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Photo Pooling and Collaboration

Crowd Taking PicturesAfter Father’s Day I wanted to share a bunch of photos with my family and also allow other people to contribute to the album – a seemingly simple request. I was astounded how hard it was to find a good solution. Is this 2014? Doesn’t ever device short of a microwave oven have a camera in it which then gets shared on 5 types of social media?

There are many, many, sites and apps that allow you to collect and display your own photos in beautiful galleries for friends, family, or business prospects. Very few of these have even a rudimentary ability to let others contribute to these galleries. This is a huge gap. A few sites, such as Photorocket, have tried this angle and bitten the dust along the way. Here’s my quick rundown on the current solutions landscape and where I ended up. Let’s start simple and build from there.

Entourage Box LogoEntourage Box is a very interesting service that let’s you share any of your cloud drives with others using only a private link. That’s pretty cool, and can be used for many other file types than photos. However, there is no photo album capability unless you’re connecting to something that has that natively, like Dropbox.

Google Plus LogoThen there’s always Google+. Who doesn’t have a Google account somewhere? Simply create an event and share your photos to the stream. Others can contribute and set their own privacy on their photos.

Media Fire LogoMedia Fire is another terrific resource for sharing all sorts of content – photos, videos, songs, and documents all fit in the mix. It has great capacity and a nice set of apps for mobile access. What about photos? I find it solid. However, when I’ve shared galleries with smart but less technical friends, they’ve had issues downloading and adding photos. The user interface is somehow more challenging for non-technical folks. Don’t share albums with Grandma on Media Fire.

Yogile LogoYogile is a really interesting, lightweight photo sharing platform. You can upload and keep albums private, or make them public. But the best part is this – you can start an album and let others contribute to it through email or direct upload via a dedicated, customizable URL – and they don’t need to create an account. The email option is a big help for people with mobile devices.

Shutterfly LogoShutterfly, an old standby, has remained a leader among the other photo collecting and publishing sites. They have created sharing templates and sites specifically for events like wedding, birthdays, etc. The templates are quite attractive and offer a gateway to all the other Shutterfly services, like printing. The only letdown is that you end up embedding a standard Shutterfly gallery into these sharing sites – which is a pretty average viewing experience. It’s still a solid option.

Adobe Revel LogoAdobe is the king of image editing programs and it’s only natural they would have a strong offering. Adobe Revel “is where your entire family can keep all your family photos and videos. When you invite family members to join a Group Library, they’re able to see your photos and videos and they’re also able to add their own photos and videos.” That’s perfect. Adobe offers a portfolio of apps across the major platforms to make this an easy mobile experience. The galleries look attractive and flexible. It’s $60 a year and seems to have some limits as far as others contributing without an account so I didn’t go further. It looks like one of the best options.

Smugmug LogoDrumroll. What did I select for the Father’s Day project? SmugMug. Until I researched this, I thought of SmugMug as a specialty photo printer, which they are and which they’re great at. For sharing and collaboration it features stunning and flexible templates right out of the box. There are endless customization options. The galleries display very well in mobile devices. There is a plugin for Adobe Lightroom which makes creating and updating galleries a breeze. The basic subscription is $40 a year and seems well worth it. Here’s my code if you want to get an extra 20% off –

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Could There be Luck in the Twitter Cards for Pharma?

PM360 Twitter Redesign ArticleToday’s PM360 Panorama featured an article “Fifteen Ways Pharma Can Take Advantage of Twitter’s Redesign.” My comments were featured in the article, and the full article is here. Below are some further thoughts on the redesign and its applicability for pharma.

With a full header image and stats on friends and photos, I can hardly tell if I’m on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram these days. Perhaps it’s the well-known attention and engagement that visual content garners. Or, perhaps it’s the monetization that Facebook has been able to create in it’s newsfeed that makes the revenue officers at Twitter sit up and take notice.

This is a big change. Pages on originally were sparse, functional, and not particularly attractive destinations. There have been several design revisions, the most dramatic of which was last Fall just before the IPO when Twitter added photo and video previews to the feed of items that users see when they log into the service from the Web or mobile applications. This latest redesign, and the expansion of Twitter Cards, are a major push towards increasing the visual element of the newsfeed, and keeping uses on-platform by allowing then to get what they need right in the feed.

One of the biggest reasons for Twitter’s initial success was an open API that allowed developers to build Twitter tools and apps that complimented the platform. So, many early adopters immediately set up Tweetdeck or Hootsuite as soon as they started their account. Today, this divide still exists. There are two main ways to use Twitter: Twitter apps, which include, Twitter for iPhone and Android; and third-party clients or applications, such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck (owned by Twitter), and many others. These third-party apps come in desktop, web and mobile flavors.

It’s worth noting that these design changes and Twitter Cards largely affect those using Twitter’s products – webpage and apps – they do not apply to the huge number of users on third party apps. However, Twitter’s apps have a large mobile share which is where the bulk of the traffic is headed.

Twitter’s expansion of card formats offers new opportunities for pharmaceutical marketers. You can get much more content into your tweet beyond the original 140 characters, plus users can interact with this content without having to leave Twitter or their Twitter app.  In particular, App Cards are promising. Experienced app marketers know that creating the app is just the first hard step, and the rest is getting installs and usage. App Cards display a prominent name, description and icon – with only one click needed to install. Additionally, Twitter has extremely useful targeting options for promoted tweets, so you can combine cards with advertising. How about promoting only to females using the keyword “diabetes?” Or, to those similar to the followers of the well-known diabetes blogger @sixuntilme?

Pharma marketers cognizant of digital trends are always seeking striking visuals for their social media posts to increase visibility and engagement. Twitter Photo Cards (a single image) and Gallery Cards (up to four images) offer ways to syndicate this work and drive traffic back to the main platform or website. These cards can be great additions to a content marketing strategy. For Twitter accounts with large followings, this may be enough, otherwise promoted tweets or promoted accounts are again an option to achieve scale. Marketers can also extend their YouTube reach and push video content rather than still images with Player Cards.

Limited space does not offer opportunity for fair balance, just as with Tweets themselves and paid search marketing. The options above are best used for disease education, unbranded, corporate, or potentially branded reminder ads with no  indications or claims. However, most pharma social campaigns and apps fall into this area, so cards can compliment and build on existing strategies. Summary Cards and Summary Cards with Large Images are in a similar class – besides the tweet itself, you have 200 characters for descriptions – clearly not enough for fair balance, but enough to push your unbranded visual content.

Another interesting option is Lead Generation Cards. Companies can collect emails and Twitter handles right from the card for lead generation and CRM. For categories with engaged communities of sufficient size, like Multiple Sclerosis, this could be an strong tactic. You can bet an aspiring Pharma media planner is running the numbers for that right now.

The Twitter ecosystem is taking a big step forward with these new card formats. Hopefully for pharma, there’s some luck in these cards.

PS: I decided to setup a Twitter Photo Card for this post. I used a WordPress plugin and it was not difficult to do. Here’s what the card looks like:

Twitter Photo Card Example

However, Twitter needs to approve website owners. When I applied, I got a note that I’ll be approved in a few weeks! (I got it approved and other card types approved, in less than fifteen minutes.)

Twitter Photo Card Message

So, in a few weeks I’ll leave a comment when this is ready. That’s got to be frustrating to content publishers. The card is active, and if you tweet this blog URL, rather than the website, the card will be used.

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Indie Web – Back to the Open and Democratized Web

IndiewebcampI recently stumbled across the Indie Web movement, First, I love the name. Rather than being a bunch of geek bloggers sniffing around the fringes, you’re now an Indie Band vs. a mainstream commercial act. That gets to the spirit of things – the Internet and simple self-publishing tools made it possible for passionate and knowledgeable individuals to get a following, find each other, and form a community.

Dan Glimor put it very clearly forth on Medium: We’re in danger of losing what’s made the Internet the most important medium in history – a decentralized platform where the people at the edges of the networks – that would be you and me – don’t need permission to communicate, create and innovate. This isn’t a knock on social networks’ legitimacy, or their considerable utility. But when we use centralized services like social media sites, however helpful and convenient they may be, we are handing over ultimate control to third parties that profit from our work, material that exists on their sites only as long as they allow.

The Indie Web movement is a people-focused alternative to the ‘corporate web.’ One of the main principles is that when you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. In the age of big business social media, people are less interested in setting up their own website and domain. The Indie Webers want to reverse this, but not in a way that rejects social media, rather they want to incorporate that experience into their own experiments. They promote interesting tools that allow you to POSSE (Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere), and to pull responses and comments from all other sites (Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) back to yours. If you look at the folks involved, there are some big names who helped build the underpinnings of the modern web. Very interesting stuff. Read about it here on

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been advocating in the same direction. He’s an amazing man who, without restriction and without royalties, democratized access to information and the ability for anyone to become a publisher. He recently urged the public to reengage with the Web’s original design: a decentralized Internet that remains open to all. (Update 5/19: see his recent Webby speech, as well.)

This of course connects back to the dismaying fight over Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality as an important component of an open internet, where policies such as equal treatment of data and open web standards allow those on the internet to easily communicate and conduct business without interference from a third party. It’s concerning to be “reliant on big companies and one big server,” something that stalls innovation and limits or slows access in the name of profits.

Call me an aging hippy, but I love this Indie Web idea.

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‘Forked’ Over by AMC Theatres

Bad Words movie poster

Bad Words. Great movie, I also used a few of these when my family was denied entry by AMC due to my son being under 21.

It’s nice to be able to reserve a seat for a movie theater and I’m willing to pay a premium for it. In particular, I like the fork and dine theaters. Table service is a good convenience, and the food I’ve had has been as good as your standard high end bar chain.

So, when I went online on a Sunday afternoon and booked 3 tickets for my wife’s birthday I didn’t realize it was us who was going to get ‘forked’ and the experience was almost going to spoil the whole birthday.

We got to the Menlo Park theatre and went right to the check-in station, bypassing the kiosk and the counter – so far so good. Then, we were stopped in our tracks. My 17 year old son was not allowed to go into the Cinema Suites. What the hell are the Cinema Suites suites? Well, apparently they are a 21 and up experience for adults only. I asked to see the manager. He showed up. A young kid, unfailingly polite.

“Where was it disclosed on the website that this was a 21 and up environment?” I asked.  “Where was the checkbox to indicate everyone needed to be 21 to get in?”

“We’ve had problems with Fandango,” he said. “They don’t clearly disclose it on the site.”

“Ok,” I said, “Given the circumstances, can you make it an exception this one time?”

It was a Sunday afternoon, and my bookish 17 year old was not going to be screaming in the theater.

“It’s my wife’s birthday.”

“Sorry, I can’t make an exception,” he said.

“Can I speak with you boss,” I asked.  “Who’s the top person I can speak with?”

“All the other managers are like me,” he said, “you’ll get the same answer.”

At this point my wife was in tears. It had not been an easy weekend. Then I lost it a bit, which I’m not proud of. “I’ll sic the Internet on you as much as I can, and I want a refund.”

He disappeared for a long time and eventually came back with a refund for me to sign. Then I asked for contact info for the owner of the theater. He was gone an even longer time but came back with a card.

We salvaged the experience by taking our business to another movie theatre 20 minutes away and a show 45 minutes later, but it still sucked.

So, AMC, let me use this opportunity to teach you some principles of good user experience from someone who does it for a living.

When you elect to purchase tickets on the AMC website, you select the movie and you are shot over to Fandango where you pick the quantity. In tiny type on the right sidebar under your movie are some specific details. That seems important, so why isn’t it bigger? “Auditorium 12” is big. That’s something completely unimportant that hold be printed on a ticket, but isn’t needed here. If there’s age restriction, you want to call it out with big emphasis.The whole area should be customized to the movie. And why is it all crammed on the right side? There’s a lot of extra space by the ticket selection.

AMC Ticket Selection

AMC Complete PurchaseWhen you take the next step to purchase you are given no additional information. That’s a deeply flawed approach. AMC should not want to turn away loyal customers, piss them off, and have to refunded their money like they did with me. The theater I was in has only 63 seats. So, by losing 3 customers they lost about 5% of the potential revenue of that showing. Stupid. The same design flaws are on that purchase page, but what it really needs is a confirmation letting guests know that can’t get in if they’re not 21!

Though I had been to the Fork and Dine theaters many times with my teenagers, I was unaware of the Cinema Suites existence and any age restrictions beyond the movie designations themselves – like an ‘R’ rating. Any why was that? Well, maybe it was because two weeks earlier at the same theater I saw an 8 o’clock ‘R’ movie that featured a crying child in the audience that had to be taken out a couple of times to quiet him down. I was tolerant and didn’t complain. But there it is in the age restrictions on the site – no kids under 6 after six. So, clearly the rules aren’t always enforced!

AMC Age Policy

AMC, you let in a crying child violating your own age restrictions on a weekend night, but you won’t let in my well-behaved 17 year old in the middle of a Sunday afternoon? How about a couple of free tickets for the inconvenience and annoyance?

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Has anybody seen my bookmarks?

Missing BookmarksDo you keep your bookmarks in your browser? I did too – about 2,000 of them, until I suddenly had 1,600. Only, it wasn’t so sudden. Gradually, entire directories became empty, but they were bookmarks I used infrequently, and it happened over a period of months. So, I didn’t notice for a long while.

What happened? I’ve been a long time user of Xmarks ever since it was FoxMarks, and I’ve relied on it to synchronize all the bookmarks that I have between all the browsers I use – Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Chrome – across two Macs and a PC. But, the complexity of all the machines and the browsers I use seems to have pushed it over the edge.

I’ve always kept a lot of bookmarks in my browser. Maybe it’s out of habit, maybe it’s just because it’s just so convenient to have them there right at my fingertips. They might have stayed there forever until this crisis pushed me to do something different. I decided that browser-based bookmarks are too fragile and temperamental, and if you want to preserve your investment in your bookmarks, you better get them in the cloud ASAP!

Aren’t your bookmarks the most personal, relevant, and best links that you have flagged in your travels around the Internet? Yet you’re just sticking them in your browser?

I decided that in spite of the pain in the ass it was going to be moving them, it would be much better for me to move all my bookmarks to the cloud just like I have with my contacts, my to-dos, and all of the other important data that I use on a regular basis. I knew that it would also make it easier to access my bookmarks from all my mobile devices and my iPad. The only question was which one to use.

I was familiar with the territory, and I knew there are really three strong options: Delicious, Pinboard, and Diigo. Delicious is the old-time standard for social bookmarking, and I’ve been popping bookmarks on it for half a dozen years. What I had there was kind of a jumble of best practices and random bookmarks that I had decided to make public. When Delicious almost bit the dust a couple of years ago I became aware of Pinboard, Diggo, and some of the other alternatives.

[click to continue…]

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FDA’s Draft Guidance on Interactive Promotional Media – First Week Responses

Early Monday morning, the FDA released guidance for review on Interactive Promotional Media. This was the first tangible guidance since the FDA hearings on Pharma Social Media in November 2009, and for some this was a real occasion to open the champagne. Bill Evans at the industry leading Dose of Digital was the first to break the news. Industry pundits such as John Mack were quick to jump on the news and agencies worked late into the night to construct elaborate points-of-view. I’ve curated a list on that follows the most significant commentary from this week. The links on the below embed are live, or you can click here to access the topic.

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