Searching for Steve Jobs’ Inspiration

Steve Jobs, Apple co-founderSteve Jobs, the late chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, left an amazing legacy that has impacted the lives of many across the globe – even those that have never used an Apple product or seen a Pixar film. The announcement of his passing dominated all search engines, news sites and social media networks – including Facebook and YouTube.

Technologists, entrepreneurs and consumers alike turned to the Internet in search of Steve Job’s inspiration and to better understand his life and legacy. Many found it in his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University.

YouTube videos of his speech have become a favorite share on Google+ and Facebook. The video on Stanford’s YouTube channel is currently at 6.5 million views and counting; even though the channel has roughly 1,392 videos, this one video accounts for 25% of the channel’s views.

The video of Steve Job’s 2005 Stanford University commencement speech is also the #4 – Top Favorited Education YouTube video of all time. Watch it to see why and hear the important life lessons Jobs left for us all –

Facebook Copies Twitter’s Real-Time Stream

Facebook may be the worlds largest social network, but the platform still needs great ideas to stay competitive . So where are they finding those ideas? Just about everywhere, including Twitter – their semi-competitor.

This week Facebook launched “Ticker”, their real-time activity stream that mirrors Twitter’s user experience. Ticker is located on the right-hand side of Facebook users profiles and displays friends activity in Twitter’s ticker style. When users hover over their friends’ activity, they are presented with the opportunity to view the full story or join a friend’s conversation as it happens.

The company launched this feature to give users a more complete picture of what their friends are doing in real-time. The Ticker includes live stories—things like status updates, friendships, photos, videos, links, likes and comments.Facebook Copies Twitter

Hopefully this is not a feature users find annoying because you can’t close Ticker. Users can hide the ticker, make it smaller or control the length of the  feature – but they can’t close it. They can also hide some stories that appear in the ticker which will be visible when viewing their own profiles, business pages or a friend’s profile.

Is this a great Facebook update for businesses?
This is great if you have a page on the network for promoting your business because every time your supporters interact with your page or apps, their friends will know and hopefully follow suit. Facebook Page Likes, App Share, App usage, and Sponsored Stories are  all eligible to appear in Ticker for others to see. For example, if you developed a game app for Facebook to generate interest in your business or ideas, Apps can publish stories to announce that your subscribers are using or playing with your app (Ex: “Joe is playing Farmville”).

There are two valuable takeaways from all of this –
1. You’ve gotta keep innovating to stay relevant and competitive even if you are an industry leader.
2. It’s always okay to copy a good idea — the big guys do it all the time.

Never re-invent a wheel!

Say goodbye to e-blasts and hello to engagement

one way e-communication via eblastIf you are sending “e-blasts” to your customers or supporters – please, stop doing it now. This outdated style of email marketing has the same results as fax broadcasts of press releases; your message is ending up in your recipient’s trash.

While email marketing is still an effective way to communicate with an audience, the one-way communication style of the “e-blast” is over. Messaging your subscribers today means doing more than sending emails with commands like “buy, buy”, “click, click”, or, “register now!” If you want to communicate with your subscribers effectively, think “engagement”.

Engaging your subscribers means looping them into a two- or multi-way communication versus subjecting them to one-way communication. The fact is, social media have raised the overall expectations of e-communications to this level. The prevalence of social networks and their popularity in comparison to Websites suggests that subscribers are more drawn to engagement and the communication arena where they are able to give feedback and participate.

E-blasts - do they work?
Example of an E-blast

Here are examples of steps you can take to make these three popular email marketing asks more appealing:

1. Donate. You’ve stated your worthy cause and have asked for a generous donation. Make it engaging by inviting your subscriber to join a community of volunteers, attend a Meetup in their area or present an opportunity for your would-be donors to get up close and personal with a beneficiary or your organization’s leadership. Even if most of your subscribers don’t take up the invitation to engage, the fact that you present this opportunity will help to legitimize your fund-raising effort.

2. Register. You’ve stated the what, where, when and have asked your recipient to “REGISTER NOW!” Make it engaging by inviting your subscribers to also meet other registrants in your organization’s social network on Facebook or elsewhere. Email solicitation for event registration typically have the recipient asking “is this worth my time and money?”, “will I know anyone there?” or “who’s going?”. Creating a social network around your event is a great way to create buzz and a community that will engage your subscribers – and hopefully motive them to register.

3. Buy. You’ve included a nice big picture of your product with an attractive sale price – and a big “Buy Now!” button. Make it engaging by including the opportunity to share or “Like” the product on Facebook and other networks and allow subscribers to share their thoughts, enthusiasm or questions about your product in their network of friends and family. This simple step could help promote your product further than you imagined.

A popular concern for marketers considering a more engaging e-communication strategy is negative feedback. But the best approach to managing negative sentiment is to create the space for it and be a part of the conversation. So say goodbye one-way communication via e-blasts, and hello to engagement and higher conversion rates!

Face Recognition Software; From Creepy to Facebook

face recognition on facebookHow Facebook used the rules of customer engagement to get users to embrace technology once regarded as creepy.

If you upload a series of photos to your Facebook profile, you’ll notice that some of them are pre-tagged with your friends’ names. This is because Facebook now uses face recognition technology and software to help reduce the time users spend tagging their uploaded pictures.

So how was Facebook able to deploy this technology once regarded as “creepy” with minimal outcry? They followed two cardinal rules of customer engagement

1. Meet your customers’ needs: provide relevant enhancements.
When Facebook redesigned their users’ profile layout earlier this year, the photo gallery that now forms a banner at the top of user profiles made it easier to for users browse their friend’s photos – and encouraged users to upload their own. Face recognition technology became relevant to Facebook users because it simplified the image tagging process for users uploading lots of photos. As users accept or reject Facebook’s recommendations of pre-tagged images, they also help to refine the accuracy of the technology.

2. Honesty: allow customers to choose to engage your product enhancements.
Tricking your customers into using products and services they might otherwise decline is not cool. So Facebook allowed users to opt in – or out of being pre-tagged in their friend’s photos via the company’s face recognition technology*. If you are introducing an enhanced service that might compromise your customers’ privacy or raise damaging concerns, always allow customers to decline or embrace your services and honor their wishes.

Visit us next time to learn how face recognition technology can help boost the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

*Opt out of image pre-tagging via face recognition on Facebook by going to account –> privacy settings –> scroll down to “Things others share” –> Suggest photos of me to friends –> click [Edit Settings] –> Disable.

How Realtime Tech Can Highlight and Fix Biz Failures; Bikeshare review

Capital Bikeshare Realtime Challenges
Capital Bikeshare in Realtime

One company that’s falling down on the job of using negative sentiments to improve its service is Capital Bikeshare in Washington DC. Subscribers to Capital Bikeshare’s service have access to 1,100 bicycles at 110 stations throughout the city. They pay an annual fee and can check out a bike for 30 minutes at a time – usually for short trips and errands around the city. If they keep the bike for longer, they pay a nominal fee.

Realtime #fail share
Bikeshare is a great idea – in fact, I’m a subscriber. But the service is plagued with negative sentiments from dissatisfied subscribers broadcasting their frustrations via twitter and other mobile applications. A survey of a few real-time search engines yielded the following negative sentiments:

  • Short supply of bikes at popular docking stations
  • Subscribers lucky enough to get a bike for their morning commutes can’t find a docking station when they arrive at their destinations in the busy business district
  • Subscribers unable to find a dock must pay to wait for one to open up (and bear the inconvenience of being late for appointments etc.)

Realtime #fail saves
It appears Capital Bikeshare has a social media strategy focused on promotion; the company uses Facebook and twitter to tout the service daily, and in April they joined LivingSocial to offer a generous discount on subscription which netted over 8,000 subscribers for their 1,100 bikeshare service. But a social media strategy that ignores real-time negative sentiments could ruin their brand.

Here are three ways Capital Bikeshare (CB) can use real-time technology to improve their business.

1. Real-time technology for customer service. Acknowledge and reply to customer complaints via twitter. Many tweets at the company complaining about empty docks and other issues go unanswered. Tweeting solutions and info about alternative docking stations is something the company should commit to especially in the mornings when subscribers use the service to get to work.

2. Real-time technology to anticipate service lapse. There are mobile applications that give users real-time information about bike and dock availability. Even so, load balancing is still a problem the company has not been able to solve. Investing in GPS tracking via mobile phones, bikes or fobs could help the company with load balancing – i.e. ensuring that enough bikes and empty docks are available where users need them.

3. Real-time info billboards – a partnership in the making? It’s difficult for riders to stop to check their mobile phones for information on available docs while riding. Will some innovative entrepreneur partner with CB to provide info billboards (or bike widgets) that re-directs bikers to empty docs before they spend 20 minutes biking around chasing empty docks?

Thanks to technology, businesses and organizations function in a real-time information environment. Feedback on your brand’s reach, influence and performance is broadcast across the globe 24-hours a day in an endless news cycle fueled by social media. Remaining competitive means using real-time technology to do more than promote your wares, cause or services. Negative sentiments should be a guide to service improvement for Capital Bikeshare and others.

Facebook ‘recommends you create a page instead’ of groups for businesses

“Should I create a Facebook page or group?” That’s a question interactive marketing professionals hear all the time. Well, Facebook just made answering that question easier by announcing they are archiving all Facebook groups created using the old group format (‘old’ meaning groups created before April 1, 2011). In fact, the company has flatly stated, “If you’ve been using your old group to promote your business, we recommend you create a page instead.”

According to Facebook, the archiving process will involve converting all old groups to the new group format–but without several key functions and content. For example, old groups will lose members and will not show ‘recent news’ or information about the group’s network and branding.

Here are three things you can do to avoid losing your community of supporters to Facebook’s archive:

Step 1. Upgrade to Facebook group 2.0. If your old group had a lot of activity, you should be able to upgrade to the new version of group; a notification above your group’s wall will allow you to activate the upgrade. Alas, if your group had a steady following but lacked activity, the next time you log in you’ll get a notice that says, “This group is scheduled to be archived.”If this happens you can do one of two things:

  1. Get some activities going in your group – this might help recover the opportunity to ‘upgrade’ and save your group from being archived.
  2. Jump to steps two and three below.

Step 2. Start the group-to-page migration. If you have been using a Facebook group for your business or organization, you’ll need to create a Facebook Page pronto – and start inviting your old group members to join your page. You won’t be able to interact with your old group members after Facebook archives your old group so you’ll need to act fast!

Step 3. Start a new group. If you have been using a Facebook group to keep up with friends and family, you’ll need to create a new group and re-invite your friends and family from the old group to join the new one. Facebook wants group managers to use this product to communicate with “…small groups of people in your life“, so don’t start a group if you expect a lot of members – start a page instead.

There are lots of cool features in the new Facebook group format; users will be able to post updates, questions, and photos, host group chats, create shared documents and schedule events — plus take advantage of new privacy settings.

How to Tweet from a Phone

How to Tweet from a Mobile PhoneIt’s easy to send tweets online via your computer and just as  easy to send tweets from your mobile phone. There are two main ways to send tweets from your phone – 1) via text messaging, and 2) by using a Twitter application designed for your phone. Here’s how to do both –

Texting Your Tweets

  1. Log into your Twitter account on the Web at twitter.com
  2. Find your name in the upper right corner of the page and select settings from its drop-down menu (alternatively, go to http://twitter.com/settings/account)
  3. Click on ‘Mobile’
  4. Enter your mobile or cell phone number
  5. Follow the instructions by texting the word displayed to the number or code provided – this will activate your phone to text your tweets.
  6. Save the number provided – to send tweets via text messaging, just send a message to the number you have saved.

Popular FAQ – Will people see my mobile phone number when I text my tweets? No, they will see your tweets as if you sent them from a computer.

Tweeting by Mobile Phone Application

  1. If you are on the Web go to twitter.com/download (if you are using your phone to surf the Web, go to m.twitter.com/download) and click on the icon that matches your phone
  2. Enter your email address and wait for an email that will allow you to download, install and configure the application. You will need your Twitter username and password to complete the process.
  3. Once the application is loaded to your phone, click the icon and begin tweeting!

Popular FAQ – Are there other ways to find Twitter applications that will work with my phone? Yes. You can visit an app store to find a wide selection of Twitter apps. Blackberry App World and the iTunes app store are two popular spots.

How Starbucks Use Twitter

Social media is clearly a great tool for promoting a business or organization. But all business leaders have one concern about social media: What to do about the stream of unflattering feedback in such public forums.

Staying away from Twitter, FourSquare or any of the other social networks is not a good way to manage negative sentiments. A better approach is to take control of the conversation by establishing a presence in the networks so that you can monitor and follow up on negative feedback.

Let’s look at Starbucks as an example, this retail giant is celebrating 40 years of business – and lots of negative feedback! In an interview with USA Today, CEO Howard Schultz described one way the company uses Twitter:

We have a Twitter feed visible in our corporate office that is unfiltered. So we are watching what people are saying about Starbucks. From time to time I go over and look at it, and it’s not always positive. I like that. I can’t answer why people are so emotionally linked to what we do or why they like or don’t like us so much. I do like the fact that they’re talking about us.”
-USA Today

The fact is, you can’t stop people from using social media to say good or bad things about your business or organization, but if you are a part of the conversation you can clarify misconceptions, learn from accurate criticisms, and show off the positive buzz.

How to Tweet

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform accessible via the Web and mobile phones. In just 140 characters or less, users can share thoughts, ideas, news, feedback, images, video and more. Twitter is also a searchable database of shared content and user generated ideas. It is a primary source for many realtime search engines and is useful for tracking trends and measuring sentiment about brands, events and topical issues as they occur. Continue reading “How to Tweet”