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Now in Beta: PUFF, a Foursquare for marijuana

Self-described as “a Foursquare for weed lovers” where weed lovers can check-in, review and rate cannabis strains, PUFF also claims to be a completely anonymous social network.

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With legalization comes innovation

A $1.1 trillion spending bill was approved by Congress on Friday, and one of the riders included was the Rohrabacher-Farr Medical Marijuana Amendment which prohibits the Department of Justice from funding and essentially interfering with state-legal medical marijuana conduct.

This reauthorization and ceasefire on medical marijuana from the federal government coupled with the decriminalization of marijuana possession in many states and the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in several others opens up opportunities to niche apps catering to marijuana users.

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“Foursquare for weed lovers”

The latest app currently in beta is PUFF, self-described as “a Foursquare for weed lovers” where weed lovers can check-in, review and rate cannabis strains. PUFF claims to be a completely anonymous social network, with no usernames or registration and allegedly no personal information stored by the application.

Promises anonymity, but asks for personal information

While the claim of anonymity may entice folks to try out the app, my initial concern is the validity of the claim. One of the features reported is the ability to get personal recommendations based on previous check ins.

This aspect implies predictive analysis based on data collection – how that data is stored and referenced to produce recommendations, and associated to that user is quite vague. Furthermore, if you sign up for early access, you are asked to provide your email address, name, age and experience, i.e., smoking frequency.

Three’s a crowd

Finally, the site appears to rely on MailChimp for mailing list subscription. Providing an application that is “completely anonymous” yet using a third-party email provider could be risky as it implies another data storage instance over which you do not have direct control. While MailChimp has a good security track record, I also wonder whether PUFF is considered within MailChimp’s prohibited content and industries.

This concern may seem trivial, but it is symptomatic of an application and website that does not appear well-architectured nor well-designed. PUFF’s target demographic seems to be recreational users with their catch phrase “by weed lovers, for weed lovers.”

Already a lot of competition

Existing cannabis-related niche websites and apps boast substantial communities that provide crowd-sourced data include Leafly, an information resource, and Weedmaps, a “community where medical marijuana patients find and connect with dispensaries.” Whether PUFF will be able to blaze along with other competitors remains to be seen, but I don’t have high hopes based on the PUFF web content that is lacking, even for a beta application.

#PUFF

Debbie Cerda is a seasoned writer and consultant, running Debra Cerda Consulting as well as handling business development at data-driven app development company, Blue Treble Solutions. She's a proud and active member of Austin Film Critics Association and the American Homebrewers Association, and Outreach Director for science fiction film festival, Other Worlds Austin. She has been very involved in the tech scene in Austin for over 15 years, so whether you meet her at Sundance Film Festival, SXSWi, Austin Women in Technology, or BASHH, she'll have a connection or idea to help you achieve business success. At the very least, she can recommend a film to watch and a great local craft beer to drink.

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Social Media

How to quickly make your LinkedIn profile stand out from the masses

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Most of us have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn, but no matter your feelings, you should be the one who stands out in a crowd – here’s how.

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Your LinkedIn is your brand. That’s it. Whether you are job hunting (or people are hunting you), or are showing off your business, insight, acumen, or simply networking; your profile on LinkedIn needs to stay appealing and not drive potential headhunters, bosses, clients, or networking groups bananas.

Let’s start with a three part list of what you MUST do, what you SHOULD do, and what you COULD do.

Here’s what you MUST DO (as in, do it now).

  1. Get a #GREAT LinkedIn photo. Nothing sells you like the right profile picture. No selfies. No mountain biking. Get a professional headshot. Don’t lie about your age. Wear what you wear when you’re on the job. Smile. People are visual.
  2. Simplify your profile. Cut the buzzwords. Cut out excess skills that don’t add to your vision or that don’t represent the kind of job you want. (i.e. most of us can use Outlook but few of us need to mention that skill because we don’t support Outlook). Focus on the skills that are important.
  3. Keep it current. Your LinkedIn should reflect your career and current responsibilities. Update the description. Add new projects. Change your groups as you change in your career and move towards new levels. Indicate when you receive a promotion.
  4. Extra, Extra! Headlines. Don’t use something lame for your headline. How would you want to catch a headhunter to look at you if you could only say 10 words? Make it standout. There are thousands of managers – but only one you.
  5. Custom URL. Just do it. Pick your own URL. It’s FREEEEEEE.
  6. Get the app. Make LinkedIn a part of your mobile life and check it more often than you do Snapchat.

Here’s what you SHOULD DO (Set aside some time at Starbucks and go do this in the next month).

  1. Tell your story. Your summary should bring to live the content of your career. Don’t leave that section blank. Spend some time crafting a cool story. Run it by your professional mentor. Send it to your English major friends.
  2. Connect. Add colleagues. Add partners from other organizations. Use connections to broaden your network. Synch your profile with your address book. Add people after a conference.
  3. Endorse your connections. Identify people you’ve worked with and give them the endorsements – which can get them to come endorse you!
  4. Ask for recommendations. Ask a colleague, partner, or manager to write you a recommendation to help advertise your skills.
  5. Add a nice cover photo. Again, visual people. Some more on that here.

Here’s what you COULD DO (If you’re feeling dedicated, what you can do to give yourself an extra edge.)

  1. Share your media. Upload presentations, videos, speeches, or projects that you can share. (Don’t violate company policy though!).
  2. Publish original content. LinkedIn has a vibrant publishing feature and sharing your original work (or content you’ve published elsewhere) is a great way to share your voice.
  3. Post status updates. Share your reactions. Share articles. Repost from influencers. Be active and keep your feed vibrant.

That’s a quick list to get started. So go start your LinkedIn makeover (and I’ll go do the same). Let’s get connected!

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Innovative widget places Instagram Stories right on your website

(SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS) Increase your social media reach with this neat new free to use Instagram Stories widget for your company website or personal portfolio site.

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Instagram Stories are a great way to integrate video into your marketing strategy. If you’re already investing time and money in this successful strategy, might as well feature Stories on your website too, right?

Well lucky you, Fastory recently released a free widget to add Instagram Stories directly to your site to feature your nifty marketing efforts on desktop. Even though mobile is still dominant with younger generations, desktop users need some love and access to Stories, too.

Fastory CEO Sylvain Weber noted the “widget is the only one fully based on the brand new Instagram Graph API (no private API, validated by Facebook himself).” This pretty much means Fastory is ahead of the game with the newly opened up API, and are basically development pioneers.

Drive awareness and build loyalty by spreading the wonder of your Instagram Stories far and wide with the Stories Widget. Simply log in to Facebook to get the widget, then sync your Instagram Stories stream.

Next, all you have to do is copy the provided HTML code and paste it on your website. Hooray, now you have a widget that automatically updates your website with your latest Stories.

Keep in mind you’ll need an Instagram Business Account for this to work.

If you have more than one business Instagram linked to Facebook Pages, just select the one you want to use from the drop-down menu when getting the widget code.

You can continue that process to select multiple Instagram accounts and generate widget codes for each of them.

Free for a limited time, you can also utilize the Memories feature, keeping a collection of your Instagram Stories on your site instead of having them disappear after twenty-four hours like usual.

All the Stories featured on your site also include a “follow us” button to encourage user engagement and gain you more followers.

Looking for help jazzing up your Instagram Stories? Fastory was originally created as an easy to use design platform to create and customize Stories.

Their mobile-first marketing suite offers drag & drop design featuring animated headlines crafted in Adobe After Effects, fonts from Google Web Fonts, and motion design.

Story creation and editing is collaborative with varying roles and levels of privileges. Plus, you can track visitors in real time to identify drop off points and areas for improvement. Contact Fastory for Story creation pricing information.

And on the free end of things, check out the Instagram Story Widget.

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Social Media

Turns out the secret to brand success on Instagram is Stories

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Instagram is a marketing heaven, and Stories appear to be they key to success (even if they disappear in 24 hours). Let’s discuss.

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It’s been over a year since Instagram (or “Insta” as the cool kids call it) launched their Stories feature. And while Instagram Stories may not seem like most obvious place for advertising your business, social media experts say that it has untapped potential as a marketing tool.

The seemingly biggest drawback of using Stories for marketing is that, taking a cue from Snapchat, Instagram Stories are only online for 24 hours, then they disappear forever.

Nonetheless, the analysts at Socialbakers say that businesses should seriously consider marketing via Stories. These experts looked at over 1,000 Instagram accounts from businesses and found that they are being underutilized as a marketing tool.

Stories are extremely popular amongst viewers. There are 300 million active users looking at Stories every day, and that number hasn’t stopped growing since Instagram launched the feature.

Stories also appear at the very top of a user’s feed – although we’re still not exactly sure how Instagram’s algorithms sort these posts.

It’s also important to note that users can’t “like” or leave comments on Stories, so you won’t be able to use these metrics to gauge the success of your Stories marketing. Instead, you’ll have to look at Total Impressions, which tells you how many people have seen your story, or Reach, which tells you how many brand new potential customers saw your story.

With social media platforms always changing their rules and algorithms, it’s getting harder and harder to reach new potential customers, especially without dishing out cash for paid or boosted ads. Stories is a great loophole that allows you to connect with your audience without paying for it.

Don’t get caught up thinking you have to make a high-production video. Short, rough-cut, unpolished videos work great for Stories and give your audience a behind-the-scenes view of your business. Stories can be utilized to tell the story of your brand. And you can even add a poll to your story to increase engagement. For example, Red Bull asks viewers which picture they should post next, keeping the user engaged and clicking.

Social media platforms are always changing, but your business can get an edge over your competitors by staying up-to-date with new formats and features.

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