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   December, 2011

Looking Ahead to 2012 with the Revolution’s Predictions

2011 was the year that mobile made social media for real! Up until this year, there were a number of critics charging that social media was incapable of driving change. Their argument made sense as long as people were tethered to a computer, but now a huge number of people are interacting with their social network only through their phone. Whether it is from the bathroom, while grabbing dinner with friends or out protesting an injustice – you are able to get real-time updates about what matters to you wherever you are.

Egypt. Wisconsin. Wall Street. In these places, and many, many more locations, those outraged were communicating and organizing thanks to their smartphones. SMS continued to prove invaluable for driving action as many faced problems with the data connections on their phone (whether nefarious or from congestion) – highlighting the importance of including text messaging as part of any social media strategy.

It is difficult to imagine what new movements, technology and trends we will see in 2012. So we decided to give that challenge to our staff. See below for our staff 2012 predictions as well as their best of 2011 picks. Please also share yours with us by texting them to 738674 (REVMSG), tweeting them @revmsg or sharing them at facebook.com/revmsg.

Favorite App or Website of 2011

AlisonTwitter. Even though it has been around a while, this was the year that skeptics finally woke up and realized that Twitter can be a catalyzing force in social movements.

Courtney: Brand new Uber- towncars come directly to you in major cities, love it!  And personally, “My Pregnancy” for letting me know what size vegetable my pre-born kid is each week.

DavidAngry Birds became available in the iOS App Store in 2009. Two years, 2 retails stores and huge merchandise sales later, the game’s anonymous protagonists have become the most popular marketable video game characters since Pac-Man or, possibly, Mario.

Doug: Favorite Site - Daring FireBall: John Gruber is fast becoming our generation’s Walt Mossberg, making clear the meaning behind tech headlines and dispatching wannabe pundits. Favorite App - HBO Go on iPad: Finally, HBO subscribers get the love the deserve with access to *all* HBO content on their device; Springpad: Simple, easy, cloud-based and multi-device-friendly task management.

KaylaStorify. This new website allows both individuals and large news organizations to group together different social media posts, such as tweets, images, and Facebook updates, and create a story with added commentary.

Sam: I was initially a skeptic of Spotify, but thought I would try it out and have enjoyed every minute of my experience.  Upgrading to a premium account is well worth the money when you are working from your laptop all day.

Scott: The parkmobile app. Even though it won’t completely prevent many of us from getting parking tickets, it makes it a lot easier to feed a meter (and it is great to see the DC Gov embracing the convenience of mobile technology)!

Walker: Not an app, per se, but node.js came into it’s own in 2011 and showed that it’s got power. Microsoft threw their corporate weight behind the project and now you can run node.js on Windows Azure servers.

Predictions for 2012

Alison: The Google+ Hangout feature will continue to catch on – organizers will initiate hangouts from their phones and will broadcast their hangouts on YouTube. These more personal interactions will propel movements forward.

Courtney:Campaigns will recognize and embrace mobile technology during the election season, particularly as a way to bridge traditional outreach (yard signs) with social media outreach.

David: #1 – Steve Jobs legacy will continue to bring Apple great success through the next year, though I don’t expect an iPhone 5. #2 – SOPA will soon rear its ugly head again.

Doug: The rise of social commerce. Checking in = Cash becomes increasingly common. See AMEX/FourSquare arrangement for a preview of this trend.

Jason: Twitter and Facebook were critical to the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement. The problem is that authorities are also using these tools to track protesters. Smaller, more agile messaging tools are springing up and could become big in 2012. No frills Vibe is being used by the Occupy movement to spread anonymous messages to limited areas (whisper, speak, shout, whistle, yell and bellow) for a period of time as short as 15 minutes.  You can tell those people who are close to you about the action you’re going to take anonymously and not leave a trace.

Kayla: Customer Service through Twitter. This is already happening slowly, but in 2012 customers will expect it from businesses and organizations.

Keegan: The strength of social media also creates its greatest weakness – the ability to insulate yourself with information that is only friendly to your set of beliefs. While it is so much easier to communicate with those that are like-minded, 2012 will bring a new set of challenges to people trying to use social media for the purposes of persuasion. The GOP in particular will face a difficult time both keeping up the radical message they need to keep their base fired up online, and appealing to independent and moderate voters. They will lose the House of Representatives because of this.

Rich: More and more people will be using enough devices in their day-to-day that services/apps for syncing logins, stored data and history will become a virtual necessity. Though this isn’t a new concept, it will become more widely adopted as users get tired of logging into every single service. The patchwork of services that sync one thing or another merely adds to this complexity most of the time, giving users one more password to remember and type into a tiny onscreen keyboard or binding them to using one manufacturer’s technology. By the end of the year, any piece of data not accessible on every device in a user’s pocket or on their desk will seem as anachronistic as a carrier-pigeon.

Sam: Sports will be a driving force in mobile marketing for 2012. I think a deal will be made between app developers and NFL television networks to stream games live through
‪smartphone apps.

Scott: As celebrities control their own social media presence in greater numbers… these unique individuals with a passionate base will become more of a political force (Democrats and Republicans will be held accountable by these new social media armies).

In 2011 we watched as musicians went to Madison, Wisconsin and encouraged their fans to take action. Mainstream celebrities like Lady Gaga charged her 17,422,611 followers to get involved in LGBTQ rights. From Fat Mike to Miley Cyrus - artists are becoming more engaged and pushing their fans to make a difference.

Walker: 2012 will be the year of machine learning. We’ll expect more of all of our applications. They should always be learning what our personal preferences are, where we usually go, what we need and when we need it.


The Evolving Role of SEO in Activism

If we were to ask you how you’re using SEO in your online strategy would you have a quick answer? If not, it’s okay – SEO, or search engine optimization, sometimes gets lost when designing websites and developing strategy, but it is important for anyone trying to be heard to incorporate it. SEO is becoming more prevalent and necessary to stay competitive. And with the need for SEO comes an endless amount of “experts” hoping to make a quick few bucks off of you. In our office, we try to help demystify SEO for our clients, especially in its use for issue advocacy or political campaigns.

The Basics

At its core, SEO proves vital because most traffic to your site will come from people using search engines. Part of how search engines work is by determining ratings and rankings of links – if your website is ranked high, you will show up more often and in a top spot for searches. When it comes to people researching a topic, having your message visible in the top search results becomes key to attracting potential supporters.

Through many different tools available you can figure out what keywords or phrases are truly driving traffic to your site and make an effort to utilize that keyword or phrase in new content or future blog posts and tweets. Another way to increase your ranking is determined by backlinks. Are you linking to authoritative sites, such as universities or major news outlets? Or are a lot of your links, and those linking to you, of “low quality?” With Google’s recent change to the way they rank sites through an updated algorithm, backlinks are becoming more and more significant.

Along with SEO, you can use search retargeting to target people who are searching for specific keywords relating to your business or site. If you don’t rank #1 for a key word, such as “Social Media,” which has a high competition rate, you can still target people who searched that through online ads. They never had to visit your site, a person only needs to search “Social Media” and you can target them. But SEO is changing and developing into something new every day.

How Social Media is Becoming a Player in SEO

No longer is SEO just about catering to a search engine and its algorithms – there is a new avenue that has begun to take center stage. 

It’s not just about finding the most effective keywords and links within your website or a specific blog post. Now, it’s how big is your social network? How many friends do you have or how many people are following you on Twitter? The greater your reach on social media, the more often your article or site will pop up higher in searches.

Social networking sites are beginning to integrate with all different types of search engines and this will affect how often your site shows up and how much traffic s driven your way. Google recently added the +1 tool, allowing users to endorse certain websites or ads, ones that they find the most helpful and interesting in their own searches. When they +1 a URL, they are telling their friends, followers and others searching for similar information that the site is worth checking out. Therefore, your goal is to find a way to entice users to +1 your site or your Google ad. And Google searches, as well as Bing searches, aren’t just influenced by +1. According to Mashable, they also take into account tweets and Facebook likes.

A new feature in Facebook ads also impacts your organization’s SEO strategy. An organization can choose a post, photo, video or link that can act like an ad and show up on the right sidebar. Friends of your fans see these ads – they see that someone they know likes a certain brand or group. For example, if you have a friend that likes Democrat Elizabeth Warren, you would see an ad on the right side of your screen featuring a post Warren chooses to promote with an “endorsement” from your friend: John Doe likes Democrat Elizabeth Warren will be written above an ad for the promoted message.

Political SEO

It wasn’t that long ago that political campaigns and bloggers were using “Google bombs” to help drive unsavory content about an opponent to the top of the search rankings. Google and other search engines spend a lot of time trying to prevent the gaming of results, but it is still possible to be the target of so-called “black hat” SEO tactics. Because of this, it is important that political campaigns and advocacy organizations institute both a defensive and offensive strategy when it comes to SEO. Do you monitor issues that matter to you, and where your organization is ranked on them?

SEO is a changing industry and will continue to change as social networking and search engines begin to integrate even more. Having the right keywords and quality links will still prove beneficial in boosting your online presence. But your organization should start to adapt to the increasing importance of your social networks and the role they are beginning to play in helping drive traffic to your site.


Is Your Mobile Privacy at Risk?

Here at Revolution Messaging we have made it a priority to support a safe, secure and open Internet experience for all users. Now we’re reminding our friends and family to be vigilant and demand a safe and secure mobile experience as well. Your mobile privacy is at risk, and it is up to concerned users like you to help spread the word!

A piece of software found on mobile devices, called Carrier IQ, could be storing personal data and tracking mobile users’ experience, and sending this information straight to the carriers. According to PC World, this software was discovered by security researcher Trevor Eckhart who published a report accusing the company of preloading this software on a number of different smartphones (without the consumers’ knowledge), where it could allow carriers to keep track of “key presses, browsing history, SMS logs, and location data without the users knowledge.”

First discovered on Sprint phones back in September, which prompted the first round of lawsuits, Carrier IQ is raising concerns not only with customers, but also with legislators. According to FierceMobileContent, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn) sent Carrier IQ a letter asking them to answer questions about its questionable data collection practices by December 14th.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass), co-Chair of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, also got involved by starting to lobby the Federal Trade Commission to look into the firm’s practices. In addition to earlier lawsuits against Sprint in September, multiple law firms jointly filed a class action lawsuit in a Delaware Federal Court against Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Carrier IQ, deeming this a “cell phone tracking software scandal.”

 AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile admitted to using Carrier IQ, but just to improve their network performance. Apple also said they used this software, but announced they stopped supporting the software in iPhones and will take it off all future iPhones. Verizon, RIM and Nokia denied using this software on their devices.

Carrier IQ denies that it stores and sends private user data. Last week, they released a statement saying “operators use Carrier IQ software only to diagnose operational problems on networks and mobile devices,” and that they are a “consumer advocate to the mobile operator.”

“The software receives a huge amount of information from the operating system,” Andrew Coward, Carrier IQ’s VP of marketing, told AllThingsD. “But just because it receives it doesn’t mean that it’s being used to gather intelligence about the user or passed along to the carrier.”

Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit consumer education and advocacy organization, is also involved, petitioning the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission to look into this issue as well. This issue has also been recognized internationally; groups across Europe are looking into this issue to make sure mobile users’ privacy isn’t being compromised.  The lawsuit being filed jointly in the Delaware Federal Court says that Carrier IQ and the associated carriers violated the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

“This latest revelation of corporate America’s brazen disregard for the digital privacy rights of its customers is yet another example of the escalating erosion of liberty in this country,” David Straite, one of the lawyers leading this crusade, said in a statement. ”We are hopeful that the courts will allow ordinary customers the opportunity to remedy this outrageous breach.”

This isn’t something we as mobile consumers should take lightly. While Carrier IQ claims they are not collecting private data and sharing this information with carriers without our knowledge, there is a need for a thorough investigation into this issue. As consumers, we can’t stand idly by and watch from the sidelines, we must demand for a safe space in the mobile world and educate others of the different dangers we are now seeing. Protecting consumer privacy should always be the number one priority and right now, finding out the truth behind Carrier IQ’s software is a must.