Tag Archives: app

Public Shaming is The Best Motivator

It´s like if your annoying roommate was a fitness tracking app.

cakewalk

Here is app I heartily endorse.

Cakewalk is step-tracking app which nags to you and if you do not reach your goals it will publicly shame you on Twitter. As majority of New Year resolutions will be broken sometime you need a little bit of tough love to stay on the course. Otherwise it is super simple: it will set the goals based on your daily average step count and then insults you if you don´t fulfill your goals.

plasticbags

Probably someone will get upset of this “mean” app. Well get away from your smartphone and just go walking.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Sizzl

Moving at the speed of culture has been the catchphrase for many marketers lately.

Oscar Mayer is one of the brands, that has turned that phrase into brand behavior.

Internet has love affair with bacon

Internet loves bacon. Actually there are more bacon-related conversations than there is chatter about Kanye West, Tom Cruise and Lady Gaga combined. They have been the bacon brand that has been capitalizing that eternal love for bacon. Oscar Mayer has done Bacon alarm clock and bacon branded content. Now their newest app will help you to find your true love (for bacon):

Insight: Tinder has become mainstream in the mating game*. When selecting for a potential partner, what could be more important than his or her preference of bacon?

Tinder for bacon-lovers

Tinder for bacon-lovers

Will people really start to use this app?

Probably not, but at least it grabs headlines and increases the brand love among bacon-loving Internet. The brand´s behavior online underlines their belief and dedication to bacon. And that is a noble mission.

*When I started dating my now-wife, we weren´t even on Facebook. We had to rely on real-life Tinder: going to bars. Kids have it easier nowadays.

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Much Ado About Meerkat

“Those sorts of consumer shifts used to take years or decades, but now they can happen in months or weeks or days, and we’re becoming accustomed to that idea”
Ian Bogost, game designer

Have you heard about Meerkat?

Don´t worry, you might not even need to.

The hype cycle of new apps gets faster at every moment. I heard about Meerkat couple of weeks ago, this week it has been all the talk of the SXSW town and now it has already been declared dead.

Meerkat is essentially live-streaming app, which used heavily the social graph of Twitter and allowed you to connect to your Twitter connetions in Meerkat. Twitter has already blocked this fun, in conjuction of buying similar app called Periscope. Hence, Meerkat suffered a blow and in the world of tech news hyper babble that blow is naturally deadly.

I was not excited about Meerkat, when I heard about it. I didn´t and don´t recognize the novelty or appeal in the app. Opportunity to livestream is nothing new. When I was working in MySpace, we collaborated with Bambuser, which pretty much was Meerkat with MySpace-era user experience. There are currently many streaming apps available, like the one Twitter just acquired.

So nothing new under the sun, been there done that.

After that comment I can declare that I have officially become an old fart. A person who thinks he has seen anything in his life and can´t just wait to tell that “we tried it already in 2008 and it didn´t work then”. Old farts are the biggest obstacles of any innovation, because the old farts have seen it all. They have also innovated it all. Unfortunately, those innovations have happened only in their heads.

That horrible vision made me think Meerkat again.

The idea can fail for many reasons, but always the reason is not that the idea is bad. iPad was not the first tablet. Facebook was not the first social network. Idea can fail in so many phases, that you cannot really judge the initial idea. Ideas are not unique, executed ideas can be. Technology improves so fast, that the ability to do user-friendly and enticing live-streaming app is totally different than couple of years ago. Maybe 2015 is just the right time to launch live-streaming app. Executing idea is also just one thing, how do you market it and make it sexy is the other thing. Meerkat has been at least way more effective with their PR and hype machine than their competitors.

My opposition against Meerkat is that I do not see live streaming behavior taking off. To be honest, I did not see that Snapchat would evolve to be a legit app beyond teens sending their nude photos to strangers. I can also admit that I was wrong. Although it is easier to latch onto existing behavior, technology can also create new behavior. That we are glued into our smartphones is quite new behavior in history of human race. I don´t think that no one predicted exactly that to happen.

We are obsessed with new.

Meerkat has had disproportionate amount of hype, because media wants a new social media phenomenon. Old farts criticize it, because it is not new enough. Somewhere between the overhype of media (and tech hipsters in SXSW) and underhype of old farts is the truth. Which is: essentially no one really knows what will happen with Meerkat. But it is interesting to see.

You cannot ever evaluate the success of technology when it is hyped and brand new. The true stress test is when technology has become old and boring. That is when they start to make business sense.

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Want To Change Your Habits? Just Go F*cking Do It

“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”

Charles Duhigg (from the Power of Habit)

How many times you have decided to start to lose weight?

Or stop procrastination?

Stop smoking?

Start exercising?

Be happier?

Eat more healthily?

Go travelling?

Cook more often?

Or try to update blog every day?

Quite often, I would say (especially for the last part)

Behavior change is difficult, although the components are simple. You have cue, such as feeling stressed out at work. You have routine, such as smoking to relieve that stress. And then you have reward, which is actually the break from your office desk. To succeed in habit change you should always change one variable at time. So that´s why eating a carrot or “smoking” your pen might work even better than nicotine patch in stopping smoking habit. You alter your routine, but keep cue and reward intact. To be honest though, the physical addiction to smoking makes it one of the trickiest habits to break so you might need the help of some nicotine products as well.

The main principle is still clear. You cannot start a new habit from the scratch. You have to build it upon your existing habits. Lack of this insight results that majority of habit-changing apps don´t really work.

“It is facile to imply that smoking, alcoholism, overeating, or other ingrained patters can be upended without real effort. Genuine change requires work and self-understanding of the cravings driving behaviours.” 

-Charles Duhigg

Cue-routine-reward is the technical side of habit change. Important bit is also the motivation and that is where there are major differences between people. Different things motivate us. I personally am motivated by competition (mostly in sports, but how I see it you can compete in everything). Some people are not motivated by it at all, but more driven by social doing together or sense of fulfillment (and other crap I don´t really care about). The lack of understanding of what motivates people is one of the main reasons why companies can´t keep their employees. We tend to generalize our own motivation to apply to other people as well, so leaders try incentivize and motivate people using quite limited amount of tools.

Money motivates as well to certain extend, but again you have to craft the habit-changing program well. Yearly raise motivates us generally less than getting bonuses throughout the year for good performance (as we humans are quite adaptable). For smoker the schemes where you either get financial rewards or get penalized for not reaching the goal have been proven to be effective in studies. The motivation difference in these two ways is subtle: gaining attracts people who love winning and keeping those who are afraid of losing. Both work well. Also money is never only money. It acts as a metaphor of the sweet triumph or a bitter loss. The strength is that you can put a monetary value to almost anything and it can symbolize the struggle and fight behind reaching your goal.

Tapping into this insight comes this new site with catchy title:

go do it

Go Fucking Do It.

The premise is simple. You set a goal, deadline, supervisor and the amount of money you give if you do no reach your goal. Not surprisingly if you lose that money to charity it reduces the effectiveness of your decision.

“If you want to do something that requires willpower—like going for a run after work—you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day,” 

-Charles Duhigg

justfkingdoit

The site has a potential, but important thing is to have really sharp and understandable goals. For example getting gluten-free is easily attainable than getting a girlfriend as the former one is only up to you and has clearly identified steps. That you do not have girlfriend can be due to multiple variables, so you would have to fist prioritize those variables and start changing those one at a time.

I like the attitude of the site though. Quite often we should not overcomplicate things and just fucking do it.

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“When I didn’t have a mic, I rapped on headphones”

Although I am white dude from suburban Finland, I have always been quite serious hiphop-head. This song below has always been one of the favorites. Raw simple drums and raw battle rhymes. That is all you need in a perfect hiphop-song:

One Charizma line has become a legendary hiphop-quotable from the song. It is almost like a rally cry for the indie hiphop movement and DIY spirit in mid 90´s and early 2000:

“ When I didn´t have a mic, I rapped on headphones”

For those who know, in the absence of microphone you can usually plug headphones to microphone input of mixer (I have done that as well). More street credible rappers have also been known to rap their records in telephones from jails. However, the line has lived on through the years within the song and also with this cool t-shirt designed by Parra:
tshirt
Now 18 years later, this legendary line has found again a new life with this awesome collaboration by headphone brand AIAIAI and legendary West Coast record label Stones Throw records. You can actually get to the record by rapping to your headphones:

This project is a great example that although you do a contest it can have some innovation with it. The contest promotes actual product launch. Many headphone brands do bespoken collaboration products and some might also do music contests. Stones Throw & AIAIAI have been one of the best ones creating quite holistic and enjoyable consumer experience from the website to the app. Because of that legendary Charizma line, it also makes perfect sense for headphone brand.

Also a good example that you should mine your good ideas way more often from old underground rap songs.

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Yo.

Simplicity is beautiful. With messaging apps and especially through stickers our communication has become more effective and simpler. Is there a limit to how simple you can get?

Apparently not.

This week app called “Yo” launched from beta. It is the simplest form of communication I have yet seen. It works in iOs and Android. You select username. Then you add friends. Then you can send your friend “Yo” as a push notification and audio. So essentially you can only communicate through one phrase:

Yo

You got to be kidding?

No I am not. The company behind “Yo” has raised $1 million in venture capital. Currently there is over 50k users sending around 4 million Yos. They are also currently hiring.

For life-long hiphop-enthusiast I can see the merit of the app. Maybe in the future iterations you can have personalized “Yo” or an “Yo” from a famous rapper. Yo is simple, positive and universal.

Unlike many start-ups, the app creators have also thought about potential use cases for companies:

  1. A blog can Yo the readers whenever a new post is published. Imagine getting a Yo From PRODUCTHUNT.
  2. An online store can Yo its customers whenever a new product is offered. Imagine getting a Yo From JENNASHOPIFY.
  3. A football club can Yo the fans whenever the team scores a touchdown. Imagine getting a Yo From THE49ERS.
  4. An ice-cream truck can Yo the kids when it’s around the corner.… Imagine getting a Yo From THEICECREAMTRUCK.

The feedback for the app is hilarious as well. The current users have definitely taken supportive although somewhat ironic stance to it. Here are some of the highlights of App Store comments:

Yo is all I need
When the wife texts me to go get some stuff from the store, all I do is shoot her back a “Yo”. When the kids text for money or a ride, I get on the app and hit them a “Yo”. Yo is a way of life. Live simply, live beautifully. Yo”

This app changed my life
I am a professional scientist who has been scouring the earth for 7 years in search of a program or application so revolutionary, so outside of the box, so groundbreaking, that it could actually reverse the effects of clinical depression and bipolar disorder. “Yo” seems to be a fit. I have tested the effects of yo on several samples of depressed and bipolar tigers. Tigers were a natural choice for testing due to the little known fact that their anatomy is nearly identical to that of a humans. In a sample of depressed tigers, 8 out of 10 became happier due to the app yo and in an all male sample, 9 out of 10 experienced increased libido. I have taken my findings to Pfizer in hopes of negotiating some sort of three way contract between the creators of yo, Pfizer, and myself, Chisley Winsett M.D. So my message is this, creators of yo, this app that you have so sweetly crafted is not just an app, nay, but a highly scientific piece of medical innovation. We could do great things together. Please respond. Regards, Chisley Winsett M.D.”
 
“A life changing app
Yo is the best way to communicate. We no longer need intellectual discussion. We no longer need language. This is the next stage of human evolution!”

This feels more like postmodern commentary of the current app infrastructure or as an art project gone viral. On the other hand, it is hard to predict what eventually becomes hit. I would regard Yo only as a novelty app, but I do not use stickers either. It just might be that Yo will revolutionize messaging. Or it will be remembered as the tipping point when app bubble really started to burst.

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