Wait! What? 8/21: Target’s Vigilante Troll, Amazon’s Big Oops and an Airport Powered by the Sun

Credit: ThinkStock
Credit: ThinkStock

Greetings PR-aficionados! What’s that? Yes, it has been a while. Since we last spoke, a lot has happened, including the addition of our new General Manager, Annemiek Hamelinck, who’s been doing a truly stellar job of leading our troop of misfits. The tech scene has been crazy, and we’re going to catch you right the heck up.

It’s time for our latest installment of “Wait! What?”

  • You’re simply THE BEST!” is what Tina Turner might say about the hilarious vigilante that took to social media, posing as Target and defending the company’s decision to remove gender distinctions in some sections of its stores. We laughed ‘til we cried and really appreciated this moment of faux justice.
  • Holy company culture, Batman! If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you might not know that Amazon is having some issues – of the miserable employee variety. The New York Times published an expose looking at the company’s intense, and unforgiving culture. Amazon – you should probably take a look at our Instagram for some happy-employee inspiration.
  • On a more positive note, an airport in India has announced it will be completely powered by solar panels. Us clean tech geeks are excited to see solar tech being used on such a large scale and hope there is more to come! Yeah…no joke here. Sometimes we can be serious, OK?!
  • Now, I know my ABC’s… Although the announcement of Alphabet as Google’s parent company has been clogging up your browser for the past two weeks, we’re more interested in the smaller, mind-bogglingly futuristic companies that fall under the umbrella, like the forever young anti-aging biotech company Calico, and of course, the infinitely inventive Google X.
  • “Why does the GPS say that he’s driving away from us…?” is normally the first thing that comes to mind when the name “Uber” pops up. This time, however, it’s all about the rumored IPO, which was mentioned in a document leaked to Reuters. Of course, the company chose not to comment on the rumor, but the cat is out of the bag (which would be a terrible thing to happen in an Uber, by the way).

So now you’re all caught up on this week’s big tech stories and hopefully have something cool to bring up at brunch this weekend. Tweet us your fave stories of the week @blancandotus!

Wait! What? 6/5: Swipe right for funding; Google’s magical ocean view

Thinkstock Photos
Thinkstock Photos

While you were busy gawking at #CaitlynJenner’s new following (2.3 million fans on Twitter — more than Obama), we were catching up on some crazy tech news you might have missed. Here it is:

  • Be prepared for excessive temptation to kick in: Instagram just launched a Shop Now button, allowing users to shop outside the app with a click. All of those #filtered photographs just got so much more enticing.
  • Ever wondered what lies in the deep, dark depths of the ocean? Thanks to Google Maps Street View Oceans, you can now see spinner dolphins, humpback whales, giant turtles… and gain access to 70% of the untapped territory on our planet.
  • Better Re: The solution to all panic caused by dead or dying phones. Just pop an old battery inside Better Re and it becomes a portable charger for anything that uses a USB cable.
  • Swipe right for…potential equity crowdfunding investment opportunities? Unusual matchmaking app Tendr launched in the U.K. on Wednesday. It allows investors to “star” investment opportunities, promising to remove friction and thereby increase efficiency in deal sourcing.
  • Finally, meet Huggable, the robotic teddy bear. He’s a high-tech puppet that lives in pediatric hospitals to help alleviate anxiety, pain and isolation. He can even talk and play with patients with the aid of a remote operator. Touching, but also further evidence robots will be taking over in the near future.

And that concludes this week’s news bites. Go out and celebrate the first weekend of June with some time on the beach. Or at least enjoy the ocean through the lens of Google Street View. See you next Friday!

Wait! What? 5/29: Justice for gifs, a robot cheetah

You can finally post this robot cheetah gif on Facebook. #progress #hope #change (Source: futurist-foresight.tumblr.com)
You can finally post this robot cheetah gif on Facebook. #progress #hope #change (Source: futurist-foresight.tumblr.com)

Hey there, Friday people! It’s been a short week, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve some cool tech stories. Let’s get this weekend started off right:

  • Google held a big fancy party for itself this weekend and announced about 18 million new projects in development. Even still, that didn’t seem to be enough for some journalists. They must have been holding out for Google Glass 2.0.
  • Comcast, like the Houston Rockets, couldn’t seem to close the deal to buy Time Warner. But this week Charter announced that it had scooped up the company for a cool $55B.
  • Finally the pressure to actually type responses to friends and loved ones has been obliterated completely – gifs now work on Facebook; this is not a drill.  On the flip side this is totally a drill.
  • You ever get the feeling you’re being followed? Well according to recent reports it may be because Facebook Messenger tracks you by default – so you know, check your settings.
  • MIT has created a robot cheetah and they’ve taught it to jump without losing its pace. While it may terrify some of you, the video is insanely awesome.

Now that you’ve had your fill of tech news, go out there and rewatch the new Mad Max for the second, or third, or fourth time.

Wait! What? 5/15: Shape-shifting planes, secret agent desks, and Facebook’s controversial new feature

It's a bird, it's a plane! It's a plane. (Credit: Jim Ross, NASA)
It’s a bird, it’s a plane! It’s a plane. (Credit: Jim Ross, NASA)

Lots of big announcements this week in our beloved world of tech, but if you wanted to read about Verizon’s acquisition of AOL or the new Gmail login screen – you’ve come to the wrong place. As usual, we’re more interested in the weirder, more wackadoodle stories that you weren’t paying attention to over the past seven days. Buckle up – it’s time for this week’s roundup:

  • NASA successfully tested a plane with shape-changing wings. Will we ever get tired of futuristic space-stuff? No, we won’t – and before you say anything, ‘space-stuff’ is the term used by actual scientists.
  • Feeling less Ethan Hunt-y than usual? No problem. Introducing Sharetable, the desk that makes every other desk look like complete garbage. Its surface features a shareable screen connected to your desktop monitor, so that the person sitting across from you can see what you’re seeing. Although, he won’t be able to see the expression of total awe on his own face, since that view is reserved for you.
  • All the pretty girls love Samsung? Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea released the video for their song “Pretty Girls,” in which Iggy uses her space-alien super powers to transform Brit’s old school cell phone into a gigantic Samsung Galaxy something or other (marketing!). We don’t really have time to go through all of the problems with the video – but our main concern is that Iggy seems to think that robots and aliens are the same thing.
  • Media no-likey Facebook’s “Instant Articles.” Facebook announced “Instant Articles,” sparking controversy among media outlets. They’re concerned that the new feature will make it difficult for publishers to control their own content. They have a point, but we’re pretty sure that Facebook has been aggregating content for a while now, simply through its users. You know…because, like…cat videos.
  • If we use Waze, can we skip the rush-hour traffic out of King’s Landing? The answer is no, because you can’t just leave King’s Landing, and this totally awesome Google Map of Westeros isn’t connected to Waze.

Now you’re all caught up. Hopefully some of this will come up in your next round of bar trivia.

Wait! What? 2/6: Google places its bets on driverless cars and tech attends its version of the Oscars

This week was chock full of tech news, from Google’s ride-share service to the winners of this year’s Crunchies, the past seven days didn’t disappoint. Don’t worry, next week we’ll have another Kim Kardashian video to share…(just kidding). Here’s what made the headlines this week:

  • Last night, the who’s who of the tech industry switched out of their hoodies and into three piece suits (okay maybe at least a button up) to attend the Crunchies Awards. For reasons we won’t try to understand, the Kim Kardashian app
    Credit: Steve Jurvetson
    Credit: Steve Jurvetson

    beat out Buzzfeed for the “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” Award.

  • Snapchat removed their “Best Friends” feature that allows you to see who your friends are swapping selfies with. Stalkers and girlfriends everywhere flipped out…but don’t worry the photo app promises it will be back.
  • From iPod to iPhone, iPad to iWatch, and now iTube?! Apparently, Apple is in talks with TV programmers to launch its own Web TV service.
  • Because Google is Google and likes to do everything under the sun…the tech giant is preparing to offer it’s own ride-hailing service – and is upsetting Uber in the process.
  • Ever wonder what the Internet will look like in 5, 10 and 15 years? Well, the NCTA does. They say 5 years from now, everyone in the world will be able to use the Internet (and be able to get their weekly dose of Wait! What?)!

Did we miss anything juicy that rocked your world this week? Send us a tweet @BlancandOtus. See you next Friday for another edition of your favorite weekly roundup!

8 Ways to Improve Your Google Results

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

Have you ever searched your name on Google? If not, have you searched your favorite celebrity? Chances are you have, and what you may uncover is not always good. For example, my latest search of my favorite actor (Brad Pitt) brought up a whole host of articles about his relationship with Jen. Unless they’re hoping to profit off the old breakup story forever, Pitt’s PR team likely wants the ranking of those articles lowered.

During the past few years, Google has made multiple algorithm updates nicknamed Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and, most recently, Pigeon. While these algorithms change the way paid SEO firms must operate, they do not significantly change the best practices. There are still ways that you can raise positive content or bury the not-so-pleasant articles about your product shortfall, or latest breakup!

Here are some tips to help raise the good content and hide the bad: 

  1. Issue a press release: Increase the number of press releases on the wire. While we don’t always encourage extra press releases, if you are not issuing at least one a month this is a simple solution to increase rankings.
  2. Comment on news articles:  Results coming from a domain like The New York Times are considered very credible by Google. While this doesn’t necessarily have the same impact as coverage in The New York Times, it’s better than negative articles.
  3. Optimize brand videos: YouTube is often considered the second largest search engine, and promoting images and videos can help push negative content down further. Some experts say Google ranks your YouTube content higher than pages from your own website. This article also highlights more reasons for why videos are awesome for search.
  4. Contribute content: Draft content for some of the most credible publications, such as Wired or Fast Company. To optimize reach you can also pay to promote, giving your content an extra boost.
  5. Sponsor content: We’d recommend considering sponsored content or paid ads. There are a whole host of publications, such as VentureBeat, that allow you to publish advertorials while ensuring that it’s contextually relevant, and then of course you could try mastering AdWords.
  6. Update/add online presence to search directories: Make sure directories, such as Crunchbase and BigSight are up to date with your latest messaging, as search engines consider these credible when it comes to your rankings.
  7. Increase owned content: Continue a strong cadence of publishing to your brand’s blog and social media profiles. Also, investigate ways to republish content on other platforms such as SlideShare, Vimeo or Storify.
  8. SEO consultant: If you have tried all of the above and want to try and fight Google’s algorithms, work with an SEO consultant to determine if your SEO is optimized appropriately.

What did you find when you searched your name or brand? Any other tips that have worked well for you? Let us know @BlancandOtus.

Wait! What? 1/16: Mobile Mean Girls and glitter for all our enemies

Mean Girls. They're mobile now. (Thinkstock)
Mean Girls. They’re mobile now. (Thinkstock)

CES was last week, meaning we’ve seen a lot of listicles about the best and worst gadgets and software released, including a multitude of robots and a 3D printer that prints chocolate. Here’s what’s been hiding behind the lists:

  • The Lego Movie didn’t receive an Oscar nomination this year, but director Philip Lord wasn’t fazed – he made his own, which we think is cooler than the real thing.
  • Glassholes rejoice! You may just own the worst tech gadget ever created, but don’t fret. Now that Google has shuttered the program you can still act like you’re cooler than everyone else who doesn’t have one and never will.
  • Where are all my early 2000’s girls at? Get out your iPhones because Mean Girls the Mobile Game is coming to iOS.
  • Sneakerheads are in luck, Nike’s Power Laces look like a reality for 2015. Marty McFly would be proud.
  • You might have heard something about a little site called ‘Ship Your Enemies Glitter.’ Unfortunately for the man behind this genius idea, so did 1 million other people, which he was not prepared for. The site is now up for sale, who wants to go halfsies?

Those were our favorite tidbits from this week – what were yours? Send us a tweet @BlancandOtus!

Wait! What? 12/12: Say bye-bye to your Instagram followers; Streaming music becomes beaming music

"ALL of my followers need to see these strawberry pancakes. I don't care if they're robots." (Thinkstock)
“ALL of my followers need to see these strawberry pancakes. I don’t care if they’re robots.” (Thinkstock)

From the rainpocalpyse that left the Bay Area soggy and wet to the film industry’s nightmare of a hack, you may have missed the latest and greatest in tech this week. Don’t fret, we have this week’s news digest nice and ready for you:

  • Instagram painted a clear picture of what’s ahead for social this week when it announced it now has 300M monthly users. But wait, where are all of my followers disappearing to?
  • The holidays are upon us, you’ve decorated your tree, the stockings are hung… but have you decorated your beard yet? Movember is taken to a whole new level with beard baubles.
  • Never worry about disturbing your cube mates with your 80’s pop music again! This new speaker “beams” isolated tunes just for you.
  • Behind on your holiday shopping? Good thing 2014 was full of innovative tech gadgets. Find gift inspiration here!
  • Can you say “Hello, Mona Lisa”?! Google is bringing museums to your fingertips with the introduction of its latest platform.

That about sums it up for this week! Did we leave any of your favorite tech stories off our list? Tweet us @BlancandOtus & let us know.

What Time Works for You? Social Media Posting Guidelines

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

While we all know there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to social media, there is now a lot of data available that can help us determine what, when and where to post different types of content. For now let’s focus on when, as the time you chose to post directly influences who will see your content. Below, we’ve shared some guidelines to posting on you blog, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

A note regarding timing suggestions below: All suggestions are based on EST. Although 80 percent of the population is located in the eastern and central time zones, we advise using Google Analytics to locate where a majority of your audience is located to identify the best posting time for you. And yes, this is our version of a disclaimer.

Blog Posts

Blogging is a tricky business; it’s harder to gain visibility for longer-form content in the age of short attention spans. However, as is the case with every social platform, posting can be a calculated science.

Facebook

Research on Facebook’s optimal post timing is more concrete. Engagement is the highest towards the end of the workweek. Thursday and Friday engagement is at about 18 percent, up from about 15 percent through the rest of the week.

  • Audience: A study done by KISSmetrics states Facebook sees its largest audience at noon and again at 7 p.m.
  • Engagement: The best times to post is before work, during the morning commute between 6 and 8 a.m., and again later in the afternoon between 2 and 5 p.m. (it’s ok to admit you check Facebook then as well). Posting towards the end of the week also encourages consumers to interact with your posts on weekends, when engagement is 32 percent higher.

Google+

Don’t underestimate the power of morning people; they may not be fully awake, but they are sharing on social media. Google+ is another network where early-in-the-workday posts do best. Like with Twitter, individual brands can use analytics to see what posting times resonate with their audience – a good resource for this is Timing+.

  • Audience: Google+ sees the largest audience between 10 and 11 a.m. according to data compiled by Fannit.
  • Engagement: As a general guideline, posting between 9 and 11 a.m. while avoiding posts after 6 p.m. will garner the most engagement. Peak time for click-throughs and shares is Wednesdays at 9 a.m.

It’s not just about kids: Be mindful that Google+’s fastest-growing demographic is adults between the ages of 45-54 and adjust your content accordingly.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a strictly weekday social network. While we might all be guilty of occasionally checking over the weekend, that is probably a good thing.

  • Audience: LinkedIn’s audience is engaged periodically throughout the day, however the largest audience is reachable during lunch hours, 12-1 p.m. and at the end of the workday, 5-6 p.m.
  • Engagement: According to research from SurePayroll, optimal LinkedIn posting times are before the workday begins and right after it ends, with peak days being Tuesday and Thursday. Beware though, Entrepreneur reported that between the hours of 9 and 5 p.m., LinkedIn is an engagement “dead zone.”
  • Keep in mind: LinkedIn sends 4 times as much traffic to your business’ website as Facebook and Twitter, so make sure to be consistent about publishing content.

Twitter

Twitter has a fast and high volume feed, so picking your time carefully is crucial. Research pertaining to the optimal time for brands to post on Twitter varies; some studies state that brands get more engagement on weekdays while others say you should be more of a weekend person, so it’s important to experiment with posting times to see what resonates best with your specific audience. However, there are some guidelines to follow:

As you can see, finding the best times to post content will require a bit of trial and error. Continue to tweak posting times until you find what works best. And remember there are a multitude of resources that provide analytics on what posts are getting the best engagement including HootSuite and Google Analytics. Now it’s time to get your message out – post away!

Wait! What? 11/21: Robot takeover, outrageous in-flight Wi-Fi charges and … a Mercury landing?

"Come to me, minions." (Thinkstock)
“Come to me, minions.” (Thinkstock)

In celebration of Friday and slightly warmer weather around the country (I said slightly), here’s the latest and greatest in tech news. Break out your snuggy, grab some hot cocoa and enjoy:

  • The European Space Agency is looking into landing on scorching-hot Mercury for its next mission. Landing on a comet is so two weeks ago.
  • After spending six years of acting like humans in a Tennessee home experiment, robots are ready to start planning their takeover.
  • Google rolled out “Suggested for you” for more personal and relevant news. If only that came ad free.
  • Facebook Groups got its own app, making it simple to create, join and navigate between groups with a few taps. (Don’t worry, you can still use the feature with Facebook’s original app.)
  • One man racked up a terrifying $1,171.46 bill for in-flight Wi-Fi on a flight from London to Singapore. Another sad reminder that airlines can’t be trusted…or ahem, to read the fine print.
  • Uber and Spotify teamed up to spice up your commute. Uber drivers everywhere are rejoicing that Taylor Swift will not be available.

There you have it! You are ready for the weekend. Check back in next Friday for your weekly dose of juicy tech news. In the meantime, send any other cool stories our way @BlancandOtus.