Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’


Are Viral Loops the Building Blocks of the Future Marketplace?

Friday, November 15th, 2013
flickr user Gavin Llewellyn

flickr user Gavin Llewellyn

Andrew Chen defines a viral loop as simply “the steps a user goes through between entering the site and inviting the next set of users.” Former entrepreneur-in-residence at Mohr-Davidow Ventures, now freelance adviser of startups and expert on the vanguard of marketing, Chen dedicates the rest of his collection of essays, “The Viral Startup: A Guide to Designing Viral Loops,” to demonstrating how every product can be seen as a site with a viral loop built in. A viral loop is most definitely not “a mythical vortex that propels products with a magic bang into public consciousness and millions of YouTube hits,” which is what I thought it was before reading his book.

A viral loop is what brought us the viral video phenomenon “The Fox” this fall.

This is a common viral loop scenario: people react to a link they find online and share it on a social network like over and over again, and next thing you know American teens are in love with a South Korean rapper and something called “Gangnam Style.” A viral loop is a business model that emphasizes an exponentially growing feedback-and-recommendation chain of users.

Here is an example of a company that seemed to be doing just fine without a viral loop business model: Years ago I worked for a New York double-decker bus company that the tourism industry anticipated would be a refreshing, disruptive newcomer. As a family business with a history of ventures, however, they opted for the “tried and true” approach of beginning with a Minimum Viability Product—they figured out the minimum product necessary to qualify for the market, just to feel things out.

They bought old buses and fitted them with only a top deck – there was no interior for passengers who preferred to ride from inside. Because of the constant influx of tourists in New York, profits were high despite the fact that the business was in a preliminary stage, and customer dissatisfaction was frequent, especially concerning customer service. The company had not made social media a priority either. All the elements of a viral loop were missing, yet the company prospered. We’ll catch up with their journey a little later.

Chen explains that the key mistake marketing departments make is that they attempt to “bolt” a viral loop onto a product, not realizing that in order for a viral loop to work, it has to be built into the product itself. It is not about an ad going viral, it is about letting the consumer feel like they are playing a very real role in the culture of this Happy Meal, or cell phone, or song. The implication here is that only experiences go viral.

One of Chen’s essays in the book is about the role Steve Jobs played in the marketing of Apple products by making sure each of them was constructed as a viral loop from the start.

A way to build a viral loop into a product is to ensure that the consumer can share an experience; that experience would be balanced between marketing, functionality, and design at every point of the product’s evolution, as Apple did with the iPhone. Even the first iPhone had high functionality and sleek design, while encouraging users to share experiences through the device itself. In a department-driven company, there is competition between these aspects, and the focus on marketing very often wins out. Steve Jobs edited the output of each department and blend it all into a whole.

Awareness of products as facilitators for viral loops separates the waning business culture of yesterday from the adaptable, sustainable entrepreneurships of the future.

Let’s return to the tour-bus company. Because of low overhead, during the recession the company was able to actually take a significant amount of their competitors’ market share. As a result, they stagnated in the Minimum Viability Product model. Its purpose was no longer to explore the market, but to turn in profit quickly. They acquired their main competitor and applied the same model to them. However, small modern tour van startups that already have their own tour-guide apps, have a sustainable loop of followers, and who will soon be able to afford state-of-the-art double-deckers have been growing in the shadows of the skyscrapers.

The colossal tour bus company does have one very important asset, which if exploited can integrate a viral loop into their business model and help them blow any tech-centered, GPS-activated tour guide app-wielding startups out of the water. They have walking, talking viral loops in their live tour guides. A happy employee is a perfect balance of marketing, engineering and design.

Can the future be the Minimum Desirability Model—defined by Chen as “the simplest experience necessary to prove out a high-value, satisfying product experience for users, independent of business viability?”

The difference between minimum effort for maximum profit and simplicity is subtle, but it makes all the difference in who will survive the exponentially accelerating technological shifts of the modern marketplace. Perhaps a viral loop is one way of looking at true simplicity.

BurrellesLuce Newsletter: 12 Mobile Apps to Help Boost Productivity

Monday, April 30th, 2012

April 2012

PR and communications practitioners are no longer solely trading tips on their favorite computer programs or gadgets. Mobile applications are fast becoming the go-to choice for busy professionals looking to be more effective and efficient at their jobs.

A survey on social CRM and mobile capabilities by Nucleus Research, earlier this month, reveals productivity increases 14.6 percent on average when using mobile apps and 11.8 percent with social CRM. Mobile apps won’t necessarily minimize your workload; however, adding them to your mobile toolbox (beyond supplementing email) can help make integration with existing technology and services a whole lot easier. Thus, helping you stay competitive and relevant.

Discover apps for Android, Blackberry and iPhone that can help boost productivity in this BurrellesLuce newsletter.

Has Apple Hit a Sour Note?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Kelly Mulholland*

It’s that time of year again. Yesterday, Apple launched another sleek new product: iPhone4S. Noticeably different during the launch was not the appearance of the phone—which retains the same look as its older model—but the appearance of their new chief executive Tim Cook. In the promotional video below, it advertises that, “Your I-Phone can do more than any other phone.”  How so? For starters, Siri is your personal assistant built into your phone. This voice activated system can dictate measurements, recipes, reminders, timers and much more in natural language – proving to be the next wave of semantic innovation.

Besides voice recognition, the new smart phone is made smarter by these other features. 

  • An 8 megapixel camera with backside-illuminated CMOS sensor that carries more light and is 33 percent faster.
  • Video camera is now 1080p, and includes video image stabilization.
  • Downloading data through wireless system is twice as fast
  • The new phone has a longer battery life than its older counterparts. 
  • Sprint is now another service provider that will carry the new phone that is priced between $199 to $399.

While others may show loyalty to the Apple brand and pre-order the new model, on October 7th, others have voiced opinions of being duped by an “imposter,” according to “Apple’s Absent iPhone 5 Whose Fault is it Really?” Matt Peckham, Time/Techland, while the Tech communities were busy informing each other through social media outlets about the upcoming I-Phone5 launch, Apple stayed mum. Instead Apple pulled the wool over the public’s eyes, and we learned about the 4S—we never knew we wanted. Consequently, Apple Stocks dropped 5 percent after the launch, confirms, Mashable’s “Apple Stock Drops 5% Following iPhone Event.” Whether or not this was due to the market or directly linked to the disappointment about the new smartphone launch is moot.

What do you think? Are you impressed that the new smartphone can be your personal assistant or is Siri the most amazing thing that no one will use? Most importantly, do you think Apple needs to do some PR damage control for inadvertently misinforming the public and not simply being there to acknowledge they were never going to release an I-Phone5 yesterday?

 ***

Before joining the Burrellesluce team in 2011, Kelly interned at CondeNast’s Glamour magazine as an editorial intern to the senior style writer and was an editor of her college newspaper. She received a B.A. in Behavioral Science and Business, Society and Culture from Drew University with honors. After graduation, she worked as a sales associate at Nordstrom and took a month off to travel abroad throughout Europe. In Kelly’s free time, she enjoys traveling, fashion, reading, bringing awareness to Breast Cancer, running 5Ks, baking and social media. Twitter:@miss_mulholland Facebook: BurrellesLuce; LinkedIn: Kelly Mulholland

PRSA Counselors Academy: Integrating the Brand Experience

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Colleen Flood*

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the PRSA Counselors Academy of which BurrellesLuce was a sponsor and Johna Burke, SVP-marketing, was one of the speakers. Over the course of several days, I got to listen and learn from some really great speakers. Periodically, I will be sharing insights from the event, here, on Fresh Ideas.

One breakout session, lead by Jim Joseph, president, Lippe Taylor Brand Communications, focused on Integrating the Brand Experience.  Jim started by asking attendees to name the one brand they could not live without.  It was interesting to hear the different brands mentioned as adding value to our lives.  Some of the brands were: Huggies, BMW, Weight Watchers, iPhone and Nordstrom. 

The discussion continued with the idea that most PR professionals don’t see themselves as marketers. However, both marketing and public relations have responsibilities that directly tie back to branding and the business. In order for branding to be successful both must work together as a team.

Flickr Image: captcreate

Flickr Image: captcreate

As marketing and communications professionals we need to create personal experiences that individuals can associate with our brands. We must identify and create needs while fulfilling on those brand promises. But with more consumers consciously choosing to include brands in their everyday life, this is sometimes easier said than done. Marketing and PR professionals need to understand the thought process that consumers put into their purchases, work as a team, and update their strategies and tactics accordingly. For many, this comes down to creating conversations and truly listening to what consumers want and need.

Some takeaways: (more…)

The Smartphone Craze…

Monday, January 17th, 2011

International Consumer Electronics Show 2011: Attendees view exhibits in Central HallAt the end of 2009, I heard that mobile was the future of communications. As the New Year rolls in, it is fast becoming clear that 2011 may just be the year for mobile campaigns. Last month, Mashable made 5 Predictions for Mobile in 2011. The Verizon iPhone prediction is about to come true already. This announcement has sparked several online polls, asking if smartphone users will make a switch. When I registered for the Digital Capital Week (DCWeek) this week, even they asked me what kind of smartphone I use.

In my personal life, I’ve been living the smartphone debate for quite awhile. I was a tried and true Palm user, but BurrellesLuce has a Blackberry server, so I made the switch. My husband loved his iPhone, but hated that he could not get service anytime we were in a crowd of more than 20 people; he recently switched to Blackberry. My sister recently switched to a Droid and loves her ability to access a lot of information easily. According to TechCrunch, the best of the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was the Motorola Atrix smartphone.

Recently, my BurrellesLuce colleague Crystal deGoede blogged, You Are What You Use…What Does your Tech-Gadget Say About You?, which tries to categorize smartphone users based on survey results from the 2010 Gadget Census Report by Retrevo. Additionally, our Johna Burke listed her favorite Droid Apps in her post, Apps I LOVE for the DROID. BurrellesLuce even posted a newsletter on Using Mobile Apps to Connect with Your Audiences.

As mobile marketing and PR grows more in popularity, we’re also seeing more articles like Ragan’s 7 things you need to know about mobile communications. One of my favorite posts on the subject came from Mashable, who gave us 15+ Worthwhile Ways to Kill Some Time on Your Mobile. It reminds us we don’t need to play a game or read funny tweets to occupy the time waiting for the train or plane.

Are you going to make a smartphone switch in the near future? If so, what influences your decision? How does your smartphone help you be more productive? And what are some of the ways you’ll be looking to leverage mobile communications in your public relations initiatives this year?