Big Data Can Help Save Our Planet #pollution #cities

Big Data Can Help Save Our Planet

Big data analytics company and ETH Zurich spin-off Teralytics, Telefónica NEXT and sustainability solution provider South Pole Group conducted a study in Nuremberg, Germany that reveals the analysis of mobile network data as an effective way to estimate CO2 and NOX emissions in urban areas at very low cost. To achieve this, Teralytics examined aggregated and anonymised data, which is generated when mobile devices communicate with Telefónica’s mobile communication cells while users make calls, send texts or browse the internet. Teralytics was able to refine this raw data into human mobility patterns to understand how the different modes of transport, for instance trains or cars, are frequented. Combining this information with data on the emissions of the different transport modes, the three entities were able to estimate air pollution and GHG emissions in the city.

New study leverages mobile network data to estimate levels of carbon emissions and air pollution in cities, an approach that could substantially reduce the cost of implementing the Paris Agreement.

As each form of transportation produces a unique amount of CO2 and NOX emissions, understanding urban mobility patterns is vital to understand the source of emissions. The study in Nuremberg used this information to estimate with up to 77 per cent accuracy the concentration of air pollutants in the city. These findings encourage further exploration of how big data can be used to understand and ultimately solve environmental issues such as air pollution in cities across the world. This is particularly interesting with regards to the lower cost of analysing and interpreting data compared to the higher cost of production and maintenance of elaborate measuring stations. The novel approach could thus allow an ongoing analysis on a nationwide scale.

“While our contemporary urban lifestyles result in the generation of harmful greenhouse gasses, it also generates large amounts of behavioural data. Our mission at Teralytics is to use this data for the benefit of society,” says Georg Polzer, CEO of Teralytics. “Our findings from Nuremberg showed that this data can be used to give city planners insights into how human mobility contributes to pollution. This is a vital part to efficiently design and implement clean air and low carbon strategies. We are looking forward to further exploring this opportunity.”

Using a three-level process, the fully anonymised and aggregated data was first transformed into movement flows by the data scientists at Teralytics, identifying over 1.2 million transportation routes during the analysed time period, as depicted in Figure 2. The sustainability solution expert South Pole Group then used an atmospheric model to estimate air pollution levels caused by the usage of the different modes of transportation, taking into account meteorological data and information on the respective traffic carriers’ emission levels from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB). In the third step, the accuracy of the method was examined by comparing the findings with existing data from air pollution measuring stations. The values measured at these stations were found to correlate up to 77 per cent with those from the Teralytics’ calculations (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Correlation between measured NOx concentrations and NOx concentration calculated by Teralytics. This approach shows high correlations between values, in some cases up to 77 per cent.

The results of this pilot study in Nuremberg constitute a sound basis to further develop the methodology. Following its success, the consortium was able to secure financial support from Climate KIC’s Low Carbon City Lab (LoCaL), an initiative that brings together cities, business, academia and NGO’s to deliver high environmental and societal impact. With this backing, the research partnership will expand and improve the methodology, focusing on short travel routes and taking into account local emission factors like airports, large-scale events, and types of vehicles on the road (i.e. electric cars and SUVs). Moreover, the influence of factors such as traffic jams and red lights will be taken into account in order to make even more accurate estimations of the air pollution levels in a city.

“The results from this pilot study exceed our expectations,” says Maximilian Groth, responsible for Business Development & Partnerships at Teralytics. “We are confident that we will soon be able to scale this product to cities worldwide to support urban planners in making our air cleaner and achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement at the lowest possible cost.”

This research follows other successful studies on usage of mobile network data, including a smart data analysis for transport in Stuttgart by Teralytics, Telefónica Germany, and Fraunhofer IAO.

Additional comments on the topic:

“Approximately 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are generated in cities, meaning that they play a key role in climate protection. We see great potential in the use of continuously generated data, such as mobile network data, to measure and reduce pollution levels in cities.” States Renat Heuberger, CEO of South Pole Group.

Florian Marquart, Managing Director of Telefónica NEXT for Advanced Data Analytics: “The pilot project in Nuremberg has clearly shown the specific added value of anonymised mobile network data for the environment. This is data from people for people. We see great potential in the results and will start the next phase of our research. The goal is to develop a product that German cities, German states and the German federal government can use to better face the challenges of emissions pollution”.

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About Teralytics: Teralytics is the trusted data analytics partner for some of the largest telecom operators in North America, Europe and Asia. Using technology built for operators by data scientists, we have perfected the ingestion, modelling and transformation of raw signals from subscriber actions and movements on operator networks to deliver meaningful and actionable insights, that delivers new value to our mobile operator partners. By unlocking and processing a massive scale of device movement and consumer intelligence data from location and behavioural signals, we can analyse people, places and things and offer actual insights to help city planners, venue owners, retailers, NGOs and media companies make informed decisions, optimize operations and maximize ROI. Headquartered in Zurich, Teralytics has offices in New York, and Singapore.

South Pole Group is a leading provider of global sustainability solutions and services. The company has delivered climate-proven solutions to a wide range of public, private and civil society organisations for over a decade. The Group’s expertise covers key areas of corporate climate action, investment climate risks, sustainable supply chains, green finance, as well as renewable energy and energy efficiency. A pioneer in emission reduction and renewable energy projects, South Pole Group has been consistently rated by Environmental Finance’s Voluntary Carbon Market Survey as one of the most successful carbon market service providers in the world. www.thesouthpolegroup.com

Within Telefónica Germany NEXT GmbH based in Berlin, Telefónica Deutschland has bundled its digital growth areas “Advanced Data Analytics” and “Internet of Things”. The new company acts as an independent entrepreneur on the market and develops digital products and services under CEO Nicolaus Gollwitzer. As a partner to other industries, Telefónica NEXT enables companies to make better use of the growth opportunities provided by digitalisation. With “Advanced Data Analytics”, Telefónica NEXT focuses on the social and economic advantage that can be obtained from analysing large volumes of data. In addition, Telefónica NEXT is working on solutions for the Internet of Things. The new software platform geeny.io helps companies to offer connected solutions for end users. Telefónica NEXT imposes strict data protection standards on all products and applications, and often goes even further, because people should be able to retain control over their data and shape their digital lives as they choose.

Climate-KIC is the largest European innovation initiative for climate-friendly technologies. Launched as EU program 2010, Climate-KIC supports with offices in 15 European countries innovation projects, start-ups and young innovators. Numerous partners from industry and commerce, science, public sector and civil society work in Climate-KIC on ground-breaking, scalable innovations to fight climate changes.

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Ricky Sutton: ricky@abcd.agency

Live Google Glass broadcasting is the next big thing for sporting events

basketball

CrowdOptic, a maker of crowd-powered mobile and wearable applications as seen at popular sporting events, today announced it has received funding to ramp up sales and marketing of its software, which curates and broadcasts live streaming video from Google Glass and other smart devices to stadium scoreboards, fan mobile devices and live TV.

Find Wearable Technology Products at Amazon

The additional funding, which consists of debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank, as well as other key existing investors, is aiding the company in offering its software off the shelf and rapidly onboarding enterprise customers.

google glass broadcastingCrowdOptic’s software, which detects where smart glasses are aiming and creates instant, live broadcasts using Google Glass video footage, has been adopted by tech-savvy sports franchises including Stanford Athletics and the Sacramento Kings.

The software is in high demand for its ability to use the special features of wearable technologies to their full advantage at live events, including using Google Glass’s live, streaming video to create crowdsourced broadcasts.

“We power a one of a kind experience by crowdsourcing extraordinary live Google Glass footage and broadcasting the content throughout sporting venues,” said CrowdOptic CEO Jon Fisher.  “With our system for curating content based on where crowds are looking, we are able to capture and instantly rebroadcast the most dazzling, action-level highlights.”  CrowdOptic works by analyzing video streams in real time to determine where the most fans are aiming their devices.  It then automatically identifies all video of a moment that rates important, and streams the highest quality feed of that highlight in real time to broadcast media.

“The ‘killer’ combo is our technology, which knows where people are looking, and Google Glass, which can be activated with head movements,” said Fisher.  “The resulting combination makes extraordinary things possible, such as people swapping vantage points in a crowd just by looking at each other.”  To experience perspective sharing through Google Glass, powered by CrowdOptic, watch our  NFL Greats demo video and read about CrowdOptic at the  Sacramento Kings .

While an estimated 87,000 smart glasses shipped in 2013, global shipments of wearable smart glasses are predicted to reach 10 million each year by 2018, according to the research firm Juniper Research. Said Fisher: “Pervasive smart glasses in sports arenas will mean people will be able to access content by looking, as well as by dialing up screen-based applications.”

Related material: “ Sacramento Kings and CrowdOptic Press Announcement

Find Wearable Technology Products at Amazon

About CrowdOptic
CrowdOptic is a new crowd-powered “heat” signal – the next evolution of location-based services that recognizes the hottest crowd activity in real time as it occurs, and also after the fact, through powerful analytics. By tracking where electronic devices are located and where they are pointed, CrowdOptic can instantly filter mobile media and create new opportunities for eyewitness engagement. CrowdOptic identifies, tags and rebroadcasts the live event experience to the world, on mobile, social TV and second screens. CrowdOptic is used around the world to power a wide range of apps that let users aim their phones to connect, report news, find friends, alternate broadcasts, cast a vote and discover others who share their focus and interests. CrowdOptic is a privately-held, venture-backed company based in San Francisco. www.crowdoptic.com.

SOURCE CrowdOptic

Cutting the cord with the netTalk Duo Wifi

Nettalk Duo WIFI

Back in August our Tech News team posted some information on the netTalk Duo and now that I have had time to use it a bit here is my review.

The fact that I am not using a telephone company like Telus to run my telephone seems a bit odd to me. We did post an article on VoIP technology in April of 2012 and I haven’t caught this phenomenon until now.

I just actually received my Telus bill yesterday where they informed me that my phone will cost me 43.11 for the month. I have voice mail, 3 Way Calling, Call Display, Call Forwarding. Though I love the netTalk I wasn’t quite ready to cut the cord as of yet but the netTalk old Telus is getting the heave-ho.

netTalk Cost and How it Works

The NetTalk Duo is 74.95 and it comes with a tonne of features.

Those include free local and long distance calling to the U.S. and Canada, Free DUO-to-DUO-calls anywhere in the world as well as Call waiting / caller ID / call forwarding. Telus likely can’t beat ability to move your phone anywhere there is wifi or the one time price you pay for the unit compared to a monthly telephone bill.

The netTalk is 39.95 a year after the first year to use. Live technical support, 5 days a week could be a problem since phone companies are available 7 days a week to take your calls but the one year of free service from netTalk could make up for that.

Technical Specifications

Using Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP technology, the netTalk will work with router-to-duowifi, home router or computer. I’ve included a picture here of one configuration. VoIP is hardly a new phenomenon but it is to me and I’ll be hard press to turn back to the traditional telephone lines now.

In terms of quality while on the telephone for local or long distance calls, I did not notice any difference between my phone line or the netTalk. Now some might wonder why I would bother testing the netTalk but it’s hard not to compare a unit such as this with traditional phone lines when that’s all you have ever used. It’s seamless to say the least.

So well done netTalk it looks like I’ll be cutting the phone cord sooner than I expected. Long live the VoIP revolution.

Texting and walking can be hazardous: 1 in 5 students crosses the street while distracted by #tech

safe kids worldwide

We all know that texting and walking can be hazardous to our health but did you know that 1 in 5 high schoolers crosses the street while engaged with a gadget or tech device? According to a new research report released today by Safe Kids Worldwide titled, “Teens and Distraction: An In-Depth Look at Teens’ Walking Behaviors,” surveyed more than 34,000 middle and high school students that cross the street in a school zone.

According to the research, 39 percent of the students who are crossing the street while distracted are typing on a cell phone and 39 percent are listening to headphones. The remaining students are talking on the phone (20 percent) or using another electronic device, such as a tablet or game (2 percent).

texting and walking
image courtesy of http://www.safekids.org/infographic/how-does-teen-cross-road

 

The study was developed to explore findings from a 2012 Safe Kids report that found pedestrian injuries among 16-19 year olds increased 25 percent over the previous five years. Teens now account for half of all pedestrian deaths among children 19 and under.

“We suspected that the increase was due to distraction by mobile devices, but there was not much data to support that conclusion,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “To understand the scope of the problem, we activated our network to observe 34,000 students crossing in school zones. The findings were alarming.”

In addition to the observational survey, the study also describes findings from discussions with more than 2,400 students. Almost half of the students (49 percent) say they use a cell phone while walking to school. Four out of 10 say they listen to music while walking. Interestingly, while teens are at the greatest risk for pedestrian crashes, only 22 percent of students say it is kids their own age who are most likely to be hit by a car while walking.

The report includes public policy measures that would protect walkers, like investments by government in making roads around schools safer.

“Distraction is a big problem, both while driving and walking,” said Carr. “Parents, talk to your kids to make sure they are paying full attention when crossing the street. And we adults need to follow our own advice. If we put our devices down, our kids are more likely to do the same.”

Safe Kids Worldwide and FedEx are launching a national effort calling on parents and teens to join the Moment of Silence Campaign and stay safe while walking.

Moment of Silence Campaign

In 2012 Christina Morris-Ward was killed while crossing the street. She was wearing headphones and carrying a cell phone. While mobile devices are part of everyday life, we should remember that putting them down when crossing the street can be the difference between life and death.  In memory of Christina and all those who have been killed or injured while crossing the street, Safe Kids is launching the Moment of Silence campaign. It’s easy to participate: simply commit to putting your device down and paying attention when crossing the street. Watch the video and learn more about the Moment of Silence campaign at safekids.org.

Tips for Parents

  • From the first conversation you have with young children about crossing the street safely, talk about the dangers of distraction.
  • Talk to teens about putting down mobile devices while walking and remind them of the importance of looking up, listening and making eye contact when crossing the street.
  • Set a good example by putting devices down when you are driving or walking around cars.

Tips for Teens

  • Put devices down, look up, listen, and make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
  • Remember to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up. Walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners with traffic signals and crosswalks when possible.
  • Be aware of others who may be distracted—and speak up when you see someone who is distracted.
  • If you need to use a cell phone, stop on the sidewalk and find a safe area to talk.
  • If you are wearing headphones, pull them down before you cross the street or turn the volume off.
  • Driveways and parking lots can be especially dangerous because we are walking close to moving cars. Turn off devices in places where cars are going in unexpected directions, like backing out of a parking spot or turning out of a driveway.

Tips for Drivers

  • When driving, look both ways for bikers, walkers or runners who may not be immediately visible or may step into the street unexpectedly.
  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
  • Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.

 

Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations dedicated to providing parents and caregivers with practical and proven resources to protect kids from unintentional injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost one million children die of an injury each year, and every one of these tragedies is preventable. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 600 coalitions in the United States and in 23 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. Since 1988, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by 55 percent. Working together, we can do much more for kids everywhere. Join our effort at safekids.org.

SOURCE Safe Kids Worldwide

AVG Releases Women + Tech Survey: Face-to-Face or Facebook?

Image courtesy of Ambro FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambro FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambro FreeDigitalPhotos.net

AVG released an interesting survey in May of 2013 on the extent to which women are using technology to manage their love lives.

In an increasingly digital world, today’s ultra connected women have never been more emotionally detached. So say the findings of the latest global study by AVG Technologies N.V. (NYSE: AVG), the provider of Internet and mobile security, privacy and optimization to 150 million active users, which charts the changing ways women are using technology to form and manage their relationships.

AVG Findings

The study, which questioned 4,000 women in Canada, the UK, US, France, Germany and Brazil, highlighted the increasing role mobile devices and social media channels play in the dating process, and suggested that online research has displaced in-person chemistry when it comes to partner evaluation. Nearly 35 per cent of women now use social media channels to check out dates ahead of time, prioritizing pictures followed by common friends and finally interests and comments.

Just as women are turning to technology to kick-start their relationships, so too have they become reliant upon it to end them. Figures indicated that more than 50 per cent of those questioned either have or would break up with a significant other on the phone and more than a quarter have or would do so via text message.

“We all recognize that face-to-face is usually better than Facebook when it comes to relationships, but when so many of us live such busy lives it’s not surprising technology is increasingly being used as a substitute for one-on-one, in-person contact,” said Judith Bitterli, Senior VP of Marketing for AVG Technologies. “What’s more surprising is the extent to which women, both old and young, are now relying on technology in matters of the heart. This study suggests we’re all taking more of a personalized approach, using our devices to both pre-emptively filter potential partners and then cut them loose when we’re ready to move on.”

Some Interesting Stats

When it came to the different age ranges, predictably it was 18-25 year olds who were the most likely to break up with a partner using their phone (61 per cent), by posting on Facebook (19 per cent) or via sending a text message (38 per cent). That said, the older generations were not far behind, with 45 per cent of 45-54 year olds also indicating that they would or have ended a relationship using their phone. The most dramatic differences, however, arose between nationalities.

Though women in the US are the most prolific users of social media channels to screen dates, Brazilian women emerged as the most cutthroat group in the dating stakes. According to the survey, not only would 58 per cent use a phone call for a break up, but 61 per cent had cancelled dates based on information they’d discovered on social media channels. Data showed that Brazilians are also the most likely to break off a relationship over Facebook (18 per cent, while only 5% of Canadian women said they would do this).

Conversely responses indicated that the French were more traditional in their approach and the least reliant upon technology for their relationships. Fewer than 25 per cent of French women questioned look at social media channels ahead of a date (34% of Canadians do), and they are also the least likely to secretly read their partners’ text or email messages (18 per cent, while 40% of Canadian women said they snoop). Again, Brazilian women topped this particular group, with more than 50 per cent of respondents admitting to some form of mobile snooping.

Interestingly, 81% of Canadian women said they were in a long-term relationship (the highest percentage from responding countries), even though 51% of them said they would rather give up sex for a week over their mobile device (France, Germany and Canada were the only countries above 50% in this category).

Further Methodology:

An online survey of 4,000 women was undertaken across the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany and Brazil. The survey was set up using Qualtrics and respondents were from Qualtrics’ online panel. Fieldwork took place in April 2013.

Facebook Rehab Bestseller “Forty Days Off Facebook” Hits #1 on Amazon

facebook rehab

If you’ve been thinking about disconnecting from the social media behemoth Facebook you should take a look at the Facebook rehab bestseller “Forty Days Off Facebook”.  This book recently hit #1 on Amazon and is a great resource for anyone wishing to distance themselves from what can become a connecting yet isolating technology. Ryan Beale chronicles his journey to Facebook recovery when his life hits the tipping point.

Thirteen days after his divorce was finalized, Beale suffered the tragic loss of his older brother to suicide.  Always looking toward his big brother to push him further than he would push himself, Beale was forced to confront his new reality. He resolved to look inward in order to regain control of the chaos that was engulfing his life. However, he, like many others, was stuck in a holding pattern. He continued to use social media to keep his mind occupied.

“For me, Facebook has always been a love/hate relationship,” Beale said. “Having an understanding of the technology, I see how relationships via social media can play into a very delicate part of the human psyche. Reality is, I was using Facebook as a coping mechanism from confronting my own anxiety.”

He decided to take the next 40 days away from the social media site, and what began as a therapeutic experiment turned into a life-changing experience—an experience that has now begun to rip the conversation wide open on how a fast-paced, social-technology engulfed landscape is harming our ability to connect with ourselves and one another.  “I am concerned for the next generation and for my

facebook rehab
Facebook rehab

future child. I am concerned that they are learning poor coping skills from us which will absolutely affect their ability to emotionally cope with life’s stresses,” says Beale.

“This was something I never expected when sitting to write this book, but certainly appreciate it,” Beale said. “The letters and touching responses from readers revealing how my struggle has opened their minds to living with more purpose has reinforced the reason that I decided to share my story. That’s such a reward to me.”

Now recovered from his personal turmoil, Beale is happily married to a young woman he met during his 40 days off. They are expecting their first child this week.

If you’re seriously considering a Facebook rehab program this is the book for you. It’s an easy read and one that will encourage you as you walk towards recovery. You can purchase the book from Amazon.

Northern Voice 2013 is looking for speakers!

northern voice

Vancouver Gadgets is once again on the Organizing Committee for the 2013 Northern Voice conference set to run June 14th and 15th 2013. We are looking for speaker submissions for this event. Information on how to submit and what the conference is about is below. We look forward to seeing you at this event!

Fill out the speaker submission form by April 12, 2013!

Do you love the web? Do you like to create and share? Or have a unique experience to offer? Then Northern Voice 2013 is the place for you. We are now looking for speakers for the 2013 conference. If you have a topic to speak about, a story to tell or want to develop and run a panel; we encourage you to send in your awesome submissions by April 12, 2013. Please limit your submission to one typed page (250 words) when you send your submission in or if you do so via email include links to online properties you may have. Email us at speakers@northernvoice.ca

What is Northern Voice?

Northern Voice has been in operation since 2005 and is home to bloggers, tweeters, creative storytellers and an assortment of cool geeks (and non-geeks) who come together once a year to celebrate the world of personal blogging and social media. The conference will take place on Friday June 14th and Saturday June 15th 2013 at the HR MacMillan Space Centre.

How Does it Work?

Over the course of two days, conference participants can network, attend workshops and re-connect with friends and colleagues about personal blogging and social media. You might hear participants and speakers discuss how their friends use Pinterest, gripe about their workplaces because they can’t social media in the office, or find out from a food blogger what the best social restaurants are in Vancouver.

If you have never been to Northern Voice before, many participants also submit talk ideas. If you’ve attended before but didn’t know you could become a speaker, well you can. If you have spoken in past years and want to do so again then you are welcome to submit a topic again.

How Do I Know What Topic to Pitch?

We want you to submit a topic that you’re passionate about. Have a look at the presentation topics from 2012 to get an idea of what Northern Voice is about. Don’t be worried if your presentation topic sounds completely different from something we’ve done before, or a different take on something old. We review all the topics and ones that are different and original often score points with our judges.

Please note, we can’t guarantee that just because you were chosen in previous years that you’d be a shoo-in for this year.

Past Speakers at Northern Voice

– Tim Bray (http://www.tbray.org/ongoing)nvoicelogo
– Robert Scoble (http://www.scobleizer.com)
– Stewart Butterfield (http://www.twitter.com/stewart)
– Matt Mullenweg (http://ma.tt)
– Gillian Shaw (http://www.twitter.com/gillianshaw)
– Blaine Cook (http://blog.romeda.org)
– Anil Dash (http://www.dashes.com/anil)
– Nora Young (http://www.norayoung.ca)
– Mike Vardy (http://www.mikevardy.com)
– Yael Cohen (http://www.twitter.com/yael)
– John Biehler (http://www.johnbiehler.com)
– And inspiring people like you!

What Happens After I Submit a Topic?

We’ll be going through all of the presentations after the April 12th deadline and will start contacting those chosen later in April . If you are chosen, your conference registration fee will be covered by Northern Voice.

If you aren’t selected for a speaking spot or to be a member of a panel, but still want to be involved, consider volunteering with the conference for this year. Being a volunteer will give you the opportunity to see us in action and just may confirm why you might make a great speaker for a future event. Please email us at info@northernvoice.ca.

A Note on Travel Bursaries

If you are from outside of the Greater Vancouver Area we’d love for you to come and be part of Northern Voice and to enable speakers to come from all over we have a limited number of travel bursaries. Those chosen will be offered travel bursaries where applicable. We will reimburse for up to 500$ dollars should you meet our requirements.

Not Interested In Speaking? Want To Volunteer?

If you may not be ready for the spotlight, how about helping out behind the scenes? We always need volunteers and it is a great way to experience the conference! Send an e-mail to volunteer@northernvoice.ca and get in touch with the Volunteer Coordinator for 2013.

Pinterest and Fancy: Image Bookmarking Gone Social

Pinterest and Fancy are two relative newcomers to the world of social media.  Both have yet to gather a following quite as large as Facebook or Twitter however, for businesses, they can provide a far more focussed platform than either of the best known social networks.  Pinterest and Fancy are both image book marking sites, which allow users to post images of their favourite stuff.  A cross between blogs, wish-lists and mood-boards, the sites allow users to create a visual record of the stuff they have, want or really, really want.  Pinterest allows users to create virtual post it boards for a range of products from room design to their favourite clothes.  Fancy is a very similar and both are excellent places to promote your business and here’s why.

Demographics

There’s quite a startling gender divide between the two sites.  Pinterest has a female following of around 80 per cent, with Fancy weighing in at 60/40 split, with males being in the majority.  OK, so time for some gender stereotyping; Pinterest seems to be weighted towards design, be that home, fashion or lifestyle.  Fancy is also a design conscious site but there is a techie gadget focus that’s less apparent on Pinterest.  I’m blushingly aware that this statement panders to horrific gender stereotypes and suggest girls like pretty things and boys like techie things.  Basically both sites are pretty hot on design, however that is expressed.  So circumnavigating the gender issue, I’ll leave up to you to choose you’re demographic; ultimately if you produce or sell designer products you should be on one, the other, or both.

The Bottom Line

With approximately 10 million users and 3 million visiting every day, Pinterest leads the way in exposure.  Fancy trails behind on this one, with 250,000 users and 16,000 visits every day.  When it comes to exposure for your products, this needs to be balanced with the demographic and your target market.  If you produce welding equipment neither site is likely to attract much in the way of sales, unless it’s designer welding equipment.

Sales Techniques

Firstly, Pinterest has no inbuilt sales platform; given the number of users it’s tempting to think that one will surface eventually.  At the moment it works on a referral model.  Fancy does incorporate a sales function, which may make it seem more attractive to businesses but both sites are jam-packed full of users who are already looking to buy and that is what counts.

Sociable Marketing

There are blog sections on both sites, but both sites work on a wordless blog model.  It’s the images here that count and this is what you should focus on when creating your presence.  Don’t go for the hard sell; some commercial users happily promote other businesses as well as their own.  Pinterest and Fancy users are a pretty sophisticated bunch; they’re about style and look, and they can spot blatant commercialism from the other side of the world.  It’s a fine balance promoting your own products and others, so consider complimentary products and even think about working with companies that fit snugly with your product to create a vibrant attractive profile that will gain a following.  Like the big boys of the social networking site, both Pinterest and fancy are all about following.  Those with large followings gather the most interest.  Consider following, relevant users, whose profile fits your offering.  Building links in this way helps to grow your own group, which will lead ultimately to sales.

 

Author Bio

Carlo Pandian blogs about small business, covering everything from the best use of social media for small businesses to tutorials on QuickBooks online accounting software.  When he’s not online Simon enjoys getting out and about on his bike and enjoying great food.

Hooking that Prize Fish: Using Social Media to Find a Job

Social Media has permeated just about every facet of our lives these days so it’s no surprise that its entered the workplace in many forms. Over the next few weeks or so I’ll be examining a few angles of how social media has changed not only how we do our work but how it can be used to help us find work when we are looking for it. Job searching is tough at the best of times. Sometimes it’s downright maddening. Applying for positions, interviewing, making contacts. It’s not easy nor is it fun. Often job seekers are looking for any bit of edge to get ahead and land the golden prize, a great job. Social media now offers job seekers another means by which to do so.

The internet as a whole is a great resource really for anyone looking for a job. At your fingertips and just a few clicks away is a tonne of resources. You may be using the internet job boards to help you find work and apply for positions you are interested. You may also have a job interview coming up so you’ve made your way over to the company’s website to find out more about what they do and how they do it. Or if you are really resourceful, you’ve started researching companies you may want to work for but don’t have a job posted.

A January 2009 article I pulled off Mashable by Dan Schawbel offers a number of great tips on how to maximize and use social media to enhance your job search. He is the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, and owner of the award winning Personal Branding Blog. He notes you should conduct something called a 3 step people search. “Social media has broken down barriers, to a point where you can message someone you aren’t friends with and don’t have contact information for, without any hassles.”

A key part of any use of social media then is that it offers you the chance to build or at least start to build relationships with people who work for or might work for a company you want to work for. Be careful how you do it and be sure that you have researched the company. Tailor your message to that person and their company specifically. Don’t just spam them with general messages.

Some people may find it hard to cold call people directly or approach them at an event or in their place of work. Social media now gives them another route to go. Twitter and LinkedIn are two social media apps that are particularly effective in building relationships and networking with other professionals.

Twitter

Schawbel notes that “by conducting Twitter searches, following recruiters on your account and using the “@” sign to communicate with them on occasion, you will start to learn a lot about them and their companies.” This is a great point since Twitter is all the rage these days, it’s free to sign up and a great way to keep with the latest news and gossip about a company. Since companies are using their twitter feed as an important way to launch tips and tricks about themselves, you’ll be right up to date with what they are up to. Many companies also ask that employees use social media as part of their daily jobs and its often a requirement now on job applications and you are quizzed on it when you go for an interview.

Learning to use Twitter for this purpose means that you’ll be one step ahead of the game when you land that job. You could also be asked to manage a company’s Twitter account or build an online profile and relationships with its customers.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another social media application that can be used for networking purposes. Linked In is more of a professional network used by job searchers and really anyone who wants to connect with anyone online be it employers or contacts.

Recruiters are often using LinkedIn as a primary means to source candidates for roles they may be looking to fill. Schawbel notes that “many people don’t use LinkedIn to the best of their ability and fail to complete their entire profile, such that it says “100% complete.”

I don’t agree with this as there are certain aspects of my profile that I won’t complete online. I haven’t put birthday, marital status or address on such a site. This is a professional site for me and I don’t want to divulge such information. I have left my cell phone as a means by which to contact me for professional purposes or people can send me a message.

I’ve used the site to add past colleagues, friend and family as well people I’ve met via networking events. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t use LinkedIn for this, quite the contrary. It just means you may have to work a little harder to get to that point.

We thank FreeFoto.com for the use of image used in this post.

Northern Voice 2011

On Friday May 13th I visited the Northern Voice Conference at UBC as part of my attempt to broaden my horizons in the areas of social media and blogging. Unlucky you might say since it was Friday the 13th but I’d argue it was one the luckiest I’d ever had.

As we are ramping up getting Vancouver Gadgets online, I was interested as to what I could learn from fellow bloggers and social media experts who clearly have more experience than I. However, as someone with a communications background and experience in various forms of website copywriting and development, I knew I wasn’t totally out of the water as I made way into the event. Continue reading Northern Voice 2011