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Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Dark Side Of Social Media

Superhero? Not so much.

Having worked in social media for my entire professional, grown-up life I understand how valuable of a tool it is for consumers, businesses, and everyone/thing else in between. Not only does it allow instantaneous communication between individuals and groups on a level that has never been reached before, it also allows consumers to connect with businesses and brands in a way that was inconceivable even just a decade ago. And the greatest thing about social media, in my opinion, is that it finally forces everyone to understand that relationships matter most in business.

However, there is a dark side to it that is not very noticeable unless you really look for it, or have it affect you personally. This “other side” of social media is all about exclusion and superiority. One of the negatives with social media is that it allows public ridicule to become a devilishly serious matter. You need someone humiliated? All it takes is a wall post or Tweet. A company screw you over? Start a movement via Twitter or a Facebook group about it and cripple the company. It allows complainers a free avenue to bitch and moan to their hearts content, and to an extreme that would never be tolerated through other means. Small issues become nationwide news because a social savvy individual knows how to work the system and blow things out of the water.

My latest gripe with social media is epitomized by the website Triberr. The website calls itself “The Reach Multiplier” which sounds great in theory. Who doesn’t want more reach for their blog? I blog about things I find important, and while I don’t think I’m a genius or deserve recognition, I do believe that I have educated and valid opinions. If I have the opportunity to get more people to read my blog, I’m going to be intrigued. That’s what got me onto Triberr in the first place. Then I actually figured out what the website does: it is a cleverly disguised spam-a-tron that breeds exclusivity and blog snobs (blobs?).

Here’s the concept: You have to be invited by a member (okay, not that big of a deal) or request to be invited to a “tribe.” These tribes are groups focused on a specific topic (i.e. social media, social networking, sports, dogs, events, etc) and are specifically bloggers who blog about said topic. You have to “find” a tribe that suits your passion or focus. You join a Tribe and when you join you publish a blog post and tweet about it all other members in the tribe automatically retweet it as well. Triberr sets it up so tweets aren’t one after another, but in 40-120 minute intervals. You don’t have an option whether you wish to retweet or not, it’s part of the deal when you join a tribe, and any tribe. In other words, you are going to be retweeting a lot of blog posts, and filling your twitter stream with these tweets as long as you’re a member of the tribe.

If you don’t have a problem with this just yet, well here’s some answers from Triberr, in their words, on how their process works:

How do I join Triberr?

“You can’t join Triberr. You must be invited by someone who is already a member or you can request an invite.”

Seriously…they start off by immediately saying “You can’t join…” Obviously you can join, but the message is clear, we are exclusive and you have to know people or prove yourself in order to participate. And if that isn’t making the message clear enough they also have this:

How do I get an invite?

“If you are a close friend of someone who is already on Triberr and they find your blog simply amazing and you are a super-engaged person on Twitter, your invite is probably already in your inbox.”

In other words…”you must be a superstar with friends who worship your every word online..then you can “expect” an invite because it’s a privilege.

“You could also browse the list of tribes and request to join by making your case. This will allow tribal chieftain to “check you out” before sending the invite.

If you are an awesome blogger with super-engaged following on Twitter, every Tribal chief would be lucky to have you so your approval is pretty much in the bag. Especially if you pick a tribe where YOU can help THEM and not the other way around.”

3. Be a pretentious ass.

And there’s the bombshell…you have to “make your case” and be “checked out” by the tribe “chieftain” before you can be accepted. And if you are such a superstar on the internet then they are “lucky” to have you. But only join a tribe if “YOU can help THEM” but not if you want them to help you.

So…I find a tribe I want to join and apply because I’m super awesome and they would be lucky to have me (not pretentious at all), then have to be checked out by the leader (that certainly makes me feel like an equal and part of the “tribe”), and I should feel lucky to join a tribe because I can make it stronger…but not expect it to help me out (I’m all for taking one for the team, but I’m allowed to look out for myself too).

How is this attractive to any honest individual who wants to achieve success through hard work? All I see is a website that will judge you and deem you worthy of their services or not…and then be a pawn for others that are already on the site. Super.

In high school and college (I went to smaller schools, both private) the cliques and general attitude of superiority exhibited by individuals was appalling. This is the internet version of it. As I said, I love social…but when you attempt to make less social for personal gain, yet try to disguise it as the opposite, it completely destroys the awesome power of social media. Exploitation and exclusion have rarely worked in the past, why would it work today?

What do you think? Is Triberr a service you would use, or are you staying away from it like I am?

Domino’s Heats Things Up With It’s New Campaign

This is now on Times Square. Awesome.

Domino’s Pizza has been on a roll recently. After taking a huge hit in April 2009 after a video [it’s since been taken down by Youtube] showed Domino’s employees doing disgusting things to the pizza, the company has taken a very transparent approach to its marketing and advertising efforts. For starters, all advertisements for Domino’s now feature completely untouched imagery of their pizzas; no touch-ups, no Photoshop, nada. The company has gone as far as running a television campaign showing focus groups bashing the the pizza they had been selling for years.

Now fast forward to 2011, where social media has brought about an incredible change in the marketing/advertising and customer service industries. People are able to publicly rant and rave via Facebook and Twitter about miserable experiences (and exceptional ones too!) all they want, and if a company is smart…they won’t try to hide, ignore, or delete those posts. An era of transparency from the company side has emerged, and the lack of trust consumers have in businesses has never been more apparent. Companies have been forced to up the honesty and transparency, and it’s better for everyone.

And here goes Domino’s, upping the ante yet again with their new campaign:

Yeah. That’s right. From now until August 23rd Domino’s will be broadcasting reviews they receive from their Pizza Tracker onto a huge electronic billboard in Times Square. Of course, they will be filtering profanity and other inappropriate content, but in terms of sentiment they will be completely uncensored. That’s one helluva gesture to us consumers.

As a fan of Domino’s I’ve always been fairly faithful in ordering strictly from them when I have a chance, and these types of campaigns are why I am faithful to them. Companies who are willing to put their necks out there and accept praise while also taking the heat for when they make mistakes, and doing what they can to correct those mistakes, is the ultimate show of customer appreciation and trust.

Way to go Domino’s. Keep ’em coming.

Why Google+ Will Fail, And How It Can Succeed

Every Thursday at Engauge we have something called Technology Thursdays. Recently the format has changed to lightning talks, meaning three speakers get five minutes each to present anything they would like. These talks are led by the developers of the agency, and have covered topics such as Amazon’s Cloud Servers, our @engaugebeercart Android app, and many more. Yesterday one of the topics that came up is Google+. Now, working at a marketing agency that prides itself on its social media expertise, Google+ has been a hot topic the last few weeks. We’ve had 30 minute meetings about the potential of the new social network turn into 90 minute debates/discussions, and we all have our own opinions on how well we think it will succeed.

Hint: the little guy loses here

Here’s my opinion: Google Plus, being a well put together platform, has a chance at being something…it certainly has no chance at being a Facebook killer. Since day one I’ve been very anti-“Facebook killer mentality.” It is the wrong mentality for Google+ to go in thinking that they can compete with a social network that can harness the power of ~15% of the world’s population. This isn’t a David vs. Goliath scenario either, where the little guy might just be faster and smarter and can compete, this is a small (yes, it is still small) social network trying to compete against a juggernaut that his been fully integrated via Facebook Connect.

Now, when I say “fail” I don’t mean it will disappear and become another Google Buzz or Wave, but that it will fail at being a social network for the masses like Facebook is. Right now there is no solid “hook” for people to switch from Facebook to Google+. Unless you don’t use Facebook at all, or purely hate the service, you don’t have a reason to leave right now. So what are the “hooks” that people say will get users to switch? Circles, Hangouts, and Sparks.  Here are the reasons why these aren’t enough, and why they may not be all they are cracked up to be:

  • Circles: They are apparently the “great, new way” to sort your friends to make sharing content easier. That’s awesome. I can now share all the things I love to specific groups of friends without having to worry about others seeing them. That’s about where all my love for Circles ends. Circles are complicated and one-sided. It makes sharing to others easy, but makes group sharing insanely difficult. In a Facebook group, you create a group and then all members can share content that everyone can see. If you want to group-share in Circles, everyone must have an accurate circle they have to maintain and update individually. A coworker linked me to a blog post that talked about Reed’s Law which shows the value of a social network strongly depends on how well it not only facilitates connections between individuals but also how it facilitates the formation of groups. Google+ does not do this well at all, for the very reasons I’ve given. In a recent discussion at work I brought up the idea that Circles need to be able to be shared between individuals. I love knowing that I’ve been added to a Circle, until I realize that I don’t know what the Circle is for; I very well could have been added to the “Don’t Like These People” Circle. If there was a setting that allowed you to share what Circle you’ve added someone to, and who else is in the circle, the “group” part of Google+ would significantly stronger. Also, Facebook can add a filter functionality fairly easily that would eliminate the so-called “advantage” that Circles bring to Google+.
  • Hangouts: Hangouts are a feature I actually love…I don’t have much to say about them that’s negative. Being able to group video chat with so many people at once is a valuable tool, especially in business (which I’ll get to in a bit). The only thing I can say is…Facebook obviously launched their Skype integration prematurely because of G+ and the Hangouts feature. If Facebook starts seeing the success of Hangouts and people switching to Google+ because of it, how long do you think it will take them to add a group video chat feature themselves? Facebook is in a position that allows them to just add features other people have to get users to stay with their platform.
  • Sparks: Sparks are easily the least understandable, and least utilized feature of Google+ from what I’ve seen and heard. In a nutshell they are a way to filter things people have shared using specific keywords. At least, I think it’s a source for what has been shared. Sparks take people off Google+, not keep them on it. Google+ is in a position where they need users to be spending as much time as possible within the confines of the platform, but sparks link to other websites. Sparks let you search “interests” which supposedly helps you filter the information you want to see. You can save interests to your profile to browse quickly whenever you’d like. Except…why not just use Google.com or another search engine to do this? I love sports, and below this bullet are the results for a Spark about sports and a search result (not from Google since I don’t use Google for search anymore) for “sports.” Tell me why I should use Sparks when I can search just as easily and get much more relevant, better results?:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two out of the three big features of Google+ don’t have much merit considering there are much better alternatives to them that take little time to use. The problem is that Facebook has almost a decade of experience under their belt, a massive user base, and the tools to help both consumers and businesses utilize their platform in countless ways. It’s the norm. People say that Google+ is more user-friendly and intuitive…at this point Facebook IS what is intuitive. Why do you think the Google+ interface is so similar to Facebook? People are “hacking” their profiles just like everyone did with Facebook a couple months ago.

So what should Google do in order to make Google+ successful? Become the de facto business social network. Yes, Linkedin has been playing that role admirably, but there is a very small amount of actual interaction on Linkedin. It’s a great recruiting tool, and for most people my age (I’m 23) it is little more than an online resume that you can link your blog, twitter, and Facebook accounts up to. When Google+ first launched while in “beta” I immediately, and somewhat prematurely, said that they should buy/partner with Linkedin and create the ultimate business tool. While this is unlikely, it was a split second thought that got me thinking.

Google+ should focus on the business vertical within social networking rather than trying to compete with Facebook. Google is exceptional at business and search. They have proven this time and time again, so they should play to those strengths. Say I’m looking for a job, I can create circles (with the added functionality I’ve talked about above) that include all the recruiters I’ve spoken to about positions, I can have my resume easily accessible, along with my Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. Google can incorporate their other services like Gmail, Docs, and Reader into this social network to make sharing incredibly easy from a business perspective. The data Google has accumulated about everyone who has used their services over the years is invaluable, and will be more extensive than what you can get from Facebook at the moment.

What everyone needs to realize is that Facebook has laid too strong of a foundation to be replaced at the moment. Google’s best bet is to concentrate on what part of the social game and become established within that. Once they have gained confidence that they can (finally!) do social the right way, then they can start reaching out towards the mainstream crowd that Facebook has a tight hold on. Until then, they should focus on what they know best.

 

The Old Nickelodeon Shows You Used To Love Are Back On The Air

"Your wish has been granted" - Nickelodeon

In a brilliant, long-awaited move…Nickelodeon has decided to bring back all of the incredible shows that used to run on the network back in the 90s. Growing up with them on every day was a treat, and reliving them will be great. Though, I’m careful not to get too hyped up. The “extreme” things that happened on GUTS may not seem so insane today, and the scary stories from ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ probably won’t be so terrifying to me now.

If the shows really are as great as I remember them, along with most everyone else my age (I’m 23)…then I honestly think that this will compete with Adult Swim for that time slot. The shows will be running from 12am-4am, starting Monday. It’s a great idea by Nickelodeon, to capitalize on the extreme obsession with nostalgia our generation currently has. To put that in perspective, I’ve been out with friends at a bar and not exactly sober and gotten into hour(s) long conversations about how awesome our childhood was because of these shows, as well as some of the classic snacks we all used to eat on a daily basis.

We are obsessed with nostalgia, as the Mashable article I linked to in the first line of this post talks about in more detail, and Nickelodeon is helping us get our fix. Check below the video for the full list of shows that will be airing.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
The Adventures of Pete & Pete
All That
The Amanda Show
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Catdog
Clarissa Explains it All
Double Dare
Doug
Hey Arnold!
Kenan & Kel
Legends of the Hidden Temple
Nickelodeon GUTS
The Ren & Stimpy Show
Rocket Power
Rocko’s Modern Life
Rugrats
Salute Your Shorts
The Secret World Of Alex Mack

Spotify Is Stateside and Itunes Should Be Watching Carefully

First things first: if you haven’t at least tried out Spotify yet, go here to get it.

So as part of the not-so-exclusive Klout perk, I was given access to Spotify’s free, unlimited service. It’s awesome. The gist of it is this: for FREE (a magical word with super powers; if you disagree please read The Cost of Free chapter of Dan Ariely’s book Predictably Irrational) you get access to over 13 million songs that you can stream on your computer. Also, it accesses your music files and pulls them into the program so you can create playlists containing your own music, and music you don’t currently have. The one capability missing: if you search a song they don’t have…it’s not possible for someone to add it to Spotify and have it be available from then on. Hopefully they make this doable at some point.

Spotify also has one of the most useful, not to mention coolest, features of any music program I’ve seen yet: Collaborative Playlists (scroll down to read about them). The short story is that you can create a playlist that you then open to anyone for editing. You can share the link to the playlist, and then others can add songs. It’s the ultimate party tool, and a great way to get everyone’s input; a type of social jukebox.

So what does the addition of Spotify to the music service competition mean for other companies in the US? It means, watch out. There’s are reasons this service is so widely praised in Europe. But for now all I heard about it Pandora and similar service to that needing to watch out. I say Spotify has enough oomph to compete with the biggest player of them all, iTunes. iTunes is the juggernaut of the music industry, but it doesn’t do streaming. Based on my personal experience since installing Spotify, I haven’t opened iTunes once, except to update my iPod. I can only speak to myself, but I know Apple won’t want to be hearing things like that. While they are wildly successful they also still have to compete with torrenting, and other forms of music pirating. Now there’s a free service that streams any music one would want hanging out in their playground that is an easy, and legal, way to listen to said music, whenever you want.

And for those who wish, you can pay $10/month and you have access to all of those songs on your mobile phone, eliminating the need for an iPod in the first place. The cheapest iPod with full functionality on the market right now is the iPod Nano for $150. That’s one year and three months of streaming music from millions of songs, and that doesn’t include the costs of all the songs you would have (hopefully) purchased to fill the iPod. That’s a sweet deal from Spotify.

Spotify will inevitably take sales away from iTunes. A service as hyped as they are, and one that live up to the hype in my opinion, is bound to succeed here in the US of A. I don’t think iTunes should be reacting just yet (though I can see them developing a competing service, and am pretty sure I’ve read somewhere about them trying to get a good streaming service out there), but they need to be looking over their shoulder. Spotify is here to stay, and I am hopping along for the ride.

What do you think of Spotify? Have you had a chance to use it much yet?

Marketers Still Don’t Understand Social Media

“Alright Josh, you’re going to present the Reese’s cases during the presentation. You know it better than I do, so you’re going to speak about it.”

The setting is Shanghai, in the offices of WE Marketing. I am being told that I am going to present case studies to an audience of 40 or so individuals from news outlets, companies like JP Morgan, and other advertising agencies in China. Crap…

Actually, it went well, and it was not that difficult once I got started. The hardest part of the presentation came during the Q&A session afterwards. Many of the questions had to do with people being skeptical about the numbers we gave for cases we presented. “So this campaign ran over the course of two weeks and you only got 25 million impressions and .2% feedback from fans? How is that successful?” In Shanghai they can run a television campaign for half the time, and get five times the impressions.

The plain truth is that social media cannot be ignored by businesses because of it’s penetration into consumers’ lives…but it is terribly easy to play devil’s advocate and say “so what? these numbers aren’t impressive at all.” In my opinion, playing devil’s advocate is a great idea. It helps you see things from other points of view, and helps you find where you need to tweak things in order to deliver the best you can. However, with social media you can’t be too skeptical and try to discount the numbers because you have to read between the lines to see the true potential and benefits of social media. What do I mean? Well here are to questions/statements I’ve heard that I feel miss the point of social media, and my explanations for both:

Relationships > Quick Numbers

Relationships in social media don’t matter. Marketing is all about revenue, right?

Recently, social media scientist Dan Zarrella wrote a blog post about an experiment in ran in which he examined two popular Facebook pages, and the correlation between the number of views a post gets and the percentage of feedback for those same posts. He found that there is an explicit negative correlation between the two. In the end the conclusion the data presents is that the amount of conversation on a post has nothing to do with how many times that post is seen. While this is can’t be debated (based on the data)…what can be is Dan’s conclusion based off the data which says this: “Once again, we find that conversations have very little (if anything) to do with reach-building social media marketing effectiveness.” This, in my opinion, is entirely wrong.

I shared with Dan my opinion and he asked me “Marketing is all about revenue, right?” as a response, ultimately saying (correct me if I’m mistaken) that since conversations don’t lead to more views (therefore, more money), they don’t matter. I disagree with this because those conversations are what differentiate social media with every other type of marketing; conversations increase loyalty and create brand advocates that will show support for your brand to others. I’ll ask you to consider this scenario:

You have the option of running a campaign on Facebook one of two ways:

1) You are guaranteed fifty million impressions, no matter what.

2) You are guaranteed 100,000 brand advocates that are fiercely loyal to your brand and talk about it passionately and promote it (face it, Apple fanboys ALL do this).

Now which option would you choose? Keep in mind that an impression is simply counted when your post or ad appears on a users screen, below the fold or not, whether the user interacts with the ad or has no further action. I am choosing the 100,000 advocates no sweat. I don’t care if that 100,000 is one half of one percent of the number of impressions in the first option or not. I realize both scenarios are completely unrealistic in that you can’t guarantee a number of impressions or hardcore fans as a result of a campaign, but I think you get my point. I’m going to want to create brand loyalists out of my fans rather than just post content to get views. In the end you will get more views and money with a loyal brand following than with a bunch of empty views.

So you received 25 million impressions in two weeks, and 45,000 interactions. That doesn’t seem very impressive.

This is not an exact quote (the numbers aren’t the real numbers), but a close enough representation, of a statement given by a member of the audience during the presentation in China. In the United States these numbers are generally accepted as pretty awesome, for many brands. As a result, I didn’t immediately know how to answer this. After thinking about it after the presentation for awhile I realized this: While those numbers may seem small (especially in a country four times the size of the United States), it’s what lies beneath the numbers that matters. The 25 million impressions are impressive; adjust it for China to make it proportionate and that’s 100+ million impressions in two weeks.  The important thing is that a good percentage of those impressions, and almost all of the interactions, are from people who care about your brand enough to respond. How many posts do you see on Facebook a day? And how many of them do you like or comment on? I’m guessing an incredibly small number. The tens of thousands of people who like your brand enough to let you know their opinion are exactly the people you’re marketing towards.

The Reese’s Facebook page currently has over 7.5 million fans. Are you really going to try to market to every single one of them to make them happy? If you do you’re making a big mistake. It is impossible to please everyone. Find the core of your brand followers and make them happy. The ones who are happy with your brand are the ones that will promote the hell out of it to everyone they know. Make them happy. The others will follow along in the end if you stay true to your brand’s message and personality.

Final thoughts.

Social media isn’t going anywhere, whether you like it or not. Embrace it or it will leave you, and your business, behind. This is what you need to understand about social media:

  • Conversations matter in marketing now. Social media is different from all other marketing before it because it allows you to have conversations with individuals in real-time (or close to it) which allows you to increase loyalty, trust, and credibility.
  • Numbers and immediate return aren’t the name in this game. Social media analytics make it very clear that the number of people actually paying attention to your content, and responding to it, is very, very small.. However, I am willing to bet that the average television commercial doesn’t reach .5% feedback from viewers. Those commercials can’t be nearly as precise as social media posts in determining who sees them, and what interests those viewers have. Just because social media gives people numbers that were unavailable for the other types of marketing, doesn’t give people the right to denounce them…because the numbers for television and print would be the same, and most likely worse.
  • We need to stop thinking of social media marketing like we do the other types of marketing, it’s more like networking. When you go to a networking event, to essentially promote your own personal brand to others, do you try to run to every person at the event, shake their hands, say a few words, then move on to the next person? No. You have meaningful conversations with as many people as possible, but don’t attempt to meet everyone. If you meet someone very memorable, charismatic, or influential what happens? You tell your friends and/or coworkers about them. Voila! You’ve essentially done exactly what marketers need to do via their social media channels. Network the fans closest to you, get to know their interests, and provide content that will pique those interests and get them talking about you.

My Klout Score Is 54, But My Clout Score Is Much Less

In the last 30 days my Klout score has increased 11 points (from a decent 43 to a much more respectable 54), and will probably go up another 2 or 3 before leveling out. I’m slightly ashamed to admit how pumped I am about this. First of all, I have no idea how the Klout score is really calculated, except that one’s Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin activity all play a part. There’s lots more to it, like the influence of those interacting with you, the influence of your followers, etc. In the end, for me it’s just a number that I can compare to similar people in the social media industry that can provide some bragging rights.

Recently my dad wrote a blog post titled “I Liked it Better When “Clout” Came with Age and Wisdom.” Even though, in his words, I am “faster and smarter, with better memory and language skills,” (thanks Dad!) he has experience and wisdom on his side. Now, because of Klout, I’m apparently more influential than him in social media, to an extreme degree.

Which one am I?

While his post brings up a good point, basically asking why Klout matters when it’s clout that is the real measure of influence, it isn’t asking the right question. I am growing up right in the middle of the social media generation. I work as a Community Manager and deal with social media on a daily basis. So of course I am going to have more influence in the social space…right now. In reality, this is completely irrelevant. My Klout score will probably always blow my father’s out of the water, unless he really does start tweeting and posting more on social channels (once I show him the ropes, of course). If he starts being very active on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin…well, I’m screwed. The question he should be asking is: “I know I’ve got clout, so how do I translate that into a Klout score that will match my real world experience to my online image?”

In the end, clout will always win. It effects Klout scores whether it’s obvious or not. My dad’s blog gets comments from CEOs of some of the largest independent ad agencies across the globe, he has people asking him from countries like China and Brazil questions like “You haven’t posted anything since May 28th, it’s been two weeks. When is your next post going up?” I’m lucky if I get two comments from readers on one of my posts, and that includes spambots. My dad’s experience and knowledge gained from that experience is more valuable to anyone, and everyone, than what I can give them. Sure, I can spout statistics about Twitter and Facebook like it’s my job (because it IS my job), but in the end I can run campaigns for companies on Facebook while my dad is capable of starting companies that will run those campaigns on Facebook. Clout is not something you have 13 months after graduating college, it takes a lifetime to get that. While I have learned an immeasurable amount about the advertising industry and social media in the last 9 months, I have a long way to go if I want to compete with my dad’s clout score. For now I’ll have to relish having more Klout than him, until he learns how to earn that too.

[Updated] Battle of the Beer Apps: Untappd vs. Beerby

I love beer. All kinds of it. I recently earned my Bachelor’s in the Tacomac Brewniversity program, which means I’ve tried 125 different beers at least once; I can’t say I hated any of them. But here’s the problem: keeping track of the beers I’ve tried, and remembering how much I liked each of them. Then I found out about Untappd. It’s a website, optimized for mobile, that helps you track all of this. I’ve been using it for a couple months, though most heavily the last couple of weeks.

Then I got a link to Beerby, an app which serves the same purpose as Untappd. So what do I do? I decide to go to the bar to test them both out and find out which, in my opinion, is better. And yes, Beerby is the underdog because I’ve been using Untappd for an extended period of time. So here we go:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round 1: Mobile Website vs. App

The first difference between the two programs is that one is a mobile website (Untappd) and one is an app (Beerby). This is a big difference, because I can access my account on Untappd from any computer, phone, or other internet access points. With Beerby, I have to have a phone that already has the app installed (or I can install it myself). Having to get onto the internet to access Untappd is more inconvenient than having an app on my phone that I can open up though. However, availability trumps a small inconvenience when it comes to this for me. Untapped: 1 Beerby: 0

 

Round 2: Interface

Untappd: The interface is great. It is very easy to use from the get go, whether you’re used to mobile apps/websites or not. The navigation bar at the top links you to four places:

  • Friends: A live stream of what your friends on Untappd are drinking.
  • The Pub: A public stream of what everyone who is logged into Untappd is drinking, from everywhere.
  • Your Tab: What you’ve had to drink; your personal homepage of brews. It’s also the place to see your friends, how many brews total you’ve had, had many of them are unique, and what badges you’ve earned. You can also view your wish list of brews you want to try, but haven’t gotten to yet.
  • Drink Up: The tab you’ll most want to use. It’s where you check in to the brew you’re currently drinking. You can add your location by integrating Foursquare, and you can post on Twitter and Facebook directly. Rate your brew, write any notes you’d like to say about it, and there you go!

The website is a pleasing Bud Light yellow (on purpose, duh) with easily readable text. Overall, a stellar looking piece of work that makes you forget you aren’t using an app. The only negative I have found is that I frequently hit the ‘back’ button, which takes me to the previous webpage, not the last screen I was on; this wouldn’t happen if it was an app instead of a website.

 

Beerby: The interface is very similar to Untappd’s. It has the navigation bar up top that links to four places as well:

  • Home: This shows you the beers that you’ve consumed. Click on one of the beers to view your comments about it.
  • Beer: This loads up the screen where you can search for new beers to check in, and also shows you your most recent beers, along with what appears to be other suggestions. I’m not sure exactly how this list is populated, and wish that would be explained. A cool little thing here is the icon next to the beer, distinguishing it as a lager, ale, porter, etc. It’s not that necessary, but it’s a nice touch.
  • Places: This page brings up a Google Map with locations pinned down that you can check in to. Confusing to use, I think you can check in to locations this way but it’s not Foursquare integrated so I’m not sure what the point is…just personal notes I guess.
  • Me: Oddly, you would think this page would show the beers you’ve had, but it doesn’t. It has a settings tab and contacts tab within it that you can view. In the settings tab you can see your ‘Badgers’ (their name for Badges) and your stats. The Badgers page and the Stats page are my favorite parts of the app, and are something that Beerby brings to the game that Untappd does not. The Badgers page, instead of keeping badges unknown until you earn them, has meters that fill up as you drink beers that apply to applicable badges. This allows you to see all the badges you’re on your way to earning, and how far you have to go. It’s simply great, and motivating. The Stats page, while very simple, is a nice add on: it examines all of your beers and tells you your preferred beer, style, brewery, and country; nothing special, but still cool.

My overall view of the interface is that it’s not as visually pleasing as Untappd, and the lack of LBS integration is a big miss. It is not as user-friendly as Untappd and takes awhile getting used to it. I’m still confused by some of the pages, and still find myself asking “why does this page not do this?” and feel that the Home and Me pages should be combined.

Untappd wins this one, it’s just easier to use and it looks better too. Untappd: 2; Beerby: 0

 

Round 3: Social Integration

Untappd: Untappd does a great job at integrating all things social with your account. When you check in to a brew you are able to post on both your Twitter and Facebook accounts automatically, as well as add your location via Foursquare, letting you check in that way as well. As you earn badges this posts on your social networks as well. Adding friends and commenting/toasting their check ins is very easy to do. Being able to view a stream of just your friends’ check ins is a helpful addition.

Beerby: Beerby lacks in social. That’s basically all you need to know. Your checkins, aren’t checkins, you are choosing to “track” a beer. When you choose to track a beer you can post to Twitter but that’s the only social integration there is. You can attach a photo to the tweet which is actually really great. Documenting all the beers you’ve had is a lot more fun when you’ve got pictures to go along with any comments you have about the beers. Other than this…there isn’t much going for Beerby on the social front. Adding in Foursquare or Gowalla integration is necessary for an app like this, and being able to post on Facebook is something that I thought everyone realized is essential.

Untappd wins this in a landslide. In the social media era you need to have at least Twitter, Facebook, and at least one LBS program involved in your app that is all about sharing your activity…Untappd has all three and Beerby only has one. Untapped: 3; Beerby: 0.

 

Concluding Thoughts:

Both Untappd and Beerby are great. But I feel that Untappd just has it more together than Beerby on every level. That doesn’t mean Beerby isn’t a great app, it just needs improvement. Add in more social integration, clean up the interface a bit to make it less confusing, and voila! You have an Untappd competitor. Where Beerby succeeds in comparison is its Badgers system and stats page, as well as being able to add photos to each beer you drink. There are some cool looking bottles I’d like to remember, and having photo proof is always a good thing.

Untappd wins this battle, and I’m going to keep using it, but I will also keep using Beerby. Giving in a few more weeks of regular use may change my mind on some things, and I’m always open to learning the intricacies you can only learn with more exposure.

Have you had a chance to use Untappd or Beerby? I’d give both of them a chance. Drinking beer is always a good time, and being able to see your past “performance” just improves the experience.

 

**UPDATE**

Beerby has informed me that they do have Foursquare integration within their latest update, as well as Facebook support but only on the iPhone. I have an Android so that is why I missed this. If you have an iPhone, go crazy! Android peeps, we’ve got a bit to wait, but we’ll get there soon enough.

 

How To Not Succeed In Launching Your Startup: MoviePass

Never hit the red button!

Recently a new startup called MoviePass announced their initial plans and their goal of becoming Netflix, but for movie theaters. Here’s a super quick overview of the service: frequent theater attendees can pay a $50 subscription fee for unlimited movies, with a one flick per day caveat. Not too bad considering movies are about $10 a pop in major cities.

Well, it might be a great idea, but MoviePass made sure to spoil their own plans before even getting started. How so? They didn’t tell the theaters they would be running the service for that they were apart of the whole thing. That would be like Scoutmob doing a half-off deal for a restaurant, but not telling the restaurant that the deal is in place. Way to go MoviePass.

They have a great thing going for them, and I think the service is a good idea. They also have a really cool website that updates as people sign up, eventually rewarding users with free tickets. But for now the service is on hold because of their little…mistake.

Read the full story, and the press release, here at Engadget.