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Presentation: Turn specs into high quality apps

A while ago, I shared the Dutch version of my presentation called “Turn specs into high quality apps”. Last November, I was invited to do this presentation over at the DevDayBE-conference in English. Today, I want to share the recording of that presentation. I’ve written already several articles here about ATDD/BDD with Specflow and Xamarin.

During the presentation we’ll discuss the Three Amigo’s, how specifications are written using Gherkin and being automated with Specflow and Xamarin.UITest. We even managed to introduce a new buzzword: Acceptance Driven Presentation (ADP).

The sample code can be found on Github. Enjoy!

Slides

I hope you liked the presentation and managed to get inspired. Look around on this blog to learn more about testing or Xamarin. Tell me what you think through Twitter or leave a comment below!

The post Presentation: Turn specs into high quality apps appeared first on Marcofolio.net.

Marcofolio.net

Turning statistics into stories: the key to nonprofit marketing

Guest post by Ayla Tezel, Executive Vice President, Communications at Wounded Warrior Project. Originally published here.

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The number of nonprofit organizations in the United States has skyrocketed, from more than 630,000 in 1999  to more than 1.5 million by 2016. I expect that number to grow, and public charities will continue competing for limited attention from individuals and corporations around the country.

How does any single organization break through and convince donors their cause is worth attention? How do we drive attention to our programs in an age of “fake news” and plummeting trust in media?

My inspiration in answering these questions comes from Wounded Warrior Project (WWP)’s mission: to connect, serve and empower wounded warriors—the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country.

But they’re not just warriors; they’re people. They are people who deserve to come home from the battlefield to a welcoming community, people whose experiences have shaped who they are—and people who essentially are a lot like everyone else.

And that gives them powerful stories to share.

Put Relatable People Front and Center

Research shows that around the globe, the public is more likely to trust “a person like yourself” than the leadership of an organization. With that in mind, at WWP, we produce content that’s relatable to people—and that often means video vignettes featuring veterans telling their own stories.

There are no words as powerful as when the spouse of a service member candidly shares how their loved one needed psychological support to recover from PTSD upon returning from duty. Through genuine, and sometimes raw, emotion, video turns a statistic into a story, and stories are what drive action.

Video Creates Emotion

This December at Social Fresh 2017, the longest running social marketing conference, I’ll be speaking about how we produce videos that make an impact without exhausting our budget. We’ve learned to be creative both in how we produce them—sometimes filming on an iPhone—and in how we distribute them, internally and externally.

Video marketing is expected to account for 80 percent of all Internet traffic in the next two years. The key is to use it wisely—to foster personal connections to your mission through storytelling.

Videos like this one draw thousands of visitors and keep them engaged for long periods of time. They’re also more likely to come back to our sites if they’ve seen a particularly moving video there before.

Video Ads = Donations

And in the ultimate test for a nonprofit, we’ve seen video translate into increased donations, which allow us to provide all of our programs free of charge. Last year during “giving season,” we ran several ads on social media. The ads that contained video outperformed all other ad types, garnering 43 percent of all revenue for the social campaigns. But those are just statistics; the real story is how we’ve used those donations to help veterans who have dedicated so much of their lives to this country.

After the Social Fresh conference in December, I’ll report back with more insights about the strategies various organizations have employed to make video storytelling work effectively.

I’m curious—what have you discovered?


Social Fresh

Plugging into the Future of a Connected Humanity: Exploring the Human API

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In 2012, I had the opportunity to present at LeWeb in Paris. The theme of the conference explored the Internet of Things, where devices and things connect to one another to perform certain tasks and/or track activities to improve what we already do or make possible what we’re trying to do.

The Internet of Things is bigger than we may realize. We are experiencing a shift from a world of inanimate objects and reactive devices to a world where data, intelligence, and computing are distributed, ubiquitous, and networked. My fellow analysts and I at Altimeter Group refer to the Internet of Things (IoT) as the Sentient World. It’s the idea that inanimate objects gain the ability to perceive things, perform tasks, adapt, or help you adapt over time. And, it’s the future of the Internet and consumer electronics.

The number of things connected to the Internet in 2008, exceeded the number of people on earth. By 2020, it’s expected that there will be 50 billion things connected.

A network of things creates an incredible information ecosystem that connects the online and physical world through a series of transactions. In a world where data becomes a natural bi-product of these exchanges, developers, businesses, and users alike are faced with the reality that data isn’t only big, its volume and benefits are also overwhelming.

Did you know that the world creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data every day? According to IBM, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.

Considering the relationship between the Internet, data, and devices, I can’t help but think about Marshall McLuhan’s ominous words, “The more data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist.”

With the Internet of Things, that data takes residence in the cloud with various devices and apps siphoning and funneling information in and out, requiring an incredible amount of vision and architecture to organize, analyze, and present it in a way that makes sense while also offering insight and utility. Instead of eclipsing our individuality, I believe the future may reveal the exact opposite. There’s a sense of empowerment and personalization that emerges and, along the way, we subconsciously and consciously begin to crave it. We become insatiable in our pursuit of personalized feedback and it may, in fact, define us.

The Convergence of Devices, Data and the Net

We’re starting to realize the magic of the IoT today in some of the most basic aspects of our lives. While at Le Web, the audience was introduced to Lockitron, a clever system that combines a mobile app, a household device that mounts to existing door locks, and the Internet to open and close doors remotely. I immediately thought of a partnership with Airbnb to give renters peace of mind in controlling their rentals.

Nest is disrupting the long dormant world of thermostats by connecting mobile devices to existing thermostats (heating/air conditioning) with the simplicity and elegance of an iPod. But it’s more than controlling energy and temperatures remotely, Nest learns and begins to adapt without input.

Square’s Jack Dorsey has disrupted the age old world of payment systems by transforming mobile devices into cash registers, connecting money, data, and the net into one frictionless transaction. It’s the data part that represents something so much more however. In that regard, Dorsey sees the real value beyond the transaction—where the swipe and the receipt ultimately become a communication medium. In his view, payments represent “a necessary transaction” to create a channel where merchants learn more about individual consumers and equally, consumers learn more about their behavior.

The Convergence of People, Devices, Data and the Net

When I marvel at the future of the Internet of Things, I can’t help but think about another often shared idea from McLuhan that, “the medium is the message.”

There’s more to smart appliances and devices than utility or remotely controlling our surroundings. The underlying current of this powerful information exchange are the experiences that surround and emanate from each transaction.

What if the medium wasn’t just the device, the medium was us?

At the center of the IoT and Big Data are the very people who fuel the constant exchange of information. At the same time, it creates a human network, where we become nodes and the information that ties together people and devices feeds new experiences and changes our behavior over time.

This is an era of which I refer to as the Human API, the idea that who we are, who we know, what we experience and do are important layers in the Internet of Things. While this may sound foreboding, we do in fact become part of the “machine.” I’m not referring to Skynet or Raymond Kurzweil’s theory of Singularity, however. I’m talking about how we open the door to a new generation of technology development that improves lifestyles and enhances relationships while unlocking aspirations.

If you’re unfamiliar with the meaning of API, it stands for application programming interface. Simplified, it’s an interface for programmers to develop upon a common platform where software can communicate with other software objects and also devices.

The Human API represents an opportunity for relationships and technology to be linked by an open source platform…you.

The Medium IS the Message

Revisiting McLuhan’s “medium is the message,” where the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, as a result, it creates a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. The idea of the Human API sets the stage for devices to not only talk to one another, but also talk to us and affect how we process and adapt information to influence how we go through life every day.

If we intentionally program for the Human API, I believe we can design a complementary track within the Internet of Things where products combine utility, experiences, and outcomes.

Let me give you a simple example. Fitbit, makers of wireless trackers and scales, had a tremendous presence at LeWeb. Many speakers and attendees wore these wireless devices to track steps, distance, calories burned, and stairs climbed. At night, it measures sleep cycles, to help users learn how to sleep better. The intention is to motivate you to reach your goals by bringing greater fitness into your life. It is the social element and the corresponding activity that I also find fascinating.

Products such as Fitbit and also Nike’s FuelBand build upon the Human API by collecting the digital breadcrumbs of users and assembling them in a way that makes sense of daily activity and validates progress. Perhaps more importantly, these devices, the data they collect and present, and the social relationships linked by publishing this information in social channels drives the ongoing pursuit of goals, and brings people together to help one another live better. As these devices are connected socially, experiences become the epicenter of engagement and encouragement, inspiring people and networks of people through extended relationships along the way.

That’s the point.

Over the years, many developers have created specialized apps and devices that helped us accomplish things through creative “life hacks.” These hacks have given us a taste of what’s possible and are now about to become a way of life. To do so, they now require intentional design to create desired experiences and to change behavior and bring about thoughtful outcomes.

The Human API and the Need for Experience Architecture

Designing new threads within the Internet of Things around people, information, and devices requires architecture. Rather than exploring the deeper convergence of human and machine (“singularity”), the idea of solidarity seems more apropos here and now. I’m not referring to the trade union movement in Poland during the 1980s that inspired opposition to communist regimes across Eastern Europe. I think of solidarity in this case as a movement where individuals come together around a common interest to promote mutual support within the group.

Developing solutions that spark solidarity is only possible through experience architecture. This is where the next generation of visionaries and leaders will push us forward for they represent an emergent genre of experience architects.

This is where you come in…

The Human API opens up tremendous opportunities to develop devices, apps, and experiences that connect information, people, and aspirations to change behavior. This form of human interface design introduces the potential to create harmony in a world of digital chaos, making sense of noise and information overload to accomplish tangible goals or help people see or do things they didn’t or couldn’t before. In the process, we strengthen on our connections around common goals and interests.

This raises questions that experience architects need to consider:

  1. What does all of this tell us about ourselves and those around us?
  2. How do our devices better communicate and improve how we communicate and adapt?
  3. How does the IoT bring people together around a purpose, outcomes, or aspirations?
  4. How does it enable us to optimize the lives of our users and customers?

The future of the Internet of Things requires the balance of experience architecture and the exchange of human information between people and machines, and it is beautiful. And, it takes design.

Imagine what we—as users, entrepreneurs, investors, and enterprises—could do with all of this information. Imagine how we can improve connectivity, lifestyles, and relationships by constructing ecosystems that foster meaningful experiences and inspire changes in behavior.

This hyper-connected world will bring devices, systems, information and people closer together … to create new possibilities, all based on human APIs. As experience architects, the future is yours to develop.

What are your thoughts on the idea of the relationship between people, devices, the Internet of Things? Let’s keep the conversation going!

Below is video of my presentation at LeWeb on the Human API. I hope you enjoy it.

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Design, explores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design.

Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Instagram: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV

The post Plugging into the Future of a Connected Humanity: Exploring the Human API appeared first on Brian Solis.


Brian Solis

Are AMP Landing Pages All They’re Cracked up to Be? A Look Into Page Speed

AMP landing pages worth the fuss?

For a while now you may have heard the buzz surrounding Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and—if you haven’t already done some research—you might be wondering what all the fuss is about (or wondering why a landing page and conversion platform like us hasn’t mentioned this trendy topic yet).

Well, we’ll get to all of that! Today we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about AMP as a marketer and why your Google rep has likely been singing its praises.

First up: What is AMP?

AMP is a project that was first announced by Google back in 2015 as a means to serve up mobile pages faster. Accelerated mobile pages use a restrictive HTML format to serve up web pages almost instantly to your visitors, with the added benefit of pages being cached and pre-rendered by third parties (like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Bing News, and Cloudflare).

This is a stark change from waiting for every single element on your page to load and, at its core, it’s a way of developing simple web pages that meet strict guidelines for preventing slow load times. It’s helping bring the internet back to basics.

AMP pages on mobile
How AMP pages look in mobile search results.

Early adopters of AMP included publishers like The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Wall Street Journal. Much like Facebook’s Instant Articles, AMP gave these publishers a way to reach audiences in an almost-instant way (ultimately important for decreasing bounce rate, and signalling to Google your content is satisfying visitors). Since publishers run their business on page views, this was a natural place to start and great fit for AMP.

Google then created extra incentive for publishers by prioritizing AMP articles in their “top stories” carousel. You can currently spot AMP articles in your own mobile search results by looking for the AMP thunderbolt symbol.

Some AMP myths, debunked

The AMP Project has come a long way since 2015, but it’s still having a hard time shaking some of its roots. Here are a few of the myths floating around:

Myth 1: AMP is only for online publishers
AMP landing pages are a perfect match for publishers, but serving up news faster is not its only use case. Believe it or not, even eCommerce brands are increasing their revenue with the same traffic by converting their product pages to AMP.

While this giant conversion over to AMP may sound like a massive undertaking, remember: You don’t need to create an entire AMP mobile website like Aliexpress. You can start with a single landing page that lots of customers reach from organic or paid search. Simply decreasing your bounce rate on the visitor’s first entry and speeding load time up can have a big impact on first impressions, and ultimately your conversion rate.

Myth 2: AMP is owned by Google
We can’t deny that Google has been the driving force behind the AMP technology and its adoption around the world. But despite its massive role in driving AMP forward, the team is insistent that AMP is not a Google project, but rather an open-source project. Although the lion’s share of the more than 500 contributors on GitHub are Googlers, they’re not the only ones.

Myth 3: AMP is only for mobile
It’s true mobile is a huge part of Accelerated Mobile Pages (it’s in the name, after all), but that can be a little bit misleading. As Paul Bakaus from Google explains, AMP HTML is mobile first but not mobile only. He believes you’ll see better gains from AMP on mobile pages, but recommends trying AMP on desktop as well.

What are AMP landing pages good for?

We know that fast-loading pages equal lower bounce rates and higher conversions, and AMP provides an almost foolproof way of achieving fast mobile landing pages. Its strict guidelines for what can be included have speed best practices built in, which is why AMP landing pages have a medium load time in under one second. And let’s be honest: We could all use some extra conversions on our landing pages via speed increases.

So what does AMP mean for SEO?
While an AMP landing page does not necessarily equal a higher search ranking, Google recently announced that, starting this summer, page speed will finally become a ranking factor in its mobile search algorithm.

While Google has always favored content with a positive user experience (speed being a part of that) speed did not previously have a direct effect on the ranking algorithm. Before July 2018, it might be a good idea to do some spring cleaning of your mobile landing pages (swapping out massive images and keeping things small)—whether these pages are accelerated or not.

What do AMP landing pages mean for PPC?
For a long time now, “landing page experience” has played into your Ad Rank on AdWords, and we know that page speed factors into this experience. One of AdWords’ five tips for improving landing page experience is to “decrease your landing page load time,” for which they suggest to “consider turning your landing page into an Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP).”

AdWords expert and ex-Googler Frederick Vallaeys has even called AMP landing pages “the best kept AdWords secret” due to the opportunity for improving conversion rates.

It’s really all about page speed

At the end of the day, the reason you’d create an AMP landing page is to improve your page speed. By creating these pages, you ensure fast load time, but this doesn’t guarantee your content is good enough to keep people around. Page speed is only one factor in a positive landing page experience, and won’t solve the problem of bad content.

Moreover, if page speed is what you’re after, AMP is only one way of achieving it. Even the AMP Project’s website admits that the format puts user experience above the developer experience. Simply put, it’s not the easy way to do things. So before jumping straight into AMP, consider whether or not you can reduce page speed in simpler ways, like cutting back on scripts and image sizes.

Not sure where to start, try running your landing page through our free Landing Page Analyzer for some actionable tips.

What are the limitations?

AMP can do wonders for your page speed, but it doesn’t come without a few caveats. In fact, the reason the AMP framework creates a fast page is because it is so restrictive. AMP is constantly being improved, but it’s still far from perfect. Here are a few limitations to consider before going all in on AMP:

Scripts are often not supported

landing pages built with AMP sacrafice scripts
Photo by Henri L. on Unsplash.

Scripts are a speed killer, period. Support for JavaScript is incredibly restricted in the AMP framework, so if you build an AMP landing page, you won’t be able to add all the scripts you currently use. As an example, if you want to connect your page with your CRM (a pretty common integration via a script), you’d need an AMP version of this script to be supported. Scripts are supported currently on a case-by-case basis and more often than not they’re unsupported at this time.

Analytics aren’t straightforward

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash.

One of the best features of AMP is also one of its biggest drawbacks. Since the AMP pages are pre-cached, they are served from a different domain than your own. That means that your website visitor might click an ad, then visit your AMP landing page served up pre-loaded from Google.com, and then click through to your website.

This can really throw off your site’s analytics, splitting up your user sessions between your domain and third-party domains. If you’re not comfortable giving up perfect analytics for gains in load time, AMP might not be for you.

Worried about your website visitors seeing inconsistent domains? As of last month, AMP released an update that will keep the display URL as your own domain even if the page is being served from another domain such as Google.com.

Even though AMP Analytics are available, there are a limited amount of options available. Here’s what you’ll be able to track:

  • Page data: Domain, path, page title
  • User data: client ID, timezone
  • Browsing data: referrer, unique page view ID
  • Browser data: screen height, screen width, user agent
  • Interaction data: page height and page width
  • Event data

Setup isn’t super quick
Just because AMPs format is restrictive doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park to implement. Developing AMP pages could take your developers significantly longer to create than a non-AMP page. They’ll then need to validate that their code ticks all of the boxes of the AMP format and also upkeep the pages to make sure they continue to comply with these restrictions.

Browser versions are limited
A smaller restriction (but one nonetheless) is that AMP only supports the most recent two versions of major web browsers. This means if your visitors are hanging onto a circa 2014 version of Chrome, they won’t see your AMP page.

What naysayers are saying

Like anything, there are two sides to the AMP story. Because of its close ties to Google, some think the company has too much control, using its power to shift the internet to a new way of developing web pages altogether. Some think it’s unfair for Google to pressure companies to adopt the framework in order to reach the top stories carousel or maintain their organic rankings. Others worry that Google could abandon AMP at any moment, after more than 1.5 billion web pages have already been published using the format.

On the other side of the argument, web users are speaking for themselves by abandoning slow pages at a faster rate. They’re also choosing Google more than any other search engine. Although there are alternatives, Google holds 90% of mobile market share. There must be a reason for this, and I’d hazard a guess that it’s because Google gives a better user experience than its alternatives.

From the AMP Project’s website:

“The companies involved in the project want to make the mobile web work better for all — not just for one platform, one set of technologies, or one set of publishers, or one set of advertisers. Making the project open source enables people to share and contribute their ideas and code for making the mobile web fast. We are just at the beginning of that journey and we look forward to other publishers, advertisers and technology companies joining along the way.”

What Unbounce is doing about AMP

This info’s all well and good, but you’re probably wondering: what’s Unbounce—best known as a conversion and landing page platform—going to do about AMP?

I’m glad you asked.

We’re happy to share that we’re currently building AMP capabilities into the Unbounce builder.

We’re premiering this functionality with a tight-knit group of customers in an alpha test before we open up to a wider closed beta of additional customers. The reason we’re working with a small group first is to ensure that we are able to get early feedback while we work on adding more capabilities. We’ll be closely monitoring conversion data from the alpha participants to ensure customers are seeing the value that we think they’ll see with AMP.

Here’s a taste of what it might look like in the Unbounce builder:

What took us so long?

By now you’re likely convinced that fast pages are critical to your conversion rates, and AMP can help, so you may be wondering, what took Unbounce so long to build (let alone talk about) it?

Well, we began investigating AMP and how it would work in the Unbounce builder back in 2017, and our friends at Google have been supporting us along the way. We made the decision not to publicly share our progress on AMP until we officially kicked off the development of our alpha program last month.

Trust us, page speed is something that’s been on our mind for quite some time. Last summer, our team became one of the first to complete Google’s Mobile Site Certification, and in September we returned to Google’s Canadian HQ in Toronto to join the search giant in co-hosting a mobile speed hackathon. Most recently, Google mentioned our alpha at their annual developer conference, and in a few months, they’ll be hosting the very first Canadian West Coast date of the AMP Roadshow right here in our Vancouver office.

Sign up for the AMP Roadshow at Unbounce HQ hosted by Google, on September 5, 2018.

We had hoped to bring you AMP a little bit earlier, but our team has been heads down for the past several months focused on the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Keeping your data safe and secure is our top priority, and we believe it is important to provide you a landing page solution that is GDPR compliant as this sets a critical foundation.

We are proud to say after months of hard work, Unbounce is GDPR compliant. Less than a month ago, AMP also released an update designed to help AMP pages become GDPR compliant as well.

Not sure what we’re talking about? Learn all about GDPR and how it affects your business here. (It’s a big deal).

Our next steps with AMP

Now that we’ve got your data safe and secure via GDPR compliance, our team is full steam ahead experimenting and developing AMP capabilities in the Unbounce builder. We’ve made some great progress and it’s looking pretty darn cool if I do say so myself (seriously, we can’t wait to show you). Once we’ve completed our alpha test, we’ll be widening the scope to a closed beta test.

The progress will look something like this:

  • Alpha >> Closed Beta >> Open Beta >> General Availability >> Public Launch

We’ll be sharing our progress right here on the Unbounce blog, and—if you’re a current customer (or about to create landing pages with us)—we invite you to sign up for early access to the beta once it’s launched.

Not sure whether AMP is for you? You can still achieve faster pages without this markup. Try running your landing page through our free Landing Page Analyzer to get some quick tips on how to improve your landing page today.


Unbounce

The FBI, FTC and SEC are joining the Justice Department’s inquiries into Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica disclosures

An alphabet soup of federal agencies are now poring over Facebook’s disclosures and the company’s statements about its response to the improper use of its user information by the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission have joined the Justice Department in examining how the personal information of 71 million Americans was distributed by Facebook and used by Cambridge Analytica, according to a Washington Post report released Monday.

According to the Post, the emphasis of the investigation has been on what Facebook disclosed about its information sharing with Cambridge Analytica and whether those disclosures correlate to the timeline that’s being established by government investigators. The fear, for Facebook, is that the government may decide that the company didn’t reveal enough to either investors or the public about the extent of the misallocation of user data. Another concern is whether the Cambridge Analytica decision violated the terms of an earlier settlement Facebook made with the Federal Trade Commission.

The redoubled efforts of so many divisions could potentially ensnare Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who was brought before Congress with other Facebook officials to testify about the breaches. People familiar with the investigation told the Post that the officials’ testimony was being scrutinized.

In a statement, Facebook noted it had received questions from different agencies and that it was cooperating.

The Federal Trade Commission first confirmed that it was investigating Facebook in March.

Acting director Tom Pahl said at the time:

The FTC is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers. Foremost among these tools is enforcement action against companies that fail to honor their privacy promises, including to comply with Privacy Shield, or that engage in unfair acts that cause substantial injury to consumers in violation of the FTC Act. Companies who have settled previous FTC actions must also comply with FTC order provisions imposing privacy and data security requirements. Accordingly, the FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook. Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices.

The multiple investigations by U.S. and U.K. agencies into the ways in which Cambridge Analytica accessed and exploited data on social media users in political campaigns have already pushed the political consulting firm into bankruptcy.

It’s unlikely (read impossible) that Facebook would suffer anything like the same fate, and the company’s stock price has already recovered from whatever negative impact the scandal wrought on the social network’s market capitalization. Rather, the lingering investigations show the potential for government regulators (and lawmakers) to involve themselves in the company’s operations.

As with everything else in Washington, it’s always the cover up — never the crime.


Social – TechCrunch

Have Consumers Bought Into Bots? A Look At The Current State Of Chatbots

Remember when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella famously proclaimed back in early 2016 that “bots are the new apps”? Well, it looks like that prediction is finally starting to come true. In mid-2016, there were approximately 11,000 Facebook Messenger bots. A year later, there were approximately 100,000 bots. If that’s not exponential growth, then what is?

The Problem of Too Many Bots

There’s just one problem, however, and it has to do with discoverability. How, exactly, are you supposed to find and use those 100,000 bots? For example, did you know that Starbucks has a Facebook Messenger bot to make the coffee-buying experience even more enjoyable? Oh, you did? Well, then, did you know that upscale fashion brand Burberry has a bot? Or that Sephora has a bot for makeup tutorials? Or that there’s even something called the “Insomnobot”? (Forget counting sheep to get to sleep at night, use the Insomnobot instead!)

Cross-Platform Integration for Bots is Still a Mess

Another problem involves cross-platform integration. This is a common problem in the tech world, and it’s no different in the bot world. For example, a bot created for the Facebook Messenger platform won’t work on the Kik platform. And now all the major tech companies – such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung are trying to create their own industry standard for bots. That means even more integration nightmares, and probably a lot of long nights for mobile developers. Imagine being told that a bot has to work for 3, 4, or 5 different platforms? This comes at a time when simply launching an app that works for both iOS and Android can seem like a chore at times!

But it’s clear that all the big tech giants are coming up with innovative new ideas for bots. Amazon has even gone so far as to launch Lex (a variant of Alexa, as you might have guessed by the name), an AI-powered bot. Samsung has Viv, a Siri clone. And Google is working on something called Chatbase (when it comes to social, we never really know what Google is doing, but you can guess that Chatbase will be built on top of its search platform).

Are Chatbots a Trend … or a Fad?

Not surprisingly, VC investors have been dipping into the space, looking for the first great chatbot company. Things might get a little frothy, though. Investing in a chatbot company sounds a lot like some other hot VC trends in past years, like investing in social gaming companies that make cute little games for your phone.

Ultimately, the question that brands have to ask themselves is, “If we build it, will they come?” In other words, if you sink time and money into creating and marketing a chatbot solution, are customers really going to notice or care?

For many people, these bots are the equivalent of the cool app that everyone downloads, uses once, and promptly ignores forever after. It may be cool that Starbucks can program a pumpkin spice latte chat bot, but are you really going to put up with that Starbucks bot if it keeps trying to pop up on your screen when you don’t want it to?

So it might be too early to proclaim the rise of the global chatbot economy, as some tech media publications have done. For now, that seems like a bit of hype and wishful thinking. However, big things could be coming over the next 24 months. That’s because, back in December 2016, 80 percent of marketers said they had plans to launch a chatbot by 2020. That sounds about right – it may be too early now, but with more cross-platform integration, bots could really catch on as something that you’d use every day in just two more years.

*This post originally appeared on socialmedia hq.


Oracle Blogs | Oracle Marketing Cloud

How to Repurpose Blog Posts Into Instagram Albums

Are you looking for Instagram content ideas? Have you considered repurposing your blog content into Instagram albums? Grouping multiple images from a blog post into an Instagram album can bring engaging content to Instagram. In this article, you’ll discover how to combine blog posts into Instagram albums. Why Use Instagram Albums to Repurpose Blog Content? […]

This post How to Repurpose Blog Posts Into Instagram Albums first appeared on .
– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

Parents, social media isn’t turning your kids into robots


Most parents have concerns about their kid’s social media usage, but they shouldn’t worry about their brain cells frying. Under the hoodー kids are using social to better themselves. Kids are running their own profitable slime businesses on Instagram, honing their dancing skills on musical.ly, showcasing their artistic talents on YouTube, and so much more. Social media is this generation’s social currency Parents always complain about their kid’s way of socializing. When kids DM their friends, parents tell them to use the phone. When girls used the phone to talk their boyfriends for hours, parents moaned about the sentiment of a…

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