This week on VB Engage, we chat mobile engagement with Jonathan Abrams, the founder of content curation tool Nuzzel. He is also the former CEO of one of the first web 2.0 social networking sites, Friendster! You remember Friendster, right?

And if you missed last week, Stewart and Travis dissected customer relationship management and chatted with the Godfather of CRM, Jon Ferrara. He invented Goldmine, one of the first CRM tools, over 25 years ago, and now he has created a social CRM tool called Nimble. Check out that episode, if you haven’t already.


During this week’s news segment, Travis was in Shanghai, China as a “key opinion leader” (KOL) for Chinese tech company Huawei. He was there with Robert Scoble, Peter Shankman, Hillel Fuld, Marsha Collier, and many others. So in this episode, we break down Chinese tech and talk about messaging apps and the future of China.

Through the Great Firewall of China, Travis was able to connect with Stewart to get the recording done, at 1 a.m. Shanghai time. Don’t say we’re not dedicated to bringing you the news, week after week. The recording happened straight after Travis and Robert Scoble got back from a visit to Shanghai Disney, but that’s a story for another day.

One of China’s top tech companies is Tencent, which owns the messenger app WeChat. This app is highly evolved and is central to the chatbot revolution. Over the course of the week that Travis was in China, the WeChat KOL group had over 1,500 messages, with images, GIFs, videos, audio clips, and chatbot interactions. Travis explains how WeChat compares to Messenger and other Western-centric apps.

For one thing, WeChat has over 500 million users, with an average revenue per user of approximately $7. However, you need to be careful what you say on WeChat while in China. One of the people in the group got banned for using trigger words, such as “fresh air” and “democracy.”

The Great Firewall will end your WeChat experience very quickly if you’re not careful.

We also discuss what the West can learn from China, and how — in the U.S. — “digital natives” tend to use Snapchat as their messenger of choice. Teens don’t publish as many public stories, as most of their engagement on Snapchat is with private messages. They don’t want their messages to be public or to come back to bite them later on.

And we talk about Line, which is a big messaging app in Japan. If your customer base is in Japan, you need to be on Line. It’s the number one solution there, and it is expanding. Live has over 200 million users in over 200 countries, with the most users in its native Japan. Line recently fixed one of its biggest pain points with its onboarding process, and we explain how that new approach works.

Also in the news this week, the Samsung Note 7, which is a beautiful phone, has had some significant issues with batteries exploding. The timing on this couldn’t be worse for Samsung, with the announcement of the iPhone 7 happening this week, and with Huawei hot on the trail of Samsung as the number three phone manufacturer in the world now.

So while the Samsung Note 7 battery is exploding in a negative manner, Huawei’s consumer business is exploding in a more positive sense. In fact, VB Engage will be offering a couple of Huawei devices in a contest soon — look for details in an upcoming episode!

Our weekly interview is with Jonathan Abrams, the CEO of Nuzzel and former founder and CEO of Friendster. He is a pioneer in the social networking space.

We talked about Nuzzel, which is one of both Travis and Stewart’s favorite curation tools, and how mobile has changed the game.

Mobile is huge for Nuzzel, the app that we launched two years ago. It started as a web app, then it became an iPhone app, and then a year later we launched the Android app. Not bad for a team of only six people. — Jonathan Abrams

Nuzzel allows you to find the signal within your Twitter feed. If you use lists on your Twitter account, you can import those into Nuzzel, and it will find which pieces of content have been shared the most by the people on that list.

If you have a list of — for example — the top 250 people in digital marketing, you can see which pieces of content are resonating with that segment of that audience. You can find this great content, curate it, and share it with your audience.

Importantly, Jonathan and his team recently launched a feature that allows you to curate a daily newsletter from that content, and he explains how mobile interaction has shaped that new feature.

“You don’t just need a website these days, you need a website, a mobile responsive website, an email strategy, an iPhone app, and an Android app. We’ve been cross-platform since the get-go,” Abrams said.

But while the bulk of Nuzzel’s users are on mobile, Abrams is quite clear about the need to have a web presence to go along with a mobile strategy.

“Without the web, you can’t have sharing and you can’t really have SEO,” Abrams said.

Travis also takes the time to pose important questions to Jonathan about Twitter, and the dangers of building products that leverage someone else’s platform. The answer is interesting, as is Travis’ next question regarding how much Jonathan hates Mark Zuckerberg. You’ll have to listen in to hear Jonathon’s response!

Thanks for coming on VB Engage, Jonathan! We appreciate your time and your candid responses.

Tune in next week for Alain Falys, founder and CEO of YoYo Wallet, based in the U.K. We’ll be talking about mobile payments and what the future holds.

One last thing. It is imperative that you subscribe to VB Engage and give us a rating. If you do, China will allow Travis to leave the country, so his safety is in your hands!


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