With some fanfare, Blackberry has rolled out its Passport; but it isn’t the phone that is really catching people’s attention. It’s the statement they are making about their priorities with the release of the phone. The Passport may allow them to return to viability as one of the top business service providers. It features everything you expect, but it also has a keyboard and touch screen option that works due to the increased size of the screen. More importantly, Blackberry is announcing that it is refocusing its efforts back on the institutional markets – such as healthcare and financial industries – that made it a leader in the first place.
Why are they clinging to that keyboard?
The keyboard is what differentiates the Blackberry as a business phone. Business users need the speed and accuracy of a separate keyboard that cannot be replicated with a touchscreen keyboard. By integrating it into the Passport, Blackberry is showing who they are serving. This isn’t a phone to listen to music on; this is a phone to make working more efficient. Blackberry, like its old competitor Palm, catered to the very specific needs of business industries that made phones as portable PCs more important than phones as communication devices. They have returned to their roots with this, and their target marketing.
Returning to institutional roots
Blackberry did try to branch out into the retail consumer market, but they just don’t have the type of technology that is suited for the casual user. They have long been paired with major institutions and helped them to create mobile gateways to keep staff connected to services while off site. Trying to transition to a demographic that only needed to stay connected to their Facebook just didn’t mesh well with their overall architecture.
Can Blackberry make it?
Blackberry does stand to reclaim a share of the service industry market due to its history of working with institutions, and its willingness to create proprietary applications on its platform. As long as they put security first, they could have a winner with the new Passport. It has a full QWERTY and a touchscreen that is wide enough to allow you to view documents. There is no other phone on the market that offers this. By returning their focus to industrial customers, they stand to rebuild themselves into a stable and innovative company again.
Just about everyone has a LinkedIn account, but very few people know how to use the network to their advantages. For many people, it is treated as a dynamic resume on line. They can connect with people in their industries, join groups for discussion – but it hasn’t really caught on the way that other social media sites have. In the past year, there have been some significant changes in LinkedIn that may signal that it has finally become viable as a way to promote your business, product or service.
Why has it taken so long for LinkedIn to catch on?
LinkedIn is billed as a “professional network.” It isn’t the type of social media site where one posts what you are watching on TV in the moment. It is one step away from a B2B network, and connects the people within the business structure instead. This has led to some confusion about how to use it. If it were a B2B model, companies know how to handle that – but LinkedIn emphasizes the individual within the company without losing sight of the business they are in. There have been some horror stories about people linking their social network accounts only to have their weekend shenanigans show up in their professional feed on LinkedIn, but those days are just about over. So how do you use it?
Pulse and Influencers
The hottest new product LinkedIn has out is their Pulse app. This is a user specific news feed that presents the latest information from the industries you select in your feed. It also presents posts from “influencers.” These are members of the LinkedIn community who have a high re-share and comment rate for their posts; they are also established voices or experts in their individual industries. This has helped to transform LinkedIn from a network of resumes, into an exchange of industry news and information, plus industry specific discussions among people who are in the know.
What is could mean for you
The new LinkedIn can help to establish you as an expert in your field. This can translate into opportunities for new positions, projects and even as a very effective way to perform demand generation on a B2B level. As you get more connected on LinkedIn, you are bringing people into your business based upon their knowledge of you as a professional. This isn’t a product driven network, but a performance driven social media site.
One of the stories that hit the media was Facebook beginning to mark third party and promoted posts as “satire” when possible. This has led to a discussion about the prevalence of news stories, and viral stories online, that take off without anyone checking to see if they are based in fact. While sites like “The Onion” strive for satire, trying to understand where the other stories come from can help shape how social media is used.
The viral video as a marketing tool
Not that long ago there was a viral video that went around about an entitled teenager breaking down because her father brought her a red Saab for her 16th birthday instead of the blue one she wanted. The Internet stormed about her entitlement and the state of the younger generations for weeks. There were follow-up videos from her, and she defended herself on social media for her reactions. It all came to the point where she decided to sell the car she had been given for $9.99. This was followed by her next post that said that a better deal for $9.99 was to order from Dominos. The whole video and story was staged as part of a viral marketing campaign for the $9.99 deal from Dominos. It got attention, but it also got a lot of people believing something about the world that may or may not be true.
What are the ethics of satire?
Many people laud Facebook for labeling satirical news posts, but some people think that it ruins the purpose of the satire. The problem is that there is so much face-value acceptance of anything posted on the Internet as being real that satire may not be able to work in the same way online as it does off. This brings up an ethical dilemma about just how responsible people who post satirical news stories are for the damage they may be causing.
What damage can satire cause?
Much like sarcasm, satire can cause a great deal of emotional damage. Online, it can also promote financial damage too. Stories that aren’t understood as satire can lead to people donating money to non-existent causes, or withholding donations from real organizations based on a viral story that is not true. Satire online, especially as a viral marketing campaign, has to be planned out well to provide for a way to manage backlash before it happens.
It would be unfair to claim that the cases for the new iPhones are bending in users pockets, but there is a growing thread online that shows exactly that happening. Many people are pointing to the aluminum material they are using to make the case thin as the problem. The cases aren’t bending after heavy or long use; they are bending within hours of coming out of the box.
Why aren’t the thinner cases working?
If you remember the last time Apple used aluminum cases with their mobile products you remember how popular it was at first, and then what a disaster it proved for the company. While people loved the lightweight and slim design that it allowed for their MacBook, all of them seemed to have the same problem with connecting to Wi-Fi. It turned out that the case itself was blocking the ability of the antenna to connect by restricting its access to the Wi-Fi. Now, Apple is bringing back the same problematic case material to devices that most people use with Wi-Fi too. This can’t end well.
The changing role of mobile technology in life
One of the problems that tech analysts have identified is that the case material chosen for the new iPhone might be showing that Apple has lost touch with their market. Aluminum cases work when you use a rigid case to protect the phone, but that implies that the user is viewing their device as something separate from themselves. Today’s users don’t see mobile phones as accessories or even helping devices, they are integral parts of their personality and identity. More and more phones are put into pockets in the same way that a wallet or keys are tucked away. This change in how people view and treat their devices is something that Apple has dropped the ball on recognizing.
Creating options for designers that allow them to meet the need of consumers for thin and lightweight devices, while also delivering a product that can realistically withstand the stress of how it is going to be used is going to require innovation. A hybrid case with titanium supports and aluminum panels may be what is needed to make the next iPhone a success. Given that their last fix for a frame problem was to issue a new case, don’t expect to see a hybrid frame any time soon.
Twitter is still going strong, without anyone being able to create significant ROI on the platform. Companies still pour money into it, just waiting for a monetization avenue to appear – and it doesn’t seem to be arriving. What they may be missing is how Twitter is proving to be a successful marketing tool. It may not ever generate high levels of monetization, featured tweets or not; but it may let you tap into one of the harder elements of marketing that will deliver more in the long run.
Direct marketing versus demand generation
The promoted tweets, and tweets with links, count as direct marketing. Twitter isn’t about that and trying to force it to deliver on a method it doesn’t do well with is going to fail. What Twitter does do better than any other social media platform is to create lateral streams of information. Learning to use these lateral steams well will allow you to up your demand generation for your product, brand or services.
The transition to an awareness platform
While Twitter first started with the idea of being able to use the standard monetization platform utilized by other social media networks, it was essentially taken over by its users to become a source for citizen journalism and networking. People may follow brands, but brand tweets with links to sale items are not popular by any means. What is effective is when the brand becomes involved with promoting awareness of things that are not directly related to their product, but are part of the worldview they represent to the consumer. Whole Foods tweets about healthy living and ideas for renovating that are green – and oh yes, they might occasionally include a notice about something going on in their store. This is an example of lateral marketing.
How to use it with your blog or site
If you want to incorporate your Twitter into your blog or site, then you want to make sure that the Tweets add to the discussion. The worst thing is to embed a Twitter feed only to have it reposting endless stream of links back to the same page it is posted on. Think with a larger vision, tweet about what will matter to your market so even if they first encounter it on your page it will create a demand for your kind of information and product beyond the sale.