Google Acquires Wildfire, Plus an Inside Look at Their Biggest Competitors

Google’s acquisition of social media marketing firm Wildfire gives Google inside access to the analytics of some of their biggest competitors, most notably Facebook.Google Acquires Wildfire

Wildfire is social media marketing company with 16,000 customers across a wide variety of brands. Companies use Wildfire to create social assets, like customized Facebook apps, and drive user engagement through social media marketing campaigns. As part of their suite of tools they offer engagement metrics and analytics designed to let marketers optimize their messaging for the best results.

Given that Wildfire has said they will continue to operate just as they always have, that means Google now has access to an unprecedented amount of data about how users engage with brands across social platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and especially Facebook.

To be able to see how consumers use these services is an inside look at how these services work, and a unique vantage point for Google to predict new product developments based on current reactions, success, and feedback. After all, imagine if Facebook could see inside the social graph of Google+: they’d be able to copy what works there, while avoiding obvious pitfalls.

Perhaps this is Google’s strategy to try to beat Facebook at their own game by replicating what works at Facebook within Google+. Or maybe this is a vote of no-confidence in Google+ as executives realize they need to own social and their own network just isn’t going to cut it.  Either way, Google just learned even more about you – and your potential customers.

VIDEO: First Ever Google Nexus 7 Commercial

Not to be outdone by Apple’s new Martin Scorcese commercial, Google has launched their very first ad for the Nexus 7 tablet. Like the Chrome ads of the past, Google’s ad almost walks the line between sentimental and tearjerker. Who knew it was even possible for a an ad to be a tearjerker?

Google Nexus 7

Of course what Google would like you to recognize is that the Nexus 7 is the must-have technology that will put us in touch with our loved ones (and our feelings). But really, is that so different from most commercials, all of which promise to improve our lives in some way? And does it matter? If you want a 7″ tablet, and like what the Google brand represents, perhaps all the commercials are just a distraction anyway.

VIDEO: New Apple iPhone 4S Ad Featuring Martin Scorsese Talking to Siri

Apple’s latest television ad for everyone’s favorite iPhone 4S feature, Siri, just hit YouTube a few minutes ago. In it, Scorsese takes a cab ride in NYC where he changes his schedule on the fly, gets a live traffic report, and much like the other celebrity ads Apple has been running lately, jokes around with Siri.

While many commentators were turned off by the ads and Apple’s attempt to leverage some celebrity star power to boost awareness of Siri, reporting data from Ace Metrix shows that they’ve been doing quite well. While the shortened clips of Scorsese using Siri aren’t exactly realistic portrayals (no wait time, for one, and Siri seems to understand him perfectly every time), how can you deny the charm of the Oscar-winning Director joking around with his phone?

What do you think? Are these new Apple ads a hit or a miss? Leave a comment below and we’ll respond!

SMS Marketing: SendHub Lauches Mobile App – Puts Mass Text Messaging at Fingertips

SendHub App for iPhoneForget emails, IM’s, DM’s or other social media inboxes, sending text messages is still the quickest way to deliver a message en masse that just about guarantees the message will be received (and viewed) by anybody with a cell phone.

Small businesses who want to keep their customers informed on the latest news, and deals should seriously consider adopting a SMS marketing strategy, in addition to adopting new ways like social media to reach out to current and potential customers.

SendHub is a service that lets users create up to 1,000 sms messages/month for free. Simply create an account, select a phone number and “opt-in” keyword, and start sending out your messages. Recipients reply with the opt-in keyword for further messages.  Read More

Email: The Driving Force of Mobile

I love social media, I really do.  Instagram, facebook, foursquare, and tumblr; these apps are some of the coolest available for our handhelds.  But it’s interesting to think about how all this communication would likely not be there if it weren’t for their big brother: email.

Email, and electronic communication in general, has long been the driving force of the internet. When the world went mobile, email emerged as the single most important feature of a mobile device (arguably even more important than the voice features).  RIM built a massive company mostly based around the idea of instant, secure mobile email devices.  Now, iPhone users spend less than half the time using their phone as a phone.  And in the last year, the use of smartphones by IT guys has gone from two thirds to almost all of them.

More impressively, just like web views, mobile devices are cannibalizing the desktop’s market share of opens.  This means that important business messages are being read on phones more now then ever.  My congressperson emails me, and at the bottom of the message reads the now-ubiquitous, ‘sent from my iPhone’.  Read More

Platform as a Service makes building apps a breeze

In business, development time can mean serious money.  There’s a delicate dance of cost vs. benefit – processes that could potentially be automated aren’t because the time it would take to write the code isn’t worth the time that would be saved.  Luckily, the industry is changing, and we’ll soon see a day where your business can develop an app without writing a single line of code.

That day might just be today, AT&T’s new “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) product is a huge step in the right direction.  PaaS offers a complete development environment designed help your business build and launch custom applications quickly, run them reliably and manage them easily throughout the full application lifecycle.  The best part is that you can make it accessible from any device, all at the click of a mouse. Read More

Color Efex Pro 4 for Image Professionals

Images are an increasingly important part of today’s hyper-connected world.  Apps like livestream make image sharing simple and effortless, streaming images from events almost instantly.  Because of this, it’s important to ensure that any image associated with your brand broadcasts a professional look-and-feel.  For example, my company always hires an event photographer to snap party pictures that our marketing team can use.  Sure, we also use the candids taken by the party-goers; but understands that a professional marketing strategy requires a professional image.

With that said, your photographer will need to have the best and most modern tools on the market to be truly effective.  Enter Color Efex Pro 4 from Nik Software, the latest version of its popular digital photo filters used for retouching and creative enhancements.  This software takes the features that we love in their iPad app Snapspeed to the next level. Read More – Maybe Your Business Doesn’t need a Website?

“Your business needs a website” is what just about EVERY person will tell you when dishing their $.02 cents about running a business. Maybe your business doesn’t need a website. I know that’s a pretty cavalier statement, but what if all you REALLY need is a web presence? wants to be your businesses professional landing page that you can set up without any coding knowledge.

The hook to is how easy it is to set up. Similar to the service that gives users the ability to create a personal landing page (check mine out here), lets you enter your businesses basic information – name, introduction, and upload your logo. Your changes happen real-time, so you can actually see your progress as you add, remove, or edit your content. You can also add a high-resolution background to really give your landing page some pop. You can choose from several designs and add links to all of your social-networking sites. also offers a small level of analytics so you can track when somebody visits your page.

Your site will reformat to look good on mobile devices as well. So in one fell-swoop, you can quickly get up on the web (traditional and mobile) in no time. site is good for any size business, but in my opinion, it’s great for the entrepreneur, independent contractor, freelancer, sole proprietor, small business owner, self employed, musician, free agent consultant, artist that ONLY needs to be able to answer the question “What’s your web address?”

For more information, check out the page and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Add a Schmap to a Tweet to Get Traffic to your Business or Event

If you’re a small business, you should be on at least ONE of the many social networking sites…It’s FREE MARKETING AND PROMOTION for Pete’s sake!

My favorite site is Twitter for social media business marketing – word spreads FAST, and there’s nothing like a little word of mouth wildfire to bring attention and traffic to your business or event. Many apps/services like Foursquare, Yelp, Gowalla, etc. cater to local businesses in hopes they will actually start to pay attention to their social media patrons.

A cool service I found is schmaps/schnaps and it enables you to add maps and pictures to Tweets to drive attention/traffic to your business or event. Instead of creating yet ANOTHER social media account, schmaps integrates with Twitter and immediately gives you options to add an address or venue name and one image (schmap), or import multiple images from your computer or via Flickr to a tweet (schnap).

So instead of tweeting “Doing BIG things over @ Big Things Bar & Grill on 3rd & Pratt St.” You can actually create a schmap by adding a map complete with an image/flyer of your location or event and a map indicating exactly where it’s located to your tweet. If you want show your Twitter followers what a good time folks are having at your event, you can add up to 8 images to a tweet to create a schnap.

In both cases, a url is created and added to your tweet, so users can click (or tap if they are mobile) to see your additional information.

Additional features include:

  • Adding additional links, Hashtags, or your own ads
  • Preview your schmap/schnap before sending
  • Allow visitors to add comments or RSVP on your site

Schmaps also offers a free iPhone app that lets you create, edit, and manage schmaps/schnaps from your mobile device.

As far as cost, All of the above is free to use. A $9.95 monthly upgrade to Schmaps PRO will add a TON of additional features, including metrics tracking, turning off schmaps ads in tweets, permanent tweet scheduling, and more.

Don’t be afraid, social media sites are safe to use for business marketing and promoting. With FREE services like Schmaps, you’re just being silly it would behoove you to get on board and take advantage of all the additional avenues to bring business to your doorsteps.

NFC is the New Black

The Lowdown: Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology has been making the rounds this past year as companies are starting to develop and enhance ways to utilize it in everyday settings. To refresh your memory, or to hip you to the game altogether, NFC is comprised of small chips encoded with information that can be decoded when a compatible device is in proximity of the chip. Any type of information can be stored on the chip, and devices that can decode the information can be as small as (you guessed it) a cell phone.

Specifically, by adding the technology to cell/smart phones to enable people to pay for items by linking a credit card or bank account to a microSD card with NFC tech built in and simply waving the phone over a POS device at the time of sale. Major companies like Visa and Bank of America are testing this out as we speak.

Google has decided to enter into the fray with their newest Android mobile device, the Nexus S, that will have NFC built into the phone – no need for an additional micoSD Card). Nexus S owners will be able to wave (or hover) their phones over NFC chips that can embedded into stickers, t-shirts, posters, business cards, etc. and decode/display the information.

Concurrently, Google has launched its “Hotpot” service that works with Google Places that offers businesses NFC-enabled window decals to display at their locations. The idea is that passers-by with NFC readers (like smartphones) can hover their device over the window decal to automatically learn more about the business, get special deals/offers, read and write reviews. The end result, more people using Google Places, and more foot traffic to businesses.

Does all this sound familiar? Well, I am a fan of QR code technology that enables people to create funny-looking barcodes encoded with information that can be decoded with QR code reader apps on smartphones. QR codes can be encoded with any type of information and can be made into the same stuff that NFC can be made into. The difference is that QR Code has to be scanned manually by decoder apps in conjunction with smartphone camera, versus NFC, which readers only have to be in proximity of a chip to decode the information.

Where am I going with all of this? It seems as if we are still waiting for QR Code to be accepted by the masses, and now in comes NFC technology already stealing some of it’s thunder. While NFC (chips) sounds WAY cooler than QR Code (barcodes), and is easier to use, QR Codes are easier/cheaper to produce and can be used over the web as well…

Scan the QR Code
Mario's Shirt

My Verdict: I think as smartphones become more and more of a de facto NECESSITY for everyone, and you start to see the entire contents of wallets and pocketbooks being replaced by smartphones, I think both QR Codes and NFC tech will have their respective place in our “can’t live without” device.

But I must ask – How could you use NFC or QR Codes for your business?