Monday, January 16, 2012

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Young Polling Startup Pollbob Acquires Older Site Misterpoll

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 09:28 AM PST


Pollbob, a small, three-person polling startup from New Orleans’ The Idea Village accelerator has just acquired the older polling site Misterpoll. Prior to the acquisition, which closed on Friday, Pollbob had over 12,000 downloads and 7,000 active registered users. With Misterpoll’s 270K+ userbase now in tow, Pollbob is ready for rapid growth, says Pollbob Co-founder Zach Kupperman.

At the time of the acquisition, Misterpoll had 270,000 registered users, 500,000 uniques per month and 3.2 million pageviews per month. The company has been around for ages – Misterpoll launched in 1998 (the site’s web design doesn’t look much older, yikes), but has always flown under the radar, never taking outside funding.

Says Kupperman, Misterpoll had been a side project for the company’s original two-man team (who prefer to not be named). That’s one reason why, apparently, the company was happy to sell. The acquisition price was not disclosed.

Pollbob, which now has $75,000 in funding following its soft launch in April 2011, plans to now pursue other acquisitions of polling companies as a growth strategy.

“Since polling/surveys have been around for a long time, we are in the unique position (for a small startup) of having lots of opportunities to acquire users through rolling up existing platforms relatively inexpensively,” says Kupperman.

The company says it hit over half a million opinions shared on its mobile app in October.

Prior to founding Pollbob, Kupperman has worn many hats, including time spent as a corporate and business attorney for startups, as the founder of and the creator of the iPhone app Election Hub. He also served as Chairman for NOLA YURP, a nonprofit designed to attract young professionals to New Orleans. While in college, he founded CampusPokerShop, which he sold a few years later to private investors.

Pollbob’s other two founders include a founding partner of clothing retailer OldHarborOutfitters, Ben Jacobson, and Aditya Schulka, a Master of Computer Science grad from the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

Agile Project Management Software Swift-Kanban Aims To Help Organizations Get Lean

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 09:25 AM PST


Digité, a company that develops lean/agile application life-cycle management products, is announcing that it is offering its Lean/Agile Project Management software Swift-Kanban for free to non-profits. Digite is also launching integration of Swift-Kanban with Atlassian’s Jira to bring developer issue management and helpdesk operations to the Kanban board.

Swift-Kanban leverages the Kanban Method developed by David J. Anderson to help organizations become more lean in communications and product development using highly visual management and as a result deliver products and services more quickly and with higher quality.

Some of the key features of the web-based product include a visual Kanban Board, with color-coded drag-n-drop cards, work-item classification, to-do checklists as well as metrics, dashboards, and reports. Because of the visual nature of the product, Swift-Kanban allows you to visualize your workflow with post-it-like notes on a Kanban board, each representing a workflow stage through which your work can flow.

Users can create personalized dashboard views available for each team member, and create lanes for each task. You can also pre-define a list of tasks and checklists for each card type and add discussion threads, audit logs, attachments, rich text editing, notifications, Inbox, role-based security.

While Swift-Kanban is already being used by software developers, the company is looking to appeal to organizations outside of the engineering world, hence the free offering for non-profits. Competitors in the space include Basecamp, Sprintly, Trello and others.

Here’s an example of a Kanban board:

Uberlife – The Next Foursquare, But For Future Real-world Meetups?

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 09:03 AM PST


I’ve been fascinated by social mobile location services since at least 2006 when, three years before Foursquare and year after Google acquired Dodgeball, a UK entrepreneur created BuddyPing, now sadly defunct, and right up to the launch of Pin Drop the other day. The rise of the iPhone shortly after created an ecosystem of location-aware apps which has continued to mushroom ever since. But there’s one thing that has frustrated me. Seeing where people are right now is all very well. But I what really want to know is – where will they be next?

Now I think I may have found potentially my Nirvana: Uberlife (an alpha iPhone app is here).

Wimm Labs VP Tim Twerdahl Shows Off The Android-Powered Wimm One Smart Watch

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 08:37 AM PST

There are plenty of smart watches out there in the world. The iPod Nano doubles as one, and the new MotoACTV watch is a pretty solid offering, too. But over at Wimm Labs, they’re taking the concept to a whole new level.

We got the opportunity to sit down with Wimm Labs VP Tim Twerdahl who let us get up close and personal with the new Wimm One Smart watch. It’s “a wearable platform” as Twerdahl would call it, based on Android and packed with fun features like WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, accelerometers, magnetometers and plenty of other fun stuff.

There are all kinds of apps that can track your workouts, keep your calendar information, and post alerts from your smartphone, but as Matt points out in the interview the Wimm Smart watch is a watch first.

But the module itself can be toted around in a number of ways, including on a carabiner. Right now the Wimm One is only available to developers for $299, but we’ll be sure to let you know once it’s ready to hit store shelves.

Viewsonic VP Mike Holstein Demos New Android, Windows Tablets

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 08:24 AM PST

When I think of tablets, I think of the usual suspects — Apple, Motorola, Asus, HTC, and the like. Viewsonic never really comes to mind, but that hasn’t stopped them from pushing out their own tablets and smartphones, and their VP of Business Development Mike Holstein joined us at CES to show us what the company has been up to.

First up on the agenda were two new Android tablets, the Viewpad 10e and the Viewpad e70. The bigger 10e sports a 10-inch IPS display and is surprisingly light, but it only runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Don’t expect to be blown away by its performance as it sports a single-core 1GHz Cortex A8 processor, but its $279 price aims to make up for it (whether or not it succeeds is up to you).

Despite being smaller, the E70 is arguably the more interesting of the two — it’s a 7-inch Ice Cream Sandwich-powered tablet that only costs $169. It’s no barnburner with its single-core 1GHz processor and 4GB of internal storage, but budget shoppers could do worse. That said, they could also do better for just a bit more, as the budget segment Viewsonic occupies is growing more crowded by the day.

And lest you think that Viewsonic is all about churning out low-cost tablets, Holstein also took a moment to trot out the Windows 7-powered Viewpad 10pi. It’s a far cry from their budget offerings at $849, but its Oak Trail processor, 64GB SSD, and its ability to boot into Android make it an intriguing (but iffy) option for companies looking to trick out their workforce.

Our Favorite CES 2012 Interviews, Videos And Events

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 07:38 AM PST


CES was a blast this year. It was the best show in recent memory. Everyone from the press to vendors were upbeat and seemingly truly happy to be there. Attendance was up. The show was the largest ever (too big for some). Best of all, we shared a wonderful booth with the Engadget crew, which allowed us to conduct more interviews and chill on some comfy couches when not livestreaming from the show floor.

Below is the best of our booth interviews and roaming coverage. We truly hope you enjoyed our unique coverage. Any outlet can stuff people in a room (or trailer) and write up press releases nonstop. We strive to bring the entire show to you by webcasting our shenanigans from the floor and interviewing the smaller guys from the booth. Here’s our nine favorite videos from this year’s show.

50 Cent interview

Mr. Cent stopped by our booth and we took the stage to talk about his new headphones among other things including why Twitter works for him. It was an insightful and fun interview.

Gary Shapiro on the future of innovation and CES

Don’t believe the nonsense. CES is not dead. It’s far from it. In fact it’s getting too big. Gary Shapiro, the president of the CEA, weighed in on the debate while also clearly stating Microsoft is not completely done with CES.

Schick shaves John

Schick, you know, the razor company attended CES this year. They had a small booth in the North hall where two barbers shaved show-goers free of charge. John, being one to never turn down something free, jumped on the opportunity. What this video does not show is the post-shaved John who looked ten years younger and a lot more happy.

G-Form does its best to destroy and iPad

Watch G-Form drop a bowling ball on an iPad. Spoiler: It survives.

The Butt Show

Fun game! Count how many sexual innuendos John slips in during his interview with the 80-year Dr. Fuji.

Days Of Wonder’s Ticket To Ride iPad board game

Picture a board game that’s also playable through the iPad. That’s sort of describes Ticket To Ride. Just watch the video.

Broksonic humidifiers

CES is a huge place. It’s not all smart TVs and Android tabs. Within the LVCC is a wide range of products including Broksonic’s new scented humidifiers.

OhMiBod, the vibrators with an app

This shouldn’t be here. Sorry, everyone. Watch Jordan interview a dildo company. It’s kind of NSFW. “It’s what makes mommies happy,” said the dildo lady.

The TechCrunch Gadget’s Final CES Webcast

We had a great time at CES 2012. This was our final live podcast (here are the rest) where we interviewed Parrot, GoPro and gave away a bunch of free stuff to show goers and people watching the webcast. We hope to do CES 2013 even bigger. Thanks for watching, everyone!

Hulu To Debut Its First Original Scripted Show “Battleground” Next Month

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 07:37 AM PST


Hulu is launching its first-ever original scripted series with its 13-episode order of Battleground, a political comedy following the campaign trail of a third-place candidate in Wisconsin angling for a seat in the Senate.

The show is kicking off Hulu’s foray into scripted programming, and will be followed by two other original shows: a second season of documentarian Morgan Spurlock’s A Day in the Life series, and Up to Speed, a travel show from Dazed and Confused director Richard Linklater.

Battleground will debut on February 14th, Hulu says, and will be available to all users of Hulu’s free service and its paying customers on the premium version. The company also told Bloomberg that it’s planning to raise money to fund further expansion into original shows. According to Andy Forssell, Hulu’s Chief Content Officer, the company has a “very healthy business.”

“When you have a healthy business, capital is not a problem. There are plenty of people who want to help,” he said.

The “healthy business” he’s referring to can be seen in Hulu’s recently released subscriber numbers and sales figures. Last week, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar spoke of how the business grew more than 60% in 2010 to approximately $420 million in revenue and now has over 1.5 million subscribers. 1.1 million of those customers were added over the course of the past year. That’s good news for Hulu. But then again, compare that with Netflix, which was growing at a rate of 1 million subscribers per quarter (or more), prior to the pricing debacle. It’s clear that it’s going to take more than just network TV to give Hulu an edge. Original programming may be just what it needs.

Today’s announcement of Hulu’s first scripted series comes on the heels of Netflix’s preparations to launch its first original series, a “fish out of water” tale from Steven Van Zandt called Lilyhammer. Both shows will debut in February.

This is the start of a growing trend towards original web programming. In addition to Netflix’s Lilyhammer, Tom Hanks is making a cartoon TV series for Yahoo. There’s also House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, which will also appear on Netflix, along with other original shows (it is also resurrecting Arrested Development, much to audience’s delight.).

For content creators, these efforts could lead them to entirely new ways to have their work seen, even if they don’t (yet) reach all of the 115.9 million mainstream TV consumers. Fox, for example, passed on Battleground before it found a home on Hulu. There’s more content out there than there are network time slots. If Netflix, Hulu and others want to move into original programming, it’s there for the taking.

Ooma CEO Eric Stang Shows Off The New HD2 VoIP Handset

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 07:29 AM PST

At CES 2012, there are quite a few products that would totally change the way you do things (or at least save you some money) that just don’t get enough coverage. We reported on Ooma’s new HD2 VoIP handset, but nothing beats getting the facts straight from the CEO of the company.

Luckily, Eric Stang had a chance to meet with us and chat it up. He explained that, while unnecessary, the HD2 Revel pretty much eliminates the need for a land-line. It’s basically a smartphone (or a smartphone-like handset) that pairs with the Ooma base station to offer VoIP services in your home. It also offers HD calling and caller ID with images collected from your Facebook, Google and Yahoo friends.

The handset should be available in February at select retailers and for $60.

Symantec Buys Cloud-Based Email Archiving Company LiveOffice For $115M

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 07:16 AM PST


Security and storage giant Symantec has announced the acquisition of cloud email archiving company LiveOffice. The acquisition price was $115 million.

LiveOffice is a SaaS provider of email archiving, compliance and hosting. In addition to providing cloud based email archiving, LiveOffice also archives email which is on-premise. By hosting email archives with LiveOffice, customers can migrate from their current provider to a cloud provider without having to deal with the possibility of losing sensitive information.

Not only does LiveOffice archive your email, but if a client’s primary cloud-based hosting service experiences an outage, it doubles as a backup. If an email provider does experience an outage, LiveOffice's users are still able to send and receive messages, including attachments, from the archive while the provider is down.

Founded in 1998, LiveOffice has 20,000 clients and processes and protects millions of messages a day. The company’s backers include Summit Partners. LiveOffice CEO Nick Mehta was a former Symantec exec, and served as vice president and general manager of the Enterprise Vault information archiving and discovery software business at the company.

Symantec says the acquisition will extend its governance offerings to the cloud, providing customers with the choice between on-premise, cloud or hybrid delivery of Symantec archiving. LiveOffice will also be integrated with Symantec’s acquired Clearwell eDiscovery Platform.

TinyProj Shuts Down, Users Sent To TechStars Grad GroupTalent Instead

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 07:04 AM PST


TinyProj, a project marketplace started by Forrst founder Kyle Bragger is shutting down.  All 8,300 of the service’s registered developers and designers who used the site to find project-based work will now be transitioned over to GroupTalent, a recent TechStars grad.

Both companies have been building online marketplaces for project-based work since October 2011. With GroupTalent, the goal has been to help match companies with quality talent by curating the level of applicants accepted. Only 20% of all applicants get in, as determined by a filtering process done through manual review in combination with algorithms that rank the applicants based on open source contributions.

According to GroupTalent CEO Manuel Medina, his site serves the growing needs of startup founders to earn additional income while their own sites get off the ground. "The majority of our talent base are teams from startups who are bootstrapping," he says. "Many are funded, many are from accelerator programs such as YC, TechStars, 500 Startups, and then there are those who are just getting started. Most of them are tired of ramen."

He also hopes that companies will soon realize that they can find the talent they need, if they’re willing to look beyond the full-time employee. “Most companies think of talent in terms of full time, but there is a large and growing demand from technical talent for project-based work,” says Medina. “It turns out there’s plenty of available, highly skilled developers and designers looking for work- not full time, but by the project.”

Starting today, Bragger will begin transitioning the userbase of TinyProj over to GroupTalent. The users will be given access to all the projects on the GroupTalent platform, where budgets are currently running between $8,000 and $40,000.

For Bragger, the move will help TinyProj users benefit from GroupTalent’s scale and momentum, but will also allow him to focus on his 500 Startups-funded dev and design community Forrst.

Former U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra Joins Salesforce As EVP Of Emerging Markets

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 06:19 AM PST

Vivek Kundra

CRM and cloud giant Salesforce has announced a key hire today—former U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra. Kundra has joined the company as executive vice president of emerging markets.

Kundra joined the Obama administration in March of 2009. As the first Chief Information Officer of the United States, Kundra managed more than $80 billion in technology investments and was an early evangelist of cloud computing in the public sector. Kundra also authored the ‘Cloud-First policy,’ which aims to guide government IT organizations around the world on how to be efficient with fewer resources.

Kundra also spearheaded the initiative, which aimed to democratize data access; and launched the Federal IT Dashboard, which gives an assessment of the cost of large government IT projects

“Vivek Kundra is an amazing technology visionary who opened the eyes of millions to the transformational power of cloud computing,” said Salesforce CEO and founder Marc Benioff “His disruptive leadership is just what the industry needs to accelerate the social enterprise.”

Prior to serving as U.S. CIO, Kundra was the chief technology officer for Washington D.C. and was the assistant secretary of commerce and technology for the state of Virginia. Last June, Kundra stepped down from his position as CIO to take a fellowship at Harvard University, which was a joint program with the Kennedy School and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Atlassian’s 2011 Revenues Were $102 Million With No Sales People

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 06:16 AM PST


One of the fastest growing enterprise software companies is Sydney-based Atlassian, which makes product management software for software development (including JIRA and Confluence). CEO Scott Farquhar and president Jay Simons were in New York City last week talking to investment bankers exploring an eventual IPO and dropped by the TCTV studio.

Revenues for calendar year 2011 (which is different than its fiscal year) were $102 million, up 35 percent, Farquhar tells me in the video. And the company has been profitable for years. The company employs 450 people worldwide, mostly in Sydney and San Francisco, where it just opened cavernous new offices. But none of them are in sales. “We have no sales people,” says Farquhar.

Atlassian was bootstrapped for 8 years before it took a huge $60 million dollop of venture capital from Accel in 2010. The company boasts 17,000 paying enterprise customers with between 5 million and 10 million daily active users.

In October, Atlassian dramatically reduced its entry-level pricing from $150 a month for 10 users to $10 a month for 10 users. Watch the video to learn more.

Dropcam CEO Greg Duffy On Getting Into Hardware: “Don’t Ship Before It’s Ready”

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 06:08 AM PST

If you were paying attention last week, you can probably surmise that we have about a billion hours worth of footage to process from last week’s CES International show. There’s live streaming coverage that has now been archived, as well as quite a few recorded interviews including this one with Greg Duffy, Dropcam CEO.

Speaking with John Biggs, Duffy shows off the new Dropcam HD and speaks on the transition from hardware buyer to small OEM.

His biggest piece of advice to other companies looking to enter the hardware space is to take your time. “Don’t ship it before it’s ready. We’ve been working on this for over a year and a half and didn’t tell anybody until now because we wanted to get it just perfect,” Duffy said. “It’s totally worth it, even if a couple prototypes are lost in the wild.”

Sounds like a good piece of advice for some of our larger OEMs, too.

A few other highlights from the interview:

  • Country music is everywhere at CES
  • Dropcam has significantly reduced its pricing model
  • John Biggs has night vision and boy scout skills
  • Duffy hopes Dropcams are primarily used for security and monitoring, rather than a RedTube-type situation


Ex-TechCruncher Launches Semantic Q&A Service Beepl

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 04:19 AM PST


Beepl is a questions and answers service, which launches today. Co-founder/CEO and ex-TechCrunch blogger Steve O'Hear actually left TC to do this startup is convinced that Beepl can take on the the so-called Q&A field better than Quora. But how?

Brainient Raises $1.8 Million To Scale Video Ad Performance Platform

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 04:11 AM PST


We’ve been watching online video advertising startup Brainient for a little while, given that the online video market looked poised for a lot of growth. Just how much growth was revealed at CES last week when YouTube stood up and predicted that 75 percent of all future channels will be born on the Internet and it had logged a trillion hits in 2011. That’s a lot of potential advertising inventory and someone out there is going to have to come up with some answers to make this work. To that end Brainient has brought round a few people to the same idea, given that today it lands $1.8 million in funding from a number of strategic investors.

Gadgets Week in Review: To Go

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 01:00 AM PST

We’ve Become A Nation Of Phone Starers

Posted: 15 Jan 2012 11:56 PM PST

Screen Shot 2012-01-16 at 2.19.00 AM

The signs are all there: Essays that insist that incessant phone staring at dinner is the wave of the future, New Yorker cartoons painfully highlighting the phone-fixated state of socialization today, the fact that I broke my toe once because I was too busy tweeting via mobile to notice a sharply angled door, blogs about clever ways to prevent phone staring at dinner and now this …

This weekend Saturday Night Live took a jab at the world’s collective phone fetish with a parody commercial for the app “Headz Up.” “Headz Up” sends realtime notifications about “what’s in front of your face” like a speeding truck, a closed elevator door or your wife.

Perhaps the saddest part about this clip is that I think (the fake) “Headz Up” actually sounds like sort of a good idea.

INFOBAR C01: Japan’s Newest (And Most Colorful) Android Phone

Posted: 15 Jan 2012 11:40 PM PST


Japan’s mobile landscape is currently in the midst of an Android revolution, and today KDDI au (the country’s second biggest carrier) announced another 5 smartphones with that OS on board for the local market. The most interesting model in the new line-up is the so-called INFOBAR C01 [JP], a candy bar coming with a heavily customized UI (based on Android 2.3).

KDDI au introduced a similar model back in May last year, the INFOBAR A01 (both handsets are part of KDDI's designer sub-brand iida).

The fresh model, which is more compact and weighs a little less, features the following specs:

  • 3.2-inch screen with 854×480 resolution
  • 8MP CMOS camera
  • e-wallet function
  • digital TV tuner
  • infrared
  • USB, microSDHC ports
  • Bluetooth 3.0+EDR
  • Wi-Fi
  • CDMA/GSM/GPRS compatibility
  • size: 130×52×12.3mm, weight: 106g

One of the biggest selling points (apart from the unusual design)  is the redesigned iida UI, which you can see in the video embedded below (Japanese narration).

KDDI au plans to start offering the INFOBAR CO1 next month.

Zappos Suffers Security Breach; Customer Emails And Passwords Affected

Posted: 15 Jan 2012 06:42 PM PST


It appears that Zappos was the victim of a cyber attack today from a hacker who gained access to the company’s internal network through the company’s servers in Kentucky. While specifics of the attack were not revealed, Zappos says that credit card and payments data were not accessed or affected by the criminal.

CEO Tony Hsieh writes to employees, The most important focus for us right now is the safety and security of our customers’ information. Within the next hour, we will begin the process of notifying the 24+ million customer accounts in our database about the incident and help step them through the process of choosing a new password for their accounts. (We’ve already reset and expired their existing passwords.)

Affected Zappos users simply need to reset their passwords and create a new password, Hsieh explains. In Zappos’ signature quality customer service style, the company has already created a detailed page for any affected users to find out more information. And Hsieh says that in order to service as many customer inquiries as possible, all employees at Zappos’ headquarters, regardless of department, will be asked to help with assisting customers who have questions about the attack.

From the email sent to affected users: We are writing to let you know that there may have been illegal and unauthorized access to some of your customer account information on, including one or more of the following: your name, e-mail address, billing and shipping addresses, phone number, the last four digits of your credit card number (the standard information you find on receipts), and/or your cryptographically scrambled password (but not your actual password).

Hsieh adds that Zappos is cooperating with law enforcement on an ongoing investigation of the incident. Considering Zappos’ impressive customer service (and quick response), it seems that the company is taking all steps to help make sure customers are aware of which data that could have been stolen by the hacker, and encourages users to change their passwords.

Some Key Social Media Trends To Look For In 2012

Posted: 15 Jan 2012 05:45 PM PST


Editor's note: Guest contributor Joseph Puopolo is an entrepreneur and start-up enthusiast, who blogs on a variety of topics including green initiatives, technology and marketing.

In 2011, social media had its share of growing pains. Large brands and corporations took to social media in force to try to find footing in this expanding medium. Some brands found success, while others found peril and new PR nightmares. One person who has helped brands navigate the proverbial social media minefield is Amy Jo Martin. She is the founder of Digital Royalty, a social media firm that has set itself apart by helping A-listers find their social media voice.

Amy works with people like Dana White of the UFC, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of acting/WWE fame and brands like Nike and Fox Sports (and now Joel Stein). Her specialty is working with organizations or individuals and making them look good online. Since the online world is in perpetual flux, I wanted to get Amy's take on the social media landscape for 2012.

Here were a few key trends Amy said we should look out for in 2012:

1. Social TV Integration

Many shows have already begun to integrate social TV, either through polling or integrating social elements within the show. See my example of how both the UFC and WWE are integrating social media into their programming. Social media played a pivotal role in the last presidential election, and it will likely be more integrated into political broadcasts.

As each news channel fights hard to keep their viewers engaged, networks like CNN and Fox have made significant strides to engage their audience, although some would argue that this social media integration has come at the expense of hard-hitting journalism and analysis.

2. TV Is Going Online in a Big Way

2012 will be the first time that the Super Bowl will be streamed live to the world. Since the Super Bowl is generally viewed as the mother of all advertising spectacles, it will add a new dynamic into the digital component to advertising and social media integration.

3. Facebook Credits Take Center stage

Facebook in 2012 has the potential to project its power and truly take Facebook credits into a viable currency. Amy puts it quite well when she says "they're building an online destination we'll never need to leave, and my guess is they're only about 8% of the way through their product roadmap."

4. Big Business Has Woken Up

The way corporate entities approach social media is shifting. Many companies realize that setting up Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts is not going to cut it as their social media strategy. Brands will need to seriously shift their perspective by treating social channels more like communication channels and less like an advertising channels in order to make a difference. From my perspective this transition has already occurred, judging by the extent to which brands’ Twitter accounts are now used as channels for CRM and customer support, managing pissed off or happy customers in near realtime.

5. ROI Is Still Huge

ROI will remain a key metric to any social media strategy. The concept of engagement is now becoming more and more an excepted metric. CEO adoption of social media is improving, and more CEOs are recognizing the benefits of humanizing their brand by taking to Twitter.

Customer service, research and image branding could all be considered social media intangibles, yet all three are obviously important in business. Social channels impact every single aspect of business from human relations to finance, sales, operations and legal. It's important for everyone to understand how social media affects their role and responsibilities. Opposite of television, social media is a dialogue vs. a monologue and if a brand is able to collect opinions real-time in high volume via social channels like Facebook polls, they can save a great deal of money on formal research studies.

There have been a lot of discussions about social media fatigue and whether brands refuse to play for that reason. With over a billion people on social media it's irresponsible for any brand not to have some sort of presence. 2012 will be the year for brands to go beyond cookie cutter campaigns and really determine how it not only adds value to their company, but how it adds value for their customers. 2012 will be crucial for companies and social media. For those who don't see a direct correlation between social media and sales consider:

“Social media is an ideal tool for moving people up the fan ladder, from being a casual fan of a brand to a loyalist, because the communication channels allow people to build stronger emotional connections with brands.”

So in 2012, the question is, how will your brand use effective strategy to move people up the fan ladder from interested to foaming at the mouth brand zealots?

Excerpt image from 4socialmediaconsulting

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