I wish that freemium models would give up on the free trial by time/date limit. Freemium pricing would be more successful for those of us that evaluate a lot of software, apps and platforms for work if it were all based on number of uses instead.
One example is Sprout Social. I hear someone talking about it, and get interested in seeing behind the curtain – I think it might help a client. I sign up, set it up, then a (different) client project takes priority. I spend two weeks on actual work for clients, and not on a 14-day free trial. At the end of the “14 day free trial” I get the email message that I have a report waiting – this serves to remind me that I’d signed up for a trial and not used the service.
I sign in to see what the report says and get a note that I have to pay for the service. Well, fair enough – if the Sprout service is awesome, I’d love to. But could Sprout have shown me the report first to entice payment, since I’d had no logins with the service at all during the trial period? Or could Sprout have made it a trial of “14 (fourteen) 24-hour login and use periods” instead of “14 days in a row”? That way I would have actually seen the program in action.
I realize this is a problem specific to someone who does what I do for a living that needs to be an early adopter of just about everything, but I can’t help but think that it would be helpful for the average user who also is busy running a business as well if all freemium models went to “uses” and not time frames for their trials.
What do you think? Is the freemium by time frame trial model broken? How would you change it?
If infographics are the new hotness, the least infographic makers can do is spare us from bad infographics.
A poor infographic design completely negates any good information contained in the image (and don’t get me started on infographics full of nothing but fluff information or outdated statistics).
Good infographic pointers:
1) Relay solid information in a fact-based story arc leading to a single vital point or conclusion in a concise way using good, easy to understand graphics
2) Make HTML infographics, not the usual bitmap infographics
(example: The State of the Internet Now! Notice how alive it is, and how concisely the information is displayed on the page)
3) Keep the information above the fold! We hate scrolling to read a mile-long infograhic. It detracts from your facts and your story.
(bad infographic example: This infographic on Work-Related Stress Deaths may contain great info, but I stopped caring as soon as I had to a) zoom in to see it b) start scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling….)
(better infographic example: This infographic on how the US highway system mapped like subways is great – it’s above the fold and highlights information on scroll over.)
4) Don’t make me download a PDF to read your infographic. It’s rude. Open in the browser. If you want to have a download or print option, fine, but don’t make it automatic. I dislike that as much as I dislike auto playing video and audio on a website.
5) Don’t blind the reader with garish, clashing colors or text that is too small. There is no substitute for good design. Make your infographics easy to read.
6) Put your infographic to the napkin test. Pre-map it to make sure your information and decision paths make sense.
In the end this popular information tool has become popular for marketing businesses instead of just relaying ideas and knowledge. That’s fine, but you can’t lose the knowledge element in your quest for marketing.
Facebook Timeline for Business switched on for me today. Usually what I do is evaluate it then give clients recommendations after I’ve used it for a while, but frankly I thought it would be more fun to take a quick video of me futzing around with it for the first time, just like y’all might. This video is what a quick mental assessment of a tool for my own business looks like on the first time I see a change. Be rest assured, however, that while this video is a (very) casual look at what it looks like for anyone on day one, there will be more advice coming from me on this, because it radically changes the strategy of most businesses on Facebook.
1) Be Visual – This is graphics heavy. Your cover photo is your best place to make a sale now and the wall is simply there to reinforce it with customer engagement.
2) Try out different page views to see what works best – it seems to me on first look that different types of business are going to see differing successes with Highlights, Friend Only, Other, etc. For example, in a vertical where customer engagement and reviews are key, the tab highlighting the posts of others might be a great choice.
3) This puts the emphasis on your admin tools and your metrics/insights, which should solve some of the on-ramp and learning curve issues Facebook has faced in the past. This is also good because not enough people have been utilizing insights – a powerful tool for business – now you have no excuse. They are front and center in the admin panel.
4) This is supposed to create a history of a business but it doesn’t really. Too many businesses out there had special circumstances caused by Facebook’s own on-ramp issues and lack of certain features. Take Magnitude Media, for example. Once upon a time we focused on wine and were named Uptown Uncorked. Then we branched out, and have a few years where we helped more folks but still had our old name. When we rebranded, Facebook wasn’t allowing merging of pages – this means we had to start fresh. So did a lot of other businesses. Therefore, M2 looks like it started last year but in reality it just lost the previous page because of another FB issue – not being able to rename pages if you have more than 100 fans. Even Coke, world famous soft drink, had to buy a page that was started by fans – if they had not been able to do that as a major brand, they wouldn’t have a history either since they didn’t get on board early. So, Facebook wants to show the story of a business, but through their own faults with a lack of features (edit, page renaming or merging if more than 100 fans, etc), these stories aren’t complete.
What are your thoughts? Put them in the comments!
Double click to play, single click to pause:
(If the player below doesn’t play well with your browser, or you don’t have QuickTime, you can also view this video on SlideShare)
[qt: http://magnitudemedia.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/TimelinePreview.mov 540 300]
UPDATED to include this post by friend Cappy Popp from ThoughtLabs (he literally wrote the book on Facebook). He agrees with some of the assessments I made, and takes it a bit deeper for you. Enjoy!
UPDATED to include this from Jay Baer – a spot-on post about the detriments this has for small business. “14 Ways New Facebook Betrays Small Business – Smarts on the unfortunate evolution of Facebook from
@JayBaer http://ar.gy/02vA “
Mobile apps can be the door to happy customers and more retail sales, but they can also have drawbacks if not researched well and done correctly.
Altimeter released a great report on where Mobile Retail stands right now, and reviews a few of the missteps as well as the inroads companies have made trying out mobile in retail.
Some successes include Starbucks, a mobile pay and use-tracking solution I personally use often because it works so well (though I don’t tend to use their mobile play app to animate their cups – it suffers from accuracy and lag issues).
I also liked the notes Altimeter made about how online retailers such as Amazon are causing ripples in the offline space and pushing brick and mortar retailers out of their comfort zone.
I’ve embedded the Altimeter report for you below – it has some good information you can put to use right now if you are thinking of adding a mobile strategy to your retail store.
Over on my Facebook wall, I keep seeing the ubiquitous chain-status post about hovering over the subscribe button on someone’s profile to help get them out of the notifications column on the right.
That *is* one thing you can do, but you can also make yourself quieter for everyone. Go to your own profile (looking on the “wall view” that your friends see). Hover over one of the notifications of your comment on someone else’s wall.
Under the pencil icon (new timeline) or gear icon (old timeline) select “Hide this comment from timeline” then select “hide all comment activity from timeline”.
Do the same with a Like notification on your own profile wall.
This will significantly reduce how often you appear on Facebook by muting comments posting to your wall (and to the sidebar Facebook recently introduced), making it so you only appear in a relevant context to folks.
Additionally, it helps to double check your Privacy settings weekly. Set tags to need your approval. Turn off the ability of others to check you in to Places. You get the idea.
Also, be careful what Apps you allow to interact with your profile information. Many allow your friends to share information about you without your knowledge just by playing a game. There is a setting for this also, and a way to turn these notifications off as well. Be as on top of it as you can with each Facebook UI change.
Be proactive. Facebook will continue to throw us all curveballs but there is a lot we can do to make our own experience here better and more private.
It seems Facebook is all over the online news today with some changes geared toward overall safety, and others to working with brands and agencies.
Some of the safety changes have been in the process of being rolled out for a while, with Facebook finally collecting all of the options in one place for user access via this post on user safety education, tools and practices. I think the best part of that post is the first section which deals with user education. Half the battle for internet safety is good education on what safety really means online. By making videos and tutorials available Facebook is taking a late, but good, first step toward making an educated user base. I highly recommend seeking out safety education from other sources as well, since anything by Facebook is going to be in keeping with the usual Facebook MO of serving Facebook’s own best interests before the user’s.
In the last part of the safety post, Facebook mentions their constant HTTPS secure login (which should be internet standard, in my opinion, but too many sites are slow to adopt this practice), as well as their multiple step login process. When out and about I use the firefox plug in HTTPS Everywhere to make sure I’m logged in to every site I visit via HTTPS, so that’s a good thing, having an HTTPS protocol in play. As far as the two step log in (which I’ve dubbed multi step because of my experience with it), I think that will only frustrate users. I’ve been using that process for several weeks now, and mostly? I find it clunky and find that it doesn’t “take” on the first attempt -ever. Toss in the multiple emails I get when I log in on a new device, and I think users may be a bit annoyed by the process and freaked out by the emails.
I’d be interested to find out what others using the new security features over the last few weeks think about them, and to get your opinions on the safety videos and links.
For brands and agencies, Facebook has rolled out something they are calling Facebook Studio. At first glance, I’m not sure what building this layer for agencies and brands will actually do besides create yet another place online to have to track regularly. It purportedly is intended to encourage ideas through example and to help ideas gestate through a community of peers. Frankly, looking at the number of fellow agencies and marketers and brands in my profile friends list on Facebook and at the ease of access to people whose opinion I value on Twitter and via email, I’m not sure more touch points with like-careered folks were needed here. I am going to recommend using this with caution, and waiting until it proves out as useful before investing much of your premium time and attention here.
Brands and agencies, what do you think of having your own playground for ideas and possible test runs on Facebook?