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Monthly Archives: July 2011

LinkedIn Apply: going for a job has just gotten easier

A few months ago I learned about LinkedIn launching some really useful new tools, as part of its mission to become a business-critical tool. Yesterday, LinkedIn continued down this path by launching a button that lets users apply for jobs.

The Apply with LinkedIn button makes it easy for people to apply for jobs. These are the key steps involved:

  1. Companies embed the button on their websites – Like the Twitter “tweet” button or the Facebook “Like” button, companies can quite easily embed the LinkedIn “Apply” button on their sites.
  2. Submit your LinkedIn profile – With this button you’ll no longer need to submit a cover letter or a resume,  just your LinkedIn profile will suffice.
  3. Interact with your connections – Once you’ve submitted your job application through the “Apply with LinkedIn” button, you can message your contacts at the company in question and ask for a referral.
  4. Help with referrals – In case you don’t have any contacts at the respective company, LinkedIn will show the people that you do know and who can introduce you at somebody at the company.
  5. Keep track of your job applications – All your “Apply with LinkedIn” submissions will be saved so that you have a record of all the jobs you’ve applied for through LinkedIn.

The “Apply with LinkedIn” button looks like it will make life easier for both job applicants and for companies hiring. The tool will help businesses in screening candidates and it seems to be an easy one to integrate and customise. Netflix, Tripit and Photobucket are the first companies that will be using the button.

Job applicants should be feeling pleased too. Forget about constantly having to update your CV, the “Apply with LinkedIn” button will enable you to preview and update your profile in real-time. In addition, applicants can now personalise their submissions by adding personal contacts they know at a company.

Main learning point: since its IPO last May, LinkedIn has been on a bit of a roll in releasing valuable products and features. The new “Apply with LinkedIn” button is another good example of a compelling feature that promises to deliver value to both job applicants and companies looking to hire. It might take time but I can see a tool like “Apply with LinkedIn” eventually replacing the classic CV; it’s easy to use and applicants will be able to personalise their submissions.

Related links for further learning:

http://mashable.com/2011/07/25/apply-with-linkedin/

http://blog.linkedin.com/2011/07/24/apply-with-linkedin/

http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/25/linkedin-debuts-embeddable-job-application-tool-for-companies/

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Social Media, Technology

 

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Square is making mobile payments even easier

Square is one of those new inventions that I look at and think: “that’s a cool looking new feature!”. More importantly, Square looks like it will take mobile payments to the next level. A few months ago I learned about wallet-less payments with the likes of Google and Orange enabling users to pay using their mobiles without having to get their credit cards out.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has now launched Square which is a simple swipe device that you can hook up to an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or an Android phone to pay with your credit or debit card on the spot. The whole idea behind Square is that you no longer need fancy authorisation machines or complex transactions to carry out credit card payments.

I can imagine Square to be a particularly welcome device for small businesses or ‘one-man bands’ (think of selling your old bicycle or teaching maths to A-level students). These are the other things I learned about Square:

  1. The underlying business model is simple – For each transaction, Square charges you 2.75 percent of the total, plus 15 Dollar cents, which is a probably quite a bit cheaper and simpler than most merchant accounts.
  2. The technology is simple but clever – After the card has been swiped the customer signs the phone’s touch screen with a finger. You can tap in the customer’s e-mail address if you like; the receipt is then sent automatically, complete with a little map showing exactly where the transaction took place.
  3. The reporting functionality sounds neat – The transaction authorization process is straightforward and then you get a nice little report: your phone connects to Square, authorises the purchase, sends the receipt by e-mail and logs the transaction on your personal Square Web page. On this page you will be able to see a report showing your income for the day.

Main learning point: I’m not surprised that Square was listed as one of the 50 best inventions of 2010 by TIME Magazine. Innovations like Square’s swipe device which are very easy-to-use and serve a very clear (user centric) purpose are the ones that are most likely to transform how we use our mobile phones and how we do business.

Related links for further learning:

https://squareup.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2vewN7SejA

http://payments.intuit.com/products/basic-payment-solutions/mobile-credit-card-processing.jsp

http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11404

http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/32360/?mod=MagMstVwd&a=f

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Mobile, Startups, Technology, User Experience

 

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You don’t have to go out to enjoy a social DJ

A few weeks ago I learned about Turntable.fm a great new service which combines social media principles with music. The idea behind this new site is simple: ‘social listening’, with users having shared experiences around music. Turntable.fm has only been around for a month or so but has already picked up over 140,000 users which is certainly no mean feat, especially if you take into account that this number is purely based on viral growth.

The only main downside with Turntable.fm’s model seems to be music licensing. Reason why the site (temporarily) had to restrict its access to the USA only. Even though I havent’t seen an official announcement, I presume that the licensing issues have now been resolved, since I just managed to get back into the “Hip Hop – All Eras – Just Dope” room (and helped to oust another DJ who thought he could play 6 Wacka Flocka Flame songs in a row – sorry, wrong room!).

This is how it works: at the moment, Turntable.fm is invite-only and you can only sign up if a friend of yours on Facebook is already signed up. Once you’re in, the site lets you DJ, playing songs in an on-screen ‘nightclub’. Others come to listen to you in your ‘room’ and can join you on the decks if they choose (although I always seem to struggle to get some ‘play-time’).

Multiple DJs (up to five) play a song each in turn and everyone else in the room gets to vote on the current DJ’s choice. If your choice gets voted up, you get a point (and the user’s avatar start nodding its virtual head to your track). If it gets voted down by too many people it’s ditched for the next DJ’s choice (see my Wacka Flocka Flame example).

Almost as entertaining as the music are some of the comments in the site’s chat room, ranging from people desperate to get to play their songs to others explaining why Wacka Flocka Flame rules.

These are the reasons why I’m really excited about Turntable.fm and its potential:

  1. It’s addictive – I don’t normally get truly hooked onto social media networks but Turntable.fm could be the exception: I now want to accrue lots of fans and get people to like my track selections!
  2. Simple but innovative – It’s really easy to enter or create a listening room and the game oriented design of the interface is very intuitive.
  3. It truly is a shared experience – From people voting for a track a ‘DJ’ is spinning to having a chat about the music being played, the way Turntable.fm makes music sharing and discovery a fun, social experience is pretty genius.
  4. The potential for integration is there – I think that the main beauty of Turntable.fm’s model is that doesn’t eat into the market areas that the likes of Rdio, Shazam, Spotify or Soundhound occupy. Turntable.fm has already started partnering with UK-based Mixcloud and Mixlr to offer aspiring DJs and musicians a good launch pad.

Main learning point: having played with it, I can understand why people are so excited about Turntable.fm. It’s social, it’s innovative and it’s a fun way to share or discover music. Whether Turntable.fm gets the kind of traction that is necessary to become a lasting success remains to be seen; for instance, will people lose interest because don’t they get a chance to DJ or because they don’t like hanging out in empty listening rooms? Another threat (which has already materialised) is music licensing; will Turntable.fm be able to continue to use the self-created licensing loophole?

Let’s wait and see but for now I’m just going back into the “Hip Hop – All Eras” listening room and enjoy some true rap classics …

Related links for further learning:

http://thenextweb.com/industry/2011/06/25/why-turntable-fm-is-the-most-exciting-social-service-of-the-year/

http://thenextweb.com/apps/2011/07/11/console-fm-taps-soundcloud-to-become-the-next-turntable-fm/

http://thenextweb.com/media/2011/07/06/the-age-of-the-social-dj-has-arrived/

http://mashable.com/2011/06/27/turntable-fm-international/

http://musically.com/blog/2011/06/23/7735/

http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/16/the-underground-promise-of-turntable-fm/

http://listeningroom.net/

http://outloud.fm/

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2011 in Music, Social Media, Startups

 

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Google+: will it reignite Google’s battle with Facebook?

The game is on (again): Google is seriously trying to take on Facebook by launching Google+,  its own social media network. The question rises whether Google will be successful in its latest attempt to beat Facebook on its own turf.

I started thinking about answering this question by reviewing Google’s previous (unsuccessful) attempts to overtake Facebook:

Attempt no. 1: Google Wave

Proposition: to offer an online communication and collaboration tool that makes real-time interactions more seamless, enabling users to communicate and collaborate around rich content in one place.

Assessment: despite an enthusiastic reception by the developer community and in the media, Google Wave never got the traction and user adoption needed to get closer to Facebook.

Lessons learned: build on some of Google’s technologies/features in a new social media product whilst offering a range of additional interaction oriented features that will make it a really compelling proposition.

Attempt no. 2: Google Buzz

Proposition: to offer a social networking and messaging tool that is integrated into Gmail, Google’s email client. Users can share links, photos, videos, status messages and comments organised in “conversations” and visible in the user’s inbox.

Assessment: since its launch last year Buzz has received a lot of criticism for violating its users’ privacy, with users running the risk of exposing all their email contacts to all of their followers. Also, potential adoption of Buzz is limited to Gmail users only (many of whom still tend to use Gmail purely as an email programme and don’t want to use it for anything else).

Lessons learned: provide (target) users with a clear incentive to buy into a new interactive feature and avoid any major disincentives such as users losing their privacy.

Taking the mixed success of both Wave and Buzz into account, is the future of Google+ looking more promising? “Yes” is my gut feeling and these are my reasons why:

  1. Google+ has some interesting new features – Take Circles for example, this feature enables users to select and organise contacts into specific, targeted groups. Another good one is Hangouts, which will enable users to drop in and out of video group conversations.
  2. Easy to use – I haven’t yet had a chance to properly ‘play’ with Google+ but the toolbar (which includes a drop-down showing the user their relevant Google+ activity) is a good start. Also, creating new ‘circles’ and adding new people to them seems pretty intuitive.
  3. The opportunity is there – Google+ looks like its off to a good start. To really capitalise on this, it will need to quickly venture into Android apps, add more compelling features and integrate fully with existing social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

Main learning point: although I do feel that with Google+, the search giant will at least have a better chance of getting anywhere near Facebook. However, I guess the main problem with Google+ is that it doesn’t really offer anything that will keep Mark Zuckerberg & Co lying awake at night. Even though functionality like Circles and Hangouts is cool and adds clear value to the user, it isn’t anything that Facebook can’t easily replicate or venture into.

I would be surprised if Google eventually succeeds in positioning itself as a credible and hugely successful social network, it simply doesn’t have the ‘first mover advantage’ that Facebook has had up till now. If anything, with Google+ it has given itself the best thinkable chance to beat Facebook, so I will be keeping a close eye on this battle …

Related links for further learning:

http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/28/google-plus/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13953416

http://www.steverubel.me/post/7050013558/consumers-maybe-nonplussed-over-google

http://www.localseoguide.com/google-plus-shortcuts-tips/

http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/266640/the-week-in-tweets-facebook-rolls-out-skype-video-calling

 

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