Archives for May 2013

Mobile Payment: A New Trend


I’ll be the first to admit – being able to pay for things with my cell phone still boggles my mind a little bit. Just a little. But mobile payment is becoming a huge trend, and rightfully so. It’s easy, convenient, and relatively low cost. Small businesses in particular have benefited hugely from the advent of mobile payment capability.

In the past, the ability to take credit cards has been a pretty big cost to businesses. Some businesses are cash only,Mobile Payment - A New Trend due to the cost of taking cards. This has affected small businesses in particular, because credit cards fees would put the business in the red. Taking cash only may drive down sales as well (because fewer and fewer people are willing to deal in cash when other options are more convenient).

Another obstacle to traditional credit card machines – mobility. Many newer small businesses are mobile – think food trucks or art galleries. Having the ability to take payment via mobile device is beyond convenient.

There are tons of services that now offer the ability to pay with a mobile device – be it making a payment or taking one. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, here are some popular apps and services that offer this capability:


– Square is one of the original services to begin offering the ability to take mobile payments. Square is one of the simplest mobile payment services to use. They do not charge a monthly fee, but rather a transaction fee of 2.75 percent per sale. While this might be a little steep, Square is perfect for occasional users. Square also sends the actual card reader (a little square – get it? – that fits into the headphone jack of your device) for free.


– Pay Pal is one of the most popular online payment services. Some websites actually relegate their customers to only paying via PayPal, or use the company as their preferred way to pay (think Ebay or Etsy). PayPal has jumped on the mobile payment bandwagon. You can order their payment taking device, or you can simply transfer money to another PayPal account via the mobile app.

And a shoutout to my favorite business that takes payment via mobile device –


– The Starbucks app offers a much easier way to pay. Using their app, the barista scans your phone and your drink is paid for. You must register a Starbucks gift card in order to use the app, but once you have done that, the app offers several ways to reload your card on the go. I’m guilty of ordering in the drive-thru and then reloading my card while I wait in line. It’s so easy!

Mobile payment can be an awesome option for all kinds of small businesses. The impact of accepting mobile payments can be a revenue booster for your business. Paying via mobile is also something that you can look into as a consumer, as well!

(Photo Source)

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Don’t Blame QR Codes for Bad Marketing Ideas


I may not have been the first to write about QR codes but I was one of the first ten, and that’s being humble about seeing the web links as a brilliant marketing tool.

So, whenever I hear someone write about how QRs stink, or are a waste, or even how they are already obsolete, I just shake my head. I check out the writer’s company and make a note to never deal with that person or company.

Yes, like a chainsaw in the hands of the Three Stooges, most marketing geniuses are set to cut off something important when they use QR codes. They see the inclusion of a code, rather than how it works in the grand scheme of marketing a product or service.

It’s like a client who thinks merely using vast areas of a jolly red color will scream Christmas on a package or ad and ignoring the design, copy, and image used to reach the consumer. Some say a poor workman blames his tools. The truth is stupidity cannot be defended by blaming a QR code any more than blaming a link to be clicked. It’s not the link but the content to which it is tied.

QR Codes for Marketing


In my years of experience with large corporations, I’ve had my share of head shaking when someone in marketing exclaims that some technology will be used for a “WOW! factor” without knowing the possibilities of the technology. They are so fast to blame everyone else for the failure when it inevitably happens.

I’ve seen corporate presidents and vice presidents burst into meetings, demanding some odd marketing idea, based on personal ideas and not reality, then run out with a look of self-satisfaction for saving a major initiative, only to return and point a finger when their idea fails and suddenly becomes someone else’s idea.

This is the failing of the QR code. Like a loaded automatic weapon in the hands of Jerry Lewis as the Nutty NRA Intern.


Where are the Supposed QR Code Replacements?

Most of the QR code detractors mention Augmented Reality (AR) and Near Field Communications (NFC) as better and more functional technologies for print to web linking. AR and NFC are great technologies, but they have different functions as well as expenses not shared by QR codes.

A QR code can be generated for free whereas AR involves almost a movie production-like cost and effort. They can provide linking as well as the entertainment value of interactive imagery. However, they have not been used infrequently and organizations that have dabbled with AR content stopped, mostly due to the costs involved.

AR also has, as people tout, image recognition that QR codes lack. Time has removed that argument as now QR codes are able to function on almost full image recognition, except people must know the image is tied to a function if they are expected to scan them.

Users have not, it seems, caught up with the technology in knowing images may contain links without some kind of notice. Once it becomes a regular occurrence that might be a game changer. For now at least, the code or the frame of a code with an image is the technology users know, and are willing to scan.

NFC holds certain challenges that limit its applicability. Applied mostly to credit cards and pass keys, the ability to swipe and register, or call up information requires close proximity. NFC lacks the flexibility that QR and AR enjoy.

The cost of implanting a NFC device into each and every printed poster, ad, flyer or whatever would generate huge costs. A QR code is just ink on paper or a digital image.


Limitations are the Fault of the Producer

QR codes do have limitations. All of them, however, involve the ability to scan the code. A code that is too small, too far away, or on a moving object, won’t allow a user to get out their smart phone in time to scan the code.

Placement has always been a consideration for any print piece, and has long had the problem of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Who says marketers have always been at the top of their game? Is every advertisement successful?

The proper use of any technology is dependent on the proper use of the tool. Somewhat like my father, who used the good kitchen knives as a screwdriver for small household jobs. All of our knives had broken tips and dulled blades, making it harder to cook and a life of dodging shelves that fell off the walls.

The reality is that QR, AR, and NFC all have their place in digital marketing. All three need to be used correctly. Eventually they, as well as other emerging technology, will shape marketing.


It’s All About the Content!

A repeated complaint nay-sayers have about QR codes is that they take the user to a web site when it’s faster to just enter a URL. Not necessarily, but it’s a point well-taken. With QR codes, as with any marketing, it’s interesting content that is needed to engage consumers. Can anyone argue that point?

An early example of unique QR use was the résumé of a young man who placed a code over a picture of his face with instructions to place the user’s phone over the mouth of the picture. The code revealed a video of his mouth, talking about himself. The content used the technology well.

Others took the idea and ran with it, such as this talking comic book cover.

A recent video for Audi, lovingly referred to as “Spock vs. Spock” missed a great opportunity to incorporate QR codes into the marketing. You’ve probably seen this viral video posted on Facebook.

A great use of viral marketing, but it missed the chance to take the marketing further for greater market penetration.

It should have started with a QR code on an ad for the car model in the video with copy that celebrated the futuristic technology, and a reference to Star Trek. The video should have finished with a QR code to a web page for the car model, explaining the standard and optional features available.

Those who discovered the video through the ad would have posted it to social media channels, and those who watched the viral video would have had a link to see more about the product. THAT is the proper use for a QR code!

Speaking of cars, what do you do when you need to park at a street meter and don’t have any change? Some meters will allow you to use a credit card, which invites card fraud.

There’s a growing use of QR codes for paying parking.

Parking QR Code

A quirky advertising campaign in Japan would be perfect for QR codes.

Japanese Legs



Instead of just these quick look ads, a QR code would give men a chance to scan the young ladies’ leg and go to wherever the advertiser wanted the consumer to go (probably a used women’s underwear sales site, if I know male Japanese consumers).

QR code tattoos are risky, however. If you go that far, make sure the code is recyclable.


When there’s not a lot of room for information that is vital, use a QR code. This plant has special needs, so a QR code gives the consumer all they need to decide if they can actually keep the plant alive for more than a week.


And those medical bracelets people wear to identify allergies and medical conditions are uncomfortable and have limited space for what might be a long list of problems.

With a neoprene QR code bracelet would include:

A full Medical History
Emergency Contact Information
Organ Donor Status
Last Will and Testament


These bracelets are also being used in hospitals for patient identification bracelets for comprehensive up-to-the minute information.


Do QR Codes Demand Different Thinking?

The basics of marketing will never change. Only the tools available will change and evolve, but basic principles of marketing will always be the same — make it easier for the customers to know and purchase the product. So, don’t blame the tool when it doesn’t work. It’s not the codes but how they are used.

Speider Schneider is the chief blogger for, with offices in the U.S., Argentina, and Italy. He also writes about web design, technology, social media, and business ethics for global blogs.

Has Instagram become Pornstagram?


There are few things I loathe more than a hypocritical network whose actions aren’t consistent with their guidelines… even if it’s the same platform I’ve promoted, defended, championed and became instafamous on during the last year. That’s right Pornstagram, errr I mean Instagram, I’m talking about you. Has Instagram become Pornstagram?

Has Instagram become Pornstagram

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that instaporn runs rampant on the photo sharing network. Articles published last August from Huffington Post and Daily Mail, among others, have already exposed the sexier side of Instagram. I’m not here to discuss whether or not this is wrong.

Fact of the matter is we live in a sexually driven society and if a 14yr old boy wants to see some T&A, he’ll find it somewhere else, like tumblr, where x-rated material is commonplace and allowed, if it’s not available on Instagram.


Innocent Victim

So where’s the beef? My contention comes from the manner in which Instagram chooses to play their “terms and condition” card. You see, I have a friend who recognized an opportunity to help attractive girls get Instagram famous.

I’ll refer to him as Kevin because he wishes to remain anonymous for fear that IG will disable(delete) his personal account, too, if he speaks out. But I’m not scurred, I’m gonna stand up and fight for equal rights anytime.

Here’s the long and the short of Kevin’s operation. He would give shoutouts to girls wearing skimpy outfits such as bikinis and lingerie. A shoutout is when you mention/recommend to follow another Instagrammer. Here are a few examples of what was posted on Kevin’s page (faces blurred since posts are no longer on Instagram and not considered public anymore)

Instagram Provocative Photos

I don’t see any nudity here, or partial nudity, for that matter. Are these pictures provocative and/or maybe suggestive? Sure. Is it anything you couldn’t see in a Maxim Magazine or Victoria’s Secret catalog? No. But, the funny thing is, Kevin has had 2 instagram pages shutdown for violation of terms since Mid-March.

I know firsthand how much time and energy he put in while building each account to 19,000+ and 28,000+ followers, respectively. For instagram to disable these pages without any sort of explanation or response is preposterous, if not insulting. Though, not responding to concerned users seems to be the norm with Instagram… unless you’re a major website or magazine, of course.


Preferential Treatment

With me being that instafamous guy and all, I offered my assistance to see if I could garner a response from their support team. Over the last month, a combined 40+ emails went unresponded to. Now, after investing all this time and experiencing such frustration, it’s personal. Especially after seeing “about us” entries such as this

The Chive Gap

SO THEY REALLY DO RESPOND!?! It would be one thing if Instagram was REALLY putting forth an initiative to rid its network of mature content. However, it’s a completely different animal when a network is obviously choosing who gets immunity to post what they want and who goes to instajail.

This is all the proof needed to show that Instagram is giving the green light to post racy pictures. Before I go on with the additional evidence, allow me to say I love The Chive website. I also admire and appreciate the women who are in Suicide Girls or published in Playboy. I think they should be allowed to have Instagram Accounts, BUT ONLY IF PEOPLE LIKE KEVIN CAN DO THE SAME THING!

A network as large as Instagram should know better than to allow certain brands/publications to post content which is even more revealing than what they shut down other pages for. Call me crazy, but these pics look a lot more nude and suggestive than what Kevin was running!

Pornstagram Playboy

Granted the kibbles and bits aren’t showing, but they all have seem to be missing something… CLOTHES! So much for not allowing nudity, right?

Instagram does offer a feature to report/flag content that you find inappropriate. To further my point, I went ahead and flagged each of these posts on multiple occasions last week since they’re clearly in violation of IG’s mythical terms. Not surprisingly, all three of these accounts are still active and none of the posts were removed. If these three entities are allowed to post beautiful women, why can’t Kevin?


Stop the Charade

I’ll be the first to agree that there is no place for underage nudity or sexually explicit content, but I can still find both on Instagram. Worry about that getting rid of that stuff so I don’t have to see a dude’s junk when I’m searching tagged posts. Worry about the spam-bots and fake profiles that have overrun your network. Stop acting like a playground bully and let everyone play in your sandbox instead of kicking the small guys out.

Really, there are two choices for Instagram and their Big Brother, Facebook. Either manage/limit ONLY the smuttiest (underage/explicit) OR eliminate the showing of skin altogether FOR EVERYBODY… none of this half-assed “We restricted a few tags and are removing a few pages” strategy.

So the ball is in your court Instagram Team… what’s it gonna be? Either shutdown these popular pages which are in violation of your terms or reinstate my friend’s @fantassticgirls account since you knowingly allow these pages to post content more mature than what he was posting.

I want to hear from you…what do you all think about this? Am I overreacting or do you agree are clearly two sets of standards here? What other examples of preferential treatment on social networks have you seen?


If you enjoyed this article, check another piece from Tony on how to become instagram famous

Tony Bennett is a passionate photographer, future Senator, and Instagram Superhero with over 100K Followers.  Above all Tony is great guy and would be happy to answer all your Instagram questions below.