Is Mobile the Future of the Internet?

I already know that Patrick Pho thinks that the wave of the future is held in the palm of our hand, but I came across this article on HuffPo by the British Ambassador to the U.S. that, while mostly skimmable (sorry, Sir Peter: TL;DR) had this little gem towards the end:

Just when governments are – admirably – looking to invest in high-speed broadband so that no-one is left behind by the digital revolution, here are these twenty-something CEOs saying it might be better to skip fibre optics altogether and go straight to mobile. At General Assembly, one young inventor told me how his $300 a month membership and rented desk, and the opportunity to bounce ideas off others with similar innovative ideas, had allowed him to create a box of tricks which will modernize and accelerate computer systems so effectively that hard-up governments and hospitals will no longer have to throw out their obsolete equipment every 4 years. I asked whether the invention would make money. He seemed surprised by the question and simply replied: ‘it’s going to change the world.’

OK. First things first: he’s right, governments (and private companies) are looking to expand broadband so that everyone can have access to it. While the digital divide has shrunk considerably, it still holds true that lower-income Americans get online less than the well-off, partly because many low-income households do not have a computer with high-speed internet. A slightly different problem is that there are willing customers in far-flung areas who would pay for broadband but the network hasn’t expanded to their area.

The problem is that building out a superfast wired network is expensive. Companies like Verizon who rolled out FiOS in select markets are choosing wireless instead. Putting up a tower is much cheaper than running wires to every house, and an increasing number of Americans are accessing the internet via their phone, especially minorities.

Mobile networks may indeed be the answer, but I think it’s more likely that it’ll be a combination of wired and wireless networks that eventually cover the globe. It’s cost-prohibitive to run fiber optic cables to every mountain shack (although mine will have it!), but you don’t have to be cut off anymore if you have a mobile device. If high-speed internet is important to you or your job, you may need to move somewhere that has the network you need, just like many people have to move to where the work is.

On another note, thank goodness people are thinking about how to update our freaking governments and hospitals. I can’t think of a better area to invest your time, energy and ideas. They need it.

What do you think? Is mobile the future of the internet?

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Pinterest’s Copyright Problem

Pinterest Copyright pageI described the concept of Pinterest to one of my more astute friends the other day, and his first reaction was, “Isn’t that copyright infringement?” It certainly sounds like there is a risk of copyright infringement if you’re grabbing pictures from webpages without bringing any associated content, but most complaints are staved off by the source links that come with the pinned image. In theory, anyone should be able to click through from Pinterest to the page an image came from (to buy an item, for example, which is how Pinterest makes money), but it doesn’t always work the way it should.

Pinterest has recently gone a step further to stop copyright infringement at the source and provided a bit of code (available in the Help section) for website owners that, when added to their site’s header, will stop anyone from pinning images from the site.

Users who try to use their “Pin It” button will see this message instead: “This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

On the other hand, sites that want to encourage pinning, like e-commerce sites, can add a Pinterest button to their pages to make sharing even easier. Because Pinterest is so new, it’s bound to go through some growing pains as people figure out what users are doing with their pins. It can feel like kind of a free-for-all, with everything from personal pictures to art to…well, everything on this board.

Are You Being Antisocial on Social Media?

It may sound strange, but it is actually very possible to be antisocial on social media. It doesn’t matter if you have accounts on every site–what matters is that you’re interacting with your audience and giving them something they value.

You’re antisocial if:

  • You’re just constantly posting links to your own work–no one wants to follow someone who only talks about themselves and just sees it as a self-promotion tool.
  • You’re ignoring people who reply to you or ask you a question. One of the best things about using social media is using it to form relationships, so why not take advantage of it?
  • You’re robo-tweeting or coming off like it. A social media presence is an opportunity to show your personality a little bit and give your company a human face. It’s okay to schedule a couple of tweets in advance, but make sure you’re actually present and responding to things that are happening, too.

Breaking News: Everyone Hates Facebook Timeline

Well, this doesn’t surprise me at all: everyone else is just as annoyed by Facebook’s new profile format as I am. I was an early adopter, mostly because I thought the big new banner was kind of cool, but once I started looking through the rest of it, I immediately regretted switching.

I knew that large parts of my life were documented on Facebook, but now I can pick a date (say, December 2007) and immediately see all the pictures I posted and things people wrote on my wall. I didn’t know wall posts from exes were considered “highlights.” Not only does it strike me as more invasive than ever, it feels like I have less control over the amount of information I reveal.

A SodaHead poll (via Mashable) finds that 70% of survey respondents would get rid of Timeline if they could, and it annoys both men and women equally. U.S. users hate it more than the rest of the world does, but that could be because we’ve had it the longest and gotten used to the old way. I’m sure that discomfort with change is a large part of it, but I think it goes deeper than just a cosmetic change. Timeline reminds us that everything we do online is public and permanent, and we’re uncomfortable with the loss of privacy. That may take some time to get used to.

Is Social Media Invasive?

I came across this MediaPost article the other day that cited some interesting statistics:

…nearly two-thirds (64%) of people say they “hate” when a company targets them through their social networking profile, and 58% agree that social media marketing is invasive, according to a new study.

 

At the same time, findings from Insight Strategy Group showed a majority of those surveyed (55%) believe social networking sites are the best way to give a company feedback and that posting about a product or service on a social site can have a strong impact on a brand.

 

In short, people like being able to provide feedback to marketers via social media — but they don’t necessarily want to be followed by them.

 

These statistics may seem like bad news for companies, but it makes sense to me–we want to be able to find companies with the tools we already use (like Facebook, for example), but we don’t want to feel like they’re able to peer into our lives.

However, I want to point out some of the language in the blog post and the survey: they’re asking about how people feel when companies “target” them. Who likes to feel like they’re being targeted?

There is a way to take this information into account when using social media as a marketing tool: don’t get too pushy. It’s so easy to block or unfollow a brand that’s too annoying, which is exactly what you don’t want. Use social media as more of a relationship-building tool. No one starts a relationship by targeting someone, at least not outside of The Pickup Artist.

Notice Me!

If you’re new to digital and social media, one of the first things you may notice is how many people are using it. Hint: it’s a lot. That’s one of the things that makes it an attractive place to market your company, but it can also be a bad thing. How do you stand out and get noticed among all those people?

I’m going to suggest something revolutionary: it’s not all about the number of followers you have. It can be really easy to get obsessed with watching that little number, but what you really need to be doing is finding your audience. It matters more that you’re really connecting with a core group of people who care about what you’re doing, because that’s how you gain loyal customers…who spread the word for you. And that’s the best kind of free publicity.

Find groups of like-minded people out there and join those groups/follow those people, and then make sure you’re talking about things that matter to your audience. Just a reminder: no one likes following companies or people who only talk about themselves and never give anything back. You should be interacting and responding to what other people are saying, not just posting boring ads all the time.

All you have to do is repeat after me: success in social media means quality, not quantity.