Social Business On the Move: “PassRocket” Capitalizes on Apple’s “Passbook”

Commercial gifting, redemption of QR codes and social gifting is a trend taking soaring importance in the e-commerce industry today. Social gifting apps such as Wrapp, being just over a year old, are expanding across territories in exponential fashion. Apparently Apple Inc. has been inspired by this concept too. At WWDC in June 2012, Apple Inc. announced the “Passbook”, an app which aims to act as the future digital wallet. It stores passes such as movie tickets and boarding passes at a single destination, thereby making life easier for consumers who are so digitally savvy.

The “Passbook” was not considered to be something totally new or innovative. Nevertheless, given that Apple has a cult-like fan base, the Passbook will shape out be a sublimely hot app. It will attract plenty of consumer attention and will penetrate into the mainstream quickly. Apple has often been criticized for keeping their information and property proprietary but the Passbook is prone to give dividend.

Motivated by the announcement of Passbook, JTribe Labs returned from WWDC with the aim to make the Passbook available to everyone. As a result, they developed the app “PassRocket” earlier this month. It is an app which operates on iOS 6, the new operating system announced by Apple a few days ago.  “With PassRocket, retailers, businesses and cafes can design their own Loyalty ‘Pass’ and share it with their customers instantly with Twitter, Facebook or email. PassRocket then scans customers’ passes every time they visit.  The designer app comes with a great range of themed passes that have been beautifully designed. Customizing the pass can occur right within the app itself and be immediately available to customers. Businesses can create a loyalty card where they trade. Within seconds, a business can have an instant campaign and share it with their customers.”

For example, JTribes portrays the “Taco Truck Scenario”. Taco Truck looks to keep building a tribe of loyal customers as it does its weekly city route. As a small business, ‘Taco Truck’s’ marketing activities are constrained by time and money. Taco Truck downloads PassRocket. Within minutes, they select their pass theme, customize with the Taco Truck name, the number of visits and discount, or in this case, ‘a free taco’. Taco Truck receives a short link to share with their customers via Twitter, Facebook and email. They are now ready to scan customers’ passes. It’s taken two minutes and they have done all this from the Taco Truck. Their first customer Sam, visits the Taco Truck, opens the link on their phone and presents the Taco Truck pass in their Passbook app. Sam buys a Taco and the PassRocket scanner, scans the pass. Four more tacos and Sam has a free one.

An overview of how the app operates from the consumer perspective can be seen in the clip below:

The future potential of PassRocket will be partly influenced by what is released with the Passbook app. For now, jTribe Labs want PassRocket to be the solution that makes Passbook available to everyone, for free.

Try Facebook Photo Syncing Feature on Facebook for Android App

Word has it that Facebook is testing out a new feature called as “Photo Syncing” for users of its Facebook for Android app. The new feature will automatically sync all the photos that you take with your Android phone to your Facebook account and saves them somewhere in private. Yes, if you can remember, Google+ first offered the functionality. Now, Facebook is copying adding the same feature to its Android app.

Once all your photos are synced, you can go to your Facebook account and then decide which pictures you would like to share with your friends. According to the Help page on Facebook, “With photo syncing, you can store your mobile photos privately, and choose which ones to share. Each new photo you take with your phone goes to a private section of your Facebook Photos.

Facebook Photo Sync

To use Facebook Photo Syncing feature, simply update to the latest version of Facebook for Android on your phone. Once done, navigate to your Timeline and tap on Photos. There, you fill see the “Sync” button at the bottom your phone’s screen.

Once you have synced all your camera photos, go back to your Timeline and tap on Photos. Now, open the “Synced From Phone” folder at the top of your photos section, and select the photos that you want to share with your friends. You can choose how many photos you’d like to sync, and privately store up to 2GB of photos.

The Photo Syncing feature will sync your photos as soon as you take them. However, Facebook states that the feature is optimized to take into consideration to a number of factors, such as your battery level and sync settings. In your syncing settings, you can choose to sync over Wi-Fi and your cellular network, sync or over Wi-Fi only, or turn syncing off entirely.

[ h/t to Robert Scoble ]

Facebook Pages Manager App Now Lets You Schedule and Promote Posts

Facebook is continuing to make every effort to generate revenue off its mobile platform. The social networking giant has now enabled Facebook Page admins to promote posts right from their smartphones without any difficulties.

The new version of Facebook Pages Manager app enables administrators to promote their posts on Facebook directly from the app. Here are some of the features and additional new feature added to the app:

Features:

  • Post new updates and photos and respond to comments as your Pages
  • View and reply to private messages
  • Get notifications about new activity on your Pages right away
  • View your latest Pages Insights, including check-ins

New Features:

  • Schedule a post to appear later
  • Display stories in two columns on iPad
  • Promote recent posts to reach a bigger audience*
  • Bug fixes and performance updates

Fcebook Page Manager App - Promote Posts

Administrators will see a “Promote” link button on the lower-right of each post. Upon clicking it, administrators will have the ability to purchase promoted posts directly in the app, by using the slider to select the desired dollar amount. Admins will also be able to see the statistics on how effective the post has been once the post is promoted. It also shows the overall reach, including the organic, paid, and viral traffic to the post.

Apart from promoting posts to reach a larger audience, the app also enables users to schedule posts to appear later. It also has an enhancement for the iPad, as users can now see stories in two columns. Additionally, the latest update has bug fixes and includes performance updates.

Facebook launched the Pages Manager app back in May in order to help connect businesses with their audience and keep up with activity on multiple Pages. The app enables business brands to post updates, pictures and respond to comments from fans all from their iPhone or iPad. The app is currently available only on iPhone and iPad.

Facebook Promoted Posts Rolling Out for Personal User Accounts

Facebook is serious about solving its monetization problems, and it has recently launched a monetization-focused feature. This latest feature is being rolled out slowly across user accounts, though we have seen it earlier on brand pages as promoted posts. It is the “Promote” link-button, and the call for action on the promote button says, “tell friends this post is important”. The behavior of these promoted posts is similar to that of promoted posts from brand pages. They simply appear higher on your timeline, and this feature clearly gives you more control over the placement of content on your personal profile page. However, Facebook is taking a huge risk here, as it is the first time that the user has to pay for a feature on Facebook.

facebook-promote

According to Inside Facebook, the feature was first spotted back in May, when it was dubbed as “Highlight”. Inside Facebook confirms the feature, saying,

People who have chosen to enable subscribers might be interested in the feature since they have a wider audience than most users. There may be other cases when a user would be willing to pay a few dollars to make sure that friends see a post, for example, a birth announcement, a post about looking for a roommate or a link for fundraising.

facebook-promote-posts

Promoting posts is a common feature across major players in this niche like Twitter, Foursquare and now Facebook. The behavior of the promotion is same across all these three as well; it simply pushes the promoted content higher up in your timeline of events or posts. However, this is the first time that promotion is being made available for personal user accounts. With its massive user base, Facebook will surely see good conversions from this monetization scheme.

To understand the feature better, you can always go ahead and read the “Promote” page.

Google+ Now Has 100 Million Monthly Active Users

Last year in Decmeber, Paul Allen, the one who claims himself as the unofficial Google+ “statistician” predicted that Google+ would reach a new milestone of 400 million users by the end of 2012. Well, the prediction seems to be true now.

In addition to Google’s announcement to acquire Snapseed’s creator Nik software, Vic Gundotra, the Senior Vice President of Engineering for Google, announced a new milestone for Google+: 400 million registered users and 100 million monthly active users. He posted the following statistics in a Google+ post:

This week we also hit an important milestone — over 400,000,000 people have upgraded to Google+. It was only a year ago that we opened public sign-up, and we couldn’t have imagined that so many people would join in just 12 months. While Google+ is all about creating a better experience across Google, it’s also a destination. And here too, I’m happy to report that we have just crossed 100,000,000 monthly active users on Google+ (plus.google.com and mobile app).

The 100 million monthly active users are together combined desktop and mobile users. The social networking giant Facebook on the other hand, boasts of having 955 million active users as of June 30, 2012, with an increase of 29% year-over-year. Google+ is far away from this and it would certainly take a lot more time to compete with Facebook.

Google+ is still in its initial stage and has to work harder to attract its users. Like Facebook, Google also started to notify its users about birthdays of friends. Google is also making an effort to provide its users with vanity URLs, which is perhaps the most awaited feature on the social networking site.

With 100 million monthly active and 400 million registered users, Google+ is now slightly more than one-tenth the size of Facebook out of which, one-third of the total users are located in the US.

Zuckerberg Says Choosing HTML5 over Native for Mobile Was Facebook’s Biggest Mistake, Promises Native Android App

FacebookAlmost four months after Facebook’s disastrous IPO, Zuckerberg finally broke his silence at TechCrunch Disrupt. Speaking to Arrington, Zuckerberg described the stock performance as ‘disappointing’, and shed his characteristic indifference towards Wall Street in an attempt to win back the confidence of investors who have been hurt by the sliding Facebook stock. However, the most interesting revelation came when Arrington enquired about mobile web, which is often highlighted by analysts as Facebook’s biggest challenge.

When I’m introspective about the last few years I think the biggest mistake that we made, as a company, is betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native… because it just wasn’t there. And it’s not that HTML5 is bad. I’m actually, on long-term, really excited about it. One of the things that’s interesting is we actually have more people on a daily basis using mobile Web Facebook than we have using our iOS or Android apps combined. So mobile Web is a big thing for us.

Last month, Facebook doubled its iOS app’s speed and responsiveness by ditching HTML5 in favor of native. The significant overhaul of Facebook’s iPhone app left Android users, who have long been treated as second class citizens by Facebook, disappointed once again. However, Zuckerberg has promised that a similar native Android app is on the way.

Zuckerberg also dismissed Facebook phone as “the wrong strategy”, but hinted that search might be something that Facebook will eventually get around to doing. Facebook’s deep integration into the fabric of the World Wide Web through the Open Graph enables it to collect treasure troves of metrics that can lend it a decisive advantage in deciphering the semantic web. Zuckerberg’s belief that search is a natural progression for Facebook is precisely the reason why Google has been desperately trying to get into the social media arena.

Google Starts Notifying Users About Birthdays

Birthday reminders are nothing new to social networking sites and we already know how useful and popular it is on Facebook. Now, Google is adding a similar feature on Google Plus and its others services reminding you about someone in your circles is celebrating his/her birthday.

Irene Chung, Staff Software Engineer at Google, updated her Google Plus profile with the following post:

Everyone deserves a little love on their birthday, so we’re making it easier for you and your friends to celebrate on Google. Starting today, you’ll see a reminder on Google.com when someone in your circles has a birthday! From there it’s easy to share a fun message, photo, or video with the birthday gal or guy.

With this new birthday reminders feature, Google is trying to push notifications into search page results, which perhaps is part of their marketing strategy for its social networking site Google+ along with its other online services and products.

To allow people in your circles to be reminded of your birthday, you first need to update your birth day and grant Google the permission to show the notification. To do so, go to https://plus.google.com/up/birthday and set you date of birth. You can also set the visibility of your birthday as to who can view you it. You can either make it visible to public or only to your circles (or a specific circle only).

Please note, by default, your date of birth (day and month only) will be visible to people in Your Circles. You can change it by using the above mentioned link.

Irene added that birthday reminder notifications are currently available only if you’re searching in English on Google.com. It will be rolled out all users in the next few days. We also expect that this feature will be available to all other languages as well.

Facebook to Identify and Delete Fake Page “Likes”

This is perhaps disappointing news for brands that have spent a few hundred bucks to boost the number of “likes” for their Facebook brand page, as Facebook on Friday announced that it is going to identify such fake page “likes” and delete them.

The Facebook “like” factor has been there for a long time. Most brands, or at least start-ups, look forward to get as many “likes” as possible in order to portray that their brand has been loved by so many fans. It also plays an important role in legitimizing the brand. Thus, brands that are not really up to the mark go for paid Facebook “likes” to boost its credibility, and this definitely violates Facebook terms.

However, things will change from now. The social networking giant Facebook has clearly stated out that it has a system in place to identify and remove “likes” on Facebook pages that may have been gained by means that violate our Facebook Terms.

Facebook

Facebook states:

“We do not and have never permitted the purchase or sale of Facebook Likes as we only want people connecting to the Pages and brands with whom they have chosen to connect. Beyond the need to maintain authentic relationships on Facebook, these third-party vendors often attempt to use malware or other forms of deception to generate fraudulent Likes, which is harmful to all users and the internet as a whole.”

The new automated system will remove Facebook fake “likes” that were generated by compromised accounts, purchased bulk “likes,” or malware program that tricked people into clicking the “like” button. Facebook wants brands to follow on the principle of real identity. It wants brands to have authentic, real, and interested users to connect with the brands.

Last month, Facebook filed some new documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), from which it was revealed that nearly 14 million (out of the 955 million) Facebook accounts are used to spread scam and spam messages across the network.

This improvement, according to Facebook, will allow brands to produce ever more relevant and interesting content, and will see an increase in the true engagement around their content.

Facebook Timeline Posting Users’ Location Data

Facebook is definite about making the new Timeline mandatory to all Facebook users, and has already started to automatically roll it out to those who are still using the old profile layout. This forced change has raged several users already, but looks like there’s more to add to it.

If you’re already using Facebook Timeline, you must be aware of the location feature, which allows you to share your current location with your friends from where you are posting an update. It is now reported that the feature is enabled by default and is now displaying a map with the location of the user posts something to Facebook.

Facebook Location Map

As reported by Search Engine Journal, “This map appears as a hyperlinked location tag at the end of a wall post after the ‘Like . . .’ and ‘Date.’ For example, if you posted last night from your San Francisco home, your post might end with ‘Yesterday at 9:18pm near San Francisco.’”

This change in the Facebook Timeline has raised concerns among many users who wish to keep their location private. If you’re concerned about your privacy on Facebook, and are looking for a way to disable or remove Facebook maps, then follow the steps below:Remove Facebook Maps

  • Go to your Facebook profile or your Timeline.
  • Simply expand the boxes by clicking the down arrow located below the Activity Log.
  • Now, hover over the top right corner of your ‘Map’ to display the edit icon.
  • Click the little pencil and then select ‘Remove from Favorites’.

For some users, Facebook has become really painful to use with so many new and unwanted features being implemented. I’m pretty sure that almost half of Facebook users are not aware of the various features that it offers. It is unclear if Facebook is implementing these changes only because it fears that it could be the next MySpace, or the next Orkut. What are your thoughts on this?

Japan is Considering Social Networks for Emergency Calls

The National Fire and Disaster Management Agency of Japan sat down for a three-part discussion on allowing social networks to be used for disaster recovery and emergency calls. Twitter Japan blogged on how to use the service for placing calls, or getting the word out about your safety.  A typical example included using the hash tag #survived if someone is safe. This is a bold measure, but at the same time, a wise one too.

twitter-bird-blue-on-whiteAn official at the National Fire and Disaster Management Agency in Japan says,

This is a discussion for when traditional voice-based infrastructure goes down during a natural disaster, to see if social networking can be used.

It was seen that voice networks clogged up under high volume of calls during the Tsunami last year. However, Twitter and other social networks survived their surge in usage. The use of social networks will take a lot of load off the traditional telephone infrastructure, creating a balanced usage of both the media.

Some people are apprehensive about the use of new-age media for something as critical as emergencies. A telephone line can be traced back in most cases. On the other hand, the reliability of a Twitter panic cannot be guaranteed. It is much easier to fake a Twitter account, or any other social networking account than to fake a phone call. However, they are overlooking the fact that the very essence of social networks is in being social. A fake account is quite easy to spot, from looking at the social interactions it makes. Moreover, it will be easier to verify the authenticity of supposed emergency through social networks, as more people from the same social circle pitch in and report the same events. This is a step forward in the evolution of society.

On a humorous note, this reminds me of an episode from the IT Crowd.