Author: strategisadmin

The Google Crisis Map: A Storm Saving Grace

Just as Hurricane Sandy barreled towards the Northeast on Monday, Google unveiled a new crisis map that enables users to follow the storm’s path. Although the map is cool by nature, given its real-time, interactive capabilities, its availability is vital to those who lay in the storm’s path. This map also serves as a saving grace of information for long distance friends and family members who are concerned for their next of kin, and are unable to get in contact with them.

With the current death toll at 69 as a result of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction in the Caribbean, Google’s crisis map serves as an essential source of information for dwellers of the Northeast. Not only does the map offer real-time Doppler location of the storm but evacuation alerts, shelter locations, and flood warnings, amongst others. This helpful tool isn’t the first for the Google machine; they have also created maps and resource pages for the July 2012 California wildfires and the August 2012 floods in the Philippines.

 Now, although the map serves as a useful tool in the event of natural disasters, one important note is that you may not always have access to it via your computer or mobile device. Most times during a storm of this magnitude, many people are without power and thus a strong Wi-Fi connection needed to power the Internet. The crisis map is a web-based application that requires the Internet to fully utilize the features. This is not to say that the map is completely obsolete, given that there are people who have sustained power; but for the estimated 7.4 million who do not have that luxury, preemptive measures must be taken.

Helpful Safety Tool or Aid to Overbearing Parents: The Inside Scoop on this Halloween’s Trick or Tracker

This Halloween, parents have a new and improved tool to help their children stay safe. The Trick or Tracker App was created to ease the minds of parents while traveling in the dark of night for trick-or-treating. Compatible with many smart phones on the market, the GPS enabled app works as a virtual compass between parents and children.

While parents can download the app regardless of what smart phone they own, their children must have an Android OS phone in order to be tracked. The app is easy to navigate for both parent and child, where simple buttons like “Locate my parent” or “Where’s my child?” keep each person informed of their surroundings. Additionally, the app enables parents to establish a geo-fence that their children are allowed to travel within- if they wander outside of that zone the GPS will sense their movement and send an alert to parents.

For parents, this tech savvy app is a savior to their worrisome thoughts on All Hallows Eve. From a notable spike in fall and winter crimes to managing your disobedient children, this app certainly utilizes every scare tactic in the book to reel parents in.

It can be argued, however, that this app also leaves parents solely reliant on technology to look after their children. What happened to the old fashioned days when parents would accompany their kids while trick-or-treating? Or maybe, just allowing them to trick-or-treat alone with a well-communicated curfew? Although technology and social media have changed our lives for the better in many instances, this app leans towards minimizing the effort in parenting, which can be argued to have negative or positive effects. What are your thoughts on the matter?

 

New Social Media Site Breaks Ground in Breast Cancer Fight

Stepping into the social media landscape is MyBCTeam.com, an online social network that aims to connect breast cancer patients and survivors to each other. Through detailed profiles of their cancer type and treatment plan, these women are given a comforting virtual space to interact and bond despite this distressing disease. As the first social network to cater specifically to breast cancer patients, MyBCTeam.com is utilizing the power of cyberspace to spearhead the fight against breast cancer.

Developed by MyHealthTeams, a California based company that specializes in creating social media sites for people suffering from chronic diseases; MyBCTeam is making leaps and bounds in both the social media and health care industries. Not only does the site provide a network of support between patients and survivors, but also offers a directory of health providers who can be referenced during treatment. To further enhance connectivity amongst its users, MyBCTeam has developed iOS and Android applications for on-the-go support and connectivity, not to mention accompanying Facebook and Twitter accounts that offer insightful articles for cancer patients, seen here:

MyBCTeam’s features are unique in comparison to medical discussion boards and information sites. The social network offers one-on-one interactions between patients and survivors, rather than cold information that can be quite daunting to delve into.

It has been highly noted that a close support system during treatment of the disease is a crucial factor in recovery. Aside from their families, doctors, and spiritual leaders, breast cancer patients are given a further extended system of support that is bound by strength beyond this disease. Spanning beyond this technological feat is a greater achievement that has been made to enhance medical recovery with the aid of social media.

Controversy Looms as Reddit Stands by Freedom of Speech

The self-proclaimed “home page of the internet”, Reddit, has come under recent scrutiny for their questionable conduct in handling controversial discussion boards. Founded in 2005, by two college grads, the site offers user-generated news stories and pictures in forums dubbed “subreddits”. The recent controversy erupted in the last few days over subreddits that contained inappropriate pictures of a voyeuristic nature.

Following public outrage of these message boards, Reddit soon moved to eliminate the discussions and attached pictures. To make matters worse for the company, a noted contributor to the site, Adrian Chen, tracked and confronted Michael Brutsch, also known as Violentacrez, the man who managed the inappropriate forums on Reddit. Subsequently, Chen released an article on his personal website exposing the details of their phone interaction and the charges of ill-willed conduct.

The social news website soon lashed out on Chen, blocking any links to his articles and previous posts on Reddit; this done seemingly to protect Brutsch who is known to have close ties to many of the higher ups in the company. Furthermore, in a move that has baffled many since this dispute erupted, Reddit has stood by their first amendment right to freedom of speech in defense of Michael Brutsch’s actions; this on the heels of their grievance against Adrian Chen who publicly condemned Brutsch’s actions.

While Reddit’s right to freedom of speech is valid according to the U.S. constitution, this company also has a moral obligation to their patrons to filter, track, and eliminate inappropriate content and conduct on its site.  This responsibility spans farther than the issue of patron misconduct on Brutsch’s behalf, but Reddit’s seemingly insincere actions in condoning his behavior by standing by the first amendment.

Encouraging photos and discussion of under-aged girls and female up-skirt shots is unacceptable in every aspect of our lives including the workplace. Why is this instance any different?  Social media sites including Facebook and YouTube enable users with the power to report offensive images and videos from their sites. Why are Adrian Chen’s actions any different? Consider these questions when weighing in on the social site controversy.

RapGenius.com Steps on the Virtual Scene Schoolin’ the World on the Word

Buzz is stirring across all forms of media over an innovative, Wikipedia like site that is making waves in the music and technology industries. RapGenius.com is an annotative-based site that allows patrons to decipher the hidden meanings behind popular music lyrics. For example, in a posting of singer Frank Ocean’s release, “Pyramids”, a user can click on the listed bars and find the meaning behind the lyrics, seen here:

In Rap Genius’ case, the title doesn’t say it all. The site offers commentary not only for music, but political speeches including Michelle Obama’s recent DNC speech, and historical works such as the Magna Carta. By offering such a diverse range of works, the site aims to create an ever-evolving virtual community that is constantly engaged and continuously contributing. Rap Genius would thus span far beyond the music scope into mainstream knowledge that can appeal to anyone from any discipline.

The site works simply by allowing registered users to offer their explanation of posted song lyrics, in addition to posting and interpreting songs that may not have already been added to the site. As a user, if you continuously offer sound explanations, you will earn RapIQ™ and soon be able to edit all posts on the site- a feature reminiscent of the virtual encyclopedia Wikipedia.

An added bonus to RapGenius.com is the “Verified Artist” feature, where real musical artists and experts are given the opportunity to explain their own lyrics and works to the masses. Anyone from Waka Flocka Flame to Intellectual Property lawyer Mark Lemley can verify their user account and contribute to the Rap Genius community. Not only does this feature serve as a source of credibility for the site, but something that the founders like to call “textual crack” for their loyal patrons. In having the real artist explain the meaning behind their lyrics, the site sustains a lifeline of engagement from users, keeping them looking for the next post and the next explanation.

With a recent $15 million investment from Internet entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, RapGenius.com harbors potential that will surely captivate genres that reach far beyond rap music. In a recent interview, the founders also mentioned talks of iPhone and Android applications; in addition to browser extensions and Java plug ins for external annotation viewing on other sites.

Rap Genius’ loyal community is fostered in social media, leading an additional pathway for growth and expansion. Annotating is only the beginning for RapGenius.com; in a virtual landscape where knowledge can be acquired instantaneously, the site’s offerings have the potential to develop new cultural habits, while enhancing our understanding of the world around us. Take for instance Facebook; what was once a small start up firm that aimed to connect college students has now grown to global proportions, now connecting long lost friends and family, enhancing personal and professional reputations, and changing human interaction, as we know it. Rap Genius may be etching closer and closer to a similar destiny.

Growth of PearlTrees in the Social Media Jungle

PearlTrees is a digital library designed with a unique interface and mapping style. It’s a place to classify, store and save your favorite media found online.

This is popular social media ground to tread: Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Pinterest – These would all be considered social bookmarking. We’ve watch them rise and we’ve watched some fall, some change, and some become super trendy. So what makes PearlTrees different? A visually unique interface. Taking cues from Pinterest and Facebook, PearlTrees offers a visual approach online media storage. The PearlTrees map-like style works well with tablets and the smartphones and integrates well with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Looks a lot like ThinkMap Visual Thesaurus, but with websites.

The biggest problem with Pearltrees is that it is Pinterest with cumbersome organization. Where Pinterest relies on pictures and videos to identify content, Pearltrees uses screenshots. Rather than neat boards you have branchy trees that are not easily sorted through. I imagine bailing on this program quickly once a pearl tree hits a certain, hard to filter size where I’d no longer be able to sort through what it there.

I’m approaching this just as I would television’s new Fall lineup when I’m deciding which new shows look really appealing . It’s a big fat no to Matthew Perry’s Go On, and it’s a big fat no to PearlTrees.

Meme Madness

meme  (miːm)   — n an idea or element of social behavior passed on through generations in a culture, esp by imitation

You might not know what the original definition is, but you have undeniably seen them throughout the World Wide Web. Memes have become an inseparable part of our pop culture in the form of TV shows and movies.

Here are some of the best that the Internet has to offer:

“Nope, Chuck Testa”

The famous ads for this Californian taxidermy has caught the Internet by storm with its catchphrase and it’s GOTCHA moment. It has caught on with spoofs that have included deceased celebrities such as Mufasa, Dumbledore, and Tupac.

Chuck Testa

My Little Pony

Real men watch cartoons about ponies. #bronies

First World Problems

War, poverty, and disease…favorite shows aren’t in HD, waking up at 10am to get breakfast at McDonald’s, and more!

Mambo Number 5

College Freshman

We all knew or were “that kid” during our undergraduate years.

Nyan Cat

The flying 8-bit, cherry pop-tart wearing cat that sparked a media sensation. The Internet is truly made for cats.

Nyan Cat Cover

 

As funny and entertaining some memes have become, they have also generated a considerable amount of criticism. With the Internet becoming easily accessible, memes are now more prominent as they have become faster to upload and spread. However, such convenience has turned memes into a product of quantity instead of quality. With more user-generated memes comes an influx of unfunny memes and even offensive ones. In addition, with more memes comes an inability to find quality memes in a sea of mediocrity.

 Lame Meme

The comedy gold of Conspiracy Keanu and Good Guy Greg can be the highlight of any Internet user’s day. Nothing could taint a meme’s reputation more than a Reddit or Facebook user posting a weak meme and then spending hours defending it. Even too much of a good thing can be overkill.

Best iPad Apps For Small Business

Consolidate all the bells and whistles of your company office desk into your iPad with these nifty apps.

Pages

This app is exclusively designed for Apple and helps you create and edit letters, memos, and reports. It works with iCloud and comes with 16 templates.

Price: $9.99

Omnifocus

Provides task management by project, place, person or date. It comes with a map that helps you see the actions closest to you, allows you to break large tasks into smaller ones, and coordinates with Siri. The top rated task management app in the iTunes app store!

Price: $19.99 on iPhone; $39.99 on iPad

Hootsuite

Send and schedule updates for your social media profiles from almost anywhere. HootSuite also lets you translate from over 50 languages.

Price: Free for up to five social media profiles

Hoot Suite

Intuit Go Payment

Accept credit cards with your iPad using this free card reader and app.

OmniGraffle

Create quick diagrams, process charts, page layouts, etc with built-in stencils and more. It turns your iPad into a canvas.

Price: $49.99

Dropbox

Access your photos, docs, and videos anywhere with Dropbox!

Price: Free

Drop Box

SignEasy

Sign documents from your i.Pad securely using your finger or a stylus.

Price: Free

Quickoffice Pro HD

#1 office editing suite for iPad helps you create and edit Microsoft Office docs, spreadsheets, and power points along with PDF files.

Price: $19.99

Scanner Pro

Scan checks, agreements, and receipts with your iPhone/iPad.

Price: $6.99
Scanner Pro 4

iThoughts HD

Got an idea? Capture them, sort them visually, and share with others with iThoughts HD!

Price: $9.99

Penultimate

With this app, you’ll never need a pen and notebook again!

Price: $0.99

Segmenting Your Marketing E-mails

This is the final entry in our four part blog series about e-mail marketing. The other entries can be found here, here, and here.

40 percent of the time an e-mail is sent to a subscriber, it gets marked as spam is due to irrelevancy. Don’t let your e-mails meet this fate. Targeting your e-mails to segmented audiences can help you generate higher click-through rates and keep your messages relevant. Here are several ways that you can segment your target audience:

Geography

Many small businesses have a strong connection to a local area or region. When your company has geographic limitations, segment e-mails relevant to people within the area. For non-locals, e-mails regarding invitations to special events would be irrelevant and will most likely get sent to the spam box.

Recipient

When it comes to e-mails, it is as important “who it’s being sent to” as “what’s being sent.” For instance, you would speak differently to a seller than a buyer. For different roles come different interests and targets.

Social Media Marketing

Interest

Using analytics, check out content that your audience members have viewed on your page (i.e. items they have downloaded.) Then use this to create more targeted e-mail for each audience.

Behavior

A visitor who browses five or more of your pages has different needs than a first timer. Your targeted e-mail, set up by marketing analytics, should be reflective of that.

Brand advocacy

Create a “brand advocates” section for your e-mail list. This list should contain frequent purchasers, loyal social media followers, and customers who have recommended your company. Give back to your fan base by sending specialized e-mails, feedback requests, and rewards.

Branding

Through analytics and market research, you can segment e-mails that are consistent with your business strategy and your customers’ purchasing behavior while avoiding the dreaded spam box.

How to Avoid The Catch-22 Of Personal Banking

Dissatisfied with your Bank of America or Citibank account but reluctant to switch? Join the club. Javelin’s 2012 Financial Institution Vulnerability Index indicates that about 11% of consumers surveyed in March 2012 indicate they are at risk of switching primary financial institutions in the coming year, putting $675 billion in deposits at risk. Despite the fact that Bank Transfer Day gave an open window for Americans to protest banking fees by switching from The Big Four (Citi, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase,) they chose not to. And for a compelling reason: The Big Four have a monopoly on banking convenience.

Wanted to switch from the cable provider that’s been giving you nightmares couldn’t because your apartment landlord prohibits installing a dish? The same can be said of the banking industry. While community banks and credit unions often offer better quality customer service and lower rates, they are unfortunately restricted by a Catch-22.

Military financial service company USAA, for example, offers reimbursement for every ATM fee along with consistently high ratings for customer satisfaction. The Catch-22? There are no physical locations, meaning that all deposits must be done through a UPS store, mail, or online. Thus, despite the peace-of-mind of not having to pay $3.00 for every non-Bank of America transaction, I seldom use my USAA account. Instead, I often find myself making another disgruntled phone call to one of my “Giant Bank” accounts disputing a service fee or balance inquiry fee.

Much like cable companies often exploit their “apartment satellite install policy” customers with escalating monthly fees and dismal customer service, the Big Four finagle their customers by using their mobile and online banking convenience to validate their excessive fees. Meanwhile, regional banks are often left to settle for scraps.

What regional banks can do:
Engage in mobile and online banking: Local banks and credit unions are notorious for being “behind-the-times” when it comes to using technology with banking. (Hence, many don’t even have a Facebook and Twitter page.) This stigmatizes smaller banks as being inconvenient and disadvantages them in comparison to the giant banks. Engaging in “on-the-go” banking will repudiate this stigma and offset the need for an ATM/branch on every corner.
Emphasize the lower fees and better customer service: If it weren’t for a friend recommendation, I never would have known about USAA and its ATM-fee reimbursement. The bliss of not having to call the Big Four’s hotline regarding a fee gives local banks and credit unions a significant advantage. Smaller banks don’t emphasize this strongly enough.

Bank Transfer Day revealed the Giant Banks’ vulnerability. Javelin’s 2012 Financial Institution Vulnerability Index also indicated that an astounding 25% of Citibank and 21% of Bank of America customers were likely or very likely to switch. Regional banks and credit unions have a great opportunity to acquire these disenchanted customers and make their bank their primary financial provider. This could be the moment where customers finally consider their local banks as a long term option.