartphone apps which help them improve their lives. Mobile apps and mobile web solutions can be discussed with the experts at http://www.iDesignMobileApps.com.

Take advantage of an Ezine referral special and get a one-hour consultation on ‘Deploying social media and mobile technology’ for your company. Contact iDesign for details.

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Smartphone Apps Via Mashup – The New Trend to Great Apps

Posted on: December 18th, 2011 by iDesign

Smartphone Apps Via Mashup – The New Trend to Great Apps
By David C Pratt

Mobile websites and smartphone apps have been rising in both popularity and accessibility in recent months. One of the most significant reasons for this is the ease of creation for the developer and even the business-owner. Creating apps via ‘mashup’, an aggregation of technologies, allows for shorter development times and easier to support apps.

Many development studios use native-only platforms for their code and app development. By no means is this a bad thing. In fact, in my development work, there are many apps that I’ve directed through the cycle with completely native Java/Android/iOS code. For many of our apps, however, mashup was the best solution.

Wikipedia defines mashup as: “In web development, a mashup is a web page or application that uses and combines data, presentation or functionality from two or more sources to create new services. The term implies easy, fast integration, frequently using open APIs and data sources to produce enriched results that were not necessarily the original reason for producing the raw source data.” For the purposes of this article, we’ll define mashup as a combination of HTML services (such as Javascript) with native Android or iOS (Apple) code.

Since there are services available for creating your own app via mashup, the technology (or combination technology) makes it easier for a business owner to implement their own app in just a few days or even hours for those who are adept at many technologies. There are some caveats here with ‘do it yourself’ mashup apps:

  • You have to support your own coding (no help desk here)
  • You have to be sure you write the mashup app in a method which supports usability (many people really have no clue what is needed to make an app look and feel usable)
  • You have to market your own app
  • You have to control your own updates and bug fixes (this can be time-consuming – especially for a business owner)

There are other considerations, but these listed give you a general idea of what kind of burden you may have if you ‘do it yourself’. Of these considerations, I believe the biggest would be the last. If you’re a restaurant owner, your principal work is running a restaurant. It’s not creating and supporting apps. Consider this, if you have your own company, do you use a service like ADP to run your payroll? Or, do you calculate the gross to net and print all the paychecks for employees yourself?

If you’re in the market for a new app for your business, you can specify that the app be created completely using native code. An app developer would tell you that this is a solid method which contributes both to speed of the app and reliability. The cost for this app would be considerably higher than an app developed with mashup. However, you will be able to rest easier knowing that the app would be solid.

If you have an app created by a developer using mashup tools, the cost will be typically half or less than that of pure native code development. For those enterprises that need to save money while having wonderful functionality, mashup may be the way to go.

Should you decide to go the mashup route, you can end up with a fantastic app. Your big decision here is to pay a developer or build it yourself using a web-app service company. Either of these allows for significant cost-savings (for the development portion only) over native coding. However, you really must keep in mind the ongoing support cost of the app.

As a business owner, you really should keep in mind that mobile technology cannot be ignored. Marketing, branding, ease of access and other considerations have to be made. The mobile trend is moving upward and it’s becoming a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’. How are you going to work with it? For most small to medium sized businesses, mashup may be the way to go.

David Pratt is a creative consultant with iDesign Mobile Apps, a smartphone application development company located in Nevada and North Carolina. Smartphone users can take advantage of technology by using smartphone apps which help them improve their lives. Mobile apps and mobile web solutions can be discussed with the experts at http://www.iDesignMobileApps.com.

Take advantage of an Ezine referral special and get a one-hour consultation on ‘Deploying social media and mobile technology’ for your company. Contact iDesign for details.

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Five Methods to Monetize Your Mobile App

Posted on: December 18th, 2011 by iDesign

Five Methods to Monetize Your Mobile App
By David C Pratt

The smartphones are everywhere. You see people chattering with family and friends in the malls and on transit systems. You see people of all ages playing “Angry Birds”, “Cut the Rope” or some other entertaining app. People can cruise through websites with a tap and swipe on smartphones, all while away from their home computer. For years, advertisers capitalized on the home-based (or office based) computers to provide real time and context specific advertisements to web surfers (via their browsers). Money could be made for “pay per click” or similar ad models. This method still works, but the problem for advertisers is that people aren’t using their desktop PCs much any more. They’re using their smartphones.

If you own a smartphone and have downloaded any apps, you may have come across one or more which use in-app branding and possibly in-app advertising. A lot of people are willing to put up with the occasional ad from an advertiser in trade for some cool free app or game. This is the first of the five methods I’d like to present for monetizing your own Mobile apps.

If you’re a publisher of apps – let’s say you’re the manager for a busy nightclub and have an app for promoting your club – then you’re more likely to have a free app than a paid app. You can still make money with a free app!

For starters, here are the five methods for monetizing your Mobile App:

  1. Use AdMob, Millennial Media and others to provide in-app advertising
  2. Sell ad space on your app for vendors and merchants
  3. Link from your app to Affiliate sites and their products
  4. Use Push Notifications
  5. Charge for the app or for in-app purchases

We’re big fans of the free apps. I know for sure I have plenty of free apps on my mobile devices. I tend to recommend free apps to friends as well since I know if they don’t like the apps I recommend, they can always delete them. So, all but one of the methods I describe here will apply to free apps mainly.

If you have your own app being published (or already published, since you can always add more to it in an update), consider using AdMob or another ad aggregating service. Since AdMob is part of the Google family of businesses, many people may already have a relationship with them without even knowing it. Nonetheless, choose one of these and use their SDK tools (this is a job for your developer) and get your Publisher credentials added appropriately to the app. Before you know it, a mini billboard will appear on the screen for your app and you will be on your way to making extra cash. This method is extremely useful for those of you who have created a free app that is downloaded frequently. It’s as simple as: The more users, the more exposure to the ad, and the more potential revenue for you.

If your app is a community based app or an app which is related to specific products or services, consider getting a monthly fee from merchants or vendors to include their information in your app. This method works really well if you have a lot of downloads for your app. If the merchants can see that your app is widely used, it’s almost a no-brainer. They’re likely to ask you if you can help them!

Many operators of stores and other online sites already have relationships with affiliate marketing sites such as Commission Junction and Linkshare. These all work pretty much the same. If you use their tools, you can take their links (for commission) and embed them into your app. As people use your app, they will see these links and (hopefully) will tap/click on them. If they purchase from the linked site, you get commissions.

Personally, I love the iOS method for Push Notifications. These keep me in touch with some of the updates in games and other apps I use. But, if you’re a shrewd marketer, you can use these within your apps to add value and bring in more revenue. This isn’t really monetizing internally (with the app), but the revenue opportunity remains. A push notification allows you to share with your ‘subscribers’ information about your app or a deal you may have. This spurs them to action. A Push Notification can be an immediate call to action for your user community. “Act now and download three free widgets with the purchase of only one!” Get the idea?

Pretty much everyone you could ask would tell you that a distributed free app is better than charging a minimal fee ($0.99) for each download. As time passes, you will find that free apps are downloaded more often and will be shared more freely with others. Getting other people to market for you (by sharing) is highly desired and beneficial. If, however, you do decide to sell your app for a fee, then be sure it’s fee-worthy and provides an ongoing function to your audience. People will not be happy paying for an app that doesn’t provide suitable functionality. Another way to charge for an app is to distribute the app for free, but use in-app purchasing to cover the costs of some add-on feature or downloaded product within the app. I’ve seen this range from downloadable content (PDFs or sound files) to tools or items for games or similar apps. Be sure your pricing model is easy to understand.

We are in a wonderful new frontier with mobile apps and marketing will have to adapt. Use these guidelines to plan your app before it’s distributed for best results.

David Pratt is a creative consultant with iDesign Mobile Apps, a smartphone application development company located in Nevada and North Carolina. Smartphone users can take advantage of technology by using smartphone apps which help them improve their lives. Mobile apps and mobile web solutions can be discussed with the experts at http://www.iDesignMobileApps.com.

Take advantage of an Ezine referral special and get a one-hour consultation on ‘Deploying social media and mobile technology’ for your company. Contact iDesign for details.

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How Political Groups Are Leveraging Technology With Mobile Apps

Posted on: December 18th, 2011 by iDesign

How Political Groups Are Leveraging Technology With Mobile Apps
By David C Pratt

How to get Disability Answers. How to choose the best Car. How to invest in mutual funds. Keep in touch with Lady Gaga!

Do any of these have anything in common to you? To me, they’re all different reasons for apps for smartphones (yes, there is an app to keep in touch with Lady Gaga). The smartphone revolution had given ground to the uprising of new and wonderful (and many not so wonderful) apps. With the ubiquitous mobile phone and the relative ease of use for apps (have you ever seen a manual for angry birds?), apps are becoming the de facto distribution for many groups to disseminate information. This holds true especially for political groups.

There are numerous political action groups who have their own apps. These apps typically heavily oriented toward RSS feed sharing and some social media leveraging. However, many political groups have begun using apps for donations, canvassing, candidate information and more.

The 2008 political campaign showed many pundits and citizens alike how useful mobile technology is to mobilize action. SMS messages, push notifications, Social Media integration and more are examples of tools that many respectable apps are hosting. These functions are needed to make the cause, group, or candidate more:

  • Accessible
  • Respectable
  • Mobile

Let’s consider the access. This can go two ways. First, the group/candidate/cause (from here, I will say marketer to catch all of those) can share access outward to the target audiences. In this case, people who elect to download the app to their smartphones. Second, with the right tools in place, users of the app can ‘share back’ with the marketer to provide feedback, strategic information, opinion, polling data and more. This two way dialogue (of sorts) gives new interest to marketers (in campaign efforts) to harness another channel for getting more people involved.

Let’s face it, if you have an app, you’re using “cutting edge” technology. Right? Well, that’s no longer the case. I’ve been writing mobile tools for some time now and I know this isn’t rocket science. I do know it’s not simple enough for just anyone to do. But, if you have an app, many people will immediately acknowledge that you must have any (or many) of the following: 1) Great ideas, 2) Money, 3) Great connections, 4) Great/unlimited technology resources and 5) Great consideration (after all, you’re sharing with others). Whatever the case, if you have an app, you’re going to find yourself far more respected than a marketer without an app.

Mobile is the way to go these days. People are disconnecting and no longer tied to a desk or home computer. They’re moving around and accessing (hey, this goes back to that accessible point, doesn’t it?) the web and the mobile universe from smartphones. Data has to be mobile to be used. An app travels with the phone and the user always has the phone (test it yourself, you will find that you’re seldom away from your cell/mobile phone) nearby. This gives the marketer amazing potential to mobile branding. Imagine, having a billboard in your audiences’ purses, pockets, desks, and more 23 or 24 hours a day!

The technology from hybridization of native coding and HTML and other tools allows for more robust apps helps now more than ever before. This gives the clear advantage to any campaign, cause, or candidate harnessing a mobile app – at least from a technological point of view.

David Pratt is a creative consultant with iDesign Mobile Apps, a smartphone application development company located in Nevada and North Carolina. Smartphone users can take advantage of technology by using smartphone apps which help them improve their lives. Mobile apps and mobile web solutions can be discussed with the experts at http://www.iDesignMobileApps.com.

Take advantage of an Ezine referral special and get a one-hour consultation on ‘Deploying social media and mobile technology’ for your company. Contact iDesign for details.

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Social Apps Fit Better for Social Clubs

Posted on: December 18th, 2011 by iDesign

Social Apps Fit Better for Social Clubs
By David C Pratt

If anyone ever told you that you shouldn’t go to a bar or club to meet people it wasn’t because you’d meet people. It was for some other reason entirely. Bars, clubs and other social establishments are where you people. In fact, when you think of ‘going out’, most people think of a favorite club, a nearby bar or some other gathering place (in some cases, this may be a mall or shopping location – which, incidentally should use mobile technology too). People congregate to socialize at these locations. Social Media plays right into this. A Smartphone equipped with a social app which harnesses this “socialization” fits beautifully.

Let’s consider how the youth and partying folks of today coordinate:

  • Person A sends an SMS message to Person B, “Hey, going to Acme Bar, wanna meet up?”
  • Person B responds, “Sweet, let’s get Person C to go too.” (To which, Person A responds, “Sweet!”)
  • Person C gets a Facebook message from Person B and a Tweet from Person A. Faced with the incredible peer pressure, Person C relents and agrees to meet A and B at Acme.

Do you see how technology has changed the way these transactions are established? First, no phone conversations were made. Actually, it’s possible real words weren’t even used! (Seriously, have you seen how you can shortcut good English into mere code? U no 2 B gr8.) This is becoming the norm.

A smart business person who owns a bar or other socially oriented (or entertainment oriented) club like the above Acme Bar would realize that Social Media is the start of good communication and marketing. Let’s consider how the above conversation would look if Acme was ‘linked in’ (yes, this is a deliberate play on the words) to the social media world:

  • Person A gets a Tweet from @AcmeBar200 (i had to use this since there actually is a Twitter account for an Acme Bar out there!) which reads: “Get your dance on with DJ and 2 for 1 drink specials 2Nite”. This Twitter message (the “Tweet”) causes Person A to become nearly giddy with excitement.
  • Person A immediately Quotes the Tweet from @AcmeBar200 to their friends (hey, we really mean ‘followers’ here). Person B happens to follow Person A. (Since Person A is also a bit assertive, let’s say they also Direct Message Person B with an invite to Acme.)
  • Person B retweets the message from Person A and not only does Person C get the Tweet. but so do 1238 other people who follow Person B. (Don’t forget the 45 people who follow Person A.)
  • Person B and Person C both Tweet that they are going to Acme Bar to socialize (yeah, let’s call it that.)

As a marketer, your initial Tweet to the followers you have (let’s just say you have 400 followers) has been exposed to over 1600 people! This is also free marketing!

I could detail a number of additional ‘possible’ scenarios that would apply the use of social media for activity planning. However, you likely already have a good idea of how it can be used.

Social Media has grown in popularity so much; its use is represented in all age groups. The use of social media on a mobile device (this can include iPod and iPad and other tablets, not just smartphones) has also grown accordingly. The early adopters in businesses have embraced this technology set. This pioneering spirit provides nearly immediate dividends to the marketing efforts.

In the above example, Acme can use Facebook to promote their establishment. “Friends” of Acme can post to the wall with pictures and video. This, combined with a few well-placed comments like “Had a great time!” are akin to being the best possible peer recommendations a company can’t buy!

I’ve written articles before on the power of peer recommendation. It’s vital to recognize the power that can be achieved with social media’s platform of Peer review and recommendation. The amazing successes of business models that employ social media aspects underscore this. Consider “Angie’s List”. This is a model that heavily leverages peer review and recommendations. This is no different from a few photos on someone’s Facebook page with a location tag of Acme. The only difference, really, is that Angie’s List is a destination site (you go there for reviews, specifically) whereas Facebook is a browsing site (you don’t go to Facebook to find a review on a restaurant – although you could).

All this equates to a significant suggestion: Any socially oriented business such as a bar, nightclub, restaurant, social group or organization, or similar will benefit if they create a marketing plan which includes the use of social media. If you don’t already have a marketing plan for your business, then get going! This is like heading out on vacation to Florida without knowing which direction south is. You’ll end up somewhere; it just may not be in Florida.

I’ve seen very successful social media implementations for businesses that contribute greatly to marketing success. The best solutions use business type accounts (business named Twitter) AND personal accounts. The reason for this: People view business Tweets as “ads”. People view personal Tweets as “Reviews or recommendations”. The same holds true for Facebook and other social media apps and sites.

For those of you who’ve read this information and are wondering, “How do I get started?” go ahead and start educating yourself on Social Media. There are numerous sources to help you get a handhold into the realm of social media. Don’t worry about making too many mistakes at first. Follow the sage advice that you can get and see where things go. Track your successes and failures. This is the only way to have a roadmap for duplication of wins. If you’re the owner or manager of a socially-oriented business or organization, then you owe it to yourself to do what you can to get the low-cost and very effective social media marketing in place. Start succeeding with social!

David Pratt is a creative consultant with iDesign Mobile Apps, a smartphone application development company located in Nevada and North Carolina. Smartphone users can take advantage of technology by using smartphone apps which help them improve their lives. Mobile apps and mobile web solutions can be discussed with the experts at http://www.iDesignMobileApps.com.

Take advantage of an EzineArticles referral special and get a one-hour consultation on ‘Deploying social media and mobile technology’ for your company. Contact iDesign for details.

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Branding and Peer Recommendations – What Can a Mobile App Provide for You?

Posted on: December 18th, 2011 by iDesign

Branding and Peer Recommendations – What Can a Mobile App Provide for You?
By David C Pratt

I was bowling this weekend with other league bowlers at the local AMF bowling center. In between frames, we’re all very talkative. One of the conversation topics centered on restaurants in the area. I learned about a new seafood restaurant that had opened. This restaurant replaced an Asian restaurant in the same building. Everyone spoke highly of this new restaurant so I decided to take the family there.

What happened in this event was simple: Peer Recommendation. I likely wouldn’t have even thought about going unless I had been told about the restaurant. Further, my peers let me know of the change of format for the restaurant. Both informative and editorial – this conversation helped me choose a new restaurant to visit.

This bowling alley conversation got me pondering more about the strength of peer reviews. I thought back to the times just recently when I took peer information to heart when making a decisions on: A brand of Duct Tape to use, a restaurant to visit, a brand of office copy paper, and a mechanic for my car.

Reviews and recommendations are becoming a more powerful marketing tool in the online world. Most of us trust the word of mouth from other ordinary people like us – our peers. We’re a lot more apt to follow a peer recommendation than not. According to a recent article posted in Socialnomics.net, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 14% trust advertisements.

If you think about it, advertising is what a lot of businesses purchase. How much of the advertising is effective? You may see a sign for a business or hear about it on the radio or TV, but does that make you think, “Hey, let’s go there!” at all? Think about what happens when you hear from a friend’s accounting of their good visit to that same business. This is far more impactful on your impressions.

You may recognize a brand (like McD’s golden arches) easily. When you see it (it’s not all the time, it’s maybe when you’re out and about), you know what they offer. You know from experiences whether you will visit there again. Peer recommendation, at this point, is only moderately in play. The brand can be so strong it overrides the need for review or recommendation. If you own or operate a small business, your brand won’t be as strong and is still likely unrecognizable to many.

How do you fix this? How do you couple this with the power of peer recommendations? There are many considerations that come to mind. However, I’m approaching the issue with a single platform of a smartphone app. What does a smartphone app offer in the way of branding or peer recommendations? The answer is simple: Nothing. This is of course incorrect if you have a customized app that helps you leverage the social media and mobile technology together. Mobile apps for social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook can help, somewhat. But these also allow the message to get lost in the sea of posts and status updates. You can, however, use the social media aspects, clear the clutter, and show a cohesive branding solution. You’ll also be able to display peer recommendations on a customized app.

One way to do this is to have a tab structure in your app that shows your organization’s Twitter posts (and retweets) exclusively. This is pretty simple to do using the Twitter API. The advantage of this is that the Twitter posts you make will show in a singular platform without being clouded by other status updates from other’s in their “follows”. Your Twitter profile should contain your ‘branding’ message. Whether this is your USP or similar, you should make sure you’re displaying something for easy recognition of your organization. The Tweets will help underscore your branding. Also, don’t use Twitter to overtly promote your business. People tend to prefer reading more personal posts. Business only posts are shunned.

Your Facebook page can also be shown in a tab on a mobile App, this will contain more valid information than the Twitter tab. For this tab, you can show not only your branding, but you can have you “Likes” shown, posts to your wall from fans and more. This is especially useful if people like to take pictures and video at your location. These multimedia-shared items are peer recommendations as long as they are not coupled with negative comments. In my experience, you can get a lot of leverage out of Facebook in a mobile-enabled website, a mobile app, and in native Facebook from the peer referral perspective.

A good designer can also create a tab on your app that provides an API linkage to either Facebook or Twitter – allowing your app to show a ‘Fan page’ within the app. This effectively gives all users of your app a single source for peer recommendations. Branding through this is limited (maybe display a logo on the page). But the recommendations of peers and their favorable comments will carry a lot of weight.

Branding gets a big push with constant display of your logo and possibly your USP on the app. Think about it: Your logo is on their phone 24 hours a day! As long as your branding is clear, they get a reminder of who you are nearly every time they pick up their phone. Plus, you can push this branding more with Push Notifications.

All in all, a mobile app works alongside any Social Media marketing that you may employ. It cannot work alone with the same effectiveness. However, if you consistently support your branding and promote peer recommendations with your Social Media efforts, you can capitalize on this with a mobile app. People can see the repeated messages in Social Media and the mobile apps. If you’re doing this really well, you’re doing it on your mobile-enabled wed site as well!

David Pratt is a creative consultant with iDesign Mobile Apps, a smartphone application development company located in Nevada and North Carolina. Smartphone users can take advantage of technology by using smartphone apps which help them improve their lives. Mobile apps and mobile web solutions can be discussed with the experts at http://www.iDesignMobileApps.com.

Take advantage of an Ezine referral special and get a one-hour consultation on ‘Deploying social media and mobile technology’ for your company. Contact iDesign for details.

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Seven Reasons Why Restaurants Must Embrace Mobile Technology

Posted on: November 21st, 2011 by iDesign

By David C Pratt

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I was sitting at a nearby Starbucks last year, sipping on an over-priced latte, and reading when I noticed a young couple from the local college studying together. They were sharing a Macbook and apparently were working on a report. While the young lady was typing, the young man took a break and started tapping on his iPhone. Now, I must reveal that I love people watching. Airports and malls are the best but coffee bars and libraries work well too. You can really pass the time just figuring out the nuances of what folks are thinking and doing with their lives.

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After some moments of tapping on his iPhone, the young man smiled broadly and whispered to his friend. She smiled and they both began a long dialogue on some mysterious (at least to me) subject. He then went back to his tapping and she returned to the typing on the Macbook.

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As I was preparing to leave, I went to the cashier and ordered a coffee to go for my office manager. While waiting, I could hear the young man speaking. He was happy for a friend of theirs who apparently sent out a Twitter announcing his success with a midterm exam. He’d called for his compatriots to meet him that evening at a local watering hole, which happened to be having a special on Buffalo Wings (two for one deal!) and pitchers of beer.
What did this moment of eavesdropping tell me? Well, for one thing, I could get cheap wings locally instead of driving to the neighboring town. I also learned that young people really do rely on Twitter and Facebook (this part was assumed) to drive their social engagements.

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I’ve since worked with multiple clients who have had smartphone apps built for their businesses that have already built a strong following in Social Networks. All but one of these clients also decided to use their mobile app in concert with their Social Networking. This means they gave their clients access to their Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and blogs via their smartphone apps. This immediately streamlined their New Media posts into one platform yet enabled a distribution on multiple channels.

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I took the information that I learned from these clients and started using this with new clients. One new client was a restaurant and entertainment facility. I pitched to them the following reasons why mobile technology should not be ignored and they agreed wholeheartedly. Not only did they agree, but they also ran with the idea. They’ started using QR codes, instant coupons, Social Media blasts (notifications to users of their app), email capture tools, online menus and reservation systems and more. All in all, they ran with the whole idea of New Media and smartphone technology with great success.

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Now, before we get too involved, let’s hit those seven key reasons:

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  • Social Media operates within the mobile technology framework.
  • Mobile phones are constantly near the audience.
  • PC-Based Email messages are delayed and awkward.
  • People rely on their social networks more frequently for their decision-making and planning exercises.
  • Menu and other changes can be immediately communicated
  • A Mobile app can attract new customers
  • A Mobile app can improve customer service.

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The first reason directly relates to my experience with the Starbucks customers and to my recent client. Social Media already works on smartphones and can be hosted within a smartphone app. Let’s say you have a Twitter account for your restaurant. You use it to entertain and inform your followers. You continue to do this while bringing your exclusive stream of Tweets into your smartphone app. This means your app shows only your Tweets where the messages are not obscured by a Twitter-follower’s other streams.

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The second reason is somewhat obvious. If you had a chance to have a billboard at the entrance of every neighborhood – branding your business every day – would you consider it? What about having your brand on the audience’s smartphones 24 hours a day?
When you employ Push Notifications, the email world becomes somewhat obsolete and lonely. People read push notifications almost immediately. They’re a treat for some people. If you use Push in addition to email advertising, you will see far more effective promotions take shape.

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Peer review and referral are already very vital and are becoming more important with social media. If your customers share your app with others, then the receivers automatically have an ‘understood’ or ‘implied’ value to the app. Why else would my friend send me this app if they didn’t like it? When more users have your app, your social media and push notifications become far more effective.

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Using mobile tools to share information becomes an easier proposition to understand when you can use the immediacy of communications to help promote “band night”, “Two for One appetizer specials”, or “Buy one, get one” deals on a slow evening. What’s the value of one more customer on a slow night?

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If the previous items are addressed, you’re going to be more apt to attract new customers. Recall that your customers will market your restaurant for you. A good mobile app developer will integrate tools to allow for sharing of the app with their friends, family and co-workers.

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You can tie everything together with good customer service. As you know, once you’ve earned a new customer, you really need to keep them. In this economy, you may find it’s easier to keep existing customers happy – even if they reduce the frequency of their visits. Use a mobile app and social media to make all customers feel welcomed. Use the feedback from Social Media and built in app tools (like comment pages) to not only make improvements, but to share with potential new customers.

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If you’re already a Twitter or Facebook fan, then you’re already on your way to harnessing even more of the power of Social and mobile media.

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David Pratt is a creative consultant with iDesign Mobile Apps, a smartphone application development company located in Nevada and North Carolina. Smartphone users can take advantage of technology by using smartphone apps which help them improve their lives. Mobile apps and mobile web solutions can be discussed with the experts at http://www.iDesignMobileApps.com.
Take advantage of an Ezine referral special and get a one-hour consultation on ‘Deploying social media and mobile technology’ for your company. Contact iDesign for details.

_______________________________________________________________
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