Culture

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July 28, 2015

SMS Messaging: Conversation Before Apps

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Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? For a GUI (Graphic User Interface) designer, that question is becoming more relevant as the nature of the mobile user influences app development—perhaps towards a post app world? 

That’s a scary thought for a GUI designer, or a developer who unintentionally overlooked the simple truth that text messaging is far and away the most commonly used feature on a smartphone. Almost 97% of all smartphones users engage in text messaging; this familiarity creates incredible potential for a new generation of text-based application that can solve any problem an app can solve, through a more convenient interface: the text screen. 

 

Text-Based Apps Are Nothing New

The above, however, is not a new revelation. In fact, some apps controlled exclusively via text or SMS messaging already exist. Magic, for example, can help you reserve a table, check a bank account, or buy a car, all via text between a user and a concierge (an actual human being) who assists with these requests. WeChat is another app that uses text to bypass traditional apps altogether—effectively creating a universal portal to all things mobile.

According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, across all age groups in the US, text messaging is the most popular feature used on a smartphone. In this way, life is beginning to challenge the artist; while app designers may have intended to make our lives easier by developing apps to meet out every need, at the end of the day, people are universally more comfortable texting—having a virtual conversation to get at what they want. 

There are some people, like Matt Galligan, co-founder of the news aggregation app Circa, that believe we’re headed towards an overhaul of basic software and design. Galligan feels that something called “MessageKit” will be Apple’s catchall for apps located in iMessage. Instead of opening different apps with different design characteristics and UI controls, all the apps would perform their same functions but via text command or queries inside a fluid conversation.  

Apple’s new iOS 9 has already made some considerable shifts in its latest version, one of which is prioritizing app content for Internet search queries made via mobile. While there’s nothing like “MessageKit” available quite yet, it’s an interesting theory that attempts to recognize the user’s reality in a predominantly designer-shaped mobile world. 

One foreseeable drawback is that our familiarity with texting may causes people to use these services at inappropriate times. For example, texting while driving is already a major concern in densely populated areas. Additional text-based services may further encourage our desire for instant access, even behind the wheel.  

It’s ironic that an entire generation gets labeled as ‘less socially communicative’ because it’s always on smartphones, and yet, somehow, that same generation may bring society back full circle, where the digital dialect of texting is used to reinsert what was missing from our mobile lives: conversation. 

 

 

July 20, 2015

World Cup Hat Trick Heroine Gets 124 Text Messages Per Goal

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On Sunday, July 5th 2015, the world witnessed the fastest hat trick ever performed on a soccer field in the World Cup Finals. The player, Carli Lloyd, managed the amazing maneuver within the first sixteen minutes of the final match versus Japan, earning a total of four goals that veritably sealed the win for the US women’s soccer team. A hat trick has only been performed a handful of times in any professional soccer game, let alone the World Cup Finals. (The last time a hat trick was successfully executed in the World Cup Finals was in 1966, by England’s Geoff Hurst.)

Ponder for a moment the shockwave that this hat trick unleashed in the world of international football. Not only was the event shocking for players and fans in general, but it also comes years after another World Cup Final in which the US was defeated by the same country – Japan. It should come as no surprise that this past week’s finals were one of the most watched events in televised sports history.

Soccer Meets Social Media

The blogosphere and Twitterscape also reflected the ubiquitous nature of the historic hat trick. In a single week, the World Cup Final has been written about by several sports websites of note, particularly ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated, and Grantland. Further, Carli Lloyd herself has added over fifty thousand new followers on Twitter as a result of her extraordinary plays.

While Lloyd’s accomplishment is surely impressive, the most legendary statistic about the hat trick might not have anything to do with soccer, but rather the amount of messages she received on her smartphone during the match. Carly Lloyd claims that she received over 372 text messages over the course of the hat track. Essentially, this means that she received an average of 124 text messages for each goal that she made during her hat trick.

 To put that into perspective, imagine the amount of time you spend reading and responding to text messages. Perhaps one minute for each? Hence, Lloyd would have to spend a minimum of six hours to respond to all of the messages she received during the game! 

Contact EzTexting for Bulk Texting Help

For someone to receive such a myriad of texts in such a short time is astounding. Fortunately, modern technology makes it simple to prepare a response as a bulk SMS text message to be sent out to all of those adoring fans. With EzTexting, you can easily develop several different types of responses, depending on how you wish to address your recipients. And thanks to our competitive pricing, you can bet that our services will defeat the competition. So if you, like Carly Lloyd, are being inundated by massive texts from your customers, try out EzTexting to get on the ball for your business.

July 15, 2015

Swedish Blood Donors Receive Thank You Text Messages for Successful Transfusions

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Around the world, blood donation rates are at an all-time low. Britain has 40% fewer donors today than 10 years ago (according to the NHS). In the United States, only three out of every one-hundred people donate blood. The latest statistics from Executive Healthcare (EHM) shows that about 60% of the American populace is eligible to give blood, but only 5% of the people elect to give. This is a difficult problem because, despite the necessity to maintain a healthy blood supply, the Red Cross needs to find clever ways to convince donors to give.

In recent news, the Stockholm blood service may have come upon an excellent way to increase donations. If you donate blood in Sweden, you are sent an SMS text message each time your donated blood is used to save a life. The SMS texts go on to report on the impact of their donations, which can help to motivate donors as well. These “thank you” texts have created not only a way to make donors feel good about their altruism, it also is a subtle way to remind donors to come back for another donation at a later date. 

The program has been lauded as a success. Swedish citizens who participate have reported that they feel more appreciated once receiving the SMS text messages. Furthermore, donors often share the news with their peers via social media.

The outreach of the Stockholm blood service doesn’t stop there, though. Other text messages are sent to people who’ve donated before to remind them when they are eligible to donate again. In addition, the blood service has been using Facebook and email reminders to reach their potential donors as well. And it doesn’t hurt when they add light-hearted messages like “We won’t give up until you bleed.” Donors have shared that they appreciate these texts as well, since people often forget to donate amid their busy schedules.

Finally, on Stockholm blood service’s website, they have a chart giving a running total of how much blood of each type is left in stock. The idea is that if people know that the blood service is in need, then the people will be more likely to give.

There’s scientific proof that these techniques work. In a study by Johns Hopkins, researchers examined a Facebook initiative that allowed friends to share their organ donations in their status updates – the study observed a 21-fold increase of organ donor registrations in a single day! 

While this program currently only exists in Stockholm, it is likely that similar programs will be rolled-out throughout Sweden. Other countries, like Britain and the United States, are searching for similar techniques to get people to donate. The NHS Blood and Transplant service in the UK is looking to create some viral advertisements to increase donor turnout. Only time will tell how much these programs actually do to increase donor turnout but, in the meantime, we can all agree that SMS text messages and social media have proven to be excellent means to motivate the general public.

July 02, 2015

Cuba Tackles Web Connectivity Deficit

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Last week, Cuban daily Juventud Rebelde announced government plans to expand the country’s underperforming web infrastructure by adding Wi-Fi capacity to dozens of internet centers and cutting the cost of access.

A spokesman for Cuba’s state communications company said that, as of next month, 35 government computer centers would have Wi-Fi at a cost of around $2 per hour - still unaffordable for many Cubans, but a significant step in the right direction (where Wi-Fi was available previously, it cost around $4.50 per hour to access).  

Until now, the only Wi-Fi availability in the country has been at tourist hotels. While critics say the lack of connectivity is down to fear of social unrest, the Cuban government insists the problem is a result of the U.S. embargo, and has publicly stated an intention to expand internet access across the island.  

The recent move is indicative of the government at least beginning to make good on its promise.   Another positive indicator of a shift towards the open internet access enjoyed by other countries was the government-approved Wi-Fi spot provided by Cuban artist Kcho. Established at Kcho’s Havana arts center, the spot has attracted praise from open internet advocates in Cuba and around the world who hope it is the thin end of the wedge for fairer web access in one of the world’s least-connected countries.

Cubans - and especially young people living in the capital - are as au fait with computer technology as their contemporaries in other, better-connected countries. Visitors might be surprised to see iPhones and Androids in use all over Havana; hundreds of mobile-phone stores number among Cuba’s private businesses, all of them offering ways to install offline apps, as well as providing the usual repairs. 

Things look less developed outside the capital, where there are far fewer cellphones per head, and smartphones are extremely thin on the ground. But at least, with the recent slashing of prices (by more than half) for web access, Cuba is moving slowly towards the inevitable future of a fully connected citizenry.

July 01, 2015

Mobile Marketing Tactics for July 4th

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Independence Day is around the corner, and that means a marked increase in consumer spending across a variety of industries. As per the overall trend away from desktop, the majority of online shoppers will search on their smartphones, so it’s important to target mobile device users if you want to make the most of the holiday. 

Whatever line of business you’re in, give your July 4th a boost with some of these mobile marketing tactics:

 

Social Media Photo Competition

Use the power of social media to drive user engagement. A photo competition relevant to your industry, with a Independence Day-themed hashtag, can start the all-important online conversation. Do it right and you may even go viral!

Give Free Stuff Away

People. Love. Free. Stuff. That’s unlikely to ever change, which makes freebies the evergreen classic of the marketing world. Start an text message marketing campaign to let the world know about your free offer. The bigger and better it is, the more people will share it, and the more sign ups you’ll generate. It’s going to be a loss leader anyway - so you may as well go all out. If you generate long-term mobile contacts from a free giveaway, it’ll be well worth it. 

Tweet

Tweeting about special offers can work magic. Twitter is capable of disseminating information at incredible speeds, if an idea catches the imagination of enough people. You can even use apps like Viral to hide discounts until they’ve been retweeted a certain number of time, allowing you to control that 50% discount so that it works for you, or not at all. 

Themed Games

July 4th is a time for fun and games. Why not run a trivia quiz relating to the holiday. Offer a big prize to the winner, and multiple smaller prizes for runners up.  

Partner Up

Creating partnerships is an essential part of any business. It could be with other local businesses, but with the proliferation of social media accounts and other online networks, there’s a striking new type of partnership on the marketing scene: your employees. Most employees will be willing to spread your July 4th mobile marketing campaign to their friends and family, especially if it’s a fun video or themed song. If you have 25 employees, each with a hundred friends on Facebook…well, you can do the math!

June 14, 2015

6 of the Best Summer Marketing Campaigns

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Some summer marketing campaigns are truly awesome, and remain in consumer minds for many seasons. If agonizing about your summer marketing campaign or how you can possibly craft one consumers will love, throw something on the grill and check out six of the very best summer marketing campaigns (possibly) ever: 

 

Share a Coke Campaign

The Share a Coke campaign by Coca-Cola was hugely successful, and based on the idea that people looovve their names on things. The company put names on their cans and bottles, such as those that read “Share a Coke With Alyx.” As seen by the spelling of “Alyx,” Coca-Cola went a step further and make it possible for those with unusually-spelled or unique names to personalize their own bottles. They named their campaign after their call to action, which is quite brilliant, and even came up with ways to ensure sharing. For example, the soda brand had vending machines at the Minnesota State Fair where you could personalize a can for free.

 

Pacifico’s “Well-Traveled Beer” Campaign

In June of 2011 brewing company Pacifico did a road trip from Mexico to the U.S. and stopped in five cities along the way. They brought kegs to surfer get-togethers, bonfire parties, etc. and documented their journey via photos, videos, and status updates. Brand engagement and excitement resulted.

 

Pixar and Disney’s Monsters University Campaign 

In preparation for the 2012 summer release of Monsters University, Disney and Pixar created a Monsters University website featuring information on monster sports teams, School of Scaring tours, famous alumni, news and events, etc. It looked like a real university website and created plenty of movie buzz.

 

Atlantic City Alliance ‘Do AC’ Campaign

In April of last year, the Atlantic City Alliance dealt with a casino closings and a drop in tourism by launching the $20 million ‘Do AC’ campaign. Entitled ‘Do Anything. Do Everything. Do AC.,’ the campaign was created to expand on the beach city’s image and take it from gaming destination to family-friendly vacation destination. Ads were crafted for television, print, billboard, and digital advertising. 

A bold rebranding move, it nevertheless worked, and capitalized on the idea that people want to be “seen” in AC enjoying all of its many attractions, not just casinos. 

 

IKEA’s Books on the Beach Campaign 

IKEA celebrated Billy Bookshelf’s 30th birthday in 2013 by erecting several of their Billy bookshelves (filled with books) on Bondi Beach in Australia. Beach-goers could take a book in exchange for donating to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation. The campaign therefore promoted IKEA as a compassionate brand while simultaneously advertising the Billy.

 

Starbucks Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long Campaign

In 2014 Starbucks launched their Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long campaign, an SMS and MMS campaign. The coffee bigwig posted a message to its Facebook page encouraging consumers to text the keyword STRAW to 22122 with an image of a Frappuccino. Consumers had to draw eyes on their frappucino, and the copy read “What has a green straw and wishes it had thumbs? This guy.”

 

 

 

June 12, 2015

Millennials Prefer Apps to Ads

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Mobile marketing provides a business with the ability to reach customers and potential customers anywhere at any time. And while this is a great, great concept, other businesses are attempting the exact same thing. It therefore follows that trying to stand out from competitors gets tricky.

Those interested in reaching millennials need to realize that the key to mobile marketing isn’t about ads, no matter how snazzy they may be. It’s about apps. 

 

Why Millennials Matter 

Wondering why millennials matter in the first place? According to a study by Oracle, 85 percent of people ages 18 to 34 fit the “Millennial” label, and currently own a smartphone. This sizable chunk of the population bought a whole lot of smartphones in the past year, rising 23 percent in 2014 from the previous year. This indicates that millennials are not only using smartphones, but that interest in the devices is increasing. 

 

Their Mobile Activity

So what do millennials use their smartphones for? A wide range of things, according to Oracle. This includes paying bills, using social media, researching local businesses, and more. Millennials use their apps for the majority of these activities--for example, the social media juggernaut Instagram is an app. Oracle notes the top three reported uses regarding apps are 1) uploading media content (75 percent), 2) product purchasing (74 percent), and transferring funds to a friend (61 percent). 

It was also reported that across all usage options, millennials went for smartphones over tablets two to one. 

 

Using Apps Effectively 

The main proverbial road block regarding apps and the brands that utilize them is the near-constant maintenance and development. While not exactly cheap, it’s still very possible to utilize apps and see a return on investment. Check it out: 

  • Performance Over Features: Go for performance instead of features, as poor performance and speed are the main reasons millennials eskew apps. 
  • Account/Money Management: If possible, provide user accounts and or money management through your app. Millennials are huge fans of using apps to make purchases and deal with billing. 
  • Sharing is Caring: Share deals, discounts, event information, and other fun stuff on your apps, but don’t go overboard. While millennials enjoy receiving regular app updates, they don’t enjoy being inundated. Think of how often websites and social media channels provide updates and ensure you don’t exceed them. 

Wrap-Up

If your brand isn’t as hip in the app department as you’d like, don’t despair. Find ways of utilizing existing apps to your mobile marketing advantage, or try partnering with other companies and their subsequent apps to improve your audience’s experience. 

 

 

June 02, 2015

How Do Kids Use Mobile?

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As web-enabled mobile devices proliferate among the adult population, it’s not surprising that kids are getting their hands on their parents smartphones and tablets. The use of mobile technology among children of all ages has exploded over the past few years - even as overall screen media exposure had declined.

A 2013 study from Common Sense Media showed that 89% of American children had used a mobile device that year - up from 38% just two years prior. On average, children under the age of eight were using smartphones and tablets almost as much as tweens and teens, with 75% having access to a mobile device during 2013. Even babies are getting in on the mobile revolution, with 38% of under-twos having used a mobile device. 

Since the research two years ago, there have been no significant studies on children’s usage of mobile technology, but given the soaring rates of smartphone adoption in the United States, the number of kids using them is unlikely to have dropped. According to an Ericsson report from last year, the number of mobile devices per family is increasing, with 90% of U.S. households having three or more web-connected devices; almost half have five or more devices, and nearly 25% of households have seven or more.  

But there’s a twist. The Common Sense Media research indicates a drop-off in average screen time among youngsters. Television still accounts for about half of the two hours of average daily screen time for kids, with the rest being spent on DVDs, video games, computers and mobile devices. But that overall average screen time (1h55 minutes) is 21 minutes less than it was in 2011. 

Could that be an anomaly? Or are parents becoming more responsive to concerns about the perils of continuous exposure to screens? More research is needed to demonstrate that, but with investment in mobile marketing at an all time high, studies like this are never far away.

May 31, 2015

What is Kaomoji and How Can I Use It?

 

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ |

|     I  AM         |

|     SIGN         | 

|     BUNNY      |

| _______| 

(\__/) || 
(•ㅅ•) || 
/   づ

Most of us are now aware of the emoji phenomenon that’s been taking over our digital conversations. Less well-known is another Japanese innovation in creative texting: the art of kaomoji.  

You may not be familiar with the word, but you’ve almost certainly seen kaomoji in effect. Your cat knows what we’re talking about:

(^._.^)ノ

Online communities have developed thousands of kaomoji to express their thoughts and emotions in a more refined, slightly classier way than standard picture emojis. Popular kaomoji include the ‘shruggie' face¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and the classic sign bunny (see above). 

Kaomoji has found a niche among creative texters who eschew the shortcuts provided for emoji, preferring to use standard keyboard characters to create the digital equivalent of the line drawing. Copy and paste still plays a role, but true community kudos comes from modifying existing patterns or - even better - creating brand new ones. 

The most authentic thing you can do as a kaomoji enthusiast is get a Japanese keyboard, which uses the katakana alphabet. Many of the characters in popular kaomoji (such as the bunny nose, above) come from katakana, which takes a more pictorial form than the Greek alphabet on your qwerty keyboard. 

Used in the right way, kaomoji can be a useful addition to your mobile marketing arsenal. Here’s how to add the Kana keyboard (containing the katakana alphabet) to your iPhone:

  • Go to Settings > General > Keyboards
  • Select ‘Keyboards’
  • Scroll to the bottom and select ‘Add New Keyboard’
  • Scroll down to ‘Japanese’ and select the Kana keyboard

Though this won’t give you any shortcuts per se, it gives you all the characters you need to start copying existing kaomoji. Once you’ve immersed yourself in the ‘language’ of kaomoji, you can start creating your own, original work. 

Fun it may be, but as mobile marketing tactics go, kaomoji is not to be taken lightly. The aforementioned Shruggie and Sign Bunny have both gone viral more than once, with new cultural happenings helping to resurrect old kaomoji and inject them with fresh meaning.

 

May 28, 2015

MMS Myths Debunked


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A fair few myths surround Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). And despite the billions of messages sent and received by consumers every month, MMS is still misunderstood. 

Let’s check out the most common myths concerning MMS: 

 

Myth #1: MMS Is More Costly Than Regular Text Messaging

Today’s consumers know their SMS texts are usually covered by their plans, but are frequently concerned MMS messages are not. If you have a text messaging plan (which you probably do, c’mon now), you’re charged the same amount for text and multimedia messages. Most major U.S. wireless carriers bundled the two together some years ago, meaning brands, media companies, and advertisers may deliver 30-second videos to customers for the same price as regular text messages. 

 

Myth #2: A Smartphone is Required to Receive MMS Messages

One of the biggest and best advantages of MMS is you don’t need a smartphone to enjoy multimedia content sent to your mobile device. There’s over 2,700 unique mobile devices in today’s market with the support needed for MMS, and many of them are not “smart.” 

 

Myth #3: Most Phones Don’t Support MMS Video

The aforementioned 2,700 mobile devices capable of receiving MMS messages? They’re also more than able to handle MMS video content. 

 

Myth #4: MMS Requires a Data Plan

Just because your service plan doesn’t include an internet or data plan doesn’t mean you can’t send or receive MMS messages. All your device needs is MMS functionality, which it can easily feature minus so-fancy apps and data service. Additionally, it’s entirely possible for mobile marketers to craft and send detailed mobile marketing campaign messages to non-smartphone users via MMS. Nice, right?

 

Myth #5: Only Those Crazy Kids Do the Text Message Thing 

Hardly. Pretty much everyone, from tweens to teens to young adults to older adults utilize text messaging. It might originally have been considered a “kid thing,” but that’s sooo not the case anymore. All age groups text, which explains the photo of your kids that your parents sent you while on a grandparent-grandkid excursion. 

 

Myth #6: MMS Is Popular in Europe and Asia, But Not the United States

Not true. MMS has been on the same usage level as SMS for years, and is currently eclipsing it. There were 10 billion MMS messages sent in the first half of 2009 in the U.S.--yes, 2009. 

Consumer fascination with MMS presents a variety of exciting opportunities for media companies, as mobile messaging is a billion-dollar industry that shows no signs of slowing down. MMS provides the chance to reach consumers anywhere, anytime--in other words, it’s one heck of a marketing asset.