Instagram just released Hyperlapse, their new (iOS only) app that allows you to create hyperlapse videos directly on your iPhone or iPad. Don’t know what a hyperlapse is? Check out this video for a quick introduction to Hyperlapse:
If you’re like most companies, you have a website. You probably also may not have a mobile website. While this may not have been a big problem even last year, it’s quickly becoming extremely important to have a functional mobile version of your website ready for your customers. Here are the top five reasons why:
It’s hard to believe that the first iPhone was released five years ago. In the five short years since 2007, smartphones have become a ubiquitous fixture in American culture. Since it’s not 2007 anymore, you can no longer ignore the fact that more people have smartphones than feature phones (basically any phone that isn’t an iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile or Android) and they’re using those smartphones to browse the internet. This trend has been predicted for years, but as of March 2012, the majority of Americans now have a smartphone.
The next time you’re waiting somewhere – waiting to get seated at a table for dinner, waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store – take a look around at how many people are passing the time by using their smartphone. This might help you realize how important it is for your company to have a mobile site.
Major Mobile Platforms (photo credit: vodien.com)
Do you ever notice people that seem to always be online? Always posting to Twitter or Facebook? Just because they’re posting several times throughout the day doesn’t necessarily mean they’re on Twitter or Facebook all day long. They could be using one of several apps that allows you to schedule or spread out your posts throughout the day. One of the best apps I’ve found to do that is Buffer.
Unlike robust social media management tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck (both excellent tools), Buffer does one thing and it does it exceptionally well. Buffer is a status update scheduling tool, but unlike a more full-fledged social media management tool, Buffer doesn’t ask you when to post your updates. Buffer initially selects four times throught the day when your posts will go out (but you can add, subtract or edit any of those times). Each time you add a new post to Buffer, it simply throws it into the buffer queue behind your other scheduled posts. In the screenshot below, you can see that there are several posts scheduled to go out over the next 24 hours. This is how Buffer works.
Now, I can spend 20 or 30 minutes over lunch or in the evening reading news updates from my Google Reader account or (some of my new favorites) Flipboard (iOS app link), Zite (iOS app link) or even the Bloomburg BusinessWeek (iPad app link) apps on my iPad. Then, when I read interesting articles, I can add them to my Buffer knowing they’ll post later and not inundate my followers as I read each article.
Buffer also makes it VERY easy to add content, whether you’re sharing links of articles you’re reading or whether you just want to schedule a post without a link. Buffer has created more than a dozen different ways to add content to your account. In addition to being able to update from the website, you can also update with an Android app, iPhone app, Firefox and Chrome extensions and (one of my favorites) a way to add to your Buffer via email, it’s easy to keep your Buffer full wherever you are. Below is a screenshot that shows how to add an update to Buffer via email. You’ll receive your own exclusive @to.bufferapp.com email address and everything you send to that address will automatically get added to your Buffer. Just add the email address to your contacts and you can add to your Buffer from anywhere.
Buffer is a free service, but there is also a couple paid versions available. For free, you can have up to 10 updates in your queue, and you can have one account each of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. For $10/month you get up to 50 updates at a time, six social networks and up to two team members per account. There’s also a $99/month plan that gives you lots more.
I’ve been using Buffer for about six months now and it has become an indispensable part of my day and my social media routine. If you’re interested in checking out Buffer, click here (referral). If you sign up through my referral link, we’ll both get one extra space added to our Buffer queue.
**Update Thanks to Troy Thompson of Travel 2.0, you can use Tweriod (a free service) to find out the best times to tweet. Simply connect Tweriod with your Twitter account and it will let you know the historically best times to post content to get the most interaction from your followers. Tweriod is included as part of the paid Buffer subscription, but you can look up the times on your own for free as well. **
At its core, Pinterest is a social bookmarking site similar to Delicious or SpringPad, but where Pinterest differs (and where they really shine) is how their bookmarks are organized. Rather than saving a list of text links, Pinterest is 100% image-based. The visual nature of Pinterest creates a clean and easily browsable interface that can be extremely addicting.
So, how does Pinterest describe itself?
Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.
You’re likely to find boards and pins full of decorating ideas and recipes as well as just about anything else you could think of, but Pinterest has a really unique opportunity to be a great place for Tourism entities to set up shop. In fact, I set up an account for Visit Indiana a couple months ago and have received a pretty good response so far. I’ve created boards for Favorite Indiana Destinations, Indiana Artisan Products, Indiana Beer and Wine, Indiana Arts and Crafts and Indiana Experiences. Each time I come across a great picture of somewhere in Indiana or something Indiana-related on Etsy, I pin it and share it with everyone who follows Visit Indiana.
You can browse Pinterest in several different ways. You can view just pins from your friends or you can search for and browns pins in countless topics (travel, decorating, recipes, etc.). One of the coolest features on pinterest is the ability to “repin” other people’s pins. Just like sharing on Facebook or retweeting on Twitter repinning posts the pin on your board so your friends can see it. It’s a great way to catalog pictures or links you want to keep handy.
Regardless of what kind of tourism organization you work for (State, County or City DMO or individual attraction or lodging facility) Pinterest offers you the ability to share great photos of places in your area, locally-made products or hidden destinations for visitors and residents alike.
Note that Pinterest is only available on iPhone/iPod Touch right now.
Are you already using Pinterest? If not, do you think its a good fit for your organization?
Apps like Yelp and Foursquare let you take pictures and leave reviews at restaurants, but unlike those and other apps, Foodspotting is completely devoted to food and pictures of food. Like many other apps, you can hook Foodspotting up with your Facebook and Twitter accounts and start following friends through there, but where Foodspotting really differs (and really shines) is in the ability for you to follow not just friends, but places (specific restaurants) or foods you love (pizza, burgers, etc.). Think about that for a minute – you can follow specific foods through Foodspotting. If your favorite food in the world is a breaded tenderloin pork sandwich (if that’s true, then you really need to come to Indiana) you can follow tenderloin sandwiches and find the places near you that have the best ones.
Also, similar to the way Gowalla allows users to create Guides, Foodspotting also lets users to create Guides like Taste the Vintage in Bucks County – created by the Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau. This particular guide looks great on both the mobile app and on the website and it details some great wineries throughout the county. As a bonus, you earn a badge once you visit all the wineries within the Guide.
As a tourism office, you’re in the unique position to be the curator for great food in your area. Like Bucks County did, you could created Guides for great wine, great burgers, great ethnic food or anything else food-related for visitors and residents to complete and add to. The more people that jump on the platform and add their favorite foods, the more useful and robust the app will become.
Check out the screenshots below for examples of the Footspotting mobile app (Foodspotting is now available for iPhone/iPod Touch, Windows Mobile and Android devices right now – a Blackberry app is coming soon). Have you used Foodspotting before?
QR codes are starting to pop up in more and more places. From outdoor billboards (see the image at right) to Twitter avatars to magazine ads, the proliferation of smartphones is helping fuel a huge increase in QR codes.
So what exactly are QR codes? In short, QR codes are 2D barcodes that contain embedded information – a website URL, contact information, a link to a Twitter account or other information about a product or service. You can scan a QR code by using a QR reader on your smartphone or iPod Touch. I like ScanLife (a free download for Blackberry, Android, iOS and Windows Phones) as it allows you to scan QR codes as well as standard barcodes, but there are dozens of free and paid QR scanners out there. I actually scanned the standard barcode on a children’s book the other day and it brought me to an info page that talked about the book and gave me links to purchase the book online.
Arkansas’s Tourism office started utilizing QR codes in their 2010 Tour Guide and in print ads this year. If you scan the QR code embedded in their ad (click for a larger version), you’ll be redirected to a page on Arkansas Tourism’s website that gives you more information about things to do and places to go in The Natural State. In fact, if you look through Arkansas’ 2010 Tour Guide (and presumably their 2011 guide) there are QR codes sprinkled throughout that give the reader more information about the page they’re reading – an excellent way to extend the print experience to online.
Another great example is this Ryan Adams concert poster. If you scan the QR code, it brings you to a landing page where you can download a free live version of one of his songs and it also features a link to buy tickets to Ryan Adams concerts through TicketMaster.
Those are just a handful of examples of how some companies are starting to use QR codes to extend users’ experience from print or outdoor to the web. Smartphones and QR codes can offer businesses the ability to provide more and more targeted information to consumers in spaces that are traditionally space-limited like outdoor advertising, signage or print ads.
There are even people who have started putting QR codes on their business cards. Simply scan the code and you can easily add the person’s contact info to your address book. That’s so much easier than coming back from a conference and having to manually add dozens of business cards into your contact list. In fact, if you scan the QR code on the left, you can add my contact information to your address book.
Have you seen any interesting examples of QR codes?
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