Regardless of the many predictions of Facebook’s imminent demise, I still use the site on a daily basis to keep tabs on friends and family. The beauty of the desktop version is that everything is seamless and together (well almost everything). Conversations usually evolve around a recently posted photograph (often via Instagram), event or video, or shared topical / amusing social media. The main thrust being that Facebook on the desktop holds together the context and the conversations. Many a time is a Facebook Chat sparked off by some mutually connected media - and the conversations stay focused on the context when all elements are presented together.
When we worked on the UKTV sites many years ago, we saw the impact on their many sites’ Forums of ’lack of context’ - as Forum conversations very quickly lost their topicality and focus when there was no context to the conversations. That is why I stated some years ago that threaded comments were the new Forums as they ensured that the conversations always maintained context.
Facebook is currently engaged in lots of different mobile ’experiments’ - nothing is fixed or final yet, but there does seem to be a concerted move now away from ’all-in-one’ and towards individual apps. As a starter, Instagram has never been fully seamlessly integrated into Facebook, and now the Chat component is being pulled out on mobile into the separate ’Messenger’ app. Americans also have the benefit of using ’Facebook Paper’ which is Facebook’s version of Flipboard, and a possible replacement for the main News Feed - all these actions essentially eroding the ’sum of the parts’ strength of desktop Facebook.
One of the main reasons I like Facebook vs Twitter - is its ’togetherness’ - the fact that all the necessary ingredients are included in the same flow - this encourages contextual conversations. With Twitter you have to click away from the main conversation to view images etc. and the conversations quickly become fragmented and die off. With Facebook you often see new comments on older topical conversations, while Twitter is more of a fire-and-forget - with little archival value or interest.
There’s obviously pros and cons of going the individual Apps route vs bundling them together -
In my definition, the essence of Retail Social Commerce is not just the ability for customers to interact with ecommerce catalogue items and convey their likes and recommendations - it is the ability for other customers to correlate those recommendations with their own personal preferences.
The above illustration touches on the 4 key areas in my opinion, and I will reference examples of each here below:
LIKES - largely popularised by Facebook, these are now pretty much ubiquitous on most sites - you simply tick an option or click on a ’thumbs up’ icon to indicate you like something - Facebook then cleverly references all these likes on the User’s Timeline. This is the simplest form of recommendation.
HOTLISTS - Amazon popularised these with their ListMania Lists, but there are lots of different examples of this - for instance the various DJ charts on juno.co.uk. In some ways these are really just more structured listings of ’liked’ items, but their impact is far stronger as when you see several examples of something you like in a list, you are more likely to check out the other entries. In various types of retail, Lists and Featured Charts are key to the selling process.
COMMENTS - The postive ones of these are a stronger form of ’likes’ - in that a positive comment not only indicates a liking for something, but offers up additional collateral / reasons to buy. ’Likes’ may have a nominal value of recommendation while the impact of positive comments / reviews is far stronger. I particularly like how Amazon lists the comments on the same page - I find comments hidden behind a tab are less impactful - far better to have a summary list of a couple with a more link than hiding all of them behind a one click selection.
PROFILES - Profiles are really useful as the final convincer for a recommendation, and this is one of the few areas where Amazon needs a lot of improvement. Being able to go to a user’s profile - something like the Facebook Timeline - and get a real context for a person’s likes and recommendations is key to the impact of those recommendations. We humans are always looking for like-minded souls, and really only pay heed to those we think are on the same wavelength as ourselves. In viewing a User’s profile - with a full outline of
Doing business online is much bigger than any one website. You have to be where the people are, integrate your business hub with all the key sites out there, and make sure that everything integrates effectively with your back-end systems that you use day in and day out to get things done within your company.
Affino 7 integrates with over 100 systems, and of those 60 are out-of-the box integrations that you can simply enter your settings and connect to Affino. Affino also has a great API for connecting to any compatible system out there.
It’s impossible to select any seven key integrations. Below are some of the best known and most used ones. It all depends on what kind of online business you’re running:
Affino is integrated with a dozen Google services. Google’s Analytics and Maps are still the world’s benchmark, and the Google Merchant Centre continues to grow in influence. We do a great deal to optimise Affino for Google Webmaster Tools and to deliver great SEO.
Paypal is integrated directly into Affino’s store checkout. Affino’s PayPal integration supports direct / indirect, credit card / debit card / PayPal payments, single-page / offsite payment, one-off and renewable payments all just with PayPal. It is one of a dozen different payment systems supported.
You can drop any YouTube video anywhere into Affino by simply posting the URL. It doesn’t matter where you use it whether it is blogs, media library, articles, chat, comments, wherever. Same goes for all the other top video and other media sites.
An enormous amount of input goes into every major Affino version release, and Affino 7 is no exception. Front and centre to all our considerations are our customers’ ongoing requirements and feature requests - Affino almost wholly evolves along collaborative lines between the Comrz Team and every single one of Affino’s users.
It’s frequently a tough job consolidating all the different diverse requirements into a single streamlined system, but this is what we do every day. Pretty much every tiny nuanced functionality has been specified for a particular business scenario and activity. For every major release we endeavour to simplify the user experience, which is not always as simple as it sounds as no two Affino users deploy the system in exactly the same manner.
Every consideration is made to imbue Affino with simplicity, elegance and ease of use. It thus follows that the key technological inspirations convey those same values of clarity of purpose, elegance and simplicity:
The degree of detail and finish of the many elements of the London Olympics are a key influence in the look of the new interface. In particular, we took inspiration from the dynamic keyline pictograms - which elegantly convey movement and modernity. Affino’s Key Navigation Icons are largely inspired by those pictograms - harnessing the same values of forward movement and dynamism
Apple still remains the benchmark for elegant product and interface design, and supreme ease of use. It’s focus on learnability remains a significant design influence in how we consider Affino’s daily usability and overall customer experience
Despite its detractors, the BBC is a significant pioneer online - with its iPlayer representing the first and the best of the Internet TV Players, and the relatively recent BBC.co.uk update being the first significant move towards tablet-style navigation for the main website interface
I’m an avid follower of the world’s leading music festivals - specifically how they are broadcast and ’packaged’ for the digital audience. I’ve kept tabs on the BBC’s and YouTube’s coverage of music festivals over the last few years, and reported back on how each has evolved their offering - benchmark events have been Glastonbury in the UK and Coachella in the US. In this Olympic year, there is no Glastonbury, so we will use BBC 1’s Big Weekend extravaganza - the 2012 Hackney Weekend Music Festival as the UK benchmark.
Where the BBC always excels is in the depth and breadth of its broadcast coverage, and in its archiving. For this year’s Coachella there was really just a smattering of play-back videos from the 3 days of live music, and no full sets. The BBC though has video highlights for pretty much every featured artist, including full sets for the festival headliners.
Watching live though was a different story, as YouTube’s Coachella coverage had better broadcast quality and a much superior interface - with full interaction! For Coachella, fans were able to connect via Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and do comments and shout-outs during the performances - on a live update feed - obviously comments are enabled for most content on YouTube. YouTube also cleverly includes the hashtag #coachellalive on all the updates posted - for maximum exposure. Moreover YouTube’s Coachella screen had a really clever rolling ’What’s On’ panel with dynamic thumbnails - which allowed you to mouse-over for live previews of each stage!
The BBC interface did not really makes the most of social media, and it was noway near as easy to organise your viewing schedule. I also noted that for last year’s Carlisle Big Weekend, the BBC was much better at posting up setlists on the artist overviews. Currently the write-ups are mostly sans setlists, which is something we kind of expected after last year!
It’s a tale of two very different approaches - as for live and direct coverage, YouTube’s system was most obviously superior, but in terms of being able to really ’catch’ the music - in terms of ’on demand access’ - then the BBC comes up trumps, as you can view after the fact - most of what you missed, which was not the case for
Last year I blogged about catching the year’s first big music festival courtesy of YouTube - who broadcast live form the 5 stages over the 3 days. I raved about the really clever interface - how they included hashtags into their live updates - and how slickly the whole thing worked, including the uninterrupted streaming broadcast itself.
This year the layout of the interface was even better - with the current and upcoming bands listed in the centre, and the updates off to the right. It was interesting to see the addition of the ’Login with Google+’ option - although I never saw a Google+ originated post - they were about 70% Twitter Updates, with 30% Facebook - I even logged on myself to post updates during the Azealia Banks and Miike Snow sets.
I did not really start watching properly until the Saturday - and thus caught a mix of highlights and full live gigs by the following artists:
The Big Pink
Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg + Eminem, Fiddy, Warren G, Wiz Khalifa et al.
Florence & The Machine
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Swedish House Mafia
I would have loved to have seen, but missed these:
I always compare YouTube’s coverage of this with the BBC’s coverage of its main music festivals. I think the actual live streaming and the social experience is better by YouTube, but overall the BBC still leads - as they provide so much better supporting materials - and actually post up much more of the video highlights - only 76 Videos are listed on YouTube’s Coachella Page - and these are individual tracks, whilst for the BBC there is normally an extended highlights (circa 30 mins.) plus a couple of individual great moments from nearly all the featured performers - a number of the videos on Coachella Live are not even the best moments from those sets.
On my somewhat dodgy Talk Talk connection, I was astounded to get a totally seamless experience over the whole event - did not drop out once - and switching between the 3 live feed options was butter smooth!
We people want to be involved in everything today - we want our say, we want our opinions to be heard and shared, and we want to be able to express ourselves artistically through clever parodies, skits and remixes of popular social media.
There’s a brilliant, brief TED talk (below) by YouTube’s Trends Manager - Kevin Allocca - where he tries to identify how out of millions of hours of video - phenomena ’Nyan Cats’, ’Double Rainbow’ and ’Rebecca Black’s Friday’ managed to stand out. Of course there are a myriad of causal factors there, but the obvious one is that of a shared experience and the ease of interaction and parody. Universally, we now live in the age of parody - as best exemplified by long-running animated shows ’The Simpsons’ and ’South Park’ where nothing is holy any more - everyhing is deconstructed, ridiculed and parodied - and the people love it!
A great part of the success of the aforementioned trio is the ease with which people could relate to them and parody them. Pretty much every decent pop song gets ’covered’ in a million different ways within weeks of hitting the tops of the charts - punk versions, skiffle band folk versions, multi-tracked-acapellas, 2Cellos version, the ubiquitous dubstep remix etc. etc.
Twitter and Facebook’s ubiquity in the ease of commenting, liking, re-tweeting and sharing is what makes them work, and what looks like a sound basis for new site Pinterest. Yet there are still forces out there that think that they can totally ’tailor’ a user’s experience - limit the amount of input, interaction and participation, and still create a successful marketplace - I’m not so sure any more.
By nature we humans are usually highly suspicious, increasingly cynical and often lonely and lacking in confidence in various aspects of our lives - we need regular interaction, recognition, support and approval - much as Abrahm Maslow identified all the way back in 1943. Much has been written about key influencers in human motivations, and one thing is for sure - and that is that complex communities of personal interactions are what best influence behaviour. Everything has to happen within a context and within the subjectivity of a person’s activities, interests and tastes - yet the undeniable truth is that we are all
Wikipedia and Reddit were blacked out today in an attempt to highlight to Internet Users - the serious likely impact of this legislation on the basic rights of freedom of the typical netizen.
These 2 new bills - Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) - are in the process of passing through the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively. They would end up giving Copyright Owners way too much power in shutting down and commercially crippling any site/s they choose to target - fairly or unfairly. Copyright Owners already have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to effect similar actions - in enforcing take-down notices, and there are already numerous cases where the DMCA legislation has been abused - even though it does require a degree of due process.
SOPA and PIPA are far too broad and far reaching in their applications, and would end up a weapon of censorship and restriction - closing down and curtailing the open and organic nature of the Internet. The legislation requires no court order to force a take-down notice, and can be so broadly applied that any vague 3rd party reference to another allegdly suspect site can result in an injunction against the referring party.
The problem with the Internet at large is that so many of the daily services we use are based / legislated from the USA - Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia - what with Social Content Contribution - any one of these could easily end up with potentially disputed copyrighted material and be forced to shut down.
UK citizens should be far more worried than most, as has been seen by the recent extradition case of Richard O’Dwyer - a UK citizen who has actually broken no UK or European laws with his UK-based links website - but is still being extradited to the US for summary judgment and punishment.
I’m certainly not a fan of piracy, but totally understand why it happens, and this draconionan legislation will not be the cure. The vast majority of media companies are overly greedy and totally out of touch with reality - and are almost as much a part of the problem as the pirates.
I can buy a pretty decent gaming app on the Apple App Store for just 69 pence - a venture which has taken several months to produce and contains sound and vision, and creative flare, and typically involves a significantly sized project team. Yet for a new sound file - ’single&
(Note - SBTRKT was missing from previous end of year listing)
11 Musical Trends for 2012
Some artists will move away entirely from Album releases; Rihanna is currently the most successful singles artist (47.5 million downloads since 2005), and I believe several artists will move to just releasing singles and then compilations of singles rather than proper albums
YouTube will continue to grow in relevance as a music discovery resource - it is after all the new MTV
Artists will embrace more technology in their music delivery - in a similar vein to Björk’s Biophilia - expect to see more interactive albums and artist / album apps
We will see more apps - in both internet and tablet-based form - to allow even easier music production / collaboration and remixing, along with simpler, fully-integrated music publishing and distribution platforms
2012 will also see more entrants into the group sharing / interaction category of music - along the same lines as Turntable.fm
A leading electronic musician will employ Kinect-type technology into their core music-making and performance activities
There will arise at least one new significant music-sharing platform, with a very innovative means of revenue generation / sharing which holds enormous appeal for both musicians and fans
Spotify will strengthen its position as the leading music streaming platform - with yet further apps and integrations
Music unit prices - i.e. median album and single prices will be streamlined further in 2012
We will see even more free-to-download mix-tape type albums - DatPiff could become a household name!
11 New Artists for 2012
(Note that I consider Frank Ocean, Skrillex and The Weeknd to be significantly active in previous years and thus not properly eligible as ’New’ in 2012, the same could be said
We’ve heard it several times now - that with the growth of Social Messaging - email is on its way out! However, for me if anything - email is on the way up! I have various Social Media subscriptions which all come to my inbox - from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. - all my receipts, including those from the various Apple stores - as well as all my key bills and statements, these are all now notified electronically via email!
I really don’t understand what these Social Media types propose is going to happen to all that content! As far as I’m concerned, there are lots of different kinds of communications platforms - each for very specific purposes. If you need to send smallish attachments, then email is still a decent format, if you need to send something larger, then any kind of message with a Dropbox URL in it will do. There’s lots of clever ’Messenger’ type services now, like Apple’s ’iMessage’ - which provides free Blackberry style text messages to its customers.
On a daily basis, I make use of iMessage / SMS, Forums, Message Boards, Group Chat, Comments and Ratings, Skype and Google Talk. For me the biggest significance has been in the Disqus-type comments systems, very much like Affino’s Comments and Ratings - this means that the discussion element is very much aligned to the content, whereas with Forums - they are usually divorced from the content, and very quick to go off-topic.
As far as the statistics go, the number of email messages being sent is still on the way up globally. Messaging / iMessaging / SMS is simply just replacing other forms of communication - like the more traditional phone call, as they are more cost effective and more expedient. You don’t expect the person on the end of the line to available 24/7 - so sending an SMS is far better than leaving a voicemail - that said, many people do both!
A lot of people used to do proper blogs, then they got bored / lazy and switched to tweets, now they’re even lazier and just do comments and re-tweets. It would be interesting to know the proportion of original to recycled / regurgitated content in the twittersphere.
Of course people like Mark Zuckerberg have vested interests in their platforms, and will make broad sweeping statement to push home a point, much like Steve Jobs used to do in his heyday. For sake of