Archive for the Press & Events Category
Forbes.com, 2/24/2012 –
Social gaming company Zynga has tapped into human psychology to figure out what triggers encourage people to play their games over and over again. They’ve also figured out what gets people to bring in as many of their friends as possible. As a result, Zynga’s users play for 2 billion minutes per day.
But can these psychological triggers be applied in other verticals by using social media? The question I’m interested in is: to what extent can companies get people to do things they otherwise don’t want to do? If they can, that’s a powerful thing. Not only are these potentially large businesses but many of them have a large impact on society. Beyond that I think as business opportunities they’ve been neglected compared to other verticals.
Let’s look at the example of health. Americans have an obesity problem – it’s no secret. And health care costs are out of control. How can we get people to eat better and get some exercise? What’s harder to get people to do than exercise and eat better? Startup Keas, a social network with game mechanics, is tackling this problem.
Keas is a website that employees use in the workplace. They get points, badges and achievements for completing tasks, and support their coworkers in their achieving their goals. People don’t cheat because they don’t want to hurt their reputation. Adam Bosworth, formerly of Google Health, started Keas to help the couch potatoes. Not the marathon runners or triathletes, but the average out-of-shape people, the “real people.” A full 1/3 of Keas users are overweight, 1/3 are obese and 1/6 are morbidly obese. In other words, only 1/6 are not overweight or obese. That gives you a sense of the challenge Keas is attempting to overcome.
I asked Bosworth how does Keas get people to do something they don’t want to do, i.e. exercise? There are three ways, he said.
1. GAMING MECHANICS
First is gaming mechanics, which he calls “positive reinforcement.” You get acknowledgement, points, and status within your group. Gaming is about positive reinforcement and “making it fun.” It gets people to keep running on the treadmill or riding their bike. But, gaming alone no matter how fun, is not enough, he says. Gamification is being used by a number of companies such as Badgeville, Bunchball, 500Friends and Rypple to add page views, monetization and loyalty or encourage other actions inside of a company.
2. SOCIAL INTERACTION
The second thing is Keas social feed, which is another form of positive reinforcement, in this case from peers. People go on the Keas feed to brag about what they’ve done, whether running 2 miles or completing one of Keas’ quizzes. And coworkers on the service say, “Great job.” The other thing people do is ask for and give advice. Peers also provide advice, such as: how do you get organized to go to the gym in the morning before work, or how do you manage a exercise schedule with children? The average social network gets 8 to 10% to actively post messages on a network. But Keas gets 30 to 40% of members to post weekly, Bosworth. So this is a very different type of activity than on a typical “open” social network.
3. SMALL GROUPS
The last and most important thing for Keas is teams or small groups. These groups, limited to six people, are organized so that if one person isn’t involved the team doesn’t do well, and if two don’t participate it’s impossible to “play.” In terms of keeping people in the game, about 50% sign up for the service and become engaged users. Then about 60% of engaged users keep playing the game over 100 days after starting. In other words if 50% or 500 of a 1,000 person company sign up for Keas and become engaged users, about 60% or 300 of them still participate after 100 days.
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Xconomy, 2/23/2012 –
When building a technology product, a lot of people fall into the trap of larding it up with a boatload of features. Former Microsofties Bryan Trussel and Steve Miller, who co-founded the location-sharing app Glympse, know that impulse well.
When they built their first prototype, they filled it with little tricks and widgets. It could find a restaurant for two users simultaneously, prompt them to start a chat conversation while en route to a meeting, drop photos along a trail they were traveling, and even display a little radar-type screen that showed nearby friends as little blips.
Eventually, all of that stuff got tossed out. What remained was a relatively simple app that allows users to send a little GPS arrow of their travels to certain people, for a specific period of time.
Unlike the countless other smartphone location apps that try to establish new trendy social behaviors, Glympse is aimed directly at real-life scenarios: Someone running late for a meeting who needs to show colleagues where they are, partygoers trying to get directions as they drive around a darkened neighborhood, parents keeping tabs on their kids at an amusement park.
“If you don’t watch yourself, you try to impress the guy next door, your peer group. And it’s much more impressive to walk to the guy next door and say, ‘Look how technically complicated this was,’” Trussel says. “It’s not as cool to say, ‘Look, I actually threw out a bunch of code and stripped away a bunch of features and now its simple.’ It doesn’t necessarily get you your peer accolades.”
That approach can, however, help land actual users. Glympse says it has now racked up 2.5 million users as of January for its app, which is available on all the major smartphone platforms. That’s a pretty big increase since June, when Glympse announced it had crossed the 1 million-user mark, following a public debut in 2009.
“Really, we’ve added more in past few months than we did in the previous year,” Trussel says.
That growth has come with no real emphasis on marketing, Trussel says. A lot of it has been driven by what you’d call “earned media,” with features from technology news sites’ lists of top apps. Glympse also has grabbed a key thumbs-up from Google, which gave it an “Editor’s Pick” designation on the Android Market, alongside big-name app like Facebook, Angry Birds, Evernote, and Foursquare.
Sticking to simplicity and a clean user experience means passing up some opportunities for earning revenue. One of the most obvious ways to make money from a seven-figure user base on a location app would be local advertising, but that’s something Glympse has avoided so far. ”We just haven’t gone there yet. We don’t think that marketplace is robust enough and we’re not happy enough with what the user interface would look like,” Trussel says.
A more promising source of revenue might be licensing to other companies that want to offer mobile tracking. Trussel says he has detected interest from the automotive sector and consumer businesses that might have delivery or service vehicles.
That’s not happening right away, though. Glympse is still focused on building a consumer user base and adding new features that make access even simpler. Two being rolled out today for Android phones offer easier access to Glympse from appointments on a calendar, and a cool syncing option for NFC-enabled phones with Google’s “Beam” application platform (available only on phones with the newest Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android).
Rather than weighing down the app, Trussel and Miller see the new features as a streamlining step that sticks to their mission—they let people use Glympse faster. “What we’ve stayed focused on since we launched the app is not on adding more and more complication to the app. It’s actually making it easier and easier,” Trussel says.
Glympse, which is backed by venture capital firms Menlo Ventures and Ignition Partners, along with angels, recently relocated from the Seattle suburbs to the city itself, in the vibrant South Lake Union neighborhood dominated by Amazon.com and peppered with startups and incubators. The company now has 14 people on staff, and is looking for more. If the recent spike in users holds, they may be filling up that new office pretty quick.
Curt Woodward is senior editor at Xconomy Seattle. Reach me at email@example.com. Get story feeds and more on Twitter @curtwoodward and Facebook on.fb.me/curtwoodward.
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Today, Visible Technologies is putting its SMB face forward with VI-LITE. An innovative and rapidly developing new area of social media, VI-LITE aims to bring the company into the rising small to mid-sized business world with cost-saving incentives and simplicity. And it’s just as tasty as the original.
Good News for the Little Guys
Targeting what it considers to be “one of the brightest areas of social media,” Visible Technologies today releases VI-LITE, a compact version of its more expansive software made for small to mid-sized businesses (SMB), who are anticipated to show 57 percent growth in social media usage this year. The company, a provider of social media monitoring, analytics and engagement software and services, has also added engagement features to its Visible Intelligence platform, made for enterprise customers like Microsoft, Fed-Ex and American Express, along with V∙IQ, a social performance dashboard.
VI-LITE allows those with smaller scaled platforms to engage their customers and chart the impact without mulling through a seemingly endless pile of tools fostering a piece-mail social strategy or paying big bucks to have someone else figure it out for them. Braced for the challenge, the newest edition from Visible Technologies helps SMB brands to host and monitor more impactful discourse with their customers. The software comes with on-demand intelligence to monitor perceptions, gauge trends, and gain insight on customers and competitors.
It also spreads the company’s influence wider in the field of social business, now able to assist all types of enterprises with their advanced technology.
Kelly Pennock, CEO of Visible Technologies, had this to say about the release:
We continue to push product innovation for enterprise customers who rely on the Visible Intelligence platform for listening, analyzing, and engaging with consumers in the fast paced social media market…With VI∙LITE we’ve leveled the playing field for small to medium sized businesses by providing access to the same technology being used by large enterprises. A key to this is having a real-time understanding of what the market is saying and making better informed decisions based on social data.”
Neglecting A Burgeoning Market
According to v3im.com, SMB marketing expenditures came in at about US$ 1.1 billion last year, and are expected to climb upwards to US$ 2 billion in 2012. However, as the article also points out, there’s a difference in merely using social media and using it well. Capitalizing on likes, shares and the enormous wealth of user data does not always come second nature to those new to the field, and many business are missing the boat even with the obvious. Constant Contact pulled together some new figures last year and found that few SMBs were utilizing daily deals like Groupon, despite all the attention drawn to the new IPO.
Thus, a company like Visible Technologies could be just what the doctor ordered. It provides a simple solution with enormous potential that assuredly was never possible in the past.
As marketing guru, Mark Harai comments on his blog, “You now have the ability to create content on a media platform you own and control for about the cost of a cup of coffee a day. What more could you possibly ask for?”
From lawyers to doctors and now … dentists. Avvo has announced that it’s building out a dentists’ directory in the U.S. to complement its existing lawyer and doctor directories.
But it sounds like this is still a work in progress. Avvo says dentists from all over the country are available to take part in the site’s question-and-answer product, but the actual dentist business listings are only formal right now in seven states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Washington, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Dentists in other states, though, can still claim their listing by searching for their name in the directory.
I don’t have a strong feeling right now about where Avvo fits in as a local citation source, or even a source of traffic. I do know that I continue to see Avvo pages rank well when I do searches for local medical professionals, ergo it’s a good idea to at least make sure the profile page is accurate, up-to-date and filled out as completely as possible.
GigaOm, February 1, 2012 –
Brad Silverberg shares his perspective on how Facebook’s IPO could impact company culture…
Get ready for a blockbuster — and almost nuts — technology 2012. Why? Because Facebook is doing the mother of all initial public offerings.
And much like Netscape and Google before it, the $5 billion offering is being viewed as the much-awaited catalyst for the technology industry and is expected to set off a flurry of activity. I have been here long enough to cover the IPOs of both Netscape and Google, and on both occasions, the tailgate effect was enough to pull even the clunkers (read: marginal startups) to the proverbial finish line.
We are already seeing four recently public companies — Pandora, LinkedIn, Zynga andGroupon — ramping up their efforts to buy little startups. Google is competing for talent and so are other Internet giants. And now Facebook!
I have been wondering whether we would see a slow exodus of Facebook employees, which in turn would force the social networking giant to go out and start acq-hiring people by buying a lot of tiny startups. And if more of these little companies get acquired, the more dollars would rush into the startups and thus creating a fly-wheel effect. The presence of Facebook millionaires is only going to accelerate angel investment activity….
Brad Silverberg, a veteran of Microsoft and other tech companies and general partner at Ignition Partners, a Seattle-based venture fund, thinks that the IPO could have a corroding influence on the company culture.
One of the biggest challenges Facebook will face is the gulf between the have’s and have-not’s within Facebook. It can create tremendous internal stress and can result in people leaving to follow their own entrepreneurial dreams. This can be both for early people who made it and love the thrill of the startup, and for later people who are contributing, gain confidence, and now want to go off and make their own fortunes.
I think Brad’s point is pretty spot-on. I have seen this haves-versus-havenots dynamic create havoc at many companies before. I have spoken to multiple people and there is a general sense in the Valley that there is a large contingent of Facebook-ers who are ready to bolt. Google in comparison didn’t see an exodus of employees till recently, mostly because of its deep engineering-centric culture. Google, before it was grafted with the Microsoft genes, was a company where the smartest people went to be with the smartest people. It wasn’t till 2007 that the company started to lose its top-rated talent…
Read the full article on GigaOm.