Archive for the ‘iPad’ Category

The Trend: “Alone Together.” The Trigger? Web 2.0

By Berenice Ring, Professor at Fundação Getulio Vargas

There are now 2.1 billion Internet users on planet Earth—30 percent of the world’s population! And to access the Internet, we now have countless models of cell phones, laptops, tablets, and every other wonder technology has provided us with. We can no longer live without them!

Visiting friends recently, I witnessed an interesting scene in their living room. The father, an advertising professional, worked on his iMac. The mother, an interior decorator, chose fabrics on her iPad. The daughter, multitasking on a PC, searched the Internet to do her homework and listened to music on iTunes while still logged on to Facebook. And the son played video games. All of them, no doubt, had their cell phones on. A commonplace scene, no? The question is, were they actually together in the living room?

This is the latest trend emerging all over—”alone together”—driven by advances in technology and by Web 2.0.

Trends are behaviors that define change patterns that have been building for some years and are expected to last for another many years. Is this particular trend good or bad for society? As with everything else in life, there are several sides to the issue.

MIT professor and ethnography specialist Sherry Turke published a book earlier this year entitled Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Turk argues that, instinctively, we humans still need physical proximity, noticing the lack of satisfaction and increased alienation among users she studied.

With the recent explosion of technology and social networks, we might gather that human relationships are thriving as never before! However, what Turke suggests is that we are ascribing human attributes to objects and treating each other as things. She reveals the paradoxical picture of today’s human disconnect, caused by the expansion of virtual connections on cell phones and computers.

We are indeed alone in the room, alienated from our family and everyone in our milieu. And yet, when my family took car trips before the emergence of all this Internet paraphernalia, my daughter often announced that she was going to turn on her “isolation kit” (i.e., iPod) for the duration. So I ask, didn’t our Generation Y children already isolate themselves from the family in their rooms long before all these tools appeared?

And if, on one hand, we are alone in our living room, on the other, we are more united than ever with our friends through Facebook and Orkut, to people with common hobbies and tastes through communities in which we choose to take part, and to other professionals in our industry via LinkedIn and Twitter. Moreover, technology enables us to establish joint creative connections with other individuals through wikis, like the one that resulted in the fabulous phenomenon Wikipedia. The strength of like-minded masses even elected the American president! Using a reverse approach, Foursquare was created, already boasting 10 million users, bringing people together in the physical world—in bars and restaurants, for instance—with a digital “check-in” tool that enables us to inform people we know of our whereabouts.

It is worth keeping in mind that there is also a fraternization side to this story. A viral message received by a father, for example, may become a subject of conversation with his son, and vice-versa. There is surely still much to talk about regarding the consequences of this trend for both the family and society.

And what about corporations? Companies that keep an eye on trends are always ready to draw insights from them. Those that manage to deploy these trends constructively will be better equipped to see the direction where we are going and to build potential future scenarios more accurately. Their strategies to deal with the present will have a much greater chance of success! Not only that; by arriving ahead of others in the marketplace, they gain significant competitive advantage over their competitors.

There is no doubt that great business opportunities are waiting for us—in the physical, digital, and mobile worlds.

How about you? Have you begun thinking about your digital strategy?

Social Media: Still a Mystery to Most Small Businesses

By Amy Howell, CEO of Howell Marketing Strategies

Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me about social media for business. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all new media tools that can help bolster your Internet or digital “footprint.”

You can read all about how social media is ramping up the conversation by doing a simple Google search. But the more important question small business owners want answered is how to use social media to boost sales and get the phone ringing. I call it “turning on the water faucet.” Social media for businesses should mean one thing: free tools that can strengthen your organization’s SEO (search engine optimization), help get your message out, and engage with customers and prospects.

Now these tools may be free, but the time you must spend executing the work can be extensive. A lot of writers just re-hash what’s already been written, so what I find most helpful is to share what we help clients do in the trenches every day. Below are the main barriers to using social media and why it remains a mystery, followed by how to get started and what to do first.

The barriers for most small businesses using social media are:

  • Time and education: It takes time to read and learn about the ever-changing, growing tools online, and most business owners don’t have extra time to devote to this. I hear it every day, and as a small business owner myself, I certainly understand this constraint. Small businesses have limited resources and must focus on revenue development and all that comes with running a business. Social media can help a small business tremendously, but most owners have not had time to get up to speed.
  • Lack of resources: It takes a dedicated effort to employ social media tools. Most companies can hire help, but many simply don’t have the extra resources to do so.
  • Reluctance to embrace new media: A lot of people are just flat out skeptical of social media. There are legitimate reasons to ignore it, especially if you are in a regulated industry (banking, insurance, finance, etc.), as some governing entities such as the SEC have policies against any use of social media for work. I think that will change soon, as I’m already seeing some large organizations issue new policies on social media use.
  • Generational: Most people would be surprised to know that the average age of a Twitter user is between 40 and 55. Age isn’t an excuse to avoid social tools, but it is often an explanation.

How to get started if you want to add a social media strategy to your marketing toolkit:

  • Read, read, read. There are some excellent blogs (like this one) and other resources online that can tell you all you need to know. There is no “magic wand” that will do this for you. If you really want to jump in, you have to do the reading yourself. You can hire it out of course, but the ideal results spring from the business understanding social media and embracing it, even if it means only monitoring at first. Let’s take the Judy McLellan Team for example (@JudyMacTeam on Twitter). Judy hired my firm to help with a real estate marketing and PR strategy that included the use of social tools. At first, we did some of the tweeting and posting. But now, you can find Judy out selling homes while using her iPad and iPhone to tweet and spread information about her listings.
  • Pick one tool and learn that first. For me, it’s Twitter. Once I understood Twitter, I moved on to learning about some other tools. I think by mastering one tool, small businesses can see results faster. Let’s take Cheffie’s Cafe (@Cheffies on Twitter) as the next example. We helped Cheffie’s Cafe spread the word by using Twitter, along with traditional PR during the previous few months. A good Twitter strategy is key to a successful PR campaign.
  • Look at what your competition is doing. Get online and do a little research to see what your competition is up to in the social space. Let’s take OrthoMemphis, a successful orthopaedic practice in Memphis that adopted social media long before its competition did. We have helped OrthoMemphis (@OrthoMemphis on Twitter) use social media tools to not only market their sub-specialists (knee, hips, and shoulders), but also to launch OrthoStat, its acute care walk-in clinic. Combined with direct mail, PR, and patient communications, Twitter and Facebook have been tremendously helpful.
  • Get a social media policy in place and communicate it to your organization. There are some great examples online and free resources available. I suggest any small business that wants to use social media tools have a policy in place just like a media policy. Talking online is like talking in the newspaper, and it’s important to have a strategy and know the dos and don’ts of posting online. Good examples are Coca-Cola, Kodak, and Intel. (A list of these can be found on my blog.)

The smaller the organization (or flatter), the easier it is to employ social media. Even though they may have more resources, larger companies are often more bureaucratic and have more red tape. Larger companies are also usually slower to “get it,” and we have found that companies without all the red tape can move faster and are often more decisive. Social media gives the little guys a leg up and is a great way to have a big voice online.

Nordstrom Does Twitter Right

By David Meerman Scott, Author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly

The other morning, I popped over to my local Nordstrom store to check out what’s new for spring. Dave Angiulo helped me choose some styling shirts that I can wear with my blue Peter Millar suit.

As we were heading to the cash register, Dave asked me if I was on Twitter. It was a very low-key, casual question. It did not feel pushy in any way. “Absolutely,” I said. “Are you?” He gave me his business card, which included his Twitter handle: @NordstromDave. Damn. I wanted to learn more.

Dave said he uses Twitter to keep his customers informed. He tweets photos of clothes he likes. Sometimes he comments on what’s happening, like this tweet on the Academy Awards: “I think my vote goes to Colin Firth for best dressed last night… or maybe Tom Hanks. Just proves again that you can’t go wrong with a classic look.”

Dave also told me that he has a bunch of clients who he sends direct messages to. He knows their tastes in clothing, and when something new comes in, he informs them, privately, right away. This real-time effort frequently generates immediate sales, as Dave already has his customers’ sizes and payment information, and he ships the items right out. Brilliant.

As I was checking out his Twitter feed upon returning to my office, I found myself fascinated by a video that Dave pointed to about Ex-Girlfriend jeans. Dave’s not too fond of them. Can’t say I blame him. His tweet read, “Not sure I’m up on this skinny jeans for men thing… slim, straight is okay, but “jeggings” for men? Video from @GMA:” Others jumped into the Twitter discussion.

This is how you use Twitter at work!

In a corporate environment where many companies fear letting employees use social networking, Nordstrom is doing it right. Yes, there is a corporate @Nordstrom Twitter account, but Dave’s personal touch is a fantastic way to use Twitter for business, pushing the interaction down to people who work directly with customers.

To be sure, this is Dave’s initiative. He’s making it happen. But the effort is fully supported by Nordstrom. Dave has access to computers and iPads at work to tweet, and he usually uses his personal iPhone for the photos.

I’ll DM @NordstromDave the next time I need something. I want to make sure he’s there before I go in.

Disaster Control: How Social Media Can Help

By John Foley, Jr., Chief Executive/Marketing Officer at Grow Socially

A natural disaster can happen at any time in any place, but even though a disaster may affect a certain area, the business world keeps moving everywhere else. So when your office is suddenly unavailable, how can you quickly reach out to your employees and clients with updates, news alerts, and other critical information they may need to know? Social media can be the first hand of assistance in this particular situation.

Social media is known for its ability to spread information in a fast and effective way to a large amount of people. The second you publish a post or tweet, it becomes visible to hundreds, even thousands, of people instantly. Another convenience of social media is that you can use it from any device with Internet access. You can access it on smartphones, computers, iPads, and more.

Now that you know why social media is a great communication tool to use during an emergency, you may then wonder, “How do I prepare myself to use it for this type of issue?”

The first preparatory step would be to create a private group on your social media accounts, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. You can make these groups private since they do not affect the general public, and you can inform clients and employees that this site is the place to go in order to obtain emergency updates during a disaster. You can share news articles, quick announcements, contact information, and anything else that may be important and reassuring to your audience.

Here are the “must haves” for an emergency company group page on Facebook:

  • Staff directory—all contact information
  • Client directory—all contact information
  • Links to local news of workplace
  • Links to local maps
  • Emergency preparation kit
  • Company calendar
  • Shelter locations
  • Contact information for local police, fire, and other departments

Finally, be sure that all employees are group members.

If your audience uses Twitter, you should create a “company alert” hashtag. Some examples for my company, Grow Socially, could be #GrowSocially911, #GSAlert, or #GSEmergency. You can post the hashtag on your company’s Twitter account in order to tell your audience that tweets with the alert hashtag are updates on your disaster control efforts. Using hashtags in these scenarios is helpful because when people search the hashtag, all of the tweets you create that include that hashtag will appear on their screens.

Using these techniques would also be helpful to your employees because this would inform them to avoid the work area if it is too dangerous. If they are able to work from home, they would be able to take over client needs while the people in charge take care of the actual workplace.

Social media is an excellent communication tool when people have no time to talk to a large group of people individually. Your audience will appreciate knowing the situation your company is in and that you are doing everything you can to resume usual schedules.

If making individual calls to each client and worker is the last thing you want to do when you are trying to keep your business afloat, then social media is the way to go. Posting short, informative messages throughout the day will give your entire audience a consistent, helpful update on what the situation is for your business.

The Perfect Bundle: A Netbook and an Aspirin

By Jeff Hasen, Chief Marketing Officer at Hipcricket

I’ve always thought that a drugstore was a place to treat a headache, not to receive one. But we’re in dangerous territory these days. No, not the kind of danger where your wife or girlfriend asks you to pick up a feminine product that will be in your hand just when your buddy—armed with a mobile device and Twitter and Facebook feeds—is in line for his daily dose of beef jerky.

Consumer electronics have found a home at CVS between the deodorant and Pepto Bismol. How convenient, you say? How crazy, I say.

Why? It’s illogical to ask the consumer, or heaven forbid, the stockboy to be informed about consumer electronics products being introduced virtually every hour in the era of technology on steroids.

CVS began selling a $99 Sylvania netbook computer over the Labor Day weekend and quickly sold out in many locations, according to news accounts. It features a seven-inch display, 128 MB of internal memory, and 2 GB of NAND Flash. The computer runs Internet Explorer on Windows CE 6.0. How wonderful.

If you walked down the street or into your local CVS store (otherwise known as your consumer electronics destination of choice), do you think more than three in 100 could tell you the benefits and downside of 128 MB of memory and 2 GB of NAND Flash? What the heck is NAND Flash anyway? None of your Facebook or Twitter followers can help here.

Consumers were driven to CVS by Sunday circulars that proclaimed the “New Netbook… Wow! $99.99.” InformationWeek reported that “several users said they hoped to find a way to eventually download some Android apps to the netbook.” If you are going to hold your breath for this one, please consult the pharmacist. Other users said they bought the netbook for their children, while still others said they would give the machines as holiday presents. Shouldn’t this treatment of children be reviewed by the authorities?

The netbook can’t run Microsoft Office 2007 but gives lucky buyers WordPad, DocViewer, XLSViewer, and PDFViewer. Not to mention the headache that can be treated by CVS’ aspirin. Which brings us to the consumer electronics stores.

Whole new categories and operating systems are—or soon will be—for sale. Tablets are being offered that promise an iPad-like experience for a fraction of the cost. Smartphones are so plentiful that you have to wonder if every device can be that smart.

The better retail experiences will feature informed, patient salespeople educating the eager and uninformed. They will deliver on the “moments of trust” for the store and manufacturer. But that will likely be the exception, given staffing levels and the near impossible task of having anyone keep up with all the products and services that the tech world is introducing.

You’ll be hearing all about the pain on Twitter, Facebook, and a blog near you. It’s fortunate that aspirin is as mobile as the netbook and smartphone.