What Facebook and Google+ lack?

10 07 2011
Came hame háááá! By R'eyes

Came hame háááá! By R'eyes

Some days ago, I’ve stepped over what I feel might be the biggest barrier Facebook/Google+ will have to jump in the near future. But before we get into that let me explain what I feel is the usability calling of Twitter and that of Facebook/Google+.

Facebook/Google+ true calling

What most of us users of this social networks have been found doing of late is using these platforms as communication hubs. No need to remember the email or the phone number of your friend’s second cousin pal at work. You want to keep in touch with her? Easy: you’ve just to remember her name (you do get her name didn’t you?). Glimpses of such realization by the social networks themselves can be seen in the latest news: Facebook brings Skype as their squire (fear Ser Telco they are coming for you. For an interesting insight upon this battle jump boat to Patricia´s post) and Google+ lets you create a virtual water cooler.

 

Twitter’s motif

The lovable birdie also heard the call and started as an asynchronous text based communication tool (as opposed to a synchronous one such as MSN Live), but due to simplicity constraints (if you want to gather more on why constraints sometimes boost creativity follow this link Alice) their platform will be used more as an intermediary than as a communication hub. Let me get this knot fixed. What I mean is Twitter is inhabiting a space long left empty by Google: social search. Just as Ebay helps buyers find sellers, and vice versa, Twitter helps followers read very short messages posted by the people they think are interesting and easily decide to jump into the conversation or follow the link recommended on the twit.

Signal vs Noise

This last is what I think Facebook/Google+ haven’t harnessed yet. Their informational hub (FB’s wall and Google+’s stream) have few constraints* whatsoever regarding message limit thus amplifying channel noise and hampering scanning and fast decisions, where Twitter’s constraint obliges the poster to really think an interesting message to gather attention, more like a Daily’s headline.

*
Facebook: limits a wall comment to 420 characters, if it is longer it asks you to make a Note. Twitter constraint forces you to first think the “note” and then the bait.
Google+: has no text limit whatsoever, it just “cuts” the posts short on the stream, thus not even letting posters think of a draw and therefor increasing channel noise.





Seth Godin’s New Book: BUM! PAM! WHAM!

9 05 2011

Yes you read it alright! Seth Godin new book (Poke The Box) is full of action.

Other reviewers have summarized the book greatly: get off your chair and start doing things. Some with a 4+ rating others with a plain 1, mines is a 5…here is why.

Need a little adjustment by Cordey

As some of you might have experienced before there are some books that promise to bring you THE new way of understanding thing yet they end in a puff bringing either an innovative idea with no application to us the small mortals or a vapor-idea, the kind that doesn’t have a hold and is unattainable.But truth be told: this is a book revolving a simple idea ACT.

But it is not the kind of book that marvels yet leaves you alone to your own it comes with the equivalent of a bag full of goodies: actions and strategies rooted on experiences by the likes of you and me.  Its tone is insistent and keeps asking you to DO, ACT, GO, MOVE, TRY. It sounds just like the football coach on the sidelines: Why are you staring at me! Grab that ball and run!

Surely, if you follow Seth’s advice you will fall lots of times. But hey! At least you will break your chaings and have control and accountability over yourself. By those falls you will learn what steps to take to succeed, trust me I have some bruises to show you.

Go!

Pd. By no means ACTING means you are encouraged to run head on into a wall, you’ve gotta know where you are running and towards what you are running, still you don’t have to keep planning so much you stall.

Pd2. “What happens when a publisher has a tight, direct connection with readers, is able to produce intellectual property that spreads, and can do both quickly and at low cost?” Find out more at Seth’s new project. Domino Project.





Can Muhhamad Ali teach us a thing or two about online products?

7 07 2010

My, my. What a way of returning to the post pace, don’t you think? Let us tackle the elephant in the room first: I was neither dead nor unconcerned about my blog. What happened is that Tobías Felipe was born (April 27th, 2010) and I had the marvelous idea of starting my MBA there for strangling my schedule. Ok, enough with the mumble on with this post’s scope. Have you heard the phrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”? It is actually Ali’s boxing style and his most remembered quote. Waddya know?  I think it can summarize an online strategy!

The Greatest -Muhammed Ali- by achimh

The Greatest -Muhammed Ali- by achimh

Float like a butterfly

You have dwelt upon your product, designed a fulfilling experience and actually developed it. Still … there you are drumming your fingers and not a single visit around the corner. Ok, ok, let us tone down the drama: at least not as much visitors as you expected. What to do? In comes the butterfly: your product might have followed a clear design path and it actually fulfils an unattended need, still you need to show it around town. Make yourself acquainted with where your audience abide and expose your product, let them know you’ve heard their pain and create the remedy.

You say there is not a single spot where your birds perch? Don’t worry, use the old marketing/publicity amalgam:  produce a message to be portrayed in different venues (the ones most likely your audience will hang around) where your product is depicted and its claim clearly stated.

Sting like a bee

This will resonate with you. A great marketing campaign with a memorable pitch and a clear claim that actually tackles an unsolved problem you’ve been fighting with. On you go to the site and…..emergency break! WTF!!!! After so much noise you are face to face with a poor experience, an over pitched product or worse: you cannot make head from tail of what you are being shown. Hmpf. Enter THE BEE. Your product exposition, even more than its proposal, should be simple and compelling, something your intended audience will find not only easy -transparent? KISS anyone?- to use but something that actually delivers what it promised: the sting.

Pd. This post is actually dedicated to my dad. Old man lots of things you taught me did stroke a cord deep inside me, thing is, it takes some time to realize it.

Pd.2. The butterfly, bee, 1,2-2,1 (it works backwards too) dance might actually apply to other things in life for example relationships!





Know thy costumer and you’ll stuck

29 06 2009
Know thy costumer and you’ll stuck
Sound like I went insane? Hell yes I am! I am tired of trying to bite my own tail every once in a while. We have heard the imperious call to know our costumer, the need of understanding the why and then when they use our products, the continuous quests to define what are their needs, their goals and how we can acknowledge and cover them.
All of the above is good if you want your preach to captivate your audience; you better understand them as well as you know thyself if you want to cross the chasm.  Without doubt, creating persona profiles or needs and goal maps will help you up this road; yet, in the end you’ll end up staring at your own navel –or your competition’s for that matter-. Your whole strategy will be aimed at keeping an intact user base (i.e. minimizing churn rate) and capturing as much audience as you could form your competition (i.e. maximizing competition migration).
Let’s read that again: you’ll MINIMIZE churn rate and MAXIMZE turn around. Hmmm, it sounds like you’ll sooner or later end up with an audience ceiling, a point by which you will not grow –or as aggressively as in the past- since you’ll have eaten up the whole cake and there is nothing left. I am not against using costumer identification techniques to adapt your product and your message to a loyal base, but what about those who are not yet users of your products, your industry? What if you want to keep your base growing?*
Lessons from the past: What were the things you did before launching your product?
Chances are some of you might have just dipped into the water without understanding the whole context, but that will be another post: when to dip your body or your pinky-, but if it was an opportunity with a bit of risk involved, you will have understood what you were jumping into: who were the current costumers of the product and who might be the future ones, and correctly aimed your message toward them.
By knowing your prospects as well as your rapt regulars you are buying tickets for growth, your strategy will be laddered instead of chain based:
- Bring new people into the wagon: those who are users but not costumers as well as those who are neither users nor costumers but whom our proposal will help. Understand how to bridge the gap between “we are not interested” and “I’ll give you a chance”.
- Keep your costumers spellbound:  don’t let your audience down; their needs change over time, competitors quickly match up your so called differentiators. Continuously understand what needs to be changed to accommodate their goals and desires.
* Arguably you could also keep your base growing if your adoption rate is greater than your churn rate and some lines of business might need just this, it all depends.

Sound like I went insane? Hell yes I am! I am tired of trying to bite my own tail every once in a while. We have heard the imperious call to know our costumer, the need of understanding the why and then when they use our products, the continuous quests to define what are their needs, their goals and how we can acknowledge and cover them.

All of the above is good if you want your preach to captivate your audience; you better understand them as well as you know thyself if you want to cross the chasm.  Without doubt, creating persona profiles or needs and goal maps will help you up this road; yet, in the end you’ll end up staring at your own navel –or your competition’s for that matter-. Your whole strategy will be aimed at keeping an intact user base (i.e. minimizing churn rate) and capturing as much audience as you could form your competition (i.e. maximizing competition migration).

Let’s read that again: you’ll MINIMIZE churn rate and MAXIMZE turn around. Hmmm, it sounds like you’ll sooner or later end up with an audience ceiling, a point by which you will not grow –or as aggressively as in the past- since you’ll have eaten up the whole cake and there is nothing left. I am not against using costumer identification techniques to adapt your product and your message to a loyal base, but what about those who are not yet users of your products, your industry? What if you want to keep your base growing?*

Lessons from the past
What were the things you did before launching your product?

Chances are some of you might have just dipped into the water without understanding the whole context, but that will be another post: when to dip your body or your pinky-, but if it was an opportunity with a bit of risk involved, you will have understood what you were jumping into: who were the current costumers of the product and who might be the future ones, and correctly aimed your message toward them.

By knowing your prospects as well as your rapt regulars you are buying tickets for growth, your strategy will be laddered instead of chain based:

- Bring new people into the wagon: those who are users but not costumers as well as those who are neither users nor costumers but whom our proposal will help. Understand how to bridge the gap between “we are not interested” and “I’ll give you a chance”.

- Keep your costumers spellbound:  don’t let your audience down; their needs change over time, competitors quickly match up your so called differentiators. Continuously understand what needs to be changed to accommodate their goals and desires.

* Arguably you could also keep your base growing if your adoption rate is greater than your churn rate and some lines of business might need just this, it all depends, but it will be an expensive venue.





What did I learned from a mere pair of pants?

22 05 2009

The fearful costumers’ unspoken expectations

Well is known the fact that we learn easier from lived experiences than from academic rhetoric. Several months ago, actually on my new job early days, I decided my attire required some intervention so it could match up the expected standard of a corporate environment. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think a specific brand would make me look hipster or worthier of professional admiration; it is just that usual clothes were a little over worn and by investing more than usual on my new attire I would not only pimp my look but would also get a new extended period for them (value for money anyone?). After reviewing my modest knowledge about clothing brands, I decided Lacoste was my best bet: it projects comfort, capability, quality, and status without being out of my league.

So there was I shopping all by myself and trying out a hodgepodge of different clothing until I came up with the combination I wanted: two pair of pants and a nice collar shirt. Fast-forward 60 days. Picture me entering my boss office with a huge smile, feeling secure about what I was going to talk about and suddenly feeling a cool gentle nice autumn breeze on my hip. While smiling, I looked down to see what was the divine source of this gift and dreadfully found out my pants were totally worn out right beneath where my belt went! Geeh! Sorry boss, I would need to talk in a while since I need to grab something to wear over my pants and stop scandalizing the cubicles!

Inspiration: Lintmachine by Evil Erin

Inspiration: Lintmachine by Evil Erin

Enter unspoken expectation number 1.

Somewhere during my assessment on Lacoste’s brand promise I came to grip it pledged quality on their produce, or was I wrong? I thought they deserved a second chance, after all the other pair was still as snug as it was the first day I worn it, haven’t shown any signs of deformation whatsoever and we all make some mistakes from time to time don’t we?My dear wife offered herself to go back to the shop and ask for an immediate replacement. And as you might have already guessed she was told a substitution was indeed called for but …. Oh no, there it was again, that apprehensive word that lurks at the corners for its victims! We had to wash the pants BEFORE we could get the replacement.

Does anyone see the mistake here? Say what again madam? You actually showed surprise when you saw the bad torn on the fabric and the evident way it showed the shabby state of the pants was not caused by misuse. Yet you ask us to wash them –they weren’t that dirty if you ask me- before we receive what we are entitled for? Why? Why do some brands, companies and certain human beings when found in the wrong tend to acknowledge their mistake but at the same time have the guts to make you feel some how guilty? Yeez! Back came SWMBO* with the mix feeling of having succeeded but with the opinion she was cheated.


Enter unspoken expectation number 2.

After two full wash cycles (hey don’t blame us we didn’t wanted the dirty police to turn us down a second time), Marina went back to Lacoste’s shop only to find out she was actually being unashamedly cheated! She was gaily told by the same woman she would have to expect a call from Lacoste telling her if they were actually given us the replacement or not. She told her it was standard procedure and in no way she could have ever suggested the replacement could be made instantaneous since a fabric expert must do some forensic analysis on the torn and state its real cause.

Why do some brands, companies and certain human beings after promising something to their costumer back up and completely change their stance? Where is their trustfulness? Are they playing with the odds someone actually commits to their weird requirements?

Dear Lacoste,

Once I fell in love with you. I came to dream of me wearing your brand in those astonishing landscapes you portray at your tv ads and even thought the crocodile was not only cool but a great mascot to summarize your claims as a brand. But you know what? I learned the hard way you were only an array of shiny mirrors covering  your bad manners and misguided promises.

Thank you for opening up my eyes and letting me learn something new about claims and unspoken promises, I would try to do my best not to fall into your same mistakes. It was good flirting with you for a while, but hey … at close sight you look shabby and even smell bad!

I’ll go back to my usual brand, after all they don’t produce promises they will unmet. They might not be as pricy, don’t have a tv ad or a mascot of sorts; but, their products will endure common use for some few years and the brand and their stakeholders would acknowledge their mistake right on the stop without play or hushes behind my back.

Zara I am sorry, here I am back again.

*SWMBO: She who most be obeyed





Hi Creativity, pleased to meet you.

9 05 2009

Say what creativity? We have been friends all along? Thank God, I was starting to think you were platonic :)

It has been a long time since my last post! Regrettably, my new responsibilities not only required but also deserved my full attention, yet thanks to them I have had the chance to acquire new knowledge –mainly air transport industry- and refresh some. Today’s post wanders around creativity, a subject briefly touched upon on our Annual Sales Meeting.

I am sure there has been times when most of you all believed you are not the creative type and had voice some of the following: “I would never come up with something as beautiful as that!”, “I dearly thank you, but what I did here with this work is far from creative I just played around with what we had and what we could do”, “I do not know how to draw, not even sticks figures, how come you say I am creative”.

Hey! I’ve been there too, always tying creativity with and aesthetics and superpowers blend, I always struggled with others opinions regarding my creativity. What they heck do they meant? Do they want me to draw better or do they think I can deliver a Cannes winner? Nowadays I bet lots of you have been hearing the need for being more creative so we all could find ways to cope with the financial storm and safely arrive our destination.

Time and experience had taught me that creativity or the state of being creative is not directly tied to beautifulness, arts or stickiness. When someone is creative it means she has gone through a mental process that delivered an idea or concept that has never existed before or at least not commonly thought about. When the product of creativity is then applied and provides either an answer to an unresolved problem, evolved a product or transformed a given context, you have met innovation. In other words: when you come up with something not thought before you’re being creative; and, when that thought is in turn applied and produces a benefit, innovation occurs.

Lias Colors by laurenatclemsons

Lia's Colors by laurenatclemson's

Our creativity speaker at the annual sale event gave us our fast track tour to what it means to be creative and what kind of habitudes could nurture this trend, and I would love to share my notes with you.

Fluidity: you cannot be creative if every time you think of a new idea you stop dead on your tracks and think of ways that idea cannot be applied. Sit back and think of the times your own Jiminy Cricket has played against you: “Oh God! This is so simple someone else must have thought it before and found out it didn’t work”, “there must be a rule somewhere I am forgetting about”, “plain stupid”, etc. In order to be creative you must hush down your consciousness, demolish your self-imposed restrictions and just play along with whatever idea burst, in the end it might prove the right one.

Flexibility: As the result of a well known human trait (once you’ve found something works or feel like it might stick with it Joe) there have been times when every single idea I come with has common elements with the ones I’ve thought of before. Is this creative? I don’t think so, the storm of ideas might seem alluring but once you end the creative phase and start reviewing which ideas might work you’ll find that you’ve wasted precious time biting your own tail, hence ending with a handful of ideas instead of lots of them.

Or from another point of view: think of how much more chances you’ll have to nail something if the ideas you came up with have origins in different contexts (eg. Think out of the box, oblique strategies, woods vs trees) and how less probable you’ll find an answer if you stick with the same elements.

Goal oriented: to be creative does not gives you license to ramble of your goal. If you are trying to solve airspace travel it won’t help you at all if your ideas are of different ways dogs could take themselves for a walk. You are not being ingenious, you are just being rebellious.

Last, the guy who spoke at our event also mentioned originality as a trait to work upon if you are working on your creativity. In my opinion originality is not a trait to work upon creativity since coming with an idea not thought before is what you are aiming at, hence being original at your context.

In a future post I’ll ramble around the concept of innovation and what guides I believe most be applied through creative process so their product is actionable and could produce innovation. If you squint your eyes and read again what defines and describes creativity processes, you will see a triggered trap there: you could generate unviable new ideas forever and ever.

– Speaker name and bio will be linked during the week as well as some links to books/techniques that might help you with cretivity, fluidity and/or or flexibility

The above mentioned speaker: Mr. Eduardo Kastika (spanish)

Interesting books:
The Ten Faces of Innovation by Thomas Kelly
Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun
Ignore everybody by Hugh Macleod 

Techniques:
Oblique Strategies





So you want to be a superhero

27 02 2009

How to face your new job part II

Allrighty then, your first X weeks at your new surroundings –be them work, country, family, etc- have come and gone. You have somehow managed to walk thru the valley of anguish and now you proudly display your war marks –hey, they were hard to get in the first place-.

Now that you know there are others that can either help you cope with mammoth quantities of new information and eventual frustration; or that there are even some generous individuals who will take your hand in theirs and walk you by the obstacles while at the same time you learn how to do it, you can almost smell comfort in the air. Having lost the primal fear, due to your childhood’s weekends full with super hero cartoons you begin to think of your coworkers as poor souls in desperate need: naïve beings that have done things ignorant of better ways. Rolling up your sleeves you let your mighty body fall point blank into the chaos….

You fool! Stop before you get yourself into trouble and make your still weak office ties crumble because of your heroism. Grab a seat and listen. Show of hands: how many of you have first pitied and then hated someone who while be new to a job has being heard saying things like “this is not how we did things at XX, let me show you better…”? Get my point?

Chances are you are currently on an established business, hence your need to change its wrong ways around, how then, if most of the choices made by its employees were wrong or badly executed, has it managed to survive all this years? If it is an established business most of its choices must have been the correct ones and even though superficially they must seem the wrong ones, with time and hands on experience you will learn to see the context that drove the organization to do things the way it did.

Its not easy to  be a superhero by Esparta

It's not easy to be a superhero by Esparta

Sure, there most be some that are wide of the mark, others where there is a chance of improvement and even some with which the company might be better off. But won’t it be better if you first let your ego at the front door and with humility dive into the context of your new company? You have a choice here: either brawl and step over everyone’s toes and eventually produce little improvement if any, loosing any chance of empathy, rapport and bonding on the way; or, you could just step into your coworkers shoes, deeply understand the context behind the decisions that were done which might have an impact on your responsibilities and then understand what part of your previous experience and skills might help everyone better things around and what things are what the context provided them to be.

It is a matter of balance: first give others the chances of showing you where they come from, where they are and where they heading; and then, step in and pitch how your previous experience and skills could help everyone arrive to the intended destination with less effort and better earnings.

I’ve learned this the hard way on a previous job, and it took me almost 3 years to rebuild my bonds and get an opportunity to help.








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