Niche Social Media

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Since being in the Interactive Media program, social media and the role it plays for businesses has started to interest me more and more. I think I grouped social media together as Facebook and Twitter and didn’t give it much thought otherwise. However, more recently niche social networking has really peeked my interest. In a recent article on Mashable three niche social media sites were examined and how different brands have used them to their benefit.

The first one discussed is Instagram (which coincidentally I am doing a research project for an other class).  This is a photo-sharing app that makes taking a photo, adding a little creativity and sharing on a wide variety of social media sites very easy. A business that has recently begun to take notice is ModCloth (an online clothing retailer). They have begun to integrate using Instagram into their social media strategy and capture an audience that may not have been otherwise.

A second, and personal favorite new site is Pinterest. This site is a visual bookmarking site that lets users “pin” images to boards and share with friends through other forms of social media. Not only is ModCloth also using this site but large businesses like Nordstrom are as well. In fact, Pinterest is becoming these store’s top unpaid referral site for traffic and revenue. By using photography and blog content these businesses are able to reach an even more expansive audience.

A third site that this article mentions is Foodspotting. I had never heard of this one before, but it attempts to connect local businesses with residents through food. People take pictures of their food, review it, and post to the site. This way people are sharing their experiences and getting “the word out” on local dishes people may not have known about otherwise.

It’s important to understand how to use niche businesses to promote your own. However, the article suggested making sure you understand the culture to the specific site and to not blatantly advertise, but instead assimilate and support the overall goals.

Google beat me to it

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Recently I thought I had a “million dollar idea,” but it turns out it already exists. Google beat me to it. Well, sort of. Originally I had the idea for a phone application that when the user takes a photo of an object they want to purchase, the application will find it. This came to me after I saw a girl wearing a dress that I just absolutely loved. It would have been so amazing if I could have just snapped a picture and found out where I could purchase it and for how much. However, after talking to some people about my idea they introduced me to Google Goggles.

Currently this is an application for Androids and iPhones (although I can’t find it in the iPhone app store). Originally it was created to identify virtually anything. However, currently it mostly identifies things such as landmarks or barcodes. There are hopes that it will soon also identify trees and leaves.

Although my original thought had much more of a consumer slant, I still think it’s a pretty cool idea. After reading up a little more, it seems other businesses are catching onto this trend as well. Amazon has even created their own application called Flow, which recognizes tens of millions of products. I wish I could claim to be the first to have had this idea, but I guess for now I’ll just watch where the real conceptualizers are able to take this.

Partial blame on Apple for mobile Flash failure

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Mike Chambers, Principal Product Manager for developer relations for the Flash Platform, recently published a blog post to help clarify some of the reasons Adobe will no longer be developing Flash for mobile devices. Instead, they are going to redirect recoursed to better focus on HTML 5.

Chambers has spent the past 13 years working with the technology as part of the Flash community, and he said that the days leading up to this decision were some of his hardest. He felt that this issue has always been politically charged.

The first reason he cited for Flash’s demise was that it was never able to “achieve the same ubiquity” on mobile devices as it has on the desktop. This is due to the fragmented market and one of the leading mobile platforms (Apple iOS) doesn’t support Flash Player, and won’t in the foreseeable future.

The second reason the was cited for the decision was the ubiquity of HTML5 on mobile browsers. Flash was just unable to compete at the same level as HTML 5.

For the third reason, Chambers pointed directly to Apple. He said that with Apple’s app store, people were more likely to look to apps, rather than the web for a lot of content. Differences in “in screen sizes, resolution and interaction models; slower and higher latency network connections; tight integration between apps and operating systems and tight integration between mobile app stores and operating systems as the reasons.”

I found this article very interesting and it has helped me to better understand the downfall of Flash and the rise of HTML 5. I think with any technology there will always be something that becomes old, and something that becomes new. It is important to know when to “throw in the towel” and focus resources on newer technology. I’m sure Apple is partially to blame for the demise of Flash on mobile devices, but it isn’t entirely.

Flash dead on TVs too

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So it turns out Flash isn’t being killed on just mobile devices, but TV as well.  This news came after the announcement that Adobe will no longer support research into Flash for mobile devices. The home devices that will be most affected are HDTVs. What people have already purchased will of course be supported, but believe that supporting applications instead of web-based experience will be more beneficial. “This is another blow for Google TV which, frankly, doesn’t need any more bad news. The lack of browser-based Flash probably won’t be a deal-breaker for Google’s Android-based connected TV platform, but Google TV devices have already been selling poorly and now Google has to figure out how to go on without Flash. “ In the past Adobe and Google both saw great hope for Flash on TVs. However, now the future is much more grim.

I don’t think this news was too shocking for many people that know about Flash very much. With Apple’s disapproval, mobile Flash no longer being developed and the Google TV not doing well, it’s pretty obvious. Flash has had its “hay day, “ but now needs to “step aside” for “bigger and better” things. It seems Jobs knew all along Flash wasn’t the way to go.

HTML 5 review in an infographic

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One of my favorite projects so far this year was the infographics we made in Flash. Recently infographics have begun to enamor me. Not only is the information presented in an interesting way, but the design of them is so crucial as well. I was sure to look at many infographics before I started my own, but think that I have learned more after creating my own.

Recently I found an interesting infographic that tries to explain what HTML 5 is, and what changes have been made to it. It’s very crisp and clean, but isn’t as visually exhilarating as some that I’ve seen in the past. One of my favorite parts of this infographic is at the bottom where Flash and HTML 5 are compared. It compares the two based off of price, which is more powerful, used more, and more efficient. Another interesting area is where is tries to compare different Internet browsers, this area is the most visually pleasing, but requires the reader to interpret the information more. Overall this is well done, but could possibly be made clearer for users.

I definitely want to create more infographics in my future. I feel that information is just so much more exciting when presented in a visually pleasing way. The person trying to understand the information is also more willing to put more time into it, rather than just reading a chart on a white sheet of paper.