A four-man team systematized the addition of GIFs overnight in one of Pinterest’s self-described Make-a-thon’s — “where we work on projects we’ve been wanting to crank out, but may not have had the time during the normal work day,” the company described on its engineering blog.
These latest mobile trimmings arrive as Pinterest continues to gain traction as a money-making enterprise. In addition to a just-announced collaboration between Target and four influential pinners, the company’s CEO, Ben Silbermann, said it will generate its first-ever revenues this year via the introduction of “promoted pins.”
Why bother with a gift registry or wish list, when you can just pin favorite products to a Pinterest board? With newly launched iPhone app LoveList, you can do just that, even when you’re out shopping in the real world. The app lets you quickly expand your Pinterest collections with products you find on store shelves, simply by scanning an item’s UPC barcode.
The app itself is a side project created by Cincinnati-based Brad Mahler, currently a creative director at global digital ad agency Possible, and Mark Tholking, an independent iOS developer located in San Diego, who previously co-founded BigSho. The two have known each other for nearly a decade, after meeting through the same agency where Mahler still works.
The idea for LoveList, explains Mahler, was prompted by his own shopping trip out in the real world.
“My fiancée and I were shopping and we found an item we wanted to add to our Amazon registry,” he says. “We keep a Pinterest board for that purpose, so as my fiancée was pinning it she asked, ‘why can’t I just scan this to Pin it?’” Mahler knew this would be possible, but no one had built a tool that made that easy to do yet. (Pinterest’s own app lets you pin places, photos or links, but not actual products via barcode scans.)
Mahler adds that he believes Pinterest works best when pinned products are actually available for purchase. As it turns out, this has been a problem with Pinterest for some time. According to mobile commerce vendor Branding Brand, almost 60 percent of Pinterest traffic to retailers’ sites during the 2013 holidays came from those in search of a product that doesn’t exist anymore. And this figure has been over 50 percent since the service launched. Of course, pinning real-world items to Pinterest doesn’t necessarily solve that problem. Eventually, those items could also disappear while Pinterest continues to recycle their links.
About The App
Mahler says they built the LoveList app quickly. It went from an idea to proof-of-concept prototype in a day, and not too much later, it went live in the App Store.
Not surprisingly then, the app is exceedingly simple. Similar to how you can use Amazon’s app to scan items and add them to a wish list, LoveList also lets you scan barcodes while out and about. That’s all it does, too, which means it takes fewer taps to do so than with Amazon’s own flagship application. You just scan, tap the board you want to pin the item to, and you’re done.
Currently, the app is only connected to Amazon’s own product database, which, while large of course, is still limited. But Mahler says they want to quickly put LoveList in the hands of users, and hopes to add support for large and small individual retailers in the future, including those with online stores.
For now, the app is a paid download at $0.99, but they’re considering an affiliate model and retailer partnerships further down the road.
LoveList is certainly a useful tool to have on hand while shopping, but until it expands beyond Amazon.com products, it may not be worth moving away from Amazon’s own wish listing feature just yet. (Unless you’re heavily into Pinterest, or never use Amazon wish lists, perhaps). Plus, Pinterest could also just as easily add a barcode-scanning function to their own app if such a behavior proves to be popular, which could be a problem for LoveList if it doesn’t grow its feature set to offer more than product scanning.
LoveList is available here on iTunes ($0.99). Below, a quick demo video. (And thank you for not choosing that cloying Apple-esque music everyone is using now.)
Snapchat is the tech darling of the moment. The private messaging service turned down a $3 billion acquisition from Facebook and may still be negotiating a large investment from Asian messaging giant Tencent that would presumably value it even more richly. It’s users are receiving more than 400 million pictures a day and has a growing user base centered on teens and young adults.
Sure, Snapchat seems kind of trivial. You can send picture or video messages to a friend that will self-destruct a few seconds after they’re received. Who wants to use a service where you can’t record and share your favorite moments in picture form for eternity? Why has a simple messaging service turned into a world beater (for now) that has everybody clamoring to use it, wanting to throw boatloads of cash at it and wondering if it will ever make money?
The answer is simple: Snapchat is the perfect service for the time. It has come along just as three very distinct trends on the Web have come to maturity, and it’s milking those trends for all they’re worth.
The Visual Web
First, Snapchat is for and of The Visual Web. Visual Web companies are worth billions of dollars even if they haven’t made a cent in their existences. Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter are all of the Visual Web and all of road the trend of sharing pictures and media with each other straight to the bank (in Pinterest’s case, will ride to the bank eventually).
If we look back at the history of Facebook, the biggest takeaway as to why it became the social behemoth that it is today is that fundamentally, Facebook was the biggest and best way to share pictures of yourself and friends on the Internet. Facebook was built on pictures, and today retains one of the largest daily picture-upload volumes of any site on the Web. Social sharing through pictures was the defining movement and growth engine of Web 2.0.
Snapchat takes advantage of that in the Web 3.0 era, where mobile is the growth engine, fundamentally altering how people interact with information and each other. The “snap”—what Snapchat calls its private messages—is derivative of the SMS text message and instant messaging applications.
The Illusion Of The Private Web
Facebook was everybody’s favorite social network. Then it started messing with people’s privacy in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Now many people are skeptical of Facebook’s stance or what exactly they are sharing with the social platform, its partners, third-party apps, advertisers, potential employers or the federal government. (Even—maybe especially—teens.)
Let’s face it: there is no privacy on the Web. Only the illusion of privacy. And recently, even that illusion has started to break down.
The myth of the private Web was finally put to bed this year when revelations of spying and snooping by the National Security Agency came to light. To a certain degree, nobody on the planet can really hide information from the NSA if they want to continue using the Internet. The NSA feels it has the right to monitor you and your loved ones on the Internet and will send requests to the likes of Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter or any other relevant tech company to get the information it feels it deserves. Privacy? The U.S. government apparently doesn’t believe in it.
Then you have the classic Web way of making money: “If you’re not paying for it, that means you’re the product.” Meaning, if you’re using a “free” but ad-supported service, the company is selling your eyeballs to the advertiser. The advertiser then wants any and all information about you that it can get so as to serve you more relevant ads so you will, you know, buy more stuff.
The Web is built on free. The Web is built on advertising revenue. Google, Facebook and Twitter have all made big money off your eyeballs.
That said, the user backlash against the lack of privacy on the Web has been significant and gaining steam over the years. Every new revelation about Facebook privacy issues brings a new furor. Every new report on the nefarious activities of the NSA makes people just a little bit more scared to share on the Internet.
This is the environment in which Snapchat thrives. The selling point of its snaps—true or not—is that once a snap is opened and subsequently disappears, it’s gone from the world forever. Snapchat becomes the Mission Impossible of the next generation of technology. While the absolute privacy of Snapchat is at best questionable—it’s fairly easy to screenshot an incoming snap on just about any smartphone, and the images also frequently linger in cache storage—the idea that it’s private is a big part of what entices people to use it.
The Next Generation Of Messaging
AOL was really one of the first to create a mass market communications platform on the Internet. Through the AOL chat rooms and instant messaging systems of yore (dating back to the early 1990s), the Internet evolved into a place that really could change how people communicated. That’s why messaging startups keep cropping up and why companies like Google, BlackBerry, Apple and Microsoft have their own proprietary messaging apps.
The problem with these messaging apps, though, is that they often lock you into walled gardens. Apple funnels most messages through its iMessage product, whether the user wants that or not. Google recently replaced the default SMS app in Android with Google Hangouts. Microsoft wants to trap you in its own world.
Snapchat, along with the other hot messaging startup WhatsApp, fundamentally break this model. They are available free and work across Android, iOS and Windows Phone. They don’t lock you into their company’s objectives and are not really trying to sell you anything (which will be a dubious business going forward).
While it is true that Snapchat’s demographic tends to skew younger, that does not necessarily mean that Snapchat’s success is built on tweens, or on sexting. While teens and sex certainly don’t hurt Snapchat’s growth, they’re also not the full picture, so to speak.
Free, mobile and open, private and visual. These are the trends that are hot on the Web right now. Snapchat is the epitome of all these trends coming together. Its popularity may be a thing of the moment—as are the snaps it’s based on—but it’s rare to see a company position itself in line with major Internet trends in such an effective way.
But even as consumer preferences tilt towards e-commerce, the primary advantage held by brick-and-mortar retailers persists. Physical stores mean physical items. While we love to browse online, many still prefer to see some products “in person” before choosing to commit dollars to buy.
For e-tailers, this is an inherent disadvantage as our merchandise is viewed virtually, usually via imagery or video. Closing that gap, and bridging the divide between the physical and the digital to inspire buyer confidence means multiple touch points that imbue “tangibility.” The trick is to make a virtual item seem more physical.
Today, one of the most powerful tools for achieving digital-to-physical tangibility is Pinterest.
As a visual-first, image-oriented platform, Pinterest can make services and products offered online seem touchable in a way other social networks can’t. That’s why it is said Pinterest can drive more than 4 times as much revenue per click as Twitter and almost 30% more than Facebook. You can make the virtual “real.” But there’s more to it than just product pinning.
Here are 5 tips in using Pinterest to boost online sales.
As a marketing technique, guest pinning is recognized as a way to deliver access to a greater pool of potential, relevant customers. For e-commerce companies, guest pinners offer much more in the form of third-party validation from a known commodity. They humanize your offerings by anchoring them with a recognizable and familiar name. A guest pinner’s brand equity makes virtual products seem more concrete and touchable by virtue of association.
Similar to guest pinning, building “staff favorites” boards gives your followers and customers access to the personalities behind your company, humanizing your overall brand as well as the products and services showcased on the boards. This creates a cascade effect, making them more tangible to the consumer.
Zappos does this particularly well, drawing on what seems to be an army of merchandising assistants to curate boards and present personal favorites.
Take Advantage Of Captions
The rule of thumb is to keep Pinterest captions brief and let the images speak for themselves. Unfortunately for e-tailers, brevity can be a challenge, especially since detailed descriptions help make products more touchable, resulting in leads or sales.
I would also argue that being too brief and sacrificing a useful description weakens your pin’s sale opportunities. You’ll probably get a lot of re-pins, but the fact that you’re selling the service/item displayed gets lost. The key is to include straightforward captions with enough detail to build a complete view of the service/item in the mind of the consumer.
Core to making a service or product touchable for an online audience is highlighting the offering’s utility and function. Showing how it can be used imbues it with tangibility that’s initially absent. Too often, site visitors are presented with products hovering in a white void, with no context for the value enabled by buying. Rather than using generic images that fail to offer any insight to a potential customer about how something can benefit them, you need to show your service/product in use.
Weddington Way, an online boutique for bridesmaid dresses, is a great example, pinning images of bridesmaids wearing their products on the big day. The focus is on the end result (the benefit)—and it’s a more powerful presentation than just the product.
Pin Like A Person
Making your products touchable starts with your brand. Guest pinners and staff favorites boards both lend personality and character, but you can carry this further by broadening your pins to capture brand-relevant content beyond your own products and services.
Look at Warby Parker—though they’re a glasses e-tailer (mainly), their boards are largely a collection of non-Warby Parker content that simply speaks to their brand. They’re pinning like a person—not like a company intent on selling something—which not only humanizes their pins, but makes their own products seem more real and relatable. It makes you want to buy right from the page.
Many modern hotels in the USA provide in-room coffee service. Sadly, both the material and the equipment provided tend to be subpar, and can result in bitter-tasting coffee, which is made worse by the only on-hand buffering agent, nasty chalky dried creamer. Here’s how to make a decent batch of cold-brewed coffee, right there in your room:
Locate your coffee pot and a tumbler—a wax-paper soft-drink cup will work in a pinch—that fits inside when turned upside-down.
Carefully unwrap (don’t tear!) one or two of those premeasured filter-packs that came with your coffee service and stuff it gently into the cup. Ideally you want four parts water to one part coffee, but this is tough to estimate with filter packs.
Fill the remaining space in the cup all the way up with water. Tap water works; filtered or bottled is better. Try not to leave any air bubbles.
Don’t worry if it seems it will result in a tiny amount of coffee; it will be concentrated, intensely flavored, and—assuming you’re not stuck with decaf—highly caffeinated.
Invert the coffee pot over the top of the very full cup, lower it until the rim of the cup seals firmly against the inside of the bottom of the pot, and carefully flip the whole assemblage over.
Under Earth-normal conditions, the twin phenomena of surface tension and atmospheric pressure will keep the water in the cup, the coffee packs will float to the surface, and there will be very few air bubbles.If you’re feeling nervous about this step, practice it over the bathtub without the filter pack.
Place the entire assemblage into your room’s refrigerator before you go to sleep. (Alert reader @chanelwheeler notes that you don’t actually need refrigeration to make cold-brewed coffee; yes, this will all work fine on a countertop at room temperature. I like my cold-brewed coffee to actually be cold, so I put it in the fridge.)
In the morning, pull the cup straight up, allowing the contents to spill out. Fish out the filter-pack and enjoy lovely cold-brewed coffee!
Note: your pot will only be about a third full. If you want the hot stuff, carefully guess the amount of water you’d need to fill the pot—you might want to do this the night before in your practice-over-the-bathtub stage if you’re feeling nervous—and fire it through the coffee maker directly into your cold brew. (Alert reader @chuckisthinking points out that if one tumbler fills the pot one-third of the way, you need two more to go all the way up. Thanks, Chuck! Other tips would be welcome; please tweet them at me or leave them on Hacker News.)
Let’s start with understanding what “Social Media” actually is in a tangible way.
Social media is a living breathing ecosystem online made up of various small and large platforms, each different and unique in their own way. But something that makes them similar is that everyone on these “Social Platforms” is in some way connected to each other through: content.
Tweeters are connected to other Tweeters through Tweets and Re-tweets.
Instagramers are connected to other Instagramers through photos.
Pinterest users are connected to other Pinterest users through “Pins”
Snapchatters connect through “Snaps”.
LinkedIn users also connect through content, either sharing pieces of content or being resourceful through group discussions, again it’s all content.
Tumblr users connect with other Tumblr users by curating content that someone might like and will connect too.
Through content we content.
Heck, it’s what makes Social media “Social” in a lot of ways.
“So what does Storytelling has to do with all of this?” – You might ask.
Answer: Great content is Storytelling.
Okay so ever heard of Red Bull?
Yeah you know, that energy drink company that is also one of the greatest brands’ on planet earth.
Do you know the “secret sauce” that has helped them build their brand?
Yep, you guessed it: Storytelling.
There is no brand quite like Red Bull.
Red Bull has built an influential and a powerful brand in the 21st century by mastering the art of storytelling.
Red Bull is storytelling their values, believes and what they stand for everyday on Facebook. Rather than promoting its caffeinated drink, instead, the wall posts focus on images and videos of extreme sports and athletes sponsored by Red Bull.
On Twitter, Red Bull is storytelling in a different way.
The official Red Bull account has just over 900,000 followers and it generally just tweets out links to images and videos of its sponsored athletes, though there are occasional questions and comments on current events.
Communicating with people who mention its name via twitter search. Red Bull is building context and taking every opportunity to storytell what the brand stands for and it’s core values – not the product.
Red Bull is creating stunning content which has contributed to Red Bull’s success on YouTube, where it has cultivated a subscriber audience of 2 million. Storytelling about what it stands for by creating content about extreme sports.
Again, storytelling through visually stunning photos, the brand is create micro-content about extreme sports and athletes who take part in such sports. Through interesting and creative storytelling, Red Bull keeps building it’s brand equity and following on Instagram.
The popularity of Red Bull’s stunning photography explains why the brand is doing so well on Instagram vs. other social platforms.