Saturday, 21 April 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Parking Panda Helps You Find, Rent & Rent Out Parking Spaces”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Parking Panda Helps You Find, Rent & Rent Out Parking Spaces”

Parking Panda Helps You Find, Rent & Rent Out Parking Spaces

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 08:02 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: Parking Panda

Quick Pitch: Find, rent or rent out a parking space online.

Genius Idea: Earn money off your empty driveway.

When Nick Miller was a student at Georgetown, he had, by his description, one of the best parking spots in the city. “If I could have sold that driveway, I probably would have gotten half a million for it,” he joked. “But I was in college, it was empty, I never used it.”

It was that driveway that inspired Parking Panda, the three-person company of which he is cofounder and CEO. The site allows you to locate and rent parking spaces, and rent out your own stretch of car-friendly turf, similar to what AirBNB offers for housing. Right now the service is only available in Baltimore, MD, but Miller says his team is working to roll out in Washington, D.C. in the coming weeks, followed by Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

To find a parking space, simply enter an address. You can sort by distance and price, and view photos of the spot. You can also see how many others have “liked” or “disliked” a space, which is I suppose marginally helpful — full-text reviews would be much better.

Renting out your own parking spot is a simple process. You can connect to Facebook to import your basic details, then set a price and schedule to announce your spot’s availability. You’ll receive an email when someone has made a booking. Parking Panda will take a 20% cut.

The startup has raised an undisclosed amount of funding and is still in the process of raising more, Miller tells us. Parking Panda has helped more than 1,000 people park in Baltimore, he adds, and has recently begun working with parking garages to increase its inventory.

ParkWhiz, another online startup in the parking space, focuses on helping people find parking in major commercial lots.

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: bizspark, parking panda

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Klout Ranks the Time 100: Guess Who’s #1?

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 07:41 PM PDT

President Obama may be enormously influential in the real world, but when it comes to online influence, he’s got nothing on Justin Bieber — at least according to Klout.

The social analytics measurement tool published the various Klout scores of the 2012 Time 100 — Time magazine’s list of the most influential people of the year.

A shift in what drives influence greatly impacted the movers-and-shakers who landed on this year’s list. Justin Bieber is the only person with a perfect 100 Klout score, perhaps thanks to his “beliebers.” Bieber made last year’s Time 100. Other high scorers are Rihanna (95), Lady Gaga (94) and Barack Obama (92) — all on this year’s list. Mashable’s own Pete Cashmore ranks high, too, with a Klout score of 89.

More than half (53%) of the Time 100 had Klout scores because they were participating in social media. The average Klout score of the group is 62.

Klout typically doesn’t produce rankings lists because the site’s purpose is to help everyone understand and benefit from their online influence, Lynn Fox, who wrote the rankings post, replied in an email message. Fox points to the opening letter Time Editor Rick Stenge wrote for the TIME 100 issue in which he basically says never has it been easier to reach a mass audience and drive opinion than with the use of social media tools. “Before microphones and television were invented, a leader had to stand in front of a crowd and bellow. Now she can tweet a phrase that reaches millions in a flash,” he wrote.

Not all people on the Time 100 are active on social media. Manal al-Sarif, the Saudi Arabian woman who was jailed for driving because it’s illegal in her country, and Samira Ibrahim, who protested forced virginity tests in Egypt.

“We define influence as the ability to drive action, and we find that keeping up a steady cadence of quality content inspires people to stay engaged with you online,” Fox wrote in an email message.

Care to share your Klout score? How important is it to be influential on social media if you want to be influential in the real world? Tell us in the comments.

More About: influence, justin bieber, klout, obama, president obama

Google Execs, James Cameron Plan Space Venture

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 07:21 PM PDT

Google CEO Larry Page and the company’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt have joined forces with Avatar director James Cameron for a space venture that will possibly involve mining asteroids.

The venture, Planetary Resources Inc., plans to “overlay two critical sectors — space exploration and natural resources — to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP” and “help ensure humanity’s prosperity,” according to a press release issued by the company this week. More details will be forthcoming when the company formally unveils its plans at an event in Seattle on Tuesday.

The three aren’t the only ones involved. Planetary Resources was co-founded by former NASA Mars Mission Manager Eric Anderson and Peter Diamandis, the commercial space entrepreneur. Charles Simonyi, a former top executive at Microsoft, and K. Ram Shriram, a Google director, are also backing the company. Ross Perot Jr., son of billionaire H. Ross Perot, is also a backer.

For Cameron, the venture may be a case of life imitating art: His 2010 blockbuster Avatar‘s plot involved mining resources on alien planets.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adventtr

More About: avatar, Google, space

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Mobile Advertising: 5 DIY Tips for Small Businesses

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 06:34 PM PDT

Zephrin Lasker is CEO of Pontiflex. Follow the company @Pontiflex.

When it comes to digital advertising, small business owners (SMBs) must wade through a lot of industry jargon. Today, they have to make sense of words like SoLoMo, and tomorrow, they'll be evaluating marketing options with terms such as InstaLikes.

The good news is that if SMBs can look beyond these buzzwords, there are a number of DIY digital advertising options that can help them get new customers and grow their businesses in the burgeoning mobile space. In fact, there are several self-serve ad platforms like Twitter that work with advertisers of all sizes. What's common among these solutions is that they make it easy for SMBs to go mobile.

SEE ALSO: 7 Surprising Facts About Mobile Shoppers

Going mobile makes sense now more than ever. According to a recent Borrell Associates Inc. survey, 48% of SMBs said they are "somewhat likely" or "very likely" to incorporate mobile into their advertising spending this year. Yet, navigating the self-service market can be tricky. Here are five tips on what to consider as you make that decision.

1. Go Local

Mobile advertising has opened up a unique opportunity for SMBs. It allows them to target by geo-location and reach people as they're looking at what's around them. Even better, advertisers can target customers by zip code, which is particularly useful considering that most purchases are made in the immediate vicinity of one's home or office. So, when evaluating advertising options, small businesses should choose solutions that allow them to target customers by a location size that is most relevant to their business.

2. Think Beyond the Click

In the online world, Google AdWords has proven to be wildly successful for advertisers. Google launched AdWords so that businesses could pay only for clicks and also create, manage, and optimize campaigns themselves. While there's no reason the mobile ad industry can't have its own AdWords, it's important to note that clicks don't necessarily work in a mobile world.

A recent Harris Interactive survey proved nearly half of mobile users clicked on a mobile ad by mistake, meaning nearly half of mobile advertising dollars are wasted. In other words, when advertising on mobile, SMBs should be wary of solutions that charge on a cost-per-click basis.

3. Advertise in Mobile Apps

According to Flurry data published earlier this year, time spent on mobile apps is growing, with people spending more than an hour and half per day using them. Meanwhile, they're spending less time on the mobile web. This data shows that people are becoming more and more engaged with apps. Couple that with a projection by IDC that more than 76.9 billion apps will be downloaded by 2014, and the message is simple: when thinking mobile advertising, think mobile apps.

4. Engage People with Relevant Deals

According to another Harris Interactive survey, almost two-thirds of mobile app users prefer mobile ads that contain coupons, deals, or newsletters over commercial and video ads. So SMBs should try performance-branding solutions that engage people with deals and coupons. For the most impact, ads should also include a strong call to action and stress exclusivity.

5. Integrate Across Various Online Platforms

People use mobile devices to interact with apps, read their emails, and engage with social media sites. This means SMBs should find one tool to engage people and follow-up with activities, such as email marketing, which can help drive in-store purchases, promote online sales, and increase their social footprint.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, TommL

More About: contributor, features, mobile advertising, Small Business

Why ‘#420′ Didn’t Trend on Twitter

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 06:16 PM PDT

If you’re wondering why #420 isn’t lighting up Twitter‘s trending topics on Friday, don’t blame the social media giant. Twitter’s not censoring the hashtag #420. The site just doesn’t recognize numbers as trending terms.

Search Twitter for #4twenty or #Happy420, on the other hand, and you’ll be able to see everyone who’s tweeted about Friday’s unofficial holiday. (For the uninitiated it involves celebrating what Greg Focker might call “puffing the magic dragon”).

SEE ALSO: 10 Ways to Follow 4/20 Culture Online

Social media and mobile tech has often been helpful to marijuana smokers. Cannabis News Pro app for $2.99 connects tokers with marijuana news and helps them find the local — and legal — hook-up. There are numerous other apps where growers can get advice and help.

Nevertheless, Twitter has been known to step in on controversial issues. In January, the company announced it would censor tweets in accordance with respective governments’ laws of countries where it is used.

But not everyone on Twitter was jazzed about the celebration. The hashtag #NO420 was also a hot topic of conversation.

Editor’s Note: Mashable does not condone recreational marijuana use where it is prohibited by law.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user aturkus

More About: censorship, hashtags, marijuana, Twitter

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Verizon Backing Microsoft In Smartphone War

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 05:44 PM PDT


Verizon is publicly getting behind Microsoft in the smartphone war. During the company’s earnings conference call Thursday Verizon CFO Fran Shammo suggested that the carrier wants to help Windows Phone become more of a contender in the smartphone market.

“It is important that there is a third ecosystem that is brought into the mix here, and we are fully supportive of that with Microsoft,” Shammo said.

Carriers are currently dependent on Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS to drive most of their product sales. Carriers are traditionally responsible for paying the full retail price for any smartphones they sell. The iphone has a retail price starting at $600, which means the carrier is taking a huge hit when it sells you that phone for a mere $199 – something it then makes up for in hefty data charges.

Adding a third player into the mix would fuel competition amongst the handset makers which could ultimately lead to better devices as well as lower costs for both consumers and carriers.

Shammo noted that Verizon played a key role in growth of Android into the "incredible platform" it is today, and is "looking to do the same thing with a third ecosystem." While T-Mobile was the first carrier to offer an Android device, it was Verizon who pushed the ecosystem into popularity. The "Droid" name –which was always a Verizon exclusive – has become a household name.

If it really threw it’s weight behind the platform, Verizon could potentially have a similar effect on Windows Phone. The platform has gotten off to a slow start. However, with the release of Windows Phone 8 –codenamed Apollo – later this year, the platform may be able to better keep up with Android and Apple’s high-resolution screens and faster data speeds.

While Android handsets have been running on LTE for some time. The first LTE Windows Phones –the Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II – were released earlier this month. Apple is also expected to release an LTE iPhone late this year.

What do you think about Windows Phone? Do you think we need a third ecosystem, or is Apple and Android enough? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: iphone, microsoft, Nokia, verizon, windows phone

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Take Down the Fed with Ron Paul: the Adventure Game [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 05:21 PM PDT

Ron Paul may not be the most avid gamer — but the leading libertarian certainly wouldn’t want to stop you playing his character in an upcoming videogame from Texas-based programmer Daniel Williams.

Ron Paul: The Road to REVOLution” is a side-scrolling adventure game that echoes console classics of days gone by. Players take control of Dr. Paul as he sprints across the U.S., collecting coins (made of gold, of course) and delegates in a race for the White House.

The browser-based game has one level for each of the 50 states, and 13 boss fights — one for each branch of the Federal Reserve. Once released, it’ll be free to play.

Williams, the game’s designer, has been selling Paul-themed merchandise for about a year. He’s a freelance programmer and entrepreneur who makes video games in his spare time. One day he got the idea to combine his coding skills, love of video games and Paul appreciation — and the game was born.

Williams turned to crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to raise the funds for the project. 163 people have pledged more than $8,400, easily topping the original $5,000 goal.

“I did the Kickstarter campaign as an experiment,” says Williams. “I was nervous about it. I wasn’t sure how Ron Paul fans would take it. I was hoping it was something people would get excited about it and help me make it as good as it can be.”

Williams says the Ron Paul community has given him overwhelming support, even though he didn’t have any kind of traditional advertising campaign. Pure word-of-mouth, social media attention and media coverage has been contributing to the game’s funding success.

Paul’s campaign hasn’t yet commented on the game, but Williams says it would be “awesome” if that happened.

The Kickstarter campaign ends on May 1, and the game will be released soon afterwards. Until then, Williams is adding some spit and polish to ready the game for launch day. Eventually, he might port it to mobile platforms.

Williams’ next move? “I do plan to continue making games,” he says. “I’ve got some ideas for other liberty-oriented games. I’d love to do this full-time.”

Check out the above footage with new features, exclusive to Mashable. Then tell us in the comments what you think of Williams’ game. Would you play it? Do politics and platform games mix?

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Gage Skidmore

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, Gaming, Politics, ron paul, US

Want to Instagram the Night Sky? Adapter Puts iPhones on Telescopes

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 05:00 PM PDT

When it comes to photographing stars or birds in the distance, most people don’t think of launching their iPhone’s camera app. A new startup is aiming to change that.

The startup, Arcturus Labs, is developing a gadget called Magnifi that attaches an iPhone to just about any lens. It allows users to take iPhone photos through microsocopes, telescopes or binoculars.

Magnifi’s recently married co-founders Xianne and Isaac Penny have raised more than $13,000 on Kickstarter to fund the product, which they say will eventually retail for about $80.

Microscope camera adapters generally cost between $30 and $100 — but they aren’t as slick as Magnifi. The gadget is essentially an iPhone case that can be attached to a lens with a small adapter piece.

Because you’re taking photos with your phone, they’re automatically available for cropping and sharing.

It’s easy to see where the pair got the idea for the lightweight photo adapter: Xianne is a post-doctoral fellow in Pathology; Isaac is a medical device engineer and amateur astronomer.

But Magnifi is not the first Kickstarter project that involves attaching smartphones to magnifying lenses.

A project called Skylight, which reached its funding goal in January, is a smartphone attachment for microscopes. It lets users take photos of diagnostic slides and send them to doctors for analysis.

Magnifi has a wider target demographic than Skylight (and yes, the names are confusing.) Magnifi’s creators suggest birdwatchers, whale watchers, cruise patrons, scientists, astronomers and doctors may find a use for the product.

What would you want to photograph with Magnifi? Let us know in the comments.

More About: iphone, kickstarter, Magnifi

An End to Wireless ‘Bill Shock’? New Site Points the Way

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 04:36 PM PDT

Just in case wireless companies such as Verizon and Sprint forgot they were supposed to help customers avoid bill shock for going over their monthly plans, the the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just gave them a big reminder.

The FCC has launched a “Bill Shock” website that keeps consumers up to date with where each wireless carrier is in the process of instating a plan to alert customers when their nearing voice, data and text usage limits.

In October 2011, industry trade group CTIA – The Wireless Association proposed to the FCC that its member carriers would provide alerts to customers. Participating carriers — which are made up of more than 97% of the country’s wireless customers — have agreed to start sending alerts to customers by October 2012.

SEE ALSO: New FCC Rules Could End Cellphone Bill Shock

Although there’s still time, some carriers have gotten a jump start on alerting subscribers. According to the FCC’s new “bill shock” tracking page, T-Mobile has made the most progress in telling customers when they are nearing their coverage limits for voice, data and international roaming. AT&T is currently sending alerts to customers for data limits, while Sprint is doing the same for international roaming.

“As part of our effort to empower consumers by putting information online, the FCC is providing consumers the ability to learn when carriers begin to implement their voluntary commitments,” wrote Bill Freedman, deputy chief of the FCC’s Consumer Bureau, via a blog post. “Today, the Commission is launching a web portal that contains a table showing which carriers are providing which types of alerts.”

He noted that the FCC will regularly update the table to reflect each carrier's progress in providing the agreed-upon alerts.

What do you think of the carriers’ efforts thus far? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Damircudic

More About: ATT Wireless, fcc, federal trade commission, sprint, T-Mobile

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How Streaming Video Is Killing the DVD [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 04:11 PM PDT

Will the DVD die off like the LaserDisc and VHS Tape before it?

There’s a compelling case that streaming video is killing its predecessors. This year, it is estimated, there will be 3.4 billion movie views online, compared with 2.4 billion disc views.

Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus have racked up tens of millions of subscribers. It’s easy to see why — viewing a movie on a streaming service costs a fraction of the price of viewing a movie on disc.

For production companies, the rise of digital streaming capabilities isn’t necessarily good news. Movies in physical form are still far more profitable than streamed versions, and digital piracy is a thriving industry unto itself. In 2011, Fast Five, The Hangover Part II and Thor were illegally downloaded more than 25 million times.

This is all according to online education site TheDegree360, which pulled reports from several sources to produce the infographic below. Pronouncing the DVD officially dead as of 2012 may be a bit hasty, but the graphic does give some perspective on just how dominant streaming video has become.

When was the last time you bought a DVD? Let us know in the comments.

The Death of DVD

Courtesy of: Online Degrees

More About: Business, Entertainment, streaming video

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Instagram Star Users to Document NHL Playoff Game

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 03:48 PM PDT

National media photographers won’t be the only photojournalists packing Madison Square Garden for Saturday’s pivotal NHL playoff game between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators. Six popular Instagram photographers is being brought in to document the game with a social media twist.

And there’s a catch — the Instagrammers will get access to vantage points and corners of the storied arena that are off-limits to national media.

The Internet photography stars are being hosted by Madison Square Garden‘s corporate arm and sponsor Delta Air Lines. They aren’t being paid or forced to take branded shots, but asked only to document the game as thoroughly and creatively as possible for dispersal on social networks. According to Mauricio Parise, Delta’s U.S. manager of brand marketing communications, the promotion is an example of how social media has changed traditional notions of sponsorship.

“Just having the sponsorship is not enough — we need to make sure we bring it to life, and social channels are allowing us to do that in ways we haven’t been able to in the past,” he says.

The honorary photographers — who go by the Instagram handles @newyorkcity, @takinyerphoto, @astrodub, @samhorine, @sgoralnick and @bridif — were picked for being especially popular on the network. Each has between about 80,000 and 200,000 followers. During and after the game, their photos will be found on Instagram via the hashtag #NYRDelta, in albums posted to Facebook and on, the Rangers’ official fan site.

SEE ALSO: NHL's Boston Bruins Launch One Digital Network to Rule Them All | NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Get a Social Media Makeover

Howard Jacobs, Madison Square Garden’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, says Instagram is a natural fit for sports teams.

“These photos tell great stories and Madison Square Garden and Rangers games are about a story and the excitement of being in the stands and being at the Garden,” he told Mashable in an interview.

Leveraging not just Instagram — but, more specifically, its most popular users — is a first for Madison Square Garden but something that is becoming a something of a trend for brands looking to appear hip. In January, Puma sent a group to a sailing race it sponsors in Abu Dhabi. Instagram users are also becoming more incorporated into New York Fashion Week.

Brian DiFeo, who runs the online community InstagramNYC and will be at Saturday’s Rangers game, believes the trend will continue to grow.

“A lot of this comes down to brands recognizing they can work with social media influencers that have large audiences in an organic way,” he says. “Forward-thinking brands that like to do fun, cool stuff and aren’t as concerned with clicks to a website are really onto something.”

BONUS: Puma-sponsored Instagrammers at the “Everest of Sailing” in Abu Dhabi


An AbuDhabi highway shot by Liam Goslett, a 19-year-old photographer from Toronto whose Tumblr blog is called Liam Saw This.

Click here to view this gallery.

Thumbnail image courtesy

More About: instagram, Marketing, sports

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Is The Race For the White House Being Fought on Wikipedia? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 03:21 PM PDT

The war for the White House is being waged on an unlikely battlefield — Wikipedia.

Mitt Romney’s Wikipedia page alone has been edited hundreds of times since the Republican primaries began.

The most-often edited topics? “Bain,” the name of the company where Romney was once CEO, “Massachusetts,” where Romney was governor, and “business,” where Romney’s career has lied outside of politics.

Some of the edits made to Romney’s page have to do with contentious issues, including the story of Romney’s dog, Seamus. In 1983, Romney put Seamus on the roof rack of his car during a family vacation — a move that’s drawn criticism from animal rights groups and Romney’s political opponents.

The peak frequency of edits to Romney’s page occurred just as the Florida primaries were underway. That’s a sign that edits are being made to sway public opinion of Romney in certain directions. Wikipedia is a common destination for citizens seeking information on candidates, giving it a role in forming voters’ opinions.

Editing of contentious pages isn’t an entirely uncommon occurrence — the article on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for instance, has been edited at least 500 times in the past year alone. Wikipedia works as an open encyclopedia — anyone can make changes, but editors work to ensure accuracy and prevent bias.

For more, check out this infographic below, based on data from Yahoo.

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney, Politics, US, wikipedia

Will This Open-Source Animated Film Change the Movie Industry Forever? [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 02:49 PM PDT

Tube is an open-source animated film that tells the gripping tale of Uruk’s ancient king in pursuit of immortality. Its collaborative animators seek funding through Kickstarter for the film’s completion and release.

To date, the filmmakers’ side jobs have funded the open movie — three years in the making. It’s the collaborative work of independent animators from around the world, including London, Cape Town and Berlin. Now that Tube is on Kickstarter, it has gained $14,560 from 394 people at the time of writing. The team needs $22,000 to complete the beautifully intricate animation.

Funding the film won’t just benefit the filmmakers; the release of this independent project started by 3D animator Bassam Kurdall would be substantial to the film industry.

The “open” film means its assets — drawings and soundtracks — are available to anyone under Creative Commons to be remixed into new projects. The animations and filmmaking were made on free software, including Inkscape, Python and Blender.

“With your support we can use the open movie to free animation from the limits of genre and enable the production of ambitious, independent work,” Fatah Slavitskaya, Tube writer and producer, said in its Kickstarter video statement.

SEE ALSO: Microfinance: Why Open Source Means Bigger Impact

The beautifully intricate computer animation is based on “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” the ancient poem from Mesopotamia. The story of Gilgamesh is based on a real king who reigned over the Sumerian city-state of Uruk. Ancient tablets translated into English depict the story of a death-fearing king who is part-god and part-man.

The open 3D animation will be an open box for other artists to reach into for learning and recreational purposes.

“The finished film and its mountain of data assets will be released under CC Attribution-ShareAlike, meaning that you can use them for anything — even commercial appropriation — at no charge, but you are required to allow others to reuse your work on the same terms,” stated the Tube team in a press release.

If the Tube team reaches their funding goal, they can complete production in seven months.

Do you think having a production commonwealth will boost the creative class or despair to the industry? Tell us in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, emiliano-ilo

More About: animation, indie films, kickstarter, Video

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Fan Growth Slowed Slightly After Brands Switched To Facebook Timeline [STUDY]

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 02:23 PM PDT

About six weeks after the first brands began switching their Facebook Pages over to Timeline, some data is beginning to trickle out and it’s not all good.

Facebook has yet to offer any overall analysis of brand pages before and after the Timeline switchover, but Wildfire Interactive, a social media marketing firm, has studied 67 brands that adopted Timeline and has released those results exclusively to Mashable. The report looked at the brand pages’ performance before and after the switch over a nine-week period.

First, the good news: Likes are up an average of 22% per post and People Talking About This (PTAT) rose 25%. The bad news? Comments are down 6.5% per post and fan growth was “slowed slightly” for all brands on average, but brands with more than 1 million fans experienced twice the sluggishness of smaller brands. The company did not delineate the extent of that slowing.

Generally, bigger brands fared less well than their smaller counterparts. Likes per post on brands with 1 million-plus fans jumped 10.9% while PTAT was up 11.9% and comments per post fell 7.4%.

Wildfire CEO Victoria Ransom believes that comments are down with the Timeline redesign because “it’s much more difficult to see users’ comments, both on a brand’s wall and in the newsfeed.” Adding to the issue, “comments from other fans don’t show up in brands’ posts on users’ newsfeeds and because Timeline is now so visual with so much real estate taken up by pictures and videos, comments are quickly collapsed. This encourages likes and shares more than comments,” Ransom says.

Wildfire’s analysis is the second it’s done since Timeline launched. The first, which was released at the end of February and included just 43 brands, showed lower engagement with brands with 10 million or more fans, but the new numbers, which encompass a longer period, do not. Another researcher, Simply Measured, noted a 46% increase in post-Timeline brand engagement in late March, but had looked at a smaller sample of 15 brands.

Facebook reps could not be reached for comment on the report. The company has a lot riding on Timeline, whose brand pages launch included an overhaul of the company’s ad products.

1. Cover photo potential

Here, Coca Cola uses snazzy design to make a strong visual impression on visitors.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Advertising, Brand pages, Facebook, facebook timelines, Marketing, wildfire

10 Ways to Follow 4/20 Culture Online

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 01:55 PM PDT

1. Reddit

Reddit has a subreddit dedicated to "tree" culture.

Click here to view this gallery.

Cannabis culture has steadily emerged from the underground, especially as efforts to reform marijuana legislation amp up. On April 20 (commonly referred to as “4/20″), the cannabis community celebrates marijuana’s cultural influence. The phrase originated with a group of California teenagers who designated 4:20 p.m. as a meeting time to search for an abandoned crop of cannabis. The phrase evolved to become a more general code word for smoking marijuana.

Online and social media communities rally around the plant, too, whether by posting news, promoting legislation, sharing videos or playing games. We’ve uncovered 10 places where people are following 4/20 culture online. Whether you want to learn more about the cannabis plant or use an app to find nearby medical marijuana dispensaries, take a peek at these digital resources.

Let us know whether you believe 4/20 is appropriately represented online. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: Mashable does not condone recreational marijuana use where it is prohibited by law.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, gaspr13

More About: apps, Facebook, features, lifestyle, reddit, Social Media, Twitter

How to Watch the Solar Eclipse From Mount Fuji’s Peak [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 01:25 PM PDT

Japan will see its first major solar eclipse in 25 years on May 20. Panasonic — one of Japan’s largest electronics producers — wanted to celebrate the celebrate this rare natural phenomenon, by live streaming the event from the peak of Fujiyama — otherwise known as Mount Fuji.

The broadcast crew, along with engineers and mountain guides, will only use solar energy during the expedition to Japan’s highest peak. The team will carry video cameras, rechargable batteries and computers.

At the summit, the crew will brave blinding light from the sun at 12,388 feet above sea level. Fuji’s peak is the highest in Japan. It happens to be the exact bullseye for viewing the total eclipse, known as the central phase.

The team will also have to combat the freezing cold. People generally only climb Fuji during July and August, and even then the range is still covered in snow.

You can watch the live broadcast on the “Eclipse Live From Fujiyama by Solar Power” website. The project also has a Facebook page and Twitter account for project updates.

Will you be watching the eclipse broadcast? Let us know in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, nainalan

More About: japan, Social Good

How George Takei Went From Star Trek to Social Media Superstar

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 01:09 PM PDT

Actor and Internet sensation George Takei turned 75 on Friday.

For nearly 50 years, George Takei has been famous for his portrayal of Hikaru Sulu on the original ’60s television show Star Trek. Takei appeared as Sulu for three seasons and six subsequent movies.

After Star Trek, Takei continued to act and perform voice-overs. Yet, like many members of the cast, his identity remained synonymous with Star Trek. It wasn’t until Takei started his Facebook page on March 23, 2011 that his fame took on a whole new dimension.

Takei posts funny photos, memes and other positive content to Facebook multiple times a day, and these posts see massive engagement.  Many of his posts are submitted by readers. With 1,624,780 likes on Facebook and 348,019 Twitter followers, Takei has reinvented himself as social media celebrity. (For the record, his Star Trek co-star William Shatner has roughly 145,000 Facebook likes.) While Takei has amassed a sizable following on social media, his rate of engagement might be his most impressive digital achievement.

It’s not uncommon for one of Takei’s posts to receive up to 50,000 likes and 30,000 shares. There are very few celebrities who regularly see engagement numbers as high as Takei’s. Even Rihanna, the most liked person on Facebook, doesn’t hold a clear advantage over Takei when it comes to engagement.

Rihanna boasts 54 million Facebook likes — roughly 53 million more than Takei — yet her posts attract similar engagement numbers. Takei’s Facebook fans are an extremely responsive group.

Rihanna recently posted a clip from her new movie Battleship, which received roughly 20,000 likes and 1,800 shares. By comparison, a recent video from Takei doing a “Happy Dance” received 30,000 likes and 10,000 shares.

How Did George Takei Become a Social Media Superstar?

The simple answer is: Takei knows his audience very well.  While he has expanded his following through strong involvement in the gay rights movement (his It’s Ok to be Takei initiative, for instance) and Asian American groups (he is on the board of the Japanese American National Museum), his core fan-base consists of Star Trek fans who appreciate Takei for his self-aware humor.  Takei gives his audience exactly what they want, which regularly includes Star Trek jokes and other references from geek culture.

SEE ALSO: George Takei Brings Peace to Sci-Fi Geek Feud [VIDEO]
It has been established that positive posts are far more popular on Facebook than negative ones.  Takei seems to understand this. He puts a cheerful spin on his Facebook posts and tweets — and his audience is clearly responding.



Take a look at some of the best posts from George Takei.  Also, help us wish him a happy birthday below!

Bad Touch

"From a fan. Oh, myyy!"

Click here to view this gallery.

Wish George Takei a Happy 75th Birthday

  • Create a photo, meme or graphic to wish George Takei a happy birthday. Be creative and make your image embody the Takei style of humor.
  • Upload your photo to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram or the photo-sharing service of your choice, and drag and drop it in the picture widget below, OR
  • Tweet your photo to @mashablehq with the hashtag #MashTakei.
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More About: features, George Takei, internet memes, memes, Star Trek, trending

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Band to Take Requests via Text During Upcoming Concert

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 12:57 PM PDT

Music acts nationwide are getting more creative with technology during live performances when they roll into town for concerts. Case in point: Rock jam band Umphrey’s Mcgee, which is gearing up for a digitally interactive concert event next week that allows audience members to engage with the band in real time via text messages.

Fans will be able to directly text the band song requests during the show, as well as answer questions posed by the group and even recommend when it’s time to switch up the instruments.

Called the UMBowl — “UM” for the band names’ initials — it’s modeled off of the Super Bowl with the inclusion of four quarters. But each quarter has its own interactive theme. Held in the band’s hometown of Chicago, the third-annual event will take place on Friday, April 27 at the Park West concert venue.

“We wanted to create an event that is collaborative, interactive and unlike any other concert people have been to before,” Umphrey’s McGee keyboardist Joel Cummins told Mashable. “People are always using their phones, so we wanted to include that as a part of the concert experience to facilitate voting for songs and interaction while we are playing.”

A screen on stage will display texts from fans, so Umphrey’s McGee can reference them to the audience or adjust the set list accordingly.

The first quarter is dubbed the “All Request Quarter,” where fans choose the set list and dictate instrument switches and solos. The band will also ask questions and fans can text in their responses.

The second quarter is devoted to different themes, scenes and concepts that fans can request through texts. Quarter number three — which comes after a brief intermission — is the “Choose Your Own Adventure” round, where the band will poll fans on what they should do next and the final act is dedicated to improvisational songs that can be swayed by text requests, such as “let’s hear more drums.”

There is a 15 to 20 minute intermission between each quarter.

The band prides itself as staying tech-savvy on and off the stage.

“We are also very active on social media sites, especially Twitter,” Cummins said. “About 20 years ago, musicians were up on a pedestal and in a fortress somewhere else, but now artists can interact with fans on a personal level anytime, anywhere. We love that. Technology can help create a more intimate experience and also make for more dedicated fans.”

Umphrey’s McGee also hopes to stream its live shows online in the future.

“You are only reaching a small portion of the population when doing a concert,” Cummins said. “When a concert is online and you’re going into people’s homes, you increase your audience tenfold.”

Although Umphrey’s McGee has been touring to promote their latest album “Death By Stereo” — and will be also appear at upcoming festivals including Bonnaroo in Tennessee and the Catalpa Music Festival in New York City alongside Black Keys and Snoop Dogg — the band will be holding a five-day summer music camp in the Catskill Mountains to instruct and jam with 150 fans.

Do you think more artists should incorporate technology into live performances? Is this the future of seeing your favorite band in concert? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Entertainment, Music, smartphones, Social Media

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Twizgrid Lets You View Twitter Photos By Topic and Location

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 12:46 PM PDT

Twizgrid is a new app that lets you look at Twitter a little differently — visually. Rather than show individual text tweets, Twizgrid instead shows just photos that have been tweeted in a grid-like format.

You can view an assorted collection of photos from the whole site at once, or you can narrow your photo search down by a specific category. You can also just check out photos that have been posted by people you’re following or being followed by, or narrow your search down to a specific geographic location.

"With 500 million registered Twitter users and more than 175 million tweets per day, we feel that there is a vast untapped resource of incredible photos on Twitter," says co-founder Cahuncey Regan. "Twizgrid provides a richly layered experience. While photos remain the ultimate focus, the inclusion of corresponding tweets and Twitter profiles provides an invaluable frame of reference for the images. It’s truly a window to the world."

The location-based search in the app is particularly interesting. You can give the app access to your location so you can view photos posted around where you are, or you can drop a pin down on a Google Map to check out photos from another location. Location data can be narrowed down to within a mile of your pin drop, so if you want to see what people are posting on Twitter in your hometown or across the world.

Searches can also be narrowed down by certain criteria. For instance, you can look at all the pictures of beer, or a certain person or place that have been taken within a few miles of where you are – super interesting for things like concerts, festivals, and events where you may want to see what’s going on around you in snap.

Twizgrid is available now as a free download for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

More About: apple, apps, iOS, iphone, Twitter

Play ‘Diablo III’ for Free, This Weekend Only

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 12:30 PM PDT

Diablo III has entered an open beta period as of 12:01 p.m. PDT, according to a post on Blizzard Entertainment’s website. Anyone with a valid account can take the highly anticipated game for a spin all weekend long. The beta ends at 10 a.m. on April 23.

Registration for a account is free for new players, and you’ll need to download the Diablo III client, of course. Once you’re set up, you can start hammering away at Blizzard’s servers by playing any of the five character classes up to level 13. The game publisher hopes to iron out the kinks before releasing the full version on May 15.

Fans of the Diablo series have been waiting nearly 12 years for the third installment of the acclaimed hack-and-slash adventure. The game boasts a revamped engine, robust online play, and a much-discussed online marketplace that will let players trade in-game loot for real money.

Did your weekend just evaporate? Let us know your game plan in the comments below.

Diablo III launches May 15

Image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.

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Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.

More About: Blizzard, Diablo III, Entertainment, Gaming, trending

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Watch Your Twitter Avatar Crumble and Rebuild Over 3 Days

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 12:19 PM PDT

When Things Fall Apart, an experimental campaign launching Friday, deconstructs and reconstructs your Twitter avatar over three days when you donate $10 or more to the Red Cross. Using a visual language called Processing, your picture will be scattered and periodically rebuilt over 60 hours in 12-hour increments.

When Things Fall Apart thematically mirrors the work the Red Cross does, rebuilding communities that have been shattered to pieces by natural disasters.

The campaign fits into Georgia Tech Professor Eric Gilbert’s research on Twitter mobilization through changing profile pictures in both organic and orchestrated campaigns. Since people adopted green icons during the Iranian uprisings in 2009, cause campaigns have used profile pictures to generate awareness.

“I’m pretty fascinated by these campaigns, but they’re also really easy to fake, at max requiring a very basic knowledge of Photoshop,” Gilbert told Mashable. “My hope was that if we inject serious computation into this can we get people to pay money and send it to a worthy cause.”

SEE ALSO: Red Cross Launches Social Media Disaster Response Center

With the help of a grad student, Gilbert wrote the code to build When Things Fall Apart. Gilbert approached the Red Cross, asking if he could officially partner with them on his project. They agreed and his site leads to an official Red Cross donation page.

When Things Fall Apart has no expiration date in sight, so Gilbert anticipates a natural disaster could cause a flood of new participants.

“I’m hopeful that this could work and I’m looking to leave it live for a long time,” Gilbert says. “Because it’s not tied to a specific event, we’re opening it up to the web and if there’s a big disaster we’ll be here to generate some money for the Red Cross.”

Do you notice social media profile picture campaigns? Do you think a crumbling avatar draws attention to what the Red Cross is doing?

More About: red cross, Social Good, Twitter

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Shazam Music-Recognition App Now on the New iPad

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 11:57 AM PDT

Shazam wants to give you another way to sing along with your favorite songs. On Friday, a version of the popular music-recognition app was announced for the new iPad.

Shazam for iPad [iTunes link] is available now in the App Store — and it’s free.

The latest iPad app includes Retina display graphics and its LyricPlay feature that was released for the iPhone in January. With LyricPlay you can view the lyrics to songs on your iPad and follow along as the song plays. The app contains the lyrics of around 20,000 of the most popular songs on Shazam. It also gives you a list of artists’ upcoming tour dates and connects to relevant YouTube videos.

Earlier this month, the company showed off its latest iPhone app (version 5.0), saying it’s quicker than ever and can recognize music, television and advertisements in a second.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jorge Quinteros

More About: App, ipad, mobile apps, new ipad, shazam

Entertainment in Flux: How Nerdist Stays Ahead of the Curve

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 11:26 AM PDT

Big things are afoot at Nerdist Industries. It's been less than a month since the company launched its YouTube partner channel, but already they seem to be making significant strides.

How do you define success in unknown territory? For founder Chris Hardwick, it's not necessarily views or shares — it's producing the things he loves and keeping his audience engaged.

“We make the stuff that we would want to consume,” says Peter Levin, CEO of Nerdist. “That’s the metric we use, for better for worse, and our YouTube channel is a very clear indication of that. We’re doing shows with people that we know and like, and we’re doing them about stuff that we want to consume.”

Levin previously co-founded company GeekChicDaily, but joined forces with Nerdist and Hardwick in 2011 to form what is now Nerdist Industries.

“What Chris had created in such a short amount of time was very unique, and I think a lot of the uniqueness came from how authentically he was resonating with the audience,” says Levin.

Nerdist, founded in 2008, began with Hardwick’s intent to build a platform for a sub-culture that he felt lacked the proper resources to build a thriving audience. To put it in his own words, he wanted an "evil nerd empire."

Hardwick’s original Nerdist podcast program now includes a network of 17 channels that receive just north of 2.4 million downloads a month. It has since exploded into a full-fledged media company, expanding to multiple other platforms: a website, newsletter, live events across the country and much more, including the recently launched YouTube channel.

A New Medium Is Born

The Nerdist Channel, like other YouTube partner channels, is a significant indicator of how the lines between traditional and nontraditional media are blurring. Hardwick, who has experience in both formats, says that this new medium is “refreshing.”

“What tends to happen with television is, not only do ideas change from when you initially pitch them — if you can get them on the air — but the process is so long. During that time, people kind of lose the point of view or they lose the enthusiasm,” says Hardwick.

The channel’s production schedule is much different. Each episode is shot and edited weekly, which means production overlaps with air schedule. Hardwick says the shows, just two or three episodes in, are already evolving and taking shape because of this.

“It’s totally real-time, which is super exciting because it keeps you on your toes — there’s nothing passive about what we’re doing,” says Hardwick. “We’re able to sort of tweak shows on the fly as they’re being aired, and I think that’s a tremendous advantage over working in television.”

SEE ALSO: The Future of Funny: How Old and New Media Collaborate on Comedy

The platform also allows content to be tailored to any length. A video could be a minute if that's all it needs, like the "Cute Things Exploding" series — or it could be more long-form, running 20 to 30 minutes

Although Hardwick is certainly taking advantage of the new platform, he believes that traditional media is still important, considering the majority of Americans still consume entertainment through television. In 2012, Nielsen estimated 96.8% of homes in the U.S. have a TV set. Additionally, Americans still spend 20% of their day watching television.

If the shows on the Nerdist Channel were to make the jump to the (bigger) small screen, which Hardwick says is a possibility someday, the company would have the advantage of providing a television network with a “prefab show,” rather than figuring it out in the development process.

“That’s the glory of the new digital age,” says Hardwick. “It has given us the ability to create new and exciting things that never would have existed in the old model.”

More About: Entertainment, features, nerdist, television, trending, YouTube, youtube partnership program

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5 Food Brands Building Social Buzz on a Budget

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 11:03 AM PDT

Bob Marshall is a social media strategist for SociaLogic Marketing. SociaLogic provides social media strategy, community management, and content development for clients in the food, CPG, and automotive categories. Follow him @Bob_SociaLogic.

By now, most brands are rightly viewing social media as an integral piece of their overall marketing strategy. However, many still hold the incorrect notion that injecting more money into social media is the only way to build and nurture an online fan base.

In reality, there are several standout social media marketing tactics that can mobilize an enthusiastic audience while remaining cost effective, and the food industry has consistently been a leader in this department.

SEE ALSO: 8 Best Practices for Food Brands on Pinterest

The most successful brands are discovering three truths about social media marketing. First, food brand marketers know that in order for a fan base to talk, it needs something to talk about. Second, they understand the need for conversations to go beyond company products and services. They get that without appealing to consumers' broader interests, a brand's social media presence tends to intrude, rather than engage. Third, they know they don’t need millions of dollars to succeed online.

Here are five food brands that prove a company can build social media buzz without draining the marketing budget.

1. Chobani

Chobani Greek Yogurt is an innovator among health food brands. While many competitors in the industry were utilizing social media to blather about the benefits of their products, Chobani employed a different strategy, tapping into the lifestyle of its consumer base and joining conversations that were already happening on social media. Knowing their target's social media habits led to insight on what interests the target and elicits engagement. These insights led Chobani to provide specific content to its consumers, which included recipes, snack ideas, and tips on staying fit.

Chobani also wasn't afraid to follow consumers to niche social platforms, being the first yogurt brand to join the young, predominantly female target on Pinterest, as well as the photo-sharing phenomenon, Instagram. This move established Chobani as a thought leader on these networks, staking claim before competing brands with bigger budgets followed. On places like Facebook, Chobani openly aligned itself with other, non-competing brands that were popular with its target demographic. Take a look at Chobani’s likes, and you'll find companies like NPR, SELF Magazine, and Oreo.

Lessons: Look to your target consumers' social media conversations to lead strategy and know that letting consumers take the reigns on content development is a cost-effective way to keep them engaged.

2. Whole Foods

Whole Foods shines when it comes to giving users something to talk about. It does so by not talking down to consumers, realizing that many of the grocery store chain's shoppers are already quite knowledgeable about the wide array of products the company offers.

Instead of focusing on a product's features and benefits, Whole Foods shares content that encourages consumers to talk about what they can accomplish with a product. For example, instead of using Twitter to mention a type of wine's characteristics, Whole Foods designates a separate wine-focused Twitter account to suggest what dishes the wine would be best paired with. This strategy addresses and responds to consumers as peers, connecting with them on an emotional level while offering value-added advice.

Whole Foods also willingly decentralizes its social media presence, encouraging individual stores around the world to begin Twitter and Facebook accounts to let customers know about promotions happening at the local level.

Lessons: Respect your consumers' intelligence and conversations over social media, and when appropriate, take an extra step with your content development to offer tips and advice where appropriate. This will help your brand get more bang for its buck with community management. Also, if your brand has multiple locations, creating individual social media accounts is a cheap way to speak more directly to consumers.

3. Chipotle

Chipotle employs a highly responsive social media strategy by using multiple community managers. Although they attribute all tweets and Facebook posts to a specific community manager, they have managed to maintain a consistent, helpful, and jocular voice. This strategy is a great way to establish a brand as customer-service oriented. It's also a great way to emphasize the individual personalities of its employees.

In addition, it can be a thrill for consumers to be directly mentioned over social media by a brand with 80,000-plus followers on Twitter and 1.7 million Facebook likes. This responsive social media strategy has helped Chipotle forge genuine relationships with consumers online, turning casual social media fans into brand evangelists. This has helped Chipotle harness social media's power as an effective channel for digital word-of-mouth marketing.

Lessons: Consumers appreciate the opportunity to connect with the community managers behind a brand, and adding attribution to posts and responses is an easy and free way to foster these connections. Don't be afraid to engage with consumers directly. As you get to know them, you'll find consumers will want others to get to know you, spreading your brand messaging and, in a sense, doing your work for you.

4. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

Last year, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese made headlines for hiring Ted "Golden Voice" Williams as the product's new TV spokesperson. A social media celebrity, Williams rode a wave of fame when a YouTube video exhibiting the then-homeless man's incredible pipes went viral. By hiring Williams over a more costly Hollywood celebrity, Kraft tied itself to someone with existing social media equity, and then used the online buzz around Williams to support the brand's traditional marketing. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese continued to use Williams in their digital marketing efforts, employing his talents in the brand's "Golden Voice of Love" Twitter and YouTube campaign this past Valentine's Day.

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese also used social media to support its TV advertising in another way, taking Twitter users' tweets about the product and turning them into ads. Using this user-generated content, Kraft produced three 30-second TV ads, one of which ran during the prime-time broadcast of Conan on TBS. In doing so, Kraft used social media content to generate traditional media content, using consumers' ideas to direct the brand's own. The television spot may have not been free, but the tweet that influenced it was.

Lessons: You don't need a big budget to hire someone with existing social media clout. Aligning your brand with a person or thing that has already built social media equity can be an effective tactic for boosting your marketing on social and traditional media. Social media conversations and user-generated content also can be utilized as a content farm for developing marketing concepts that connect with consumers who are already talking about your brand. And, no, you don't need the kind of cash a prime-time TV media buy requires to do so.

5. Domino's

Like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Domino's Pizza used user-generated content to make a big statement. As part of its "Our Pizza Sucks" campaign, the company looked to social media to listen to the advice, ideas, and even complaints of customers unhappy with the company's products. Social media guided Domino's marketing tactics, culminating in the company's pizza tracker, which allowed customers to review their ordering experience. In doing so, the company created its own social media channel, which continues to guide its marketing efforts and solidify its dedication to customer service.

Though not directly affiliated with Domino's corporate marketing efforts, a former Chicago delivery driver, and now marketing manager of six franchises in the city, has been innovating local stores' social media tactics. In 2009, Ramon De Leon responded to a customer complaint by recording a YouTube video of himself apologizing. The video now has more than one million views. By going the extra mile to converse with customers on social media, De Leon is a great example of one person making a big impact.Those who have seen him talk social media strategy at speaking engagements throughout the country agree.

Lessons: Providing a platform that welcomes and asks for consumer response is an easy way to get consumers talking about your brand. Also, as Ramon De Leon proves, you don't need a company-wide policy to motivate employees to take the initiative when it comes to using social media for customer service. Embrace your employees' ideas, and don't hesitate to follow their lead if they find success marketing your brand over social channels.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, nicolebranan

More About: brands, contributor, features, Food, Social Media, trending

Storify Adds GetGlue Tool to Help TV Networks Follow Viewer Reaction

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 10:19 AM PDT

Social media storytelling tool Storify is adding GetGlue to its list of social media tools to help TV networks engage with viewers and build stories from viewer comments about their shows.

Entertainment social network GetGlue will join Storify’s list of social media sources along with other platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Storify users curate comments, images and videos to build social stories in a new media format that is interactive and social.

Users create their stories within Storify by dragging and dropping comments, photos and videos. The stories can then be embedded anywhere.

SEE ALSO: How Oprah is Revolutionizing Social TV in Real-Time

Storify said TV networks can use GetGlue’s social commentary around television to enrich their stories with commentary from passionate television fans. Ultimately, the tool aims to provide a deeper look into the social buzz and fan reaction around television.

The integration will kick off on Friday night as the Black Entertainment Television (BET) network will use it for its news special “I Am Trayvon: A Family Fights for Justice.”

The concept of social TV is on the rise, as more home viewers log in to social networks to discuss what’s happening with their favorite shows in real time as they air.

According to social monitoring firm Trendrr, GetGlue accounted for 16% of all comments about TV in March, being second only to Twitter, which took 69%. Meanwhile, the recent premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones was a huge success on GetGlue, and it accounted for 50% of all tweets from users who said they were "Watching Game of Thrones."

Do you interact with social media while watching TV? Do you think social TV will really be the wave of future viewership? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStock, Neustockimages.

More About: Entertainment, getglue, Social Media, social tv, Storify, TV

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What Is the Future of PR? Find Out at Mashable Connect

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 09:41 AM PDT

Public relations is rapidly changing to keep up with the rapid pace of social media. PR is no longer a siloed function or an afterthought; smart organizations are using new PR tactics to grow their businesses, better connect with users and increase their brand equity.

At our biggest conference of the year, Mashable Connect, Mashable‘s SVP of marketing and communications Stacy Green will sit down with public relations leader Sarah Evans to discuss the current and future state of PR. Their conversation will explore the influence of individuals versus brands, hijacking online conversations for PR, the impact of social on the industry, and the latest trends shaping future PR.

This is your last chance to get tickets to Mashable Connect!

Register for Mashable Connect 2012 in Lake Buena Vista, FL on Eventbrite

This three-day conference is a must-attend event for leaders of the Connected Generation. This is a rare opportunity to spend time with digital leaders and influencers, hear from some of the leading minds tackling the toughest issues in the space, make valuable connections, and spend time with the Mashable team.

Sara Evans

Sarah Evans is the owner of Sevans Strategy, a public relations and new media consultancy. It’s her personal mission to engage and employ emerging technologies in all communication that connects her with a rapidly growing community of more than 120,000 people.

A self-described “social media freak,” Sarah created and moderates #Journchat, the first-ever weekly live tweetchat for public relations professionals, journalists and bloggers. She previously blogged at and shares a daily resource for public relations professionals called Commentz.

Sarah can be seen in Vanity Fair‘s “America’s Tweethearts,” Forbes‘ “14 Power Women to Follow on Twitter” and Entrepreneur‘s “Top 10 Hot Startups of 2010.”

Follow Sara on Twitter @prsarahevans.

Stacy Green

Stacy Green is senior vice president of marketing and communications for Mashable, where she is responsible for the company’s brand, marketing and all communications. Before joining Mashable, she spent several years at the New York Times, where she led digital PR and worked on social media marketing for She recently wrote about five key trends in digital PR.

Follow Stacy on Twitter @stacygreen.

Event Information

Our annual destination conference, Mashable Connect, brings our community together for three days to connect offline in an intimate setting at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World®. Registration is now open.

Held in a unique location away from everyday distractions, Mashable Connect is a rare and valuable opportunity to be surrounded by digital leaders across industries. You'll spend time with Mashable's passionate and influential community, hear from top speakers who will provide insight into the the technologies and trends that are shaping the next era of digital innovation, and get to spend time with the Mashable team.

To keep Mashable Connect as intimate as possible, only a limited amount of tickets are available.

You can see our full agenda of topics and speakers here.

A Look Back at Last Year's Mashable Connect

1. Mashable Connect Race Powered by Gowalla

Team members check in to a race location at Magic Kingdom during the Mashable Connect Race powered by Gowalla.

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More About: Conference, Events, mashable connect, pr, trending

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Comedian to Watch 250 Netflix Movies This Month, Wants Your Picks

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 08:46 AM PDT

Comedian Mark Malkoff has slept with celebrities, brought a goat into an Apple store, and moved himself into IKEA.

Now he wants to make the most of his Netflix subscription — and he needs your help.

Over the course of one month, Malkoff aims to watch 250 movies — that’s 400 hours of streaming video. “I’m curious to see how many films a Netflix subscriber can watch in a month,” he said. “Even more I want to see the best value I can get for my $7.99.

“If I watch 250 films, that works out to about 2.9 cents per film.”

Malkoff has said he will devote an entire day to movies picked by Mashable — so let us know what he should watch in the comments.

A former staff member for the Colbert Report, Malkoff is also the creator of “Celebrity Sleepovers,” where he spends the night at various celebrities’ homes, including Ed Begley, Jr. and iJustine.

Another video saw him trying various outrageous acts in a vain attempt to get thrown out of an Apple store. And another project: “Mark Lives in Ikea” follows Malkoff as he moves from his apartment, while it’s being fumigated, into an IKEA store. “My apartment is 80% IKEA anyway; it’d be like living at home,” he says in the video.

He’s documenting the Netflix project on his blog and will post a video in late May on the website, “My Damn Channel.” The project started on April 16 with 15.5 hours of classic films such as Harold and Maude, A Clockwork Orange, and The Graduate. Nice way to spend a day, right?

Wrong, says Malkoff. “After a few days of watching movies 15 hours a day it’s been challenging,” he told Mashable. “A few times I’ve watched entire scenes and then instantly forgotten what I watched.

“It also doesn’t help that I’ve slept five or less almost every night. I haven’t left my apartment since I started the project four days ago.”

Malkoff is asking people on Facebook and Twitter for film suggestions that are available on Netflix streaming. Two of the documentaries he watched on Wednesday came from Twitter and Facebook suggestions.

He also wants to get some company while watching the movies.

“I’m hoping to get a some well known actors to come to my apartment to do live commentary on their films,” he said. “I would love if F. Murray Abraham would watch Amadeus with me and bring his Oscar.” He also said he’d like to have Steve Guttenberg over to watch Diner.

He’s organized the movies into theme days. Monday was 70′s films. Tuesday was 90′s films. Wednesday was classic comedies. Thursday is documentary day. Friday is for 80′s films such as St. Elmo’s Fire and Dirty Dancing.

“I’m doing a day of the worst films ever made which will feature titles such as ‘Cool as Ice’ starring Vanilla Ice as well as ‘Troll 2,’” he said.

“I’m also doing a day forcing myself to watch stuff I would never watch such as ‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’ — I might have to medicate myself to get through that day.”

By the end of the project, Malkoff says, he wants Netflix to declare a “Mark Malkoff Day” — and hopes Netflix CEO Reed Hasting will invite him to visit their corporate offices.

“I hope Mark enjoys his time watching movies and TV shows on Netflix,” was all Joris Evers, a Netflix spokesman, would say.

Malkoff said at first his wife wasn’t thrilled about the idea of him watching moves for 15-and-a-half hours a day, but has enjoyed watching some films with him. “When I initially pitched her the idea I tried to spin it that we could have a ‘date night’ every night watching movies, but she wisely didn’t buy it,” he said.

What movies do you think Mark should watch? Remember, it has to be something that’s available on Netflix. Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of Malkoff’s blog.

More About: Mark Malkoff, netflix, streaming video

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Apple Defends 4G Label on Australian iPad

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 08:31 AM PDT

4G iPad

Responding to accusations that the new 4G-capable iPad is misleading because it doesn’t connect to high-speed LTE networks in Australia, Apple shot back that the iPad is still 4G even if it can’t do LTE Down Under.

A government agency, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, accused Apple last month of misleading customers with its marketing material surrounding the new iPad, which claims the iPad is “Wi-Fi + 4G.” Since Australian 4G LTE networks operate on frequencies incompatible with the American networks the new iPad was designed to use, the iPad isn’t really 4G, the commission argues.

But in a federal court filing reported by The Australian, Apple says that doesn’t matter. Since the iPad can connect to the HSPA+ networks that are available in Australia, it’s still technically 4G. While HSPA+ speeds aren’t nearly as fast as LTE, they’re still faster than 3G networks, and technically fall into the broad standard of 4G set by the International Telecommunication Union.

Here’s the rub: Australia’s wireless carriers market their HSPA+ networks as “3G” not “4G,” even though they’re technically allowed to. This is in contrast to U.S. carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, who label their HSPA+ networks 4G.

SEE ALSO: Why the iPad Can't Use FaceTime Over LTE: It's Apple's Call

Earlier this year, Apple even updated the network icon on the AT&T version of the iPhone 4S, changing it from “3G” to “4G,” to represent the faster connection. The move received widespread criticism. Beyond the fundamental issue of whether or not HSPA+ is really 4G, many said Apple was misleading customers that their phones were suddenly faster, when in fact only the icon had changed.

Notably, the new iPad only displays an “LTE” icon when it’s connected to an LTE network. Presumably, if you bought a Wi-Fi + 4G iPad in Australia, you would never see the indicator.

Apple also recently updated its Australian website to make clear that the Wi-Fi + 4G iPad will not connect to LTE (or WiMax, another 4G technology) in Australia. Visitors checking out the specs of the tablet or trying to buy it see these disclaimers:


What do you think should happen here? Should Apple back off and just market the iPad as “3G” in Australia, or is the government agency being too strict about the “4G” label? Sound off in the comments.

BONUS: The New iPad’s Key Features

1. Retina Display

The most touted feature of the new iPad is its ultra-high-resolution "retina" display, which clocks in at 2,048 x 1,536 pixels -- a million more pixels than a 1080p HDTV. Thanks to the extra pixels and the iPad's new graphics processor, the screen has 44% better color saturation. The screen's pixels are so small, Apple says it had to change the design of the LCD itself to elevate the pixels above the circuitry to prevent distortion. Apple calls it the best display ever made for a mobile device, and -- from the specs -- it's hard to disagree.

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Image courtesy of iStockphoto, pictafolio

More About: 4G, 4g lte, apple, ipad, LTE, tablets

If Charles Darwin Created Foursquare, It Might Look Like This

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 08:15 AM PDT

The World at Work is powered by GE. This new series highlights the people, projects and startups that are driving innovation and making the world a better place.

Name: Project Noah

Big Idea: Project Noah harnesses the power of mobile to let users contribute to real scientific data and research.

Why It’s Working: Project Noah calls itself a “butterfly net for the 21st century,” giving members of the connected generation a way to reconnect with nature on the platform where they’re most comfortable — their smartphones. Its catalog of nature images aims to one day capture every living species on the planet.

Nature Deficit Disorder, the idea that children’s behavioral patterns are changing because they are spending less time outside, was introduced in Richard Louv’s 2005 book Last Child in the Woods. In short, screens replace the wonders of the natural world that used to provide children with hours of entertainment, leaving kids to wither indoors.

The team at Project Noah (short for “Networked Organisms and Habitats”) thinks that spending time exploring nature and time attached to screens don’t need to be mutually exclusive. The startup hopes to mobilize a new generation of nature lovers with a modern digital experience.

“Project Noah is what would have happened if Charles Darwin had created Foursquare,” co-founder Yasser Ansari tells Mashable. “Anyone can be a citizen scientist and participate in real world scientific inquiry. We’re measuring the pulse of mother nature.”

Project Noah primarily comes to life as a mobile app, available for iOS and Android. The app is a tool for anyone — from an amateur nature lover to a professional scientist — to document the wildlife and plants around them. You can take photos, called “Spottings,” add observations and tag your location. If you don’t know what you’ve found, you can ask the Project Noah community for help identifying what you’ve Spotted. Project Noah contains a map of all Spottings made, so you can explore what other people have seen in your area — or across the globe.

The database hosts about 200,000 Spottings and almost half a million photos, shot in 215 countries and all seven continents. The Android and iOS apps together have been downloaded about 250,000 times.

Within the app, you can create and accept missions, such as photographing different varieties of orchids or “animal architecture,” like beehives or beaver dams.

Similar to badges found within other social check-in apps, you can earn “Patches” for completing different tasks.

Project Noah recently launched a digital classroom for teachers, including special missions for the school environment. One middle school biology teacher is using the tool to challenge his students to document every living organism on their campus. For students or other users who are not smartphone owners, you can access the tool via a web browser.

Some noteworthy discoveries have already been made through Project Noah, such as the first known photograph of the Impatiens plant, spotted by Dipanshu Mitra, in Sikkim, India. The flower had previously only been captured through illustrations.

As the startup, which has seed funding from National Geographic, continues to gain traction, Ansari sees potential to print books of Spottings and Missions, create a presence in biology classes across the world and build the largest known database of nature observations.

“Tech has leveled the playing field, but we need to go beyond inspiring people. We need to give you tools,” Ansari says. “Parents say, ”I forgot how much I loved this,’ and kids say, ‘I didn’t even know this existed.’”

Series presented by GE

The World at Work is powered by GE. GE Works focuses on the people who make the things that move, power, build and help to cure the world.

Image via Project Noah user Gerardo Aizpuru

More About: apps, features, mashable, Mobile, nature, World at Work

Photo Editing Site Picnik Lives on — at Least for Now [UPDATED]

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 08:03 AM PDT

Google Picnik - 600

Although popular photo editing site Picnik was supposed to close down for good on Thursday, it’s still alive and well as of Friday morning.

Google announced in January that it would be pulling the plug on Picnik on April 19, along with a variety of other services such as Google Sky Map and Social Graph API. The company said it would be moving Picnik’s editing tools and effects to Google+.

But as of Friday morning, is still available for use. A message saying its last day was April 19, 2012 remains. Mashable has reached out to Google for comment.

"As we head into 2012, we've been sticking to some old resolutions — the need to focus on building amazing products that millions of people love to use every day," Google said via its blog. "That means taking a hard look at products that replicate other features, haven't achieved the promise we had hoped for or can't be properly integrated into the overall Google experience."

SEE ALSO: Pixlr Aims to Fill the Hole Between Photoshop and Instagram

Google said it will use Picnik staffers to "continue creating photo-editing magic across Google products."

In the post to its site, Picnik cast the move in a positive light: "Since joining Google in 2010, we have been creating editing magic in Google products while continuing to keep Picnik awesome. But now we get to focus on even awesomer things," the post reads.

To smooth the transition to Google+, Picnik has added a feature called Picnik Takeout that downloads images to the desktop as zip files. Photos can also be copied to Google+, where they can then be stored and shared. Picnik also informed its premium members that they will be refunded as a result of the change. And until the site closes, all members can be granted access to its premium privileges for free.

What photo-editing services do you plan to use instead of Picnik? Let us know in the comments.

UPDATE: Picnik is now closed. The site is no longer in use, as of 11:55 a.m. EST on April 20.

Picnik Alternatives

1. PicMonkey

This site was created by two former Picnik engineers, Justin Huff and Brian Terry, so you can imagine some similarities.

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More About: Google, picnik

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