apps

Getting Rid Of Spam Cell Phone Calls

I swear if one more person calls to offer me $500,000 for my business, I’m going to scream.

It used to be as cell phone owners, we were free from telemarketing calls. Now none of us are immune.

What can you do to make your phone a telemarketer free refuge? (Non-profits are still allowed to call you, my college certainly does.) Here are a few things you can do.

Download a call blocking app.

It didn’t occur to me an app could do this until one of my friends mentioned it. I have one on my phone and it actually says ‘Spam’ on it when I go to answer!

Here are the call blocker apps for Android and here are the call blocker apps for iPhone. Try the free ones but honestly, to get your life back it’s probably worth a couple bucks.

Ask to be placed on the ‘Do Not Call” list…. or wait until the end of the recording to take yourself off it.

So if you get a real live human on the other end of the line, you can be asked to put on their do not call list. You can also add yourself to the main government list here: https://www.donotcall.gov/

What about robocalls? If you wait until the end of the pitch, you’ll hear a brief “… or press 2 to be placed on our do not call list”. I actually did this about ten times and seem to have gotten a lot less calls.

(Kassie Note: I recently received an automated phone call from a telemarketer about credit cards, and there was no “do not call list” prompt after staying on the line. So I pressed “1” to go through the “talk to a representative” motion, and just asked the person I got on the line to take me off the list. After said representative declared “You are obviously unhappy with your current credit provider” I think he realized his mistake and took me off the list. In other words, it may take a few extra minutes but you can usually find a workaround).

Send spam calls directly to voicemail.

This doesn’t exactly solve the issue but will cut down significantly on your annoyance. Most phones will allow you to send people not in your contacts list directly to voicemail.

Get Google Voice.

We recently switched to Google Voice for Anchorspace calls and it has been great. Voicemails are transcribed, and I get an email when I miss a call. I even get to have a sweet cordless phone on my desk to answer calls (P.S. you can also have these go to your cell phone; I just like that mine don’t). Much like Google is good at filtering email, it’s pretty good at filtering voice spam, too.

Escalate to your phone carrier or the FCC.

Most phone carriers have a process you can go through to get rid of unlawful calls; Verizon’s is here. Remember chances are if you’re getting harassed by a person or company, others are as well. If you aren’t the kind of person who complains on your own behalf, complain for those other people.

The FCC also has a way for you to complain about harassing calls (well, all harassing communications really): https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

Maybe it’s never occurred to you that you can stop annoying calls to your cell phone, but think about it: if you even save yourself fifteen minutes a week, that’s fifteen minutes you could be doing something else. Take back your time, and your phone.

 

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Prisma & Co: The Business Application

Last week, I shared some of the new and exciting apps that have emerged recently. In the conclusion of that post, I recommended trying out one or all of them just for fun. While the fun factor still stands, this week we’re going to explore some ways that one of these apps can be used in business marketing.

Facebook 360

Unfortunately, you can’t upload a Facebook 360 image to a business page yet on Facebook, just personal profiles. However, if you’re really hoping to upload one of these, you can upload it to your personal profile, make that particular post public, and share it as your business. It’s a lot of extra steps for now, but we’re guessing businesses will be able to upload 360 images in the near future.

Prisma

There aren’t many examples of businesses incorporating Prisma in their marketing at the moment, however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it out. One idea is using it to spruce up a “regular” picture of your business (which is what we did below with Anchorspace).

Original

Original

Prisma Edited

Prisma Edited

Another idea is taking a featured image for one of your blog posts and making it into something interesting (there’s a new Abstract filter that seems pretty fun). Basically, when an app like this is in it’s infancy, you have a wide creative range- go ahead and see what you can create!

Boomerang

Boomerang came out almost a year ago, and it’s still being used consistently by businesses as part of their marketing. As one of Instagram’s satellite apps, it’s easy to share content on social media platforms (Instagram and Facebook) that you likely already have a presence on. It’s also easy to use- all you do is download the app, hold down a button to record a video, and save. Easy shareability and use are important characteristics for marketing apps and encouraging people to adapt a new social media platform in general.

Similar to GIF for business, Boomerang’s business application creates a way to visually grab your customer’s attention. It creates something eyecatching that will grab people’s attention as they scroll through their Instagram feed. As this article points out, “GIFs could potentially be the next emoji,” and although Boomerang videos technically aren’t GIFs, it’s not a huge leap. Boomerangs are easier to make from scratch than GIFs, as mentioned before, all you do is press a button. The one downside: to record on Boomerang you have to be within the app itself (meaning you can’t prerecord on your phone’s camera and reformat), which can make it hard to capture spontaneous footage.

What should you share? 

One of the trickier parts of Boomerang can be finding out what to share. Some ideas include your a fun shot of your storefront/office/physical location:

Happy Friday! By @stuporfluous

A video posted by Boomerang from Instagram (@boomerangfrominstagram) on

Show off a product:

Squad up! ???? by @usabasketball & @easymoneysniper

A video posted by Boomerang from Instagram (@boomerangfrominstagram) on

Or show off your goofy side:

Just rolling by ? with @xantheb

A video posted by Boomerang from Instagram (@boomerangfrominstagram) on

Since Boomerang videos are on an infinite loop, using video with some action or movement typically works best. A common Boomerang example is the blowing bubblegum loop. Reaction clips (think like a mime-exaggerated, dramatic expressions), jumping and throwing are also pretty common. It’s fun to do trial and error with, too- you never know when you’ll strike gold!

If you’re more interested in showing quick demonstrations or tours, Hyperlapse is probably a better Instagram satellite app. This creates a time-lapse video (or a sped up video) that’s longer than the 1 second Boomerang and doesn’t loop back and forth. Although it might not be the best for in-depth presentations, Hyperlapse can create a teaser video that creates interest and brings people to your website or store for more information/fact gathering.

As I said last week, Boomerang is a fun, easy to use app, and can bring an element of fun to your business marketing.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Sorcery…or a New App?

Does it seem like there’s a new app popping up whenever you turn around? Well, you aren’t alone. I’m the first to admit that when it comes to learning a new thing, unless I have to, I resist. This means I’m usually pretty late to the game when it comes to things like Snapchat or even Facebook, back in the day. Over the past couple months, I’ve been pushing myself to stay on top of new and potentially interesting apps/features of apps.

Since I follow a lot of marketing related sites, it can be difficult to stay on top of it all without getting overwhelmed. Plus, it can be tricky to gauge what is going to be useful from a marketing perspective, or just be something annoying to learn that fizzles out in a matter of months. The little trick that’s saved me some time- if I can find it go by “in the wild,” either by a friend or another business, then I check it out.

To be fair, I did skip Pokemon Go (it seemed like a huge commitment and a huge black hole  for my productivity/free time). Those caveats aside, here are the noteworthy apps I’ve found over the summer:

Prisma: Makes your pictures into paintings. Like Instagram, there are different filters, but the cool thing is that the filters are actually based on different artistic styles. And, unlike a filter that overlays itself on the original photo (like Instagram), when you select a style on Prisma, “goes through different layers and recreates the photo from scratch” according to The Guardian’s interview with Prisma’s founders.

Original image (from Eagle Lake)

Original image (from Eagle Lake)

IMG_1625

The Scream

Mosiac

Mosiac

Gothic

Gothic

Composition

Composition

Boomerang: Made for Instagram, this app takes a burst of 5 photos and makes them into a video that loops back and forth (the total video is only 1 second long). You can save it within the app, or post it on Facebook and/or Instagram. Since the content is moving, it’s eye catching. I still have some work on perfecting my Boomerang capturing abilities, because I make myself vaguely motion sick whenever I try to rewatch my own videos. If you haven’t seen any yet, check out this list from Tech Insider that shares a few of the noteworthy attempts from early adopters.

Facebook 360:  Facebook 360 is basically a new way of sharing panoramic pictures. It may sound like an intense process, but it can be as simple as uploading a regular pano. If you’re using a phone, the photo can’t be cropped or resized, and has to cover at least 100 degrees of . According to Facebook’s information page on 360 photos, ” The most reliable way to create a 360 photo with your mobile device is to capture a photo with the Google Street View iOS or Android app.” I don’t necessarily have either of those apps, but if you don’t mind an extra step for “reliability,” this might be the way to go. For example, if you (like me) aren’t super skilled at the whole pano shot thing, and want to just be able to upload a picture without any fuss, using another app is a good strategy.

These apps are a lot of fun, so I highly recommend playing around with them (Prisma is especially entertaining). Next week, we’ll go over some ways that you can use these apps for your business marketing.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Tinder: A Case Study

Note: this post is purely for fun, and all social observations are based on a very small sample of the population. Actually, just 2 people. 

A couple months ago, I was visiting my family in the midcoast Maine area and went out to lunch with my cousin JD and one of his friends. While we were waiting for food, JD decided to play on Tinder. Having never actually been on Tinder, it’s intricacies baffled me (everything I knew actually came from this Conan bit with Dave Franco). Besides that, I’d only heard about it through friends who live in cities and articles like this one. The popular swipe technology used in Tinder has been used for shopping, personal stylists, music, and even investment apps, and that’s just the beginning.

But I still didn’t get what all the fuss was about. Since Tinder is location based, it didn’t make sense for me to have it- in small town Maine, odds are I would already know anyone else using it. Watching JD play on Tinder was fascinating, so I started grilling him about it. Fed up with my questions, he asked “Why don’t you just get it and find out?” “Because…fine.”

So this is the story of how I had Tinder for less than an hour.

GoingTinder

Step 1: Download the app. It’s free! Boom.

Step 2: Profile setup. This  was a piece of cake, 30-60 seconds, max. You just log in with Facebook and it automatically pulls in your profile information (admittedly, I didn’t look into the privacy information very deeply because I knew this was all temporary). So far, this whole Tinder experiment seemed awesome. It correctly assumed two things about me: a) that I had Facebook and b) I’m a bit lazy, so the less set up I have to do, the better. After lazy profile setup, you’re ready to make some matches.

Step 3: Swipe Away: Once you hit “Discover,” the location-based technology kicks in. It felt like I was sending out my own little “Check it, I’m on Tinder!” Bat-Symbol. Or that I was a killer whale using echolocation to avoid an iceberg.

Once Tinder located me, the fun started. The first picture came up: “Greg, 21.”

Me: Wait, so how do I play?
JD: It’s not a game.
Me: You know what I mean.
JD: If you aren’t interested, swipe left. If you are, swipe right. Easy.
So, I swiped left.
JD’s Friend: What was wrong with him?
Me: Meh. Too young. And his picture had part of another girl’s face cropped out. C’mon…

And then, I just kept swiping left like it was my job. In fact, if swiping left was a career path, I would have risen from unpaid intern to CEO in ten minutes. Mentally, the whole thing felt like more of a game than a dating app. You never know when people swipe left (i.e. reject) you, unlike real life (depending on your level of self-awareness). It’s anonymous until you match someone, so it’s low stakes (and we’ve talked about anonymity in social media before). The stakes felt so low, in fact, that at least 50% of my mental energy was spent debating whether or not I should have ordered fries.

FullSizeRender (1)

Me: Why am I not getting any matches?
JD: You haven’t even swiped right yet…
Me: *Stares blankly*

So, after a few more left swipes, I made my first right swipe.

Me: How many times do you swipe right? I don’t want to overdo it.
JD: Uh…I pretty much always swipe right. Even if I think I want to swipe left…I swipe right.
Me: Oh. Pause. Am I playing wrong?
JD & JD’s Friend: It’s not a game!

Still convinced this was totally a game, I was a bit more generous with right swipes (the final countdown was 5-6), and lo and behold, actually made a few matches. Once you match up with someone, you can start chatting with them, which made me feel weird and uncomfortable (yet another sign that I wasn’t grasping the basic concept of Tinder). Keep in mind, the last time I blind-chatted with someone was back in the early 2000s when chat-rooms were cool.

Step 4: Match & Message (…maybe).

Me: EEEK!
JD: What’s wrong?
Me: Some guy I just matched with messaged me. What do I do?
JD: Uh…write back?
Me: But…he said “heeyyyy.” That’s terrible. Can I take back that swipe?
JD: *Stares blankly*

The highlight reel of my brief foray into Tinder chats: I didn’t realize that my Facebook “About Me,” and subsequently my Tinder bio, was a quote from Hot Rod (see below). Excited by the lazy setup, I never thought to actually look at my profile. One fellow broke the post”It’s a match” ice with “Heyy there. Nice Hot Rod quote. Solid movie!” This Tinder win was followed by a chat with a guy who, through the course of the conversation, I discovered does Crossfit with one of my uncles. So much for escaping the small town aspect. The third person who messaged me asked where I was at the moment, and if I’d be down for grabbing coffee later. In response, I deleted my account and the app, and contemplated setting my phone on fire (ok, maybe not the last part). But, by this point, I felt that I’d seen enough.

Thanks for nothing, 17 y/o me.

Thanks for nothing, 17 y/o me.

This all took place before our food had arrived. JD continued happily swiping, and I resolved the fries debate by eating most of his.

Step 5: Abandon app altogether and enjoy food. And we all lived happily ever after.

In short, the swiping technology used in Tinder is pretty incredible, and I’m intrigued to see how it will be adopted by businesses/industries in the next year or so. As for Tinder itself, I still don’t understand what the fuss is about. But then again, maybe I just wasn’t playing right.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Anonymous Social Networks 101

The internet began as an anonymous place. Chat rooms asked us ‘a/s/l’ and I’m sure I am not the only one who pretended to be a completely different age, sex, and location than I was. There was something about trying on a new identity.

As social networks using our real names came into play, it was harder to be anonymous. Your potential employer or your mom could be looking at what you just said or shared.

It was only a matter of time before the internet cycled back, recoiled from too much sharing. Apps and websites where you can be anonymous have come back into popularity.

We’ve previously blogged about YikYak but there are a couple of other anonymous sites to know about:

Whisper

So this network combines anonymous with location data. So you can share your secret thought and other people can like or comment… but you can also see other people’s secrets that are near you (1 mile radius, 5 mile radius, etc.) The secrets range from silly to serious:

whisperconfession1

whisperconfession2Something about having the image with the thought makes them stand out a bit, nice to read on a mobile device. And since this is an app, that makes sense.

 

Reddit

Reddit is a bit of a longer form social network with writing and links. You can see what’s trending overall by going to the homepage:

reddit-homepage
The more interesting part of Reddit though are the subreddits. For example, you can join a community about Game of Thrones (at www.reddit.com/r/gameofthrones) and discuss you interest in this show in detail with people all over the world.

Clearly works well if you are more verbose, or want to share a link and get comments on it.

Some people chose to have an active anonymous account while others use ‘throwaway’ accounts for a one time confession.

Anonymous social networks are similar to regular social networks:

  • Typically ordered by most recently updated content
  • Can participate on your phone only for some, others you can access on your computer too
  • You can like/heart/upvote things that you like to show support
  • You can leave comments for more detailed feedback.

Of course, sometimes anonymity brings out the worst in people in the way of cyberbullying but honestly, in these communities, I have found mostly support for my ideas too weird or dark to share on regular networks. (I know it’s sad but I used to be a little nervous to go on Reddit but, much like staying away from the seedy streets in your city, is a nice place for the most part of you don’t go searching for the bad stuff.)

As we figure out what is and isn’t acceptable to share with our real life friends on social media, I see the popularity of these sites growing. I personally love Reddit because there’s no real ads, no messaging, and I can just browse information… and contribute when I feel like. Personally I appreciate that because of the internet, there is a lid for every pot.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Out of the Rut: Getting Started

OuttatheRut

The Lorax is my mascot for this project. And probably for my life.



Something’s Gotta Give.

I’m an insomniac. As frustrating as it is to want something (like sleep), and not get it, over the years I’ve learned how to cope with it. Sure, I spent a fair amount of time stomping my feet tantrum-style, crying “This isn’t fair!” But, demanding that I deserve sleep or complaining about sleep deprivation isn’t going to get me anywhere. I tried. That energy is better spent on taking action (relaxation pre-trying to sleep, no caffeine in the afternoon, etc.).

In the past month or so, I’ve become more aware of how often I say  “I wish I was better at…” or “Someday, I’d like to be able to…” Suddenly, the coping process for my sleeping problem felt like it had a deeper purpose. Instead of trying to force these changes via wishing (preferably upon a shooting star), I could dig my heels in and actively make some changes.

Most of the time, I keep these goals internal, but hey, maybe there are other people out there who’d like to make some changes, too, or have some helpful tips. So, I’m going to share a bit about this process via blog in the hopes that a) I learn some new things about goal setting and technology and b) that other people get inspired, too.

Goal Setting (& Organizing)

This first step was the easy part: I more or less took the “I wishes” and turned them into specific goals. For instance, “I wish I was better at cooking” translates into “Try 1 new recipe a week.” “I wish I knew more about public relations” translates into “Listen to one relevant podcast a week and read something PR related for 20 minutes, 2 nights a week.”

To get these going, I started a spreadsheet. This divided up my goals into sections that made sense (fitness, finance, education/professional development, human-hood). I even had a category for “Action Steps,” and felt amazing already just by having proactive thoughts. My brain got lazy, and considered just stopping at the spreadsheet, because “Hey, this looks good. Probably close enough, right?”

Wrong. The next step was to find an app, which (ideally) will help keep me stay on track, and keep my goals somewhere other than my sneaky brain.

App Selection

My criteria: free, low maintenance (it sends me reminders but isn’t overly obnoxious), focused on details (as opposed to the big picture).

ISO: App that is practically perfect in every way.

ISO: App that is practically perfect in every way.

This point in the process hung me up the most, in part because I’m a commitaphobe, and my winning app choice had to be strong enough to see me through some challenges. I have a hard enough time taking advice from real people, so a robot has it’s work cut out for it. (Note: the list of apps below is by no means an exhaustive list of the candidates, just a snapshot of the serious contenders).

Everest

What I liked:  Everest is a “personal journey” app, meant for sharing a picture and then sharing the experience behind it with a larger community. Sounds cool, and I generally enjoy the idea of getting motivated/inspired by others, and I loved the idea of a visual element.
Reason I didn’t choose it: This is more of a “big picture” app, and I already tend to think about the big picture. The app I have in mind needs to strengthen my attention to detail.

Lifetick

What I liked: Before getting into your goals, this app determines your core values, or what makes you “tick.” Each goal you set must be “S.M.A.R.T.” : Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Specific. It seemed like it integrated Big Picture/Small Detail thinking well, which was a huge bonus.
Reason I didn’t choose it: There’s a two week free trial period, but after that, it costs money. Next.

Lift

The Winner!

The Winner!

What I liked: The name hooked me, and the reviews (online and in the app store) were stellar. It focuses mainly on changing the little things. One of my biggest obstacles is attention to detail, and Lift is all about making small, bit-sized changes. It also gives you the opportunity to connect with other people and offer encouragement. After all, it’s just as fun to encourage others as it is to be encouraged. And, there are fun quotes (see below) that pop up, and I love that sort of “warm and fuzzy” stuff.

 

Next Steps

So, as of today, I have some goals going in Lift. It will be interesting to see whether or not having an app to assist will be helpful (or annoying), and what kind of progress there will be along the way. Stay tuned!

 

IMG_1527 (1)

Lift: the start of a beautiful friendship.

 

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.
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