If You Give the Consumer a Mobile Option, You Better Make Sure it Works

Last year, Shopkick was my favorite holiday shopping app. I used it every time I stepped into a partner store to claim my points and locate discounts. Or rather, that was my intention. I ended up spending endless minutes wandering around the front door of the various stores waiting for the app to recognize my location. You know the look – walking with your cell phone held up in front of you, turning left, right, stepping here, then there – it’s embarrassing and I was probably blocking traffic.

Then I went into the store and tried to use the bar code scanner to claim more points. Alas, my cell reception dropped out. I was in a Best Buy, the top tech chain in the US and I couldn’t get a signal. There was no free Wifi and I was told that there were only a few clean hot spots in the store. Of course, these spots weren’t anywhere near where I needed to be.

Lessons From the New Series Start-Ups: Silicon Valley

While the under-achievers of the Jersey Shore work on their tans, the over-achieving twenty-somethings of Silicon Valley are working on their next billion dollar idea.

Bravo’s new reality series Start-Ups: Silicon Valley tracks six young online entrepreneurs as they work, party and claw their way to the top of the heap. Siblings Ben and Hermione are looking to fund an app that calculates your life expectancy based on your daily choices (Burger for lunch, that’s 10 minutes off your life!). Sarah parlayed her “lifecast” blog into a cozy job as the social media manager for the Four Seasons hotel while Kim convinces ad buyers to fork over big bucks for Facebook advertising, and so on.

Above all, the series is highly entertaining, but after watching the first episode I also came away with several valuable lessons that I’d like to share.

Facebook Offers Real Time Gift Option in iPhone Update

Facebook just released a new update for their iPhone / iPad app and it has a couple of features worth noting.

After a lot of talk, they’ve finally added the ability to send Facebook Gifts to friends – sort of. The app write-up and several news outlets say the feature has been activated but I couldn’t see any sign of it on my account.

If you do have it, you can send a real gift to a friend even if you don’t know they’re address. You simply choose them, pick a gift from the options available, pay for it and send. The receiver gets a notification, they confirm their mailing address and several days later the gift arrives. Pretty cool.

Instagram Goes Public with Profile Pages

Instagram, the photo site known for its retro filters, is an emerging trend in online marketing.  According to Simply Measured, 54% of the world’s top brands are currently using the site, including Nike, MTV, Starbucks and Gucci. In many ways, the site is similar to Pinterest with one big difference – Pinterest is an open window, Instagram is not.

When you navigate to Instagram.com, this is what you see:

Where’s the link to all these cool, photos that 54% of the top brands are posting? (Let me stop here and say, I don’t use Instagram, so I’m coming at this as a complete novice.) I’m guessing that the only way I can see anything is to download the app and start following people a’la Twitter or Facebook. Granted, a lot of people use the service, but how is this a good marketing tool?

Is Facebook’s Drop in Page Impressions By Design or a Sign of the Times?

Back in my day, you posted an update to your Facebook fan page and every one of your fans saw it on their newsfeed. There was none of this messing about with paid posts and tags and highlighting. You had something to say, you just said it and people were happy to read it. We also used our phones to actually call people and mail was delivered by a mailman! Those were the days.

It’s time to accept the reality: Facebook post views aren’t what they used to be. Here’s the proof from Socialbakers.

Why is this happening? It’s probably the result of a combination of natural factors – or you could go with the conspiracy theory.

Sears and Kmart to Offer Amazon-like Free Shipping Membership

The guy who invents a transporter beam that instantly delivers any size package anywhere for free will rule the world.

Today, Sears and Kmart announced an upgrade to their Shop Your Way membership program that sounds incredibly familiar – free 2-day shipping on “mailable items” for $79 a year. I’ve always thought $79 was a lot to fork over ahead of time in order to get fast, free shipping but at least with Amazon, you get free movie downloads and ebooks as a bonus.

What’s Sears offering? How about double points on qualifying purchases. Every 1,000 points equals $1 off a future purchase, so it sweetens the pot a little. Then they add in the promise of all kinds of exclusive deals and bonus opportunities. In other words, they’ve turned shopping at Sears and Kmart into a game. The goal? See if you can earn back the $79 you spent without breaking your budget.

When Ranking TV Apps, Consumers Say Useful is More Important Than Fun

TVGuide commissioned a study on TV websites and mobile apps and they discovered an interesting fact: 86% of the 1,000 people surveyed said the “useful” was their top priority.

Now, that might seem like a no-brainer, but we’re talking TV here and “entertaining” didn’t even land in the top three.

In addition to Useful, 83% of people said they valued High Quality and Trustworthiness. As a rabid TV fan, I understand. If my favorite show is on at 9:00 it should appear on the app at 9:00 in my time zone! (GetGlue, I’m talking to you!)

In the “high importance” category we have Entertaining (75%), Expert (73%) and Genuine (72%). What does genuine even mean in this context?

Of “moderate importance:”

  •     Innovative (69%)