All posts in “Social Media News”

RockMelt: A first look at the social web browser

When I first heard about RockMelt, the “social browser”, I was intrigued. When I found out that I could test a beta copy of it, overly excited would probably be a good measure of my reaction. For those of you who may not be familiar with RockMelt, basically it is a new web browser still in beta, that adds social media like Facebook directly to the sidebars of the window to make it easier to share web items through a user’s social media accounts. After using RockMelt for the last week and a half, here are some of my thoughts.

RockMelt: The Good

Have we met before?

For those familiar with Chrome, you may find yourself doing a double take. When I first launched RockMelt, I had actually thought I accidentally launched my copy of Google’s Chrome browser as RockMelt is almost identical to Chrome, upon first launch. This is because the core of RockMelt is the Chromium open source which Chrome is also built upon. In my opinion, this isn’t an issue as I like the simplicity of Chrome. I was also happy to find that the normal Mac shortcut keys, like CMD+T opening a new tab, worked out just fine without any tweaking.

RockMelt browser

Give that browser a speeding ticket

RockMelt is built using Chromium open source as it’s base. This means that the browser is really fast…like really fast. I like that RockMelt also takes this a step further and works to download/render websites based off the current page and links that you are on to speed up your surfing even more.

Move over Safari, you resource hog!

This is where the nerd in me completely comes out. One of the most impressive things to RockMelt so far has been its memory (RAM) and resource management. Don’t get me wrong, I do really like Safari as a web browser. But when using it for a day means that over a gig of my RAM is locked up in it, even if there are no open websites or windows, something has to change. The image below shows the memory that is taken up after freshly launching Safari and playing one YouTube video with it. In comparison, when the screenshot was taken, RockMelt had been open for 4 hours and had 4 tabs open, one being the same YouTube video. The low system resources needed to run this browser will make it especially appealing to those running devices that may have limited resources like laptops.

RockMelt - Resources

Didn’t your mother teach you to share?

If she did, then RockMelt is the browser for you. My Facebook friends and Twitter followers will attest to the fact that I share a lot of content throughout a day as I come across great articles, comics, and other media. I really like how simple RockMelt makes it to share items from the site that you are on as well as update statuses. From any web page, a user can click on the Share button an be given the option to share out the link or media to their Facebook friends or via a tweet on Twitter.

Similar to the Share button is the easy ability for a user to update either their Facebook or Twitter status by clicking on their avatar on the left edge. This is great, of course, since you don’t actually have to load up Facebook or Twitter in another browser tab to update your Facebook and Twitter statuses.

RockMelt - Share button RockMelt - Status Update

Plugged into the Matrix all the time

The right and left ‘edges’ of the RockMelt browser are the most notable features of the browser. The left side will show a user which of their Facebook friends are currently online and allow the user to chat with them directly from a small pop up window. Users can also create a favorite list of their friends who that actually care are online. The right edge contains an area for the user to put in whatever feeds they would like to keep track of. The top feed shows updates to the users’ Facebook news feed followed by, if enabled, the users’ Twitter feed. Users may also add in any site’s RSS feed for updating. For example, I love movie trailers, so I have the trailers.apple.com feed on my right edge. As new trailers are added to the feed, I’ll receive a small notification that there is something new to look at. When the feed is clicked on, a window pops open showing the latest updates. The user can then click on any update and load the page in the main browser. The right edge is also completely sortable, so users can sort their feeds in any order they like.

RockMelt - News Feed

RockMelt: The Bad

Holy plethora of distractions, Batman!

The most notable downside to RockMelt is one of its greatest strengths. Having access to Facebook, Twitter, and selected feed updates as they happen becomes a distraction that the user has to intentionally ignore. I used to reserve looking at feeds, Facebook, and Twitter to a few times a day such as when taking my lunch break. No joke, the first day I used RockMelt, I had to quit the program and go back to Firefox and Chrome as I was getting way to distracted as I tried to work. I’m much better now as I’ve forced myself to ignore the updates until a logical break point, but having your feeds constantly updated as it happens can be a very tempting thing to look at. If you’re like me and you have a lot of friends who use Facebook and Twitter all day… you can see how one could spend all day looking at the updates. I think for this reason alone, I don’t think we will see that many businesses, outside of the social space and monitoring departments, adopting RockMelt.

Sure, take over my Facebook account

One of the first things that a user is greeted with when installing RockMelt is the Facebook Connect screen before RockMelt will open. After entering my login details, my jaw dropped. I was shown what RockMelt would be given access to on my Facebook account and the short answer is “everything”. I literally almost stopped right there as I follow a pretty strict policy of not giving any application that kind of access to my social accounts due to hacking, bugs, and general concern for some sort of privacy online. In the spirit of testing, though, I made an exception to my rule and granted access. This is a major problem for me, though, as it brings in concerns of hacks or bugs in the system somehow opening my Facebook account up to those with less than pure motives. I would also imagine that this is a full stop, game ending requirement for some people. Unless RockMelt changes how it accesses a user profile on Facebook, I wonder if it will ever become widely adopted.

RockMelt - Privacy Request

No advanced preferences or extensions

Granted, it is still a brand new browser and it is still in beta, but one of the things that I always never was a big fan of Chrome for was being a little too simple. One could argue that simplicity is the point. Since it is built on Chromium, RockMelt can technically install any extensions that are created for Chrome but it basically hides those extensions after install. This becomes frustrating for a user like me as I use a lot of tools for monitoring and stat pulling that require the use of extensions. So it would appear that RockMelt will be a browser for the masses and pros like me will have to use something like Firefox.

RockMelt: The Summary

Overall, after using the browser for over a week now, I can say that I like the browser. Most notably, it is basically a version of the Chrome browser that performs just as fast and adds in some fun and useful social media capabilities. Since it can become quite distracting and doesn’t offer some of the more advanced extension capabilities like Firefox, I don’t see RockMelt becoming the go to browser for professionals who rely on those capabilities. That said, from a consumer/user perspective, RockMelt is a fantastic browser that makes it so you can surf the web and monitor all your favorite feeds and social networks without having to navigate over to other tabs or browser windows. I’m interested to see what features and fixes come with the full official version.

So what do you think? Have you tired RockMelt? Is it the browser for you?

Social Media Group's Vacation Policy on CBC's The National

We were surprised and overwhelmed at the response to our recent blog post detailing our unlimited vacation policy. We were inundated by calls from media – radio, national print and television. This story obviously hit a chord with folks. The CBC did a piece on the policy that ran across the country, and we’d like to share the link with you. However, the story really focused on how “unlimited” doesn’t really mean “unlimited” (which I guess is true – the policy isn’t about letting people be on vacation five days a week – that wouldn’t be a job, that would be a very generous unemployment benefit).

I think our staff did a great job of conveying the accountability that makes this policy work – we have a fantastic, hardworking team, and that really shone through (nice work, guys!). I also want to stress that this is about rewarding that hard work. I’m going to do something that feels kind of weird and quote myself,

Sometimes your work blends into your life (working late or on weekends, doing what you need to do to deliver quality results). Why shouldn’t your life blend into your work (taking an afternoon off to spend with your kids)? …No more worrying if you have enough vacation time saved to keep yourself healthy. Take time when you and your family need it; you have earned it.

We know that to be the best in a business that is disrupting the worlds of advertising, PR and increasingly business consulting, we need fantastic people that will go the extra mile to deliver awesome. The policy that we introduced in September is about attracting and retaining that awesome, and we think it’s going to work very well from us. One of our main proof points? Netflix has been doing this for a decade.

Why we decided to offer unlimited vacation at Social Media Group

There has been a ton of discussion about the merits of unlimited vacation, offered by companies like Netflix,

The 400 salaried employees are evaluated on their individual performances, not face time. Still, they must be able to balance work and vacation responsibly to get their work done. And they must be able to work without constant supervision.

The more I read about unconventional methods of rewarding and retaining employees, the more the SMG management team discussed it, the clearer it became that offering unlimited paid time off to our employees made a ton of sense. Our business is extremely fast-paced, and while we are relatively small, we are mighty – working with huge organizations like 3M, Ford, CNN, SAP, Thomson Reuters and one of the top three global banks. We’re playing with the “big boys” and our incredible team has to deliver their A+ game – Every. Single. Day. (and sometimes after the day is technically over). Like Netflix, we are not interested in the adequate – our team is made up of exceptional, hard-working individuals because that’s what it takes to be the best.

It was that last part that really underscored the appropriateness of letting people take time when they needed it. Realistically, there is no such thing as a “work/life balance”. I think of it instead as a “work/life blend”. Sometimes your work blends into your life (working late or on weekends, doing what you need to do to deliver quality results). Why shouldn’t your life blend into your work (taking an afternoon off to spend with your kids)?

So, starting in September, Social Media Group began offering all of our employees unlimited time off. We obviously have some guidelines in place (with rewards come responsibility: you’re responsible for your own mental health, your clients and your colleagues), but I feel like it’s really lightened the load in our high-pressure, high-quality, top-notch delivery environment: no more worrying if you have enough vacation time saved to keep yourself healthy. Take time when you and your family need it; you have earned it.

What do you think about this policy? How do you think your organization would manage if a similar policy was instituted where you work?

'On-Demand Computing: Soaring with the Cloud' Tackles Current Tech Issues

I’m Michelle McCudden and I’m the new intern here at SMG.

We are excited to let you know about an event our friends (and clients) at SAP are helping put on later this month.

On September 28, MyVenturePad, along with SAP, will present “On-Demand Computing: Soaring with the Cloud.” This four-and-half hour global summit will cover cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology. This summit is specially tailored to high-growth enterprises, so if that describes your business, you should definitely check it out.

Attendees will have the opportunity to hear A-list speakers like Reid Hastings of Netflix, John Byrne of C-Change Media, Brent Leary of CRM Essentials, and Doug Merritt of SAP discuss SaaS, the ins and outs of On-Demand, and how cloud computing can impact your business.

By registering, you can attend all or part of the summit, or just view the archive of the event later. If you’re already involved in On-Demand or want to learn more about it, visit the registration page here and sign up for this exciting event.

Foursquare: Shiny Object or Mainstream?

Over the weekend, Foursquare scored a major coup via a new partnership with American Eagle: they got their name and logo plastered all over Times Square. The first story I saw on the subject was on Mashable, where blogger Samuel Axon noted,

“It seems like just a short time ago that these location services were only used by a few hardcore web tech geeks. Now they’re so mainstream that they’re taking up a chunk of the New York skyline.”

Um. No.

Foursquare has just over three million users and you need a smartphone to use it. It is far, far from “mainstream”. And the article in Mashable feels like something I’ve been seeing a lot of lately – mistaking a brand using a niche and emerging web service (the “shiny object” in the title of this post) as a way of positioning themselves as cool and hep, for some sort of validation of something as “mainstream”.

From where I sit, Foursquare and other location-based applications will be mainstream when they have 500 million users globally. Even Twitter, with 87% of American consumers aware of it but only 7% using it, is not mainstream (see: Facebook, Google).

Vote Canadian: panels at SxSW 2011

I know it’s months away, but the buzz for SXSW 2011 has already begun! As SMG is proud to be Canadian, we thought it would be nice to show some ‘Canada love’ and post (and strongly encourage voting for!) Canadian panels that were proposed for next year. The team here worked hard to find as many Canucks as we could, so if we’re missing anyone, please let us know in the comments and we’ll add ‘em. Let the voting (and don’t forget commenting – that counts, too) begin!

Kevin Richard also has a great post on the same topic here. Voting closes on August 27th. Vote well and vote often – we’ll see you in Austin in March!

The equation for innovation – execution is key

“Innovation is Not Creativity” declared Vijay Govindarajan in a post at Harvard Business Review earlier this week highlighting his research into innovation. As part of this research he and colleague Chris Timble polled hundreds of managers about innovation:

Usually, managers equate innovation with creativity. But innovation is not creativity. Creativity is about coming up with the big idea. Innovation is about executing the idea — converting the idea into a successful business.

Govindarajan and Timble focused their research on execution and offered an elegant equation to help illustrate the importance of execution.

Here’s why we worked on execution, as opposed to creativity: We surveyed thousands of executives in Fortune 500 companies to rate their companies’ innovation skills on a scale of one to 10, one being poor and 10 world class. Survey participants overwhelmingly believe that their companies are better at generating ideas (average score of six) than they are at commercializing them (average score of one).

So which is more effective — moving your (already good) creativity score from six to eight or lifting your (very poor) execution score from one to three? Here’s the math using our shorthand, creativity times execution:

Capacity to innovate = 6 x 1 = 6

Capacity to innovate, increasing creativity score = 8 x 1 = 8

Capacity to innovate, increasing execution score = 6 x 3 = 18

It’s no contest. Companies tend to focus far more attention on improving the front end of the innovation process, the creativity. But the real leverage is in the back end.

I really enjoy being on the back end of innovation. We’ve all got lots of big shiny ideas and creative world-changing solutions that never make it past the white board. Real innovation comes when leaders give their people the mandate and the space to execute and deliver. Steve Jobs, who has quite the track-record on innovation, famously said: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Are you leading or following?