The notion that social media is the next big thing in sales seems to have fallen flat on its face. Virtually every study conducted has shown that Facebook and Twitter campaigns only increase brand awareness. As far as driving traffic to your website and converting visitors into customers, email is still king.

A recent study of companies that used a dedicated email marketing client, good newsletter content and personalisation for each reader reported open rates of over 30%, with similar click-through rates – leading to above average conversions. This kicks Facebook’s ass.

Now, the guys behind the industry favourite ‘Mail Chimp’ have been working hard on a new product. It’s called Mandrill and solves many of the nagging issues of traditional email marketing. They claim it trumps the competition by a long-shot. Let’s take a look.

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Cryptocurrencies, the most famous of all being Bitcoin, turned geeks and normal people with a bit of tech interest into virtual millionaires, overnight. In recent months they’ve hit the headlines for facilitating the sale of drugs and firearms by concealing the identities of those involved. They even accentuated the capital outflows from Cyprus during the country’s financial collapse and subsequent EU bailout earlier this year.

In 2011, those buying into cryptocurrencies were laughed at by investors and economists. Now, BitCoin is regularly the feature of two page spreads in the Financial Times and is rumoured to be a serious headache for regulators of the traditional banking system. Since the high profile take-down of The Silk Road (a shady, Deep Web marketplace mainly used for drug sales), the FBI have backed off.

In a further vote of confidence, the Chinese government recently indicated that they have no real issues with cryptocurrencies and have allowed a Chinese exchange to grow into the world’s largest, surpassing MtGox a few weeks ago. However, they’ve also eliminated the possibility of it ever becoming part of their official national finance framework.

In spite of its recent successes, BitCoin remains rouge. Personified, it’s a surly teenager protesting against “the system”. Big Business has given it nothing more than an amused smirk because BitCoin doesn’t wear a suit to work nor have Terms & Conditions attached. Ripple’s ‘XRP’, a new kid on the cryptocurrency block, does.

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Video calling is definitely the next step in communication, but for business, it’s a step too far. Or, at least in some instances. When I’m at home, the last thing I want is a complete stranger having a live video stream of my living room. Google see things differently and want to bring yoga lessons, home improvement advice and customer service right to your laptop with their new web app.

Its name? ‘Helpouts from Google‘.

The idea seems so revolutionary to Google that they think the service could rival ‘How To’ videos on YouTube or text based guides. Unfortunately, their shiny new offering has some fundamental flaws that could be off setting to many users. Lets take a look.

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Parents with young children (or those expecting) may consider creating a scrapbook for their children. Many document important life events, holidays and family gatherings, to give to their son or daughter on their 18th or 21st birthday. Doing this preserves the memories, the trials and the triumphs experienced during their formative years.

However, I doubt that in 1995, many new parents thought that their child’s 18th birthday party would be organized on Facebook, uploaded to Youtube and checked into on Foursquare.

Limetree offers parents the digital solution. You can upload your pictures, videos, sound files or letters to your account. On your child’s birthday (or any other time you select), the limetree is released. Hard copies fade with age; the cloud preserves indefinitely.
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Scribd started out as a place to share class notes, fledgling short stories or a political manifesto —or pretty much any PDF document you might want to share online. Recently, its taken a new direction.

Scribd has launched an eBook subscription service that’s best described as a ‘Netflix for books’. A monthly subscription offers unlimited novels, non-fiction and user generated content through a browser or smartphone app for just $8.99.

The CEO of Scribd, Trip Adler, recently inked a deal with Harper Collins US, allowing them to distribute their books as part of a subscription model, in addition to the books that were already in Scribd’s library for sale, giving Scribd the content they needed to build a huge online library.

Is this biggest change in the publishing industry since the Kindle arrived?

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Working in large teams creates all kinds of problems. Communication lines are stretched, working relationships are difficult to form and the customer suffers as a result.

Fuseboard is a new team productivity app. Based online, the platform uses social media inspired tools to foster better communication among team members. It also has a range of features for delegating work, discussing files and dealing with customer queries.

Essentially, Fuseboard is aiming to replace internal email as the primary company communication tool. It has an interface that’s familiar to the social media generation and some really innovative business features. They’ve definitely come up with something worth trying. But, will it work for your team or company?

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Internet forums and instant messaging would be nowhere without animated GIFs. They convey our shock, humour and disbelief, all in a series of crudely captured images — normally referencing movie scenes or TV shows. 4Chan would certainly be a much darker place, that’s for sure.

Due to the ‘Love it or Hate it’ viral voting system of the Internet, only the best GIFs are seen by millions.

Giphy is a large collection of GIFs created by a community of artists. Unlike more open communities such as Reddit, Giphy creations tend to be created from within the community as opposed to simply up-voted for popularity. Surely, the Internet has enough GIFs. Can this site offer anything we haven’t already seen?

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Websites are rarely perfect. They’re either horribly designed or simply lack the functionality to perform in 2013. Worse still, many website owners refuse to develop mobile version leaving smartphone users struggling to use their sites.

Tomodo is a platform for modding websites and sharing your improved version with the world. It seems like a strange idea. How can you mod a website that isn’t yours?

Using clever coding and the ingenuity of a growing community Tomodo is now home to dozens of modded website. Everything from Time Magazine to Ebay is altered. Are they any good though? Maybe you could do better.

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Some people say that social media will be dead in a few years. Others say its already revolutionized how we communicate and present ourselves to the world. I agree with the latter. Compared to a few short years ago the entire web has become much more integrated with Facebook and Twitter. With Google Glass getting ready to bolster Google+, things are about to heat up.

For a business that means one thing – they must improve their social media standings right away. Falcon claims to be the right tool for the job. A high-end social media manger application with big clients such as Swarovski and Carlsberg making use of their software we were very interested. The Copenhagen based start-up has just risen €6 million in Series A funding with the aim of “driving international expansion”.

Could they be the next “Big Thing” in social media?

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For web designers the big contracts are always the most exciting. But regular, monthly income derived from on-going clients can keep the lights on when feast turns to famine.

The most popular CMS by far is WordPress. Most website owners will never use it to its fullest capabilities, yet still pay expensive hosting fees and manage complicated design issues.

Cloud Cannon is a web app which allows designers to lighten the client-side workload. IT promises to take care of all hosting issues, make the website easily editable by the client and best of all – it’s all done through Dropbox. But is it worth the hassle for small design firms and individuals? Let’s see.

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