How FitBit Fascinates

Yesterday I attended a very classy luncheon with a bunch of very classy women. As the meal ended, over pistachio cookies and sorbet, two of the women started talking about their FitBit gadgets.

FitBit One and FitBit Flex.

FitBit One and FitBit Flex. Image from http://www.fitbit.com.

One woman dug her FitBit One out of her bra – yes, she carries it in her bra – and explained all that it did with great enthusiasm. The other woman wore a Flex bracelet. She confessed to being a technology dinosaur, but she was fascinated and obsessed with the data that she got from her FitBit.

They didn’t realize as they talked that they were describing how game theory has affected wearable technology. Nevertheless, that was how FitBit had hooked them both: rewards, feedback, realtime tracking, notifications, nags, acknowledgement. They were both dedicated to making those 10,000 steps per day, to getting quality sleep, to watching their calorie intake. They knew the FitBit was tracking them and they had such easy access to the information, they felt the gadgets had made them healthier people.

If the definition of creating a successful design is making a product that works, then FitBit has taken high tech and game theory and created a great product.

Google recently announced Android Wear, an operating system for smart watches. I wouldn’t be surprised to see FitBit and other technologies like it move into watches soon.

Good News for Bloggers from Getty Images

Getty Images Embed Tool

Getty Images Embed Tool

Getty Images announced a new embed feature that gives free, legal access to many images to bloggers for noncommercial use.

If you find an image on the Getty site, look for an embed icon(</>) from the search results or image detail page. Click that and you’ll get the HTML code to embed that image on your site.

Getty has images from news, entertainment, sports, archival and creative imagery content. This new embed tool takes the rights of its content contributors and partners into account, because images will include photographer attribution and, when clicked, will link back to gettyimages.com where the image can be licensed for commercial use.

For a look at the dark side of what this means in terms of advertising and to photographers, see Getty did what?

7 Ways to Use Instagram Direct To Market Your Business

Is your marketing campaign growing rather stale? A little “ho hum?” If your social media marketing mix is becoming a little too predictable, you may need to shake things up a bit. The perfect way to add a excitement and catch your audience off-guard may be to adopt a hip new social media tool.


This is a sign that your current campaign is not working.

Don’t worry if you are currently scratching your head asking yourself, “What hip, new marketing tool have I missed?” The answer is Instagram Direct. Yes, there’s a new tool in town and it is changing the way businesses market through social media.

What is it?

Instagram Direct introduces new features to the Instagram repertoire of tools by enabling you to select who you share your photos, messages, and videos with. And, after you have sent your message to this “select” group of followers, you can actually keep tabs on who has seen it. Furthermore, said followers will be able to respond in real time–triggering conversation.

How can you put it to work for you?

Here are 7 ways for your business to put this platform to work.

1. Attract the early adopters

Let’s face it. Early adopters and the cool, young crowd don’t want to hang out in the same place as their parents. That’s why Instagram Direct is a great way appeal to this desirable demographic. It’s new and it has not yet been populated by the supposed “past their prime” audience.

2. Showcase a new product

Creating a buzz about your company’s latest offering is the best way to ensure its success. Instagram Direct’s visual format is the perfect way to foster this. By sending your best customers and most avid followers an attractive image of your newest product, you will generate interest–especially if you encourage them to share it.

3. Run a contest

Everyone loves the chance to win and Instagram Direct is a great venue for running a contest. Ask participants to take funny snapshots of themselves with your product, ask them to come up with quirky advertisements, or create a new slogan. Not only will this generate a buzz and goodwill, but it will also provide your business with some great material to showcase on your website and other social media platforms.

4. Offer loyalty rewards

We all like to feel special. And we are more likely to frequent a business that makes us feel exactly that–special. Foster loyalty among your followers by sending them exclusive coupons, discount codes, or a special in-store deal.

5. Share special content

Offering your most avid followers access to special content is another great way to make them feel valued. You can share “behind the scenes” images, funny or touching customer testimonials, employee stories, product tips, and any other exclusive content that you think will best showcase your products and services.

6. Excel at customer service

Customers feel an affinity with businesses that provide them with personalized service. Instagram Direct will better enable you to do exactly that. If a client posts a photo or complaint about one of your products, you can respond to them on a one-on-one basis. Besides handling customer concerns and queries, you can also send thank you messages to your most active followers.

7. Glean Information

By following your followers, you will be able to see, firsthand, what they are saying about your business and your products. This will offer valuable insight into what is working and what is not.

Silence those yawns. Abolish those “ho hums.” By introducing Instagram Direct to your social media marketing mix, you can step out of the doldrums and experience renewed customer enthusiasm. Now that’s something to applaud.

Does your business make use of Instagram Direct? How?

Guest Author Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger. She is a unrelenting social media junkie who has written a bevy of articles on social media marketing, online reputation management, and pretty much every social media platform known to man. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

Image courtesy of photos.com

10 Awesome Free Photoshop Extensions

10 Awesome Free Photoshop Extensions

Photoshop is one of the most amazing pieces of design software ever created, and I, for one, absolutely applaud Adobe for adopting the software-as-a-service business model, which makes Photoshop and the rest of the Creative Suite more accessible to graphic designers everywhere. Another key component of Photoshop is the ability to extend it with third-party plugins. If you want to take Photoshop to the next level, download the following 10 awesome free Photoshop extensions today.

Skeumorphism.it

The days of high-gloss and texture are over – flat is in! With this Photoshop plugin, you can make your design flat in, well, no time flat!

Flat Icon

The Flat Icon plugin lets you instantly access more than 25,000 icons to use in your designs, right from Photoshop’s interface.

CSS3Ps

Crafting a compelling design in Photoshop is one thing, but turning it into workable CSS styles for websites is another. This handy Photoshop plugin automatically converts your layer styles into CSS.

BlendMe.in

Access thousands of vectors to use in your designs fast and easy right from Photoshop’s interface with this awesome plugin.

Interface Tools

The ultimate interface toolkit for Photoshop, Interface Tools eliminates the need to endlessly search for Photoshop tools and provides a host of other functions that streamline the design process, all free of charge.

GuideGuide

Grid-based layouts are the most attractive, but Photoshop makes it painfully difficult to work with grids. With GuideGuide, you’ll have properly proportioned grids in seconds.

Layer Guides

If you add guides to your layers, you know how tedious it can be to click, click, click for every single layer. Layer Guides adds guides to all of your layers with a single click.

Divine Project

PSD to WordPress designers take note: This is the ultimate extension for you, because it helps quickly convert Photoshop designs into workable WordPress themes. Zero coding required!

Web Font Plugin

Access Google and WebINK web fonts from Photoshop’s interface with this ultra-useful plugin.

CutandSlice.me

For all its advances, Photoshop is still old school when it comes to slicing graphics for the web. The Cut&Slice Me plugin makes it easy to quickly slice graphics for today’s web, including the capability to slice and capture all button states at once.

What’s your favorite free Photoshop plugin?

Author’s Bio: Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint.

Useful Links: Content Ideas, Beauty Pageant, Date Input

I saw this tweeted by Kristina Halvorson, so I took a look. It’s a tool to help you generate ideas for new content for your blog, called Content Strategy Generator. It works through Google Drive.

To Increase Women’s Participation, They Added a Beauty Pageant. Good grief!

Date input in HTML5: Restricting dates, and a thought for working around limitations is from Tiffany B. Brown.

What A-B Testing Is and Why You Should Do It

When you are running a business, it is important to test your advertising and marketing strategy so that you can develop a better method of reaching your target audience. The primary goal of marketing is getting the name of your company and the products or services that you provide out to the public. The second goal of advertising is tempting your target audience, or the customers that your products are designed to help, to consider purchasing the item or paying for the services. One method of finding the right advertising strategy for your business is A-B testing.

What Is A-B Testing?

Before it is possible to actually apply A-B testing in your business, you must understand what it is and how it works. If you do not know the basics of the testing strategy, then it is hard to use it in a practical manner.

A-B testing is a term that describes a systematic study of different parts of your marketing strategies, website or other tools that you use to gain the attention of your potential clients. MarketingLand.com write about what to test. You have two items or elements that you are comparing in a controlled setting. If you’re looking to test more than one variable, have a look at this post on multivariate data analysis here. The comparable elements or items are labelled as A and B during the systematic test. Another name for the experiment is split testing or controlled randomized tests. It is a literal comparison of two items to find the element, statement or item that is better at attracting potential customers or getting the results that you want.

A-B Testing

A-B testing Image credit: Walter Rumsby

How It Works

Although it seems like a simple experiment, the testing strategy does require a little work to ensure that it is a controlled study. Before you attempt to determine if your new strategy is appropriate for your goals, set your control.

In A-B testing, the control element of the experiment is A. It refers to the original strategy that you employed, such as a button on a company website or a design that you use for the current advertisements that you send in the mail. Depending on your current strategy, the exact item that you are comparing to the new strategy will vary.

The B in an experimental test is the new strategy, item or element, such as a new design on the mailed advertisement or a different design for a website button to encourage visitors to click on the button. The first item acts as a control because you already know how well it is reaching your target audience. The second item is the strategy or change that you are testing for comparison purposes.

Compare the results of each item in the experiment for a set amount of time, such as one to two weeks. After you see if one color choice, design element or phrase on your website or advertisement is better than the other, you can make changes to ensure that your business is making the most out of the ads, website and tools that help you reach your target audience.

Reasons That A-B Testing is Important

Although it is obvious that testing the variables in your advertisements is essential to getting the results that you want, there are several reasons that split testing is recommended for businesses. A company can benefit from testing even the smallest variables on a website, email or even just an ad that you send in the mail.

A key reason to start adding A-B testing to your marketing strategy is the potential improvements to your website, advertisements or other elements of your business. It is not necessary to make everything perfect on the first try. The tests help you determine different ways that you can improve so that your customers are happy with the services that you offer. Even small improvements can make the user experience better.

Another reason to add A-B testing is the impact on profits. A business that makes changes and identifies the items that customers are looking for in a website, email or ad will see an improvement in the amount of profits that come in. Customers like to see changes, particularly if they make the experience more user-friendly or appeal to a personal aesthetic sense.

Although the impact on profits and the improvements to different marketing elements are essential reasons to use A-B testing, the impact on finding the right headlines and writing style is also important. A-B testing is not only related to the aesthetics and small changes. It can also be applied to finding the right language to communicate your products and services to your potential clients. Even if the headlines are similar, some potential clients may respond differently to minor wording changes than others.

The final reason to use A-B testing as part of a business marketing strategy is the real-time data. Instead of relying on reports about other businesses that have similar products or services, A-B testing gathers information about personal clients, blog readers or other individuals who happen across your company website or advertisement. Your customers might not have the same aesthetic sense or interests as the customers of a competing company. What works for that company might not be the best option for your business because of the variation in clients and client relationships that you develop. A-B testing helps you find the tools that work for your business rather than using the elements that work for a different company.

Making the Testing Easier

Although it is important to test your ads, website and wording, it is difficult if your hosting services are slow. Finding a great host is essential if you want your company to see positive changes during the test.

Take the time to find a host service that allows immediate access to your website and does not have any problems with downtime – this post on VirtualHosting.com has a list of hosting reviews you can read through. You do not want your potential customers to struggle to gain access to your website and it can help speed up your A-B testing process so that you can move forward at a faster rate.

Reaching your target audience is the primary goal of testing different products, services and tools. Among the tests that can help you find the right advertising strategy, wording or tools for your business is A-B testing. By using the original design features, element or idea as the control, you are able to establish if the new idea will work for your business or if it is better to make another change for the best results. The immediate data that you gather from your results allows you to find the right combination of colors, wording and design to reach the customers that are buying your products or services.

Guest Author Cormac Reynolds is a writer and a technology buff who writes about hosting and other areas of the web for VirtualHosting.com.  He believes that A/B testing is too overlooked and wishes to showcase the importance of it.

Useful Links: Girls in IT, wearable tech, early edu

Why schoolgirls are not interested in studying IT is an essay by a 13 year old English schoolgirl.

This bracelet could replace your passwords, your car keys, and even your fingerprints. This is the ultimate in cool and something a forgetful password keeper like myself thinks is a great idea. It’s also the ultimate privacy invasion. Since it can be anything, how long until its baked into something like Google Glass or whatever comes after Google Glass?

3 Tech Skills Every Kid Should Learn at School (but doesn’t) is right on the mark.