Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pinterest: Tips for Branding

Pinterest has become a power when it comes to driving traffic to retail sites. In the wake of this explosion, there’s already been a fair amount of wriitng on Pinterest as a marketing tool but we haven’t seen anything about Pinterest as a branding tool.

Pinterest has some pretty sweet demographics. Everyone knows the ladies love it. It turns out, those ladies tend to make more than $100,000 per year, while 50% of them are in the coveted 25-45 year old cohort. Half of them have kids. So – upper middle class, harried moms.

A simple, attractive, social site like Pinterest is tailor made for these folks and some retailers and others.

Using Pinterest for Branding:
  • Make sure Pinterest fits into your brand and social media strategy. No brainer here, but obviously not every social media outlet is appropriate for every brand. Although some entities and organizations that I wouldn’t have expected (looking at you, US Army)have turned up on Pinterest, and are apparently successful there.
  • Focus on lifestyle, not products. Brands like Whole Foods have been successful on Pinterest, not by posting links to their own products (although they do this), but by promoting a lifestyle that supports their brand. Their pins are shots of beautiful people in beautiful kitchens making beautiful food (hey! That’s available at Whole Foods!) Links to their own products are in the mix, but don’t dominate.
  • Make sure your own photos rock. Look at the other photos in your stream if you’re not a photographer and emulate your favorites. Or hire a professional photographer to shoot your merchandise.
  • Build an online catalog – if you’re a fashion designer, for example, create separate pinboards for your collections. Pretend this doesn’t contradict what I wrote before.
  • Optimize your Website for pinning by making sure it includes great images. On the other hand if images are not a strong suit for your brand, or simply inappropriate for your market, Pinterest may not be the most effective space for you to market. Stay away.
  • Place a “Pin It,” button on your Website, especially if you have great photos of your products. This allows users of your site to easily post images of your amazing wares to their pinboards.
Pinterest still has that “new car smell.”
Right now Pinterest is an exciting new toy. Everyone loves it and almost everyone is using it, but we still don’t know if this is a long-term success or a flash in the pan.

Regardless of its staying power, though, the most important keys to effectively using it for branding are not that different from any other branding tool.

Know your market. Measure your results. Be consistent and persistent. Don’t contradict your core brand values. Finally, Pinterest’s strengths (simplicity, visual flair) lend themselves to having fun with it. So have fun!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

PLOTTO: The Master Book of all Plots!

In 1894, French critic Georges Polti recognized thirty-six possible plots, which included conflicts such as Supplication, Pursuit, Self-sacrifice, Adultery, Revolt, the Enigma, Abduction, and Disaster.

In 1928, dime novelist William Wallace Cook, author of Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots, did him one better, cataloging every narrative he could think of through a method that bordered on madness.

His final plot count? 1,462.

Plotto, reissued last month by Tin House, was a manual that aimed to mechanize the entire narrative trade.

In his introduction, Paul Collins recognizes that Cook was something of a plot machine himself, once writing fifty-four novels in a year, more than one a week.

Cook’s methods were developed into a Plotto Studio of Authorship in New York City, his book hailed as “an invention which reduces literature to an exact science.”

While still a young director in England, Alfred Hitchcock requested the book from America, and the creator of the courtroom drama Perry Mason claimed he had learned a great deal from it.

The success of Plotto inspired other write-for-pay miracle workers. In 1931, screenwriter Wycliffe Hill declared that he had invented a “Plot Robot,” which turned out to be nothing more than cardboard wheel of options that would help you choose a plot in the same way you might choose a color for your living room.

Optimise Social Media, Search, Content. Video interview of Lee Odden by Jay Baer - YouTube

Optimise your social media, search engine optimisation (SEO), and content marketing.

Combining these three critical elements into one strategic program is the key to success, says Lee Odden, author of Optimize.

Lee is interviewed about his book and content optimization by Jay Baer of Convince & Convert.

Harnessing the Power of Infographics - YouTube

Jay Baer interview Mark Smiciklas about The Power of Infographics and how to make inforgraphics that make sense, and get noticed.

If Social Networks were students in high school — Lost At E Minor

Ever wondered what the poster kids of social media would be like if they all went to high school like us?

This infographic by Flowtown puts each social network down to their student stereotype as well as the clubs they would have joined.

Which makes Twitter the gossip girl, Wikipedia the nerd, LinkedIn the class prezzie … you get the drift.

Explains why we always thought they seemed quite familiar.

See more images here at my favourite creative web site:

If Social Networks were students in high school — Lost At E Minor: For creative people

Saturday, July 21, 2012

There are 3 Phases to establishing Social Media

Phase #1: Launch

The launch phase of social media is focused on setting up the major social network accounts with brand assets.

This launch phase should see very little actual results in terms of traffic or income spike as it is focused on preparation and set up.

The objective of this phase should not be measurable results rather just having a social media presence.

Phase #2: Management

The management phase is where you have out of set up and into executing the social media plan that you developed.

This is where you are posting content, increasing traffic, generating likes and followers. During this stage you should be focusing on content, creative and offer development and tracking your ROI.

Again results in this stage may not be amazing, this is your “testing phase”.

Phase #3: Optimization

The optimization phase is the final and probably most important phase of your social media campaign.

In this phase you are focusing on the metrics of your social media efforts to date and working to improve areas for greater return on investment.

Focus on improving your metrics and results to a level that is acceptable for your business.

As you can see social media is not an immediate pay off, instead you need to be working towards a result by building on your campaigns, tracking and improving your results.

Don’t fall for the “instant solution” myth that many people believe about social media. While it does have great user engagement and statistics it’s important to note that like any marketing campaign it takes time to get right.

Tony Robbins and Human Needs - You Tube

According to Tony Robbins, there are the following six needs we all have:
1. Certainty – the need to be safe and comfortable
2. Variety – the need for physical and mental stimulation
3. Significance – the need to feel special and worthy of attention
4. Love & Connection – the need to be loved and connected to others
5. Growth – the need to develop and expand
6. Contribution – the need to contribute beyond yourself

Ask yoursel which two of the six human needs do you value most? By discovering what drives you, you can more easily understand your past decisions as well as be more proactive in the decisions you make regarding your future.

If you have a spouse or significant other, take a guess at which needs drive them. By knowing this, you’ll be in a MUCH better position to give them what they not only want, but need

Stop Bitching! 6 Steps to Help Resolve Conflict

Hopefully you do not find yourself inconflict with someone or something but the fact it only happens occasionally means we are not well practiced in dealing with it.

So firstly we have to take some advise from someone who knows and deals with conflict regularly and has a logical approach to resolving or lessening the tensions.

The following steps are not necessarily easy to achieve but, as all good psychologists and councillors will tell you, you must really want to change. The Dalai Lama in his wisdom advocates that you 'be the change you are seeking in your life.'

With that in mind, here are a few key steps that may not resolve every conflict, but will certainly help to improve your interpersonal communications and ease your journey.

1. Drill down to find the real issue. 
If an when you get upset, you become flooded with hormones and emotions. Your mind can start to resemble a bee hive of activity, without clarity of thought and a lack of clear focus.

Your goal at this stage is to drill down and to really try to figure out what you are actually most upset about. It's not easy in the height of an emotional outburst, but your job is to keep drilling until you hit the core of what is most upsetting.

Once you get past feeling angry and thinking that your boss, colleague or friend is a jerk, you may find that there is something deeper that is really troubling you.

Are you upset that your boss called you out in a meeting when he knew you didn't have the answer or that you're really upset you weren't prepared?

Knowing the answer to why your emotions are triggered will have a profound effect on how you handle the situation.

2. Look for Positive Intent.
It's critical you do your best to determine the other person's positive intent. What's positive intent? Well, negative intent is when you attribute the other person's behaviour to them wanting to hurt you and do you harm.

When you are in the middle of a heated argument, picking up on 'negative intent' comes naturally. "Why is he/she doing this to me?" is a perfect example of assigning negative intent. The initial assumption is that someone is trying to hurt you or make your life more difficult.

It's difficult to resolve a conflict if you think the other person is hell-bent on doing you harm, it does happen but it's in the minority.

Instead, play detective and try to figure out their positive intent. What positive outcome were they trying to achieve? If all else fails, ask them!

Once you have uncovered this intention, understanding and empathy, if appropriate, can begin to flow more easily.

3. Step into their shoes. 
As with all these steps, it is easier said than done, especially when emotions are running high but if you really want to /need to resolve the disagreement or conflict, this is essential.

Pretend you are the other person and answer these questions: What are your goals? Which of the six human needs are you trying to meet? (See below)
  1. Certainty – the need to be safe and comfortable
  2. Variety – the need for physical and mental stimulation
  3. Significance – the need to feel special and worthy of attention
  4. Love & Connection – the need to be loved and connected to others
  5. Growth – the need to develop and expand
  6. Contribution – the need to contribute beyond yourself
What must I have been thinking and feeling in order to respond/react the way I did, remembering to continue to assume positive intent and that there is no truth, only interpretation.

The assumption is, when you can step into the other person's shoes you can begin to see and understand their interpretation which can help you resolve the conflict.

4. Focus on what you wish for.
Get clear on precisely what you need to have happen. Maybe at this point you realize it's not worth resolving the conflict, but make sure you are clear bout this.

Alternatively, you may decide that really need is to rekindle the relationship. Whatever it is, figure it out.

Stop focusing on what you didn't get and all the things that didn't work out and start focusing on what is possible and what you need to have happen now.

You may 'want' some penitent action from the other party, a heartfelt apology and a dozen roses, but what you should put this aside and think on what really is the minimum you need to resolve this conflict. Your answer will be your guide going forward.

5. Create a constructive plan.
You've taken a step back and tried to figure out the other person's perspective, now you want to cultivate a positive result. It's the time to determine the best course of action to get you what you need.

Should you send an email? A phone call? Call in a mediator? What can you do that will increase the chances you'll get your wish from step 4? Your game plan should focus exclusively on only those things you can control.

Sitting back and waiting for the other person to apologise is not an effective game plan because you can't control this.

So, what can you control?
  • Scheduling a meeting? Yes. 
  • Having a civil conversation about what happened? Of course. 
  • Taking responsibility for things you would have done differently? Absolutely. 
  • Do you see what's happening here? Of course.
You are controlling what you have control over to create an opportunity and an environment where an apology is possible, but more positively, a peace treaty, a ceasefire or a more collaborative relationship can be agreed.

6. Step UP and Step Forward.
Now that you know what you both, need and can you control, go get it started, no one else will get it done.

We have gone through this process with many third parties, and while some personalities and egos may still hurt and remain affected by what happened, they have a greater understanding and perception of the other party's "outlook." The success is seen when all parties get together to actively and openly participate in the dialogue.

Conclusion: Happy Ever After?
Resolving conflict is not a simple task, but by keeping these guidelines in mind, it can be less painful, more effective and less protracted.

For more information on the process and resolution of conflict contact me here at this blog.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Humanizing Computer Aids affects Trust and Dependence

Computerized aids that include person-like characteristics can influence trust and dependence among adults, according to a Clemson University researcher.

A recently published study by Clemson University psychology associate professor Richard Pak examined how decision-making would be affected by a human-like aid.

The study focused on adults' trust, dependence, and performance while using a computerized decision-making aid for persons with diabetes.

The study is one of the first to examine how the design of decision-support aids on consumer devices can influence the level of trust that users place in that system and how much they use it.

Richard Pak
The design and look of an aid are important elements for designers because of the potential dangers associated when users trust unreliable decision aids or lack trust for reliable aids simply because of the their appearance.

"Just as trust is an important factor in how humans deal with other humans, it also can determine how users interact with computerized systems," Pak said. "Trust can be influenced by the aid's reliability and level of computerization as well as the user's experience and age."

Many people interact with computerized decision aids or automation on a daily basis, whether they're using smart phones, digital cameras or global positioning systems. When automation is only reliable sometimes, a person's level of trust becomes an important factor that determines how often the aid will be used.

"Figuring out how trust is affected by the design of computerized aids is important because we want people to trust and use only reliable aids," said Pak.

Pak's research findings have revealed that the inclusion of an image of a person can significantly alter perceptions of a computerized aid when there is no difference in the aid's reliability or presentation of information.

"Humanlike computer aids provide a reduced decision-making reaction time for adults," said Pak. "A plausible explanation is that the increase in trust led to an increased dependence on the aid, which led to faster performance."

Pak's future research will examine the specific aspects of the aid that affect trust in different age groups and gender.

He also is studying the affects of the aids on users when faced with decisions that have either a high consequence, such as making health decisions, or a low consequence, such as deciding what type of computer to buy.

Pak's study was published Tuesday in the journal Ergonomics. The journal article was co-authored by Clemson researchers Nicole Fink, Margaux Price, Brock Bass and Lindsay Sturre.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

TEDxGlasgow - David Erdal - Employee-Owners do it Better - YouTube

Treat people as servants, as most companies do, and they behave like servants, David Erdal demonstrates. They work with less than full commitment, and achieve far less than they could.

Treat them as partners, sharing information, wealth and influence -- including electing the board and the CEO -- and they perform out of their skins.

Their working lives become more productive, their companies do better, and they themselves become happier.

More about David...
David Erdal's lifelong passion to transform the ownership of business, making working life more rewarding for everyone, came from the experience of leading his family's 1,500-employee papermill into all-employee ownership.

He has helped dozens of businesses make that transformation, and advised companies in Slovenia, China, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

His book Beyond the Corporation: Humanity Working argues passionately, illuminated by examples from around the world, that employee-ownership is the way forward.

The book has been praised by economists, businessmen, journalists, academics and also by the literary editor of the Scotsman, who made it his business book of 2011 -- the only business book he'd ever finished.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.

At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.

These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Listening Difficulties: 5 Ways to make yourself heard

If you want people to listen to you:
  1. Value the person – Treat them with respect: Zig Ziglar’s famous line “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is true. Don’t expect people to listen and learn from you until they know you have their best interest at stake and that you care for them personally; not simply what they can do for you or the organization.
  2. Paint a great vision – You have to give people something worth working towards and it needs to stretch them, while still being attainable through measurable risk and hard work. When they know there’s a definite chance of success, they’ll be more willing to learn what it takes to attain it.
  3. Open up - Communicate freely and frequently – Even the best visions can fade over time. People get frustrated, bored, distracted, demotivated, etc. If you want to maintain your audience's attention, you have to keep reminding them why you are doing what you are doing and show them how far they've come already!
  4. Tell positive compelling stories – People are motivated by example. They want to know that what they are doing makes a difference. People will be more likely to seek your input if they know you are leading them to something of value and importance.
  5. Let them Share in the reward – People only feel valued when they get to celebrate equally, in the victory. If all the recognition goes to the leader, the follower feels taken advantage of and used. They will never trust you again. If you want people to keep listening then make sure you listen to them, share the credit, minimise the failures, don't point fingers, don't attach blame, and celebrate often.

Teaching Difficulties: 4 Reasons why People Don’t Want to Learn

4 reasons people may not appear to want to learn:
  1. Pride - They don’t think they need to learn anything – This is the one that frustrates us the most, and it’s the one we accuse people of the most. It’s true, arrogance is common in leadership, but it can also rear it's head amongst those who need to be led. Many leaders feel they are in a position because they are the only ones who could do the job. Everyone around them may know that’s not true, but they can’t see it. They don’t care to learn from others, because they aren’t willing to admit or see they have anything to learn. Sometimes those who still have much to learn are too proud to admit it.
  2. We don't know what we don't know - They don’t know they need to learn anything – It may sound similar, but this is a different reason. It isn’t arrogance than causes this one, but rather ignorance. We’ve all been there at times. Many times we assume that we know the answers already. It isn’t because we were not interested in learning more, it's just that we didn’t know there was more to learn and the older we get the more we realize how much we don’t know yet. Some of that comes with maturity and age. Some of it comes with experience, but, many times we don’t think we need to know anything more because we just don’t realise the shortcomings in what we believe we know.
  3. Credibility - They don’t want to learn from you – This is a hard one for leaders to accept, but it’s actually quite common. It could be a relational issue or a positional issue…it might simply be a personality clash, but for whatever reason, it keeps them from desiring to learn from you. If you are a parent of teenagers, you will know that your kids are good at learning more from others than they do from you. You can welcome appreciate the people who provide positive advice. We have all worked with leaders who are supposed to be leading us, but in fact, we knew more about a subject than they. It takes a very humble or enlightened person to learn from those you’re supposed to be leading. Allow your people to learn from whatever sources they prefer, as long as they're accurate.
  4. Learning styles -Maybe they want to learn on their own – There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as they remain approachable and open i.e. teachable. In fact, as long as your people are learning and progressing they should be encouraged in every way. Some of the best lessons in life come from simply trying something and perhaps you succeed or perhaps you come near to failure. Give people the freedom to explore their environment independent of you. Support them in their efforts and give them permission to fail and a license to succeed. It will help them, you and any organisation you are attached to, to grow and develop in ways you could not imagine.
We all are aware that you can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn.

That’s why the best leaders, teachers, parents etc. spend more time motivating the learner than they do teaching them.

In the book “Switch”, authors Dan and Chip Heath call it “motivating the elephant”. If you, as a leader, desire people to learn from you, first motivate them so that they really want to learn.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Becoming An Entrepreneur

For both men and women, becoming an entrepreneur was associated with social skills and entrepreneurial intentions expressed at age 16. In addition, we found gender-specific pathways. 
For men, becoming an entrepreneur was predicted by having a self-employed father; for women, it was predicted by their parents’ socioeconomic resources. 
These findings point to conjoint influences of both social structure and individual agency in shaping occupational choice and implementation.
34-year longitudinal study of an international sample examines who becomes an entrepreneur

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

PREP: Value Chain - Climate Change Resilience

Leading companies from the food and beverage, insurance, investment, technology, and energy industries have jointly released a guide to climate change resiliency planning. ‘PREP Value Chain Climate Resilience’ includes a step-by-step tool, Business ADAPT, for businesses to assess and prepare for the risks and opportunities posed by climate change.

The Business ADAPT tool provides five simple steps to help companies understand and act on the climate related risks that they face.

The steps are targeted towards company executives and senior managers, and provide detailed guidance in sectors that are considered highly vulnerable including water and energy utilities and companies in the food, beverage, agriculture and general manufacturing industries.

The five steps are:
  1. Analyze the issues - Have you started thinking about the resilience of your business in the face of climate-related impacts?
  2. Develop an internal strategy - Have you mobilized the right team to address climate resilience?
  3. Assess risks and opportunities - Have you taken steps to assess the areas where opportunities to build climate resilience or invest in emerging market opportunities exist in your business value chain?
  4. Prioritize actions - Have you taken steps to identify and assess measures to build climate resilience in your value chain?
  5. Tackle actions, and evaluate progress - How will you successfully implement actions to build climate resilience in your value chain, and evaluate and monitor the effect of your actions over time?
PREP Value Chain Climate Resilience has been written by The Partnership for Resilience and Environmental Preparedness.

PREP is a one-year pilot partnership formed to address the risks and opportunities that climate change impacts pose to businesses and the communities on which they depend.

Members include Calvert Investments, Earth Networks, Entergy, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., Levi Strauss and Co., Starbucks and Swiss Re. BSR and Ceres are also partners. Oxfam America serves as PREP's secretariat.

The firm Acclimatise served as lead authors of the report.

Read PREP Value Chain Climate Resilience.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Small businesses will benefit from an IT consultant's expertise

Running a small business often means time and budget are tight. You probably don’t want to spend hours filtering through online resources to find the best methods or solutions.

Because the first year of a new business tends to be the “make it or break it” moment, sitting down with someone who understands IT can help you avoid startup pitfalls and technical glitches that can hinder your company’s growth.

Small businesses can benefit from hiring an IT consulting firm for a number of reasons.

Buying help

When you hire an IT consultant, you can gain insight into which servers, programs and other hardware can meet your needs and your budget according to your business plans. Without spending time on IT purchasing decisions, you’ll be able to focus more on the core of your work.
  • IT consultants with experience know the best methods that will help you meet your goals.
  • IT consultants can advise you on purchasing decisions so you don’t overspend or get a product that won’t accomplish what you had in mind.
  • Better, faster and cheaper solutions with proven success will save you time and money.
  • IT service providers stay up to date on the latest in tech and understand which products are not worth the cost.
Access to a team
Hiring a single IT employee may seem to be the best idea, but hiring a consulting firm provides more support and information than one individual can.

You also won’t have to worry about benefits, salary or training that come from the employment of an in-house IT specialist.
  • You’ll have access to a team of specialists that can provide support on the latest and greatest in IT without additional training on your end.
  • When hiring an IT consulting firm, you get a flexibility that doesn’t come with an individual. On-demand support is a bonus when unplanned events occur.
  • Through a partnership with a well-established IT consultant, businesses can have the benefits of priority (and sometimes discounted) access to various technology vendors.
Increased productivity
If you hire an IT consultant, you and your employees can spend less time worrying about the office network and more time getting the job done.
  • Effectively planned and executed technology can ensure your company faces less downtime and fewer glitches.
  • Gain peace of mind knowing that whatever problems you face, you have an IT support system that can provide insight and solutions.
  • Because you won’t be the one focused on making sure everything tech at your business is running smoothly, even if a hiccup does occur, you can continue focusing on what’s most valuable: growing your business.
As a company expands, bringing in an IT team may be the best route. Or, you may want to stick with the methods you’ve been using.

Small businesses can benefit from hiring an IT consultant, but it’s truly up to you to determine if this is the route you want to take.

Slideshare: Social Media Analytics

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

An artistic concept of Alien Life

These bizarre jellyfish-like beings were dreamt up by a British scientist as an example of life 'not as we know it'.

This is what evolution might have come up with on a world such as Saturn's moon Titan, Dr Maggie Alderin-Pocock believes.

She envisages creatures that float through clouds of methane, scooping chemical nutrients into their gaping mouths.

The aliens keep themselves aloft by means of dangling onion-like buoyancy bags, and communicate with pulses of light.

Picture: Eden's Science Month/PA

Questions to ask about your new Social Media Site

Which Channels Are Right For My Business?
To determine whether or not you’re using the right social media channels to convert leads and drive sales, here are five questions to consider before engaging with a new social media site.
  1. What are the Four W’s? – When assessing a new social network, start by reviewing the 4 W’s: who, what, when, and why. Who’s using the site (demographic); what are they doing on it (engagement factors); when are they most active; and finally, why have they chosen the site? What is drawing them to it? This is where you want to analyze whether a site’s buyer personas mesh with those of your brand.Take Pinterest for example, a social network used mostly by women. If you’re trying to market your new men’s hair loss product, Pinterest might not be the best fit. If you are unable to provide a way to meet the needs of a site’s particular demographic, than maybe that site isn’t right for your brand. Nonetheless, don’t feel the need to repurpose your entire brand just to look appealing to a given social network.
  2. Who’s Likely to Use the Network in the Long Run? – Given the unpredictable future of many social media sites, it is important to understand which demographic is most likely to be engaging with the site down the line. Are they potential customers, or do they have the ability to persuade potential customers? Because word of mouth has such a large impact on businesses, especially through social media channels, your brand should look into how these potential customers share content across the site.
  3. What Types of Content Are People Sharing? – Are the products and services your business provides relevant to the content people are sharing? Make sure that your content is fit for the particular network you’re engaging with. For example; you wouldn’t go posting information about a new book you just read on MySpace, which is largely dominated by bands and music. If it’s obvious that a particular site is industry-specific, make sure that the content you share is relevant to that industry.
  4. How Much Time and How Many Resources? – Oftentimes business don’t have the personnel required to stay up-to-date on their social media efforts. It takes a lot of time and effort to stay current with social media, so don’t spread yourself too thin. Instead, select a few social networks that align with your business and utilize them to their fullest potential. Another thing to consider when sharing content across multiple sites is the use of social media management tools such as Hootsuite. This will allow you to monitor and post across all your sites from a single hub.²
  5. Is There a Promising ROI in the Future? – Sharing valuable content, engaging with your audience and collecting lead information is not enough. In order to understand the effectiveness of your social media efforts, analyze how much traffic and leads are generated across your social platforms. Measuring these results will allow you to evaluate and make corrections on any aspect of your social presence that isn’t up to par.²
By following these five steps, you can separate the wheat from the chaff, and engage with the social media sites that are best for your business.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New guide to Examining Business Risk published by the Institute of Directors (IoD)

A new guide to business risk, published by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in association with Airmic, Chartis, PwC and Willis, urges UK Board members to improve their understanding and management of risk in order to successfully deliver growth and prevent future crises.

“Business Risk – A practical guide for Board members” lays out in detail the roles and responsibilities of the board in assessing and managing business risk, the risk challenges currently facing UK businesses and the structural, personal and strategic solutions which can be used to address these challenges.

Comments about the guide:
Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: “If companies and the economy as a whole are to grow in today’s environment, it is vital that directors put risk management at the heart of business strategy.

Understanding risk helps you to become more enterprising without jeopardising your business. On the other hand, take the wrong kind of risk and you are heading for disaster, whilst avoiding risk altogether means you are condemned to stagnation. This guide will help directors get this crucial balance right.”

Alpesh Shah, director in PwC’s Actuarial Risk Practice, said: “There are few aspects of a board’s functioning that are as crucial to long-term corporate success as risk management.

Organizations that understand the risks they face and can articulate their risk appetite and define their risk strategy accordingly can have better decision-making, greater agility and a sharper competitive edge.

The practical points in this guide will be invaluable as Board members strive to achieve this.”

Daniel Wilkinson, CEO of Willis UK, said: “Unpredictable emerging threats like cyber, reputational and supply chain risks require Boards to take a long-term focus on building resilience throughout their organizations rather than having a traditional risk management policy based solely on anticipation.

The resilience approach will help companies respond quickly and dynamically to threats by ensuring that the right expertise and processes are in place.”

ESA Euronews: Dragon and the Private Space - YouTube

Boldly going where no private company has gone before.

On 25 May 2012, Dragon, the first commercial spacecraft berthed with the International Space Station.

A private company achieved something only national agencies have ever done before: flying and recovering an orbital craft.

With private companies launching their own spaceships and designing their own orbital stations, it's the dawn of commercial spacefaring.

We talk to people involved in that development and we explore the world's first commercial spaceport.

The Five Great Skills of Speaking - YouTube

Through analysing thousands of speaking performances, these guys have determined that good speakers have developed proficiency in five skill areas. Every problem you experience as a presenter can be solved by mastering these.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Human Cognition - Is Seeing Believing? - YouTube

Scientific American takes a look at how sensory cross-talk helps us navigate the world. Here, the McGruck Effect, an intertwining of sight and sound, at work. Also see how synesthesia, the curious crossing of the senses, works.
The McGurk effect is a compelling demonstration of how we all use visual speech information. The effect shows that we can't help but integrate visual speech into what we 'hear'.

Understanding Social Media and the Statistics

The Holy Grail of Social Media is justifying the outlay and effort spent, on a business level.

There are no shortage of statistics that prove the value of Social Media. Here are some of them:
  • Social media users revenue grew at 19% vs. non-SM users 6% 
  • Client base of SM users grew at 21% vs. non-SM users 
  • 61% of LinkedIn users gained a client through SM,
  • 35% of Facebook users gained a client,
  • 47% of blog owners gained a client,
  • 36% overall gained clients, through a social network. 
The sources were a 2011 Hubspot Report, 2010 Socialware Survey, and a 2009 Pershing-Aite Study. Most businesses realize the potential of social media to enhance their bottom line.

Even the largest companies understand that the investment in manpower (social media work is labor intensive) is vital.

In fact, "research conducted by Buddy Media shows that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are always considered while making marketing strategies in bigger companies.

94% of the participating companies said that Facebook was the top priority when it came to social media marketing." Other statistics that this study ferreted out were more telling.

The respondents in this particular study were Chief Marketing Officers, and when asked what their purpose for using social media was, only 38% said for sales.

Another telling stat is that 35% of these CMOs reported they had no strategic plan for social media use. These study results were reported in a recent Geeks4Share article.

Another report, this one a Forrester study, reported by Mashable, concluded that just 49% of CMOs and Marketing VPs had fully integrated social media in to their brand building efforts.

Just about all of them realized the potential and the change that social media has made in how consumers and brands engage, but almost half were baffled about how to use it to make a dollars and sense difference.

There has been a lot of talk about the effectiveness of social media this week as GM pulled their advertising dollars from Facebook on the eve of their IPO.

On Social Media Today, Steve Olenski addressed it in The Real Reason GM Left Facebook.

If you are a GM fan, and have frequented their fan pages, you can attest that they never seemed to engage much--using them generally as broadcast tools.

This is too much like traditional media--one way communication, instead of the more personal dialogue that social media offers. So their strategy needs tweaking.

Overall, the numbers in this article seem to tell us that companies know they should market with social media, but do not know how to do it. In fact, half of the business to consumer marketers surveyed agreed with the statement “Social media has the potential to build my brand, but I’m not sure how to capitalize on it.”

That last statement excites me for the future we can expect from social media. Most social media devotees, like myself, realize that companies often do not understand how to implement social media-- at all!

The larger ones, of course, have figured out some things, but it seems there is a lot of opportunity to help businesses put an effective social media plan in place that drives traffic, engages customers, and encourages brand loyalty.

Glass is no longer Dumb: The growing market for Smart glass

Smart glass is a unique type of material used in windows that is able to electronically control glare and heat. It is primarily used in architecture and transportation, privacy glass and museum artwork expositions.
As a result of new production capacity entering the market within the year, production costs will go down, allowing the sector grow.

A new report from Pike Research predicts that smart glass production could become a nearly $700 million area of the flat glass market by 2020, eight time more than it’s worth today.
“High-performance buildings require a level of control over energy that many of today’s automation systems are only now starting to address,” senior analyst Eric Bloom says in a statement. “Smart glass is an innovative technology that both provides building owners unprecedented control over solar heat gain and offers a visually impressive alternative to flat glass.”
North America and Europe are expected to take the lead in this growth, but researchers also see the potential for a lot of growth in China, where a building boom is now underway.
And as more people start to adopt green building standards, industry will look to smart glass to address these needs.
Pike Research reports:
“This class of high-performance glazing products offers significant energy efficiency, aesthetic, and user comfort and wellbeing benefits as compared to conventional ’static’ glazing.”
To learn more about the report, visit Pike Research.

Recycle: Create Useful Aids from Trash

One man's trash is another man's treasure, and we've always been fond of finding MacGyver-like uses for anything and everything—right down to dryer lint and used candy wrappers.. Here are our top 10 favorite hacks for things you thought were headed to the garbage.

10. Make a Waterproof Fire Starter Out of Dryer Lint

For all the laundry we do in a week, we accumulate a massive amount of dryer lint. Wouldn't it be better off going toward something useful? Whether you're making an outdoor or indoor fire, you can always use a little help to get things started, and that dryer lint can help. Just throw the lint into a section of an egg carton, tie it up with dental floss, cover it in some old candle wax, and you've got yourself a waterproof fire starter for any occasion. It should last you about 15 minutes, more than enough to get a roaring fire going.

9. Make a Tablet Stylus Out of a Candy Wrapper

Steve Jobs may not approve of stylus usage, but sometimes you just need to let your inner artist out and a finger doesn't cut it. Instead of buying a stylus though, you can make one yourself out of an old pen and a used candy wrapper. If you want to go above and beyond, a bit of tissue paper or newspaper can make it all the better.

8. Turn Bread Tags Into Cord Labels

I dread the days when I have to reach behind my desk to move some cables around, since I can never figure out which one is which. Eliminate that annoyance by labeling your cables with old bread tags: just write down the device that each cord leads to and slap them on. You'll never have to run your hand through that bird's nest of cables ever again.

7. Turn a Plastic Bottle Into a Smartphone Bike Mount

While we recommend investing in a reusable water bottle, sometimes you just have to buy it bottled, and then you have one more piece of trash lying around. Instead of throwing it away, you can turn it into a rainproof bike mount for your smartphone—perfect for navigating you home and avoiding inclement weather. Alternatively, you could turn it into a lens cap for your camera, or an irrigation system for your garden to keep it watered while you're away from home.

6. Remove Bad Smells and Clean Windows with Newspaper

Old newspapers are good for more than just starting fire, and if you still haven't moved over to the digital edition of your favorite rag, you can use it as a household odor-killer. Just stuff it in drawers, refrigerators, shoes, or any other smelly place and it should clear that odor right up. Alternatively, you could turn it into an actual rag: newspaper is the perfect way to clean your windows with a streak-free shine.

5. Turn an Old Gift Card Into a Headphone Cable Wrapper

Top 10 Clever Hacks for Things You Thought Were Trash
Once you've used up that gift card from Aunt Petunia, you don't have to toss it—with a few cuts here and there, it can make a great cable wrapper for your headphones. Of course, you can always use our beloved "devil horns" method if you don't have a gift card around, but the gift card can help keep them from unraveling.

4. Turn an Old Sock Into an MP3 Player-Holding Armband

If you've tried exercising with your smartphone or MP3 player, you know how much of a pain they can be bouncing around in your pocket or clipped onto your shorts. Clipping it on your arm really is the best way to go, and if you don't want to buy an armband, just cut the toe off an old sock and slide it up your arm. Then, fold the bottom half up to create a pocket for your device. It may not be quite as fancy as the store-bought model, but it's hard to beat the low price.

3. Turn a Shampoo Bottle Into a Charging Station

Top 10 Clever Hacks for Things You Thought Were Trash
We all have one or two devices we dump out of our pockets as soon as we get home, and what better place to put them than in the wall? With an old shampoo or lotion bottle, you can create a nice charging cradle for them that hangs right off the socket, so they aren't taking up space on the floor. Alternatively, you can take those old bottles and organize your cables on the wall, too.

2. Turn Toilet Paper Tubes Into Cable Organizers

We tech nerds amass tons of extra cables over time, and we're afraid to get rid of them for fear we might need them one day. The solution? Take all those toilet paper tubes you use up and turn them into an ugly but incredibly awesome cable organizer. It'll keep all your cables stored and labeled neatly, without tangles, all the while making use of your trash. You can also use them to just control your cable clutter of individual appliances, too.

1. Turn a Soda Can Into a Wi-Fi Extender

We're always looking for ways to improve our Wi-Fi signal, and if you aren't ready to give up and buy a new router, you can try extending your range with a soda can. Just cut it up and put it on your antenna, where it'll act as a parabolic reflector and enjoy Wi-Fi on the far side of your house. Plus, when you're done, you can hang pictures with the can's tabs, too.