Here at Racepoint Group, we’re constantly keeping our eyes and ears open and on the lookout for the next big thing. We work hard to identify up-and-coming trends in a variety of industries. The Internet of Things (IoT) is something we’ve been hearing a lot about for the past few years.
The term was coined to describe the phenomenon of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, and is slated to reinvent homes with refrigerators that tell us when our food is expired and smart thermostats that adapt to our climate preferences.
One of Racepoint Group’s clients, Spansion Inc., is a leading provider of Flash memory technology, which plays an important role in the function of the smart home. In short, the advances in embedded systems and Flash memory technology have allowed advanced intelligence, connectivity and user interfaces (and the convergence of the three) to become a driving force of device innovation.
Racepoint recently helped Spansion launch the “Smart Home Facebook Photo contest” to raise awareness of Spansion’s involvement in the IoT with regard to energy management, smart home appliances, home automation and security and surveillance. (You can check out Spansion’s post on the topic here on the company’s Memory Matters blog.)
Rather than hear about “Internet of Things” and smart homes from industry experts, Spansion wants to hear what their consumers think. We’d love your help in achieving our goal. Here’s what it’s all about:
Take a picture of a home device or appliance you’d like to see made “smart.” Or, draw your concept or idea for a smart home device or appliance. Kids’ drawings are welcome!
Describe in a sentence or two, how your dream home would make the device or appliance smarter – so it makes your life more efficient, convenient or fun. Extra credit for a creative connected solution; showcasing added intelligence to minimize the need for connectivity; a cool new user interface or solving a yet-unsolved problem!
Post your photo and description to the Spansion Smart Home Photo contest.
Make sure to “Like” the Spansion Facebook page in order to be eligible to win.
The grand prize for the contest winner is a Nest Smart Thermostat and an Apple iPad, and at the end of the contest, Spansion will curate a Smart Home gallery, featuring the most fascinating/creative entries received and showcase what consumers really want in the next-generation smart home.
Stay tuned here and on the Memory Matters blog for updates. Thanks and good luck!
Racepoint Group is very excited to present to you another episode of RPG Live, where a group of Racepoint Group employees discuss the latest culturally relevant issues and trends we’re seeing in the news and pop culture, hosted by our own Evan Siff. This week’s guests include Ashley Crutchfield, Colleen McCarthy and Lori Niquette. Please have a listen as we discuss:
1. Netflix, Hulu Plus, Original Content
Do you subscribe? How do you feel about their original content and which devices do you watch on?
2. iPhone vs. Android
Have you recently made a switch? What features would you like to see on the Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5S? Are phones now becoming too big?
3. March Madness
Who do you have winning the NCAA men’s basketball tournament? Have you been following via an app on your smartphone? (Note: this recording is from yesterday, 3/28 – Miami was crushed last night by Marquette 71-61, once again destroying Evan’s bracket hopes and dreams…)
4. Spring has Sprung
What are you looking forward to most about Spring?
Please feel free to give us a shout out with questions or comments via Twitter!
This is a guest post by Geri Butner. Follow her on Twitter @geributner.
Today, the senior editor of a prominent technology blog announced that he is quitting the Internet for an entire year. Paul Miller of The Verge claims an Internet sabbatical has appealed to him for a while, and now he’s making it a reality. My initial thought? Paul Miller is crazy.
As someone who spends a lot of time working with social media and online publications, my heart skips a few beats when I think about not having access to the Internet powers that be. Not only will Paul be blocked from social media sites such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook (hasn’t anyone told him you’re not a real person unless you’re on Facebook?), but he’ll also lack everyday resources that we take for granted, like search engine capabilities and online news.
The fact that Paul is the senior editor at a technology blog only further heightens the impact that his hiatus will have on him, as well as those around him. Social media wouldn’t be social without the hundreds to thousands of people you connect with on them, so imagine the confusion that will be caused when all of Paul’s friends and followers realize they can only reach him by phone or traditional mail. Venturing outside of the confines of how this experiment will affect just Paul, the communication patterns of his family, friends and colleagues will be affected, as well.
With that being said, my second thought was this: maybe Paul Miller is not so crazy. In fact, maybe he’s even onto something here. If Paul is able to complete his self-imposed, Internet-free sentence, then his experience will provide interesting insight into the evolution of modern communication. Questions will be answered, such as: can a person successfully function as a professional in today’s society without the social networking, on-demand information and sharing capabilities of the Internet? Are we so dependent on the Internet that we’ve forgotten how to communicate in more traditional ways?
The Harvard Business Review would even go so far as to ask if the Internet is stifling innovation in communication. “Compared with the staggering changes in everyday life in the first half of the 20th century wrought by electricity, cars, and electronic communication, the digital age has brought relatively minor alterations to how we live,” writes Justin Fox, editorial director. “Electricity is still electricity, and still generated mostly with fossil fuels; cars are better but not all that much better, and still propelled almost entirely by fossil fuels. Only communication has been truly transformed, but is the transformation really as profound as the advent of telegraphs, radio, and TV?”
It does seem that Mr. Fox may have a point here. While the Internet has opened up the floodgates for creativity and an unprecedented exchange of ideas, have we allowed it to distract us from true innovation? Will Paul make discoveries about the ways we communicate and innovate that are possible only after he has released himself from the confines of the Internet? This has yet to be seen, but I, for one, am very interested in what Paul will have to say about modern communication at the year’s end.
What will you want to know about Paul’s Internet-free experience?
If you’re reading this blog, you probably already use LinkedIn for connecting with other professionals. But is your company maximizing all the bells and whistles LinkedIn provides to help you promote the business? Like washing a media list, we think it’s important to kick the tires of our favorite tools every six months – to see what’s hot, what’s new, and what we all could be doing to work smarter by leveraging the power of social. This week we turn our sights to LinkedIn, highlighting some new features as well as reminding you about existing features that you could, and should, be using to promote your business.
As of February 2012, LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 150 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
LinkedIn members conducted just under 4.2 billion professionally-oriented searches in 2011.
More than 2 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages.
Every minute an estimated 120 new members join LinkedIn (if you do the math, it’s more than two per second.)
So how can your company benefit? Make sure your LinkedIn presence is everything it could be. Here is a quick checklist of six simple steps you can take today to maximize your company’s profile on LinkedIn:
Activate your company status updates! This relatively new feature (October 2011) allows your company to post updates on LinkedIn so your followers can see the status updates on their LinkedIn homepage.
Spread the good word – your news – via the LinkedIn news module. This feature pulls any news mentions of your organization online and places them in the right hand column of the Overview tab on your organizations’ LinkedIn page.
Sell yourself by promoting your organization’s mad skills through a customized Products and Services tab. Building this tab into your LinkedIn company page is a great way to let other professionals know what it is you’re selling – because we’re all selling something, am I right? Of course I am! Offering the functionality found on your professional page, LinkedIn allows your followers and existing customers to recommend any of the products and services you list on this tab – bonus! And if it’s a fit for your company, you can even add videos to this tab to visually drive home why other companies or professionals can’t do without your products and services. So remember that executive video you shot of your CEO where she describes your organization in vivid detail? Load it up to LinkedIn: you’ve already done the work so spread it like it’s buttah.
List your job openings on the Career tab – let’s face it, since the fastest growing population on LinkedIn is college students and the newly graduated, many of the eyeballs checking out your page are doing so to scout out job opportunities. Don’t disappoint these eager beavers, be sure to take full advantage of this feature – you might just save a few bucks on classifieds (Remember those?).
Is your business already doing all six? If so, pat yourselves on your collective backs – and hit the links! After all, LinkedIn will run the business while you’re out. Kidding! But we’re sure they’re working on it…
This is a guest post by Evan Siff. Follow him on Twitter @Stairway2Evan.
Social media users are most likely familiar with the name Joseph Kony as of early last week, or perhaps they’ve already watched the 30-minute documentary by Invisible Children that has been reported to be the most viral video of all time. My Facebook news feed was bombarded by friends telling me how much I had to watch and share the video and, admittedly, it was hard not to get choked up when the loveable Jacob Acaye is on screen, as the filmmakers did a terrific job playing upon the viewer’s emotions.
I remember reading about the Ugandan Civil War (which has been going on for over 25 years), Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for the first time in 2006, when I used it as a current events lesson in an English class I was teaching. It was among the most disturbing reports I had ever read, children abducted in the middle of the night and forced to beat their parents to death and/or kill their siblings if they refused to join.
While Invisible Children attest that the purpose of the Kony 2012 campaign is to bring a sociopathic war criminal to justice, it has also drawn some skepticism. The blog Visible Children provides a very critical perspective of the campaign and its founders, and raises some issues that are very… interesting, to say the least.
I believe that Invisible Children is legit and they truly want to bring Kony to justice and raise awareness of the situation in Uganda, but shouldn’t the Ugandan story be told by the people living it every day, and not through Western eyes? Wouldn’t it make more sense to channel efforts into teaching and training people in these situations and under these circumstances, giving them the tools to tell us their stories, empowering them, enabling them to easily and directly communicate with the rest of the world?
By no means am I suggesting that people shouldn’t support or donate money to Invisible Children, but wouldn’t we be better off putting the power of social media and digital communication into the hands of the people we want to help? Groups like Barefoot Workshops, a New York City-based, nonprofit organization founded in 2004, teach individuals and organizations around the world how to use digital video and new media to transform their communities and themselves.
A long-time friend of mine, Ranjan Roy, participated in one of the workshops in South Africa and has nothing but stellar things to say about it. “Barefoot Workshops has the seemingly simple, yet extremely powerful goal of helping teach people how to tell their own stories. They provide filmmaking workshops that are fee-based for those who can afford it, with revenues covering basic costs, but more importantly, they help fund scholarships for South Africans and Ugandans to learn to tell the world about their experiences through video.”
Social media is a useful tool for people to raise awareness of a situation and start a global conversation, but slacktivists tweeting about the Arab Spring and sharing videos on Facebook didn’t foster social change or topple regimes – it was the brave souls who were living under those regimes, risking mutilation and death to organize protests and share what was happening with the rest of the world. Kony hasn’t been active in Uganda since 2005 and has evaded capture to date, while what’s left of the LRA is supposedly scattered around the DRC, CAR and South Sudan. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be brought to justice, but Kony 2012 almost seems ‘too little, too late.’ Perhaps if the Ugandans had had the training and means to capture and share their story in real-time through new media channels, the world’s attention would have been grabbed when it was needed the most.
This is a guest post by Nate Towne. Follow him on Twitter @Fancy_Lad.
So you’re considering Pinterest for your business are you? Well you’re not alone! As my last Pinterest post propounded, Pinterest has more than four million users and is growing each and every day. It’s the “hot new shiny toy” of the social media sites – which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your brand. After all, thousands of people get their naughty bits pierced each year – that doesn’t mean you should, too (Or does it?). So if you are considering jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon for business, here are some insights to help you make an informed decision.
We can all agree Pinterest is pretty darn cool, but as responsible marketers, we must ask: is it right for your brand? If you’ve got some awesome visuals or products to share with the world, the answer is: yes. Whole Foods, Martha Stewart Living (R.I.P!), Better Homes & Gardens, Bergdorf Goodman – they all have Pinterest accounts, and more brands are joining each day. While the wedding , fashion and design industries appear to be leading the charge, there are many uses for any business – provided it sells something that is visually compelling, provided you want people to share your stuff online and provided you have the time to handle building and maintaining a Pinterest account (That’s a post for another time my dears.).
Pinterest is easy to use, which is yet another reason it’s great for businesses (Why, even my mother could figure it out, if she could put down her glass of wine.). It’s a website, it’s a search engine browser button, it’s an app – it’s everything you want it to be and everywhere your customers like to hang. You can login using Facebook or Twitter, you can take pictures and upload them to your pinboards – which can be customized according to your tastes. Yes Virginia, you can have a pinboard dedicated to burnt toast art. Whatever floats your boat!
So to make a long blog even longer, let’s cut to the chase. How can brands use Pinterest to boost the bottom line? Here are some thoughts to discuss amongst yourselves at the water cooler:
Share Your Look for Less: Creating virtual “Look Books” or reference boards to share with other Pinheads. Launching a new line of toiletries? Create a board! Pitching a big landscaping project to your local bank? Show them exactly the types of plants and materials you’d use – paint them a picture, that’s what Pinterest is all about. And if they share your boards, all the better!
Sell Product: While you can’t BUY anything on Pinterest, if you pin your products and link to the website within your Pin, your fellow Pinheads can easily jump to your ecommerce site. An added bonus: if you add a “$” to your Pins description, Pinterest will automatically add a price banner to the photo AND your Pin will appear in the Pinterest “Gifts” category. Sweeeet.
Demonstrate Subject Matter Expertise: You’re SMART and creative, damn it, so showcase your awesome sauce with pinboards! If you’re a company that sells shoes – own it. Create a board for your products, but also create boards for other shoe-related visuals. Like great places to hike or jog if you’re in the sports apparel game. Or pictures of celebrities who wear your shoes – or who should wear your shoes. Best dressed? Worst dressed? World’s most unappealing cankles? Pin it and become a SME superstar!
Next up in this hopelessly-devoted-to-Pinterest series: how Pinterest can help your business get more business through caring and sharing. Because just like the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about!
This is a guest post by Nate Towne. Follow him on Twitter @Fancy_Lad.
Pinterest, schminterest! What’s with all the buzz about this new social media channel? Is it worth your precious web surfing time? And how can you use it to build your business so you can feel less guilt about surfing boards on Pinterest on the company dime? Read on, fearless reader – you might just learn something (I swear it’s not my fault if you do.).
Our good pals at Mashable report Pinterest is currently enjoying the limelight as one of the top 10 social networks – and it’s still (technically) invite only. Though getting an invite is pretty easy if you’re on Twitter or Google+ – heck, just ask me and I’ll invite you. Or you can ask Pinterest for an invite –I’m betting dollars to donuts they’re not going to turn you down. I’m a sharing kinda guy. The premise behind Pinterest is pretty basic, it’s a cloud-based social media network that lets you organize and share all the cool discoveries you find on the web. Pinheads (yes, I’m coining that term) use pinboards to showcase their mad style, plan vacation shenanigans, organize their favorite recipes, share gifting ideas, and among other things, drive traffic to ecommerce sites – *gasp!*
What makes Pinterest a social network? It allows Pinheads (see? I’m running with it!) to browse pins and boards created by other Pinheads. Trust me, you could spend days browsing other Pinhead’s pinboards – they are a constant source of amusement, amazement and discovery. And if you’re an entrepreneurial kind of person, the two words that stand out here are “discover” and “share.” Who wouldn’t want Pinheads to discover and share your coolness on this hotter than hot internet destination?
Let’s face it – if you build it, and it’s cool, and it reaches MILLIONS of potential customers, businesses will come. But should your business jump on the bandwagon? According to ComScore’s recent data on Pinterest, the site has nearly five million users and shows no signs of stopping in its race to the top. Data from Google Ad Planner reports nearly 1.5 million unique users are visiting Pinterest daily, and spending more than 14 minutes on the site per visit (If you ask me, this number is a little low – Pinterest is *that* addictive!). If that data isn’t enough to get you thinking, digest this new insight from Shareaholic via GigaOM: Pinterest is now driving more web traffic referrals than Google+ (not surprising), on par with Twitter referrals (rather surprising!). But juicy and compelling data aside, is Pinterest right for your business?
That’s a question for another post – in fact, my next few posts will break down why brands should consider converting to Pinterest , or not as the case may be. I promise you dear reader, it will be worth the wait. And if not, I’ll gladly give you your money back…
How’s that for alliteration? This week, Google began incorporating Google+ content into search results naming it Search Plus Your World – poetic, I know. Said Amit Singhal, a Google fellow who oversees search: “What you search today is largely written by people you don’t know; we call that the faceless Web. Search Plus Your World transforms search and centers it around you.’’
I’m not sure I like this idea. When I want to find my friends and their content, I’m going to go to the online source, be it their blog, YouTube page, Google+ profile (rare as that may be), or Facebook page. When I go to Google, I want the faceless Web. I want Google to provide me with searches that are as unbiased as possible, with most relevant/popular links showing up first – not some exchange I had with my second cousin on Google+. A real-life example: I like to periodically Google my name to see where I stand in the World Wide Web. Which blog posts come up, tweets, event attendee lists, competitive ballroom dance results and convicted doppelgangers are going to make their way to Page One (and yes, all of those things have been or are on Page One)? Today, I saw a whole bunch of my own posts via Google+. Not exactly useful to me.
Google did say that Google users will be able to toggle between integrated posts, just personal posts and just standard, but unless Google suddenly gets access to Facebook content and can cache the entire social web in search results (which will likely never happen, because why would Facebook and Google cooperate, and if they did, how much of a privacy fit would that cause?), I still don’t see the point.
What do you think of Google social integrating with Google search? Good? Bad? Huh?
First and foremost: Amanda Knox has been acquitted. The live-stream of the verdict was scheduled for 3:45 p.m. EDT today. All (or most all) of us at Racepoint Group were wired into our computers eager to witness history. Being perhaps a little unhealthily addicted to Twitter, I went a step further and plugged “Knox” into a search column on Tweetdeck: For comparison, I searched “Bieber” shortly thereafter. While that column also updated continuously, the Knox updates were even faster and furious…-er. It’s no surprise that Twitter explodes with breaking national and global news. However, I’d never tried doing a live search on such a hot topic. As you can see, anyone who wanted to read the tweets of the masses couldn’t possibly hope to catch them all without having supersonic reading abilities. It’s become so easy to publish content that for events of this magnitude, you have to know what you’re looking for – be it via a more specific search term, or a more limited pool or resources (just folks you follow, for instance). As more and more content becomes more readily accessible at rates that we can’t pace, we need to learn to be way more discriminating of our resources.
It’s that time of year, again: where the SXSW Interactive 2012PanelPicker is open for public voting! For those of you who are already versed in the innovative, educational treasure trove that is SXSW, I don’t think I need to expound any further. For the rest of you, read on:
“The 19th annual SXSW® Interactive Festival challenges you to envision the future of innovative technology. Featuring five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging media and scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders, SXSW Interactive offers an unbeatable line up of special programs showcasing the best new websites, digital projects, wireless applications, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. From hands-on training to big-picture analysis, SXSW Interactive has become the place to preview of what is unfolding in the world of creative technology.” – SXSWi’s “About” page
One of the really cool parts about SXSW (you know, aside from all that exposure to cutting edge media and tech mentioned above) is the crowd-sourced component of the event’s sessions via the site’s PanelPicker. Last week, public voting opened for over 3600 very strong speaking proposals. Public voting will factor into the selection of a privileged 500 or so for the show itself. That’s right: YOU have a say in who makes it to the agenda. What better incentive to attend is there? Voting ends 11:59 p.m. CDT on Friday, September 2, so hurry up and add your two cents.
Of note, your friends at Racepoint Group and Digital Influence Group have thrown a couple hats into the ring. Check out the sessions below and if you like them, feel free to vote (and encourage your friends to do so, too).