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Tuesday
Sep102013

Digital Takeover - Are You Ready?

I am a self-confessed smartphone addict. It must be in reach, or I’ll start to feel anxious. I check and re-check it constantly, even if the screen is blank. This ‘issue’ is far more widespread than I originally thought. Time magazine reported the results of a survey that found "1 in 4 people check their phone every 30 minutes, 1 in 5 every 10 minutes," while "a third of respondents admitted that being without their mobile for even short periods leaves them feeling anxious." Recently, my phone was broken for 24 hours and I felt completely lost without it. Simple tasks such as transferring money via mobile banking and checking train times were no longer possible. For a minute I had to think...how did I do this before I had a smartphone or did not readily have access to a computer? Then I thought, wow, I really do rely on this piece of technology to do EVERYTHING.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug272013

6 Ways to Guarantee that Your Content won’t Get Read – or, Why This Post is Exactly 700 Words

 

  1. Use really small font – Don’t use content that makes the reader feel like he is having an eye examine.  If you’ve been reading content that uses a standard size 12 font then you suddenly switch to a piece with 10 or less, the contrast can make your eyes bleed. Don’t forget that many of your readers will be using lap tops with 13 inch or smaller screens, not to mention mobile devices. Don’t forget as well that many of us are 40 plus - oh, alright 50 plus - and may have lower visual acuity while refusing to wear eye glasses.  When it comes to fonts, the larger the better.  The next best thing is to use content that allows the reader to switch font size with a button at the top of the article.
  2. Use black backgrounds with white fonts or garish color combinations – While it can be dramatic and memorable, content with this combination can also be painful to read especially after reading many pieces with more standard black fonts on white backgrounds. Though not as painful on the eyeballs, you will often see websites with neutral colors, for example, light blue fonts on a light brown background. You often have to work harder to digest content dressed up like this.  Basically, when it comes to the content itself, make it as easy as possible for your reader.
  3. Use content with lots of advertising – Content with lots of swirling ads, especially the ones that open up on top of the main text is annoying as – heck. Content that integrates a lot of promotional content from other websites can also load more slowly, sometimes to the point of distraction.  Ad laden content also suggests a lack of sophistication or bona fides so those pursuing thought leadership should minimize use of this kind of content. Occasionally, fabulous pieces will appear that violate this bit of Social hygiene so there are no hard fast rules despite the provocative title of this post.
  4. Use unfamiliar sources – Obviously, the further you wander from well known and trusted sources, the less likely people are to spend their time. The “I was a Teen Age Alien” story reported by a tabloid paper is less inclined to draw “respectable” eyeballs than the “Area 51 – Real Cover-up” story that appeared recently in the LA Times.  Especially, beware of the “content marketing” pieces, especially content that reframes or regurgitates content from more established sources and then “private labels” it. Content marketing activities have also gotten very sophisticated to the extent that it is difficult to tell that a piece is actually one long advert.  Many mainstream publications like Forbes, for example, now allow almost anyone with good content and a reasonable profile to publish an article. While in Forbes’ case they are not blatant adverts they are often published with promotional intent. You have to consider these case by case as to weather your audience will lack faith in the credibility of the piece based on the author’s profile and the gist of the piece.
  5.  Use mobile un-friendly piecesRemember that more and more content is viewed on mobile devices with small screens. It is asking a lot of your mobile audience to have them resize the article with their fingers (in most cases) and then slide it around to read just the first few sentences. It is almost guaranteed to be passed by. Try to use content that has a mobile friendly format.
  6. Exceed 700 words There are perhaps the most exceptions to this “rule” but on average, people do not want to read content longer than this. Said another way, the content better be incredibly topical, well written, and credible to capture someone’s attention.  And although 700 is not meant to be a precise cut-off point, a quick glance by most people will tell them whether they can read your post or article in 5 minutes or less.  Figure that the average reading speed is 200 to 300 words per minute which means our recommended length would require 2 to 3 minutes for the average person to read and means that I should end this post right about -  now!

 

 

 

Thursday
Aug152013

Facebook needs a Therapist

Ok, I’m just a little guy, Facebook is an incredibly sophisticated, path breaking platform, employing some of the world’s finest minds – not the least of which is Mark Zuckerberg - to maintain its position as the world’s leading social platform. They have one of the sharpest COO’s available in Sheryl Sandberg. I’m sure they know what they’re doing…and I’m sure you’re onto me by now – there’s a catch coming right?

As a longtime tai chi practitioner and teacher, we have a saying “just enough”. There’s another great expression: “less is more”. I’m told the great painters had a similar skill, despite hours and hours of work and obsessing on a painting they knew there was a time to lay down the brush, just one extra brush stroke, a detraction.

It seems clear to me that Facebook suffers from that sometimes fatal disease we clinicians call “design diarrhea”. In their laudable attempt to stay ahead of the curve they continue to anger larger ranks of users - possibly the reason their userbase declined for the first time (their figures dispute this) earlier this year.  Every couple of weeks – perhaps an exaggeration – there seems to be a new page setup, though small, if not a change in functionality. If I have to watch the message, update, and friends icons jump from one side of the page to the other for no clear reason – it seems to be a daily occurrence (Oh, I know, I guess it has to do with fooling the bots or some such). Truly, the platform is exhibiting signs of schizoprenia or at least neurosis.  As they continually iterate, they are iterating users out the door – over to Instagram, Twitter, and Google+ where the livin’ is easy.

If I were Facebook’s therapist, I would suggest the following: Treat your users like precious tenants you don’t want to move to another, trendy property.  Everytime your users open their Facebook pages they’re coming home.  It’s their private oasis. Their timeline is like their bedroom. 

It doesn’t matter that you own the building, you can’t keep moving light switches, changing the oven from gas to electric, and pushing junk mail through the mail slot without making for angry tenants.  Many of those tenants won’t leave because of the usual inertia and because they can’t imagine living in Edinburgh versus London but rest assured many are virtually waiting for the proverbial straw.

I can clearly picture the scene though it may only exist in my mind, hundreds of mensa level programmers and techhies working feverishly 24/7, hatching the next great platform tweak.  Whiteboards still hot hours after quitting time from a perpetual state of brainstorming – indeed, the brainstorming is so intense there is a micro climate surrounding the Facebook campus.  At the same time, young, ex-wall street types, bound nervously from meeting to meeting proclaiming the preciousness of earnings per share and market cap.  

I hate to say it but the country of Facebook seems to be employing the democracy model in the wrong place. Perhaps more democracy is on order with its customers and perhaps a dictatorship is on order for how it runs its business.

Rounding out my prescription, I strongly recommend a bit of corporate tai chi, mindfulness meditation, yoga or similar practice to rediscover themselves, their clients and calm their “monkey minds”, the zen koan “what is your original face?” seems eerily appropriate.  Breathe in, breathe out, feel the pull of gravity, let go of the internal conversations. Turn off, unplug, return to simplicity.  That’ll be £100, please…

Friday
Aug092013

Is training worth it?

A good test for training would be:

If the training was entirely optional, expensive, you still had to do what you do everyday and only available in a remote village accessible only by buss, but people came to the training because they were saying to themselves;  "This is engaging", "I feel connected", “I must learn this — it’s going to be critical for my job and future,” then, and ONLY then, you will know you have your training right. Anything less than that, and you are doing the training too soon, wrong way or failing to touch on See-Feel-Do- Act elements of learning.  

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Training at Educated Change looks like this:

By Peter Klein

Friday
Aug092013

Tips for Getting (and Keeping) your First 100 Twitter Followers

(Or, In the Non-Digital World - What Would I Do if I Needed 100 New Contacts?)

 

Contacts, whether in the digital or non-digital world, are great for sharing business ideas with, forming partnerships/friendships, and gaining leads. In general, the more contacts you have the better, and 100 is a good amount to aim for when you’re new to Twitter.

 

 

1. Follow people you’re interested in.

In the real world you would first find the places where the people you want to meet hang out. The best golfers are most likely at the best courses, writers hang out at bars, and so on. But before visiting those places you would do some research. For golfers you’d check the sports page, follow that to the golfer’s hometown, call a couple golf courses, and find where they practice. You get the picture. But life is easier now.

If you don't yet have a Twitter account, and want a quick starter's guide, here are some videos we’ve made to get you started. If you’re already familiar with Twitter, please read on!

In the digital world, there are several ways to find people you want to ‘follow’. Perhaps the best way is to look for someone in your space who has set up a Twitter list of influencers. For example, one of our guys has made a list of ‘Top 50 Social CEOs’. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to connect with influential people in your space.

To see if someone has made any lists, go to their profile, then click on the ‘Lists’ tab on the left. Another way is to do a Google search – e.g., ‘CEO Twitter list’.

2. Find the right content for your space in the real world. Think: If I were to talk to the person in a face to face meeting, what would I say?

Often this content will be an article. Make sure to give credit to the author of the article you are posting by adding their handle to the end of your tweet. E.g., ‘Great blog post @Educated_Change!’. This is called a ‘mention’. You can also favorite other people’s tweets, retweet them, or thank them for retweeting you. There is a retweet button, but you can also do it manually by writing ‘RT’ and the person’s handle, and then copying and pasting their tweet. If you type MT instead of RT, it signifies you have modified the tweet by adding additional useful information or a different comment. Mentions, retweets, and favorites will all be seen on that person's Twitter account - so they will appreciate the fact that you have drawn attention to their content, and more importantly, to their profile.

Some great websites which we often use for business content are Fast Company, CEO.com, and TEDTalks.

3. Reframe the content

Articles often have attention-grabbing headlines, but these titles often don’t give much insight into what it is really about. That’s where you come in! When you’re tweeting about an article, try to ‘reframe’ the content – tell your followers what the real ‘meat’ of it is. By doing this, you show you’ve taken time to read the article, and do your followers the favour of giving them a valuable insight gained from it.

Another tip is to add hashtags to your tweets. This way they will be catalogued with other tweets on similar subjects. For example, if you’re posting an article about in-store vs. digital buying habits, you might add the hashtag #consumer to the end of the tweet. This means that more people will see your content and might want to follow you.

When you begin posting quality content, you will likely gain more followers. Make sure to follow them back – some people will unfollow you if you don’t return the favour!

4. Begin engaging

Just like in the non-digital world, on social media it pays to be open; to initiate conversations and share experiences.

You’ve already done some engagement just by mentioning authors in your tweets. Now it is time to start having conversations. These can be initiated in a number of ways. For example, if someone favorites one of your tweets, head over to their profile. If it is well filled-out, it should be easy to start a conversation with the person. If the tweet was about an innovative HR system, and the person turns out to be an HR Executive, you could say: ‘Thanks for the favorite. What’s your experience in implementing this system at work?” Asking questions and starting conversations are great ways to begin networking and getting to know your followers.


 

 

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