On Jan. 25, 2011 pictures and videos flooded out of Egypt as tens of thousands of anti-government protestors took to the streets in a “Day of Rage” protest over President Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
Pro-democracy sympathizers across the world retweeted and shared the updates, even as the Egyptian government disabled cellphone towers and blocked Twitter in an attempt to censor the material. Reports indicated that households and businesses opened up their Wi-Fi networks to support the protesters and to allow the dissemination of information. The pictures and videos that continued to appear across YouTube andFacebook trended on Twitter worldwide, both inspiring and shocking international onlookers.
Besides bank defaults and credit downgrades, 2011 will be remembered for the rise of social media democracy in countries traditionally ruled by autocratic governments — most notably, the Arab Spring. The wave of protests that began in Tunisia in December 2010 spread first to Egypt, then to Libya, Bahrain, Syria and Yeman, with protests of varying sizes across many more middle-Eastern countries.
In regions where official media has been heavily censored for years, the rise of personal access to the Internet and social networks has meant that populist movements now have a voice that can reach the outside world.
The year 2000 may have seen the dot-com bubble reach the limits of its inflation, but at that point the Internet marketing industry was really only getting started. Rapid increases in personal computing accessibility and the unstoppable growth of search have, among other things, facilitated a very buoyant market in online promotion via SEO – search engine optimization – and related services.
From the beginning, the various milestones, modifications and perhaps revolutions in Internet marketing stemmed largely from changes and innovations in software. Chat rooms came and went, some search engines got lost, whilst others found their way, and algorithm updates caused disruption and delight in equal measure (it’s a zero-sum game after all). However, while software will undoubtedly continue to impact, it is hardware that is now taking its turn to shake up the industry and potentially change the working landscape for internet marketers and website owners around the world.
Mobile internet usage is set to overtake desktop Internet usage by 2014, and what’s more, the way people use their mobile devices to browse is very different. This represents a colossal threat and concurrent opportunity for Internet marketers, and it is only those that can truly appreciate how the Internet will be consumed via these various new mobile devices that will prosper. Here are just some of the ways Internet (and search) usage is likely to change.
Using mobiles to type-search. Using a traditional keyboard to enter a search query into Google is usually easier and quicker than doing the same on a mobile device. It is highly likely therefore that users will search for shorter keyword strings on mobile devices, or rely more heavily on tools such as predictive text or Google Suggest. This will likely influence the way sites optimise their content and carry out their link building.
Voice search. In contrast to the previous point, there has been a rise in popularity of using voice search on mobile devices via Google or Yahoo search apps, or Apple iPhone’s Siri for example. This may make searching quicker and easier, but it should be noted that people tend to search differently when speaking, using more of a conversional sentence structure. For example, you may type-search “best netbooks”, but voice-search “what are the best netbooks available.” This is likely to influence a site’s keyword targeting.
Search by image. Tools such as Google Goggles allow users to very quickly search the Web using images on their phone or photos taken on the fly. Applications of this technology include taking a picture of a book in a store to find the best price, or using the picture of a restaurant front to find customer reviews. Ensuring your content and imagery are optimised for this form of search is likely to become increasingly important.
Industry trends. As mobile Internet data shows, uptake levels are not necessarily equal across all industries. Travel, for example, is one area where growth in mobile Internet (and search) is increasing at pace, and is therefore likely to be a strong focus for this market moving forwards.
Sociability. 91% of mobile Internet access is to socialize, compared to 79% on desktops. If Internet marketers haven’t been listening to the “search turning social” talk of recent years, then they certainly should be now. If they still cannot engage with individuals and groups on a social level they will be missing out on a massive proportion of mobile Internet usage.
Geo-targeting. As well as a number of apps utilizing a user’s geo-location to enhance their functionality, so too does Google use it to show localized search results. If you hadn’t noticed, mobile devices tend to be used in multiple locations, therefore search results are highly likely to fluctuate more on mobile devices. Making sure your website’s “local” offering is up to scratch should be towards the top of your priority list.
Immediacy. At the recent World Travel Market in London, a Google spokesperson revealed stats from ebooker.com saying that 70% of mobile hotel bookings were same-day check in. They also showed stats from easyJet stating 38% of mobile bookings were for flights departing within 10 days, compared to only 13% from desktops. This clearly shows a more immediate-requirement trend in mobile usage, for travel market at least, and this certainly might influence the kinds of content/offers that sites show to their mobile visitors.
It is true that the mobile Web is still in its infancy, but given the rate of adoption and innovation in the area, it already deserves a great deal of attention from Internet marketers, regardless of specialism. Ben Wood, mobile phone analyst at CCS Insight said the mobile phone may be “the most prolific consumer device on the planet”. Much like all Internet marketing that has gone before, research, innovation and testing will form the building blocks of a stable and lucrative mobile Web campaign. However, those that cannot see a need to seriously evolve their approach as a result of this shift will struggle.
By Grace Ng
There’s a giant push for more female entrepreneurs right now, headed up by empowering initiatives and resources like Change the Ratio,Women 2.0, WITI—and of course The Daily Muse. With so much support and encouragement from the growing women-in-tech community, now is definitely a great time to run after your dreams.
But, it’s not always easy. As an entrepreneur myself, I’d like to share one of my experiences as a female starting up in tech.
This is a very personal story that has been hard for me to share. It may also be an unusual story. But it does happen—and I hope that my experience and missteps can help other women avoid similar situations.
The Search for a Soulmate
The search for a co-founder isn’t that different than the search for a soulmate. You’re looking for someone who really gets you, your way of thinking, and your goals with the company and the product. You’re looking for someone who—at least on your good days—you’ll be completely in sync with. And this can create a rather challenging situation for female entrepreneurs seeking a technical co-founder, most of whom are male.
I left my first job shortly out of college to work on my start-up. I’d been working with a guy I knew from high school, and when he learned I was working on a side project, we met up for coffee. We had a great conversation, we really hit it off, and he offered to help me on the technical side of my project. We thought on the same wavelength, we were able to bounce ideas off each other, and we enjoyed hanging out together. We were a solid, well-balanced team. Or so it seemed.
The seed of the problem came when he admitted that he liked me. I told him I wasn’t interested in a relationship and he let it go. I thought that was that—we were trying to start a business, and we kept working together.
The Breaking Point
He soon quit his job to join me full-time, and we started working out of his apartment. A few months in, business was going well, and we were looking totake our company to the next level.
But that wasn’t the only thing that he wanted to get to the next level. In the midst of investor meetings, he sat me down and told me he was in love with me. I was still was not interested. After that, things turned sour. His demeanor completely changed. He became bitter and uncooperative, and we started arguing over even the smallest things. His willingness to hear my point of view on the product was gone. We could no longer work together.
But, he still gave me one last chance to keep our start-up alive. His ultimatum: “I can make anything happen for you—if you were to be with me.”
I was thrown into a state of shock, disgusted and insulted by how he was trying to take advantage of the situation. I refused. The experience was crushing, but the horror story didn’t end there.
After we finally agreed to shut the company down, he decided to launch the product on his own—an entrepreneur’s worst nightmare. (In retrospect, don’t worry about that so much if it happens to you—it’s not as big of a deal as you think.)
Afterward, I spent a long time reflecting and trying to figure out what happened. What went wrong? What could I have done to prevent it? Does this happen to anyone else?
You might not be able to prevent a similar situation from happening, but there are some things you can do so that you go in to any co-founder partnership with your eyes wide open. Here are some of my lessons learned.
Don’t Be Desperate
First-time entrepreneurs are very vulnerable to picking the wrong partner. When you first think you’ve finally found that person who gets you and who thinks on your wavelength—you’re tempted to jump. It’s natural want to forge a partnership immediately. You have a great idea, and you want to execute it!
But when you move too quickly, it’s easy to overlook those slight uneasy feelings lurking underneath. If your gut is telling you that things might get complicated (romantically or otherwise) with the person across the table—pay attention.
It’s not enough that you and your co-founder think alike and get along. It’s important to understand his or her motivation—because that’s what will drive his or her behavior over the coming years. No matter what she says or how he behaves, if someone doesn’t enter a business relationship with the right intent, it’s never going to work.
Lay Down the Ground Rules
In male-female partnerships, it’s possible to confuse romantic interest for professional compatibility or make professional decisions that are subconsciously driven by a romantic interest. Although it’s not common, it can and does happen—and it’s important to be cognizant if such a situation is arising. Avoid problems by making sure that you’re both on the same page, and lay down the rules ahead of time.
Be firm on where you stand in tough situations. I’ve always been hesitant to speak up, be assertive, or confront others—but people will take advantage of this. In some situations, you need to lay down the law so there’s no room for second guessing. And don’t worry that you’re coming off as harsh or arrogant—you probably aren’t half as harsh as you think you are.
Don’t Give Up
This is the most important point! Don’t be daunted. Get back on your feet. After my company fell through, I spent a week or two reflecting and learning from the situation, got back into a full-time job—and then worked to revive my start-up on the side, with a different team.
This quote from Cindy Gallop’s WITI interview really sums it up best:
Female entrepreneurs face many more obstacles than men, the playing field is not level… know that, just grit your teeth, and make your start-up happen…The only person to make things happen for you is you.”
It’s embarrassing to explain that such an unprofessional thing killed our start-up. But the lessons learned through this experience extend across areas that are applicable for both male and female entrepreneurs—like figuring out if someone will actually be a good co-founder. Take it from me—you need to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
The increasing number of tablet owners in the U.S. is changing the way people shop from in-store to online — 20% of all mobile ecommerce sales now come from tablets and 60% of tablet owners have purchased goods using a tablet.
Tablet users spend an average of one hour and 35 minutes on their devices and typically spend 10-20% more on purchases than shoppers without tablets. By 2016, mobile commerce is expected to increase to $31 billion in the U.S. – a tremendous jump from only $3 billion in 2010.
Since tapping away on a tablet in the comfort of your home helps beat long lines and crowded department stores, it’s no surprise that tablet owners are willing to spend more time and money shopping online.
Check out the infographic below to see how tablets are directly affecting ecommerce in the U.S., a trend that is expected to continue for the next five years.
Do you shop online more from a tablet than other devices?
Infographic by Vertic
The European Commission is preparing a Directive to prevent Facebook from sharing users’ information — such as their political beliefs and location — with advertisers unless users specifically allow it.
According to The Telegraph, the Directive — which will be part of an update to current data protection laws — is scheduled for early January release. Should Facebook fail to adjust its privacy settings in compliance with the new legislation, the social network could face prosecution and/or a heavy fine.
“I call on service providers – especially social media sites – to be more transparent about how they operate,” Viviane Reding, the vice president of European Commission, told The Telegraph. “Users must know what data is collected and further processed [and] for what purposes.”
Facebook, for its part, says that it shares data anonymously and in aggregate to advertisers, and that individuals’ personal details are not at risk.
This is not the first time Facebook has been scrutinized by the European Union. In June 2009, the EU laid out privacy guidelines for social networks, and in June of this year, EU regulators began investigating Facebook’s facial recognition system.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve been invited to guest lecture for entrepreneurial programs at colleges from Harvard to the University of Michigan. Each time I stood before a group of aspiring entrepreneurs, I couldn’t help but wonder whether people could actually learn the needed skills and qualities to become a successful entrepreneur, or if we’re born into said skills.
I did some research and, synthesizing my findings with my own experience as an entrepreneur, concluded that people are born with some of the traits and characteristics needed to be a successful, innovative entrepreneur. However, these characteristics can always be improved through education and experience.
I’ve been lucky enough to learn about entrepreneurship, leadership and teamwork from supportive family members and forward-thinking mentors. Here are 9 invaluable lessons I’ve taken away.
Become a Budding Entrepreneur
Believe in yourself and stand behind your convictions. If you choose the entrepreneurial path, you must believe in your convictions so strongly that you would stand behind your opinions no matter the discouragements. Although this positive way of thinking may attract a lot of nay-sayers, don’t lose hope.
Innovate and invent constantly. Great entrepreneurs rarely invent just one profitable product — they’re inventing and innovating constantly. Oftentimes you need to come up with a lot of bad ideas before you come up with the one that sticks. Be persistent and don’t give up.
Move rapidly. Successful innovators get things done quickly because they know time is not on their side. You might have a multi-million dollar idea, but if you don’t get it out there before someone else, the idea will no longer be profitable.
Encourage Innovation Within Your Company
Support a meritocracy. Create a work environment in which the most talented employees and the best ideas get recognized and promoted, regardless of age, experience or position. Not only does this create healthy competition, but it encourages employees to be vocal and participate in the bigger vision.
Host weekly brainstorms. I brainstorm constantly with my employees; it’s the quickest way to access the best ideas in the room. I call it The Brainstorm Prioritization Technique: narrow and specifically define your goal, encourage free-flowing brainstorming, then go back to clarify ideas. Finally, allow team members to vote on top ideas.
Lead by example. If you’re not moving with a sense of urgency and adding your own ideas to the mix, it will be hard to motivate a potentially innovative team.
Avoid stock questions. I ask a lot of unusual questions when interviewing someone, mainly because stock questions produce equally predictable answers. When trying to gauge if a candidate’s self-confidence, I’ll ask him, “Are you smart?” Their initial reaction will tell all.
Don’t write off rebels. I also like candidates that have rebelled against authority in the name of a cause or belief. I’m not automatically prejudice against someone who has been jailed for talking back to a cop or fired for telling his boss to shove it. Innovators have always swum against the stream.
Look for a history of thinking big. Have they set big goals or innovated in the past? This is a good sign you have the right person.
Editor’s note: Guest contributor Miles Beckett is the CEO and and co-Founder f EQAL, the media company that builds influencer networks around celebrities and brands. He was the co-creator of the original web video series lonelygirl15, and was previously a medical doctor.
Divorce. It happens to the best of us. As emotionally heart wrenching as it can be, it’s even worse now that we’re living out our lives on the public stages of Facebook, Twitter and the like. If the recent very public separation of Ashton and Demi is any indication, it’s only going to get worse. As a former physician, current internet entrepreneur, and ever-curious observer of the human condition, I’m fascinated by how the internet is broadly shaping our culture, and the day-to-day implications this has on our interpersonal relationships.
It used to be simple, our public lives and private lives were distinctly separated by physical boundaries. It was really hard to bring public attention to our relationship status in the days before iPhones, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and most of us didn’t need to think about our “public image”, nor did many people care. The closest historical analogues to Facebook and Twitter were the society pages in newspapers around the country, but those were only available to an elite class more comfortable with the concept of maintaining a carefully constructed public image. Now we all have the ability to broadcast our lives, but many of us aren’t equipped with the tools to handle it.
It’s no surprise that there is a national fascination with celebrity relationships. Just as with every other aspect of their lives, their marriages and divorces are a reflection of ours, and now more than ever we can learn from their successes and failures. Like a giant tripping and falling with a massive BOOM!, when a celebrity makes a mistake on Twitter they crash and burn harder than us “regular people.” Ashton and Demi provide a lesson for all of us, both their successes as early adopters of the medium, and their more recent breakdowns.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons about how to navigate a celebrity brand through both positive and negative PR. I’ve also spent some time talking to everyday, non-famous people about how they managed their personal brand during their divorce. There used to be another layer of privacy, but now relationships can become very public very quickly. I found that everyone from my next door neighbor to a veteran entertainment publicist agree that we must now control our urges to make the private public unless we are prepared to live with the consequences.
With this in mind, here are my “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for managing your relationship, separation or divorce while living in the public eye:
- Be open about your relationship status once it’s formalized and all loose ends are handled (it will become public whether you like it or not)
- “Hide” your ex from your Facebook feed and move them to “Limited Profile” (you need a little separation and privacy!)
- Show public civility between you and your ex (tagging them in photos or @replying them when appropriate is okay)
- Continue Tweeting and Facebooking once the divorce has happened (it’s important to confidently move forward with “business as usual”)
- Try to move on, have fun and share that with your friends and followers (everyone likes a winner)
- Tweet, Facebook, ‘Booth, Batch, or ‘Gram scantily clad photos of yourself to anyone (they will be used against you…)
- Use a Twitter handle that incorporates your spouse’s name (@mrskutcher has a dilemma on her hands)
- Sell your ring on Craigslist (can we say, “tacky”?)
- Post nasty updates about your ex on Facebook and Twitter (no one likes a sore loser)
- Confide in your Twitter and Facebook audience before you confide in your significant other (no one likes a surprise)
- Un-friend or un-follow your ex (it’s public and nasty, just ask Kim or, um, Kris)
Bottom line: Pause and think before you Tweet.
WordPress 3.2 has been downloaded a killer 12M+ times. WordPress as a whole continues to grow and is touted to be in the approximate 14% of the web zone. That’s ridiculously huge and it astounds me how big the projects footprint has become in the 7 years I’ve been around the community. Well done to all involved!
With that said, WordPress 3.3 is just around the corner and, as usual, it’s chock full of goodies for everyone. I’d say that the notable changes for developers are the most significant. Improved metadata handling, improved SQL tools, improved cache API and deprecation of several venerable functions are all changes that developers should be aware of.
This article touches mostly on the user experience and features that are new in WordPress 3.3. Developers who want to dive in should reference this running list of “things” that were addressed in WP 3.3.
Admin Bar Overhaul
The Admin Bar that was introduced a few versions ago has become a main-stay of my WordPress experience. At first, I felt like it got in the way, but I soon got used to it. In WordPress 3.3, the Admin Bar gets tweaked and enhanced. For Multisite users, you now have access to the Network Admin from a new “My Sites” menu along with all sites that you have access to 1.
As usual, developers can modify the admin bar using the
admin_bar_menu action, and hooking a callback that modifies the
$wp_admin_bar global. This object is created by the
WP_Admin_Bar class that provides an
remove_menu() method for manipulation.
Duke Chung co-founded Parature in 2000, with a vision to provide superior customer support software accessible via the Internet. Today, Parature’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product suite supports millions of end users worldwide.
With the advent of social media channels, customer service has forever changed. Consumers are no longer willing to sit and listen to classical music on hold. In today’s age of hyper-responsiveness, customers expect instant responses from support reps on very public online platforms.
Instead of shying away from social media, smart businesses will leverage their social channels to spread a positive brand reputation, to connect happy customers and to step up their customer support efforts.
Consumers aren’t eager to blast negative messages about your company – unless your brand is unresponsive. I recently learned at an IBM conference that customers are five times more likely to post something positive than negative, and that companies usually have at least 10 warnings before someone posts a negative comment.
Happy customers who get their issues resolved tell an average of four to six people about their positive experiences, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. It pays to treat your customers well, not only for the repeat business, but also to gain the positive word-of-mouth consumers now broadcast across social media. Satisfied customers can become your most influential brand ambassadors. They’ll help to answer customer service questions posted online and also tout their own positive experiences with your business.
Here are the five best ways to turn customers into brand ambassadors through customer service.
1. Be Fast
When a customer turns to social media for a support issue, he expects a brand to generate the fastest response possible. According to a recent UK study, 25% of social media users expect a response within one hour, and 6% expect a response within 10 minutes. If you allow a support issue to dangle for too long, you risk being perceived as a company that either doesn’t know the answer or doesn’t care enough to reply promptly.
Remember, most people on social networks aren’t itching to post negative comments. They only do so after a bad experience. Therefore, don’t give them enough time to have a bad experience.
2. Be Visible
Private and direct messaging on Facebook and Twitter is all well and good, but when it comes to customer service, it’s best to be totally transparent and visible. The answer you give to one customer could, in turn, help thousands more. Think of each post and interaction as a resource that future customers can reference. Not to mention, customers will be more apt to direct friends to your page with their own questions.
Social media sites foster an online community around your brand. Watch how customers discuss and respond to your products so you can join the conversation and better understand the community that supports your brand.
3. Be Consistent
It’s vital that you ensure all customer support answers remain consistent across the web and across all social channels. If a common question is posted on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, then each response should communicate the same solution. Conflicting answers create confused, unhappy customers. Just as people expect consistent experiences with your products, they also expect consistent service across all of your channels. Brand accuracy drives confidence and credibility, and helps build brand loyalty among your customers.
4. Be Organized
If consistency creates brand ambassadors, then being organized is equally paramount. Admittedly, the cross-company integration and management of social media continues to be challenging. Maintaining a successful social media presence on just one network is a full-time job. Trying to do it over multiple networks is impossible if your support staff isn’t properly organized.
Customers can spot disorganization a mile away, especially online. However, if you demonstrate that your company support knows what it’s doing, you’ll earn the respect and trust of brand loyalists. Organization goes beyond knowing who does what on the support team; it’s also vital that everyone on the team is on the same page. Each team member must know where to seek reliable answers, and each must source information from the same place.
5. Be Human
As cool as Siri is, she still hasn’t crossed from digital assistant to human entity. Until then, your social media customer support should remain as human as possible. On the bright side, social networks already take the formalities out of conversation. It’s one of their biggest draws.
Therefore, a customer’s name isn’t “Inquiry #83kd4z.” She’s Christie from Denver. People respond best when they feel like they’re talking to other people. Your customer support should make customers feel as if they’re posting a normal question on a friend’s wall. Creating that kind of relationship with your customer should be the priority of any company.
Using customer service to create brand ambassadors isn’t the Herculean task it once was. Social media is presenting countless opportunities to turn your company’s support system into an open, interactive community, where customers can share their positive experiences with one another and spread the good word about your products and services – all on your behalf.