All posts tagged technology

cyber_monday_santa

If, like me, you decided to give Black Friday a wide berth, then Cyber Monday is probably much more your cup of tea.  Loads of bargains, but without being barged / rugby tackled / swore at. The civilised way to sort your Christmas shopping. And from the comfort of your own home – what’s not to love about that?

As someone who would rather stick pins in my eyeballs than wrestle fellow shoppers in a claustrophobically crowded retail destination, Cyber Monday is extremely appealing. I just don’t have the patience for shopping in the real world. All that hustle and bustle just makes me stressed.  I do seem to vaguely recall a time when shopping was a fun pastime, but those days are long gone.  Nowadays If there’s more than two people in front of me at the checkout, I start to get a bit fretful and am prone to abandoning my goods and steaming straight out of the shop in a huff. In fact, just thinking about trying to navigate a town centre on a weekend in December is making my chest tight.

So hurray for Cyber Monday…and working from home!  The perfect way to get Christmas sorted without losing your mind.  All the usual suspects are taking part: Amazon, Argos, Tesco, ASOS, The Disney Store…in fact it’s probably quicker to list those that aren’t participating.  To make things even simpler this year, lots of sites have compiled a round-up of the best offers available.  Check them out for inspiration:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/money/cyber-monday-2014-live-deals-4725177

http://www.hotukdeals.com/cyber-monday

http://money.aol.co.uk/2014/11/29/revealed-the-best-cyber-monday-deals/

And while you’re at it, pay with Paypal for your chance to win up to £1000.  With 5 winners a week it makes you feel like you might even have a slim chance:

https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/winchristmas

And don’t panic if you don’t get all your festive shopping sorted in one fell swoop.  I’m sure Terrific Tuesday (I’m working on the name!) will bring its own tempting treats.  Happy shopping

What’s occurring with the weather these days?  One minute it’s cold and wet, the next blisteringly hot.  Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce… SWINTER – a freak seasonal hybrid that’s throwing up a whole host of challenges – sartorial, culinary and even domestic.

I’m no Michael Fish/John Kettley/Ian McKaskill (no? #showingmyageagain) but something strange is afoot meteorologically speaking. Autumn is no more – it’s been bullied out of town by this brazen, insensitive upstart.

As you would expect a Google search on climate change spews up a plethora of sites – educational, political and charitable.  The effects of climate change are profound (as far reaching as ‘far reaching’ can ever be) and impactful and not to be trivialised in a ‘poor me, I don’t know what to wear/eat’ kind of way.

That said, I’m afraid that’s exactly how I’m rolling with this one.  The weather has always been a hot topic of conversation for us Brits.  Historically I’m not really sure why.  I guess it must be something to do with British restraint and needing safe fodder for polite chit-chat.  It certainly didn’t used to be the unpredictable atmospheric carnival it seems to have morphed into of late.

So, presumably, as a nation we’re talking about it even more now.  If the RumbleChat office is anything to go by, that is definitely the case. Every day starts with a dissection of our local climate and the impact it has on our daily meanderings.  We are human barometers who obsess about the weather with a farmer-like intensity.

What to wear?  Just yesterday I set off for an early doors meeting in the Big Smoke, sporting a thermal socks/ankle boot combo and clutching an umbrella. Leaving my meeting late morning, I was greeted by the sun, with his hat on, mockingly beating down on my winter-clad self. By the time I got back to the office I was very sweaty, a tad grumpy and in dire need of an outfit change.  It brings a whole new angle to the trans-seasonal wardrobe conundrum.

I am also finding it is playing havoc with my appetite, or more specifically, what I fancy to eat at any given time.  A hearty stew is just the ticket when you’re cold and bedraggled, whereas a super-food salad is much more befitting for a balmy Mediterranean eve.

Don’t even get me started on the ‘is it too early to put the heating on?’ debate.  As I work from home a lot, I threw caution to the wind a fortnight ago and took the thermostatic plunge…only to return home the next day to an uncomfortably furnace-like house and the kids running around topless in the pleasantly warm garden.  I just can’t seem to get it right on any front.

And my phone’s no use.  I constantly refer to it for weather hints and tips but Apple are clearly using someone even less in-the-know than I to inform their weather app. Check it in the morning and it says one thing, then two hours later (once you’ve set about starting your day) it’s completely contradicting itself… presumably after looking out of the window and realising how wrong its initial finger in the air prediction really was. Utter shambles springs to mind.

So, what about you RumbleChatters?  Are you struggling like me or can you give me some tips on climate management for beginners?

scandinavian-interior-design-showroom-in-stockholm-2012-2

The broad brush definition of Content Marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. So the formats that immediately spring to mind are blog posts, website updates and email newsletters, right?

In my opinion, the essence of content marketing is far broader than this.  It’s a strategy, not a tactic, and should actually encompass every single communication that your company utters online, including job adverts, one-to-one emails and absolutely anything you write on social media sites and forums.

Content marketing is one of the best ways of engaging with audiences and potential customers online. It is useful for improving search rankings, increasing brand engagement, loyalty and visibility and for facilitating social sharing and interaction. If you are a consumer-facing company, it is imperative that you  are actively embracing content marketing.

People in-the-know have even gone as far as to say that content marketing is the new SEO.  A big claim, but one that makes sense.   Content is the undisputed king in 2013. High quality content targets relevant keywords, boosts social sharing and increases the number of indexed pages on your website, all of which aid your search ranking climb.

Significantly, the focus for content marketing is not on selling, but rather on communicating with customers and prospects.  So it’s really all about improving your communication strategy and making sure you are communicating with your target audience on the right platforms, with relevant information, using a tone of voice that endears you to them.

What I’ve said so far obviously applies to any consumer facing company. But if you’re a food or lifestyle company you’ve got a distinct edge on the content marketing front and I’ll tell you for why (Gavin & Stacey repeats on Gold, anyone?).

Chances are your product is way more aesthetically pleasing than the majority out there.  People love to drool over images of food or beautiful interiors.  There’s a reason TV is flooded with food porn (Masterchef, The Great British Bake Off, Nigella) and house porn (Grand Designs, anything with Sarah Beeney).

They (those in-the-know bods again) say a picture speaks a thousand words. So you are at a distinct advantage in having access to delicious images that your audience will want to see.  Of course, you don’t want to be just firing incessant pictures of your brand at them, but having this content in your locker gives you a natural foundation for your content marketing efforts.

So what are you waiting for?  If you’re not quite sure where or how to start then either give us a call or pop back next week when my blog will give you a step-by-step guide to Content Marketing.

Back in the day, Word of Mouth Marketing was the rarely achieved panacea, the elusive holy grail of the broadcast marketer.

These days it’s become our bread and butter.  Word of Mouth Marketing (or WOMM for short) is the cornerstone of brand success in our digital age. And from the girded loins of WOMM has sprung the latest favoured child, Social Commerce.

With modern consumers imbibing WOMM as an essential part of their decision making processes,  Social Commerce has become the key to future success.

In 2010 Mark Zuckerberg said “If I had to guess, social commerce is next to blow up”.  He wasn’t wrong.  With 74% of consumers now relying on social networks to inform their purchasing decisions, no modern day brand can afford to ignore this latest concept.

Social commerce is defined as a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction, and user contributions to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services. In a nutshell, selling within social networks.

Social Commerce allows brands to sell where consumers spend their time.  To capitalise on this you need to make sure you’re there, at the coal face, engaging with your consumers, gaining insight and generally being a likeable, trustworthy all-round good guy.

While Social Commerce is very much in its infancy, with big online brands such as Amazon, American Apparel and Cafepress still at the toe-dipping stage of engagement, it is undoubtedly the shape of things to come. So if you haven’t already, you need to start thinking about it.

How to prepare? In short you’ve got to have a brand that wins on social media – see my previous blog for details of how to do just this.

Now as a marketer, I’d never advise you to put all your eggs in one basket. An integrated strategy is always the way to go.  No one channel can ever deliver business success in isolation. And there’s always a place for the old-school skills. If you’ve got sufficient budget, clever advertising is still a great way to achieve brand awareness, and get you on the radar of your target audience. When it comes to the transactional crunch, though, it’s WOMM that increases your conversion rates and closes deals. And with Social Commerce enabling brands to hold transaction-inspiring conversations quite literally at the point of purchase, you’d be a fool to ignore it.

The high street is dead (boo), long live SC

food app image

Following on from last week’s vociferous scourge on the new food app for lardy gamers, I felt it only right that I should offer up the worthier side of food related apps.  As Apple have drummed into our subconscious, whatever your [dietary] requirements, ‘there’s an app for that.  The plethora of sustenance related apps is astounding; there’s definitely no ‘one-size-fits-all’ ethos going on here.  Here’s a selection of the several million (I exaggerate…but only slightly) that I stumbled upon in the name of research.

 

Best for Foodies in training: Foodgawker

A veritable feast of food porn. The mobile counterpart to foodgawker.com, which collects recipes from various food bloggers, and presents them in a mouthwatering photo gallery format. Whether you want to make good food, or just drool over it, foodgawker is an excellent resource. It’s also a great way to discover your next favourite food blog.

 

Best for meal planning: FoodPlanner

Make it easy to swerve the crisp aisle next time you hit the supermarket. FoodPlanner organises your daily meals and allows you to upload your own recipes and download meal ideas from top recommended sites. This clever little app then compiles your shopping list of ingredients from the recipes you’ve chosen. FoodPlanner can store multiple lists and recipes to add variety into your healthy eating habits. Handy eh?

 

Best for wannabe Flintstones: Primal Paleo

It seems like every other person I meet is Paleo eating these days.  Maybe it’s the Game of Thrones effect, but this caveman diet is taking over the world! Billed as ‘the only nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic’ the ideology is more appealing than the reality (no coffee or cake). For those keen to give it a try, Primal Paleo offers the perfect pocket guide to succeed.

The app includes key information about the core principles of Paleo living, along with recipe ideas and a searchable list of Paleo foods. Find out which foods are in season and choose from a selection of exercises to complement the diet.Connect to the rest of the Primal community through the app to share your meal ideas, lifestyle tips and find words of wisdom from other users.

 

Best for eating out: Mint Nutrition

We all love to eat out, but it can be a sure-fire way of piling on the pounds. Mint Nutrition keeps track of your calorie chomping whenever you’re out for dinner and guides you to more healthy options. Search for foods at your favourite restaurants and also create your own virtual plate, detailing your most popular menu choices. So you can work out how much time on the treadmill you need to offset that sticky toffee pudding.

Best for vegetarians: Go Veggie!

This app is ideal for veggies wanting to keep their diet balanced and varied. Users can browse over 100 recipes ranging from basic to elaborate. Each dish is accompanied by a step-by-step guide. Additional features include an ingredient and recipe finder, recipe index and the ability to create individual shopping lists. Go Veggie! also explains how to transform protein-rich foods such as tofu, seitan and tempeh into tasty and nutritious dishes.

  

Best for staying hydrated: Carbodroid

Everyone knows that we should drink eight glasses of water a day, but if you’re anything like me, this is an abstract, rarely achieved target. You can set your daily goal for water intake and tap the cup or bottle icon to track your sipping habits. You’ll receive reminders to drink water at regular intervals and if you drink enough, the cute animated droid shares in your happiness. It’s a simple concept, but a brilliant one that motivates you to keep drinking water in a fun and accessible way.

 

Best for Healthy Living: Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by My Fitness Pal 

Tap in your age, gender, ­lifestyle ­details and weight-loss goal and you’re away. It’ll set a daily ­calorie limit and help you track your food and ­exercise throughout the day. A ­potentially ­effective weight-loss tool, if you’re prepared to be ­brutally honest.

 

Best for garnering food safety knowledge: NutritionTips
Did you know that cut melon must be thrown out after two hours? Or that the leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts? Or that oysters contain protein, calcium, phosphorus and iron? This colorful app has fun factoids a-plenty to steer you towards a safe and healthy diet. Each tip is written on a sleek Post-it look-alike. Most visually pleasing.  Simply swipe the page or shake your device for a new tidbit.

 

So it seems Apple aren’t exaggerating.  Whatever your need or desire, there’s an app to match.  So, Rumblechatters, what’s your favourite food app?

 

Pizza hut app pic

Pizza Hut and Microsoft have teamed up to create a Pizza Hut App for Xbox, which allows video game players to order pizza via Xbox Live.  This means you can order dinner without having to abandon your beloved games console for a single second.

On a technological level this is a big achievement – it’s the first time an entertainment app has allowed for the purchase and delivery of goods. The app even connects to your Facebook account, allowing you to post details of your dinner order for your family and friends to see.

But Rumblechatters, the question I want to bellow at the top of my lungs is….WHY?  Is it possible to get so disconnected from reality that you think this is a good thing?  And don’t worry that this defines you as a total loser?  It’s a slippery slope after all – if cooking your own tea, or even picking up the phone to order it in, become too much bother, surely showering and the benefits of fresh air become completely obsolete?

Reassuringly this collaboration is only available in America at present.  But where the mighty US of A lead, Britain invariably skuttles behind. As UK couch potatoes rejoice, I can’t help but worry that this is taking slothdom to a new and disturbing level.

I’m having flashbacks to David Fincher’s Se7en.  Kevin Spacey’s nefarious John Doe character would have a (justifiable?) field day with this app.  He’d have to dream up a whole new world of pain to punish these slothful gluttons (2 deadly sins in one sitting).

Cue another media flashback, this time from the small screen. (I know I’m in danger of jeopardising my whole argument, given my points of reference reveal my eyes to be on the square-ish side, but bear with me please).  Do any of you remember a kids program called Why Don’t You?  It ran from the late 70s to the early 90s and ignited the careers of such celebs as Ant McPartlin, Pauline Quirk and Andy Crane (of Broom Cupboard fame….no? #showingmyageagain).

Its full title was Why Don’t You Just Switch off The Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead? Clearly they weren’t inciting you to turn your telly off until the end of the show (when, handily, the kids programming stopped), but the ideology was sound.   We could learn a lot from the #goodolddays.

The sun is shining (for the moment) and the birds are singing….picnic anyone?

Epic-cafe-facebook-campus

I’ve just been reading about Epic, which is the canteen housed within the Facebook headquarters. The food served there is complimentary to all staff… which I applaud!
It seems as though food is taken pretty seriously over at the social media giant. They offer their employees creatively themed meals of high quality, with the cooking team posting the daily menu on the in-house Facebook page.
This made me wonder. Do you think all large, successful corporate firms should offer this sort of service? Should they have an in-house cafeteria? Should they offer meals free of charge by way of rewarding staff for all of their hard work? Should they make an extra effort to offer up food of high quality as in incentive to get the creative juices flowing with their employees?
I think a food incentive is a massive plus within the workplace! Healthy, well cooked, creative cooking makes for happy workers and lots of RumbleChatting 🙂

Over at RumbleChat HQ, we are fascinated to see how the Angry Birds franchise has expanded beyond the highly addictive app. Rovio, the Finnish creaters of the app, have already partnered up with the kings of the golden arches themselves – McDonalds – to provide Angry Bird games within some of their restaurants in China.

Now they have started selling Angry Birds fizzy drinks in Finland, and soon they will be expanding to Australia and New Zealand. But the biggest news is that they have outsold fizzy pop kings Pepsi and Coca-cola in some of their stores!

So RumbleChatters, do you see the appeal of buying a fizzy drink JUST for the fact that it is associated to a fictitious character, an app, or your Smartphone?

 

Yes, this is as crazy as it looks. Strongbow – the masters of deliciously sweet commercial cider – have taken drinking your favourite tipple one step further with StartCap

Utilising RFID technology, the StartCap can be set up to an antenna and used to trigger anything you connect it to… The technology can get the music playing, turn the lights on (or off!) set off confetti cannons, or turn the tv channel over!

Strongbow’s genius idea can really get the night going. Still in prototype form, but looking to feature around events very soon. Not that we’re supremely lazy, but RumbleChat will definitely be keeping an eye out for it!

What do you think? How would you put it to work for you?

I have just downloaded this fantastic app for my iPhone and I LOVE IT!

Here at RumbleChat Towers we are always on the look out for new apps, gadgets, and techy inventions. Especially if they are food & drink based! We do like a wee tipple of a weekend evening. Come to think of it, we like a wee tipple most evenings… and this gives no shortage of inspiration with 500 drinks recipes (or a whopping 3000 for the iPad) based on your choice of base spirit… The app is FREE, it remembers what you have had in the past and so bases future recommendations on your historical preferences. You can select according to what mood you are in, the weather, the time, what is trending in the world at that moment, or what colour you fancy. Also you can create a shopping list or input what ingredients you have in your larder and it will suggest a selection of inspiring recipe options!

Did I mentioned it is FREE RumbleChatters?!