Archive | August, 2015

Five Benefits of Google+ for Your Business

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There are many business owners that hesitate to put their maximum efforts on the content promotion via Facebook or Twitter.

The fact is, Facebook and Twitter are great ways to spread the word about new and existing content, and the only relevant social media platform available.

However, with the arrival of Google+ on the social media war, business owners have more options to  broadcast themselves, give more opportunity for them to promote their brand and products. Here are five benefits that we have found from using Google+ on business.

1. SEO

Setting up a Google+ page automatically gives you a little more search engine juice. This is simply Google+ is Google’s product, so the platform is designed to be more easily found by the Google search engines. Through the simple stages of page set up, you can choose to incorporate title tags, meta tags, and keywords through Google+’s step by step process. No extensive knowledge of coding needed.

2. Ownership Claims

One of the best features of Google+ is the ability to claim ownership of your own content as well as other blogs and sites. Whether your contents gain fame or simply something people find important, you can claim ownership of it. By claiming ownership of a specific post, your name will be seen, along with your blog post’s title, every time the piece shows up in the Google results pages. You can claim authorship by using the rel author tag, which helps Google link an author with their piece of work and, in turn, allows users to discover quality content.

The more often your name gets seen, the more likely you will be seen as an authority, and authorities are the ones who are more likely to have trusted content that readers share.

3. Create Circles

With Google+ Circles, users are able to place their followers within certain groups. While this may seem unnecessary, being able to place key influencers into a special Circle can be highly beneficial. There’s a little check mark box before you share a G+ post that says “Also send email to this circle?” While you certainly don’t want to check that box every post and spam your key influencers circle, using it sparingly can mean more key influencers will see your blog post. They will get an alert in their inboxes that you shared a post with them.

Creating specific Circles will make sure that all of your followers aren’t feeling spammed by constant information that may not interest them. You can tailor what they see in your news feed.

4. Communities

Don’t be afraid to join as many communities as you deem relevant to your business. You can also share your individual blog post with different communities just as you can share it with different Circles.

5. Multimedia

Reading your content is great but seeing the person behind the content is even better. Don’t be afraid to also utilize Google+ Hangouts in addition to the other features the platform offers. Companies can host Q & A’s through Google Hangouts, attend real time video chats with its followers, and post tutorials that can help further establish themselves in their specific field. Since Google+ Hangouts on air stream live on YouTube and automatically record to your YouTube channel, you will have multimedia content ready to go when you click ‘End Broadcast.’ Another tip is to use free YouTube editor to add enhancements to your video. All you need to host or join a Hangout is an internet connection and a webcam.

While people are raving about Facebook and Twitter dominate the text based social landscape and the importance to have a solid presence there, try to consider the benefits of Google+. It might be the best option for your business.

Is This The New Logo For Instagram?

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Did Instagram just change its logo?

The rave came into question one day after the company revealed it was abandoning its signature square photos. A new image surfaced of what appeared to be a beta version of the photo-sharing app, showing a redesigned colorless app icon. The image was posted to Twitter by a user named Jad Limcaco, who claims he got the screenshot from his cousin who said what appears to be a beta of the Instagram app “just popped up on his phone.”

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The photo shows a two-toned Instagram icon with a flatter design that lacks much of the detail of the existing icon, including the rainbow stripe and other colors. Many were quick to assume this meant Instagram would be ditching its longstanding app icon for the flatter design (after all, many other developers with overtly skeuomorphic app logos updated their apps after Apple abandoned the look in iOS 7.)

However, Instagram lovers need not worry after all. An Instagram spokesperson said that there are no plans to change the app icon. In a later tweet, Limcaco also said he “heard from a source at Instagram” that the flat app icon is only used for testing purposes.

Even though Instagram doesn’t plan on changing the design of its logo, the leaked images provide an interesting look into how companies internally test new builds of their apps. As others have pointed out, it’s very common for companies to have several different versions of their app at any given time for internal testing — all of which may have a different icon to avoid confusion.

Pinterest Introduces Keyword Selection and More Informed Optimisation Options

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Pinterest is notorious as one of the most difficult social media platform to optimise. However, latest news from Pinterest seems to bring a small light ray for marketers.

Ahalogy, a Pinterest Marketing Developer Partner, has just launched a technology that allows social media marketers to optimise their content on the popular visual pinboard by leveraging suggesting keywords in an attempt to drive greater performance. The solution essentially suggests keywords in real-time (as marketers pin content) based on Ahalogy’s proprietary content and trend data.

The “Liftwords” are populated by a Pin’s source content and are based on the past performance of several millions of Pins and Repins from Ahalogy’s Content Network, which is comprised of more than 1,500 Pinterest content creators.

For example, a food brand creating a Pin for an might see suggestions to include words like “recipe”, “desserts”, and even “chocolate” to their Pin description.

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“Pinterest’s capability to drive a brand’s overall digital and content strategy, across platforms like Facebook, Twitter and others, is what many marketers find attractive,” said Ahalogy Co-founder and President Bob Gilbreath. “As more consumers look to Pinterest for inspiring—and shoppable—ideas, smart marketers are increasingly understanding the power of meaningful content. We built Liftwords because we know Pin descriptions and keywords are core elements to great content. When optimally Pinned, great brand content will be shared more, last longer, and have a significant earned media effect on Pinterest.”

Six Great Tips To Create Mobile-Friendly Content (Infographic)

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The days where owning a website was sufficient for promoting your business products and services have passed. Today, it doesn’t matter how big the amount of time and effort that you put into creating the website, failure to make your content accessible can make you lose valuable clients/customers.

If you surf the internet, you’ll come across hundreds and thousands of best websites that are equipped with content that looks great on every mobile device and platform. It is purely the mobile optimisation of your content that enables you to reach out to a wider group of audiences.

Well, it actually sounds crazy to create individual content strategies for each and every device or platform that your website targets. Before you fret anymore, here’s a solution that will ensure your content is publishable and easy-to-access on every device available today – Development of a mobile content strategy. The growing significance of building a mobile content strategy for assuring that your content looks stunning, is 100% readable and understandable on smartphones and tablets as it is on the typical desktops.

What exactly is a Mobile Content Strategy?

In today’s mobile world where clients prefer accessing websites via their smartphones and tablets, ignoring the on-time mobile-optimisation of your website’s content is a complete “No”. It is here that the development of a mobile content strategy has a unique role to play. Whether it’s designing a flexible content structure using components like titles, categories, captions and images or just ensuring that your look looks good on smartphones/tablets and desktops, a well-planned mobile content strategy will make your content a lot more flexible and immensely accessible.

Here’s a closer look at the different ways of optimising your content for mobile:

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Click to Enlarge

Infographic credit: Vertical Leap.

YouTube Tips: Choosing Between Free and Paid Promotional Ads

YouTube Marketing

Just like when you use Google search for advertising, you have both free and paid advertising options with YouTube. The free ones include optimizing for YouTube search and social networking, while the paid alternative is using AdWords for video.

Now, It is possible for marketers to combine free and paid YouTube promo methods in a campaign. The fact is, if they do it the right way, each method becomes more effective. For example, if your get more video views with AdWords, that will help those videos rank higher in YouTube search. Moreover, in this post we will discuss about:

  • Using AdWords for videos to promote a brand on YouTube
  • Making YouTube videos which visible in search for free
  • Combining YouTube AdWords and YouTube SEO in a campaign

Google AdWords for Video? Why not?

Announced in September 2011, AdWords for video has been garnered a lot of attention ever since. Now the main questions is no longer a matter of whether or not to use it for YouTube promotion, but “how to use it”. Luckily, doing so has just become easier. Google simplified YouTube ad formats, which means it has now become easier to understand what format means what, where your ads will show up, and so on.

So, here are five AdWords for video options available to YouTube advertisers today:

1. TrueView In-Search Ads

“TrueView” is simply a name for a family of YouTube ads that allow you to pay only when people choose to watch your video—hence, TrueView. In-search ads appear in YouTube search. They are quite similar to PPC ads that show up in Google right next to “organic” search results. You pay only if viewers begin watching your video.

2. TrueView In-Display Ads

TrueView in-display ads appear as Suggested videos on YouTube (not to be confused with other types of display ads on YouTube). Again, one pays only when people begin watching the suggested video. These ads may also show up elsewhere on the Google Display Network, depending on your settings.

3. TrueView In-Stream Ads

TrueView in-stream ads are pretty much like TV commercials that run before a movie or a show. They can be of any length and they normally link to the advertiser’s website. They are also skippable, which means viewers have the choice to skip the commercial past the five-second mark. You get charged if viewers watch at least the first 30 seconds of your commercial. And, again, in-stream ads are found not only on YouTube but also across the Google Display Network.

4. Standard In-Stream Ads

Standard in-stream ads are just like TrueView in-stream ones, but they are:

  • Non-skippable
  • Either up to 15 seconds long (for videos under 10 minutes) or up to 30 seconds long (for videos over 10 minutes).

5. Banner Ads

Finally, you can purchase banners and flash banners with Google AdWords to be displayed to targeted viewers next to Suggested videos on YouTube or as an in-video overlay. With these display ads, you pay either per click or per impression. Now, what’s required to start an AdWords for a video campaign? Actually, all one needs is a Google AdWords account and a YouTube channel with at least one video on it.

Google AdWords Tools for Video

To find out what keywords and videos are popular with YouTube users (to place your ads in or near them), test them with YouTube AdWords Keyword Too, and then see which videos rank top for the most popular keywords. You can also check out Google’s Ad Placement Tool to locate hot spots across the Google Display Network where you could place your video ads.

Promoting Your Brand on YouTube for Free

If you don’t really have a budget to spend on AdWords for videos, there is another way to make your YouTube videos and channel popular. You’d need to optimize your videos for the right keywords. To discover what keywords are likely to bring traffic, you could use the already mentioned YouTube AdWords Keyword Tool.

You also need to use your keywords in vital parts of your video: the title, the description, and the tag. Also, make sure your video is in the appropriate category. The more views, shares, and embeds your video gets (and the more of it people watch), the higher it will show up in YouTube search. So, to increase views, share it with as many people across as many other networks as you can.

Get other vloggers’ (video uploaders’) attention by commenting on their videos, leaving video responses, subscribing to their channels—whatever works. What’s key here is to find the right people to connect with (by keywords, related videos, categories, etc.) Make it easy for viewers to find your website, subscribe to your channel, or learn more about you after they watch your video. Some vloggers articulate their call to action right in the video (it actually works) or put a link to their site first thing in the video’s description.

Free YouTube Promotion Tools

Use YouTube search to discover relevant videos and channels to engage with. There are software tools like BuzzBundle that let you mass-produce your YouTube marketing efforts, enabling you to engage with more people faster.

Combining YouTube SEO and AdWords With Great Results

So, if you wanted to launch an integrated SEO plus AdWords campaign for YouTube, what would you need to keep in mind?

It’s all about knowing how certain SEO metrics enhance your paid ads metrics, and vice versa:

  • Though not always possible, try to create multipurpose videos that can be used to promote your business in YouTube search and to appear next to other bloggers’ videos in the form of display ads. This way, the more views a video gets, the better it’ll perform in both types of search.
  • The title/description you assign your video in an AdWords campaign can be different from the one you create when uploading it to YouTube. So, technically, you can optimize one video for two sets of keywords, which again helps it do better in organic as well as paid listings.
  • Another important area where YouTube networking can help your AdWords campaign is targeting . If you’ve invested time into connected with influential vloggers in your niche, you probably know which ones have great communities around their channels. This makes it easy for you to choose what channels/videos to target with paid ads.
  • Finally, you can also resort to some smart remarketing to your YouTube viewers with paid AdWords ads. If you associate your YouTube account with your AdWords account (you can link more than one YouTube account to it), Google will let you show ads to people who have viewed your videos, visited your channel, or subscribed to/unsubscribed from it in the past.

So, those are the free and paid options you have for promoting your business on YouTube. As a video site with one billion visitors a month these days, YouTube can really be an effective promotion platform for your business. You need to know how to maximise these features.

Four Tips for Online Marketers Implementing User Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is not a brand new concept in the marketing industry. However, most digital marketers rarely treated UGC as an exciting way for engaging with consumers, building brand awareness, and gathering customers’ loyalty. With the recent acquisitions of multi-million dollar content companies like Instagram and Tumblr, major names in online business are further demonstrating the enormous value of content today. In a January 2013, over 700 digital professionals identified content marketing as the single most significant trend in marketing today.

So, what’s the position of contents in today’s digital era anyway? Content, in short, is king, so it’s incumbent upon brands to make good use of it. However, it’s never as simple as it sounds. With its many shapes and forms, identifying the right content to engage your customer and doing it at the right time on the right channel, requires strategic planning and resources.

One possible solution is to allow consumers to create content for your brand. The rise of social media and mobile technology has made every consumer a potential broadcaster. It is easier than ever for brands to solicit, collect, promote, and analyze content that comes directly from your customer base.

Why?

Nowadays, user generated content is easily accessible for both brand marketers and consumers because of the prevalence of smartphones and tablets. These gadgets make it easier than ever to take photos, make videos, draw pictures, and otherwise broadcast our thoughts and opinions instantly through numerous social channels. When done right, UGC campaigns that make it easy for your consumer to market on your behalf will lead to higher levels of engagement and provide actionable consumer data. Here are four tips for digital marketers implementing user generated content.

1. A Clear Call-To-Action

Although UGC can be easy to accumulate from consumers, it is important for brands to present a specific call-to-action that identifies the objectives of your campaign and outlines the desired contributions you are seeking. It is also critical to recognize that many participants in your campaign may initially just be there to view content, and don’t intend to contribute to it. An inspiring call to action or value proposition will help convert those who were simply bystanders.

Also, you must realise that there are many different levels of contributions you can reach, and each type of content has a different target audience. For example: it is far easier for a user to give a “like” or submit a picture than to create a video. Target the masses with simpler requests. On the other hand, target a passionate community of enthusiasts with things that take additional time and effort like video creation.

Your call to action should include two things: 1) very clearly state the type of content you are soliciting, and 2) provide users with an incentive, such as the promise of status/fame, a prize or exclusive discounts, in order to participate.

In addition, you should use the thrill of competition to get customers excited and their competitive juices flowing. You can also increase the volume of participation and engagement by making it easy for participants to share the campaign across their social channels.

2. Maintain Your Quality Control

One potential risk when opening your brand to contributed content from customers is the potential for your usual quality standards not to be upheld. This is why it’s essential to set clear parameters and expectations at the outset of a user generated content campaign. Offering incentives for winners will also place a premium on quality content by tapping into people’s competitive nature. This is good for consumers because it helps them elevate the quality of their submission, while also preventing results that are off-brand.

3. Depth vs. Breadth

One of the biggest ways for marketers to drive results is by taking steps to ensure their user generated content campaign provides widespread marketing value. Therefore, a key question to ask when planning a campaign is how it can be valuable to more than just those who actively participate.

While you will naturally receive fewer entrants in a contest that asks users to prepare an entry, the entries you receive will likely come from those who are more passionate about your brand or the reward opportunity. This is might happen because the majority of people participating in your campaign will simply view or interact with content rather than actually preparing and submitting their own entry, it is important to incentivize both content submitters and content viewers.

4. Authenticity

Do you know that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family and 70% trust online reviews, while the vast majority view paid online advertising with deep suspicion? This trust factor is one of the most important selling points for a UGC campaign. It’s imperative for marketers to make it authentic and consistent with the brand’s persona. And due to the wealth of information and content available in today’s digital world, authentic content is celebrated and more meaningful.

Authenticity shines through in the entries as parents share details on everything from a simple smile that brightens their day to community service projects that can make a big difference. Harness a more authentic and meaningful experience for your customer by driving a two-way conversation throughout your campaign — from the submission stage, to social sharing, voting, and beyond. However, be keenly aware that transparency is critical as any problems in the experience can be broadcast instantly by digital consumers across social media.

Conclusion

Good content always drives good engagement. User generated content campaigns are not new, but with the rise of mobile and social tools present even greater opportunities for marketers to increase engagement among a passionate group of consumers. When done well, these campaigns will lead to significantly increased brand engagement.

Longform or Shortform Content? The Answer Might Surprise You

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Few months back, there was a debate that has been blowing around whether shortform or longform content is winning the race for people’s attention. No doubt there are merits to both sides, but there seems to be some confusion concerning the topic.

For clarity, longform means articles, white papers and e-books of 2,000 words or more, while shortform refers to content of 500 to 1,000 words. Is there really a difference in their overall performances? Science suggests there is a clear distinction among those two.

Many of today’s Internet marketers swear by shortform content, citing a number of independent studies that indicate audience attention spans are falling and as much as 32 percent of users will begin abandoning websites in as little as five seconds if they are slow to load.

This doesn’t speak to the effectiveness of the format in reaching its audience in terms of visibility and findability through search. This is one of the most important advantages that longform content has over its counterpart. Search engine algorithms favor rich content that occupies the upper echelon where word counts are concerned, as do the habits of social media users in an environment oversaturated with bite-sized and intentionally misleading – read clickbait – info-bits.

Longform content ranks higher in search and allows brands to establish themselves more firmly in the minds of potential consumers belonging to their target demographic. The success varies by degrees as the relationship between the average content length and ranking position follow a bell curve, with articles closer to 2,500 outperforming those nearer 2,000 words.

What You Need to Know to Make It Work

Building a successful website or blog is about more than reaching a benchmark threshold and calling it a day. For longer works to have any impact on your conversion rates and traffic, they must be optimised for the Web. This is the perfect time to use long-tail keywords and broaden your SEO practices to encompass images as well. By incorporating visual content into articles of high word counts, you’ll be making things more scannable and therefore more appealing to readers who are time-deficient.

In this way, the negative associations that longform content has had attached to it by certain circles is negated and its biggest perceived drawback falls flat on its face. With 23 percent of people’s time dedicated to reading blogs and trawling social media sites for such content, you can’t afford to not give your audience what they want – and what they want is detailed, informative and well-researched reading material.

A Mix of Both May Be The Right Answer

All in all, it’s good practice to create a mix in your marketing and promotional strategies to have all your bases covered. Just don’t prioritise the short-term rewards of shortform content ahead of the rewards offered by longer material. The next time you come to writing anything directed at your online audience, give some thought to how it will be displayed and structured over 2,000 words or more. If you can do that, good things are sure to follow and your business will be poised to benefit.

4 Blogging Tips You Can Try To Improve Your SEO

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Latest research has revealed that there were around 47 billion web pages in Google index. However, trying to stand out among these multi billion pages is not an easy thing to do.

Online marketing is all about creating and nurturing meaningful engagement, especially for businesses with longer sales cycles. This means you need to build meaningful relationships with your page visitors so that they come to rely on you as an industry expert in your field and trust your message. This engagement is also useful to build SEO for your business.

Having a blog provides an effective platform not only for SEO, but also to enable every brand to build its brand image, increase traffic as well as raise awareness and brand reputation. A blog gives the space on which to regularly provide high-value, high-quality and fresh content for your users. This ensures you always have your visitors coming back, increasing engagement and consequently ranking.

In today’s post, we will share four reasons why blogging is critical for any content marketing strategy:

1. Fresh Content

Search engines are about providing users with the best UX. Therefore, they look for sites and pages with up-to-date and fresh content. Search engines give more weight for fresh content on current topics. They interpret recent updates as being more relevant and current than those of pages that haven’t seen updates in weeks or months. Search engines believe the former provide better user experience overall.

2. Keyword coverage and targeting

Keywords are still important item in terms of SEO. These present simple phrases or words most commonly associated with a certain field or brand. Until now, keywords have been improperly used, a technique known as keyword stuffing, in an effort to manipulate search engines and outrank competition in search results.

The result of keyword stuffing is incoherent, undeveloped content which turns away users from your brand, and which can attract penalties from search engines. Blogs are an ideal platform to generate and promote content in the right context around your targeted keywords. This can be through blogging on various topics and addressing key questions within your industry in each post. In the process, you can naturally incorporate your keywords and their variations without sounding artificial.

You can also create pages centered on various keywords to improve your page reporting strategy. Traffic driven to such pages from search engines will have used your targeted terms in their search queries. This way, you can understand how best to use queries and keywords for your content strategy.

3. Revamping your site

In the absence of a blog, a page can only have so many sites. While Google has been on recording saying that having more indexed pages in search results doesn’t mean higher rankings, larger sites are still more valuable in that you have more pages that could possibly be ranked for a certain query than smaller sites.

Running a blog on your site allows you to increase your web pages easily. Every new page is another page that can possibly rank for a certain keyword and another opportunity to provide value and engagement for users. You will have a better internal linking structure and provide more information to reduce your bounce rates and keep users on your site.

More pages mean more pages for backlinks, which can elevate your pages on search results. However, every new page must fulfill the criteria for top ranking – have high quality, relevant content with design elements appropriately applied to give the best user experience.

4. Improving the quality of your backlink profile

Each time you create high-quality, high-value content, you can actively promote your chances of securing backlinks. Readers and followers of your blog and content series will likely reference the content in other places. You can also find other resource centers that your audience frequent and asked to be included there.

Having multiple pages that provide useful information on different subjects and keywords in your niche provides linkable pages for those topics. This is the best way to earn non-spammy, high-quality backlinks from your peers and other authoritative sites in related industries.

Backlinks, despite the negative SEO, are still quite valuable, since they are endorsements for a given brand/webpage regarding its authority on the matter under discussion. What Google and other search engines want to see is high quality backlinks devoid of any manipulation. Blogs make this easy and possible, enabling you to build authority for your site through your back link profile.

Bonus: Eight fundamental lessons for running successful blogs

Maintaining your brand’s blog requires significant investment of time, financial resources and committed effort. Management of the blog will likely be through a content marketing/corporate marketing team, in collaboration with the PR team. This refers to larger, more structured organisations. For them, here are eight tips you need to understand:

  1. Research on and identify valuable keywords which have minimal competition and high query volumes.
  2. Always have a schedule drawn out for at least two months.
  3. Create a small team of editors and content writers who are always available.
  4. Ensure that every page is optimally written according to SEO best practices.
  5. Cross reference related blog content to fortify your internal linking structure.
  6. Ensure there are social sharing buttons to make sharing easy for users.
  7. Cross-promote related content within blog posts.
  8. Use social media and email marketing to promote new content as it is published.

Conclusion

Blogging offers useful tools through which you can provide high quality, valuable content that page visitors and hence search engines will like and reward. The additional pages just contribute to plumping up your site; they provide more space to improve SEO, drive meaningful engagement and traffic conversions as well as provide more value for clients/visitors.

SmartHalo: Turn Any Bicycle Into A Smart Bike

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Bike riders all over the world would love this.

The SmartHalo attaches to the handlebars of any normal bicycle and, once paired with your smartphone, acts as a visual navigation guide, complete with turn-by-turn signaling. Yes, there are a number of ways you can use your smartphone to navigate a bike trip now, but they mostly consist of checking your handset or smartwatch, both potentially dangerous activities while steering a bike down city streets.

What SmartHalo does is provide a dead simple green lighting prompt, connected via Bluetooth to the app on your smartphone, allowing you to keep the handset in your pocket as you follow the color-coded navigation guides on the device. Simply input your destination into the device’s associated app, and SmartHalo will take over from there.

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When you’re about to turn, the signal beams a white and green warning, and when you’ve traveled in the wrong direction you’ll get a red flashing prompt. Another lighting feature also notifies you when you get a phone call. In addition to serving as a visual guide, the device also connects with the smartphone app to provide biking statistics, including distance traveled, average speed and calories burned. Every time you’re away from your bike, you can still track its location on a map via the app. Plus, the weather-resistant device includes an alarm in case thieves attempt to remove it from your bike.

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Finally, the device also automatically detects nightfall, at which point it turns on a front-mounted headlamp. When you stop the bike and dismount, the light turns itself off. With all that lighting up, it might seem like you’d need to recharge the device daily, but the creators of the SmartHalo claim that its battery will last up to three weeks.

SmartHalo, which will retail for $149, is available for $99 for early adopters via a Kickstarter campaign that has already reached $39,000 of its $50,000 goal. The device will be brought to you by May of 2016, assuming the goal is reached.

M Assistant: The New Personal Assistant for Facebook Messenger

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Recently, Facebook has threw a new ‘war statement’ into instant messaging battlefield by launching its personal assistant service for Messenger, M.

A few years ago, there were few differences between SMS and a series of modern chatting apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Kik, Line, KakaoTalk and Facebook Messenger. As time goes by, each have slowly defined themselves differently, whether through simplicity, connections to businesses, media, stickers, games, location, and other features.

However, Facebook has brought the battle for chat with the official announcement of M, its new personal assistant built into Messenger. M can actually complete various tasks for you, like buying things, choosing gifts, making reservations, arranging travel, and many more.

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What’s truly unique is what’s behind M. Specifically, a lot of live bodies. M isn’t just artificial intelligence. Facebook has contracted real people to help M answer people’s requests while teaching the technology how to handle them automatically in the future.

M is still in early beta testing, so it’s hard to assess just how well it accomplishes this grand ambition. Yet, if it really works, Facebook may have developed a product so useful yet so complex and resource-intensive that it could differentiate Facebook Messenger in a way its competitors can’t or won’t follow.

There are digital assistants like Google Now and Siri. But those are so mechanised that they can only provide rote answers and reminders. There are personal assistants like Magic and Operator that use humans to answer complex requests, but they’re independent apps without massive scale. And there are messaging apps fighting to grow their already-huge audiences, but that still look similar despite their attempts to differentiate.

M combines the power of a world-leading artificial intelligence lab with the dexterity of humans Facebook can afford to hire and the scale of its 700 million user Messenger app. Unlike Google or Apple which boast for their advanced AI, Facebook used human helpers to brute force a full-featured assistant. The closest thing to M might be the third-party app WeSecretary built atop WeChat.

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Making M work for all of Messenger’s users might be slow or expensive, but it’ll probably be both.

Eventually, M would ideally work with minimal human assistance. To get there, Facebook needs time for its M contractors to teach it the best way to solve problems. With a small workforce and small beta, that could take a while. Growing M’s test base and the legions of helpers behind it will cost a ton.

However, that’s why Facebook is so distinctly well-equipped. It has money. Not quite Google or Apple money, but with $4 billion in revenue and around $700 million in profit last quarter, Facebook has resources to throw at M. It also has time. Facebook’s ownership of both Messenger and the 800 million-user WhatsApp gives it a decisive lead in messaging. It doesn’t have to worry about falling further behind while it concentrates on R&D.

Finally, with both Messenger and WhatsApp in its possession, Facebook has arguably the best ways to leverage a chat-based personal assistant.

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How will Facebook get profit from this massive investment? There are plenty of ways M could make money.

For example, Facebook could establish relationships with certain product or service vendors, earning a cut for making them M’s go-to provider for certain requests. It might similar to how Shyp earns money on the difference between the bulk shipping discounts it gets and what it charges users, Facebook could surely find some margin to absorb it if it can power smooth personal assistant shopping and travel booking.

All Facebook has to do with M is make Messenger more useful, and thereby used more. The chat app locks people into Facebook’s social network, and that’s where it keeps the real money-maker: the ad-filled News Feed.