Daily Archives: December 13, 2013

Qualcomm promotes Mollenkopf to CEO, ends Microsoft talk


By Noel Randewich and Sruthi Ramakrishnan

SAN FRANCISCO Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:59pm EST

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Qualcomm Chief Operating Officer Steve Mollenkopf speaks at the LG G2 smart presentation in New York August 7, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Qualcomm Chief Operating Officer Steve Mollenkopf speaks at the LG G2 smart presentation in New York August 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc, the world’s biggest maker of cellphone chips, unexpectedly named Chief Operating Officer Steve Mollenkopf as chief executive on Friday, heading off the possibility he might be poached to run Microsoft Corp.

Read more – > http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/13/us-qualcomm-ceo-idUSBRE9BC0GC20131213

 

Want To Win A Crunchie? Nominations Close Sunday


Posted 28 minutes ago by (@johnbiggs)

 

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Every year the Crunchies, our annual awards show, defines what it means to be a start-up. We bring the scrappiest, hard-workingest, and most amazing star-ups on stage and celebrate them at one of the most amazing events of the year. But we can’t celebrate you if you’re not nominated. Time is running out to nominate your favorite startup, founder, CEO and technology of the year. We’re closing nominations on December 15, so please hurry.

Soshitech.com has been nominated for “Can’t Stop / Won’t Stop” which was won last year by Buzzfeed.  You can vote for us by visiting the following link or copying and pasting it into your browser – > http://is.gd/rq3dWt

Thanks!

 

On What The Customer Wants


On What The Customer Wants

Do they know, or should we show them?

 

Note: This is part two, a deeper exploration of my recent post On Discovery.

Very often in real estate we get caught up in talking about the customer. Who they are, what they need, and perhaps most importantly, what they want.

While this is different for every real estate professional based on their own individual markets, approach, experience and existing customer base, there are certain aspects of catering to customer needs that are highly effective, but many unexplored and often underused ones that are not.

The idea that the customer doesn’t always know what they want has been explored in great depth elsewhere online, but let’s explore some examples of what that really means in real estate.

As Tish Shute, speaking as part of the ‘Augmented Realitypanel at the recent Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco says of the pre-iPad era, ‘…the customer doesn’t really know they want an iPad, but they do know that they want a transformative, magical experience’.

Read that last sentence back again to yourself. How much of this do we actually see in the real estate industry?

While it’s certainly true that our industry is undergoing unprecedented levels of dramatic technological transformation, innovation and digital adoption, much of it follows a misguided premise of ‘using the data to give the customer what they want’. We discuss at length the needs to tighten up data, analyze it and build those insights back into the online customer experience. That, up to now, has been a highly effective way of building digital products.

But I argue that it doesn’t give the customer what they want. It simply caters to their current needs, and enhances their experience based on what they’re already doing today. While this provides a fantastic framework for gradual, incremental change, it has the unfortunate side effect of creating a herd-like mentality and a homogenization of brands, user experiences and ways in which people perceive what real estate professionals do online. It makes everyone the same.

For example, think of how people search for homes online. In any large portal, brokerage site, or third-party listings aggregation service, the experience is usually a consistent presentation of checkboxes, dropdowns, other tertiary options and a large ‘GO’ button. This is the Google model of being able to find things online, one which values volume of ranked search as the most effective way of being able to find what you want. It is not unusual to have tens of thousands of results returned to you in these portals under the guise of ‘service and quality of experience’, and the user is expected to either filter heavily post-search, or be so specific in their initial search in a vain attempt to get a manageable amount of things to consider. Many have countered this with the idea of curation, but I think it’s a lot more than that.

Real Estate

Real Estate (Photo credit: allan.hane)

My proposal is that this isn’t how people search for homes, and that as a result, this isn’t what the customer wants. Let’s go beyond listening.

Think about how you find new things to do. Very often you can’t recall how you made those decisions. Why you tried that new pizza place in town, or why you decided to watch one movie over another. This is particularly acute when you travel, as being in unfamiliar surroundings forces that aspect of exploration and discovery upon you, in a very direct way.

Now think about how you find things online. When you’re looking for something, how often to do end up somewhere else, somewhere completely unrelated? You may be looking for things to do in Manhattan this weekend, but here’s a story about the ten best cupcakes on the Upper East Side, connected to a related story about a chef’s passion for baseball, connected to a story about the sorry state of the Yankees’ pitching this season.

I argue that this model of ‘digital grazing’, which may start with a search, or being linked to an article by a friend, or being referred via social media, is a much more accurate way of describing how people find things. The serendipitous discovery of experiences you weren’t initially looking for, but are directly interested in, is one of the most powerful ways in which you consume the internet. The aspect of discovery and exploration is, I propose, what makes the web great.

Take a closer look at the example Lenny Rachitsky uses in the video noted here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p0VK_-BoJI

Serendipity: The effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated.’

How ‘definite’ is this as a description of how people find things through search? Search only describes the ‘while looking for something’ part of the experience here, and misses the most exciting and interesting part, the discovery.

I propose that this has a direct correlation to how people find homes. Where they start is very, very rarely where they end up in the purchase. As a result, how effective can real estate ‘checkbox’ search really be outside of just a place to research? Of course, the idea that an algorithmic approach can refine the user’s experience, and tailor results accordingly in a recommendation engine has been thoroughly explored, but I think there’s a large piece of the conversation missing from here, the content and process that surrounds the home search.

If you buy into the idea that looking for a home is about more than just the four walls of the property itself, and more reflective of understanding what it feels like to live in a town, the ability to picture yourself there, and truly getting to know the area, then online home search is truly broken in its current form. Especially if you consider the element of serendipitous discovery (not knowing what you want until you see it) as an essential part of the process.

I am not describing what many characterize as ‘lifestyle search’ here. I don’t mean showing where the nearest banks and delis are situated on a map which has the property as a pin in the middle of it. What I’m proposing is the presentation of the unexpected, but highly relevant, fun, insightful and useful INSIDE the search experience. This, I believe, gets much closer to Tish Shute’s notion of ‘the magical’.

Let’s take the example of listening to customers to get feedback on your products as a potential way to do this. This has its obvious, but limited benefits, best characterized by Henry Ford when he said:

“If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”

I am not advocating that you don’t listen to your customers. Of course, you absolutely need to do that. But think of Apple, one of the most magical, transformative brands ever. How much do they listen to their customers? Are they on Facebook and Twitter ‘engaging and listening’ as we’re so often encouraged to do? Do you think the original MP3 customer told them that they wanted a bright white player with only one button on it, when others in the market (the ones doing what their customers were telling them they wanted) were adding more and more buttons to every incarnation of existing player models?

Apple, and differentiated brands like them, escape the competitive herd by creating experiences that are unique, unexpected, helpful, and beautiful. Another word for this is… magical. As a result, they are able to give their existing customers, as well as their new ones, what they want. Anyone wishing to take a deeper dive into these examples should absolutely check out Youngme Moon’s book ‘Different’, which is full of incredible brand examples on this topic. She goes into great depth to describe why thinking beyond what the customer wants and focusing on what they DO and what they NEED are conduits to creating those sought after magical experiences.

Portrait of Henry Ford (ca. 1919)

Portrait of Henry Ford (ca. 1919) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So let’s bring this back to a real estate example by way of conclusion. Many advocate listening to your customer and refining your product mix around their current needs. This is important and a necessary step. But there’s a difference in them telling you what they want. What they’re actually telling you is what they need. “I need to be able to filter these results more effectively and find what I want” — this is good for you to hear. It tells you “I am overwhelming the customer with the volume of results I’m presenting to them. My search has a problem”.

But what is it beyond that? How can you differentiate yourself in a sea of sameness? Could a potential project out of this be “I am only going to show them 3 things at once in search, but I’m going to make it so smart that I know it will be exactly the right 3 things every time, each one leading to a deep, rich and unexpected experience of home browsing”.

Wildly idealistic? Perhaps.

A huge technical challenge? Certainly.

Transformative and magical? Yes.

Is this approach what the customer wants? I think so.

Further Reading:

Nicholas Carr: ‘The Big Switch’ : http://amzn.to/UVzqO

Jason Fried: ‘Rework’ : http://amzn.to/2veiDe

Malcolm Gladwell: ‘Blink’ : http://amzn.to/n0MIUi

Guy Kawasaki: ‘Enchantment’ : http://amzn.to/eFBYZP

Youngme Moon: ‘Different, Escaping The Competitive Herd’ : http://amzn.to/cNaQH7

source medium – > https://medium.com/p/5e87a25ed5f8

 

 

 

Perma-awkwardness & Wearable Tech


How to Crown the Champions

 

Do you have a Nike Fuelband? Yes? Will you still have it in 3 years? Maybe but it’ll likely be collecting dust in a shoebox under your bed along with a few old high school pictures and 2 broken mix CDs that the nostalgia gods wouldn’t dare let you leave at your parent’s house when you moved out. This sad story is by no means a slight to Nike. I love Nike and I think Fuelbands are awesome. Nike makes amazing products and the Fuelband is no different. The real issue at hand here is the fleeting human attention span and the deluge of new technologies that have become available to us, consumers, in this information age. What does that mean? Darwinism, obviously. The weak will fall by the wayside and only the strongest products will rise to the top, the champions.

What are the differences between the weak and the champions you ask? Well I think the overarching concept here is relatively simple. A champion is not just an improvement from existing tech, but it also incorporates features that allow you to have brand new, unique experiences that you wouldn’t be able to have without it (Could an indecisive reader shuffle between 8 different books on the subway without an eReader? Could you send emails, surf the web, and send texts while sipping a Frappuccino in the park without a smartphone?). Additionally, and equally important, any new functionality needs to be seamless and natural for the user to take command of. Maybe not natural immediately, but it can’t be perma-awkward. Taking a photo using my watch? That’s perma-awkward. Answering a call on my watch and proceeding to speak into it? That’s perma-awkward. Talking into a Bluetooth at a restaurant and pissing off the confused waiter? That’s perma-awkward. Champions aren’t awkward. Is Google Glass awkward? Maybe, but awkward like a pony’s first steps knowing that it will soon be the embodiment of power and grace. **Hint: Sign of Champion**

Image representing Google Glass as depicted in...

Image by None via CrunchBase

It seems that these days shareholders, media, and whoever else is putting an incredible amount of pressure on the blue chips (read: Apple, Samsung, and Google) to come up with cool wearable tech. So yes, they are appeasing you, but be careful what you wish for, all wearable tech is not created equal.

I heard something the other day that resonated with me. Consumers don’t know what they want, so it’s innovators’ responsibility to give them what they need. So fine, you want an iWatch — take it and use it as a pacifier until there is a champion. Then you can put it in the shoebox with your pedometer, Bluetooth, Fuelband, Galaxy Gear, high school photos and “Slo Jamzz ‘05” mix CD.

source medium – > https://medium.com/technology-and-society/7e58e38d8c28

 

 

This Is Forty: Dare to Be Merry this Christmas


On Christmas Day in 2011, my cousins were on their way to my parents’ home in Abuja, Nigeria when they were abruptly shoved off the road by a blinding blast. My aunt recalls an eerie feeling, akin to an out of body experience. From a distance it was clear that something very disturbing had transpired. They all stayed in the car and relied on the maddening crowd that had gathered for first-hand information. The church, a few blocks away from the one they were planning to attend that morning, had been bombed. As soon as the police had paved the way for waiting vehicles, my relatives drove past the heartbreaking scene. Bloodied victims flailing in despair, burning cars playing host to deceased occupants, and policemen trying in vain to calm a gang of angry youths dominated the scene.

Aftermath of the Christmas Day Massacre

Not too far away, my parents waited for my aunt, uncle, and three cousins to arrive. Once everyone was accounted for, they said a quick prayer in recognition of the tragic circumstances that had tainted the day. Then they headed into the church they had planned to attend and fell under the spell of a heated evangelical intervention. The cowards who were responsible for the Christmas Day massacre were no match for the songs and praises that erupted from the Big Church that Could.

As a kid growing up in Nigeria, Christmas took on a completely different meaning than what most Americans have chosen to adopt. Nigerian Christians revere Christ as a symbol of hope, love and peace, and our mission during the festive period is to celebrate how lucky we are to be saved, even though we don’t deserve it. I always looked forward to eating, drinking, and being merry with family members, especially the ones that I never got to see all year. We would all decorate the house, transforming the walls and hallways into a Technicolor wonderland.

Christmas Day

But after living in the States for twenty years, sixteen of them in New York City, I have come to the realization that the holiday season here is just another opportunity to propel the economy. We are being used to fatten the pockets of major retailers who have been waiting all year to unleash damage on our bank accounts. The last time I truly enjoyed Christmas and celebrated in a way that was genuine was back in 2009 while visiting my homeland. Since then, I find myself caught in a web of endless campaign strategies, mind-crippling commercials, and a droning anthem that beckons us to spend every penny we are worth in order to justify our place at the dinner table.

Do They Know It’s Christmas Time At All?

It’s particularly hard to digest this superficiality when you consider that in Nigeria, people actually risk their lives in order to worship at churches situated in the Northern region. For the past four years, Christians have been under siege thanks to the brutality of the Boko Haram, a Muslim extremist group that has been hell-bent on unleashing unimaginable terror on innocent citizens who don’t accept Islam as their chosen religion. I had always been aware of the spreading violence, but it wasn’t until 2011, when things hit too close to home, that I became emotionally invested. That was the year that St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, a few kilometers from Abuja, the capital and also where my parents dwell, fell under the spell of a suicide bomber on Christmas day.

A Crowd of Protestors Gather at the Site of the Bombing

I wasn’t completely in the dark when it came to the violence against Christians residing in the Northern part of Nigeria, where Islam is predominately practiced. I just refused to commit myself to the streams of horror stories being posted on a weekly basis, because it was a reminder that my family was consistently in danger. The fact that my beloved childhood holiday was and still is under attack by a reckless sect is a tragic reality. And the notion that my parents and other steadfast believers still head to Church to celebrate Christmas, knowing full well that their actions might cost them their lives, is a testament to what that day really represents.

A Church in Northern Nigeria Still Standing Strong After Attack by the Boko Haram

Unfortunately the holidays now signal impending doom back home. But I don’t want to succumb to panic attacks and a continuous disdain for how materialism is unabashedly embraced here in the States. Instead, I have created my American version of a happy holiday that features peace on earth (sending good vibes to my beloved countrymen) and good will towards men (attending events that encourage seasonal donations). The multi-colored price tags that litter shopping malls all over the country will never represent how I feel about this time of year, especially when so much is at stake for our counterparts in other corners of the world.

Source medium – > https://medium.com/race-class/9a371a1c02a1

 

10 ways to increase your website traffic right now — for freeeeeee.


Phil Autelitano in I. M. H. O.

 

If you’re able to track your website statistics, especially how many visitors you get and where they come from, I want you to try these TEN traffic-building strategies and report back to me your traffic increases for the day, week, etc. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how well these ten FREE strategies will work for you:

Image representing eBay Classifieds as depicte...

Image by None via CrunchBase

1. Run ads on Craigslist  — not just one ad, but several, across various cities and categories. If your market is local, simply target your city and some of the surrounding area. If it’s national, target the Top Cities — New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, etc. You can post multiple ads so long as each ad is different and for a different thing. Post one “general” ad about your business in the Business Services section, but then post more “specific” ads in the various product categories. The real challenge is crafting your ads so they’re all different and actually “fit” the categories you’re posting to.

For instance, a car dealer has it easy, he can post individual car listings in Cars + Trucks For Sale, and in multiple cities, too, so long as they’re all different. He can also post under Services, in the Automotive sub-category and maybe even under the Financial sub-category if he offers special financing.

Someone selling restaurant supplies can post multiple ads in Business For Sale — one general ad for restaurant supplies, then individual ads for various items they have for sale. He may also run an ad under Business Services in the Small Biz section, as well as individual product ads under Appliances. If he does trade, the Barter category is a great opportunity as well.

A graphic designer can post ads under Services, in the Creative or Computer subcategories, and even the Small Biz category. She can also post under Resumes (“Graphic Designer For Hire”) and in the Business For Sale and possibly the Computer For Sale categories.

In most every case, where applicable, you want to select the “By Dealer” option when posting your ads — since you are indeed a business — to avoid ghosting and minimize flagging of your ads.

All of your ads should include an image that represents what you do. That image should ALWAYS have your business name, and a contact — email, phone number or website super-imposed on it, too. This maximizes your ads exposure to those using image- and grid-view.

Write your ads out before you post them and save them to a text file, that way you can copy-and-paste them again in the next step.

Craigslist doesn’t allow active email links within your ad copy — so break them up like this: info@ yourbusiness.com

Image representing Craigslist as depicted in C...

Image by None via CrunchBase

2. Post the same ads on Backpage, but here, you can use active links! Include your website URL and email link in every post. Put the URL at the top of the ad and bottom to maximize it’s exposure and potential click-through’s.

Backpage is a bit more lax when it comes to multiple postings and I know I said these tips were all free, but I HAVE to tell you that if you market nationally, this is especially great for you — go to Fiverr.com and search Backpage posting. You’ll find several people who will post 100-150 Backpage ads for you, for just $5.

3. Post the same ads to eBay Classifieds. Like Craigslist they don’t welcome email links in their ads and they can be tough when it comes to multiple ads. So again, stick to one general ad, and then specific ads for individual products you have for sale.

4. Find relevant forums and post to them. Every industry has a forum, but you don’t necessarily want to target the forums IN your industry — those forums are great for industry advice, news, and trends — but you don’t want to market to people who do the same thing you do. Instead, you need to find the forums where your prospects and customers hang out, and focus on them.

For instance, if you sell aftermarket auto accessories, you don’t want to target the aftermarket industry forum, but rather specific forums for car buffs — i.e., the Honda Civic forum, or a Drifting forum, or the Street Racing forum, or the Off-Roading forum, etc.

A real estate salesperson doesn’t want to target other Realtors in the Realtor forum, but instead target potential buyers in a relocation forum, or a retirement forum, or a home-buying forum.

5. Find relevant Groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, and get in on the conversation. Join as many as you can, but don’t just SPAM these groups, actively participate in asking and answering questions. There are groups for EVERYTHING and chances are your prospects and customers have a group of their own, or several.

One great strategy for groups is to ask questions, but keep a positive tone — For instance, “Are you happy with your current mortgage company, and why?” That’s not as Spammy as “Are you unhappy with your current mortgage company?” which sounds like a pitch. Even though it’s quite literally the same question and is sure to evoke the same “negative” answers (no one is happy with their mortgage company), the former will get answered far more than the latter.

6. Ride the hashtags. You don’t need followers to market on Twitter I repeat, you don’t need followers to market on Twitter.

Simply find relevant hashtags and “ride” them. That is, Tweet about them. Retweet them. Search them out and comment/reply to them. Search.twitter.com is your best friend when it comes to Twitter. And don’t forget Facebook uses hashtags now, too — and it works the same way, add them to your posts and search them out to comment on them and join the conversation.

Don’t try to “create” your own hashtags out of thin air, instead focus on the ones that are already active and trending.

A great strategy for Twitter (and now Facebook) is to search keywords and then Follow or Friend the people using them. Most likely they’ll follow or friend you back, since you have that in common.

Don’t just post advertisements to Twitter or Facebook with hashtags in them, people quickly see right through that and just ignore you. Instead, participate in the conversation. I can’t stress that enough.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

“Joining the conversation,” means adding relevant input to the overall conversation about a particular subject. For instance, if your prospects and customers talk about #PCrepair, don’t just tweet ads for your low-cost PC repair services. Instead, tweet tips for how to keep your PC running optimally, or share links to relevant sites with tips or advice on PC repair, or to relevant products or software. You can even tweet links to your own articles on PC repair. Reply to tweets about specific problems offering expert advice on solutions. By doing this you establish yourself as an expert, and then you can pepper in a few ads or special offers here and there, but bottom line people will already KNOW who they need to contact when they have a PC issue, because YOU are now their go-to guy or gal for PC repair.

This doesn’t take long to do — you can join the conversation right now and be well on your way.

7. Write and submit articles to sites like Urguru.com, ArticleCity.com, or EzineArticles.com  — other websites and media distribution outlets will pick up your article for distribution. It happens fairly quickly, too. Lots of webmasters need are always on the lookout for quality content for their websites, and these free services create a win-win for everyone.

8. Submit a press release to all of the FREE press release distribution services. Simply Google, “free press release” to find them. In a recent experiment, a client posted a press release to all of the free services we could find and generated a similar response to the paid press release service that cost $300+. For the free services, the only cost is your time, if you have it.

9. Direct posts to your Facebook timeline are always an option. Like Twitter, you don’t want to just blatantly post advertisements, you need to join the conversation, participate. Post stuff, but comment on stuff and share stuff, too. This is another great place to establish yourself as an expert. Post tips and advice, post links to relevant sites, product announcements, stories, etc.

A great Facebook strategy is to post “linkbait” — creative images or photos, or photos with sayings, etc. — all with super-imposed links on them. These can get shared by your friends, and if they catch on, they can spread like wildfire, quickly, and when they do, your link is right there on every share!

10. Direct email everyone on your contact list , and everyone who’s emailed you, to check out your website — and don’t be afraid to ask them to share your link. Tell them you’re trying to build traffic to your site — you’d be surprised, if they like ou, they may share your link to their own social media networks.

Image representing backpage as depicted in Cru...

Image by None via CrunchBase

Additionally, you should go through all your “sent” mail and re-send emails to everyone who’s contacted you — going as far back as you comfortably can — asking them if they’re still interested, or if they’ve seen your “new” website, or announcing aspecial offer or your current deal, etc.

You’d be surprised how many people may have forgotten all about you. Maybe they were interested in doing business with you at one point, but then one thing led to another and they forgot all about it, and you just need to remind them.

This happens to me all the time. I go through my saved emails and continue to email people who originally contacted me two and three years ago, and by staying in touch, ultimately I convert some of them.


Now there’s probably a few other things you could do to build traffic to your site right now, but I’m sure these ten will keep you busy.

Let me know how any of them work out for you, and feel free to email me if you need further explanation or help with any of them.

— P.


Phil Autelitano is author of the upcoming book Hardcore Marketing: How to Kick Ass, Take Names, and Make Big Profits from Your Business FAST! A renowned business and marketing expert, he is President of Hardcore Creative a marketing, design, and consulting firm serving business worldwide. More info at HardcoreMktg.com

source medium – > https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/7a1fba56ac15

 

 

 

Social Media Is For Listening


Businesses have two ways to communicate with customers: talking or listening.

For a hundred years, talking dominated. Media, including television, magazines and billboards was the business’s mouth; people, including market researchers and customer service representatives, were its ears. The mouth was bigger than the ears.

Enter “social media” — communities built around user-generated content on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest, unmoderated reviews on Amazon and Yelp, tips for every point on the map on Foursquare, and blogs by the million.

Most businesses use social media for talking. They make announcements.They distribute coupons. They dream of “going viral.” They measure the success of their “campaigns” with media-style metrics such as “views,” “likes,” and “followers” (all of which can be manipulated — see the cautionary tale of Santiago Swallow for an example). And they miss the point. Social media is not a bullhorn for broadcast but a coffee shop for conversation.

Businesses do not do well talking through social media. Coca-Cola, the world’s most valuable brand, according to Interbrand, ranks 1,088 in terms of Twitter followers. This has nothing to do with Coca-Cola: None of Interbrand’s top 100 are in Twitter’s top 100.

The world’s most valuable brands, 1-10 and 90-100, and their relative rank by number of followers on Twitter. The Twitter top 100 consists of celebrities, other social media and news outlets —not businesses selling products and general services. Sources: Interbrand, TwitterCounter

There is little evidence that tweets have anything like the same impact per dollar as television advertising. The @CocaCola Twitter account has 1.2 million followers. Ten times as many people see a television commercial shown during Duck Dynasty on A&E . The price of the commercial is several hundred thousand dollars, not including production, but tweets cannot compete, even though they are almost free. The cliché,“We know half of all advertising works but not which half,” is not true: Big companies measure a commercial’s influence long before it reaches the air. When I was a brand manager at Procter & Gamble, we researched storyboards using “animatics” during screenings of soap operas before spending a dime on production or airtime. Decades of testing shows that properly made television advertising sells products. There are some claims that Twitter helps with “brand enhancement,” but they are weak. A brand only has value if it increases sales.

Apple, the number two global brand, according to Interbrand, advertises on television, in print, and on billboards, but has no Twitter account. Apple sees no need to “enhance” its brand via social media. It is hard to argue that Apple’s sales or brand reputation have suffered as a result.

So, if social media is not good for talking, what is it good for? The answer is obvious: listening.

User-generated reviews are the best possible way to understand how customers use products. At Belkin, I launched a range of simple energy-saving products to understand more about the conservation and home automation markets. For all but the most mass-market products, post-launch research is expensive because users are hard to find. And even if you can recruit participants, focus groups only provide a few dozen opinions. Online user reviews, of which there were hundreds, told me more than I could have possibly discovered from market research, at no cost.

For example, many people wanted to automate Crock-Pots:

This product is great when I make Crock-Pot meals, because I have never seen one with a timer. 6 Hours on high, roast is done. Now it is worry free when I am at work. It will even have had time to cool off to an edible temp by the time I get home.

I did not use a Crock-Pot, nor did anyone on my team. Crock-Pot automation is an application we could have only discovered through social media. But once we discovered it, it led us to new strategies. Eventually,Belkin formed a partnership with Crock-Pot’s manufacturer to automate kitchen appliances.

We also developed a new line of products partly inspired by the insight that people want to be “worry-free when at work,” a sentiment that we frequently saw reflected in social media.

Los Angeles, February 11, 2011. The social media-inspired white board that led to Belkin’s “WeMo” products

We do not limit our social media analysis to our own products. We also use it to identify strengths and weaknesses in competitors and understand unmet needs in product categories of interest. Our entry into home automation was partly informed by YouTube videos showing customer frustration with the complexity of the category. Social media, especially video, has an added benefit: visceral evidence from customers ends internal debates about hypotheticals and speeds up decision-making. A compilation of the YouTube video clips, developed for internal use only, was an essential part of getting company-wide agreement on our home automation strategy.

A user demonstrates a home automation system on YouTube

Negative reviews are even more valuable than positive ones. Bad reviews draw attention to previously unknown bugs, unacceptable trade-offs, or missing features. In the early years of social media, the response to negative reviews, at my company and possibly others, was, regrettably, to try to neutralize them. It is better to fix reviews by fixing the problems they reveal. When one of my products was getting bad reviews on Amazon.com, I posted my e-mail address in the comments so I could talk to my unhappy customers, understand their problems, and fix the product. The changes took the ratings from an average one star out of five, Amazon’s lowest possible score, to nearly four.

A close reading of user reviews, coupled with Twitter and Facebook sentiment analysis, also shows what features matter most. Analysis of reviews and comments led to the simplest product I have ever made: an outlet with an on-off switch. Social media gave us the confidence and focus that helped our industrial designer Michael Wick create a beautiful user experience. The product was so simple that it was ridiculed internally, but so well informed by social media that it was a huge success.

Belkin Conserve Power Switch, designed by Michael Wick after analyzing social media

How would people use this product? We were not sure until we saw the reviews:

“I use it for a hanging light I bought from IKEA that has to be plugged into the wall and does not have an on/off switch. I used to unplug it each time, but now —BLAM!— i just flip the switch. Good stuff!”

“The advantage of this little switch is you do not have cords hanging loose after unplugging them. This makes it very easy to cut the power, just flip the switch on the right hand side of the switch. Good product for cutting power to things you do not want to unplug.”

If we want to see what people do with our products, rather than just read about it, we study “unboxing” videos posted on YouTube, blogs, and user-generated review sites. Watching a customer open, configure, and then use a product is powerful.

Barnacules’ Nerdgasm”  — one of many “unboxing videos” available on social media. Barnacules, real name Jerry Berg, shows how to configure the product, and also demonstrates a great application: making sure his Internet connection never crashes

Next, we formed a partnership with user-generated “recipe” sharing service If This, Then That so that our customers could integrate our products with other platforms like Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, then share the applications. Among other benefits, we get even more product ideas. One popular, if surprising, example: automated cat litter.

Source: If This,Then That

Social media not only helps us make our products better, it helps us see when our products make lives better. Luke Moretti, a 19-year-old who was paralyzed from the chest down in a diving accident, uses the Belkin home automation system to manage simple tasks like changing the temperature and lighting in his home from his iPad. He shares what he learns via social media, both with other paraplegics and with us.We, in turn, get new ideas for how to extend and improve our system.

We even use social media to improve our core technology. Forty teams of data scientists from around the world are competing to refine the algorithms in one of our most advanced products via Kaggle, a science crowdsourcing service. The competition started on July 1. By July 20, several teams had already beaten our internal performance benchmark.

The important word in “social media” is not “media,” but “social.” Social media may never revolutionize how products are advertised, but it has already revolutionized how products are designed.

source medium – > https://medium.com/on-management/125283bc4100

 

Why 2013 is Miley’s ‘TIME’


Her transformation captured the world’s attention and embodied an entire generation’s struggle to matter

 

If someone had come up to me in 2010 and said, “you’re going to publicly argue that Miley Cyrus should be named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2013,” I would have laughed — no, cackled — in their face.

At the time, she was still starring as Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel show of the same name. I was a senior in high school at the time meaning Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana and even Disney were not part of my personal lexicon. Needless to say, this piece and my overall fascination with Miley over the past several months is quite a departure from my former view of her.

If you ask me, the fact that anyone in my friend group or even my age group is talking about Miley is reason enough to make her person of the year. Her outstanding record sales, viral music videos and constant online buzz are proof that she captured the all-important wallets, eyes and thumbs of my generation.

Many people might consider these “qualifiers” to be too shallow for TIME’s high honor — and they’d be right.

As remarkable (and lucrative) as Miley’s rise to relevance has been, the struggle to get there is what really stands out. Like Kurt Cobain and Generation X before her, Miley connected to the trials and tribulations we, as Generation Y, face in the modern world. Miley’s struggle was grander, more public and involved considerably less clothing than that of the average millennial, but the nature of her hurdles were the same.

She worked hard to earn this new success.

While there are seemingly endless clichéd criticisms of Gen-Y, none are more frequent than claims that we are “ narcissistic, overconfident, entitled and lazy,” as TIME Magazine put it in a highly critical May 2013 cover story on millennials.

As millennials seek to do in their own lives, Miley was the opposite of lazy in 2013 as she recorded her album — Bangerz —  and performed show-stopping acts at countless awards shows. More importantly, she was not entitled to any of this success. If she had been, she would be continuing on with the perfect Hannah Montana image that she spent years crafting. The only thing more difficult than gaining initial fame is trying to genuinely re-invent yourself once you’re already in the public eye. Miley successfully did that and, in the process, brought fans — old and new — along for the ride.

She was belittled every step of the way.

While all forms of media have been hugely important assets to Miley throughout 2013, they have played an equally important role in her struggle to be taken seriously as an artist. For every action (e.g. record sale), there is an equal and opposite reaction — often in the forms of memes or GIFs. While the virality of these media have helped Miley’s public awareness levels, they have undoubtedly hurt her chances of being seen as a serious artist by many people in society’s “establishment.” Her case (and the one I’m trying to make right now) aren’t helped when our fellow millennials inadvertantly minimize her efforts into shallow, easily-dismissed endeavors.


Does this look like a Grammy nominee to you? Apparently it does not to those who actually cast the votes.
 

She was faced with a historically competitive job market.

America’s class of 2013 graduated into one of the toughest job markets in recent history. With her transformation, Miley sought to enter what is quite possibly the most competitive era in the history of solo female pop acts. While I would not have said Miley’s name in 2010 at all, those who were saying it were not doing so in the same breath as Beyoncé, Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift or even Britney Spears. Instead, she was relegated to discussions involving other former Disney stars like Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato — who aren’t exactly at the pinnacle of pop culture beyond the tween and teen sets.

While Miley’s Bangerz may not have bested the record sales of most women listed above, Miley’s ability to draw public interest leads the pack. Below is some cold, hard data to prove it. By comparing Google searches for Miley with those of her competitors from 2005 to 2013, you can see how big of a year she had. More importantly, her rise and peak came with the release of her singles, album and VMA performance aka her work. The other women peaked most often during personal struggles and controversies unrelated to their music.


GaGa’s peak — marked by ‘K’ — came after she was sued by a song-writer.


Katy Perry has never seen the same level of interest even as she sold a lot of music.

Taylor Swift’s searches seem to peak after very public break ups — even as she tops the charts.

Rihanna drew her highest level of interest after an unfortunate — and very public — domestic dispute with Chris Brown.

Yes… Even Queen B.

Shocking, right?

Miley vs. Pope Francis vs. Edward Snowden

Not surprisingly, many social commentators have expressed outrage and even disgust at Miley even being included in the discussion about TIME’s Person of the Year. They cite her near-naked public appearances, alleged drug use and overall wild persona as being disqualifying traits. This view is only exacerbated when you look at who she is up against on TIME’s short list:

  • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who the United States declared was behind a chemical attack on Syrian residents
  • Barack Obama, President of the United States of America and two-time recipient of the honor
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and member of the Tea Party movement
  • Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran who recently agreed to an interim deal that would curb his nation’s nuclear program
  • Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who fled to Russia after leaking top-secret U.S. documents that revealed widespread government surveillance programs
  • Pope Francis, who became pontiff after Pope Benedict abdicated in March
  • Edie Windsor, the marriage equality advocate whose Supreme Court victory struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act
  • Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, who this year bought The Washington Post and recently announced that Amazon was exploring drone delivery
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the individual tasked with overseeing the launch of the Affordable Care Act and under fire for its botched rollout

Each of these figures is undoubtedly important, controversial and (in some ways) more consequential to certain parts of society. People seem to think two of the candidates most likely to get it are Pope Francis and Edward Snowden.

However, if you assess the impact each has had on society during the 2013 calendar year, Miley has them beat.

Pope Francis is undoubtedly a breath of fresh air into an institution that desperately needs it. That said, his allegedly “liberal” approach to the Papal role is not only a very minor departure from his predecessors, but, at this point, has had no effect on the structure or doctrine of the Catholic Church. Additionally, it must be noted that this Pope’s novelty within such an established institution — as opposed to his own personal characteristics — likely landed him on this list. We must ask ourselves, “wouldn’t any new Pope be on this list?”

In 2013, Edward Snowden became a household name in countries across the world. However, the fruits of his labors to expose the United States government’s NSA operation as intrusive, secretive and illegal appear to be minimal as the year draws to a close. The NSA has sporadically dominated headlines since the initial leak this past summer, but U.S. spying and NSA efforts to gain intelligence have hardly been hindered.

English: Miley Cyrus at the premiere for Hanna...

English: Miley Cyrus at the premiere for Hannah Montana: The Movie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In many ways, Snowden’s efforts seem to have fallen into the same trap as those pushing for domestic gun reform. By that, I mean the widespread and passionate desire for change that followed his big “reveal” seems to have died out just as those seeking gun reform seem to fade in the months that follow each major shooting.

She’s in it to win it.

Miley’s critics are often able to dismiss her efforts from the last year as desperate, tactical attempts at earning money, feeding her ego and even shocking America just for the hell of it.

I think there’s more to it, though.

In his 6th century book, The Art of War, China’s Sun Tzu said, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

In 2013, Miley Cyrus went from being an increasingly forgettable former Disney starlet to a Hallmark of American pop culture. More importantly, she was able to do so without releasing a sex tape or getting a DUI like many of her counter-parts seem to do. From a Hollywood insider’s perspective, Miley’s strategic approach and brillient tactical executions of her new “brand” made 2013 her year.

However, the true beauty of Miley’s triumphant year comes when looking at it on the most basic human level: she made her wildest (and seemingly unlikely) dreams come true by working hard, being herself and never giving up.

Isn’t that what every young person dreams of doing?

source medium – > https://medium.com/surprise-me/b7c519b988a

 

 

Is There Anything New to the Concept of ‘Social’?


Dialogue occurs naturally, as it has always done — now it’s just online and in full public.

Social has become a buzzword that in front of traditional marketing terms creates an vivid expectation that success will rattle down over a given campaign without any major investments. The terms are many: Social Media Marketing, Social Customer, Social Ads, and Social CRM.

Social media has become a natural part of our lives and Social is today one factor that we as marketers cannot ignore! However, one may be tempted to ask: Is there actually anything new to the concept of ‘Social’?

We have always been in dialogue with each other and always recommended products to family and friends like we have always warned our colleagues against the small restaurant on the corner, due to its poor service. And we will probably continue to do so.

Market Square, Enniscorthy

Market Square, Enniscorthy (Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons)

So what has Social genuinely changed? Well, in short: That we increasingly interact online and thus are able to reach out to a much larger audience! But our main behaviour is the same.

Yet many companies are reticent about doing ‘Social’. The negative examples are far more famous than the positive that almost only get mentioned if they receive a roar in Cannes. But the fear of losing control or to get bad publicity were just as great 10 years ago.

The theory has not changed and the strategy should be the same: You should not sell products that do not work and your service has to be flawless!

As an example: “Social Customer Relationship Management” alone has more than 839,000 hits on Google, which points in the direction of a huge immense quantity of articles, publications and blog posts, where various avid practitioners want readers to buy into their specific definition of Social CRM. The result is a jungle of conflicting definitions, which understandably seems confusing for the individual brand.

If I take my working-goggles on then putting ‘Social’ in front of CRM does not change the fact that the right and most relevant message has to be delivered to the right and most relevant consumer — whether the campaign or customer service is running on Facebook or via email.

English: Steven Groves, co-author and social m...

English: Steven Groves, co-author and social media marketing strategist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To learn more about which consumer that is the right and most relevant, Social Media can serve as an extremely valuable knowledge base. In my view, the challenge is how these social data can add value to both business and consumers, and how it can be transformed and systematized into usable segmentation.

Market Street

Market Street (Photo credit: glennharper)

 

 

 

Although the mechanics are the same, it can still go wrong, and therefore ‘Social’ should be taken seriously, like any other discipline, and not just used in front of various marketing terms to add a little magic spice.

If a brand has decided not to be present on social media, this decision does not exclude the conversation that consumers may have about the brand. Negative publicity may come all by itself, whereas the brands have to work for the positive. Dialogue occurs naturally, as it has always done, now it is just online and in public.

source medium – > https://medium.com/thoughts-on-digital-marketing/895168ad42b1

Hack Your Flawed Psychology to Boost Your Productivity


Cognitive dissonance can be your best friend

Full Disclosure: This post was written to distribute as marketing materials for a new course I’ve opened up —Killing Bob: 6 Psychological Tactics to Get Rid of your Inner Procrastinator. It’s jam-packed with both cool science and actionable advice to accomplish your goals.

For all you Medium readers, I’ve set up a $40 discount. Just use the coupon code: “ZACHLOVESYOU”


For a long time, I thought I was a robot. I have no idea why. I wasn’t lacking empathy or emotion or soft, fleshy skin. I didn’t talk in a monotone voice or have an awkward walk like C3P0. But, for some reason, I expected that my goals were the only inputs into my decision-making and that I should naturally be following them like I was executing some kind of computer code. The only thing standing between me and greatness was the right set of goals! Unfortunately, I’m human, and that’s not how humans work.

The biggest barrier between me and success was my own psychology.

What’s wrong with me? I thought. Why am I constantly acting against my own best interests? The answer lies in the genes I inherited from my ancient ancestor, Bob.

Laziness 101

Bob was lazy. You wouldn’t know it from watching him though. He hunted, gathered, fished, fought, evaded, outsmarted, and killed on a daily basis. But he did it out of immediate necessity. He would have loved to sit around all day, if it wouldn’t have lead to certain death. Necessity propelled him to action. Just because a child with a gun to his head is following orders, doesn’t mean she isn’t lazy at heart.

The reason for Bob’s laziness is that action — any action — is calorically draining. And in a time when life depended on maintaining a surplus between energy consumed over energy expended, to use up energy on non-essential activities would be ridiculous. Our genes carry this message: “Do enough to survive, but no more.” It’s not survival of the fittest. It’s survival of the fit enough.

But we live in a very different world today: one where energy is no longer hard to come by and complimenting a woman on her caloric surplus is likely to get you slapped. There’s no need to be so protective of our movements. More calories are only a Big Mac away.

The Mental Side

This instinct reverberates through every aspect of our lives. As you know, laziness is more than just about physical movement. We’re cognitive misers too.

And the problem with mental tasks, as opposed to physical ones, is that we rarely see an immediate reward. Whereas the body has evolved mechanisms to encourage you to get up and run when a threat exists, the ability to sit down and work doesn’t have that genetic benefit.

Our minds are cheapskates, but they aren’t very good at calculating future value. And like the business owner who values frugality over reinvesting in his business, this is a sure path to failure.

Is There an Escape?

Fortunately, psychologists have spent enough time studying the brain that we’ve learned how to trick ourselves into greatness. When you structure your goals in such a way that your mind sees them as both crucial and immediately valuable (and prime your brain to be in a state to handle them), you will be able to funnel your natural ability to accomplish into whatever tasks you face. No matter how dull it might seem.

This article is going to show you one of my favorite techniques to harness this power: employing cognitive dissonance to force your behavior into alignment with your goals.

Cognitive Dissonance

Fancy psych words are scary, so let’s simplify things: cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling you get by holding two conflicting opinions, most often when the version of reality inside your head doesn’t mesh with the outside world.

The most common reaction to this gap is self-deception. Rather than acknowledge the problem and do something about it, it’s more comfortable to convince ourselves that the problem doesn’t exist. “There’s no way she’s ignoring my calls — she must have lost her phone.

Sure, buddy.

But rather than shying away from reality by eliminating cognitive dissonance, you’re going to learn two techniques for amping up the dose of reality. We’re going to confront reality head on.

First, an example of how powerful it is. Fostering cognitive dissonance has long been used as a manipulative compliance technique by marketers. In order to test its influence, psychologists performed a famous experiment where researchers asked a small group of randomly selected people to put a small sign on their lawn that said: “Be a Safe Driver.” Almost everyone agreed. Weeks later, the researchers went door to door asking households to put up a massive, ugly billboard that encouraged safe driving. The result: those who had been primed with the small sign were over four times more likely to agree to the larger one. Putting up the small sign subconsciously affirmed their self-perception as a person who is against unsafe driving. Even such a minor reminder was enough to significantly influence their actions weeks later.

And, like many compliance techniques that can be used on us by others, we can use cognitive dissonance to change our own habits. There are two ways of accomplishing this: by affirming our identity to encourage acting in accordance with it or by tracking our behaviors to make plain the gap between our beliefs and our actions. Essentially, these are two sides of the same coin: the goal is to force ourselves to see reality as plainly as possible so that the discomfort caused by cognitive dissonance can work its magic.

Affirm Your Identity with Accountability

Like in the “Be a Safe Driver!” study, you can encourage a behavior in yourself by reaffirming your desires that it aligns with. By reminding ourselves of our overarching beliefs, we tend to act in accordance with them.

That sounds vague, so here’s the most important piece: put your goals (which are really just the concrete manifestations of your beliefs and values) in writing. Beliefs are fuzzy, so they lend themselves to self-deception. And self-deception is the enemy!

By putting your goals in writing, there’s nowhere to hide. If you accomplish them, you succeeded. If you don’t, you failed. Not allowing for any self-bullshit is crucial in keeping yourself motivated.

This can be done privately, but it’s infinitely more powerful if done publicly. Announcing your plans, goals, and beliefs to the world works wonders to motivate us towards acting in accord with them.

In one study where a group of dieters were made to announce their plans publicly on Facebook, compliance with the diet skyrocketed. The hypothesis is that they could no longer delude themselves into not taking their food choices seriously in their moments of weakness. The devil on their shoulder, whispering, “You never really cared about this diet anyways” was instantly shut up. They’d publicly declared the importance of this diet. To not follow through would be to acknowledge their weakness and shatter their identity.

This is the path you should take. Make your goals known. That way, not only is there an indisputable record of what you hoped to accomplish for you to compare yourself to, but the rest of the world can see it too. Yes, there is the risk of looking like a failure. But a risk of looking like a failure that decreases the chances of actually being a failure is no risk in my books.

Acknowledge the Gap through Tracking

“What gets measured, gets managed” — Peter Drucker

Tracking our actions is another way to make clear the gap between our self-perception and reality. As was discussed above, it’s easy to delude ourselves about fuzzy notions. Translating these loose beliefs into concrete measurements creates enormous behavior change with almost no effort.

We often hold vague beliefs like “I’m a hard worker” or “I eat healthily” without really examining our behaviors to see whether they support these beliefs. Forcing ourselves to see whether the facts align with our perceptions can often be jarring.

Sticking with the diet examples, there was a study where experimenters had groups of volunteers follow different diet plans. The most successful group actually didn’t get any diet instructions at all. Instead, they were required to photograph every meal and snack they consumed. The cognitive dissonance between the participants’ self-perception and the reality of the folder of pictures saved on their phones shaped their behavior better than any meal plan could.

Cover of "Disclosure"

Cover of Disclosure

So what does this look like from a general productivity perspective? Time tracking.

Time tracking is one of the biggest instant performance boosts I’ve ever experienced. As my friend and absolute productivity machine Sebastian Marshallwrote: “If you’ve never tracked yourself, you don’t even know how much power there is in tracking. I couldn’t even explain it adequately. You wouldn’t believe me. You’d think I was exaggerating.”

Admit it. After that review, you’re itching to try it out.

Principles of Time Tracking

The idea of time tracking is just that — to track your time. There really isn’t anything else to it. If that means writing a detailed journal every night, that’s fine. If it means filling out a worksheet, that’s good too. The simple act of breaking down your behavior will force you to examine it and learn from it. Essentially, all the advice that follows serves only two purposes: to allow you to record the most useful information with the least possible effort.

Here are the four principles of time tracking that have led to successful results for myself and the people I’ve helped.

1) Focus on the right things

If you don’t care about your diet, don’t write down what you have for breakfast. If you don’t care about how much sleep you get, don’t write down how many hours you slept. This seems obvious, but the urge to track everything quickly becomes overwhelming. Focus on the habits you want to develop and the behaviors you want to be doing on a daily basis.

2) Start small and build up

Although the purpose of time tracking is to develop better habits, time tracking itself is a habit. And, like any habit, it’s important to start small and build up. As tempting as it is to want to track everything, don’t overwhelm yourself with a complicated 20 page document to fill out every night. I promise: if your time tracking sheet involves writing an essay, you won’t last a week. Make it as easy as possible so the time tracking habit becomes automatic. Then, if you still want, add more variables.

3) Never skip a day

Momentum is king. By missing a day, you harm yourself in two ways. First, you make justifying future slacking easier. Second, you sabotage your results and make the entire process less useful, so the benefits are less likely to outweigh the costs.

Jerry Seinfeld’s method of comedy writing revolves around this principle. It doesn’t matter if what he produces is good or bad, long or short. If he writes something, he can cross a day off the calendar (the psychological benefits of this are discussed more in Module 4 of our Killing Bob course). He claims that the momentum is the key to staying on track.

Take his advice. Never skip a day.

4) Make it easy on yourself

In the same way that it is important to keep your time tracking sheet short, the ease of filling it out is crucial too. As was touched on above, you’re far less likely to stick with writing a nightly essay than filling in a few one-word answers.

Try to stick with as many Yes/No questions as possible. Filling in numbers is good too.

Make everything as straightforward and objective as possible. Make filling out the sheet easy enough that, when you’re tired and want to go to sleep, you don’t put it off.


Accountability practices and time tracking are amazing techniques to promote cognitive dissonance and accomplish your goals. However, they’re only one piece of the puzzle. In order to share more big picture psychological principles and corresponding productivity tactics, we’ve created a course called Killing Bob: 6 Psychological Tactics to Get Rid of your Inner Procrastinator. It’s on sale now. Check it out.

source medium – > https://medium.com/what-i-learned-today/8e132b3ffd29