Armadillo Studios Inc.

SXSW10: The State of The Internet 2010

As SXSW kicks off, the ideas are flowing and the conversations are blooming.

One of company’s that caught my eye in the barrage of posters and advertising material is “JESS3”:http://www.jess3.com a design agency out of Washington DC. In their impressive portfolio is their gorgeous state of the Internet vimeo clip, which anyone interested in the metrics of the web should check out.

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

I’ll have some more posts up over the next few days, but first sit back and get int he mood of SXSW with this beautiful clip.

SXSW10: Armadillo Studios At SXSW’10

Has it really already been a year?

Sure doesn’t feel like it has, but once again *Armadillo Studios* is heading down to Austin, Texas for the “SXSW Interactive Festival”:http://www.sxsw.com.

That’s right another five days of beautiful spring Texas weather, far too much salsa and *the latest trends in the Web and Social Media Industry*. But this time there’s a twist. Armadillo is not just a spectator, but an actual participant. Yes, Armadillo will be apart of the “Leave Your Job, Start An Agency”:http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/3303 core conversation with our good friends from “Stale Life Inc.”:http://www.stalelife.com/ and “Bitfyre”:http://www.bitfyre.net/. It’s happening on “March 14th, at 11:00am at the Hilton E room”:http://eventful.com/events/leave-your-job-start-agency-sxsw-/E0-001-028441777-1, if you happen to be at SXSW make sure you swing by to say hello.

As all always, Armadillo will be blogging and “tweeting”http://www.twitter.com/armadillostudio the entire conference. If you’re in Austin or just on hanging online all day make sure you follow along with all the fun.

The yyc iPhone Developer Camp

This past weekend the Armadillo Team descended on the University of Calgary for the first “yyc iPhone Developer Camp”:http://calgary.iphonedevcamps.org/. Put on by Michael Sikorsky and his company “Robots & Pencils”:http://hq.robotsandpencils.com/, the iPhone Dev Camp was a 2 day _crash_ summit for the local Calgary iPhone development community. With everyone sharing ideas, information and talent.

Based on the unconference “Bar Camp”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BarCamp format that was made popular in San Fransisco, the camp was a loose introduction to the growing iPhone Development community in Calgary. During the weekend established companies from within the city revealed some of their tips and tricks in developing their apps through a series of morning segments. From presentations on viral marketing, “Cocos2D development”:http://unobservedmusings.blogspot.com/2009/10/iphone-dev-camp-keynote.html, and even some intresting rough app demos; the community really came together to showcase and connect with one another. While the afternoons were dedicated to a less formal format, where attendees broke into two groups. The first group organized a series of round tables to discuss various elements of the iPhone development process, while the second group focused on the development of a quick and dirty app for a local organization. (Which or may not be used in the near future)

I could go on and on and on about what was learned this weekend, but essentially it was an incredibly informative weekend.

More importantly, it was one which introduced us to the great development community in this city. A big thank you goes out to Michael and all the companies that shared their expertise and stories throughout the weekend. If you have a moment, please check out some of the companies that were featured this weekend (and even give them a bit of support, buy downloading their apps).

“Tap Forms Inc.”:http://www.tapforms.com/
“Broken Kings Inc.”:http://brokenkings.com/
“We’re Not Rocket Scientists (WRNS)”:http://www.wnrs.ca/
“Pho3nix Media Inc.”:http://ph03nixnewmedia.com/
“Happy App Co.”:http://www.happyappco.com/
“iKingdom Corp.”:http://ikingdomcorp.com/

… And if you’re wondering why a web design studio would be at a iPhone Development Camp, just stay tuned …

Google Street View: What Does it Mean For Your Business?

Google Street View “rolled out in Canada yesterday morning”:http://www.techvibes.com/blog/google-street-view-now-available-in-canada. While many people are finding it to be one of the Internet’s greatest time occupiers, it does have important ramifications for your business.

*Google Street View* is essentially a street level enhancement to Google’s powerful online mapping system – Google Maps. Users can now zoom in on any address in a major metropolitan Canadian city to see a panoramic view of the area. Below are some examples of Google Street View in action at some of Calgary’s most famous intersections.


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But as a small business how is this new feature important to you? Right now it seems like a nice novelty, but what will it mean for potential customers?

First and foremost, if you happen to run a storefront business; a repair shop, a flower shop or a clothing store, when potential customers use Google Maps to find your location they will now see a street level view of your storefront. Unfortunately, for a business standpoint there is no control over the view that is available for customers to look at. Any business with information updated on Google will be tied to this viewpoint, whether it’s a flattering photo or not.

Second, if you are a Realtor or a business tied directly to the Housing Market, Google street view will be an important tool for your business. Not only will users be able to see an honest street level view of your property, but they will be able to explore the surrounding neighbourhood and the local amenities. Again, depending on the state of the property and the time the Google Car visited your neighbourhood, this might not be the most flattering photo.

So What Should You Do?

It would be almost impossible to fight the impact Google Street View will have on your business. Google’s current stanglehold on user search and business information is impossible to ignore. So our advice would be to *embrace the service*.

Google allows you to embed the streetview application directly into any web page, so leverage this feature. For Realtors this means embedding street views of you properties directly in to your showcase page. For businesses with store fronts, this means embdedding the application on your contact us page and replacing that outdated Google map.

Google Street View might seem gimiky at first, but like all of Google’s previous technological breakthroughs the business ramifications will become apparently very shortly. So rather than fight it, embrace it.

Did You Know 4.0?

It’s a pretty tired cliché, but sometimes pictures (and beautiful fonts with great statistics) speak louder than words.

If you haven’t seen it yet, this is the fourth in a series of viral videos detailing the new Media Climate. The latest rendition promotes the “Economist’s Media Convergence forum”:http://mediaconvergence.economist.com/ in New York and without question it is a pretty important view for any sized business. (A special thanks goes to “Andrew McIntyre”:http://twitter.com/andrewmcintyre/statuses/4172911339 and “Roger Kondrat”:http://twitter.com/Roger/status/4153967351 for the link)

Hootsuite: A Twitter Campaign’s Best Friend

With hundreds of Twitter applications available at the moment, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of promises. As with any technological movement, many apps are popping up to take advantage of businesses and users trying to promote themselves using Twitter. Unfortunately, a majority of these apps are probably useless for most businesses looking to start a twitter campaign, but a few seem to be invaluable. In our opinion, the one Twitter application that every business needs is “Hootsuite”:http://www.hootsuite.com.

Built by Vancouver’s own “Invoke Media”:http://www.invokemedia.com/, Hootsuite is widely regarded as an “indispensable tool for Twitter Power users”:http://www.invokemedia.com/hootsuite-wins-best-app-at-shorty-awards/. After toying with the application for our own Armadillo Studios Twitter campaigns and for our first “two private campaigns”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/article/twitter-for-the-calgary-market, we have to agree with that judgment.

Why Use HootSuite?

*Hootsuite* is an online tool that leverages information from your Twitter stream into a similar, yet powerful interface. Hootsuite’s interface is like flying first class to Twitter’s economy class web interface.

While an upgraded interface really doesn’t justify Hootsuite’s power, the real benefit comes from the application’s ability to *add multiple admins to a single account, the integrated tiny-url creator (Ow.ly), to schedule tweets to post on a time delay and to view the metrics on links that you send out*. All the bells and whistles that can really enhance any sized Twitter campaign. Whether it is for a large company, non-profit or for a small-medium sized business.

But in our opinion the two aspects of the Hootsuite application that make it worthwhile are the *Time Delay Posts* and *the ability to view metrics on links*.

Time Delay Posts

The beauty of Twitter is it’s simplicity. You post short snippets throughout the day and your followers (or potential customers) read your tweets. Unfortunately, there are a couple of occasions where the ability to schedule tweets can be a real benefit. Either for maximizing your potential readership or when you know you won’t be online for a certain time period.

For example, say you religiously post a “#FollowFriday”:http://mashable.com/2009/03/06/twitter-followfriday/ recommendation every Friday at 10:00am, but you’ve got a morning meeting this Friday. Hootsuite’s scheduling app allows you to create the tweet on Monday and schedule it to post later that week. Simple as pie.

Now the previous example was a very simple run down of the benefits, but you scheduling of tweet to coincide with a product or site launch can help to focus you on the important tasks rather than worrying about tweeting at the proper time.

Viewing Link Metrics

Embedded in the Hootsuite application is the tiny-url creator “ow.ly”:http://ow.ly/url/shorten-url. Like all tiny-url creators it allows you to take a long link and shorten it to a 10 to character link. *The ow.ly service embedded straight into the posting interface on it’s own, is a fantastic addition to Hootsuite*.

But it gets better.

For all links which use the ow.ly tiny-url, Hootsuite will track the metrics of that link. It will track the amount of followers opening the link over a variety of time periods; providing you with some key information, which can determine what the optimal time to make a post is or what subjects are producing the most interest. Two critical bits of information for any campaign.

Your Campaign’s Best Friend

Without question, Hootsuite is a great addition to any business driven Twitter campaign (or for personal users interested in their own metrics). Rumor around town is that “Invoke is launching a 2.0 version, which includes multiple columns and other bells and whistles”:http://www.techvibes.com/blog/hootsuite-2.0-get-your-beta-invite-here. But in the meantime give Hootsuite a try. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

WestJet Embraces Twitter

Update at the bottom of the article

It is well known that one of the major industries to really embrace the Twitter phenomena is the “Airline Industry”:http://simpliflying.com/2009/three-ways-airline-brands-can-make-money-from-twitter/. The first company to truly leverage Twitter in to a profitable business model was the successful low cost carrier “Jet Blue”:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/05/travel/05prac.html?hpw. Since then there has been an explosion of carriers trying to reach out to customers and promote a variety of special ‘twitter’ deals. From major carriers such as “United”:http://twitter.com/UnitedAirlines to low cost carriers like “SouthWest Airlines”:http://twitter.com/SouthwestAIr and the aforementioned “JetBlue”:http://twitter.com/jetblue, but until recently none of the Canadian based carriers have leveraged the service.

But as June 28th, Calgary based “WestJet has launched it’s own twitter account with a series of free flight give-aways”:http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2009/26/c2375.html. The company which has built it’s reputation on exceeding the service expectations of customers and coupling that low cost fares, is one of the great examples of corporation that can really leverage twitter.

With this press release, it does look like WestJet is kick starting their service with a great campaign by giving away free flights to a random group of initial followers. This is a simple way to create a viral buzz and garner a solid base of followers. It also looks like Westjet is going to send out special tweet deals like their American counterparts have. Which are both great steps for building a great following.

-*Unfortunately, there is a gaping hole that WestJet is not addressing*. Now this is based solely on their press release, but it does seem that they have ignored the important aspect of customer service.-

As noted in a variety of articles and blog posts on the topic of the Airline Industry’s usage of twitter, the truly successful companies such as *JetBlue* and *SouthWest*, have really improved customer relations by utilizing “twitter to quickly respond to customer questions and issues”:http://www.socializedpr.com/jetblue-engages-in-real-conversation-on-twitter/. These companies have used the tool to engage their customer base by answering questions, helping with reservations, and addressing customer service issues. Which in turn has enhanced their corporate image and provided real-time friendly face to the customers.

Below is an example of the success of JetBlue’s campaign:

Morgan and I exchanged a few emails and I learned that Morgan is behind JetBlue’s tweets, and not a bot, and that Morgan is very well informed on social media ethics and aware that corporate use of Twitter can be tricky. *I am impressed that Morgan was watching Twitter closely enough to sense an issue, responded quickly, apologized, and removed the two of us from @JetBlue’s list*. This served as a demonstration of the company’s active participation in the Twitter conversation, its willingness to course-correct, and of the new speed of social media with which corporations have to contend.

Good or Bad, WestJet’s adoption of Twitter is a great step for the full integration of social media into the consciousness of the Canadian Public.

*So Kudos is in order for WestJet*.

*Update*: Shortly after launching the article and linking it on Twitter we received this fantastic response from WestJet.

So we’ll gladly enjoy our fine steaming slice of humble pie and completely applaud WestJet. If anything, this little exchange further shows the importance of not only leveraging twitter to promote your products, but to also use it as a real-time customer relations tool.