Facebook for… things?

Imagine a world where your bike, your sofa, and your oven are all smart-tagged and digitized. That’s how one company envisions the future of your stuff. Check out this video from EVRYTHNG (whose developers should really go on Wheel of Fortune to buy a few vowels for their company):

EVRYTHNG’s co-founder Andy Hobsbawm touts the technology as “a Facebook for things” that connects your products so you can interact with them as smart Web objects.

Would you ever use EVRYTHNG to tag your things?

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How to get more from your content marketing campaign

via somefun.net
via somefun.net

Say you want to promote your business. You’ve got your Facebook page, your Twitter account, YouTube, Instagram, Foursquare, maybe even a Pinterest presence. Mix in regular blog entries, article contributions, and traditional marketing methods… let’s just say you’re definitely not in GeoCities territory anymore.

But how do you cast your net even further to widen your audience? What else could you possibly do, you content wizard, you?

Easy: A content marketing campaign. You’ve already accumulated countless pieces of fresh, informative expert advice – now you just have to compile it and present it in a new way.

Some ideas to get you started:

* Develop a podcast or video series. Consider content you’ve already created, like footage from a public speaking gig. Reappropriate articles by recording them and adding new information onto original content.

* Make sure you’re cross-promoting all your content across many media channels. For example, most blogs let you “publicize” your new post to everything from LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter to Tumblr. That’s definitely working smarter, not harder – minimum effort, maximum exposure.

* Consider compiling your older content into an e-book – the wave of the future, if I dare say so. Look around on any airplane and you’ll see faces washed in the glow of Kindles and Nooks. E-books are an affordable way to get your name out to a potentially huge audience, especially when priced right. Try offering a few sample chapters first to hook your readers.

* Create content with the potential to go viral. Keep it short, visual, and engaging. We’re talking infographics, “top ten” lists, or an amusing video. Think of what you click on every day; how much of that do you share with your social media audience? What constitutes something worth sharing?

Put simply, your two-step process goes like this: 1) Engage your audience. 2) Make your content worth their time.

Now go out there and create some compelling content!

What makes Vine so hot?

Reblogged from Mashable.com – an insightful op-ed on the #4 app in the App Store. How do you think Vine will affect the social media landscape? – SS

by Chris Taylor

Vine-markerIt’s the kind of moment that comes rarely, but tech journalists live for it: a service is launched with little fanfare and receives a sudden, energetic burst of genuine buzz. Developers start remixing it in all kinds of fascinating ways. It’s supremely easy to use, and mobile, so we get hooked.

The technology itself is not new, but it is presented in a new and interesting form. It fosters creative competition. It starts to get traction in our lives.

The last time the tech world could agree this was happening was the launch of Instagram in 2010. We’d seen plenty of photo services before; Flickr had been around for the better part of a decade.

But here was one that was kind of a throwback to instant cameras, kind of something new, supremely social and creative in a quick and easy way.

It also resolutely refused to exist as anything other than an iPhone app. If you wanted to use it, you pulled your phone out of your pocket, took some snapshots and filtered them, or browsed the work of others. The fast-loading stream of Polaroid-like shots was a perfect match for a smartphone screen.

You hoped your gauzy efforts would rack up Likes from friends, of course. Who doesn’t crave that recognition? But you also felt like you were participating in an historic, global effort to document human life, one snap at a time.

In short, Instagram perfectly captured the ineffable shared something that 21st century Internet users have taken to calling “the now.”

Now here comes 2013’s hot contender, another iPhone app: Vine. It’s too early to tell if the service is going to blossom like Instagram did (the service has 90 million active users and counting, two and a half years after launch).

Vine is currently #4 in the App Store, beating out Google Maps and YouTube. It’s the top social networking app by far.

Why Vine Will Thrive: Three Words

One advantage Vine does have in its search for staying power is the enormous benefit of starting out with a major social service, Twitter, as a parent. (Instagram had to prove itself in the wild before it was snapped up by Facebook in a deal originally valued at $1 billion.)

And if anything, Vine is even better at capturing “the now” than Instagram.

Like Twitter, Vine benefits from an inherent limit. The parent company won’t let you transmit more than 140 characters of your brilliance at a time; Vine makes you shoot your video in six seconds or less. Those six seconds don’t have to be consecutive — you just start and stop recording by tapping on the screen — which can lead to all manner of interesting stop-motion animations, such as this heroic example from Mashable‘s own Jeremy Cabalona.

That means Vine is easily understandable, even mockable — as in this animation from the blog Willa’s World:

That’s fine. Instagram was consistently mocked as a purveyor of food photos. Twitter was consistently mocked as a stream of short “what I had for breakfast” updates. Neither stereotype stopped tremendous growth. Indeed, they may well have aided it.

What mattered in each case was that the service was easily summarized and differentiated. You could grok it instantly. You had a reason to try it. And here’s a good rule of thumb: if you can describe what makes a service different in three easy words — “filtered square photos,” perhaps, or “140 character updates,” or “six-second videos” — it has a good shot at taking off.

To put it another way, here’s how top Valley VC Marc Andreessen has described his process for deciding which companies to invest in: “I look for the thing people are laughing at, but is growing like a weed.”

Or, indeed, a vine.

Haven’t We Been Here Before?

Some argue that Cinemagram, or GIF creation tools like it, are better apps than Vine. Cinemagram has more functionality — you can, for example, create a GIF that loops back and forth in time, rather than repeating the way Vine does.

But that doesn’t really matter. Cinemagram and apps like it are riding a wider wave of animated GIFs. They’ve sacrificed differentiation to be part of a web trend. Can you honestly tell whether a GIF was created on Cinemagram? Do you care? Can you make the service sound unique in three words?

Vine videos are short, but they’re noticeably longer than most GIFs. There’s less of that jarring ADD sensation. You can pack a surprising amount of visual information into six seconds. And because it’s in a stream, you’re encouraged to move on to the next one rather than stare at the same video over and over.

GIFs are timeless; part of their appeal is they can be reused in online conversation over and over. Favorite GIFs become memes, and favorite memes become GIFs. But Vine’s appeal is almost the opposite. It’s raw footage, cinema verite. It’s not surprising that the first news Vine, a dolphin trapped in New York harbor, arrived almost immediately.

You can see that most clearly on a service like Vinepeek, which aggregates Vine videos in real time. The results are quotidian, but endlessly fascinating. A guy jumps for joy in a parking lot. A horse grazes in a field. Someone opens a Pop Tart. Someone bowls a strike.

All human (and non-human) life is here. It’s the now, in its purest distilled form.

Is Vine going to keep growing, or will it wilt? Share your predictions in the comments.