Category Archives: Social Media

Missing Gap Between Check-ins and Check-outs

A post by Zachary Adam Cohen on the Social Point of Sale really made me think of some impossible, but maybe possible things that could happen in the next year or 2 for location-based marketing. The fact is that businesses are looking at more creative ways to engage their customers. If we look at mobile applications like Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGRFacebook Places and recently launched Yelp check-in, we see both users and customers are contributing to these small projects by adding venues into what could be a very large database grid of places to go. Store owners are also jumping on board because they need to make sure they are found when customers look for them on their phones. Just a refresher on when these applications came into play: 

Yelp LogoFourSquare Logo

SCVNGR LogoGowalla Logo


Foursquare – March 11, 2009

Gowalla – 2007

SCVNGR – 2008 

Yelp check-in feature – November 23, 2010

Facebook Places – September 24, 2010 (Canada)

Facebook Places – August 2010 (USA)

“Why would people tell other people where they are? Isn’t it dangerous? I’ve seen people checking in at church and OB-GYN offices. Is there nothing sacred?”

Telling strangers where you are is one thing, but letting your friends and family know where you are is another. A friend of mine told me about Please Rob Me – explains how over-sharing your location can harm you if you don't think twice where you publish your whereabouts. With security and privacy seeing some improvements on social networking sites (or we can only speculate they are getting better), we can rest assure that what we make public is shared with everyone, but what is made private is only shared between those you . Foursquare and Gowalla, for example, give you options to publish your whereabouts, if you choose to, to Facebook or Twitter. In both Facebook and Twitter, you can set your privacy to the lowest if you don't want others reading your wall or feed. Don't forget too that you have different friends on different social sites… AH HA! Are they all your 'Real Friends'? 

If you knew all of that, great! Start sharing your whereabouts with your friends and maybe you might bump into someone in the area you may not expect. Another benefit for checking in with various phone applications is that some businesses reward you if you check-in at certain times, or the number of times you've visited their store, with a possibility of more. I'll let you do the research on that one and you can report back to me =) I personally haven't picked up any deals off any of these free check-in applications yet, but hopefully I will soon. 

Also, when you let your friends and family know where you are, there is cushion of comfort knowing that if you went missing that your trace leads back to the last destination you checked into. But how reliable would police officers say these applications be? What do you think the answer is? Or I could be wrong… Hm…

After I picked up the iPhone…

I started to finally experiment with some of the application that weren't made apparent to me when I had my BlackBerry Bold 9700, including Facebook Places, Gowalla and SCVNGR. After signing up for all these free services and trying them out, I noticed that the process is merely identical. It is very simple to check-in. 

The way of doing it now is,

  1. Whip out your phone
  2. Make sure your phone has signal (either to Wifi or 3G network)
  3. Open up the application
  4. Search for location (either by nearby location or type into the search bar)
  5. Select the one you are currently at
  6. Add a tip/recommendation/tag a friend/post a picture/leave a package, check-in and earn points!

But can the experience be better? Quicker? 

What if we can syndicate all these accounts into one? (checking into one location with all your applications at once without opening each one and checking in) Double/triple/quadruple the amount of deals if one location has an offer under each application. What if we can check in by scanning/swiping our phones as we make our way into the store so say 'this is when I can into your store' and 'this is when I'm leaving'. It could work because each phone is an identity of itself. Of course, we will need to be careful other information on our phones won't be somehow relayed to a third party. 

I agree with Zach when he said: In a word: Sales. The conversion aspect just isn’t there.

I only see things moving forward from here. Now that we've identified people are using these applications to redeem deals, share/advertise products to friends and family, or simply sharing the whereabouts of one person, businesses need to find a way to narrow in on the gap that could potentially make them a lot more money. Look at eBay's iPhone app… should you start to worry if people are doing this in your stores? Probably.

I think whoever comes up with a solution for businesses to tie the online and offline marketing worlds together will be very famous and rich!

Do you think you have it? 

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Re-shaping the Browser Around Social Activity – RockMelt

Can you imagine life without Facebook? Can you imagine life without the social networks and social connections we have today?

Let's admit it, our social life has never been the same since the inception of Facebook in 2004. With the success of The Social Network, a movie that tells the story of Facebook, there is no better time for a social browser to come in as a contender against the top web browsers in the market

It was not long ago that Alfredo Tan came to Ottawa to speak about Facebook. Ever since, I've been logging into Facebook. There is so much to explore! 

Just 10 days ago (November 8, 2010), Tim Howes and Eric Vishria introduced a social media web browser, RockMelt, to the world. I was glad I got this early opportunity to try out the Beta version of RockMelt. After finding out about this through a friend, I quickly sent my request for an early pass (I was itching to try). You will need an invitation to try out RockMelt. Send in your request through their site and be patient on a reply, it could take up to a few days. 

RockMelt is currently in Beta. It is supported on both Windows and Mac. They contend RockMelt “re-imagines the browser around friends, feeds, and sharing.”

So here is how my experience with RockMelt went…

Just 2 hours ago, I installed RockMelt on my PC and began navigating and learning this new social browser. To my surprise, there was a lot integrated into it than I thought.

Is RockMelt for everyone? Probably not. But if you like Facebook, you will probably like RockMelt. Here is what RockMelt looks like: 

RockMelt Browser

Along the left side you have your Facebook chat and update options (Twitter status, Facebook status, etc). Along the right side, you have your news feeds; Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds, etc.  It took me a while to figure out how to send out a Twitter update. I noticed the Twitter icon on the right side, but there isn't an area to update your status. Move to the left side and you can update it there. 

RockMelt Status Update Area

At first I didn't understand why they separated the two, but I've figured that it was to separate conversation (chatting) from feeds (reading). It might also be good to allow users to update their Facebook and Twitter along the right hand side. I found it was a long reach to the other side. But I will probably get used to it over time (I think I already did). 

What I Like About RockMelt

Social integration – RockMelt is the first web browser that has the capabilities of integrating our social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and news feeds. It also allows you to easily share any page you are on with a simple to locate Share button between the URL bar and the search bar. 

Easy to understand and use – Unlike most things on the web, RockMelt was very easy to install. After installing it, it was straight forward what I needed to do to integrate my various social accounts with the browser. 

Look and feel – Rockmelt is a Chromium like web browser. Similar to open source web browser, Google Chrome, it gives off a already-used-to feel when you browse in it. 

Search results – Two different search result experiences. Search bar displays only organic results and somehow loads pages a lot quicker. URL bar allows you to search queries like Google Chrome. 

Give more attention friends – You can easily group friends to be on your favourites list in Facebook chat. This is convenient to locate those you talk to the most. 

I'm sure there is more I can talk about but this is my initial impression working with RockMelt in last few hours. Below are some suggestions I hope to get out to the RockMelt team. Hopefully they will your my suggestions to improve their awesomeness web browser. 

Suggestions for improvement: 


  1. Unable to see who likes each update (not linkable?). I can only see how many people has liked an update. 
  2. Chat boxes should default to be on top. The moment you click away it disappears. To have a more personal conversation it is more beneficial if the box is always in front of you, unless you decide to minimize it. Maybe highlight the chat icons on the left when there is a new message? 


  1. It would be nice to display the user's avatar instead of the Twitter icon. In the case where we have multiple Twitter accounts along the right hand bar, we don't know which feed we are about to look at unless we hover over it. 
  2. Auto-populate usernames after typing @. This will help speed things up for most users. 

Other considerations:

  1. The moment you click on one of the icons along the right bar, all your 'new updates' are marked read (number of updates disappear, reset to 0). Would scrolling be an option to implement instead to clear updates that we've actually seen/read?
  2. Look into integrating Facebook search, Digg search, and other social searches as options in the search bar. You can have a dropdown to choose the social network you want to search in. 

So after all that, what do you think about RockMelt? Would you use it? 

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Cool Tips and Tricks Using Facebook

I attended the SOHO SME Small Medium Enterprise Expo this weekend which took place at the National Art Center in Ottawa. The event featured keynotes, seminar and panel sessions, entrepreneur spotlights, visit exhibits and displays and networking opportunities.

Keynote speaker, Alfredo Tan, Senior Director at Facebook, was the main attraction that brought me to this event. Alfredo's talk, The World Has Gone Social and That’s Why Businesses Need to Harness the Power of Friends Influencing Friends, brought forth interesting research about Facebook users and the world of social media. The most interesting story must have been Coca Cola's Village 2010. Those who attended the village were given a wrist band that contained a RFID tag allowed them to, in real-time, share their experience of the Village with their friends on Facebook, bringing the virtual world of Facebook, into the real world of The Village. Check out this promotional video of the Coca Cola Village. 

Alfredo's presentation ended with a great Q&A session. I put forth my question about the new Facebook Group, and whether they had any plans of having the opt-in option. At this point, he stated that Facebook has no plans of that with the new Groups application.

There were valuable information exchanged during the Q&A session, many of which users aren't aware of. Here I will share the ones I was able to get down on my phone. 

Target Your Status Updates to Only the People You Want Seeing It

Within Facebook, you can share updates with your friends via the What's on your mind? text bar. But what if you didn't want ALL your friends seeing your status update? Is there a way of doing that? Yes.

Before you Share your updates, take a look at the privacy options you have next the Share button. You can customize your update status and exclude or only include the people you want to see your update. You can also set those customized status update groups as your default if you like. Here's a screenshot of the customize option screen. 

Facebook Custom Status Updates

You can also update your status through Twitter if you have the Twitter to Facebook Application installed. Or, if you've read my post on the effectiveness of using Selective Tweets to send updates from Twitter to your Facebook account, you can do that also. 

Use Facebook do Your Market Research and Market Segmentation 

Have you created a Facebook ad before? If not, then you may want to try this out. Follow along with me:

  1. Click Advertising at the bottom of your screen (make sure your browser is on the Facebook page). 
  2. Click Create an Ad. 
  3. Enter some dummy information into the fields that are required (this is just a test to show you how powerful this tool is). 

Now the Targeting section should appear under the Design your Ad section. Here you will be able to specify the area you want to target, demographics, likes and interests, connections on Facebook, plus some advanced targeting settings. Facebook will present a live estimation of the reach you will get with your ad. With over 500 million active users on Facebook, the potential of getting your message out is quite good if you ask me. 

Here's a quick example of what you can get when you are look at who in Ottawa likes Macbook Pro and Ipod Touch. The total reach is 1,100. That means there are 1,100 users on Facebook in Ottawa that like these two products. 

Facebook Ads - Targeting Feature

Related Posts and Wikipedia on Community Pages 

This better explained with an example. If you search Pizza in the Facebook search bar, you will be brought to, hopefully, to the Pizza Interest page. Here you should see Related Posts and a Wikipedia link to the left side. The Related Posts page will show any post that has the word 'pizza' in its context, given that the user allows their message to be publicly displayed. You will also be able to see what your friends  are talking about, in this case, about pizza. There is a Wikipedia link that connects users to the Wikipedia page within Facebook. Alfredo showed us a more comprehensive example but I had forgotten some of what he said. You are able to see Bing results too, but can't seem to find that on the Pizza page.

That is the last bit of what what was discussed, which I thought could be useful to you. I will finish off with a question. If you study psychology or even Facebook, you may have an idea what the answer may be. If you do, I'd like for you to share that comment in the box below. 

It is said that Facebook has a special number that it references when new users join Facebook. People who are new to Facebook often ask what the big deal Facebook is when they get started (because they have no connection, no friends on their list yet). So, what number is Facebook talking about when they say, once users reach 'x' number of friends, they will more like NOT to leave Facebook. I don't have the answer to that question, neither do I think any non-Facebook employee would know it.