Archive for the ‘activity stream’ tag
The founders at HelloFax needed a simpler way to help customers get their documents signed. And so they developed a digital signature tool. In short time, they realized they had stumbled into a new space. The young YCombinator startup found that digital signing of documents was not just a feature but a market.
HelloSign is s service meant to disrupt the incumbents in the market through its freemium, Yammer like model. HelloSign pairs with HelloFax, a service for digitally sending and receiving documents.
Yammer amassed millions of users by offering a free service that could be upgraded to a paid account. The company sold its corporate activity stream/social networking technology earlier this spring to Microsoft for $1.2 billion. HellloSign follows a similar model. All signatures are free. Paid services are in the works for such offerings as managing complex workflows.
HelloSign is a business grade service with such features as audit trails and business receipts. Its premise: signing a document should be free and simple. It should not require printing and scanning a document. Instead, it should be as easy as digitally signing a document and emailing it to the recipient.
HelloSign keeps track of the documents you sign. Centralizing the process allows companies to have one place where documents are signed and stored. This can help companies manage contracts, for instance, on one platform.
To start, HelloSign will partner with Box, the collaborative storage environment. It will provide users with 25 gigabytes of storage for HelloSign documents.
CEO Joseph Walla said the market has plenty of digital signature tools but all are too complex to use. That seems to be the thrust of the argument for the company. Keep it simple, make it free and let the data build in a central place the customer can access. As people use the service more, they will invite others to use it, too. The value is in the network.
I like how these guys are thinking through what a signature means. A signature is a different process than what you see in a digital fax tool. They are separate products and should be sold that way.
HelloSign does not yet have any premium tools. That’s a problem if the tools are not released in soon time. There needs to be ways to build a revenue stream that is associated with the free tool. The longer it takes to develop, the more challenging it will be to gain traction for the paid services.
Visual imagery transcends languages and evokes emotional responses more so than a text-heavy status update. From a brand perspective, visual storytelling is the natural evolution of existing consumer behaviors and helps to humanize brands. Brands can interact with consumers to drive the creation of branded content, which drives additional attention in a user’s social activity stream, thus driving additional consideration for the brand.
The power of services like Instagram and Pinterest is in the simplicity and ease of publishing and pinning, as well as the deep integration of each into users’ social graphs. Pinterest has reaffirmed consumers’ interests in visually searching for information. Meanwhile, Instagram embodies the convergence of mobile and social.
Instagram now boasts more than 50 million users, and it is adding new ones at the rate of roughly 5 million per week. More than 1 billion photos have been uploaded on Instagram, with 5 million-plus more photos being added every day.
By enabling connections with other social platforms, making sharing easy, and focusing on discoverability of content via hashtags, brands have found innovative ways to incorporate Instagram into their social strategies to further humanize their brands. Brands that understand and capitalize on visual storytelling across channels will ultimately reap the benefits and net higher levels of engagement.
This article highlights five brands that have incorporated visual imagery and social curation via Instagram into their broader digital strategies. Each brand offers a different value proposition to its followers, but there are common themes demonstrated by each example. Let’s take a look.
Highlight’s Latest Release Improves Battery Life And Gives Users More Ways To Interact With Each Other
It’s been four months since social-local-mobile* app Highlight issued a major new release, right before SXSW. That update added the ability to, well, highlight interesting people you had crossed paths with.
Now, the app that was all the rage at SXSW (or maybe it wasn’t, you tell me) has used the last several months to learn from its users and issue a new update, which adds new ways for people to interact with each other. Before we get to that, though, it’s worth pointing out that the most important update to the app might be an improvement in performance and battery life — something which plagued earlier users, particularly at SXSW.
Now, about those new features. Highlight’s biggest addition is probably the ability to post a thought or comment to users who are near you. While previously users were able to add a bio, the new feature lets them basically add a status update, which is then sent out as a push notification and appear at the top of their activity stream. Users can publicly reply to those status updates or “like” them, and will get notified when others respond.
Users also gain the ability to post notes on their friends’ profile pages, which is one way of providing more context to others when they show up in someone’s activity feed. The way these notes tend to work, according to Highlight founder Paul Davison, is that they serve as a sort of validation for the user who’s being viewed. Kind of like you’re vouching for them or telling interesting stories about them in virtual space to users who’ve never met them.
You know how the Highlight app lets you see interests that you share in common with other users? Well the new version provides more flexibility around interests — including creating unique pages for them, on which you can see other users who share those interests. While the old app used to just import the interests you’ve specified on Facebook, the new Highlight also makes it easy for users to add interests from directly within the app. It also lets users specify which interests are most important to them, which will help the app provide more relevant results.
With new communication features, the app has a new activity feed and pages for its users. That will provide more flexibility for more types of content to show up — including posts near you and the like — and help users find out more about the users that are nearby. It’s also improved notification settings, giving users more granular control over when they get notified about various different events within the app. Finally, the app has improved localization, adding a number of new languages, including: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
All in all, it’s a pretty huge update, and takes Highlight well beyond just getting notifications whenever a friend or friend of a friend or someone who shares common interests is nearby. At the same time it’s been adding new features, the Highlight team has also been expanding, and now has seven employees — compared to the two who were working on the app around SXSW. It’s probably too early to tell if Highlight will live up to the huge amount of hype it received early on, but it definitely seems like it’ll be a lot more useful with the latest update.
AT&T announces shared data plans, YouTube launches new face-blurring editing tool, Evernote for Mac updates with Retina support and Activity Stream, and Bing gets Foursquare integrations. More »
A seemingly small change that Google quietly launched yesterday has the potential to transform +1 buttons from a simple I-like-this to a find-the-best-content-here experience … and generate more interaction with Google+.
+1 buttons serve as a recommendation engine to Google: This is good content. A click on one signifies that you think the website or page you’re surfing is valuable and worthwhile.
That click is not shared with other users by default, although there can be a public record of them on your Google+ profile page (depending on your Google+ preferences). Sharing your +1′s is a secondary step, which then places the recommendation into your Google+ activity stream … in just the same way that a liked website or article appears on your Facebook wall.
The new feature that Google added yesterday transforms the +1 experience from one that primarily impacts Google (as Google learns about valuable content) and your Google+ contacts (as users share what they are +1′ing) to an internet-wide discovery service that helps all web surfers find the best, most valuable content on any given website.
And it works whether they’ve signed up for Google+ or not:
Now, instead of just providing sharing features for other places, the +1 button reveals the most-recommended content on the website you are currently surfing. You find it simply by mousing over the +1 button — no Google+ account required, and you don’t need to be logged in to Google+.
VentureBeat reached out to Ryan Brack, Google’s manager of global communications, for a comment: “+1 recommendations, currently in platform preview, will help users discover content from the sites they love and gives publishers the opportunity to drive deeper engagement with their audience.”
All site owners need to do is add a +1 button to their website, which many have already done.
This accomplishes a number of things.
First, it has the potential to endear Google to website owners, as Google enables deeper discovery of their content. Perhaps more importantly, however, it helps Google+ nonbelievers get a taste of what the search giant’s social network is all about: content discovery.
For that reason, this change has the potential to grow Google+, as Google continues to try to build a social answer to Facebook.
Google says the feature is currently in testing and will go live in a few weeks.
Badgeville, the gamification service, introduced “social mechanics” on June 20, with features including a “Behavior Graph” that allows companies to measure specific social behaviours, and “Social Context,” an activity stream not unlike a Facebook newsfeed that companies can add to their own web and mobile properties.
In this interview, FIR co-host Shel Holtz talks with Adena DeMonte, Badgeville’s director of marketing, about social mechanics, the gamification platform introduced last month, and the potential roles for gamification in both internal and external communications.
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About our Conversation Partner
Adena DeMonte is the director of Marketing at Badgeville. Founded in 2010 to help companies measure and influence user behavior, Badgeville is a leader in enterprise gamification, having added a global client roster of over 170 customers including Deloitte, EMC, eBay’s X.Commerce, Samsung, Dell, NBC, CA Technologies, Universal Music, The Active Network and Recyclebank.
DeMonte has over a decade of experience in social media marketing and community management for F1000 enterprises and startups across B2C and B2B. She previously ran social media marketing at Nokia Point & Find for the Emmy-Nominated Alternate Reality Game (ARG) Conspiracy for Good in collaboration with Tim Kring and Nokia’s global communities, and led community management at numerous startups. Prior to her career in marketing, DeMonte reported on web and mobile technology and venture capital for Red Herring Magazine, GigaOm and MobileMarketingWatch.com.
Connect with Adena on Twitter at @GamificationGal.
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(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)
Facebook adds a “Security Tips” page to avoid problems in the age of password breaches, Dropbox is getting rid of Public folders for new users, Evernote for Windows updates with new Activity Stream feature, and Microsoft is rumored to announce their own tablet on Monday. More »
Google announced they have added a new feature to Google Analytics to show you who is linking to a specific page.
To see it, go to Google Analytics, under Traffic Sources > Social > Pages and then click on a specific page. Then click on the “Activity Stream” option at the top middle portion. Google Analytics will then give you this report:
Google said it best when it said:
Have you ever wondered which other pages on the web link to your own? Wouldnât it be nice to know which sites are talking about your content, and in which context? Well, a problem no more: now you can see all the backlink URLâs, post titles, and more right within the new Social reports.
If only you could crawl the web and build an accurate link graph. The good news is we already do that at Google, and are now providing this insight to Google Analytics users.
If only the reports were more focused around how SEOs and link builders like to see it. Maybe down the road?
Daniel digs a lot deeper into this new report at Search Engine Land.
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.
Twitter just announced the latest updates to its mobile apps for Android and iOS. With these updates, these apps get a number of much-needed new features, including an improved Discover tab, better support for search and support for push notifications for interactions. These new push notifications now let you know whenever somebody retweets you, favorites one of your tweets and when somebody new follows you. Until now, Twitter only sent push notifications for direct messages and mentions.
With this update, Twitter is apparently trying to address some of the criticism it faced when it launched its radically redesigned mobile apps last December. Last year’s redesign deemphasized many core features like direct messages, search and lists in favor of highlighting, among other things, follow recommendations and trending stories in the Discover tab.
Today, Twitter is making some much-needed changes to make the Discover tab more useful. When it first launched, You can now also use this tab to browse an activity stream of “updates that shows which Tweets are favorited or retweeted by the people you follow and which accounts those people follow or add to lists.” This new stream will appear right under the Stories section in the Discover tab.
Twitter also made the search feature in its mobile apps easier to use with this update. The apps now offer “suggestions for different spellings and related terms for your queries. Finding the people you’re looking for is faster, too. In the Connect tab, you can start typing the first or last name or username of the person you’re looking for and the name will autocomplete for people that you follow.”
Quite a few power users moved away from the official Twitter apps after the redesign. It’s unlikely that this update will get them to switch back. Right after the launch of the redesign last December, TechCrunch’s MG Siegler asked Twitter’s Director of Platform Ryan Sarver about the company’s reasoning behind the changes. At the time, Sarver said that Twitter didn’t want to compete on features but wanted to “keep things simple.” Looks like that hasn’t changed with this update.
Although the iPad has been available for more than two years, LinkedIn has yet to offer its users a native app despite the fact that mobile engagement has been growing at a fast pace for the network. But last August, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said that the company is doubling down on its mobile strategy. And the network then debuted new versions of its iPhone and Android apps as well as an HTML5 mobile site. In fact, LinkedIn now says 22 percent of its active members have been visiting on mobile device. And today, LinkedIn is finally launching its native iPad app to the public.
As LinkedIn’s head of mobile products Joff Redfern explains, the app was built with the user and tablet interface in mind. Since the iPad has become a leanback experience, LinkedIn wanted to make sure that the app satisfied iPad users’ needs. Via the web, LinkedIn noticed that iPad users were visiting the site mostly in early in the morning, which they call a “coffee session,” and in the evening, between 7 pm and 11 pm,. With this data, the company wanted to build an application that allowed professionals to start the day and end the day with LinkedIn.
Via an updates section, users can access a stream of updates from your connections, including who’s changed jobs, who’s viewed your profile. You can also access news that connections are sharing and see the latest discussions from the groups you are members of.
In addition to an activity stream, you can also access your own profile, connections and activity dashboard and send and receive your LinkedIn invitations and messages from your inbox in the network.
One of the more compelling features included in the iPad app is the ability to sync the device’s calendar with your LinkedIn profile information. So you can have a schedule of what your meetings are for the day paired with contextual information about contacts from their LinkedIn profiles. This feature is also available with the latest upgrade of LinkedIn’s iPhone and Android apps. As Redfern explains, many users on the mobile devices were doing the most searches for contacts right before meetings, so it made sense to add the feature. And LinkedIn is debuting an iPad-friendly mobile website as well. by visiting touch.linkedin.com.
While the app is available in English today, LinkedIn will soon launch the app in other languages.
Although LinkedIn offered its users iOS and BlackBerry apps, it took the professional social network a few years to launch a native Android app, so it’s not entirely surprising that it has taken the company a while to develop an iPad app as well. Redfern explains that Linkedin had three dedicated engineers working on the app. As for what’s next, Redfern says LinkedIn will be monitoring what makes sense when it comes to developing an Android tablet app.
TechCrunch TV reporter Colleen Taylor sat down with Redfern to demo the app and chat about what’s new. Watch below.
Colleen Taylor contributed to this article.