Sunday, December 18, 2011

Facebook gets Timeline mostly right.

Who is Andy Sparks, you ask?  Watch this short video from Facebook and you'll know! In one-and-a-half minutes you see his whole life (to-date), from birth through grade school, marriage, and raising his own child.  

And now you can have your whole life on-line too in pictures, video and posts through Facebook's new Timeline profile view.  In beta-testing for awhile, as of December 15, it's available everywhere by following this link  
With Facebook Timeline, instead of scrolling through pages and pages of posts, viewers of your profile can click on any year or month and get a snapshot of your life.  So it's a good idea to review those posts, because what you said in 2007 may not be all that relevant or accurate any more!

Once you get started transferring your profile to Timeline view, you have 7 days to complete it.  My personal page took just about 2 hours to go through because it's pretty light yet still goes back nearly 5 years. 

You can select pictures to enlarge, posts to hide from view, and add a oversize cover shot at the top of your profile.  Facebook has made creating your Timeline quick and fun and made scrolling someone else's life a lot easier.  

And they've got it mostly right; however, there are a couple things I hope Facebook cleans up. For example, review your privacy settings as things like who can see your friends reverted to everyone on my page.  Also, some of the display/app boxes near your name can't be deleted, and the map app box is particularly annoying.  It is painfully slow to add or correct a few key geographic locations of holiday locations, life events etc. I gave up and wished I could delete it. 

I'm sure it will get better over time. What improvements would you suggest

Have you updated your page yet? If not, I hope you have some fun updating your page before Facebook does it for you! 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

BlackBerry PlayBook has the bells, not all the whistles

Well, I'd been waiting and following the release of BlackBerry's PlayBook tablet for months and finally it was released April 19.

Why PlayBook and not ipad? Mostly because I wanted 3G connection without having to buy another monthly data plan. Both come with WiFi, but that's not always available when travelling or meeting outside the home or office. So PlayBook tethers wirelessly through bluetooth to my BlackBerry Torch, drawing off the dataplan I already pay for monthly. The Bridge feature means I can turn the link on when I want. This also provides two layers of privacy. A password for those who want to powerup and play with my PlayBook, and another password to open the bridge which opens links to my calendar, email, contacts etc. So I can let anyone play games or surf the 'net without letting them have access to my personal or business data. Smart, that PlayBook.

So the playbook has awesome video and sound quality playback with hard and soft controls, it's responsive to the touch, small enough to fit in a jacket pocket or purse, downloads podcasts, games, books, and music easily, has front and back facing cameras for videoconferencing/Skype, a "numbers" key pad stays up (a basic yet missing piece on BlackBerry smartphones), and ports for more connectivity.

However, and here's the big But, the PlayBook is missing some key features that I hope will be fixed with future software upgrades. For example, wouldn't it be nice to be able to look at pictures taken and sorted on my tethered Blackberry? Doesn't do that now. Secondly, BBM (proprietary messenger) is apparently still 4-6 weeks away which means my bbry has to be right beside me all the time even when I'm working with the PlayBook. Also, not sure if MMS and SMS text messages are ever scheduled to come through the smartphone to the playbook. Probably not, since tablets are not mobile phones actually. Another annoyance: I'm not sure why, but my hands-free bluetooth device, while found by the PlayBook, couldn't pick up and stream audio through the device to the car FM system. I'll have to spend more time making that work. And one last item on the wish list: I'd like to see my Torch's Password Keeper open on the PlayBook as well. When managing multiple accounts and accessing website accounts, I use this password keeper a half-dozen times a day at least. Another reason to keep my smart phone close.

So if you don't have a BlackBerry is the PlayBook good value? At this point, it can do what any tablet can do: get Facebook, apps, gmail, online calendars, websurfing etc. Compare prices and quality to determine the best one for your situation. For BlackBerry owners, there's a lot more value in the PlayBook than we early adopters are getting right now. Bring it on, RIM.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

QR Codes Smart for Business Marketing

Finding out which ads capture the attention of customers has always been a challenge for marketers. Getting results is usually an accumulation of a variety of tactics including advertising, trade shows, web promotion, media coverage, business cards, networking, referrals etc etc.

Now, with QR codes, everything from business cards to brochures, from t-shirts to tattoos can be tracked for their specific contribution to directing traffic to your website or online video.

Quick Response codes are barcodes that can be scanned by smartphones and tablets that have a camera and access to the Internet. Once the phone scans the code, the phone is taken online to an Internet site. QR codes can point to your company website, a coupon, a video, product information--anything you can host online. The QR code is as simple as taking a picture and it adds rich, more detailed content than any single marketing tool could. Plus, it's trackable, so you can see results of a marketing tool or for a full campaign.

As QR codes appear on more and more ads, information that captures your attention can now be captured and saved on your smartphone. I've used it to promote events, in traditional and online advertising, printed materials and more, for clients. It helps me know and show where the results are being generated. With useage growing in Canada by nearly 500% quarter over quarter, QR codes will become more commonplace, and more used by consumers.

To use a QR codes, download a QR code reader to your smartphone. One of the most popular is i-nigma. To download the i-nigma QR reader, text the word barcode to 393939. You will receive a text message back with a link to their download site.

To start using and tracking QR codes in your marketing, email