Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Starbucks Starts Accepting Mobile Payments Nationwide

Nearly 6,800 company-operated Starbucks stores in the U.S. will begin accepting mobile payments Wednesday. Customers using the Starbucks Card Mobile app on their iPhone, iPod touch or BlackBerry will now be able to use those devices as tender.

The nationwide rollout marks the official launch of the Starbucks Card Mobile payment program, which has been piloted at Target stores and select San Francisco, Seattle and New York Starbucks locations.

Starbucks Card Mobile [iTunes link] lets users add their Starbucks Cards, track rewards and reload cards as needed via PayPal or credit card. To pay with their phone, app users simply select “touch to pay” and hold up the barcode on their mobile device screen to the 2-D scanner at the register.

An Android application is also said to be in the works, but the company has yet to disclose a release date.

Starbucks is using its own custom-built technology to enable the 2-D mobile barcode scans. The coffee retailer opted for barcode scanning over near field communication technology — which Google (Google) is exploring — because of its limited availability. The coffee retailer was reluctant to wait for a NFC ecosystem to develop when its customers have expressed interest in mobile payments now, according to Chuck Davidson, the category manager of innovation on the Starbucks Card team. “Once there are more users, we will adapt,” he says.

In testing, Starbucks assessed the mobile payment option by measuring application speed, transaction speed and total customer wait time, says Brady Brewer, vice president of Starbucks Card and brand loyalty. In all instances, Starbucks Card Mobile was the fastest way for customers to pay.

Starbucks is investing in mobile payments, an investment Davidson describes as modest in relation to expectations, because customers have requested the option and have shown a propensity to not only pay with Starbucks Cards — one in five transactions are made using a Starbucks Card — but frequently use their smartphones while waiting in line.

The company also believes that its customers carry their mobile phones more often than a wallet or purse, and sees Starbucks Card Mobile and the mobile payment program as an opportunity to reach these consumers and build stronger relationships.

Starbucks seems confident that its customers will appreciate the new, faster way to pay. Both Davidson and Brewer believe that adoption will spread as customers tell their friends about the new mobile payment option.

Image courtesy of gumption, Flick

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Local Businesses: Are you checking your reviews? | Courtney Engle

People turn online to review everything lately.  Whether it’s books, music, movies, or food, you can find out quickly what others think of things.  If you’re a local business, you need to be monitoring these reviews, as well as seeking out reviews from your customers.

Let’s look at a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP):

places1 1024x768 Local Businesses: Are you checking your reviews?

First, I searched just for a topic, as most users will do.  Unless they are looking specifically for your company, they will also search this way.  People may also search using their mobile phone.  See this video for how to search:

By clicking on the “Places Page”, you can see the reviews of that particular business, along with customer reviews and business contact information.

places2 1024x877 Local Businesses: Are you checking your reviews?

See the results from an iPhone:

Also see the reviews others have created on Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla, or other services:

places3 Local Businesses: Are you checking your reviews?

Also see other websites and services linking to this business:

places4 Local Businesses: Are you checking your reviews?

For the brick and mortar business owner, this means you need to claim your page, place relevant content on it, and seek out positive customer reviews. If you need help with these services, just let me know. For everyone else, use these tips to find great venues in your area to visit, and know your reviews will be shared on their Google Places page.

 Local Businesses: Are you checking your reviews?

Want to connect further? Find me online: Google Profile & Online Activity
Want WordPress and Social Media training? GFYD Member - Go For Your Dream
Have a tech question? (hardware, software, & web) Ask Courtney for help
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Monday, January 10, 2011

The anatomy of a WordPress theme - Yoast

The anatomy of a WordPress theme

With all the WordPress theme frameworks that arose over the past few years, you'd almost forget what a normal WordPress theme looks like. Almost, because Yoast has got your back and we're about to remind you! Check out our anatomy of a WordPress theme infographic:

Anatomy of WordPress theme - Yoast

This infographic was created by

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Why Your Social Media Strategy Sucks

Social media strategy sucks

Social media is crap. Social media is a waste of money and time. Social media can’t be measured so we’re just wasting energy. Social media doesn’t offer lead generation. Blah blah blah.

I’ve seen a ton of criticism about social media and what it can and can’t do. People and companies are quick to jump in and castrate those of us using the medium as charlatans and maggots. Generally the excuse is any one of the reasons above, amongst others.

Most times the biggest complaint is that “social media isn’t working for us”, and because of that, social media is automatically a crap shoot.

But maybe those doing the loudest complaining should take a long hard look in the mirror and ask why it’s not working. Because I’m pretty sure that it’s not because of the reasons given at the start of this post, but a far simpler one – your social media strategy sucks.

And here’s why.

Blogs and Books Are Your Education

You read a ton of blogs. You follow all the big names and hang on their every word, gleaning nuggets of wisdom and tips and real-life examples of companies that “did social media right”. Then you take these posts and use them for your business, or product, or team.

And then get all upset because the advice in A-List Blogger’s latest masterpiece didn’t work for you. But are you really surprised?

A blog post isn’t a strategy. A blog post isn’t a campaign measurement stick. A blog post isn’t a research and development program. A blog post is just a drop of water in a bigger pool of ideas that bring a strategy to life.

A blog post isn’t specifically written for you, either – it’s a generic cover-all that can apply to thousands of other readers, some of whom will be your competitors. So why would you replace specific with generic?

As for these never-ending social media books that are hitting the marketplace at the rate of what seems like one a week? Many are just regurgitated blog posts with a new introduction anyway, so all you’re doing is doubling your chance of failure.

Forget generic – start thinking specific.

It’s Not Strategy If There’s No End Goal

Setting goalsWhat’s your end goal with your social media activity? What are you looking to get out of it?

Brand awareness? More eyeballs on your company blog? Sales? Customer service satisfaction levels up? Head hunt new employees? None of the above?

If you’re going into social media without an end goal in mind, why are you even going in? Where’s the benefit? Is it because your competitor is doing the Twitter and they look like they’re having fun and getting people talking to them?

Great – but what’s being said between your competitor and these people? Is there an end goal there? Is it simply building relations on another platform, much like having open days at your workplace and inviting the public in?

Whatever it is, if you’re not getting any results it’s because you haven’t set any results up to be met.

  • Ask how many connected conversations it’s going to take to turn into one sale.
  • Ask how many products you’ll have to give away via a blogger outreach program to raise awareness, positive sentiment and actionable intent on your audience’s behalf.
  • Ask how many people you’ll need to man the social phones and react to hundreds if not thousands of questions being thrown at you.
  • Ask what your cut-off date is and what happens next – cut and run or adapt and conquer?

Every single thing we do in life has an end goal. The difference with life is that our very end goal we have no choice in. But in business, you do. Set your end goals out and work strategically toward them.

You Don’t Believe

You’ve used print and radio ads for longer than you can remember. They must be working, because you’re still in business. Besides, everyone reads newspapers or listens to the radio – you have a guaranteed audience. Can the same be said of social media?

Well, yes, it can, with targeted audience marketing. But let’s forget that for now, because you don’t believe you can target success in social media. You don’t believe you can bring in sales with social media, or improve your business practices, or customer satisfaction level, even though there are plenty of examples of these and more.

Simply put, you don’t believe in social media. And as that wise little guy Yoda once said, that is why you fail.

Sure, you’re tweeting. Yes, you’re Facebooking. Yes, you’re Linking In. But your heart’s not in it. You’re not in it. You’re only here because others said you should be.

But you know, maybe you don’t need to be – social media isn’t for everyone. It is for everyone’s customers, but then there’s a whole other approach you can take for that.

So stop wasting your time. If you don’t believe in something, are you really going to put your heart in it? No. Plain and simple.

Believe or leave.

It Doesn’t Need to Be This Way

I could run a ton of other reasons off why your social media strategy sucks, but I think you get the gist. Some of it might be you, the complainer’s fault; some of it might be your boss and his or her whip cracking on you.

But it’s not a lost cause. It doesn’t need to be this way.

Everything can be turned around; all courses can be plotted again and new directions taken when an obstacle or turbulence kicks in. Just because you think it sucks now doesn’t mean it can’t suck a whole lot less in a fairly short amount of time.

  • Stop acting on what works for others and build for what works for you.
  • Take advice with a grain of salt and ask if that great post is really talking to you, or just talking (albeit greatly).
  • Write your own books. They don’t need to be physical – successful campaigns are books, just in a different format.
  • Think with the endgame in mind, or don’t play the game, period.

Bad strategy sucks, not social media. But then isn’t that true for everything?

image: JKonig
image: successfromthenest

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Why Your Social Media Strategy Sucks

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Exploring the Twitterverse

I'd love to see this intertwined into the social media compass and the Conversation Prism

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Exploring the Twitterverse

Happy New Year!

Twitter officially launched to the public in July 2006. By 2008, the universe of applications developed to enhance the Twitter experience was boundless. While the ecosystem was burgeoning with apps, the ability to track and manage the apps designed for specific purposes was elusive.

I spent the better part of Fall 2008 studying and organizing the available Twitter apps available for new marketing, community management, and customer service professionals. Once organized, I published Twitter Tools for Marketing and Community Professionals on October 17, 2008. I actively curated and modified the list for several months. However, the rate of new and abandoned applications was too much for one person to manage. Instead, I focused my spare time and resources on helping Laura Fitton (@pistachio) and her team launch, a comprehensive social app directory for all things Twitter. I remain as an advisor to this day.

The Twitterverse (Alpha)

To commemorate the move, I partnered once again with Jesse Thomas and JESS3 to visualize the most effective and productive tools for Twitter. In May 2009, we introduced the alpha of the Twitterverse (below). Unlike the Conversation Prism, the Twitterverse was not originally designed as a transmedia object, simply a social object packaged in the form of an infographic. The image never made it to 1.0 status as I dove head first into Engage and several other business endeavors. After all of this time, I felt the need to revisit this visual as the Twitter ecosystem only continues to gain in prominence in our digital culture.

In 2010, I focused my limited free time on the refresh of the Conversation Prism. Once that project was completed, I then blasted off toward the Twitterverse to rethink the methodology and ultimately the visual of the Twitterverse with the JESS3 team. Here we are, 20 months later, and I can’t believe this day is finally here.

Introducing The Twitterverse version 1.0

A new year, a new Twitterverse. 2011 marks the debut of the Twitterverse 1.0. Again, I revisited the landscape of useful Twitter apps designed for marketing, business, and service professionals. This time, we organized and  positioned “representative” apps across 19 rings in the Twitter egosystem over the previous 12. Like its sibling, The Twitterverse is designed as a transmedia object. It’s available for free in a presentation-friendly format and also in high-res. For the first time, the Twitterverse is also available as a 22 x 28 poster.

With Twitter at the center of the stellar system, apps orbit at different rotations based on their design and functionality.

Ring 1: Branding

Ring 2: Geographics

Ring 3: Interest Graph

Ring 4: Dashboard

Ring 5: Event Management

Ring 6: Live Streaming

Ring 7: Geo Location

Ring 8: Relationships

Ring 9: Marketing and Advertising

Ring 10: Rich Media Ring 11: Communication Management

Ring 12: Research and Analysis Ring 13: Stream Management

Ring 14: Mobile Applications Ring 15: Trends Ring 16: Social CRM

Ring 17: Influence and Resonance

Ring 18: Twitter Search

Ring 19: Causation

Naturally with thousands of considerable apps available for Twitter, it’s impossible to include everything. However, this is an evolving graphic, so please leave your ideas and suggestions in the comments section here or on Flickr.

UPDATED: The Twitterverse covered in The Atlantic, The Next Web, Guardian UK (Thank you!)

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook


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My 3 Words of 2011 | Courtney Engle

Chris Brogan recently posted an article entitled “My 3 words for 2011.”Every year Chris comes up with three words that will summarize this focus for the year ahead. I decided to do likewise.

Create. Consistent. Results.

Create – I will create content, materials, art, music, and value in many areas of life. I can’t go on merely consuming the news, absorbing trainings, we’re just reading. My sponges full, and I need to share what I create.

Consistent – I get all excited about new projects, ideas, methods, goals, and whatever new flashy thing comes my way. What I need is truly consistent in areas that will challenge me. For me this looks like a monthly newsletter, a daily blog post, a weekly podcast, time with my mentor, exercise, and meditation. I will choose tools that support being consistent. I will schedule time of my Google calendar. I will make appointments with myself.

Results – results matter. I’m a very driven person and want to reach whatever the goal is. I need to measure, plan, map, and implement what will reach those results. This applies in my personal life as well as in my business life.

What is the goal?

My goals in 2011 include a staff of virtual assistants, public speaking, social media training and consulting, pay off all debt, balancing personal life, taking time for hobbies, growing spiritually, and getting married. To reach these goals I must include each of my three words, but I also want to create consistent results.

What are your three words? Leave a comment below.

 My 3 Words for 2011

Want to connect further? Find me online: Google Profile & Online Activity
Want WordPress and Social Media training? GFYD Member - Go For Your Dream
Have a tech question? (hardware, software, & web) Ask Courtney for help
Need official work done? Contact Courtney

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Monday, January 3, 2011