Lights, Camera, Action Create a music video-style sales piece with Animoto

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 26, 2009 at 1:26 pm

In Domo Arigato, we discussed how to put your images to music and make a killer slideshow presentation.  Now, Animoto (the featured idea) is letting you add video to the mix.

First, let me clarify that “slideshow” is an over simplification of Animoto’s product.   These aren’t exactly PowerPoint presentations here, but rather, mini music videos made with images, video, and text.   You can upload your own materials or pull from Animoto’s stock library.  Both images and video are categorized (e.g. travel, aerial shots, etc) for easy browsing.  Simply drag and drop the elements you want to use in your video, edit the order, and choose a soundtrack.   You can upload your own song or borrow a sample from Animoto’s library.  I was pleasantly surprised by the selection, even if I didn’t recognize the artists.  Songs range from classical to electronica, indie to hip hop.

When your presentation is to your liking, hit the finalize button and Animoto will create the video.  I threw this one together in 2 minutes using images found on my hard drive and Animoto’s stock video clips and soundtrack.

It’s no masterpiece, but it does illustrate the capabilities of this product.   You don’t need fancy software or a motion graphics artist to create a simple, yet effective video sales piece.  Animoto’s basic offering and what I demoed, the Animoto Short, is free, and a full-length video only costs $3.  An all access, 1-year subscription, which includes unlimited full-length video creation is $30.

We heart iPhone apps here, and Animoto's app is definitely worth a mention. Choose images, video, and soundtrack from your phone's personal library and click a button. It's that easy.

Animoto has a pure business offering too, which costs $249/year. The package includes unlimited full-length videos, commercial licensing, and no Animoto branding. Check out the gallery to see how a variety of businesses are using Animoto for their video needs.


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Let the Mountain come to Mohammed Turn site visitors into Facebook Fans with the Fan Box widget

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 25, 2009 at 11:23 am

If your company’s social networking efforts are stalled, it may be time for a new strategy.  Instead of waiting for your brand enthusiasts to find you, try socializing on familiar turf – your own website.

Facebook Fan Box

Facebook has rolled out a new promotional feature called Fan Box.   Fan page administrators can now add a Facebook widget to their website that streams both Facebook activity and a list of your current fans.  There’s also a button that lets visitors become your fan without leaving the page.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – or digital scientist for that matter – to see the benefit here.   The widget helps convert your existing site audience into Facebook fans – a move that positions them to interact with your brand more.  Not to mention, it provides yet another avenue to pull content into your site.

Facebook has made it pretty easy to add Fan Box too.   Just grab a few lines of Javascript, and you’re set.   You can find a link to the code in your page’s navigation bar, under “Edit Page”.   The widget requires a minimum of 200 pixels (w) x 554 pixels (h) to fit on your page.  If you want, you can reduce the size of the widget by eliminating some of the features.

It should come as no surprise that Facebook Connect is powering your Fan Box widget.

Several major brands are already using Facebook Fan Boxes, like Newsweek & Coca-Cola. Think of a Fan Box like a company news ticker, reporting anything and everything you promote about your products and/or services on Facebook.


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  Photogenic Live blog pictures and video with the PicPosterous iPhone app

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 24, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Ever notice how the most popular bloggers are also the most active?  It’s no coincidence.  The more you post, the more reasons you give a reader to come back.

An easy way to churn out content is to use an app like PicPosterous.   PicPosterous is a free photo and video blogging tool for the iPhone.  Picposterous image 2So when you’re out and about – or covering an industry event – you can take and publish photos and videos with no down time.  Plus, the application is dead-simple to use.

Either snap an image/film a video with PicPosterous (instead of the iPhone’s built-in camera application) or choose an image/video from your library.  PicPosterous gives you the option of creating a new album or posting to an existing album, which is great if you’re taking a series of pictures and want them to appear in the same post. Tap a button, and you’re done.

Already have a Posterous blog? Login via the app and publish to that.  You can also create a new account for free.  The benefit of registering (besides the fact that it is free) is you have access to Posterous’s email blogging capabilities, an idea we discussed last year in Start me up.

If you’re the type that doesn’t have time to update a blog – but you do have a smartphone – Posterous and PicPosterous can take care of all of your publishing needs.

PicPosterous image

Another reason to register with Posterous is the ability to automatically publish your posts to Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, and more.

Keeping content fresh (i.e. plentiful) was our number one tip at our recent Digital Marketing Meetup, the Top Ten Ideas for Creating and Managing Site Content. We've posted the full presentation online, and you can also download a PDF version here.


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  Extra! Extra! Take content on the go with Tabbloid’s RSS to PDF service

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm

tabbloid logo

Using an RSS Reader is a great way to stay on top of industry news and trends.  You can easily digest an hour’s worth of content in about 5 minutes of headlines.

But what if you want to access content while away from the desk – or – better yet, being away from your desk is the only time you have to catch up on news articles?

Try using a service like Tabbloid, which converts all your RSS feeds into a printable PDF newspaper.   There’s no cost or account set-up involved.   Simply plug your RSS subscriptions into Tabbloid, and the service generates a personal edition just for you.  You can even schedule recurring Tabbloids by supplying your email address and setting a delivery frequency (daily, weekly, etc…).

Tabbloid is a great option for the road warrior who has downtime at the airport and in between client meetings, especially if you’re not packing a laptop or smartphone (or just despise reading micro-print on a micro-screen).  The service works smoothly, and the PDF document is quite readable.  There is, however, one tiny hiccup.

My Tabbloid didn’t pull the full story, just the headline and lead sentence/paragraph.  This isn’t Tabbloid’s fault, but rather, the result of how a blog is published and where the page divider (i.e. “read more” tag) is inserted.  Regular RSS readers are probably used to this convention, because the full story is always a click away.  Tabbloid headlines do link to the on-site article, but if you’re looking at a printout, that’s not exactly useful.

I found with some creative editing to my RSS list, the problem could be fixed (e.g. feed growth! publishes full articles for your easy viewing pleasure).

Tabbloid Sample

Many sites, including our own, pull feed content from other sources. You can easily add Delicious bookmarks, Tumblr blogs, and anything with a JSON API to your site.

Tabbloid is actually an HP product. No hidden agenda here (psych). The more you print, the more likely you are to need printing supplies like paper and ink, which HP happens to sell.


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  Choose your own venture Build your own iPhone App in 6 easy steps with SwebApps

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 20, 2009 at 12:06 pm

swebapps logo

As iPhone application developers, we get requests for all sorts of apps.  While the sky’s the limit with this new marketing platform, the budget often isn’t.

That’s where SwebApps comes in.   SwebApps lets you build a basic iPhone application in 6 easy steps – and for under $500.

Keyword here being “basic”.  But if all you need is a simple way to communicate with your customers, SwebApps is the tool for you.

Here’s how it works:  SwebApps separates and corrals app potentials by industry.  Choose from restaurant, retail, business, non-profit, education, entertainment, government, or custom.  Next, pick buttons for your app’s interface.  SwebApps provides a menu of common buttons that correspond with your industry.  For example, if you’re restaurateur, you can add a reservations button, a menu button, nightly specials button, etc.   SwebApps pricing structure is actually based on the number of buttons you choose- $200 for two buttons, $300 for 6 buttons, and $400 for 8.  There’s also a one-time set-up fee of $50 per button, and if you choose, a $25/month mobile hosting fee for your data.

After your buttons are finalized, submit your information (and artwork) to SwebApps to build.   They in turn submit your app to Apple for authorization. This process can take up to several weeks, but once you’re approved, you’re app is good to go.  SwebApps gives you access to an online user management system, where you add/edit/delete information in your application (e.g. menu item changes).  You can also access any customer information your application captures, like emails and phone numbers.

Sweb Apps How To Video from magaly Chocano on Vimeo.

SwebApps is a great option if you want to experiment with an iPhone app.  If your customers respond well, then you can make a real investment in the functionality, styling, and branding of your application.

For an additional $10/month, SwebApps offers analytics on your iPhone app. Track downloads, which buttons are being used and how many times are they are being used.

App World is Blackberry's equivalent/competition for the iPhone App Store. Blackberry is still the tool of choice for the corporate set, so take that into account when deciding what application - and which application platform - to choose.


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  • Facebook Fan Box
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