Archive for April, 2011

A creepy, albeit entertaining, app.

I was browsing Tech Crunch today and came across an article featuring a new iPhone app called VideoMask. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not big on entertainment apps. Almost all of the apps on my phone are utilitarian. I am not a big gamer, and will shop via an app only on rare occasion. VideoMask, admittedly has no purpose but to entertain. It allows the user do the lip-dubbing trick that you often see on late-night shows. Basically, you pick a picture of whoever/whatever you want and turn into a “mask” that will be the backdrop for your video. You then record yourself saying something and loop it over the picture. This all sounded pretty ridiculous but fun, so I thought I would give it a try.

VideoMask was easy to find in the AppStore. It cost $.99 cents, an interesting price point because if I didn’t work, I wouldn’t have been too bent out of shape. It is very self-explanatory. It even explains how to search for and save a photo directly to their camera roll in case the user hasn’t done so in the past. I went into Google images and saved a picture of Kate Middleton given that she has been on the news non-stop lately. I then used the front-facing camera to videotape my voice loop. Prior to taping, the app guided my through positioning my eyes and mouth over the eyes and mouth in the picture that I had selected. It worked fairly well, however the holes were grouped together. It probably would have worked together if the eyes and mouth could be positioned individually. After finishing the recording, a quick 20 seconds later, there is a video ready to view, email, or post to Facebook or Twitter.

I emailed the video to myself and was pleased to see that it arrived in a matter of seconds. The video is embedded in the email and plays flawlessly. Also, there is a link the VideoMask website. I tried playing the video and going to the website from my iPhone as well and both worked flawlessly.

This was a fun (and creepy) app. Definitely worth $.99.

Note: I don not have the premium WordPress account that will allow me to upload a video. However, I am happy to email the video to anyone who is interested in seeing it.

Tech Crunch Article:

VideoMask Website:


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Ford – SMS at it’s Best.

Last week our guest speaker, Philippe Poutonnet from HipCricket, highlighted several key considerations for executing a successful SMS campaign. The best practices included:

  1. Send a courtesy reply text to consumer following their campaign registration.
  2. Limit the number of SMS offers to 2-3 month to avoid inundating the participant.
  3. Leverage location-specific messaging by requesting zip codes.
  4. Consider both the time of the day and day of the week that would be most relevant for sending the SMS blast, especially if it’s food related.
  5. Maximize exposure by leveraging all marketing materials (direct mail, email blast, website and POS) to promote the SMS campaign.

In specific, Poutonnet discussed a campaign that HipCricket is executing for Ford Direct (Ford’s marketing division) that is still in it’s infancy. The campaign objective is to garner 50 qualified leads on a monthly basis. The campaign leverages their TV buys, by prompting viewers to text a key word to a shortcode. The end goal is to get you to answer enough questions that they can qualify where you are at in the buying process and get you in touch with a sales associate.

After hearing about the campaign, I decided to test it out to see if it followed the best practices that Poutonnet had laid out for us in the beginning of his presentation. Here was my transaction:


FORD: Thx 4 texting Ford. Reply with your favorite Ford Model to get more information Details Msg+Data rates may apply. Stop=Outout.

Ford: Reply w/your ZIP CODE 2 get ur local offer. Details: U will receive future offers from Ford. Msg+Data Rates may apply. STOP=Optout HELP=help

Me: 98225

Ford: $1K Rtl Cstmr Cash + $1K Promo Rtl Bonus Cstmr Cash Want offer from ur local dealer? Reply w/ur full name 2b contacted

Meg: Meg Brown

Ford: Your local dealer will contact you shortly, in the meantime you can continue your research at

I was called by ford the next morning.

I actually think this campaign was executed really well. Not only did it meet the MMA guidelines, but it also followed HipCricket’s best practices. They maximized their other medium to drive participation, acknowledged receipt of my text, asked me a few questions to qualify my buying interest, found out my location, provided timely discount offer and then had a sales associate follow up at an appropriate time of day.

The one suggestion I would make would be to that they could probably eliminate one step in the texting process by having customer segmentation start at the time of the initial interaction. For example, instead of using FORD as a shortcode, why not use FOCUS or ESCAPE (etc)? I also like that they include URL’s to drive traffic back to their site. This is a nice example of integrating SMS into the larger campaign.

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StumbleUpon App Review

Last week, Mashable published an article titled, 4 Free Apps for Discovering Great Content on the Go (  Their top recommendation was StumbleUpon’s app. StumbleUpon has been around for 10 years, but just launched their app last year. The basic premise of the site is that it serves up articles that you will find interesting based upon the areas of interest that you select when creating your profile. You build your profile by consistently giving the content thumbs up or down, resulting in more tailored suggestions as time goes on.

I was able to find and download the app without any issues, but registering was another story. At first, I was happy to see that you could easily register by using Facebook connect. I love this feature. It eliminates the need to fill out lengthy forms, one of my biggest pet peeves on a mobile site or app. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. I tried several times and kept getting an error message. So, I went ahead and registered the long way.

To start “stumbling” on content, the app suggests seeing what your friends are reading. There are several ways to do this. The first is to connect with your Facebook account. I tried that, and got another error message. The next option was to scan through the contacts that are stored on my phone. I was told that 26 of my friends were already users. Great! The app directed me, “Tap ‘follow’ to see enable sharing.” This sounds easy enough, but I couldn’t find a follow button anywhere. All I could see was an Invite All button to get my other contacts to register for the site. So I wasn’t able to see what my friends were reading via my contacts book or Facebook. That meant that in order to get the all rolling, I had to go in and start manually selecting areas of interest. This is not something that I was excited about doing from my phone, so I gave up and went to the desktop site for that step.

Once I selected my interests, the experience worked fairly well. I went back to my app and started going through suggested content. I got a few interesting articles, funny videos and cool pictures. The app functionality was intuitive and I was giving content the thumbs up and down and emailing stuff to friends with ease.

I am pretty confident that I’ll enjoy and use this app now that I have it all set up. Obviously, the registration and connect functionality could be improved upon to make for a better user experience. That being said, I frequently use my mobile phone for entertainment when I’m killing time. The purpose of the StumbleUpon is a no-brainer for mobile users.

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