Posts from ‘Technology’
About a month ago, I spent some time in New York meeting with a few cool cats from some top-notch marketing, advertising and branding agencies. Over drinks, I made a bold statement in front of my fellow marketers. I admitted I kind of hate Facebook.
It felt like the ultimate faux-pas as we are supposed to be the ones who are spending hours on Facebook (or insert any other myriad social network here), discovering and exploiting every opportunity to use social networks to increase peoples’ interactions with their favourite brands or helping people find new brands that might appeal to them. Or, at the very least, we should be reading the latest Forrester or Garner reports on how brands are using social networks to grow their customer base and revenue. It’s our job to love the new opportunities these networks have forged for us marketers.
Surprisingly, the others sheepishly admitted the same. That gave me an opening, whether they wanted it or not. I briefly (but passionately) ranted about how people are starting to act like big brands and only sharing the things that make them appear in a certain light. They want to show the world they have the best spouse, the smartest kids, that they read a lot of things written by intelligent and famous people, that they take really artsy photos, that they travel lots of cool places you haven’t been, that they are clever, sharp, witty, insightful, inspirational, worthy of our attention. It’s as though people have created a social brand and now they have to live up to it by only posting on-brand content about themselves. And what’s even funnier is we judge the success of our posts based on how many people interact with them, just like companies do! Things that get lots of comments and generate lots of likes are things we will say and post again. We feel like we struck a chord when we get a response.
I have to say, what Facebook (and other social networks) has done is really quite amazing. They have created the opportunity for ordinary people like you and me to create our own personal brands in a much bigger, more visible and public way. Here’s my real beef: When it comes to Facebook, people are acting like companies when, instead, companies should be acting like people.
P.S: I did add a post-script to my rant with my NYC marketers saying that one of the things I love about Facebook is my “Only for family” group that my cousin who lived in the Middle East for 20 years created. For the first time, I feel like I can genuinely interact with my relatives who are scattered around the planet and feel connected to them in a day-to-day way. And I get to see the new generation of our family growing up, finding themselves and becoming adults. So don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate everything about Facebook. It’s kind of ironic, but the very reason I first joined Facebook is still the thing I love most about it. I can connect with friends and families.
I love my iPhone. Not because it’s an Apple product and definitely not because it’s a good phone (it’s not!). I bought it because it would make carrying my camera, my email and my phone really efficient. But over the last year or so, I’ve come to rely on it to organize my life. What’s fascinating to me is that when you get an iPhone, your veteran iPhone friends are so excited to share all of their favourite apps with you. It’s like App School.
So … To give back to my iPhone mentors for showing me the ropes, I thought I would share my 5 favourite apps with you! Tell me what your favourite apps are (I like free ones).
GoTasks – Everyone wants a to-do list on their smart phone. GoTasks is my favourite. It’s got a super simple interface and my favourite part is that it synchs with your tasks in Gmail. Nothing fancy in here, no priority settings, no categories. Just a plain old list of things you want to get done. I dig it.
Sleep Cycle – A veteran iPhone user introduced me to this app on Christmas Eve. This app uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to gauge and graph your sleep patterns. It tells how you deep (or shallow) your sleep was, how long you slept, and it has a lovely alarm clock that gently wakes you in the morning starting a half hour before you set the alarm to ease you into your morning, instead of jarring you awake. The only caution I have about this app is that if you are at all neurotic about your sleep, this might worsen that issue. Also, you have to sleep with your iPhone by your head, which I don’t love. I prefer not to have any EMFs or radio waves near my head, but that being said, this app taught me that on the nights I eat big meals, my sleep is compromised (like on Christmas Eve).
Flixster – My friend Tara over at Versus Boredom introduced me to this one. It’s a movie app that tells you what’s playing in the theatres and what’s coming out on DVD and when. This is the perfect app for spontaneous movie planning – you can get ratings, Rotten Tomato reviews, showtimes, locations and trailers all in one app. Love it. I also use it when we are cruising the on-demand movies on our home box to see what the movie is about, who’s in it and what the reviews were like. It’s an app I use at least once every weekend. Thanks to Tara for hooking me up with this one!
P-Tracker Lite – This one’s for all the ladies out there! Period Tracker allows you to track your cycle, document your moods/symptoms, see your most fertile days on a calendar, estimate the first day of your period and more. You know how your doctor always asks you when the first day of your last period was and you’re like “uhhhh.” Well, now you can answer with confidence! I use the Lite version because it’s got everything I need, but there’s also a Deluxe version out there for a little more coin.
Hanging with Friends Free – Are you addicted to Words Free? Well, this is like graduating from Words. This is my new game indulgence. It’s basically Hangman on the iPhone but the avatars, music and animation are downright adorable! And the game combines the best of Scrabble scoring techniques with the instant gratification of Hangman. It’s such a fun little game that you can play with friends who have it on their iPhones. And the ads aren’t as annoying as they are in Words Free, so you can live with the free version.
Urbanspoon – This is an app a lot of people have on their phone and for good reason. Sometimes while travelling, I just need to know where the closest decent restaurant is without asking strangers. I used the “nearby” feature of Urbanspoon to find a hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant off Wall Street (it lived up to its meh ratings). I’ve used it to find sushi places in parts of Calgary I’ve never been in. And I’ve used it to find new restaurants to try. I don’t love the interface, but it’s got a lot of what I need when I’m trying to find my next meal.
Ahhhh, the first snow of the season. Winter is coming, it’s beautifully white everywhere, but the roads and traffic are a mess.
Breaking up with my all-seasons
After a lifelong commitment to all-season tires, a few years ago my husband convinced me to try a set of winter tires on my Mazda Protege5. So I did. And they completely changed my winter driving life. I couldn’t believe how much safer, steadier and calmer I felt on the road. Just the reduction in stress was worth the cost and hassle of changing my tires twice a year.
Last Winter I bought a new VW. I couldn’t get the all-seasons off fast enough, so I started shopping around for new winter tires. Three of my co-workers (two of them women) suggested I try the Nokian “All-Weather” tire. They said I wouldn’t need to change them and that I could get them down the street from our office. So, I did. That’s the beginning of this love story.
I devoured this book. Inside Steve’s Brain (affiliate link) is easy to read, chalk full of Apple gossip and clearly articulates Steve Jobs’ strengths and weaknesses as a leader.
Most people I know who have read this book are in Product Development, Product Management, User Experience (UX) or executive roles in Marketing or Product. And most people I know who read this book did so because they want to know the secret of Apple’s success, in hopes of mimmicking it.
Every company wants to be the “Apple of” …
But after reading this book, I just don’t think it’s possible. That’s because Apple IS Steve Jobs. The brand is entirely an expression of his ideals, beliefs, values and personality. It’s the result of his unpredictable, narcisstic, inventive, brilliant way. That just can’t be copied. It’s authentically Steve.
Parts of Brand Digital were dense and after re-reading these parts, they ended up being somewhat meaningless. The the last 10 pages, however, delivered the entire message of the book in a succinct, engaging and consumable way.
It took me a year-and-a-half to read this book. Most other brand books have taken me less than a month to gobble up.