Is the Magazine Broken?

With technology progressing at such a rapid pace, it’s difficult to envision exactly how we’ll be consuming content even 5 years from now.  The following video highlights how quickly technology is removing barriers to accessing information.  To this baby, the concept of a magazine simply doesn’t make sense.  

From a recent Penelope Trunk blog post: “I’m convinced that the biggest impact Generation Z will have on the workplace is in their schooling. They will be lifelong, self-learners, who take more personal responsibility for their ongoing education than any generation in history. I am not talking about graduate school here. I am talking about a more creative, independent way of learning that does not stop at college, but rather, picks up pace remarkably after college, when real experiential learning starts happening.”

The ease with which we can now access content is what makes independent, continual learning possible.  5 years ago I would read a book on my train ride to work.  Today, my iPad let’s me get a jump start on my work day, write my next blog post, or network with colleagues or friends.  With an hour communite from the suburbs to the city, that’s two hours a day I can spend being productive virtually any way I wish.  Productivity has never been more attainable and technology will only continue to make it easier.

Mobile Publishing: Mygazines

In an increasingly mobile world, the need for content on Smart Phones and tablet devices can’t be ignored.  But how much should companies be investing to stay on the cutting edge?   With mobile applications still in their infancy and the cost of app development seemingly unmanageable for most small companies, the search for reasonable alternatives begins.   

Mygazines offers a great option for anyone from a freelance writer to a large publishing company looking to make their content mobile-ready, at a reasonable cost.  The service has some impressive marketing functionality as well, with options for content sharing, social media integration, built in RSS feeds and video integration.  The only catch is that the services requires a browser to launch; which takes most e-readers off the market.

Today, the need for app development may be dependent on a number of factors including; industry specific requirements, the types of content being displayed and the price customers are willing to pay to get what they want.   For everyone else, there’s solutions like Mygazines to meet customer needs without breaking the bank.

Web Evolution – A History of Web Design Over the Past 20 Years

Below is a graphic developed by KISSmetrics outlining the evolution of web design since the world’s first website was launched  in 1991.

In only 20 years the definition of a “web presence” has evolved to the point that today, many argue that traditional websites are becoming obsolete.  When discussing the promotion of his new book, Guy Kawasaki recently suggested that he didn’t need a website to reach his target customers, but a Facebook page instead.

Static websites are a thing of the past and concepts like collaboration and crowd sourcing are becoming web standards.  Of course, the evolution will continue and even these concepts will become old news (probably even faster than traditional web pages).  The infographic below is a great reflection of where we’ve been in such a short period of time.  One can only speculate what this chart will look like 20 years from today.

History Channel on Four Square

Is anyone still convinced that location based services like Four Square have little application for marketers?  While the correct way to use the services most effectively may not be completely worked out, the potential is promising.  Time and greater use of the applications will go a long way in determining exactly how and to what extent they will be used to promote products and services going forward.

The History Channel is engaging viewers through Four Square as a way of promoting their April 25th, twelve hour television event, featuring the story of “how America was invented”.   Four Square users around the United States are encouraged to ‘check in’ to historical landmarks in their cities to unlock free tips (historical facts) and to earn a limited edition History Channel badge.  Those that participate are also entered into weekly draws to win history channel prize packages.

While it is still clearly a learning process as companies try to integrate location based services into their promotional offerings, those that work out the kinks early will more quickly determine how to connect best with their customers and reach wider audiences around the world.

Patience is a Virtue

They say patience is a virtue, but as technological advancements spark new product development quicker than ever before, patience becomes an even more important characteristic, particularly for those that truly support an idea from the beginning.

In many cases, technology is moving faster than the level of consumer comfort required for the mass adoption of new product or service models that people simply aren’t used to. Innovators and entrepreneurs must be careful not to mistaken slow adoption for product failure.

Four Square, for example, has been slow to catch on – but it’s potential is huge and supporters continue to believe that with time usages levels will improve. Some believe that GPS enabled products have been slower to popularize because the average consumer is not yet comfortable revealing their location. Just as the masses have grown comfortable with the privacy concerns that were raised regarding access to personal information on Facebook, I expect similar consumer tolerance of location based services over time.

According to this source, Four Square and Gowalla both had an impact at the SXSW this year, to me, a strong indication of things to come.

Foursquare: Will it Catch On?

It’s no secret that geosocial networking application, Foursquare, has been slow to gain popularity with the masses.  In a results-driven society, people are quick to dismiss ideas that do not produce immediate results, and sometimes miss the bigger (long term) picture.

Remember when Twitter was known mainly for its capacity to track the activities of superstar athletes and Hollywood celebrities?  For quite some time people questioned Twitter’s application to businesses, some of whom probably still do.   The fact of the matter is, social media strategies are being made higher priority as the corporate sector begins to realize their potential return on investment.  Companies are finding ways to engage customers and provide better service than ever before using Twitter as the basis for their efforts, and many have benefitted largely from having the foresight to recognize Twitter’s long term application.  

So before criticizing Foursquare’s current usage levels, let’s consider what ‘could be’.  Five years from now when everyone has a GPS enabled Smartphone, how will they decide where to eat dinner on Saturday night?  It’s possible that they’ll already have a place in mind, but let’s imagine for a moment that they’re downtown and looking for something different.  Maybe they’ll check their phones to see where their friends are having dinner.  Maybe they’ll check to see what other people are saying about restaurants in the area.  Maybe they’ll even see that a restaurant just around the corner is having a half price chicken wing special and that Foursquare users have rated it two thumbs up.  It’s hard to conceptualize something that hasn’t yet materialized, but all three of the above ‘scenarios’ involve capabilities enabled by Foursquare. 

Let’s not forget that Smartphones are still a relatively new development.  As more people purchase Smartphones we may see the use of Foursquare increase rapidly.  And while no one can really predict whether or not it will catch on, the potential benefits are certainly worth a wait and see approach.  Content is required to populate the application, but time is required for that content to be created and added by users (who aren’t likely to adopt the service all at once).  Rome wasn’t built in a day and even though it’s 2010, no one should have expected Foursquare to be.

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

If it’s not already, it’s probably something that you and your company should begin to consider. In an age where, in many cases, text messages have replaced real conversation, we must begin to embrace the reality that the mobile age is upon us. Gone are the days that we required a computer and a connection in the wall to send an e-mail or research a local restaurant, today our phones are our computers and enhancements and new developments will only continue to expand the functionalities of mobile devices.

Remember a time when everyone said that it would be critical for you to build an online presence?  Some people slowly migrated online, while many others took a wait and see approach, however; it was the people who adapted quickly and recognized the opportunity that the online landscape had to offer who really reaped the benefits.

Fast forward to today.  We have reached a point similar to that time when people were telling you how critical it was that you build an online presence, except this time we’re talking about building a mobile friendly online presence.  The iPhone and introduction of Google’s Nexus One have paved the way for further evolution and huge opportunity in the world of marketing.   Marketers must ensure that customers can easily navigate their websites from their mobile phones, without the hassle of having to resize text or scroll outside the border of the phone’s display screen.  If they don’t, they risk the chance that customers viewing their brand online become frustrated with their experience.

If you were slow to recognize the benefits of an online presence, here’s a chance to redeem yourself.  Avoid negative customer experiences, improve the visibility of your brand and take advantage of the vast opportunity that mobile marketing has presented us with.