I had a friend email me last week to tell me that she had posted an image of mine from my website (of penguins) and it had six “likes” and twelve “pins”. Great, I thought, but what does that mean?
I’ve heard of Pinterest a few times before, but to be honest, I spend WAY too much at my computer already. But I did set up an account on the invitation of my friend and pinned a few things from her board to mine, and I have to admit, it is addictive. It’s like an organized Google/images. You see hundreds of images that are popular, and if you see one you like, you can pin it to one of your own categories and you can follow people who have similar taste to you, and other people follow you.
If you have a great image on a website and someone sees it, they can pin it to their board and in no time it is generating interest and being “re-pinned” to other boards. I suppose the hope is that those people will go to the website that had the image on it in the first place. I felt a little special for a few hours last week when my penguins went “viral” (okay, 12 isn’t viral, but I don’t know any of those people) and who knows where it could lead.
Social networking is continuing to grow. We saw the introduction of Google+ and it has grown quickly (mainly with web developers). Facebook keeps evolving, Twitter is still an important player and other less known social groups like Instagram (an app for iPhones that allows users to share photos) quickly becoming popular with millions of users. StumbleUpon has become more mainstream as well. (choose your interests and this site takes to you topics that are all over the web).
Here are some of the trends that are really going wild at the moment and getting larger. Some of them may be right for your business.
Smart phones have helped to add the dimension of GPS to your applications so that you can have recommendations on where to shop or where sales are happening based on where you are. Called “check-in” services, if you allow your location to be available to these services, you can stay in touch with friends, get instant sales or deals from stores near your location. Foursquare is one of these groups. You can get recommendations from other Foursquare members on where a good restaurant is in an area, for example.
Apparently, women aren’t as keen to sign on to these types of services as men. Citing privacy and worries about stalking, for some the promise of bargains nearby isn’t enough of a lure. Plus, people are already sharing so much on tweets and facebook, does everyone need to know our exact location at any one time?
The first item isn’t exactly commerce, but a site called HelloWallet (which Canadians can use, but is set up for U.S. banking and taxes) sounds like a great service that is not tied to any financial institution, so is not selling you credit or ways to get hold of your money. It helps you manage your money, and helps you balance your budget, save for your goals (be it vacations or just getting out of debt).
Goshi, is an iPhone app that shows you things for sale in your own neighbourhood. A “mobile storefront in your neighbourhood”. taap it, another app to help you eat, shop and see what’s going on locally. Skyfer is a place for professionals to put their credentials online (think plumber, babysitter, dog walker) and then for people in that neighbourhood to find those services. Grabio is another location based classified app.
I’ve been looking up recipes for a few years now online. I have a few favourite cookbooks that have my seasonal favourites and I make a lot of things without needing to look anything up, but once in a while I want to make something with an ingredient I have, or I’ve never made before. I often do searches now for recipes and don’t bother looking at my cookbooks to see if there is a recipe in there. There are thousands of sites and blogs that are all about food. Raw Food, Diabetic recipes, French cooking and everything in between. Some sites are more about the photography of food than the recipes themselves. And food apps are on the rise too!.
Feastie is a site that asks you what you want to cook, and it creates a grocery list for the ingredients. And it features recipes from all sorts of sites so you find new great cooking sites in the bargain! Yummly claims to have every recipe in the world! Punchfork claims to have the best new recipes from top food sites. The photographs are awesome and lists the top image (and recipe) from each site. Keeprecipes.com lets you find recipes and keep them safe “in the cloud” when you sign up. Most of these sites have a full site and mobile version.
Subscription based service
Now this is a great marketing idea. A lot of these sites aren’t available to Canadians, but a good idea to think about. And I’m sure it will catch on in Canada too!
- babba box. A monthly subscription of materials and instructions of things to do (crafty stuff) with your kids.
- Birchbox.com samples of beauty products.
- Lost crates is stationery and accessories.
- Umba box – handmade goods (connected to Etsy) each month.
- Lollihop – healthy snacks monthly!
- Smart-ass Knitters/World Domination – bi monthly hand dyed wool, pattern, and small gift. This is in Haliburton, Ontario!
A lot of countries in Africa already can make payments and put money onto their mobile phones. And that is catching on here (as in U.S. mainly) too. Here are a few sites that are doing it.
- Square – – a mobile square card reader that allows you to swipe a credit card on your phone! Pretty cool. Think of all those markets you go to in the summer! How handy would that be!
- Go payment – similar to square, this one is by intuit. And will soon be launching in Canada.
- Dwolla – Send money to friends through social networks, pay for things using your mobile phone, merchants accept payments for a set .25 cents per transaction.
- google wallet – store your credit card details in the cloud and when you go to a merchant that accepts google wallet, you pay by tapping your phone.
This is similar and tied in with mobile money, where you are offered for example 20% off while in a store if you sign up for a link to their Facebook page or to agree to receive texts from that store.
I mentioned these a couple of months back. These are getting a bit more creative. For example, the Iron Man movie poster had a QR code in the corner, so that when you took a picture of the code, you went to a trailer to find out more about what the movie was about.
Shop Socially is the idea of getting your happy customers to do your advertising for you. The old fashion way was word of mouth, but now with Facebook and Twitter, you can “Like” a product and it will go on your Facebook wall, and your friends can not only see what you bought, but some retailers can offer them a discount because you referred them.
This is just a small taste of what has started this past year and is going to be bigger in 2012. And I’m sure there are things that we haven’t even thought of yet!