Technology News

New Facebook feature listens in to what you’re doing

facebooklistening

Soon, Facebook won’t have to ask what you’re doing; it’ll just know.

Facebook app users were in an uproar when they discovered the social media giant is releasing a new feature that activates the microphone on their smartphones to listen in on their surroundings. Essentially, the feature was created to use a sound recognition software to determine what TV show or movie a user is watching or what song they’re listening to. However, the simple fact that Facebook would be listening in was a uncomfortable thought to some users, so much so that a petition arose to halt the app from being released in the first place.

Currently, the feature is opt-in only, which means you have the ability to disable it. However, the discomfort for some users still remains.

This isn’t the first time a brand in the technology sector has had the ability to tap into your surroundings. According to Business Insider, Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect feature is always on, watching and listening. Pretty shady stuff right there.  Microsoft announced they are now selling a console without the Kinect option, making it cheaper and less Big Brother.

Of course, one of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind isn’t whether Facebook will continue with the feature. It all comes down to the blurry line of privacy with our smart devices. In an age where technology is advancing at an incredibly rapid rate, will our privacy continue to take the back seat? Will privacy become nonexistent?

What are your thoughts about the latest feature? Leave your comments below.

YouTube to Debut New Features for Content Creators

YouTube-Optimization

With Yahoo actively trying to lure content creators away from YouTube, Google’s video streaming platform is doing its best to outperform the competition. Now, YouTube content creators have a few more newfangled features to help them make the most of their channel.

Here’s what YouTube has up its sleeve:

  • Greater transparency: the team at YouTube says it wants to announce updated features ahead of time so they can get feedback from site users and see if they’re on the right track.
  • Creator App: this new app will give content creators a way to manage their channel from their mobile phone
  • Crowdfunding: YouTube wants its hand in the popular way to fund raise online. Instead of going through third-party sites like Subbable and Patreon, YouTube wants to make its own virtual tip jar so content creators can have access to funds directly from them.
  • Improved site functions: YouTube says it is streamlining contents, closed captioning capabilities, adding to the audio library and giving creators the ability to monetize cover song videos.

Watch the video that explains the new features here.

What do you think of the new features? Which one are you looking forward to the most? Leave a comment below to continue the conversation. 

The Mars Greenhouse Approach to Content Marketing

mpx-mars-2020-rover

Courtesy: NASA/Space.com

In 2021, NASA says there will be greenhouses on Mars.

It’s part of a newly announced experiment that examines how plants grow on the barren red planet. NASA states the probe will lift off  in mid-2020 and if all goes well, the mobile greenhouse will arrive at its destination in early 2021. The plants will be completely contained in a rover, eliminating the chance for Earth life to contaminate Martian soil.  NASA says the greenhouse is just the first step in creating a “long-term, sustainable base” on Mars and its success depends on the future of human colonization on the planet.

Whether you realize it or not, the Mars Plant Experiment has a lot to do with your blog and social media content. Since we’re suckers for space parallels, we like to think our content is a type of “Mars Greenhouse Experiment” of its own. Think about it: we’re planting our content seeds (blogs, social posts, etc), watching them grow via analytics and seeing if it works for the type of environment (blog, social media sites, etc) we raise it in. Ultimately, we’re looking to cultivate our content so that it thrives in a sustainable way.

Here are 5 ways to amp up your content strategy based on the Mars Greenhouse Experiment:

easelly_visual

 

Foursquare announces new spin-off app

 

swarm logo newwww

The digital horizon looks bright for Foursquare.

The app-based social network announced May 1 that it would be splitting its product into two separate entities: Foursquare and Swarm. While Foursquare will continue to offer users a location-based discovery experience, Swarm will primarily focus on personal connections through proximity.

What does that mean?

It means that Foursquare is on its way to reinventing itself to take out the creep factor and add in the friend element. The main goal of Swarm is to show you which of your friends are in your general area and who is available to make plans with.

We built Swarm because you’ve told us how often you still have to text your friends: “where are you?” and “what are you up to later?” We wanted to build a quick way for you to know these two things for all of your friends,” Foursquare wrote in their official blog. “With Swarm, you can easily see which of your friends are out nearby, figure out who is up for grabbing a drink later, and share what you’re up to (faster and more easily than you can in Foursquare today).”

Here’s a sneak preview, as originally posted on The Verge:

swarm_group

The app will be available for iOS and Android technology toward the end of May. If you want to be notified when the app is ready to download, check out Swarm’s website.

As for Foursquare, the company says it is going through a great transformation:

In the near future, the Foursquare app is also going to go through a metamorphosis. Local search today is like the digital version of browsing through the Yellow Pages (remember those?). We believe local search should be personalized to your tastes and informed by the people you trust. The opinions of actual experts should matter, not just strangers. An app should be able answer questions like ‘give me a great date dinner spot’ and not just ‘tell me the nearest gas station.’ We’re right now putting the final touches on this new, discovery-focused version of Foursquare. It’ll be polished and ready for you later this summer.”

Are you planning on using the Swarm app? Leave us a line in the comments and we may just publish them in a future blog! 

Google Reads Your Emails to Provide More Personalized Advertising

Courtesy: Google.com

Courtesy: Google.com

Someone’s reading your emails, and it’s not your employer or ex-girlfriend.

This Monday ( April 14),  Google updated Gmail’s Terms of Service, a portion of which clarifies how the company uses your email content for a more personalized web experience.

In it, Google states:

Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

Many users are understandably upset by this and have called it an invasion of privacy.  However, Google responded by saying their actions are perfectly legal as users consent to such activity upon signing up to the free email service.

What do you think of Google skimming your email to make your web surfing more individualized? Sound off in the comments! 

Smartphone or Car: Which Would You Choose? [POLL]

smartphone car

A recent survey by RepairPal shows that 86% of those polled would keep their smartphone over their car if they had to choose one or the other. Given the same scenario, which would you choose?

Cast your vote in today’s tCloud Poll:

Weddings, Live-Tweeted: A New Social Media Service Takes the Cake

canstockphoto18980420

The concept of “live-tweeting” is simple: you log on to your mobile Twitter account and describe via words, photos and hashtags what is happening before your eyes. Think of it like social media-driven journalism. Sure, live-tweeting is expected during sporting events and concerts, but what would you say if people are now paying for specialists to live-tweet their wedding?

It’s a service that’s catching on in New York, specifically at W Hotels, as reported by HLN TV. While the idea isn’t completely far-fetched due to the popularity of live-tweeting, it seems many aren’t so keen on the idea.

However, W Hotels believes this is the cutting edge in wedding services.

“We’ve been noticing a huge trend among our wedding clientele to integrate social media into the wedding experience,” said Alyssa Kiefer, the Global Social Media Strategist for W Hotels. “Think about it — every milestone event, whether it’s a wedding, engagement, graduation, etc., is documented through guests’ personal social channels. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have become the status quo. So many of our couples are asking guests to use a specific hashtag when uploading photos and we even have guests update their Facebook status while standing at the altar! That got us thinking… we at W pride ourselves on our “Whatever/Whenever” service, so what better way to stay ahead of the curve than to offer social capabilities as part of a wedding package with W Hotels? It’s one less thing a bride or groom has to worry about.”

What do you think? Do you think brides and grooms will start paying to have their wedding live-tweeted by a professional service? Let us know in the comments.

Source article: http://www.hlntv.com/article/2014/03/26/social-media-wedding-concierge-w-hotels-new-york

 

tCloud’s Take: Things People Do For Five Dollars

fiverrscreen

What would you do for $5?

While some would hardly consider that viable compensation to drive down the street, others have a much different idea.

Enter Fiverr®, a website full of content creators willing to do anything (design, advertising, interviews, promotional videos) for $5. No, we’re not joking. Yes, it actually exists.

Launched in 2010, Fiverr® has become a creative global marketplace for small businesses to take advantage of advertising solutions. Sure, you can set a budget of $5 a day for Facebook advertising, but you can also get video testimonials, blog posts, radio commercials, logos, funny Youtube videos and more for the same amount through Fiverr®. This begs the question: Is the website a good option for your small business’s online marketing needs?

Here’s the pros and cons we came up with:

Pros:

  • You receive buzz-worthy content for your social media or website platforms
  • You’re not spending the entirety of your marketing budget in one place
  • If you use it for buying content, you create important connections all over the world
  • If you are using the platform as a content creator through your business, you generate new client/customer leads

Cons:

  • The quality of work may not be what you expected
  • Some platforms charge extra for convenience
  • There’s always the chance you may not receive your product after paying for it (but keep in mind, you’d only be out about $5).

Overall, Fiverr® offers businesses with a small online marketing budget a unique alternative.  Where else will you find someone willing to hang up your flyer around London or write your message in the sand?

Do you use Fiverr®? Would you use it for your business needs or offer your services through the site? Let us know in the comments.

Businesses: It’s Time to Get a Social Strategy Plan B

dislikefacebookbutton

By now, you have probably heard about Facebook’s plan to decrease how many of your business page’s updates post to your follower’s news feeds. If not…we’re sorry we had to break the news to you.

According to a ValleyWag report, a source says the social media giant is “in the process of slashing organic page reach down to 1 to 2 percent.” What does this mean for your business page? In short, you will need to “pay-to-play”. Consider this: if you have 1,000 fans, only 10 of them would see your post. If you only have 100 likes, only 1 fan is seeing your latest post. The only way to guarantee views and engagement is with paid advertisements.

No matter how large or small your business, the Great News Feed Depression will affect all company pages.

So, what’s happens next? You have a few options:

  1.  Pay for advertising through Facebook
  2.  Educate followers on the “Get Notifications” option
  3.  Come up with a social media Plan B…It’s time to start using other networks

Let’s pretend that paying for advertising is out of the question at the moment. If option #2 sounds like a good solution, you may wish to educate your followers as soon as possible before Facebook drops the hammer. Here’s how:

facebooknotificationscreen

Use a screenshot similar to the one above to illustrate the “Get Notifications” option. This choice is found in a drop-down menu in the navigation bar on your business’ Facebook page. All followers need to do is select “Get Notifications” to receive your status updates. Encourage your customers to use this option by posting this graphic on Facebook, your website, blog or any network you can. (Go ahead, you can take our screenshot if you need.)

Tip: If your followers don’t see that red notification box over their globe icon, encourage them to check out their news feed’s left hand module. Facebook users have an option that says “Page Feed” with a little orange flag beside it. That is where all liked pages’ latest posts are. 

However, Facebook is conducting a business page layout redesign, so it is unclear if the “Get Notifications” button will even exist in the near future.

In that case, option #3 may be your best bet. In that situation, what should you do if Facebook is no longer a viable option for generating organic views and engagement with your brand? Here’s our tips:

  • Evaluate your strongest social networks: Besides Facebook, what other social sites are driving traffic to your website? Is your Twitter account thriving? Do you have thousands of subscribers on YouTube? Or maybe your LinkedIn profile is generating the highest click-through rate. Find out which sites are booming and use them to engage your target audience.
  • Build your own online community: Perhaps launching your own social network is the key to gathering your online audience and keeping them engaged. This could be a subsection of your website or if you have the resources, your company can have its own social platform built and customized to your specific needs.
  • Promote your presence on another up-and-coming social network:  There are literally hundreds of social media sites out there for your use. (Here’s a list of just a few of them) Analyze your target audience’s demographics and promote your message through other platforms.

What do you think of the new stipulations for business pages on Facebook? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

tCloud’s Take: Facebook Prepares to Launch Multi-Million Dollar Video Ads

Courtesy PR Web

Courtesy PR Web

Look out, mobile Facebook users, video advertisements are coming your way.

The situation: Within the next several months, Facebook says it will roll out 15-second video ads on mobile sites. Just like videos shared by friends or sponsored pages on your news feed, these premium ads will play automatically without sound and stop if you scroll past. However, if you tap on them, the screen expands and you can watch the full commercial with sound. (Here’s what they’ll look like.)

The price tag: If you’re a business owner thinking about possibly promoting your company through these video ads, get ready to dig deep into those pockets. Way deep. Facebook says the average price for premium video ads is anywhere from $1 million to $2.5 million per day.

The result: While this sounds like an enticing way for profitable businesses to gain more exposure, there is a fear that the videos will be a turn-off to mobile internet users and cause backlash instead of a positive experience. However, many analysts don’t think so. In fact, they believe it will be great for Facebook’s stock.

Analyst Victor Anthony told MarketWatch he believes Facebook’s delay in video ads has been very strategic.

“Rollout was/is slow because Facebook wants to ensure that the user experience will not be disrupted,” Anthony said. “With this launch they are communicating that they now feel comfortable that the user experience will not be compromised.”

And, Facebook is planning on taking only the highest quality advertisements for its premium video ad program.

“To make sure Premium Video Ads are as good as other content people see in their News Feeds, we’re working with a company called Ace Metrix to help us review and assess how engaging the creative is for each ad — before it appears on Facebook,” said Facebook. “Ace Metrix will allow us to objectively measure the creative quality of the video in the Facebook environment, and highlight performance indicators for advertisers such as watchability, meaningfulness and emotional resonance. We’re taking this step in order to maintain high-quality ads on Facebook and help advertisers understand what’s working to maximize their return on investment.”

Here’s what we think: First of all, video advertising is not a new venture. Google’s been on the video ad train since 2006. Online viewers have watched promotional ads before streaming videos on YouTube and Hulu for years. However, what is new is the notion of video advertising through a widely-used social network like Facebook.

The fact is online video advertisements work. A 2010 Nielson study shows viewers had much greater brand and message recall and greater likability for online video ads as opposed to their traditional television counterparts.  Of course, the more interactive these video ads are, the better click-through and conversion rates for the represented company.

Katie Parr, Social Media Specialist here at tCloud Solutions, says she doesn’t believe these video ads will annoy Facebook users in the long run.

“I think at the beginning users won’t necessarily care for them, but they’ll adjust to the changes very quickly, just like they do for layout changes and other Facebook fixes,” she said. “As long as Facebook keeps the video ads to a minimum, which they are already planning on doing, I don’t think it’d be a problem at all.”

What do you think? We want to know. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. (Yes, that rhymed. We like to pretend we’re poets once in a while.)