Broadcast Marketing for Everyone

In case you have been sleeping under a rock, there is a new social media platform that is taking a foothold around the world. Broadcasting live from anywhere you have a smart phone, two platforms, Meerkat and Periscope are competing for an audience. Celebrities, politicians, business people and average folks are competing for your attention with live, interactive broadcasts.

Meerkat

IMG_5151Meerkat launched at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW) just a few weeks ago and became an instant hit. Built on top of the Twitter platform, SXSW participants began streaming live sessions, bringing the conference to a broader audience.

Amateur broadcasters are transmitting from their homes, workplaces and out in public. Even professional broadcasters are providing behind the scenes looks at local news and entertainment. Many businesses have caught on to the phenomenon and are building a following and perhaps a client base that they have never had before. The diversity of the broadcasts are nearly infinite. Suddenly you have thousands of channels to choose from. Want to watch pizzas being made in Toronto, Canada? How about chefs at a restaurant in Sweden?  Watch a graphic artist work through a design? Ride along with a Lyft driver? Take a walk in San Francisco or New York City? Read and intelligently discuss the news everyday? Or just watch a girl eat breakfast in her underwear, there is a channel for everyones taste.

The Meerkat app, its broadcasters and content have quickly evolved in just a short period of time. The ability to schedule and subscribe to streams assist you in building an audience.  Meerkat can also be watched from your desktop or laptop by going to Meerkat Streams. If you use chrome, there is an extension that provides an “unofficial client” in your web browser.

One early adopter, Jeff Needles (@jsneedles) has even built a wonderful stats platform, Meerkat Stats. You can see who the top broadcasters are and view some insights into their audience.

Meerkat is currently iOS only, but an Android beta is available upon request.

Periscope

IMG_5152Periscope was the just another broadcast app until early March when Twitter swooped in and bought them out. In just ten days, the number of Periscope users topped 1 million. The advantage that Periscope has is the huge backing of Twitter. This enabled them to be launched and promoted to a much wider audience, including the Android platform right from the start.

Being part of Twitter itself, Periscope has the ultimate advantage should Twitter decide to cut off Meerkat completely from using its platform. Twitter has already blocked Meerkat from using its social graph just prior to SXSW.  This makes it more difficult for Meerkat users to find and follow their existing Twitter audience.

Out of the blocks, Periscope has a much more polished look and feel. In addition, being integrated with Twitter, you have the ability to view the audience and quickly follow a viewer if you find them interesting.

Periscope also allows your streams to “live beyond live”. After you stream, your broadcast is available for viewing for 24 hours. Where Meerkat currently has no option for this, there are services popping up that allow you to save your Meerkat streams.

This is where Periscope truly excels. You are not always available to catch your favorite broadcasters, but many of them make their streams available for viewing at your leisure.

The User Interface

While Periscope appears to be more polished, the execution of the broadcast interface is questionable. As seen here, the comments take up half of the screen.  IMG_5150Often times covering up the broadcast. In addition, there are hearts floating up from the bottom right corner. If you like the stream, you simply tap the Periscope screen to send the broadcaster an animated heart, which you can do repeatedly throughout the stream as a way of providing encouragement. In my opinion, these features distract the viewer taking away from the experience.

IMG_5155While Meerkat does not look as polished, the interactive text does not interfere or distract the viewer. There are heart and retweet button right on the bottom.  Once tapped, they disappear. No annoying hearts! The messages scroll up on the bottom third of the screen and do not interfere with the broadcast. You can also scroll backward through the comments in case you missed them. Meerkat also has the option to tweet or not tweet your comments.

The audience is displayed along the top, but since Meerkat is cut off from Twitter, there is no option to follow audience members.

Who Wins?

So who wins this battle?  Well, it is much to early to tell. Clearly Periscope has the backing and adoption, but Meerkat has its faithful. The Meerkat audience seems to be a more thoughtful audience. The trolls that tend to appear on every social media platform are abundant on Periscope. Meerkat seems to have an audience that squashes them out. Time will tell if this will continue as Meerkat builds its audience.

Right now Periscope has the user advantage, but in my opinion, Meerkat has better content.  I too will be broadcasting on Meerkat.  Follow me and my WordPress 101 series of broadcasts coming soon.

Is there a true winner?  Can there be two platforms?  Will Facebook join the fray?  Only time will tell.  Let me know your thoughts.  Who do you follow on each platform?  Whose has quality content?

Those dreaded three words..

As a freelance WordPress developer I scour the internet seeking opportunities to help digital creatives bring their works to life on the WordPress platform.  As I do this I am constantly faced with those three words that haunt me.

 

“MUST BE LOCAL”

 

If your company is of the mindset that you must have every individual work directly in your office or at least within the same zip code, this is how I imagine your office to be.  Yes, that is where your thinking is based.  In the past.

Without getting into how this mindset developed, lets just say that it is time to get over it.

There are lots of great companies that utilize a mobile and remote workforce to create wildly successful businesses. Speaking of WordPress, Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com and many other web technologies, HAS NO OFFICES!  All their amazing creations and contributions to the internet community are done by an amazing workforce located all over the world. The same goes for 37 Signals, the company behind the popular Basecamp, Highrise and Campfire collaboration software suites.

Have you ever flown JetBlue airlines? Their customer service and booking agents work from home.

To borrow a line of thought from Jason Fried, the best work and brainstorming is done when you are out of the office.

So now its up to you to bring the mindset to your workplace.  There is a lot of talent our there, and not all of them are interested in spending 8 hours a day where the forecast is “72 and fluorescent”.

 

Customizing the NextGen Gallery Plugin (WordPress)

While working on a client solution, I needed to customize an already great plugin NextGen Gallery.

The client wanted a staff directory, and I thought it would look good as a gallery with the staff bio fully visible in the lightbox. That part was easy, just put the staff bio in the description box in the gallery.

Now my goal was to have just a snippet of the bio visible on the directory. Therefore we have to trim the bio down for the gallery view and through CSS magic rearrange it so that it does not appear below the gallery image, but to the right.

First the code. We need to modify one of the next-gen files. Make sure you back these changes up, because they will get written over if you upgrade the plugin.

The file needed to modify the gallery-caption.php file and is located in your plugins directory. nextgen-gallery –> view –> gallery-caption.php

We are going to replace this line of code:

<?php echo $image->caption ?>

with the following lines of code:

<?php echo $image->alttext ?>
	<?php $longcap=$image->caption;
	$shortcap=substr($longcap,0,150); ?>

<?php echo $shortcap; ?><a href="<?php echo $image->imageURL ?>" title="<?php echo $image->description ?>" <?php echo $image->thumbcode ?> > <br />[MORE]</a>

This takes our caption and shortens it to 150 characters for our purposes. Just change the 150 to whatever length you want.

Now we play with the CSS to get the caption over to the location we want. For my purposes, I have a two column gallery and I moved the new caption sipper to the right of the thumbnail.

.ngg-gallery-thumbnail span {
	/* Images description */
	font-size:80%;
	padding-left:5px; 
	display:block;
	float:right;
	text-align:left;
	position:relative;
	left:-20px;
	top:-170px;
	width:300px;
}

The results look like this…

Welcome to Guhru Studio

Today we have re-branded Studio ten69 as Guhru Studio!  We have a new look, a new logo and a new website.

Check out the new website, and our new look.

Keep coming back because we are not done remodeling around here.  There will be more services and more useful information available to help you look your best on the internet.

 

Living with an iPad

I am not sure why I waited so long to do this. Last fall I purchased two original iPads, one for my wife and one for my daughter. My intentions were to provide a platform for my daughter to do her school work on without having to borrow my wife’s laptop and to provide my wife with a portable address/datebook/todo platform and book reader.

 

I played games and browsed the web with their iPads but nothing more than that. It was a fun toy. Flash forward to today and I have now had my own iPad 2 for 3 weeks. I cannot believe how much it has changed my computing habits and my hardware outlook.

 

I have found that I now use my iPad for more of my everyday computing functions than I would have imagined. Reading and responding to email, browsing the web, reading RSS feeds, Twitter, interacting with clients, and remote desktop management are now primarily the function of my iPad. I am even writing this blog post on the iPad.

 

Up until this point, my primary tools were my 13″ Powerbook connected to a 23″ monitor while on my desk and my iPhone. If I went out of the office, typically my Powerbook was with me and my iPhone loaded with apps to make life easier.

 

I have since removed many iPhone apps and relegated their use to the larger screen of the iPad. So, these are the apps that I currently use to make my digital life a little easier:

Business / Productivity

 

Daylite – Daylite by Marketcircle is a great app for the solo entrepreneur and small enterprise for tracking projects and client interaction. It syncs with my desktop, so I am keep my projects, contacts and to do’s up to date.

 

Apple iWork Suite – Apple’s iWork suite which are available as individual apps are great tools for writing (Pages), working with spread sheets (Numbers) and presentations (Keynote).

 

1 Password – 1 Password is the best utility for keeping track of the many passwords and logins to the many client websites, FTP, cPanel and other information I need to have on both my desktop and remotely.

 

Social Media / News

Reeder for iPad – the Reeder app for iPad has become my primary tool for keeping track of my Google Reader RSS feeds.

 

Twitter for iPad – I have found Twitter’s own app for the iPad to be a great interface for keeping up with my Twitter feed.

 

Other Utilities

TeamViewer – I use TeamViewer on my clients computers in order to remotely manage their machines when necessary. The iPad app is great for basic functions when you just have to look at an issue or change a small setting. For heavier tasks, the desktop app is truly the only way to go. I recently successfully removed some malware from a clients computer remotely. This task required several restarts and the uploading of software to the client from my own machine because the malware was blocking any attempt to download or install the software required to remove it.

 

Skyfire Browser – Skyfire brings Flash Video to your iPad. You can finally watch The Daily Show and other video sites that refuse to accommodate the millions of iPad users out here. The only issue is that you cannot pause the video. So make sure that you are ready to watch it in full with no interruptions.

 

There are many other apps on my iPad for entertainment and other news and information purposes. Many companies have gone through the process to deliver extremely high quality apps for their customer base. My favorite has been the NHL Game Center. During the regular season I was able to watch non blacked out games on the iPad live with my subscription. As a hockey nut, this is fantastic. They also provide tons of video highlights of games after the fact.

 

My iPad, paired with my Verizon MiFi make for a formidable duo with regard to remote productivity. Personally, I would recommend a MiFi type unit instead of getting a bundled 3G iPad. This provides a better platform for your multiple mobile devices that both you and your family members constantly have in tow. If you want one without a long term contract, check out Virgin Mobile’s offering.

 

So if you have been on the fence about the value of spending $500+ for an iPad, I highly recommend getting one and using it. It will surprise you with its versatility.

 

Spam, spam, spam, spam, email, spam, spam and spam!

To borrow one of the great Monty Python lines, today we are going to talk about email and spam.  In light of the recent email theft at Epsilon, the big email marketing firm, I thought I would revisit my thoughts on email and spam.

 

First off, if you have not heard yet, Epsilon, a very large email marketing firm had been hacked last week.  So if you use a bank, shop, sleep or eat, chances are your email address was in Epsilon’s database and was compromised.  So make sure if you receive an email from one of your trusted vendors that any link from that email takes you to an actual website of their own.


Now back to spam.


Spam filters are wonderful things, even if they prevent me from viewing all the male organ enlargement pills that might be available to me.  However spam filters are not perfect and sometimes they send the wrong messages to the junk pile.

 

Last fall I was attempting to look at the website of a friend of a friend.  I say attempting because the site was not viewable.  As a web designer and all around geek, I poked around to find out what the problem was.  I figured it out and determined that the problem could be easily fixed with a simple code edit.  I emailed the site owner, introducing myself as a friend of their friend, and told them about the problem.  I offered to fix the problem free of charge as a courtesy to my friend.  After all, I knew what the problem was and determined it would take a whole 30 seconds to fix if I stopped for a coffee break.

 

I mentioned my email contact to my friend so that he would be aware if an inquiry about me arose.  A week went by, I heard nothing.  Another week, still no response.  At the end of week three, I asked my friend if his friend ever contacted him about my email.  ”Nope!”

 

Checking the website, it was still broken.  I forwarded my original email to my friend and he forwarded it to his friend.  Finally I get a response.  They apologized and said that my email went to their junk filter.  No big deal, but how often were you checking your website?  Did you know it was not visible?

 

I only mention this because the website was attempting to market more than $6.5 million dollars in real estate and no one could see it!  If I have that kind of inventory, I am not only checking it regularly, I want to see who came to my site, from where, and what they looked at.

 

More recently I met a wonderful executive at a high technology company.  After their product demonstration, which was impressive, I mentioned that I had executive contacts at a couple businesses that might find their product useful.  My attempt to follow up with them to provide the contact information and introduction went unanswered.  I can only assume that my email is getting funneled to their junk mail box.

 

I check my junk mail box regularly and find stuff that probably should not be there.

 

Go ahead and check yours.  You may find a customer lurking in there or maybe someone who can help your business.