Saturday, 25 June 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “If You Do Anything, You Can Probably Dedicate it to Charity”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “If You Do Anything, You Can Probably Dedicate it to Charity”


If You Do Anything, You Can Probably Dedicate it to Charity

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 11:44 PM PDT

wish image

If you’re going to be participating in any kind of event, Causes.com has made sure that you can donate it to charity. Causes, the massive charitable giving site that got its start on Facebook, has relaunched its Wishes section.

People are getting used to the idea of “donating” their birthdays to charity, foregoing presents and asking friends to give to a designated charity instead. Heck, even Mashable‘s found Pete Cashmore did it to build a well in Ethopia. Wishes expands that idea to let users donate birthdays, weddings, holidays, memorials, runs or any other personal moments.

The concept is similar to basically setting up a fundraising page around an event but Wishes does manage to simplify the process. The page is clearly geared towards more casual users who may not be philanthropic activists but wish to do some good instead of getting another mess of gifts. So far Wish users have donated more than $11 million dollars just through birthdays and holidays.

What do you think about tailoring to more casual users? Is Wishes on the right track? Let us know in the comments below.

More About: causes.com, charity, donation, non-profit, social good, wishes

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Quora Revamps Topic Pages & Launches Topic Groups

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 11:26 PM PDT


Social Q&A service Quora has rolled out several major changes in an effort to make it easier for people to find relevant and useful content.

“With the range of topics now covered on Quora, people often need to switch between different contexts and may miss content that they’re interested in,” Quora engineer Edomnd Lau explained on Quora.com. “As part of helping Quora scale up as a reusable resource for information, we’re launching new topic pages and topic groups to help people learn about topics and engage with all the activity happening on Quora within different topics.”

The first update is a reshuffling of the organization and structure of topic pages. Rather than simply provide a running list of the most recent questions being asked or answer in a given topic, the upgraded topic pages now include featured answers, top questions and open questions that require more answers. One of the goals of the new pages is to “encourage longer-form descriptions.”

SEE ALSO: Quora: The Stats Behind the Buzz [INFOGRAPHIC]

Quora has also introduced a new feature called topic groups. A topic group is simply a feed of every question and answer from that topic or any related topics. For example, the “Movies” group includes Screenwriting, The Matrix and Comedy Movies, but doesn’t include film schools or TV shows. In fact, there’s a section on each topic group page that explains what the group is about and a section that describes the things the group does and does not discuss. Groups are managed by topic admins, most of whom are chosen for their expertise in selected subjects.

Quora came roaring out of the gate as one of Silicon Valley’s hot startups, thanks in no small part to its all-star team. The company is led by Adam D’Angelo, the former CTO of Facebook, and Charlie Cheever, one of the creators of Facebook Connect and the Facebook Platform. We named it one of our 10 websites to watch in 2011. Recently though, the company has been quiet and the hype has died down as it tries to expand beyond its early adopter userbase.

More About: Adam D'AngeloS, q&a, quora, tartup

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Wikipedia’s New Love Button Will Let You Send Kittens or Beer to Others

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 10:43 PM PDT


Wikipedia will launch a “Love” button next week that will let users send their messages of appreciation to other users through virtual cats, beer and more.

The experimental feature, called WikiLove, is scheduled to make its debut on the English version of Wikipedia on June 29. The goal of the product, according to a blog post by the Wikimedia Foundation, is to encourage more users to edit and engage with more articles by providing positive reinforcement.

“The drive for quality and reliability has led to the development of sophisticated automation mechanisms that aid in socializing new users to Wikipedia's norms, policies and conventions,” the company explained in its announcement. “The act of expressing appreciation for other users, by contrast, is a largely manual effort. Whether it's welcoming new users, inviting users to participate in specific topics or discussions, recognizing effort using barnstars and trophies, or just sending a whimsical note, expressing appreciation is not an activity that is facilitated by the software — in spite of its known importance for people's likelihood to want to edit.”

The WikiLove feature is relatively straightforward and simple. Starting next week, a heart icon will appear next to the watchlist star icon on user pages. Clicking it will bring up the WikiLove menu, where users can send their appreciation to someone by sending them a virtual gift and a quick note. Barnstars (think of them like Foursquare badges), Beer and Kittens are the primary WikiLove gifts a user can send, but users also have the option to create their own.

Once a user sends someone a little WikiLove, an update appears on his or her user talk page, where messages and photos of “A beer for you!” or “A kitten for you!” could potentially flood it.

The addition of this simple feature makes a lot of sense. Wikipedia is currently dominated by a very small group of editors, and its future depends on getting more people to participate in the article creation and editing process. Wikipedia’s research has concluded that there has been an increase in warnings and criticism and a decrease in praise over the years, a troubling trend to say the least.

While the feature won’t be launching for another week, you can try it out on the Wikimedia prototype site if you want to play around with WikiLove a couple days early.

[via ReadWriteWeb]

More About: Beer, kittens, Love Button, MediaWiki, wikimedia foundation, wikipedia

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Rainbow Empire State Building Pic Goes Viral on Twitter

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 10:10 PM PDT


A picture of the Empire State Building bathed in rainbow lights is spreading like wildfire, thanks to the tonight’s passage of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New York. And while New York’s tallest building is rainbow colored at the moment, it wasn’t a last-minute change.

“Empire State Building” is now a trending topic on Twitter, thanks to thousands of tweets and retweets of the TwitPic, which depicts the tallest building in New York City in red, orange, purple, blue and green lights. Twitter search is on fire, and almost all of the discussion is about the same image.

SEE ALSO: New York Gay Marriage Bill Passes: Twitter Reacts [PICS]

The picture definitely wasn’t taken today, though. The exact same image has been around for at least a week and may in fact be older. In fact, it’s been cloudy all day in New York City and a layer of fog currently surrounds the Empire State Building, so there’s no way this picture was taken today.

The tower is, in fact, multicolored tonight, but not because of the gay marriage bill. It is actually Pride Week in New York City, and the Empire State Building was already scheduled to be lit up in rainbow lights for the weekend. The Empire State Building couldn’t have changed the lights in time, anyway: it typically takes several hours and a team of technicians to change all of the colors.

More About: gay marriage, new york, twitpic, twitter, yfrog

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Clever “Facebook Song” Pokes Facebook Foibles [VIDEO]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 09:43 PM PDT



Check out this talented Aussie girl’s clever musical composition, extolling the virtues and pitfalls of Facebook with a wall of words, quality guitar playing and her own unique style.

This is not the first “Facebook Song” we’ve heard, but we think it’s one of the best.

Even though she’s mostly complaining about a variety of Facebook faux pas, she has a great voice and super technique. Her voice reminds us a little of Rickie Lee Jones, but she’s gone way beyond that, touching on something new.

She’s got soul. Excellent.

[via Geekologie]

More About: Facebook song, music, video

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New York Gay Marriage Bill Passes: Twitter Reacts [PICS]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 08:45 PM PDT


After weeks of debate and attention, The New York Senate has legalized same-sex marriage in the third-most populated state in the U.S. There is no shortage of reaction across the social web.

The bill passed with a vote of 33-29, making it the sixth state to legalize it. Gay marriage is a controversial topic in the U.S., and that has caused no shortage of discussion from both sides of the aisle, and the social web has been no exception. One NY Senator even asked his followers how he should vote on the bill.

We’ve gathered some of the reaction across Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites. Check out the reactions, and let us know your feelings on the historic vote in the comments below.

SEE ALSO: Rainbow Empire State Building Pic Goes Viral on Twitter


NY Gay Marriage Bill Passes: Twitter Reactions



@NYSenate




The New York Senate Twitter account announces the results.


@NYSSenAdams




New York State Senator Eric Adams speaks out after the vote.


@GavinNewsom




California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, congratulates the New York State Legislature.


@JulieBolcer




Reporter Julie Bolcer explains that this vote doesn't make the bill into law just yet.


@SummerNasser




An opponent of the bill tweets her disappointment.


@SenKennedy




New York Senator Tim Kennedy reacts.


@DannyZucker




Writer/Producer Danny Zucker has a lot of plastic grooms he can sell now.


@MikeBloomberg




New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg checks into the "Marriage Equalitocalypse" on Foursquare.


@ActuallyNPH




Actor Neil Patrick Harris reacts to the news.


@OSULadyCowboy




Another Twitter user tweets her disappointment in the passage of the bill.


@SenGillibrand




U.S. Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) is elated over the vote.


@danielwein




Many supporters are gathering at New York's Stonewall Inn to celebrate.


Foursquare's "Marriage Equalitocalypse"




Nearly 1,000 New Yorkers have checked in so far.


The Empire State Building TwitPic




This TwitPic is getting spread around the web, but we believe it was taken earlier, due to the fog currently covering the ESB. The ESB is scheduled to display rainbow colors all weekend as part of Pride Week.

Lead image courtesy of Yfrog, howiewolf

More About: gay marriage, new york, new York Senate, twitter, Web Reacts

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Read & Write Album Reviews on “Yelp for Music” Site

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 08:11 PM PDT


The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: MusicGrid.me

Quick Pitch: Rate and review albums and get recommendations from friends for new music.

Genius Idea: Yelp for music.

Pitchfork may be the holy grail when it comes to music review blogs, but not everyone over at the old ‘fork has the same taste as you. The same goes for every other blog on the block. Your friends, however, well — they’re more likely join in on your screeching ’90s pop sing-alongs (and enjoy them). So you’ll probably listen when a pal tells you to check out a new band.

That’s the idea behind MusicGrid.me, a new music review site that’s currently in beta. Founder Cliff Seal, of Logos Creative, LLC, came up with the concept for the site thanks to noise/mathcore band The Chariot.

“They’re a band I used to love, then quickly started losing hope over the albums they were coming out with,” says Seal. “The only reason I even gave Long Live (their new album) a listen was because of strong recommendations from close friends, and I ended up really enjoying it.”

Seal wanted to open up discussion around music in one place, letting friends and other music fans rate and suggest discs.

At present, MusicGrid.me is extremely simple (maybe a little too simple, actually). Submit your email to get in on the beta, and start surfing. The site features top-rated albums, most discussed discs and hyped artists. Click on album art to see ratings and reviews. To add your own review, you can search for a band or album and either add to or start a conversation. The site uses Last.fm’s API to pull in artist info.

After composing your review, you can share it via Twitter or Facebook. The site also suggests similar artists (again, using Last.fm’s API).

Right now, that’s basically the whole deal. Granted, there are a lot of venues out there where you can review music (on Amazon, etc.), but the idea of taking musical advice from friends is becoming more and more popular, and we can see a site like this (with some tweaks) taking off. Exfm’s new iPhone app is a great recent example, as is up-and-coming listening party startup, Turntable.fm.

First of all, Seal needs to add integration with a music service so that users can actually listen to the music they’re reading about — even if it is in the form of 90-second clips. Still, Seal acknowledges that the site is still in beta, and that it will grow and change in future iterations.

“There’s a whole wave of ideas we’re discussing to use location and interaction to actually get people using MusicGrid.me inside the stores,” he says. This seems like a great move. We can imagine a mobile app featuring something akin to MOG’s new Moggles feature (which lets you take pictures of album art for more info) being a cool addition.

Yes, we do have sites like Metacritic featuring crowdsourced reviews, but there really is room for something like MusicGrid.me — a kind of Yelp for music. Granted, the site is going to need more polish (as well as more features and a mobile app) in order to really take off, but the idea is there. We’ll be interested to see what comes out after the beta phase is done.

Image courtesy of Flickr, KrysiaB


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: music, MusicGrid.me, spark-of-genius, startup

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HOW TO: Use Turntable.fm To Promote Your Music Venue

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 07:07 PM PDT


Startup Turntable.fm has been buzzing around the web like musical wildfire of late, enticing users with the concept of DJ’d chatrooms where they can share jams with friends and strangers alike. Well, here’s an interesting use case for all you venue owners out there: Promoting your upcoming shows.

For those who are unfamiliar, Turntable.fm (from the Stickybits team) is series of user-created browser-based chatroom/listening rooms where “DJs” (a.k.a. you and others) can play songs, vote on how “lame” or “awesome” those songs are, score points for picking good tunes, and chat with others in a sidebar. You can choose songs from a Medianet-powered library, or upload your own (yeah, not really that legal…).

The service is still not open to all — you have to connect via Facebook, and you can only get in if one of your friends is already a member — but it has already crested 140,000 users.

Although the site has not yet launched to the public, we’re already thinking about how it can best be used in the music space. Today, I noticed that one of my favorite Brooklyn haunts, Glasslands Gallery, had posted a link to Facebook, announcing that it was using Turntable.fm. Although the room seems to be going the traditional route — with users posting Metallica songs and whatnot — we can definitely see the venue (and other venues) using Turntable.fm as a way to get patrons excited about upcoming shows.

Yes, all venue sites feature show listings, but not that many allow you to actually check out the bands’ music. Reverbnation recently launched a Venue Page app for Facebook, which allows one to listen to tracks, but venues’ use of Turntable.fm could be even more effective. Imagine being able to hang out in a musical chatroom before a show, getting a sense of a band’s sound before buying tix. We could even see a venue using the voting aspect of the service to decide on its lineups (or bands using it pick a setlist).

Have you checked out Turntable.fm yet? How do you think it can best be used in the music industry?

More About: facebook, music-venues, turntable.fm, web apps

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WATCH: New York Senate Votes on Gay Marriage Bill [LIVE VIDEO]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 06:47 PM PDT

UPDATE: The New York Senate has voted to legalize gay marriage by a vote of 33 to 29.

It’s been one of the hottest topics on the web for the last week, but tonight the New York Senate will finally decide whether gay marriage will be legal in the third-most populated state in the U.S.

The controversial bill has gained steam in recent weeks, but its fate still depends on several swing voters. One of swing voters, NY Senator Greg Ball, a Republican, even asked his followers how he should vote.

The bill is now on the table in the New York Senate. We’ve embedded the live stream, which now has more than 33,000 viewers.

More About: gay marriage, live video, livestream, politics, video

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Google Responds to FTC Antitrust Investigation

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 05:55 PM PDT


One day after becoming the target of an FTC antitrust investigation, Google is publicly making its case for why it’s simply looking out for its users and not breaking federal law.

“Yesterday, we received formal notification from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that it has begun a review of our business,” Google Fellow and head of the search ranking team Amit Singhal said in a blog post. “We respect the FTC's process and will be working with them (as we have with other agencies) over the coming months to answer questions about Google and our services.”

Yesterday we learned that the FTC intended to launch a probe of Google’s business practices. It seems as if the FTC will be focusing on whether Google uses its overwhelming dominance in search to drive clicks to its products and lock out competitors. Companies such as Yelp, Expedia and Microsoft have complained that Google is engaging in antitrust practices.

In the post, Google argues that it’s only making decisions and developing products based on what is best for the user. “It's still unclear exactly what the FTC's concerns are, but we're clear about where we stand. Since the beginning, we have been guided by the idea that, if we focus on the user, all else will follow,” Singhal said. He elaborated further, explaining that Google has been building a model “that has helped change the way people find answers,” all for free. The company also emphasized that using Google is a choice, and that there are other alternatives.

“Using Google is a choice—and there are lots of other choices available to you for getting information: other general-interest search engines, specialized search engines, direct navigation to websites, mobile applications, social networks, and more.”

Google has had its share of encounters with the FTC over Google Buzz and some of its acquisitions. This investigation though is more encompassing and reminds us of United States vs. Microsoft, the famous Microsoft antitrust investigation of the late 1990s. Google faces a similar antitrust investigation in Europe.

More About: Antitrust, Antitrust investigation, FTC, Google, investigation, legal

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BET Makes Social Media Blitz for BET Awards

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 04:48 PM PDT


Cable network BET is in the midst of a major social media blitz leading up to Sunday night's BET Awards, with plans including on-air Twitter and Facebook integration, a "social media lounge" on premises hosted by Lala and a car giveaway for fans that use a secret hashtag.

The push actually started earlier this month when the network launched a "fandemonium" challenge on one of its flagship shows, 106th & Park. That competition has seen BET prompting its audience to support their favoriteartists in a variety of social media themed challenges, ranging from SMS voting to barcode scanning. The winner of fandemonium, which pits Chris Brown, Lady Gaga, Nicki Manaj and Mindless Behavior against each other, will be announced Sunday.

On BET.com, fans can expect live streaming video from backstage throughout the show, as well as a visualization of what fans are tweeting using the #BETAwards hashtag. Another "secret" hashtag will be introduced at the top of the show — one random person that uses it (and has pre-registered on BET.com) will win a Ford Focus. Awards host Kevin Hart talks about how viewers can use Twitter in the video below:


On-air, much of that social media activity will be shown to viewers, with the network dedicating its lower third to showing comments being shared on Twitter and Facebook. BET will also be sharing social media content being published by some of the celebs in attendance, including Brown, Alicia Keys, Lil Wayne, Drake and Trey Songz. Meanwhile, GetGlue users that check in to the show will get a special BET Awards sticker.

BET's efforts underscore what's becoming a fairly big trend with award shows. The Grammy's have been lauded for some of their digital efforts leading up to their broadcast (with some connecting them to a surge in ratings) and MTV has integrated social media into their award shows for the last couple years.

BET's Social Media Director JP Lespinasse enthusiastically calls his network's effort "the most social awards show ever," but given its prevalence in other shows we've seen, it's probably a good idea to wait until Sunday to decide if that's indeed the case.

The awards air at 8pm ET / 5pm PT from Los Angeles. In the meantime, here's a look at some of BET's online efforts and a sampling of the activity leading up to the show:


Fandemoneum Challenge





Ford Focus Giveaway





Social Media Lounge Host: Lala





BET Awards Twitter Account





Backstage Live Video





GetGlue Sticker




More About: bet, bet awards, entertainment, television

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This Week in Politics & Digital: Politicians Go Local

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 04:39 PM PDT

us flag tech image

Presidential runs, battle states and gay marriage: This week ran the gamut of the political spectrum. Jon Huntsman, President Obama’s former ambassador to China, formally announced his presidential bid, presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty launched a website specifically courting Iowa voters, and New York State Senator Greg Ball turned to Twitter on the upcoming gay marriage rights vote.

Much has been made of social media’s role in national politics but we’re seeing it put to use more and more in local, targeted markets. Social media is becoming not just a way to reach the American public but to corner and engage special interest groups. Take a read and let us know what you think.

This weekly series picks out the week’s top stories in the intersection of digital technology and politics.


Jon Huntsman is Running for President

Jon Huntsman officially announced his president bid this week at Liberty State Park, New Jersey, the same site where President Ronald Reagan launched his own run in 1980. Huntsman’s name had been floating around the rumor mill. As the former governor of Utah and President Obama’s ambassador to China, he faces criticism for not following party lines, but could do well in a general election thanks to his moderate stances on same-sex couples, immigration and climate issues. Huntsman sent out a tweet Tuesday morning asking followers to tune in to his website for a live video feed.

Pawlenty Creates Site Just for Iowa Voters

pawlenty iowa image

Tim Pawlenty really wants to do well in the Iowa Straw Polls. So much so that he has created a website dedicated to courting and convincing Iowa voters that he’s their man. The Iowa Straw Polls in August are an informal barometer of a presidential candidate’s popularity. However, they are often give more weight because Iowa is such a crucial battleground state in national elections. The Ames Poll in particular is often seen as the first showing of a candidate’s organizational strength in the state. Pawlenty’s site encourages users to sign up and pledge their support with links to support lines and Pawlenty’s main election video.

What Would You Vote on Gay-Marriage Rights?

That’s exactly the question that New York State Sen. Greg Ball asked his Twitter and Facebook followers ahead of a major vote to approve gay-marriage legislation in New York. The bill is running with a slight majority, but Democrats and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are looking for moderate Republicans, like Ball, to show their support. Despite generally positive feedback, Ball decided not to vote in favor of the bill, Gothamist reported.

Lightning Round

Some quick updates on stories Mashable has been tracking:

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, Pgiam

More About: barack obama, jon huntsman, politics, presidency, President, president obama, week in digital politics

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Top 10 Most Memorable GoDaddy Ads [VIDEOS]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 03:44 PM PDT


In honor of GoDaddy's rumored $2.5 billion sale, we're humoring your curiosity by featuring its most controversial and memorable ads. Enjoy discreetly. And just like the disclaimer at the end of every GoDaddy commercial, "Warning: web content is unrated.”

What the heck are they selling? What's the product? What's "love" got to do with it? No doubt, you and millions of others have asked these questions after watching a GoDaddy commercial. The web host and domain registrar's superlative ads have raised eyebrows since 2005, when the first GoDaddy girl graced television screens.

SEE ALSO: GoDaddy Eyeing $2.5 Billion Sale [REPORT]

GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons calls their campaign "edgy advertising." But just when people thought their ads couldn't get more risqué, GoDaddy managed to create several more commercials that networks deemed too racy for primetime ad space. In the past few years, Super Bowl viewers especially have anticipated GoDaddy ads which feature leggy, toned beauties like WWE diva Candice Michelle and "America's Toughest Trainer" Jillian Michaels.

Do you think GoDaddy’s lowbrow ads are harmful to its image? We invite you to share your opinions in the comments below.


1. "New Go Daddy.co Girl," Super Bowl 2011


With 1.7 million YouTube views, the latest GoDaddy Super Bowl ad introduces the new GoDaddy Girl. The camera pans over the woman's hot body, but her face is kept in the shadows. Finally, after much anticipation, they reveal a surprise celebrity...


2. The First Ad, 2005


At this point, GoDaddy had had no previous TV ad experience. GoDaddy Girl Candice Michelle appears in front of a C-SPAN spinoff panel to argue her case for a Super Bowl ad. She demonstrates by doing jumping jacks and dancing amidst wardrobe malfunctions. FOX pulled the spot from Super Bowl programming.


3. "The Contract," Super Bowl 2011


In this ad, GoDaddy Girls Jillian Michaels & Danica Patrick are "obligated by contract" to appear in a racy commercial despite their protests. The end shows their bare legs walking on set in high heels as onlookers' mouths drop.


4. "Exposure," would-be Super Bowl 2008


Another GoDaddy ad not permitted to air during the 2008 Super Bowl, this video shows "celebrity" women as they arrive on the red carpet -- with pet beavers. Soon GoDaddy Girl Danica Patrick reveals a double entendre advertising slogan...


5. "I Own You," Super Bowl 2007


The second GoDaddy Super Bowl ad to be banned, this video follows two office workers who easily register domain names. One guy punks his friend by buying domains for all of his family members. That is, until he reaches his mother...


6. "News," Super Bowl 2010


Although this ad is probably the corniest of the corny, news anchor Mimi performs a strip tease on live TV in GoDaddy spaghetti straps and booty shorts. Drooling men look on.


7. "Lola," would-be Super Bowl 2010


The Lola commercial profiled a retired football player who hit the jackpot by selling lingerie on his GoDaddy website. Although the spot didn't reveal as much skin as commercials past, CBS deemed the overtly effeminate Lola unfit for Super Bowl audiences, and it was consequently banned.


8. Bedtime


A husband and wife are joined in bed by GoDaddy Girl Amy Weber, who's there to promote the site, and ultimately to say that GoDaddy "does it all."


9. "Enhanced," 2009 Super Bowl


Four well-endowed women sit before a C-SPAN spinoff panel claiming they've never "enhanced," except GoDaddy Girl Danica Patrick who "enhances" her website with GoDaddy.


10. "Shower," 2011 Super Bowl


This ad follows GoDaddy's key demographic, three young men who watch a video of GoDaddy Girl Danica Patrick in the shower.

More About: advertising, business, godaddy, List, Lists, MARKETING, television, web hosting

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Now You Can Reach Out & Smack Someone On Facebook [VIDEO]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 03:12 PM PDT


Getting frustrated with your Facebook pals? Now you can take it out on their profile pics with RageGage Connect, a goofy Facebook-aware USB gadget that you pound with your fist. Then you can post the grisly results.

As you bang on the padded and unbreakable RageGage on your desk, you’ll hear convincing sound effects and see a cartoon fist punching out your friend on-screen.

Open up your virtual can of whoop-ass on that unfortunate victim, and the Facebook picture gets more and more shattered as you continue your ersatz assault. When you figure the poor soul has had enough, you’re free to further humiliate, sharing those battle pics with all those who might be interested.

I have a RageGage here, and after a quick download of the RageGage Connect software, I was ready to begin the beating. Although I’m not at all frustrated with my colleagues and exude nothing but peace and love, I tried it on my esteemed Mashable friend Brian Anthony Hernandez (with his permission), and look what happened to the poor guy:

Ouch. Although it looks more like you’re breaking the screen than your friend’s face, you get the idea.

Besides being repelled by the sheer violence, I wish the RageGage Connect applet was more tightly integrated with Facebook — as it stands, you do all your pic-picking using the separate applet that asks for permission to access your Facebook data, a worrisome prospect for some users.

RageGage inventor Ian Campbell says he got tired of that “like” button on Facebook and needed the exact opposite: "I wanted a 'Smack' button, but what we've put into RageGage Connect is even better … and much more gratifying!"

There’s an additional use for the device: you can just bang on it and register your rage level on Facebook, warning others to steer clear until your rampage subsides. And you don’t have to be connected, either. As you can see in the video below, the $20 RageGage works well on its own, taunting you with an annoying voice as you pound on it. Much like a “test your strength” hammer you’d see at a carnival, it registers your force with a group of blinking LEDs.

More About: facebook, RageGage, RageGage Connect, review, USB Toys, video

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Reddit’s Best of Hulu: Cosmos, Arrested Development & Firefly Top The List

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 02:49 PM PDT


Attention all Reddit lurkers looking for some Friday night entertainment: Hulu recently asked web culture aggregation site, Reddit, to create a playlist on the video site, and it’s packed with some good stuff.

On Wednesday, Hulu asked the Reddit community to choose the programming for a video playlist. Carl Sagan’s Emmy and Peabody Award-winning 1980 series Cosmos took the top spot, with cult comedy Arrested Development in second place. Firefly, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Community also made the cut.

Check out the full list — in order of popularity — and let us know what you think of the Redditors’ choices.

More About: Carl Sagan, hulu, reddit, television

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Skype iPad App Demo Video Leaks Online [REPORT]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 02:36 PM PDT



Apple blog Razorianfly says that it found a demo video for a Skype iPad app on the company’s YouTube channel Friday. The video, it says, was quickly either removed or set to private — but not before the blog took a screen recording of it and uploaded it to its own YouTube channel.

The video makes the app look pretty good, but it still might be fake.

A Skype spokesperson declined to comment, but did say that the launch date for a Skype iPad app is still to be determined. Even if the video doesn’t show the real Skype iPad app, it sounds like one is on its way.

More About: App, ipad, Skype

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Is Google Playing It Safe for Gay Pride Month?

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 02:16 PM PDT


Google’s been on a roll lately with its popular Google doodles. Because June is Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, the company wanted to celebrate that, too, but ran into controversy when it decided not to create a Google doodle commemorating the occasion.

Instead, for June, Google decided to make a little rainbow, a symbol of gay pride, appear next to its search window whenever certain search terms were entered, including words such as “gay,” “lesbian,” “homosexuality,” “LGBT,” “marriage equality,” “bisexual” and “transgender.”

Google wouldn’t say why it decided to hide its Gay Pride artwork unless certain search terms were entered, and explained the lack of a Gay Pride Google doodle that everyone could see by telling CNN, “It’s difficult to choose which events to celebrate,” adding that the company has “a long list of those we’d like to celebrate in the future.”

Some critics are disappointed in Google’s approach, saying that Google knows that anti-gay users are unlikely to enter any of those search terms into the Google window. Nicholas Jackson of The Atlantic wishes Google had been more obvious with its artwork. Jackson, who is gay, writes, “Instead of boldly declaring its support of gay and lesbian pride month, Google added a tiny rainbow to the end of its search bar.”

It certainly looks to us like Google was trying to avoid offending anti-gay activists. Perhaps the company should have been more courageous with this one. We’ve asked Google if it was playing it safe for Gay Pride month, and are waiting for a response.

Do you think Google handled this properly?

More About: controversy, Gay and lesbian pride month, Google, google doodles, LGBT, rainbow, Search Bar

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Foursquare Raises Another $50 Million

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 01:47 PM PDT


Shortly after Foursquare disclosed that more than 10 million users have signed up for its service, the location-based network has announced that it has closed a $50 million in a third round of financing.

The round was led by venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz with participation from existing investors O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Union Square Ventures, as well as Spark Capital.

Foursquare plans to use the funding to hire more engineers in its New York and San Francisco offices, build out its merchant offerings and accelerate international expansion, the company said in a blog post.

Rumors that the New York-based startup was looking for more cash emerged last month following co-founder Dennis Crowley’s visit to Silicon Valley. At the time, reports suggested that the startup was expecting to raise between $20 million and $40 million at a valuation of $500 million.

It’s an impressive figure, especially given that Foursquare was valued at $95 million almost exactly a year ago.

More About: andreessen horowitz, foursquare, funding

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Facebook Books: 7 Ways To Print Your Social Media Memories

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 12:50 PM PDT

If you love Facebook so much that you’d like to see your content on your coffee table, then we’ve got seven superb solutions for getting your Facebook profile and photos made into real-life books.

Whether you want your current profile preserved as a unique memento, a way to view your Facebook pics offline or a record of your last year in social media, there’s a solution here to suit.

Take a look through the photo gallery, which highlights your seven options and let us know if you “like” the idea of publishing a real-life version of your Facebook profile.


1. JotJournal





JotJournal takes your most recent posts and photos and fills a 32-page glossy soft-cover 8-inch square book. The automatic process takes around three minutes to generate a preview of your personalized publication after which you can delete items you don't want to appear in your book. JotJournal will then refresh the design with new content until you are happy with the final result.

Cost: $15


2. EgoBook




EgoBook is created from your status updates, posted and tagged photos, wall posts, links and comments as well as content from friends you select. Nice design touches include a personalized cover with your profile pic and "about me" bio over a photo mosiac of all your friends.

To create your EgoBook, simply grant it permission to plumb your info and you're set. A ton of five-star reviews suggest that those who have tried the service have been pleased with the results.

Cost: From $29.95


3. Social Memories




Social Memories consists of 28 glossy pages of infographics all about you. It will show you social trends and highlights such as with whom you're most tagged, your most active Facebook friends and even a pie chart of their star signs. With its clean, modern design, we're expecting to start seeing Social Memories creations on a fair few coffee tables.

Cost: 19 Euros (approx $27)


4. Social Print Shop




Mashable's special project partner Social Print Shop offers a variety of services for getting your Facebook friends and photos off the screen and into the physical world. Here, we're highlighting the "Mini Photo Book." If you're simply looking to create a print version of some favorite FB albums and/or pics, this an easy way to do it, and the Facebook App makes ordering an absolute cinch.

Cost: $16 for two small, spiral-bound books


5. Yearbound




Yearbound, a "yearbook of your Facebook," offers five different book designs in both hard and soft-backed styles. The Facebook app is easy to use and lets you select a year, as in 2009, 2010, or a 12-month time-span and a design. You can then choose exactly what you'd like to appear on your printed pages such as your wall photos, mobile uploads, tagged photos, status updates, notes, friends, etc. Currently all orders get a free PDF version as well, so if you're interested in the Yearbound service, now's the time to give it a try.

Cost: From $25


6. Book of Fame




The Book of Fame is a little different than the other products we've highlighted since it's a blank notebook with a Facebook-flavored twist. Available either as a 200-page hard-cover or a 320-page soft-cover book, it features a status update and thumbnail pic from your Facebook buddies on the bottom of every page. Using the Book of Fame Facebook app is simple and you can choose your cover design from patterns or even a photo wall of your friends.

Cost: From 14 Euros (approx $20)


7. Yearly Leaf




This coming-soon service has been taking reservations and plans to start shipping the product as early as this month. Yearly Leaf is described as "a coffee table book meets a Moleskine for the Facebook set" and will consist of content from your Facebook stream published in the style of everyone's favorite notebook.

Cost: From $25


More About: books, facebook, facebook apps, facebook photos, gallery, photography, Photos

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Google To Shutter PowerMeter & Google Health Projects

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 12:18 PM PDT


Google is retiring two influential projects: Google Health and PowerMeter. Neither project attracted enough users to make it worthwhile supporting them, the company said.

Google Health, a free service that stores your personal health information, will end January 1, 2012. All its data available for download for a year following the shutdown. PowerMeter, another free tool that helps monitor your home energy usage, will end September 16, 2011.

The company says it will attempt to make it simple for people to gather their data stored on these services and transition to other, similar services.

Currently, users can grab their Google Health data as a PDF, HTML file, ZIP file or in one of several formats. Also, Google will soon allow users to “directly transfer your health data to other services that support the Direct Project protocol, an emerging open standard for efficient health data exchange.” PowerMeter data will be available only as a CSV file for current PowerMeter users.

“While they didn’t scale as we had hoped, we believe they did highlight the importance of access to information in areas where it's traditionally been difficult,” wrote Aaron Brown, Google senior project manager, in an official blog post.

“By helping people make more informed decisions through greater access to more information, we believe Google Health and PowerMeter have been trailblazers in their respective categories,” Brown added. “Ultimately though, we want to satisfy the most pressing needs for the greatest number of people. In the case of these two products, our inability to scale has led us to focus our priorities elsewhere.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, halilgokdal

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HTC EVO 3D & View 4G Arrive on Sprint

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 11:58 AM PDT


On Friday, Sprint released the HTC EVO 3D, the successor to the highly successful EVO 4G. The new device, which Sprint touts as “America’s first glasses-free 3D phone,” is $199.99 with a new two-year contract or eligible upgrade.

Also available is the HTC EVO View 4G, which Sprint calls the first 4G-tablet to hit the U.S. The EVO View is $399.99 with a two-year contract.

The EVO 3D takes everything that made the EVO 4G such a huge hit and upgrades it to 2011′s hottest technology. That means the device has a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, dual 5-megapixel cameras for capturing 3D images and videos, and a 4.3-inch qHD 3D display. It runs on Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).


LG released its 3D smartphone, the Optimus 3D, in the UK in March. The jury is still out on 3D as a sales driver, but it’s great to see the glasses-free technology hit stateside-bound smartphones.

The EVO 4G was one of our favorite phones from 2010 so if the EVO 3D is half as good, it’ll be a great device.

As for the HTC View 4G, it’s a 7-inch touchscreen tablet that’s basically the WiMax version of the HTC Flyer. That means it has a single-core 1.5Ghz processor, runs Android 2.3 (but Honeycomb is promised in a future update) and has a 1024-by-600 resolution display.

For our money, we’d rather look at getting a dual-core tablet like the iPad 2 or the Eee Transformer and pair it with a MiFi unit, but it’s certainly nice to see 4G tablets.

What do you think of the EVO 3D and the View 4G? Let us know in the comments.

More About: android, EVO 3D, htc, HTC EVO 4G, HTC View, HTC View 4G, sprint

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10 Things to Include in Your Startup Pitch Presentation

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 11:37 AM PDT

presentation image

Bill Clark is the CEO of Microventures, a securities broker/dealer that uses crowdfunding to allow investors to invest between $1,000 and $10,000 in startups online. You can follow him on Twitter @austinbillc.

When you pitch to investors or venture capitalists, assume that you are not going to have a lot of time. Investors constantly get pitched, so it’s important to catch their attention quickly and engage them by keeping it simple.

SEE ALSO: Mashable’s Startup Investment Tips Series

Have a presentation (a “pitch deck”) prepared with which you can pitch your entire idea and business plan in less than 20 minutes. You should also be able to provide more details if questions arise. Decks should be about 10 pages long, but what should they include? Here, we’ve listed the 10 components that investors care about the most and how you should approach them.


1. Cover Page


The cover page should have your logo, business name and a tagline. Your tagline should give insight into your company and be easy to remember, for example, "We are the Groupon for X.” Remember to include your contact information — you would be surprised how many people forget it. Especially if your deck was forwarded, it should be easy for a person to track you down.


2. Summary


Summarize all of the information before you present it, and use this opportunity to get your audience interested in your company. Talk up the most interesting facts about your business, as well as any huge milestones you may have hit.


3. Team


Investors are not only putting money toward your idea, they're investing in your team. It's important they know the people who are going to make the concept successful. Make sure to include your background too, and how it relates to your new company. Highlight any of your team’s successful exits. Investors like to see that you can take a company to acquisition.

If applicable, emphasize that your team has worked together in the past or for a long period of time. It shows you can and like to work together. If you have any important advisors, list them, but make sure they know you're using their name.


4. Problem


You need to be able to explain the problem your concept is going to solve. Further, you need to prove why investors should care about solving it with your product or service.


5. Solution


This is the value proposition you are bringing to the table. It should solve the problem you just mentioned. If you have a demo of your product, this is the time to show it. Include any case studies to show that your product has worked for existing customers.


6. Marketing/Sales


You’ll want to show the market size for your product. This can include profiles of target customers, but be prepared to answer questions about the cost of acquiring these customers. Not knowing this information is a red flag to investors. If you already have sales, you can discuss your growth and forecast future revenue.


7. Projections or Milestones


It is difficult to create financial projections for a startup. If you don't have a long financial history, your forecast is really just an educated guess. Instead, you should present the milestones that you’ve already reached. For instance, include that you acquired 1,000 customers by X date, that you have a partnership with company Y, that you signed a major customer or that you will be cash flow positive by Q3.


8. Competition


Every business has competition even if you think you’re offering something new and unique. List your competition and why your product/service is different from their model. If your competitors have been acquired, list acquisition prices and who acquired them.


9. Business Model


Every investor wants to get his money back, so it’s important to tell them how you plan on generating revenue. Show a list of the various revenue streams for your model and the timeline for each of them. How will you price your product and what does your competition charge? You should also discuss the lifetime value of your customer and how you will keep him engaged.


10. Financing


If you have already raised money, you will want to talk about how much, who invested and what you did with it. If you have not raised money yet, talk about what you have accomplished with minimal funding. If you have personally funded your startup, make it known. Investors like to see entrepreneurs who have invested their own money. If you're pitching to raise capital, list how much you’re looking to raise and how you intend to use the funds.


Preparing the Presentation


The above topics are critical when pitching an investment community, but be ready for questions. Learn a bit about your audience and anticipate their own passion points. Here are three talking points to keep your investor engaged and interested.

  • Include any press you’ve received on a backup slide.
  • Highlight any large barriers to entry in your field. They indicate that you have limited competition, that your concept has first-to-market exclusivity for a longer period of time.
  • Investors are always thinking about the exit, so have a strategy in place and be able to talk about it. It helps to list any companies that may acquire yours, including similar products that have been acquired in the past.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, davidf

More About: business, investors, pitch deck, presentation, startup, startup investmenttips, talking points

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Hacking for Change: 17 Apps That Could Make a Difference

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 11:10 AM PDT


Hacking for social good is more than just a hacktivist reaction to injustice. Many developers and designers are taking a proactive approach to affecting social change by making web apps that aim to improve individual lives and whole communities, too.

At a recent event in San Francisco, about 100 hackers of all stripes gathered to do exactly that: work around the clock for 24 hours to create apps for social good. This resulted in 17 (still quite new) web and mobile applications with a slightly higher aim than that of your average consumer app.

The hackathon, called Hack for Change, was sponsored by Change.org, and was intended to allow some of the smartest people in the Bay Area to create “any feature or app that does good.”

Most of the apps are not yet launched, but you can click through on the links below for early access and sign-ups.

SEE ALSO: Hacking for Good: Three Ways for Devs to Get Involved

The winners of the day, all of whom received a small cash infusion to help continue building and launching their apps, were three stellar ideas from local devs.

The first-place winner was Good Neighbor, which lets users get quick SMS messages when their neighbors “need a hand with quick tasks or errands.”

Runners-up were FindMeAPet and AnonyMouse. The former is a simple SMS app that notifies users when new dogs arrive at nearby animal shelters. AnonyMouse’s goal is to help people looking for anonymous advice to find guidance and mentorship. Initially, the site will be geared toward closeted LGBT folks.

Other apps built during the hackathon include:

  • AnonyMissing, an anonymous location-based app to report missing persons.
  • Corrupt, an app for tracking and reporting corruption in your area.
  • GoChipIn, which allows users to find volunteers for events they’re organizing.
  • GovContrib, a browser tool that helps users find information on government contributions to charities and lobbies.
  • IGotUGot, a food exchange for home gardeners.
  • PDB, which stands for “personal daily brief,” the kind current and former U.S. presidents receive. These briefs are tailored to each user’s locations and interests.
  • Picketline.us lets would-be activists share the word about boycotts.
  • Piece of Mind aims to create a Kickstarter-funded mosaic of stories from veterans.
  • Safehood lets users keep an eye on their neighborhoods through web and mobile interfaces.
  • ShoppingAdvisor shows users how their decisions as consumers might be affecting the rest of the world.
  • GreatDebate helps community leaders and activists get connected with policy and decision makers.
  • WhatsaboutmyCity is an app for identifying and fixing finite, local problems in a community.

Hack for Change




Image courtesy of Flickr, kshep


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Top image courtesy of Flickr, kshep

Disclosure: Mashable is a media partner of Hack for Change.

More About: change.org, developers, development, hack for change, hackathon, hacktivism, hacktivist, social good

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GoDaddy Eyeing $2.5 Billion Sale [REPORT]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 10:36 AM PDT


GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain registrar, started shopping around for billion dollar acquisition bids in September of last year. Three private equity firms are now said to be close to finalizing a deal to buy GoDaddy for between $2 billion and $2.5 billion.

GoDaddy could announce the sale as early as next week, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

KKR & Co., Silver Lake Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures are named as would-be buyers.

GoDaddy was said to be eyeing a $1 billion sale in September. “The sale process for the company was temporarily scuttled late last year when some potential bidders, including private-equity firms TPG Capital and General Atlantic, were told the auction was off,” the Journal reports.

The domain registrar and hosting company is perhaps best known for its too-hot-for-TV advertising spots. More recently, GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons made headlines after a video of him shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe surfaced on the web.

More About: acquisition, godaddy, GoDaddy.com, KKR, Silver Lake Partners, Technology Crossover Ventures

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Where Is Internet Freedom Needed Most? [VIDEO]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 10:13 AM PDT


There’s a war going on right now between Internet users and governments to decide whether and how available technology should be used.

In places such as Iran, Bahrain and China, Internet access can be limited, with content censored, traffic aggressively monitored and basic freedom restricted or nonexistent.

The web has played an increasing role in community and political life during recent political discord and change in the Middle East and North Africa. As such, Internet freedom is becoming more of a basic necessity than ever before. The Internet has become both a gathering place and a battleground in its own right.

In fact, the United Nations recently stated that disconnecting people from the Internet is a violation of their rights and is against international law.

SEE ALSO: Just How Open Is Your Internet? [INFOGRAPHICS]

In response to restrictions of freedom that have included entire Internet outages in some countries, many organizations have taken matters into their own hands. Companies such as Google have protested censorship and launched new services to aid those in restricted regimes. And some hacktivist groups have gone so far as to take down government websites in web attacks that mirror on-the-ground protests.

While some are able to bypass restrictions through technologies, such as the award-winning Tor Project, others are not so fortunate. Check out this video on Internet freedom around the world.

[source: Column Five for What's Trending on CBSNews.com]

Top image based on a photograph from iStockphoto user pisagor.

More About: internet access, Internet freedom, Political, politics

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Get Satisfaction Gives Customer Service on Facebook an Upgrade

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 09:39 AM PDT


Get Satisfaction has released a new version of its Facebook app.

Like its earlier release, Get Satisfaction for Facebook was developed using Involver‘s app platform. The new version, however, was written using Involver’s Social Markup Language (SML) and integrates with Involver’s larger AMP dashboard.

Since launching in March 2010, Get Satisfaction for Facebook has been used by more than 600 companies to answer questions and provide support, while also generating community feedback, via Facebook.

Current Get Satisfaction for Facebook customers include Flipboard, Pampers and Gilt Groupe. Feedback from existing customers helped improve and build out the product.

We spoke with Wendy Lea, Get Satisfaction’s CEO, about the new app and some of the new features that it will offer brands and communities.

The new app allows for better integration between a post on the Facebook Wall and the existing Get Satisfaction Community. In short, Lea tells us, the system is designed so that information collected or generated on Facebook “can be turned into actionable content.” The actionable part is key.

Facebook is increasingly becoming a front-facing interaction point for customer service. Users expect to be able to ask questions, send suggestions or get help from a company Facebook page. The problem is, the Facebook Wall was never designed to really manage that type of interaction. Get Satisfaction is addressing that problem by making it possible for administrators and customer service agents to take data from the wall and funnel it into their existing CRM system, be it Salesforce.com, Oracle or even a separate Get Satisfaction community page.

This interaction takes place within Involver’s AMP dashboard, which works particularly well for brands that already use an Involver product or app on their own page.

Get Satisfaction for Facebook is part of the Grow, Connect and Integrate Get Satisfaction plans (which start at $49 per month) and Involver’s Professional, Business and Enterprise plans (which start at $99 per month).

More About: amp, customer service management, facebook, get satisfaction, get satisfaction for facebook, involver

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How the Economy Has Aided the Rise of Digital Coupons [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 09:04 AM PDT


If you’ve ever been stuck in the checkout line behind someone redeeming a handful of paper coupons, you know that many people are still clipping them in the traditional sense.

That’s changing, though. In 2011, 53% of redemptions are still done with paper coupons, but Internet-based redemptions are creeping up. By 2014 or so, most Internet couponing will be the norm, according to research from Promotional Codes, which created this infographic. This shouldn’t be too surprising. Fewer people are subscribing to traditional newspapers and getting the Sunday edition, which is stocked with free-standing inserts.

The shift to Internet-based coupons is yet another blow to newspapers, which have lost much of their classified ad business to Craigslist and other Internet operations. For consumers, though, especially those toting smartphones, redeeming coupons has gotten much easier. If the economy continues on its wobbly course, more people who never considered coupons before will do so, and they’ll do it digitally. With any luck, that will ease the congestion in those checkout lines as well.

Image courtesy of Flickr, sdc2027

More About: coupons, infographics, online coupons

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3 Tips for Making Your Mobile App More Discoverable

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 08:47 AM PDT


Healy Jones is the head of marketing for OfficeDrop, a service that makes it easy for small businesses to scan and manage documents in the cloud or on their phones.

While some like the Financial Times have bypassed app stores by creating HTML5 "web apps," the vast majority of Android and iOS developers have to think about how to market their listings within app stores. Marketing within app marketplaces is still a black box. Most marketplaces (like Apple’s, for instance) provide no analytics or feedback. But by using the little information you do get, and comparing results across various marketplaces, an app developer can start to get an idea of the marketing tactics that work. These tips can help drive traffic, and hopefully sales, to your listing.


1. In-Marketplace Optimization


Over the past 10 years, we've been conditioned to associate "getting found" with search engine optimization. These instincts shouldn't be lost within an app store, especially in light of developments like Yahoo's app searching site and mobile app.

From the limited analytics data available, I estimate that up to 80% of the visits to my company’s app listings are from customers browsing the store's category page, or from specific in-store searches. And it is logical to assume that, for most new developers, in-store searching will drive a large percentage of new views to your listing. Some marketplaces, such as the Google Enterprise App Marketplace, let you install a Google Analytics tracking code for more insights, but most app destinations are sorely lacking.

Therefore, in-marketplace search optimization is critical for the success of your app, particularly when you are still building a brand name. You listed in the marketplace to benefit from its distribution — now you need to win those visits.

The first step to winning views in a marketplace is to put yourself in the shoes of your target customer. Survey customers to find out how they'd search for your app. Since my company had an existing web service, we were able to speak with a lot our customers. These discussions not only helped with the development of our apps, but improved our descriptions of them in the listings.

Secondly, do some test searching within the marketplace using the terms you've gathered from your customer interviews. This will accomplish two things:

  • You'll have a better understanding of the discovery process your customers will go through, and
  • You'll see what other applications rank for the same terms and how they compare to what you're offering.

It may not be such a bad thing if your app exclusively shows up for a given search. It may mean that you are listening better to your customer than the competition.

That said, understanding the competition is important. A simple competitive analysis of other apps in your sector can also help you learn valuable lessons on what to do and what not to do. Do any of the top downloaded, most reviewed or highly ranked competitors have similar terms or phrases across their listings? You may wish to consider adding these terms to your app description. Find where your competitors list their apps (some categories are obvious but others are more ambiguous, such as "business" versus "productivity" apps.)

This type of reverse engineering can help you find out what terms to pack into your listing, while still keeping the narrative descriptive relevant to users. When composing your title and listing, consider this: we've found that, in listing our own apps in both Google's Android and Mac/iPad marketplaces, Apple tends to rank titles more heavily, while Android tends to favor descriptions.


2. Drive Inbound Leads From Outside the Store


Never underestimate the power of a good link in the right place. Reputable third-party sites and reviews, other marketplaces and even your own website can drive more traffic to your listing, and are the best way to kick-start downloads.

The right kind of PR, not the "spray and pray" method, can prove to be a serious driver of traffic to your app, especially if you're able to garner some positive reviews in key places. I've had the best luck with press in targeted communities of platform-specific fans.

Check a blog’s traffic on compete.com, check out their Google pagerank for key terms, look at the author’s or blog's Twitter following and check the comments section to tell whether the blog you’re pitching has an interested community. The goal is to not only create press that pushes traffic to the app listing, but also to create positive reviews that rank highly in traditional search engine results (and will subsequently push traffic to the search listing).

Secondary marketplaces, or app ecosystems and stores within other apps, such as Evernote's Trunk, can provide a major boost of buyers to your app. Seek out partnerships with companies on the business development side — they may be able to hypertarget an audience of potential users. Think carefully about any additional development effort required to enter some of these ecosystems. Make sure there are enough users in the ecosystem to justify the development investment, and confirm that the ecosystem provider is willing and able to promote you to their end users.

Finally, be sure to make the most of your own site. In press releases and company blog posts, link to both the page on your site that describes the app and directly to the app store listing. For users visiting your site from a mobile browser, you can drive traffic directly to your listing within the app store by using OS detection. You may also want to take advantage of Android's QR code-reading features. By adding QR codes to your website, mobile users can scan the code and be directed straight to your marketplace listing.


3. Make the Most of Customer Reviews


Word-of-mouth, even if it comes from strangers, continues to be one of the most powerful drivers of sales (and rankings) within app marketplaces. Rigging reviews is never recommended, but having genuine interactions with your customers should be a key strategy for maintaining loyalty and driving even more positive word-of-mouth to your app.

Find a group of your biggest fans and give them early access to updated versions of your app before they land in the app store. Use their feedback to get better before you "go live," and tap that group for objective reviews once your app is listed. People can be brutal in reviews — you might find people complaining about things that your app clearly doesn’t do. But having a core group of people who are informed about the features can counteract this effect.

If you have customer service teams, use them! On the communications front, while emails and push notifications to customers should be used sparingly, they should always contain something that adds value for the user (for example, a new way to use the app or a giveaway). In these communications, don't be afraid to ask for a review — after all, if you don't ask, you may not get anything in return.


Much like search algorithms, the rules of in-marketplace promotion are always changing. But paying close attention to these essentials can help independent developers rise above the app store clutter to develop better products and get found.


More About: android, apps, ipad, iphone, MARKETING, Mobile 2.0, mobile apps, SEO

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Mini Glee Fan Is Way Smoother Than You [VIDEO]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 08:25 AM PDT

It’s Friday, so let’s all watch this video of Kellen Mirador Sarmiento — a.k.a. “The Mini Warbler” — covering some song from Glee.

This child has been tearing it up on YouTube. His first video, “Teenage Dream,” scored more than 1 million views. The above video, featuring the song, “Raise Your Glass,” just hit the web.

Sarmiento does little more than dance around in front of the TV, imitating the characters on the screen, but as someone who once did the very same thing with my David Bowie music video tapes, respect.

More About: GLEE, pop culture, video

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Winklevoss Twins Resume Legal Fight Against Facebook

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 08:04 AM PDT


After a series of legal defeats, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss seemed to have finally given up their attacks on Facebook when they decided Wednesday not to appeal a Supreme Court decision upholding their 2008 $65 million settlement with the social network.

But now, the Olympic rowing twins and their business partner Divya Narendra are back in the legal arena with another suit against Facebook. This one, filed with the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, asks the court to look into whether Facebook suppressed evidence during the settlement proceedings over claims that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook.

A status report (seen below) the twins filed Thursday says Facebook should have disclosed documents, like instant messages that later emerged online, which expose the relationship between the twins and Zuckerberg during the original settlement discussions.


The twins opposed the original settlement soon after it was agreed upon, saying Facebook hid information that revealed the true value of its stock. At the time, they said they were led to believe the 1.2 million shares it received in the settlement were worth almost $36 each, when in fact they were worth $8.80 each.

Their long legal battle to adjust the settlement, now worth as much as $200 million, has resulted in nothing but failure.

"For whatever reason, [the Winklevosses] now want to back out. Like the district court, we see no basis for allowing them to do so. At some point, litigation must come to an end,” wrote Chief Justice Alex Kozinski in a U.S. appeals court decision that agreed with a district court’s previous ruling. “That point has now been reached."

But it hadn’t. The twins announced in May that they intended to file a Petition for Certiorari with the Supreme Court. They decided to drop that appeal on Wednesday before filing Thursday’s fresh lawsuit.

In a statement, Facebook’s outside counsel Neel Chatterjee said, “These are old and baseless allegations that have been considered and rejected previously by the courts.”

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