LinkedIn’s TV Commercial: Brilliant Move or Desperate Moonshot?

LinkedIn sign-in page with Who Am I?

I don’t know what’s more curious–that LinkedIn is running a television ad or that the global professional network is choosing to do so during an event widely criticized for its lack of diversity.

You’re Closer than You Think, according to Nick Bartle, LinkedIn’s marketing vice president, is part of a larger campaign the company has planned to let viewers know exactly what LinkedIn is. He says (in re/code’s LinkedIn article) “There are labels that kick around. There’s ‘the Facebook for professionals.’ ‘The online Rolodex.’ ‘The place to post your resume.’ In every instance, we feel we’re not just those things, we’re so much more than that.”

Okay, I understand that reasoning, but does the commercial do the job? Watch for yourself:

The concept for this ad arose from LinkedIn’s December 14 tweet about NASA hiring an astronaut–to date, their most popular tweet ever.

Bartle explains why they transformed that tweet into a TV ad: “The astronaut is a universal symbol for the dream job. We want to show people the tools we’ve got that will enable them to take a step closer to their own personal moonshot.”

Great sentiment, but I think the commercial falls flat. Sarcastic me wants to say it’s because they based their decision on “Well, people liked the tweet,” but I’ll focus instead on the two problems that instantly pop in my mind:

  1. “3 million LinkedIn members qualify.” As soon as I saw this appear in the ad, I thought maybe it was targeting recruiters instead. But based on what Bartle said and on the beginning of the script, they’re targeting job seekers, probably trying to get more millennials to join.
  2. Why is LinkedIn reverting to their old reputation as a place to get a job? And, wait…what tools? The ad wasn’t long enough to show tools.

I hope their intention to show people the tools they have means the rest of the campaign will be more effective. Right now, the ad simply seems to be a waste of money.

That Sinking Feeling

Speaking of money, LinkedIn’s shares have been tanking lately, as examined in TechCrunch’s LinkedIn Problems Run Deeper Than Valuation. And that makes me wonder if this isn’t LinkedIn’s own desperate moonshot.

As TechCrunch reports:

…Only one-quarter of LinkedIn members use the site every month. This low level of engagement has made the product less and less useful for recruiting.

Uh-oh. Now I see why they’ve created an ad that targets job seekers (and kind of recruiters). If they lose recruiters now, they’re toast.

So, we’ve established that “desperate moonshot” is the answer here. Now, what about that time slot?

Banking on the Revenant?

In 2015, the Oscars drew 36.6 million viewers–the lowest performance among adults 18-49 since 2008 and the lowest viewership since 2009. But 36.6 million is still a good number, right?

Okay, well what about the millennials LinkedIn seems to be targeting? Millennials barely even watch traditional TV let alone the Oscars, as summed up perfectly in USA Today’s Voices from Campus article from 2015:

I feel completely irrelevant to the process,” said Ian Cashwell, a 2013 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. “It’s people in the film industry picking other people in the film industry. To me it feels kind of like watching another country’s elections.

LinkedIn prides itself on being a diverse, global network too, just like the Oscars…except, um, the awards show is not exactly that diverse, as you may have heard.

So, what’s up LinkedIn?

Advertising Age gives a little more insight in their February 24 article in which marketing VP Bartle says, “You’re Closer Than You Think is LinkedIn’s first-ever integrated marketing campaign and TV spot that’s inspired by LinkedIn’s vision to create economic opportunity for the global workforce.”

Bartle also explains why they chose the Oscars, saying, “We believe that everyone should pursue the biggest goals imaginable. There are moments when those accomplishments are celebrated, and we believe the Oscars is one of those moments.”

I still think the Oscars are the wrong place to draw in a new audience and the lack of diversity conflicts with LinkedIn’s global membership. But I get that the big idea is to show how LinkedIn can help people reach their potential. They haven’t executed on that idea fully yet, but we’ll see.

Of course (sarcastic me is back again), there may be another reason they chose the Oscars this year. Ever look up what “revenant” means? I imagine many of you did after wondering why Leo DiCaprio was starring in a movie of that odd name. It means “a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead.

With dire predictions hammering them right now, LinkedIn is definitely trying to return to its former glory. There’s a ton of potential there. I hope they do find new life, and I hope their new marketing push ends up being more effective than what it seems.

Tune in and we’ll see.

 

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Google Plus Takes Another Thoughtful Step Forward with Communities

Photo from G+ Communities page

Last week, Google+ introduced another fantastic feature—Communities. If you’re not convinced on moving your business over to Google+, read J.C. Kendall’s persuasive and detailed argument on why Google+ beats Facebook in his article, “Using Google+ Communities for Business.

How Communities Work

The Communities feature works pretty much as you’d imagine. The focus is on getting people with similar interests together for closer and more in-depth interaction.

Screenshot of communities choices

Earlier this year, I created a Writing Circle page to help create a writers community on Google+. But the interactive features weren’t there yet, and coupled with the restrictions on how Pages interact with others, it was difficult to build a community. I feel like Google+ read my mind and understood my frustration. Communities is the perfect solution.

Public and Private Options

Here’s where Communities takes a page from LinkedIn Groups, with a bit more flexibility.

Public communities are indexed by Google for search. And you have two options here.

  1. Allow anyone to join, create posts, share content and comment on other posts.
  2. Keep the group invitation only but still be found through search.

Private communities can also be set up two ways:

  1. Restrict membership as invitation only but still make content discoverable by search engines.
  2. Close the group entirely so that membership is controlled and content is viewable only through a private URL.

Be careful though, once you set up your group, you cannot change this public or private setting.

Google+ was Thoughtful, You Should Be Too

Many people are so excited by this new feature, they’re rushing to set up their own communities. Take your time though. Make sure you have a well thought-out idea for your community—how you’ll moderate and manage it, how you’ll help it grow, etc.

Search and see what communities other people have created, and as always join a few and monitor others. Learn from others’ mistakes. If you want to create a community around your business, make sure it fits your brand, your goals, and offers value to the members who join and participate.

Struggling with reach on Facebook due to the ever so cranky EdgeRank algorithm? Encourage your Facebook fans to join your community on Google+. You’ll reach all of them, not just a selected few.

Integrate Other Features

Google+ Hangouts and Communities seem like they were made for each other. And with Hangouts, you can give your audience a close-up and personal experience they still can’t get anywhere else.

Be creative and remember, the more you use interactive features like this, the more you get to know your audience.

Stealing Families and Friends from Facebook

Communities aren’t just great for businesses. Google+ now seems more family and friend oriented as well. Currently on Facebook, you don’t get to see posts from all your friends because Facebook decides which ones appear in your feed.

Create a private community on Google+ and stay even closer to family and friends. Set up your phone and tablet so all the photos you take load onto Google+ and then choose which ones to share. You can have Hangouts with far away cousins, siblings and friends and still share the posts and content you’re used to sharing on Facebook.

Full of Possibilities

I’m so excited about this feature, and I hope you are too. Think of all the possibilities. If you are already a fan of Google+, you’ve probably already heard of how virtual photo walks have changed lives of people who can’t travel or explore nature on their own.

Now, nonprofits can hold support groups in a new, private community. Friends around the world can hold virtual book clubs and interact while they’re reading and then hold a hangout when they’re done. Someone send this post to Oprah—she did just revive her book club and would love this idea.

Start exploring for yourself. You’ll see—the ideas will keep coming. There are a ton of ways you can use Google+ Communities. So, what do you think? Will this make you use Google+ or, if you’re already there, will you use it more?

Thankful for the “Social” in Social Media Marketing

Photo of me with sign saying Thank You!Yes, it’s the week of Thanksgiving—a great time to reflect upon all that we are thankful for in life. Just the other day, I was thinking about the wonderful people I met through social media—through Twitter and Meetup.com.

If you’re interested in digital marketing, social media, podcasts, webcasts and even yoga, you’ll like meeting these people too.

Philly Marketing Labs graphicPhilly Marketing Labs—First, I met Skip Shuda and Bechara Jaoudeh (founders of Philly Marketing Labs) at their Main Line Internet & Social Media Marketing Meetup. A few months later, Skip asked me if I was interested in working with them, and a while later, I began working with them on a regular basis. These guys introduced me to the world of entrepreneurship (Bechara also owns BagelSpice), which really rejuvenated my career and opened up all sorts of options for me. They are SEO and digital marketing experts and they regularly share their knowledge with others. To them, I am forever grateful and I look forward to working with them again.

Through Philly Marketing Labs, I learned about and started volunteering with the nonprofit TechGirlz, which helps middle-school-aged girls get interested in and stay interested in tech. See founder Tracey Welson-Rossman’s recent interview for a quick look at the group.

I liked the Main Line Social Media group so much, I found another marketing meetup just starting up in Chester County a little over a year ago. The Chester County Marketing Group was run by Ryan Gerardi and Jeff Tincher, who immediately formed a core group of people (including me) to help keep the meetup group going.

Ryan has unending energy and works at HookLogic to help the automotive industry better use digital media marketing tools. He now lives in Michigan but still stays in touch. He also liked my blog, so we ended up working together as I wrote some posts for his websites: AutoConversion and AutoConverse. You’ll also see him still contributing on the Board of Advisors and as a Technology Coach with the Business Vision Network.

Jeff is a digital marketing know-it-all (in a good way!), who seems to be on top of every new trend and channel that appears in the digital space. The nice part is he is always so willing to share and help others get up to speed as well–see his 610 Digital site. Another cool thing is that you’ll see he always lists “Dad” as one of his key roles.

Carla Wilson is another fantastic person I met through the Chester County Marketing Meetup. She now co-organizes the group with Jeff, in addition to owning Wilson Media Services and being the president of the Delaware Valley Virtual Assistants Association. And she is a yoga teacher who recently put on the first Namas Day in Philadelphia. Check out the podcast/webcast she does with Mary Motz.

Philly Burbs WordPress Meetup logo designed by Liam DempseyI met Liam Dempsey through the Chester County Meetup too. He runs his own marketing and design firm and started the Philly ‘Burbs WordPress Meetup group with me helping. He’s smart, funny and works hard, but always has time to talk to others. Visit his Chicken-Monkey-Dog site and you’ll get a sense of his personality and sense of humor.

I have to mention Christina Strommer too—who, like me, just kind of stumbled upon these groups and keeps coming back. On Twitter, she’s @jamminpsu and describes herself as a “graphic designer/STEM advocate/gadget geek/literary junkie/music enthusiast. And a mom.” She is a friendly, interesting woman who is a NASA fanatic. I love learning from her too.

One of the reasons I decided to write this blog post this week is that these people, with whom I got together to talk marketing and how to further our own businesses while helping other people, have become friends of mine. Friends I really enjoy talking with and hanging out with. I am so thankful for their presence in my life.

Being connected with them has led me to all sorts of other fabulous connections, both meeting people in person and on Twitter. They’re too numerous to mention here, but I am so thankful for their friendship too. And I look forward to getting to know each one of them better in the new year.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Shifting Perspective & Finding Purpose to Make an Impact

Me hanging upside down with the words "Practice shifting your perspective"

Don’t you love when a book wakes you up and inspires you to improve? The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith did that for me.

So I’m changing things up.

I admit, I have not been doing things the way I should online. I’m not half-assing it, but I haven’t been purposeful with my interactions online, like blogging and social media.

I’m very good at advising clients on social media and content marketing strategy and execution, but I haven’t been following my own advice as closely as I should. And for that I am sorry.

Blogging

My blog has probably been the better part of my online efforts, mostly because I truly want you to enjoy what I write. But I started blogging for rather selfish reasons: (1) I was starting to plan my exit from my job and wanted to be sure to have writing samples online. (2) I needed experience blogging to help me find the type of job that would be a next step for me. I wanted to educate, inform and entertain, but I never really refined the strategy for my blog–other than what I expressed in my original About page.

From now on, my efforts will have more purpose. I’ll still talk about marketing, advertising and social media. But I will also refine my strategy to focus more on giving to you, making sure there are points to learn from in my posts. It’s not an accident that my Allstate Mayhem blog post is my most popular. I structured it well, I examined why the commercials work, and offered information you could potentially apply to your own work.

LinkedIn and Google+

I give seminars on LinkedIn, yet I just finally improved my summary a few months ago. I still need to update my newest position, but I’m waiting to clarify a few things first. I definitely do not devote enough time there to joining in discussion and giving advice where needed. That is changing.

I have an idea to start a Copywriter mentoring group on LinkedIn, but I see there’s already something close called The Confident Copywriter so I joined that instead. (Let me know if you think I should go forward with my idea anyway.)

My Google+ presence needs more attention too. I think the problem there was that it was so new, I had trouble deciding on a direction. I wanted to be more personal, talk about more things there, but that resulted in a lack of focus. I will fix that too.

Everything I want to do will take a little time, especially because I want to be thoughtful in my approach. So please be patient and feel free to give me feedback along the way.

In the meantime, later this week (on October 25, The Impact Equation’s launch date) stay tuned for my official book review of the book that inspired my change. Hopefully, it will inspire you too.

Even Abe Lincoln Likes Google Plus

Screenshot of Hangout with Spielberg, Gordon-Levitt & fans

Tonight, after a busy day, my plans got changed and I ended up home a little before 7pm. Lucky me, I remembered that Google Play was hosting a Hangout with Steven Spielberg and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Marketers, Google+ is the place to be if you want to throw some cool events and interact with fans. This particular event was to promote Spielberg’s upcoming film, Lincoln.

Lincoln movie ad

Five lucky people got to actually ask questions and chat with Gordon-Levitt and Spielberg. Three used their personal computers, while two others joined from Times Square–where the Hangout was also broadcast. (Think possibilities here, marketers.)

We saw the trailer for Lincoln and got terrific insight into the film from both director and actor. Spielberg called it “One of the most compelling experiences I’ve had making a film.” As Gordon-Levitt pointed out, that’s no small statement coming from the legendary director.

And for those of you who don’t normally like historical films (kind of like me), this film seems to have quite a bit of resonance for today. Spielberg was asked what he wants audiences to take away from the film. His answer was to understand “the burden leadership requires,” which is something we often forget.

“The country fell apart,” he added, “and Lincoln had to put it back together.” Much of what he said sounded like things we could say about the state of the country today. Very compelling indeed.

I could go on with my review of what I think looks like a fantastic film, but my point of all this is that many marketers could really use Google+ to their advantage. You can actually talk to your audience–in a fun, casual way.

As Spielberg said:

“It used to be hard to find an audience…It might still be hard to get them to the movie…but it’s easy to start a conversation.”

Marketers, the more conversations you start, the more people get to know, like and trust you (if you’re being genuine and other-centered). Get on Google+, start using the tools there, and be creative in how you engage.

Who knows? Google+ could become your favorite place to hangout. What are you waiting for?

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The video should be available online soon. Check back at Google Play’s Google+ page. As I post this, it says the video is private, so they’re probably still processing it.

For the Love of Guy, Help Promote More Than Just Yourself

On Tuesday, I wrote about how author Ann Patchett promotes not only herself but her whole industry, and why you should follow her lead. As I was writing that post, Guy Kawasaki was launching a focused effort to promote the use of Google+.

Guy Kawasaki's photo from the #EvanG+ subscribe page

Guy has been an avid promoter of Google+ since its beginning. After using the site for a few months, he decided to write an e-book about it—What the Plus: Google+ for the Rest of Us. His goal was:

…to help you to derive as much joy and value from Google+ as I do.

Who is this Guy?

So, let me back up for a second. In case you don’t know, Guy Kawasaki is a gregarious darling of the social media world. He’s a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures and the creator of Alltop.com.

Back to “For the Love of Guy”

Now, Guy is recruiting fellow evangelists to help promote Google+, using the tag #EvanG+ to give us some cohesion and visibility.

How It Works

I could tell you how it works, but Guy’s own message explains it better:

You’ll receive an email a few times a week with stuff that I hand picked. I will send only material that I think makes for good posts. In a perfect world, you will take the info in my email, craft a post, and share it with your followers. There are more than 1,500 subscribers after forty eight hours. I figure that the total number of all the followers of subscribers is 3.5 million or so people.

Two suggestions when you post this material:

1. Add a tagline such as: Become a Google+ evangelist by signing up here: http://eepurl.com/n1auX
2. Add the hash tag “#EvanG+”

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, Google is not paying me to do this nor did it come up with the idea. This is something I’m doing out of my love for Google+.

Key Points of Promotion

Note the last sentence above. He is going to all this effort to promote Google+ out of his own love for the site. Will it help Google? For sure. More than 2.5 million people have Guy in their Circles, and he has a little more than 1 million followers on Twitter.

Will his efforts help him? Absolutely, and that’s the whole point I’m trying to make.

Oftentimes, people hesitate to help promote their industry because they don’t want to help benefit their competitors. We live in a more connected world now, people. Those days are over!

I’m not asking you to join the #EvanG+ movement—though it would be great if you did. I’m asking you to be more aware of your surroundings and all the points of your connected network. Start promoting more than just yourself and your business. Promote your industry. Promote things related to your business and industry. If you do this very well, you’ll become know as a thought leader and will likely attract more business as a result.

Who can argue with that?

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I started my own promotion venture last Friday. I wanted to find a way to help build a thriving writing community on Google+, so I started +Writing Circle. If you’re a writer—author, poet, screenwriter, playwright, etc.—please follow +Writing Circle.

Get Facebook Advertising Training from 22 Expert Marketers

Banner ad for the Advanced Facebook Ad Conference 2012

Almost 1 billion people are on Facebook. As a marketer, brand or small business, how do you take advantage of that huge audience?

Attend the Advanced Facebook Ads Conference hosted by Social Fresh.

The biggest and most comprehensive Facebook Advertising conference ever!

Get advice from 22 of the top Facebook marketers in the world. You don’t even have to leave your office or home. The entire event is online and takes place from June 19 – July 13, 2012.

No Time? No Problem!

I admit, when I first saw this advertised I was intimidated by committing to this month-long event. But there’s no pressure. You will get your money’s worth because if you don’t have time to view the session live, you can watch it later—up to 6 months later. All sessions will be recorded and placed online for you to view on demand.

You can come back as often as you want to replay sessions you missed and make sure you get the most out of the content.

5 Reasons This is a Must-See Event

1. Open Q & A Fridays

Each presenter will be available to answer questions on Fridays during the conference. If you’re like me, your most important questions often arise hours or days after the presentation. Now, you can still get those questions answered and see what other people are saying too.

2. Special Group for Networking & Discussions

All attendees will be invited to a private Facebook group. Each presentation will have a thread in the group where follow-up conversations and questions can live. You won’t miss out on the conversations and education that usually happen in between workshops at an in-person event. This will be available for 6 months as well.

3. Facebook Ad Basics to Prepare You for the Event

Don’t let the word “Advanced” in the title scare you away. You can attend 5 pre-conference sessions to catch up and feel comfortable, including:

  • Facebook Ad Creation 101 – Creating and bidding for ads
  • Facebook Ad Creative 101 – Ad images and copy
  • Facebook Ad Types 101 – Outline of ad types and options
  • Facebook Ad Targeting 101 – Understanding all the targeting options
  • Facebook Ad Engagement 101: Fan engagement and calls to action

4. Listen to Presentations while On the Go

You will be able to download MP3 recordings of all sessions. Listen to them in the gym, in your car—anywhere. Social Fresh is making sure their Facebook advertising conference is convenient and accessible for everyone.

5. Bonus Sessions

As if 22 presentations (and 5 pre-conference ones) weren’t enough, you also have access to several bonus presentations. They’re listed on the Facebook Ad Conference website and include digital marketing topics even outside of Facebook.

Register Now for a Reduced Price

Hurry up and sign up now to get a discount on pricing. You’ll save $300 if you register by June 18.

Facebook advertising can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. And now that Facebook has gone public, you can bet advertising options will ramp up regularly. Don’t get caught lagging behind.

With the variety of topics and quality of presenters, within one month you will soon be an expert on Facebook advertising too. Sign up today to secure your spot. Use coupon code “SOCIALFRESH” to save $150.

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Disclaimer: Though I have no connection to this Facebook ad conference, I am blogging about it in hopes I’ll be given a free pass. I don’t want to miss this conference because there’s such a wealth of content being shared. So my excitement about it is sincere.   

 

Blog Roll, Please…6 Blogs Worth Reading Regularly

Images from blogs mentioned here

Most bloggers I know put community at the heart of what they do—building a community, promoting a community, sharing with a community. All you need to do to realize this is to hang out in #blogchat on Twitter some Sunday night (9pm ET). People there are extremely willing to share tips & stories and welcome new attendees. It’s where I soaked up advice before I started blogging a couple years ago.

In this spirit of sharing and community, I’d like to share with you some blogs that I think you’ll really love.

Community Blogs

I Love Skippack by Michael Shaw

If you live in the Philly area or want to blog about your community, I strongly suggest you follow the I Love Skippack blog. Mike talks about the businesses and people of Skippack with genuine love and respect, without blowing smoke up our butts. He promotes this town better than any marketing agency could.

A funny personal note—Mike and I used to work together at Aetna, but I have to say we didn’t really get to know each other until we both left. Social media and blogging have made us friends. And that’s a cool thing.

The Ambler Rambler…Your MontcoREsource by Allison Wolf

I met Allison through Twitter. What caught my eye was how much and how well she promoted Ambler, PA—a town close to home. The Ambler Rambler is her blog. Like Mike Shaw, Allison gives us a terrific example of how to promote a community you truly love.

She is a real estate professional who understands social media and how to connect very well. Other real estate pros should follow her lead to see how to build a following without blatant self-promotion.

Marketing, Brand & Advertising Bloggers

Steve Olenski

Steve has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising, and it shows. He really knows his stuff and he presents it in an engaging and often funny way in The Steve O-Zone blog. You might have heard of Steve because he writes for Forbes, Advertising Age, Business Insider and more. Plus, he was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media by Social Technology Review.

Danny Brown

Danny is one of the first people I followed when I jumped into Twitter and social media years ago. He is a man whose actions can teach you much about being community minded. He’s generous with his advice and words, and his posts are always intelligent and engaging. I love how honest he is and that he’s not afraid to challenge people who aren’t being so honest or are letting their ego get the best of them. I think the Danny Brown blog was the first one I subscribed to, and I still read it today. I recommend you do too.

Ben Grossman

I just found Ben Grossman’s blog through a post on Twitter. His two-part story on Responsive Advertising in and Economy of Relevance sold me. And his Texts from Hillary post was a great look at our Secretary of State understanding social media better than most corporate execs or government bigwigs.

His experience is in digital marketing and advertising, and it shows. He has a knack for writing about this industry, and I will surely go back to read more.

Liam Dempsey

Liam is a friend of mine whom I met through local Meetup groups. His blog posts are usually short and practical—to the point. He writes about blogging, social networking and all things communication. While you’re on his site, check out the link to his other blog, Chicken, Monkey, Dog for a bit of fun.

There are a ton of other blogs out there I can recommend. I just didn’t want to bombard you with them all at once. Feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments below, and if you like the stuff I write, you might want to check out the Philly Marketing Labs blog. I contribute there as well.

Thanks and happy reading!!

No Time to Read? Save It in Your Pocket for Later

Ever feel like there’s not enough time in the day for all you want to do? All you want to learn? All you want to read?

With social media and keeping up with e-mails, we’re all bombarded with a glut of information every day, all day long. I see interesting articles posted on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, and I feel like there’s not enough time to read them all.

As a writer, I often base my writing off research that includes many articles shared on LinkedIn and the other channels mentioned above. And often, when I’m searching on Google, I find other articles I want to save for later.

All of us find information every day on how to better ourselves, how to advance our careers, how to simply do our jobs better, how to keep up with the latest technology, and more.

How do you manage your time and still manage to read the important articles you need or want to read?

My answer is Pocket.

Screen grab from Pocket website "When you find something you want to view later, put it in Pocket."

I used to use Evernote, which I always liked but found myself not using. I guess, to me, it was a little clunky and time-consuming. I’m really not sure why I didn’t use it more, but the fact that I didn’t means it wasn’t for me.

Pocket (formerly called Read It Later) is easy and clean. You can use it to save articles, images and videos. Plus, you can tag each item into categories to easily find what you need when you need it.

I use Pocket on my laptop and tablet, and on both there are no messy format issues and saving items is quite easy.

While I was away this past weekend, the tablet app really came in handy. With only 20 minutes of free wifi at the airport, I cruised through different sites and quickly saved all the articles I wanted to read later. Then, I could read them on the plane or anytime, whether I had wifi or not!

That might be the best feature right there. It saves the article in a nice, clean format, that you can read on your own time, whether you’re online or not.

Don’t just take my word about the advantages of Pocket. See what ReadWriteWeb had to say about it:

Today’s Pocket pivot is a huge win for the potential of mass adoption of content shifting. It organizes saved links by content type, with separate tabs for articles, videos and images, and it displays them in a vivid grid with previews. Pocket has a real chance to reach mass adoption because it practically explains itself.

View Pocket’s own video to see how it works:

There are many other apps like Pocket you can use to save items for later perusal. Check them out on your own and talk to other users about them. Even watch the Hangout ReadWriteWeb had that influenced me to try Pocket out. They discuss a few of these so-called “content shifting” sites.

Two other sites, besides Pocket and Evernote, you may want to try include:

An added note, I just found this little trick to saving Google+ posts to read later. It’s from Dustin Stout from GPlusTuts.com. Hint: You can create a Read It Later circle.

So, now that you know about Pocket, you can save any of my blog posts you find interesting and save them to read later. Have fun!

And let me know if you find something better or if you have any advice to add.

Mobile Marketing and Gamification in One Neat Package for Brands

Screenshot of SCVNGR menu on iPhoneTwo marketing trends that will continue to grow (per many marketing experts’ predictions) are mobile marketing and gamification. The two go hand in hand, and one startup just may have been ahead of the curve on this.

SCVNGR is a social game played using your mobile phone. Unlike foursquare—which has been much more popular, but still isn’t quite sure how to engage users past check-ins—SCVNGR nailed the engagement factor.

How SCVNGR works

The basics of SCVNGR are similar to foursquare. You download the free app on your iPhone or Android phone. Then you check in at participating locations. Once you check in, you complete challenges to earn points and unlock rewards.

For example, you can get points for checking in, writing a review or taking a photo. You can then share what you’ve done with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Brands can create all sorts of challenges, like the one on the demo video (below) at Boca Grande. You can earn 4 points for Tin-Foil Origami—unwrap the foil from your burrito, fold it into an interesting shape and snap a photo of it.

You’ll know exactly how many points you’ll need to claim a reward (a store discount or other reward). And you’ll see the point-earning options listed on your phone. Once you earn a reward, you show your phone to the waitress or employee of the store and redeem it right away.

Check out the video showing you how to play. And no, that’s not Gabe from The Office talking–it’s Seth Priebatsch, the company’s founder.

Brands are seeing results

GameStop worked with SCVNGR for their launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops. The results they saw were exciting:

  • 17,000 players competed in mobile challenges within just four weeks after launch.
  • 10,000 rewards were unlocked.
  • 4 challenges were completed per player.
  • Users stayed engaged for at least 10 minutes per play.

(Source: Mobile Commerce Daily)

Of course GameStop saw good numbers for their promotion. Their customers are the perfect audience for social games. But other brands are seeing success too. (See a list of current SCVNGR clients here.)

Mobile payments add a valuable twist

So far, SCVNGR has partnered with 1,400 merchants for mobile payments in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, and Chicago.

Screenshot of QR code on mobile phoneLevelUp, their payment app, is pretty simple. Users register a credit card or debit card on the app. They then get their own unique QR code, which they can scan to pay at any one of those 1,400 locations. After each transaction is completed, a receipt is sent to their e-mail.

In 2011, LevelUp passed the $1 million mark in transactions. Now, users spend over $1 million at local businesses per month, using LevelUp. And engagement has been doubling every 5 to 6 weeks. (Source: TechCrunch)

I never really got into foursquare and their mayorships, but I have to say that SCVNGR is something I could totally get into and have fun with. The keys to success are making it easy, fun and rewarding in a tangible way, and SCVNGR and its brand partners seem to be doing just that.

In exploring SCVNGR’s site and articles about them, the biggest negative I’ve seen (other than some early growing pains and mistakes with LevelUp) is their attention to their blog—or “blag” as they call it. The last post is from December 23. For a company that lives or dies by engagement, this isn’t a great example to set. Nitpicking, maybe.

Overall, it’ll be interesting to see where SCVNGR goes or grows. Will another social media site acquire it? Will it die out as competition in the mobile payment space opens up? What do you think?

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If you want to read more about SCVNGR, go to Read, Write, Web and read Having Survived Gowalla, SCVNGR’s Path is Clear.