Facebook’s new call-to-action button

Facebook has just released a new call-to-action button for company pages.

The call to action button sits on the right hand side of a page’s cover photo and will take users directly to your app or website.

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The button can read either Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now, Sign Up or Watch Video. This means it will be beneficial to all types of businesses, for example a retailer could have a Shop Now button, a bank could have a Use App button, and a hotel could have a Book Now button.

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You can also choose a different destination for iOS and Android devices. For example a travel agency that only has an iOS App now has the ability to send iOS users to the App store and Android users to their website.

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This is a great example of how Facebook is becoming a hub that links together your whole online presence.

People hate losing control (of videos) because they don't expect to

Yes, of course people hate those ugly video pre-rolls that appear before video content on YouTube or other video publisher sites. Video pre-rolls are totally annoying – almost as annoying as page takeovers that completely interrupt / destroy the user experience, because we have no control over them.

Let’s consider the context of an interruptive 30 second pre-roll.  We’ve sat through highly interruptive videos in the form of traditional TVCs for years, and despite benefit of using those times to run off and put the kettle on or using ad breaks as a toilet break, they’ve not been particularly good or bad. We don’t get too annoyed by TVCs.

So why are single video pre-rolls so f*cking annoying? Because we are interrupted in an environment where otherwise, we have complete control. Whilst in the digital space, we control our preferences, our options, our screen sizes, our content – everything is customisable, everything is under our command. One of the most attractive elements of technology and social media is the customisation of it – the purity of delivery and our ablity to mold it to our will completely.

We’re annoyed because they’re ultimately sh*t and they cannot be controlled in an otherwise totally controllable environment. Most of the time we spend on them, we spend looking or the little small “x” to close the video. (That some publishers / media companies claim this as a “click” is another story – and similarly annoying).

Control is something that we do not get from TV, that we’ve never had, therefore our expectations are lower, as are our frustrations when we are interrupted with ads. Even when we fast forward through TV recordings, we recognise the trade off between being able to time-shift and the delay in which we’ve been able to consume it – we’ve customised it.

We trust more when we control more. It’s why trust in technology companies is higher than most other companies – in dealing with technology companies and products, we assume that eager nerds have delivered pure products that we can control, interact with and pour our lives into. When this changes, we recoil in horror.

The Apple iPad – Initial Thoughts

Every so often, a technology comes along that redefines competition within markets:

  • Email redefined the way people communicate, and in doing so, undermined the letter delivery service forever.
  • Phones are in competition with coffee shops.
  • Skype is in competition with domestic airlines.

Now, with the iPad, Apple’s “magical and revolutionary product“, Apple is in competition with TV broadcasters, newsagents and printers as a source of media. Print media organisations aren’t dead – their distribution model is. TV stations aren’t dead – if they produce content – but they are if they simply broadcast it. The iPad represents an opportunity for people to access professional content from anywhere in the world from anywhere. Video, audio, photos, music, games and books.

Where individual songwriters can record and release a song for $1.99 through iTunes, where individual developers and content creators can release individual iPhone Apps for sale, now content creators can release books and other written content through a secure payment and distribution system. Apple’s new iBookStore will erode the print publishing distribution model in the same way digital recording from a laptop , iTunes and peer-to-peer file sharing has eroded the record company business model. It will open up opportunities for organisations and individuals to create and release content of all types.

In 2004, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that you can listen to music in the background, while movies require that you actually watch them, and that the size of the iPod is not conducive to high quality viewing. With the iPad, Apple has created an almost perfect video (and gaming) device. I believe we will see further opportunities including:

  • Channel iPad: Live content streaming of TV shows, direct from producers – either bypassing or augmenting traditional TV viewing
  • Vote now: Realtime interaction with mass media events and live TV shows – eg: voting
  • Get used to seeing them on people’s laps at the footy / cricket: Sports teams providing rich in-game experiences and interaction via wireless networks in-stadium straight to iPad

Other random thoughts:
It will change the way in which we design websites, as fingers become the navigation tool rather than the mouse. This has happened on the iPhone, there’s no reason why we won’t see a similar shift with the iPad.

Video will be even more important in the communications mix – iPhone / iPad Apps will use more in-app video, and moreso considering YouTube is integrated into the device.

As people will now have a large keyboard on glass (silent typing versus a physical keyboard with buttons), we will see iPads:

  • Becoming more popular than laptops in Uni lecture theatres
  • Being used as a silent replacement for normal notepads in meetings, interviews and presentations
  • Being used as a big screen, synchronised (via Wi-Fi and 3G) version of our everyday notepad

We also see the iPad in the following roles:

  • Being used as a display / interactive device at retail – instantly synchronised, providing personalised product information for each customer.
  • Being used as the ultimate device for sales reps – giving them a big screen for videos, presentations, sales charts, images and the synchronisation and connectivity for productivity on the road.
  • The ultimate “Doctor’s friend”, in the form of a one size fits all repository for scans, images, medical history and in-patient records.
  • Apple’s massive repository of education content on iTunes U will find a logical home – the iPad is the ultimate education tool – relatively inexpensive and simple (restricted) enough that anyone can use it as a learning tool.
  • It will be a hit with the world’s ageing population. Larger screen means larger type which means less strain on eyes. A great platform to build solutions and content for the older generation.
  • The ultimate cookbook for home chefs.

Apple’s T-shirt Box Photo

This is what makes Apple Apple.

Even the boxes that hold call centre employee t-shirts have been designed with the single sense of purpose, that incredible design aesthetic, that attention to detail and outstanding vision of what the company should be – a creator brand. This, along with photos of their employee job offer packs, shows the level of thought and strength of culture at the firm.

More pictures here: Apple Employee T-Shirt Unboxing Photos – Mac Rumors.

SmartCompany: Me on Twitter’s churn and burn

I’m is quoted in this Patrick Stafford piece in SmartCompany. It’s about Twitter’s appalling churn rate of over 60%.

Some of the reasons why Twitter’s retention rate is so bad:

  1. It’s limited – 140 characters. No video / audio / rich media / expression / detail / depth – yes you can link to those things, but that’s it.
  2. It’s neither a mass broadcast mechanism nor is it targetted. Fine if you want to get a message out to a number of followers in a single moment, but terrible if you are using it for reach or for a more personal or limited conversation.
  3. It’s very easy to set up, so there’s little in terms of “purchase investment”. You register, follow a few people and if you walk away / forget, it’s not like you’ve spent hours of your time – there’s little to “lose” by abandoning it.
  4. It’s a media phenomenon. The media are going nuts over it, when the punters are far less interested. It’s like Second Life – not a day would go by when the media wouldn’t write about Second Life – it drove a spike in interest, but didn’t drive long term usage.
  5. As written in a previous post, Twitter is for old people. Young people couldn’t care less and aren’t using it in any substantial numbers. Older people either don’t have the time, or the interest, so they join up, look around and leave after a while – they don’t keep the ball rolling.
  6. It’s not customisable. I might enjoy some tweets of some people (person focussed), or some tweets by all people (topic focussed), but definitely not all tweets by all people. It needs to be customisable. Right now, whether I like it or not, I have to read the tweets of all of the people I follow on Twitter. You could argue that there are multiple plugins and applications that allow for customisation of Twitter, but the basic beginner user isn’t interested enough (or capable enough) to then look for filters and plugins. So they get bored / frustrated and stop using it.

Read the full article here: Research casts doubt over whether Twitter fad will last – Business news, business advice and information for Australian SMEs | SmartCompany.

What ever happened to Webrings?

In the olden days of the early-mid 90s, websites on like topics were linked via webrings; links / arrows on the bottom of the page that would link you to other sites on the same issue, topic, theme or industry.

Yahoo! carved out an audience not through search or email, but through their wonderful Directory service – one of the first user generated content sites whereby you could suggest sites to be listed. At one time almost every site in the world was listed in categories according to topic / subject. Webrings became obsolete as people could visit Yahoo! and find a one-stop “link shop”.

Webrings evolved from site based to browser based – Netscape started a “What’s Related” link on their browsers in 1999, where people could use the browser to find other related sites. However “What’s Related” failed due to privacy concerns.

Search overtook directories and webrings, as people could find the single or few most informative sites based on specific topic or keyword searches. Far more focussed and efficient, but at the cost of a broad view.

The beauty of webrings, Directory services such as Yahoo! and “What’s related” (although the latter was hardly a success), was that you could access the “universe” of websites on that subject directly – without being distracted or misled by search.

Webrings aren’t dead – Blogs have adopted a form of webrings through Blogrolls – lists of links to similar or related blogs.

But what of the vast majority of sites? Have companies and web developers forgotten about the social nature of websites – and that people want to know about the company, but also about the industry (dare we suggest competitors) through links!

So, what are the new webrings? In the era of search, are they relevant? Do we need them? Is the web too big to afford webrings? Or are webmasters now being judged on time spent ON site rather than sharing time between sites?

The new AFL site is utterly dreadful

The new AFL site has just come online. Sorry, the BETA site, from the little sign they’ve got on the top, has gone online.

Unlike most over BETA sites though, this one isn’t off the main site, for use in testing, it’s the REAL DEAL! So it’s not BETA, it’s the RELEASE site. We don’t have the option of going back to the main AFL site if we are having troubles, that’s it.

The new site uses flash modules and info to display information, much of which is totally superfluous. We’ve got a whopping big graphic in the middle of the page, news way out of the way, TINY litle mini thumbnails of the club logos and the most dreadful, illegible match preview module I’ve ever seen. No details of upcoming matches, no times, no dates, no nothing. It’s a bloody shoddy first draft of a site at best. And even then, the user experience is really bad – hard to build a good design on top of a bad skeleton.

Telstra, SPIN Communications, CFour and the AFL should be ashamed of themselves for letting this shite get through to the public. A lot of work to go before this is even presentable.