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A Simple Framework for Understanding Social Hubs and Content Hubs

Content marketing and content curation was one of the main themes of 2014. Companies jumped (or stumbled) in with both feet – as well as individual thought leaders, who were quick to create their own content platforms and collections. Supporting these efforts was the emergence of some excellent tools that allowed you to easily stitch together a curated set of content around a theme and then share it with the world. Scoop.it is one of the best examples of commercial platforms out there. Scoop.it allows you to put together a collection of fresh content which speaks to a narrative or theme, and then present it as a website, integrate it into your own website, and even send it out as an e-newsletter.

2014 also saw the maturing of tools for developing Social Hubs – in parallel to the Content Hub tools. Social Hubs allow you create beautiful interactive mosaics from user generated content about your brand / topic. You can easily consolidate content feeds from Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. and create a destination. At the high end, sophisticated moderation tools and rules allow you to selectively feature and “bubble to the top” key creators, influencers and important content.

These two types of hubs have developed along independent lines, however, as both have matured there is starting to be overlap and integration. This led me to develop a simple framework to evaluate them and describe them to clients. As any consultant will tell you, a 2-by-2 grid is always the way to go, so let’s take a look.

Social Hub Content Hub FrameworkStarting from the bottom left, Quadrant 1 contains tools that allow you to collect public social media for an event, around a theme, or a hashtag. For example, you could use Storify to document social media from a medical conference and feature it on a website or on a large display.

As you move to Quadrant 2, you get stronger moderation tools, smart rules for filtering content, and widgets and custom CSS capability that lets you integrate the collected UGC into a website. This is the Enterprise level, and when you see behind the scenes, the platforms are slick, powerful, and able to handle several brands at once. Something interesting happens when you get to the top of Quadrant 2 – you start being able to incorporate your own content. With some platforms such as TwineSocial you can feature your own brand social media (for example tweets around your new product release). When you get up to the RebelMouse level,  you gain the ability to create content within the platform itself, and then feature it. Not only can you post your own brand tweets or Instagrams, but you can publish content that doesn’t exist elsewhere. These sites become full microsites and can potentially substitute for typical website development, such as developing a custom landing page. At this level, these platforms can be very powerful campaign solutions that can be much quicker to get off the ground than a microsite.

Quadrant 3 is the Enterprise level of the content hubs. Scoop.it is an excellent example. In their words, you can “set up SEO-optimized content hubs for each of your editorial themes by choosing a title, corresponding keywords and then scooping content into the hub.” You can customize branding and easily integrate it into your website. Admins can generate email newsletters and link them to tools like MailChimp. When I first used Scoop.it, I simply used it as a place to collect key articles I found elsewhere. Then I discovered their discovery tools. By properly setting up your sources and keywords you can create a truly valuable source to stay on top of a subject – then ‘scooping’ it is a one-click action, as well as tweeting it out to your followers. As an example, here’s an topic I curated about use of Google Glass in Healthcare. Without making this a Scoop.it commercial, I’ll say that it’s a very well thought-out platform. There are other strong offerings at a similar level, such as Curata.

Finally, Quadrant 4. Quadrant 4 is the home of self-publishing. Paper.li is a prime example, their headline being “Create your online newspaper in minutes.” It has excellent tools and offers multiple syndication options, such as your own e-newsletters. This is interesting territory. The top of the grid has players like Flipboard, with its 100 million readers – Enterprise level, while Pinterest has a home here as it is an easy way to curate more visually-oriented content.

A few consumer healthcare brands have spun up social hubs, but not pharma. An unbranded social hub could function as a natural home for health activists. The robustness of the rules and moderation would be of great benefit to a healthcare brand. You can direct the hub to pull living social content from your key activists. Featured posts can be locked into place. That can be combined with a social feed around a condition or an event, which could be heavily moderated according to rules set by a promotional review committee. The result would be a dynamic, attractive designation page where content could be easily shared out. Bloggers could link to it and in turn be featured on the hub. Select pharma company content could be mixed strategically into the hub, pointing to deeper content or news. To top it off, a widget providing a window into hub content could then be placed into the brand website, providing some freshness frequently lacking from pharma websites. Now that we have some FDA guidance that limits pharma liability for UGC, the path seems to be open. Who will be the first to try it? Perhaps a brand with an active social community and a more technologically inclined population, like Crohn’s Disease or MS.

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iOS Share Sheets and Mobile Browsers

Sitting on the train, I encounter a First-World problem: when I click on a links from my iOS Gmail app, it opens in a slimmed down browser that’s part of the GMail app. Why is this a problem? I have no problem viewing most of the content. However, I want to view the web pages in Safari much of the time to take advantage of other features. That takes another click, which is annoying, and when I return to Gmail, I’m still in the mini browser, and it takes another click to get back. Perhaps I’m only allocated so many clicks in a lifetime, so it’s a First-World issue.

Share Sheet iPhoneThe reason this is more of a problem now than it was is due to Share Sheet Extensions. The ability to create these extensions were announced last July and now there’s a nice selection of them. Hootsuite, Pocket, Evernote, and Pinterest, among many apps that I regularly use, offer the extensions. When you’re on a website that you want to share out, read later, file or pin, it’s extremely smooth to take an action with these extensions. It has made my workflow much smoother. But, it’s three clicks.

I ought to be able to find a setting in Gmail to open links in Safari, since it’s the default browser, but it’s not there. This is likely a symptom of the coopetition between Google and Apple, and my experience is the worst for it. When I open a link from the Apple Mail app it opens Safari as I would want it to. However, I use the Apple Mail app for work and the Gmail app for personal email. Plus I don’t love the way the Apple App forces you to archive every email (for Gmail) rather than deleting it.

In my frustrating treasure-hunt through all these settings, I notice that Gmail can use Google helper apps for certain tasks. For instance, it will use the YouTube app for YouTube links if the app is installed. I installed the Chrome browser and that does the trick. Now, links open in the browser just like I want, and I have access to all the share settings. So, if I stick within the Google ecosystem, all is good.

Now my new First-World problem is that I have another browser open – Chrome. It doesn’t have everything I would want, like my bookmarks, but it’s an improvement.

It’s not just a Google / Apple problem. Several prominent apps, like Facebook and Twitter use these slimmed down built in browsers instead of Safari. Neither currently offers the option to use the full browser instead, though Facebook will let you do that on Android. As Share Sheets and App Actions become more essential to using mobile devices this needs to be an option within apps.

Share Sheet iPad

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The Apple Fanboy Transformation is Complete – Loving Time Machine Restore

Apple Fanboy in ActionThere’s a reason the Apple logo has a bite taken out of it. It’s a reference to the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. Once you take a bite out of that apple, you are transformed –and more importantly you can’t go back to how you were before.

I just restored a Macintosh from a Time Machine backup and my transformation is complete. I am now a fanboy. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a fan who lets his passion override his social graces.

It was so easy! I was upgrading a Mac – which meant I wanted to take everything on my old Mac and move it to my new Mac. One of the easiest ways to do this is take the Time Machine backup (which happens hourly if you have it set up), and  copy everything over to the new Mac.

However, I’ve worked with computers now for over 30 years and things rarely turn out the way they are supposed to. There’s usually some small thing that turns into a large headache, and something you think will be hard that turns out to be easy.

This was so smooth. I set the restore in motion and walked away from the machine for a couple of hours. When I came back it rebooted and every single thing was there. And every single thing worked. It was unbelievable. I will put flowers on Steve Jobs’ tombstone.

Ok, I’m exaggerating slightly. Some of the cloud drives, like OneDrive, had to be set up again. I had to sign into Adobe Creative Cloud to get my licenses in order – which was an easy experience with all my account info all in one place. (Thanks Adobe!) Microsoft was the biggest pain in the ass. My MS Office license had slipped away. I keep very good records of license numbers, but somehow I couldn’t locate the string of upgrades I bought that got me to Office Mac 2011. I spent 20 minutes chatting with Microsoft trying to get the license numbers squared away and finally ended up springing $10 for a home use program just to make the problem go away. It’s really pitiful that Microsoft can’t link licenses back to a single user the way Adobe can. But, I will say their tech support was patient and helpful.

Notice how these were not Apple issues. Everything Apple-related came back in a few clicks. I don’t dislike Windows. I use Quicken on Windows several times a week.  Excel on Windows feels much crisper and there are great Windows utilities like Notepad++ that don’t have any Mac equivalent. But the user experience of this upgrade was remarkable.

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Apple HealthKit Second Impressions

Wearable Man Credit: http://www.psfk.com/2014/06/creating-ideal-vision-health-using-wearable-tech-future-health.htmlNot long after last month’s Healthkit post, Jawbone updated their Blue app so it would connect directly with HealhtKit. So instead of data being transmitted from Blue Jawbone to Purple Jawbone to HealthKit, it now goes from Blue Jawbone to HealthKit directly. They did it quietly, with any communication to band owners. One day the app updated in the background and it was there. (Customer management, anybody?) So, the data flow got a lot simpler and the way it should be.

However, I haven’t been returning to the health app very often. There’s not much to look at, just a couple of charts. It’s an interchange platform. If I wasn’t in the health industry I would barely know about it.

When elephants dance it’s the ants that get crushed, the saying goes. This is very true in tech, particularly when an elephant like Apple makes a big move. In this case, Apple created HealthKit – a nascent healthcare interchange platform. There was already a very interesting interchange platform in early rollout called TicTrac. TicTrac is a platform the connects all of the leading wearables out there, keeping everything in one place. It also allows you to create goals and projects using your data, and provides strong visualizations. You can contract with TicTrack to develop you own branded health programs integrating all theses sources. In a lot of ways it’s what HealthKit could become.

TicTrac is a fine platform but it’s hard to compete against an emerging standard like HealthKit backed by a company like Apple. I recently saw the founders at an Ad Week conference, Health, Wellness & Wearables. They were optimistic about the future, but they will have to find a niche to thrive in.

In spite of HealthKit’s rather basic current state, the future looks bright. Mobile Health News just did a terrific rundown of 137 mobile apps with HealthKit connectivity. Here’s the article.

Based on MobiHealthNews’ analysis, here’s a quick breakdown of the top 10 most popular data types pushed to HealthKit and the top 10 most pulled:

Number of apps pushing various kinds of data (or “writing”) to Apple HealthKit.
  • 34 percent of HealthKit apps (46) are pushing active calories data.
  • 20 percent of HealthKit apps (28) are pushing weight data.
  • 18 percent of HealthKit apps (25) are writing heart rate data.
  • 18 percent (24) are pushing workouts data to HealthKit, even though the Apple Health app doesn’t have such a field.
  • 15 percent of HealthKit apps (21) are feeding step count data into the platform.
  • 15 percent (20) are sharing walking and running distance data with HealthKit.
  • 10 percent of HealthKit apps (14) are pushing out sleep analysis data.
  • 9 percent (12) are sharing nutrition data with the HealthKit ecosystem.
  • 8 percent (11) are pushing out blood pressure data with HealthKit.
  • 7 percent of HealthKit apps (9) are writing cycling distance data.

Number of apps pulling various kinds of data (or “reading”) from Apple HealthKit.

  • 23 percent of HealthKit apps (32) are pulling weight data.
  • 16 percent (22) are integrating step count data from HealthKit.
  • 12 percent (17) are using active calories data from the platform.
  • 10 percent of HealthKit apps (14) are using heart rate data pulled from the system.
  • 10 percent (14) are pulling down blood pressure data from HealthKit.
  • 9 percent (13) make use of walking and running distance data retrieved from HealthKit.
  • 9 percent (13) are pulling nutrition data from HealthKit.
  • 9 percent of HealthKit apps (12) are using sleep analysis data from the platform.
  • 7 percent of HealthKit-connected apps are using the platform to pull in a user’s height.
  • 7 percent (9) are pulling in a user’s birthdate from HealthKit.
Additionally, they report on some telemedicine app and patient engagement apps that are breaking new ground. It’s a good read.Even at just the tracker level, like my Jawbone Up, there’s a big upside. Harris Interactive just did a poll and found:

Nearly half of Americans are extremely or very interested in being able to check their blood pressure (48%) or their heart and heartbeat for irregularities (47%) on their smartphone or tablet, with an additional 23% and 22%, respectively, saying they’re somewhat interested. Perhaps the most common health application for mobile devices right now is the variety of apps and peripherals which can be used to track physical activity, and 43% of Americans say they’re extremely or very interested in this (with an additional 25% somewhat interested).

Add to this the transformation that will likely take place with the Apple Watch next Spring, and wearables are going to have an interesting year in 2015.

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Apple HealthKit First Impressions

For the health geeks, one of the subtle announcements of the big Apple keynote last month was HealthKit. HealthKit allows apps that provide health and fitness services to share their data with the new Health app and with each other. In a rare false start for Apple, HealthKit didn’t make the iOS 8 release, but was in the first update one a week later. Welcome to the complexities of healthcare, Apple, I hope you make it better for us all.

As a long-time user (such as is possible) of health and fitness apps and wearables,  I decided to check out HealthKit and its integration with a few top apps. I started with two popular and well-respected apps: MyFitnessPal (which in spite of its name is primarily a calorie counter) and Jawbone Up, the well known activity and sleep monitor.

These apps already connect with each other. If you log a workout in Jawbone Up, it gives you a calorie count in MyFtinessPal. So, what does HealthKit add to the mix?

Jawbone Up was a puzzle at first. Right about the time HealthKit came out, Jawbone announced a new app compatible with HealthKit  The concept was interesting. The Purple Jawbone app uses the iPhone for step tracking – no band required! It then transmits those steps to Apple’s new ‘Health’ app. The Health app is essentially a dashboard for what’s going on in HealthKit.

I looked at every possible setting in vain on the original Blue Jawbone app for HealthKit connectivity. Nothing there! There was no HealthKit data exchange.Was Jawbone forcing loyal band owners into installing 2 apps to get to HealthKit? I reached out to Jawbone and got no response.  So, I ended up with a very odd setup where data was being transmitted from the original Blue Jawbone app to the Purple Jawbone app and then to HealthKit. Interestingly, the data for steps walked collected independently by the band and by the iPhone was almost identical, indicating that at least if you keep it in a pants pocket, the iPhone makes a pretty good pedometer. So, I guess you don’t need a Jawbone Up as a pedometer now, but you will need it to capture sleep data. I will give a shout-out here to Jawbone for their beautiful iPhone app. It’s very well designed, fun to use, and offers interesting insight. Without a doubt this data flow was weird, but it did work.

HealthKit Data Flows

So what about the much anticipated Apple Health app and HealthKit? It was a bit of a meh. The display pretty much looks like an oscilloscope. I had succeeded in working in MyFitnessPal and Blue Jawbone -> Purple Jawbone as sources. The Health app now shows calories and steps. The displays are scientific and clean, but that’s about it. It’s essentially a database, there are no insights provided. The Jawbone app provides much more insight into activity and provides recommendations. MyFitnessPal provides better nutrition tracking and can already integrate the Jawbone activity.

Right now HealthKit and the Health app are nothing more than a foundation for other more important apps and capabilities that are yet to come. It’s like looking at the basement of a new house under construction. Yes, the basement is there and looks solid, but someone needs to build an interesting house on top to make it worthwhile.

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Pocketful of Miracles – Pocket’s Update for iOS 8 Knocks it Out of the Park for Read-it-Later Apps

Pocket Share Ecosystem

Credit: www.jamierubin.net

One of the biggest boons to your productively on the web can be the Read-it-Later apps. These apps enable you to skim articles, blogs, tweets, or YouTube videos and grab them for later review. Not only do the apps bookmark the articles, they also clean them up into simple text and graphics, stripping out the ads and other crap so you can concentrate on the message. They allow articles to be read offline and are available for phones and tablets, making it easy to consume this content anywhere.

With the release of iOS8, Pocket has taken the read-it-later experience to an orgasmic level. It has done this using two new OS features, Extensibility and Handoff.

Pocket Share Out

Pocket Share Out

On the new Pocket iPhone app, when you read an article (beautifully presented and just right for reading) and you press the share icon at the bottom, you are presented with customizable options to send the article to Evernote, Twitter, Buffer, etc. Pocket has its own sharing list, but tapping “More” gives you choices of any app that is building a share option for iOS 8. Facebook and Twitter were there in the past, but now other apps have the ability to be added to this list. To get the same before, you might have had to open the article in Safari and used a bookmarklet to get it shared where you wanted. The new approach cuts out several steps.

Sharing to Pocket

Capturing to Pocket

This integration has been added to Safari as well. Now when you are on a web page and your plane boards, or whatever interruption takes you away, you can use the native iOS share menu to save it to Pocket and even add tags to help you manage your content. It’s all very fluid and frictionless.

Now to Handoffs. Handoffs allows you to take a task you’re working on – editing a Pages document, for example – and seamlessly pick it up on the next device. Very cool unless you are working on porn and bring it up accidentally in a meeting. Pockets has enabled this so if you are reading an articles on your iPad, you can pick it up right at the same place on your iPhone later. It’s like gliding. Of course, you have to live in the Apple ecosystem to enjoy it and it’s still to come with the Yosemite OS update on Apple computers, but you can see the promise. Pocket is one of the first and smoothest implementations of both Extensibility and Handoffs. Bravo.

Several people who make me look casual and disorganized have integrated Pocket into complex workflows to manage their knowledge and capture it. Here’s an example that is driven by IFTTT which collects articles and then shares them. Here’s another using Pocket as a kind of intermediary clearing house for web research and clippings (credit here to the image at the top of this post). Personally, I’d prefer to be little more manual and selective about it, more like the second example.

What’s really interesting is that the best Pocket experience is on mobile now. That’s where you can grab the article, tag it, read it, and file it in Evernote (as one example). In more direct terms – the mobile experience has passed the browser experience. On the browser you can’t send to Evernote without using IFTTT or clumsily opening the webpage and then capturing it again. Pocket has knocked it out of the park on this update.

P.S. Let’s not forget Instapaper, an old favorite of mine. Instapaper has awesome type and display options and a an impressive new highlights feature. It’s got a stripped down UI that focuses cleanly on what it does. It has added Extensibility as well and may even have more integration options than Pocket, making it a strong alternative.

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