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Dabbling on the Darkside: An iOS’ers Android Confession

Jordan Benedet is a Manager on the Client Strategy and Innovation team at Social Media Group. Follow @jbenedet.

I’ve been an iPhone owner since 2008 when the 3G first came to Canada, although my initial experience with iOS came slightly before this when I bought, and quickly sold, a first generation iPod touch. At this time most people had a simple flip or candy bar phone with highly advanced T9 text input and battery life of over a week. A smartphone was a BlackBerry, and having one meant you were a rich and powerful businessman who needed to be able to tap out important emails on a tiny keyboard 24 hours a day. Things have changed since then, mainly due to smartphones achieving the fastest adoption rate in tech history.

I’ve also been an iPhone / Apple evangelist, enlisting friends and family to jump into the iPhone world. My wife used to say she would never like or use a phone as much I do, but now I see her continually switching between her second iPhone and an iPad all evening while relaxing. It is not surprising to hear that 84% said they could not go a single day without their phone, and 60% of people would rather lose their wallet than their phone.

A Spark for Change

After years of living in the iOS ecosystem, I found myself a little bored. Normally when getting a new gadget I get excited to learn and tweak it, but when I got my shiny new 4S last year I felt like nothing had changed. The feeling was correct, because in my opinion nothing substantial had changed; it just had a better camera, in a faster and thinner phone. When iOS 6.0 came out the feeling continued; it had brought absolutely nothing new to the table that particularly interested me. Late in 2012, I started seeing many others writing about the same thoughts I was having, the most notable titled “An iPhone Lover’s Confession: I Switched To the Nexus 4. Completely” from Ralf Rottmann on Gizmodo. I felt the urge for change, and decided that I needed to dabble on the metaphorical dark side. After validating that my key IOS apps now had Android counterparts (something that was not the case last year), I was officially ready to take the plunge.

Jump Right Into It

It only took a day before I had explored Android, and customized the phone to my liking. It wasn’t long before the phone was rooted and I was installing a variety of custom ROMs. The big screen and larger phone took a bit longer to get used to. I still find it very awkward and cumbersome to reach the frequently used top left corner of the screen while holding it with only my right hand, but viewing anything on the large screen is quite amazing. I now realize that I would not want a phone any bigger in dimensions than the S3, and I would actually prefer if the width was shaved down a few mm as well in order to fit in my hand better.

I also liked how 3rd party apps can easily be made default for specific actions. The notification centre was a dream, allowing quick access to anything from music controls to system settings. It took me a while to get used to the “back” and “menu” buttons, but it wasn’t long before they became second nature. When I first picked up my old iPhone after a week with the Galaxy, I found myself trying to clumsily press a non-existent back button.

The Bad

Both operating systems are not perfect, and they both have pros and cons. I really like the Galaxy S3 because of the flexibility / customizability of Android, using the large screen real estate, and the hardware back button. The negative side of things for me really centres on the battery life. Using the phone drains the battery much quicker than my 4S did (with LTE off too), and it also drains much quicker in standby. Micro managing background apps and resources also can be a pain because you never know if a background app is just sucking your battery dry.

What I Miss

I do miss my iPhone for some very specific reasons.

  • The first is iMessage; most of my friends and family all have iPhones so group text chats are now much more difficult now. Replacement 3rd party apps just aren’t the same since Apple introduced the blue text bubbles!
  • The second is battery life. I don’t care if it is not user-replaceable, my iPhone simply had a longer lasting battery during every day usage.
  • Lastly, I do miss the passive multi tasking and push notifications that iOS uses. This definitely helps battery life, since I find Android apps that utilize notifications require a background service to be always running sucking up CPU cycles.

I haven’t decided if I will stay on Android permanently, but I’m definitely keeping both devices as it allow me to become an expert on both platforms. I’m going to wait patiently to see what IOS7 offers up – your move Apple.

Many Cool Things – November 23, 2012

Here’s this week’s edition of  #ManyCoolThings, a Social Media Group culture jam. These are the many cool things that recently caught our attention or inspired us:

25 years of cell phone innovation in a single image
Japanese communications company NTT docomo celebrates its 20th anniversary with an exhibition showcasing the evolution of mobile phone culture starting from 1987 to the present day. The extensive chronological display of cell phones on view at tokyo designers’ week, offered a visual documentation of the progress made in terms of size, shape, form, color and materials used in the design of today’s mobile devices.


Old Spice Save the World Advergame
With December 21st the Mayan calendar’s end of the world deadline, Old Spice recently revealed the latest installment in the digital portion of its “Believe in Your Smellf” campaign: a video game called Dikembe Mutombo’s 4 1/2 Weeks to Save the World, which features the retired NBA star and a sub machine gun with pickle laser.

35 Million Directors
Canadian Tourism Commission asked Canadians to submit home videos of their first-hand experiences in their country, in an initiative dubbed “35 Million Directors”, the citizenry responded with 65 hours of video. The result is a two-minute film from DDB Canada that’s made of user-generated clips that were voted on by Canadians called “Canada Shared by Canadians.”

100,000 Stars: An interactive visualization of our galaxy
Brought to you by the Chrome Experiments team, this interactive visualization of the stellar neighborhood created for the Google Chrome web browser shows the real location of more than 100,000 nearby stars. Zooming in reveals 87 major named stars and our solar system. The galaxy view is an artist’s rendition.

The Internet of Things
Through RFID, SMS, QR codes and other technology, connecting objects to each other via the Internet is happening more and more. Basically, everyday items become nodes in the net connected by wireless technology. This raises the question: where does the Internet stop, if anywhere?

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking
This six-volume, 2,438-page set is des­tined to rein­vent cook­ing. The lav­ishly illus­trated books use thou­sands of orig­i­nal images to make the sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy clear and engaging. The Wall Street Journal calls it “The cookbook to end all cookbooks.

Using customer data to reward customers daily
The STM–Montreal’s transit provider–has a goal to increase ridership by 40% by 2020 and plans to do so through a revolutionary new loyalty program.

Mr. Div
Matthew DiVito (Mr. Div) is a motion graphics designer. Check out some of his transforming designs.

Image: Mr. Div

One of our team members (@brandonXoliver) managed to sneak a picture of his kitten, Belmont, into this post. How could we not leave her in?

Image: @brandonXoliver

Yammer Gets an Update

Michelle McCudden is a Client Engagement Director on the Client Strategy & Innovation team at Social Media Group. Follow @mmccudden1

First, Yammer was bought by Microsoft for $1.2 billion.Just yesterday, it was announced that Yammer will integrate with HootSuite and other third-party apps, as well as roll out a new instant messaging feature similar to Google Talk. I’m interested in these stories, as Yammer is SMG’s inter-office network of choice, but I find myself most intrigued by its move into employee emotion analysis.

Yammer has partnered with Kanjoya to develop a product called Crane which analyzes Yammer messages for sentiment and reports “trending emotions” back to managers. I’ve long been skeptical of automated tools that claim to measure sentiment, as my research experience has shown time and again how challenging it can be for humans to consistently and accurately evaluate language, much less an automated program, which tends to struggle with concepts like irony and sarcasm. Crane bills itself as “different,” analyzing “with emotion first as opposed to simple positive, negative and neutral classification.”

Do you think Crane will actually be an asset to managers or just another dashboard to check? Will employees really post negative comments on Yammer or is that a career-limiting move?



Pinterest – Valuation, Usage & Experience

Jordan Benedet is a Manager on the Client Strategy and Innovation team at
Social Media Group.

Everyone is in a tizzy about the Facebook IPO today, but when I noticed that Pinterest had raised $100 million in funding, which valued the company at $1.5 billion, I felt the need to write about the platform. Pinterest has been the talk of the town since their explosive growth in late 2011 (which has actually almost leveled off in March). When a platform generates as much referral traffic as Google and Twitter, it will definitely spur many people to write a lot about it, such as explaining what it is, how to use the platform, and of course some obligatory demographic data (spoiler: overall it is around 70% female).

This post focuses on some of the ways people and marketers use Pinterest, sprinkled with some miscellaneous stats, with a side of my personal experience and thoughts.


Pinterest has so many different usage applications for both consumers and marketers. Users love how they can tell their own story and express themselves through pinning their favourite images, or sharing and discussing with friends. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” really applies here. Content on Pinterest also really gets around—80% of all pins are repins, or things that other users have already shared.

Pinterest is such a new platform, which means marketers are experimenting with ways to connect with consumers to drive brand awareness, and sales. It’s a great platform to showcase products, implement tasteful link-bait strategies, hold contests, and show off a brand’s true “style”. I personally really like General Electric’s Pinterest board; it has a great mix of product focused content, interesting content, and user-generated content in the #GEInspiredME board.

One of the biggest concerns affecting both users and marketers is the legality of Pinterest related to copyrights, which I’m sure will continue to grow as more and more people use the platform.

Personal Experience

Sure, I have a Pinterest account, but I will be honest—I don’t use the platform outside of work. Not personally using the platform does not mean I’m far from it though, and here is why—I’m getting married in July, and moving into a new place with my soon-to-be wife.

Pinterest is great resource for both wedding planning, an interior decorating. My fiancée religiously uses Pinterest to get ideas and inspiration ahead of our big day, and I totally approve because it has also made my life a little easier during this somewhat stressful planning period (although I have not really seen my iPad in quite a while…).  I definitely like Pinterest, and think it has a lot of potential, but like all up and coming platforms, they will need a great monetization strategy that balances both corporate and user interests to stick around for the long haul.

Social Media Round Up for April 20

Social Media Event Of The Week: Foursquare Day

Foursquare enthusiasts worldwide observed Foursquare Day on April 16, 2012. As part of the celebration, Foursquare announced it now has over 20 million users who have checked-in over 2 billion times.

Radian6 took a look at the social media conversations generated around Foursquare Day 2012 and provided some interesting stats on their blog this week.

On April 16, Foursquare Day was mentioned 322,274 times in social media channels, with conversation peaking between 7-8am EST at 25,226 mentions. The United States led the way with over 14,000 mentions, with Brazil coming in close behind, followed by Mexico, Indonesia, Chile, Turkey, Japan, the UK and Thailand. The 25-34 demographic led the conversation with 48.1% of Foursquare Day mentions.

For more insights on social media conversation around the 2012 Foursquare Day event, check out Radian6’s blog.

Klout Launches Brand Pages to Connect Companies with Influencers

Klout announced the launch of a new feature called Brand Squads, which is basically a brand page for companies to engage with users whom Klout has indicated as influential. They are kicking off this new feature with Red Bull as a launch partner. Take a look at the Red Bull ‘brand squad’ to see what they’re rolling out to their Klout influencers over the next few weeks. (Some influencers will get a trip the upcoming X Games.)

Google’s Cloud Service (Google Drive) Interface Leaked in Employee Presentation

It was rumored this week that Google will soon be launching Google Drive, its own cloud service. Yesterday Mashable posted an exclusive screen shot (shown below) of a Google employee’s screen during a presentation at a university in Brazil. It shows the presenter accessing the file IA Google Drive. A Google spokesperson responded by simply saying “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation.”



Social Media Roundup for April 13

Facebook Bought Instagram

On Monday, Mark Zuckerberg announced on his Timeline that Facebook bought popular photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion. This was a great acquisition for Facebook since photo sharing is such an important part of their user experience, so what better way to improve the user experience than to buy the best and most viral photo app?

“Providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook” said Zuckerberg, “and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.” There has been mixed feelings from Instagram users. Take a look at this Mashable Poll:

What do you think about the acquisition, will it make Instagram for the better or worse?

Google+ Redesign

Google+ launched their redesign this Wednesday in an effort to create a cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing user experience. The redesign is said to resemble Facebook’s Timeline, including the addition of a cover photo that stretches across the top of the profile, a bigger photo and video displays. The redesign also features a new Hangouts page and a new Explore page.


Yammer Buys OneDrum

Yammer acquired OneDrum, a Scotland-based startup enabling users to co-author, file share and instant message within Microsoft Office documents in real-time. Adding this business functionality to Yammer will bring the enterprise social networking platform full circle to not only be a communications platform but to providing business functionality as well.

Pinvolve – Turning Facebook Pages into Pinterest Pinboards

Bazaart, a fashion catalog for the iPad, launched a Facebook app called “Pinvolve” to convert Facebook pages into Pinterest pinboards The app creates a new section on your Facebook Brand page to present all of your photo posts on a pinboard and it also allows you and the page’s fans to re-share on Pinterest. Bazaart’s co-founder Dror Yaffe says that the app has increased their re-pins by over 150% and that early adopters have seen the same. See Audrey Kitching’s Page below.


Caine’s Arcade

9-year old Caine Monroy builds an arcade from a big pile of cardboard. This video is worth the 10 minutes, it will melt your heart.

Yet Another Ill-Advised Tattoo


Cam Finlayson is a Director, Client Strategy & Innovation at Social Media Group. 

Rumour has it that Nokia is currently working on a new product idea that will ensure you never miss an important call or email. The patent, filed by Nokia back in September, outlines a device consisting of thin material that can be applied to the skin that will vibrate when triggered by a magnetic field sent via a device such as a smartphone. Or, as some folks on the internet are calling it: a vibrating tattoo.

When you break it down, this is got to be one of the wackiest product ideas in a long time. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that Nokia is looking into any and all opportunities to make up some of the valuable ground lost to Apple, Blackberry and Google over the last ten years.

Personally, I’m of two minds about Nokia’s product idea. From a tech standpoint I’ve gotta say that the concept is pretty cool. However, it does raise some concerning questions regarding where technology can lead us.

What’s most unsettling to me about this idea is how it illustrates our desire to stay connected and a growing dependency on smartphones. Have we actually come to a point where the anxiety of missing an incoming call or email has led to the need for this type of product?

I hope we’re not there yet, and if I’m right the market for this type of product will be quite small. That said, as smartphone adoption reaches critical mass, the lines between technology and culture begin to blur.

First, it was the infamous Crackberry that stole our 9-to-5 workday and cleverly redefined our understanding of work-life balance. Now we have a Finnish phone maker attempting to reinvent how we stay connected with their devices.

To put things in perspective, I encourage you to try a little experiment. Over the weekend, try to go a day without your mobile phone. If that’s not realistic, try to go for a couple of hours.

Those of you that keep your phone in your pocket or close by 24/7, will likely experience something really freaky: at some point you’ll either think you hear your phone ringing or will feel the sensation of your phone vibrating. This is commonly known as Phantom Vibration Syndrome—a fact that I learned a couple of months ago during a self-diagnosis with the help of Google.

For those of you eagerly waiting for Nokia to market this vibrating tattoo, count me out; I’m having a hard enough time dealing with the phantom ringing in my leg.

Why I Love the Cloud

Jordan Benedet is a Manager on the Client Strategy and Innovation team at Social Media Group.

The “Cloud” is a word that is being frequently used by both companies and individuals. Corporate adoption is taking off, with small to medium businesses projected to spend $68 billion on cloud computing by 2014!

The Cloud is a buzz word right now, meaning people tend to use it very often, and sometimes out of context. The cloud can mean a variety of different things, such cloud computing, or cloud storage. Over the last couple of years, the cloud has continued to evolve as the use of mobile devices and tablets increased. The cloud isn’t just a backup system, but a method for syncing and sharing files, music, photos, and videos no matter where you are.

Consumer cloud storage is offered by many companies, such as, SugarSync, Dropbox, Box, and of course, Apple iCloud. They all offer similar functionality, both PC Mag and 9to5Mac have great comparisons for those who are interested. This post centres on consumer cloud storage, specifically SugarSync, and why I dig it.

Personal Use Case

Let’s go back to 2002, a time when the Euro was born, and Ja Rule was on top of the charts. I was in university and decided that I was going to buy my first digital camera, the Kodak LS420. “This thing is amazing!” I thought. Thinking back though, the camera was expensive, slow, had a terrible LCD, and an even worse white out flash – but it was mine (and it still works).

A few years passed, and thanks to my trusty Kodak, I built up quite an extensive collection of digital memories. Friends and family marvelled at how I could store so many pictures on my computer without having a scanner! Then it happened – my hard drive failed without warning. At the time I didn’t have a backup system for my precious data. I lost everything. Years of pictures, movies, and memory-sparking files were wiped out in seconds. Data recovery efforts failed, everything was gone.

It’s Just Easier with the Cloud

The problem I had would have been solved 100% by the cloud. Although I have accounts with the brands I previously mentioned, SugarSync is my primary platform. It allows me to sync important files or folders from my personal PC, work laptop, and mobile devices. Any changes made are automatically updated in the cloud. My pictures and movies would have been safely, and securely stored on remote servers, which could have been easily downloaded again once I fixed my computer.

File syncing also makes working remotely much more convenient. For example, I wake up sick and can’t make it to the office but I have a presentation that needs a few changes before it is due to a client. Solution? Download the backup from the cloud, edit, send, voila!

How many people do you know that have lost their cell phone, and along with it, all of their contacts? With the cloud, contacts can be stored and backed up wiht ease – I personally use Google Sync on my iPhone.

I’ve written about SmartTVs in a previous post called the Connect Evolution. The cloud is a new addition to SmartTV functionality with Samsung recently announcing native SugarSync support on any AllShare capable TV. Most big brands are sure to follow suit and offer their own TV cloud integration soon. Lenovo has also partnered with SugarSync, so their PCs and tablets will include cloud functionality out of the box.

iCloud has recently brought the term, and functionality to a mainstream audience. It’s only a matter of time when the cloud is no longer just a feature, but the expected norm.

Social Media Round Up for February 3rd

By Kirsten McNeill and James Cooper

Kirsten McNeill is a Co-ordinator on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @kirstenmcne.
James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @jamescooper

This week, we got our first look into Facebook’s financials with their historic IPO, saw a lot of action on Google+ hangouts, watched a video of Steve Jobs being mocked in an ad for an Android tablet and learned of a partnership between Foursquare and American Express that will save us some money on Pizza Hut pizza for Super Bowl XLVI.

Obama, Giants Hangout on Google+

We saw a lot of action on Google+ this week with both U.S. President Obama and the New York Giants engaging with the public through Google+ Hangouts.

Obama held the first all-digital interview from the White House on Monday night in a Google+ Hangout.  The Hangout — which aired on the White House’s newly created Google+ page — attracted more than 227,000 questions from YouTube users, five of whom were invited to participate in the live event.

To feel the support of their fans and get psyched for Super Bowl this Sunday, the New York Giants hosted Hangouts last night. Twenty lucky fans were randomly selected to chat live with Giants Victor Cruz, Corey Webster, Mark Herzlich and Henry Hynoski.

Fans not selected for the Hangouts weren’t completely left out. They were invited to submit questions to their favourite players via Twitter, Facebook and Google+ using the hashtags: #askBallard, #askSteve, #askSash and #askPrince to be answered during the live webcasts.

Facebook Files an Historic IPO

On Wednesday, Facebook filed for an initial public offering that could value the social network between $75 billion and $100 billion. The offering has put Facebook on track to be one of the biggest U.S. stock-market debuts of all time. The first look at Facebook’s financials showed the company produced a $1 billion profit last year from $3.71 billion in revenues, deriving 85% of those revenues from advertising, with the rest from social gaming and other fees.

Android Tablet Ad Mocks Steve Jobs

A Taiwanese ad for an Android tablet hit YouTube this week with what looked like Steve Jobs, talking up the Android tablet. While not actually mentioning Jobs by name, the ad features Taiwanese comedian and impersonator Ah-Ken dressed in a black turtleneck, jeans and round glasses, with a halo and wings.

See the ad here:

A spokeswoman for Action Electronics, Chelsea Chen, told Reuters that there is nothing wrong with the ad because “Steve Jobs always promoted things that were good for people, Apple products, so his image can also promote other things that are good.”

Apple reps have not made any comments about the ad. What do you think, too soon?

Foursquare + Super Bowl + Pizza Hut + American Express = Savings

Thanks to foursquare and American Express, you’ll be able to save some dough on your Super Bowl pizza order this Sunday. By checking in to the nationwide Super Swarm (which foursquare offered on gameday during last year’s Super Bowl), you’ll be eligible for $5 off at Pizza Hut when you pay for $10 worth of pizza using your American Express card.

Here’s how you take advantage of the deal:

Planning on checking in to get the deal?

Social Media Roundup for January 27

Kirsten McNeill is a Co-ordinator on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @kirstenmcne.

McDonald’s Social Media Disaster

Last week McDonald’s launched a Twitter campaign to increase awareness around their use of fresh produce in their food, using the unique hashtag #MeetTheFarmers, which they used in paid-for tweets which were inserted into the streams of Twitter users. This campaign appeared to have a positive start but things took a turn when McDonald’s decided to change the hashtag to #McDStories. This new hashtag was meant to be used to tweet about positive stories customers had with the fast food chain but it was quickly hijacked with tweets of the opposite – very negative and unpleasant tales!

Check out the video below to see some more of these negative tales:

The brave McDonald’s decided to give it another go with another new hashtag campaign on Wednesday, #LittleThings. This change was meant to be used to tweet the little things that bring joy. They kicked it off by tweeting, “No line at the bank, a large tax refund, & those extra fries at the bottom of the bag. What are some #LittleThings that bring you joy?” Even though this seems to be a very open-ended hashtag for the campaign, so far it hasn’t been used to bad-mouth the brand. Let’s hope they have this one under control.

Timothy’s Social Media Backlash

Here we have another social media fail. Timothy’s Coffees of the World ran a promotion on Facebook in December. Just for “Liking” their Facebook Page, the company promised to send fans four free 24-pack boxes of single-serve coffee. Because boxes of these retail for about $17.95, the deal ended up on contest-aggregating websites and an overwhelming number of customers jumped on the promotion. The company underestimated how many people would sign up and their stock was depleted within three days, but they had already sent an email to all of the entrants letting them know that the coffee was on its way. Once they realized that they couldn’t fulfill their promise, they fell silent.  At the beginning of January, Timothy’s tried to cover themselves by claiming that the promotion was “first come, first serve” and those that were unable to get samples would be sent a “great email offer.” Only now, a month later, has the company put out an apology video. This was one of their biggest mistakes because when it comes to social media, you need to respond as soon as possible; a month is far too long.

Increase Click-Through Rates for your Tweets

Dan Zarella, HubSpot’s social media scientist, has put together a really insightful infographic on how to get the highest number of click-throughs for you tweets. Some of the more obvious findings were that tweets between 120 and 130 characters get retweeted more than those that are longer or shorter than that. He also found that tweets on the weekend and later in the day have a higher click-through rate than those on weekdays and in the morning. But an interesting finding is that the phrase “daily is out,” indicating that the tweet is using online newspaper tool, had the greatest positive effect on click-through rates. Take a look at the rest of his findings:


Facebook Introduces Clicks to Action

We have already started seeing some of the new applications that Facebook’s Open Graph platform enables, such as seeing what your friends are reading or listening to. Coming soon, Facebook will be increasing these apps and going live with over 60 Timeline App partners. These apps will combine in-network sharing with your interaction on outside sites so that Facebook users can not only see what their friends are “Liking” on Facebook but also what actions they are taking on other sites. In order to share these external actions, a range of new buttons will be showing up on the partnered external sites. Recipe Box, one of Facebook’s partnering sites, will have “Cooked” and “Want” action buttons so that when you see a recipe that you have cooked or want to try, you can click the appropriate button, which then distributes that action to your Timeline, News Feed and Ticker.


The idea is to increase sharing, strengthen relationships through interests and foster conversations. What do you think? Will you be sharing some of your actions from outside sites onto your Timeline?

Google Services Unified

Google will be rolling out a major change on March 1 – unifying their privacy policies and creating a set of integrated products. The change will work towards integrating all of your Google uses and account such as search, Gmail, YouTube, social (Google+) and work so that users can have one continuous Google experience. In order to allow for this unified experience, Google is overhauling of all of its privacy policies into one aims to be a lot shorter and easier to read. The new policy will allow Google to gather information from one of their services and deliver it to you via another. This will make your experience more customized because Google will have more of your personal information – it can know your location, what’s on your calendar for the day, spelling suggestions based on words you’ve used before or names from your address book, etc. This additional information will also make it easier for marketers to reach their target market and provide personalized messaging.

Check out Google’s video explaining this change:

What do you think of this upcoming change? Do you think that this will be helpful or do you feel that Google is invading your privacy?