Have you updated your company’s Google+ page today? How about in the last week? Or month? … Year?
Maybe your company doesn’t even have a Google+ page yet, and if that’s the case or you’ve been abandoning that page in favor of other social media networks, you’re not alone. According to a Reuters report, Google+ continues to generate less interest from brands than other social networks including rival Facebook.
In an informal survey, Reuters found that of the 100 most valuable global brands in 2012, only 72 have a presence on Google+ compared to 87 on Facebook.
Of the brands that have established a presence on Google+, 40 percent have either never posted content on Google+ or do so infrequently, Reuters found.
For example, Nike and Pepsi hadn’t updated their Google+ pages in more than a week.
Some other companies, like McDonald’s, had never updated their page, even though it was created. Another example provided by Reuters, was a side-by-side comparison of a recent Cinco de Mayo promotion run by pizza company Domino’s. The promotion was loudly touted on Facebook, but the company’s Google+ page hadn’t been updated since 2012.
Reuters’ Alexei Oreskovic writes, “For Google+ to thrive, it is vital to draw in household names, not just to lay the groundwork for potential future business, but also because users of the site have come to expect being able to follow, comment on or even vent about their favorite brands.”
There are many reasons why Google+ has been slow to get more active users since its launch. Remember, there wasn’t an initial crush of users to Facebook, either, and the look and feel of the site certainly has changed dramatically, even in just the last few years.
Google+ vs Facebook
Facebook of all other social networks has more active users. More than a billion people worldwide use their Facebook account at least once a month, and the average user spends at least six hours on the site in a month. While there are more than a half-billion people with Google+ profiles, the average per-month user time is less than seven minutes, according to the Reuters research.
As we noted recently, our own research here at Small Business Trends shows small businesses are still flocking to Facebook. There are now 16 million small business Facebook pages. And 3 million of those were added in the just the first quarter of 2013.
Also hindering the use of Google+, especially for business owners, is the discomfort level with learning a new social media environment and how to make what this site offers over rivals Facebook and Twitter work for their companies. For some functions, like video conferencing or streaming live video, Google+ clearly has an advantage.
Untapped Potential in Google+
However, the way brands react today may not reflect the future potential of Google+. Reuters notes that some companies are beginning to realize that maintaining at a presence for their business or product on Google+ appears to help them in Google searches. “Many businesses do build outposts on Google+, eager to benefit from its integration with Google’s popular Internet search service,” the Reuters report concludes.
Here’s another reason to get more active on Google+: Google is focusing more resources on Google+. Clearly Google sees Google+ as key to its future. In fact, Google just rolled out some new features and a new look for Google+ this past week.
For small businesses, there are advantages to getting in early on a social network, learning the ropes and building your base, before the competition. In the Google+ vs Facebook stakes, you may not want to wait.
The post Google+ Less Popular With Brands Than Facebook, Report Claims appeared first on Small Business Trends.
I don’t want to awaken the ire of any committed pet owners — because I think you can do whatever you want with your pets (and your money) — but I would be lying if I said I didn’t cringe a little bit when I hear about extreme pet products and services like doggie treadmills, pet psychiatrists or pet fitness centers and the like.
In a quick conversation behind the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, an unofficial, unscientific, non-statistically sound poll indicated that “if you don’t have time to walk your dog and need to outsource that to a health club…maybe you just shouldn’t have a dog.”
I concur with those results.
Still, I came across FitBark on the floor of the Hardware Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 and while it could, at first, seem “extreme” I found that after talking to these guys and hearing their explanation, their little device actually seems pretty reasonable.
What is the FitBark? From a technological standpoint, it is a wearable accelerometer that you put on your dog’s collar to monitor their activity. In most ways the product is very similar to products like the Nike Fuel + Band or the FitBit, however the strategy behind it — and this is the reasonable part — is quite different.
FitBark is not designed to be a performance indicator or weight loss utility or competitive device for animals. Instead, it’s just an activity monitor so loving pet owners can make sure their dogs are getting enough activity.
How it works is that, as the dog moves about, their activity is captured and stored on the device (up to three weeks of data can be stored).
Whenever the FitBark comes into the proximity of the owners iPhone’s or optional homebase unit — via Bluetooth 4 or Wi-Fi — the data is transferred off of the FitBark, passed through the FitBark app on the iPhone and transferred up to the cloud where that data is stored.
The historical data can then be visualized on any of the iOS devices that are allowed to view the data. In this way, dog owners can have real-time info about the pet’s activity.
Another hint that the FitBark is reasonable is their one-time pricing model. There are no ongoing monthly service fees or memberships required. You buy the hardware device upfront ($99 from their Kickstarter page), and you get the data it produces for free. I”’m guessing they have worked their data hosting costs into the hardware price.
In this way, it really seems like a tool for care and not a stingy racket for recurring fees.
I’m not sure this is a product I myself would ever use, as I tend to think dogs are evolutionarily equipped to survive living in what James Brown would call “a man’s world.” However I can see how loving, caring and yes, reasonable pet owners might like to see this data about their dogs. Because of that, the FitBark seems like a useful piece of hardware.
Jawbone is doing something a lot of developers will probably be interested in, by opening up the UP fitness tracking wristband as a platform play, with an open API coming soon. Jawbone’s new version 2.5 update for the iOS UP app allows you to integrate with IFTTT, MapMyFitness, Withings, Sleepio, Wello, RunKeeper, Notch.me, Maxwell Health, Lose It!, and MyFitnessPal.
The new integrations mean that data gathered from those apps and devices like the Withings Smart Body Analyzer can now be pulled into the UP app itself, and combined with information gathered from the Jawbone wristband to provide a more complete picture of a user’s health. The IFTTT integration can be used to help you create your own motivational alerts when you’ve been inactive for too long, or to brag when you’ve blown past your daily step count goal.
The information from the UP can also go out to some specific apps, providing them with data on your sleep patterns and daily movement activity. And this is just the start: Jawbone is starting things off with a few select partners, but after that it intends to open up the API for any developers interested in building Jawbone UP integration into their own apps.
“We are now unstoppable in terms of leadership in today’s market,” explained Hosain Rahman, Jawbone CEO. “The platform we see the API is the first step of that; a limited set of partners with unique experiences, but the whole experience is much deeper.”
Jawbone made its reputation on building Bluetooth products like stereo headsets and earpieces, but then moved into audio equipment like the Jawbone speakers and health monitoring devices like the UP. Other competitors in the space have already moved to open up third-party integrations, like the Nike+ Fuelband, which plugs into Path and Lose It! Jawbone’s platform plans are much broader and deeper than the ones of some of its competitors, however, according to Rahman.
“A lot of these platform announcements like API releases are more PR than they are actual real developers on a platform building value for users,” he said. “We spent a lot of time sitting with developers, looking at what they can enable, what their data structure was, how to pull their experience back into UP, how you really create robustness around them, how to build APIs that work dependably and how we can make sure users can get this stuff.”
This should open the door for a much more holistic picture of personal health, available across a wide range of devices. Individually, these devices have been doing well, but the real opportunity is when apps and hardware start working with one another. Jawbone is taking a great first step towards that end with this API release, but it’ll be interesting to see how the UP platform handles normalizing a huge volume of data from a wide variety of partners in a way that doesn’t overwhelm individual users.
The floor at Disrupt’s NY Hackathon is filled mostly with people working on software projects, but there were also some interesting hardware endeavors underway. One in particular caught my eye: a robot built from open-source components build to help anyone subject their app or device to strenuous, physical testing in a non-simulated environment.
The basic bot is built from an Arduino controller, along with 3D-printable components is a test automation device for iPhone, built by R/GA Technical Director Sune Kaae and inspired by Jason Huggins Selenium-based open source Angry Birds-playing robots. It’s a device that Kaae says is easily programmed via Node.js, meaning it’s accessible for software developers who are more familiar with web languages.
One of the big remaining challenges facing hardware startups, Kaae says, is that developers are intimidated by a perceived barrier to entry in programming physical devices. They don’t have to be, though, he explained, since it can be made relatively easy to accomplish things with programming languages they already understand.
Kaae’s robot, which positions a touchscreen-compatible stylus anywhere on a screen someone wants to place it, and can run tests that just aren’t possible via simulated virtual testing, or are too costly or boring to do human testing for. It can also help with things like testing movement for the Nike Fuel + Band, which R/GA helped design.
Right now, Kaae’s looking for a mathematician to help refine the product, to make sure that when you input a coordinate to hit, it hits exactly that coordinate and not just roughly the right area. But the little bot is a great example of how some people are trying to make it easier to make and test hardware to begin with.
Stipple, a startup that allows publishers to enrich images with additional content and links, is launching a new feature that it says will allow merchants to include a full-fledged online store in an image.
Co-founder and CEO Rey Flemings told me that this is powerful because product images will usually get better distribution than a traditional ad — “More people will see Nike’s photos and photos that contain Nike than will watch a Nike ad.” With the new feature, merchants can actually monetize those images (if they run on a site that has integrated with Stipple or that added the image using the Stipple embed code).
The company previously supported commerce by adding “shop” links to images. In those cases, however, Flemings said shoppers had to go to another site to make the purchase, which could be particularly problematic if they were looking at an image on their phone and then followed a link to an online store that isn’t mobile-optimized. And even without that issue, there’s some inherent friction.
With Stipple Shopping, on the other hand, people can browse multiple images of a product, view related products, and, yes, make the actual purchase. Flemings said the in-image stores integrate with the merchant’s existing purchase system, so Stipple isn’t the one handling user data.
The feature also builds on existing Stipple technology. For one thing, Flemings said it takes advantage of Stipple’s automatic tagging capabilities, so no one has to manually tag products in an image. And as with existing Stipple photos, these stores will work on Facebook and Twitter.
Introducing Stipple Shopping from Stipple on Vimeo.
I didn’t actually get a chance to see one of the stores — a Stipple spokesperson told me that’s because of the “our front end, your backend” approach: “We’re not sharing the UI because brands’ back ends may require tweaks that will alter the front end.” However, you can see the basic idea illustrated in the video above.
Flemings said the functionality is live as of today, allowing existing Stipple merchants to opt-in to the system.