Grab a pen and paper and go to work

Sometimes you just have to grab a pen and paper and go to work. I think we’ve become so accustomed to using tools that we have forgotten the value and efficiency of a simple pen and paper.

Simple is always better – that’s a fact.

The best approach to building an idea starts with sitting down with a trusty pen and paper or at a Think Table (Like that plug didn’t ya) and sketching out your thoughts and ideas.

A blank canvas or lots of white space provides this place to think different and generate lots of ideas quickly without any restraints. You can also explore other options and variations without any real risks – you can just throw it all out their and start to visualize something amazing.

While complex technology programs are great for putting the finishing touches on something, they’re not the quickest way to start the ideation process.

Here’s the question: Are you making things to difficult by pulling up another program when you could just be sitting down and starting to explore?

There is a simpler way. Try it. Use it. Go.

 

20 User Experience Questions for you and your team

This week while working on a website project it was decided that we take a step back and consider the user experience. We needed to ask ourselves some tough questions. With this, I organized some interviews and insights to make sure that what we thought aligned with our customers think.

Photo Courtesy of: Pocopina

Understanding each project is unique and different, here are 20 questions you and your team should take into consideration when designing a UX project.

  1. What is the purpose of the site? Sales? Marketing? E-commerce?
  2. Who will use the site? What are the customer segments? What is their behavior?
  3. What action would you like the people coming to your site to take?
  4. For each action, what do they think? How?
  5. What sites do your audience currently frequent?
  6. What is your customer(s) online behavior?
  7. Where are the people physically at when taking these actions? (home, work, on a bus or at a cafe) and what will they likely have access to (computer, laptop, mobile etc)
  8. Are you the only company offering these products or services? If not, how will you set yourself apart?
  9. What three things can you do really well that others will have trouble duplicating?
  10. What are the things operationally that need to happen in order for the site to do what it needs to do?
  11. For each of those things, is the company setup and prepared to execute?
  12. When these people use your site, what perception/tone/voice do you want them to leave with?
  13. In considering the above question, how will you design the visual elements, the content strategy, the interaction, social, the customer service, the functionality, and performance to make that perception a reality?
  14. What information architecture will best support the actions your visitors need to take? And how will they flow from one action to another?
  15. How will you channel the users through your site?
  16. What navigation structure best fits your audience?
  17. How will people find your site? Organic search, Adwords, social media, other?
  18. How will people engage with your site?
  19. What search functionality will you provide to help people find things on your site?
  20. What you don’t track you can’t measure? What key things will you track to determine your success?

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Anything you would add?

 

SOCIAL BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION

Are you transforming your business into a social business? It starts from the inside out. You have to take a look at everything from leadership, operations, communications, collaboration, culture, training, etc. It’s not an easy task, it takes on widespread change to evolve into a social business.

Old mindsets and methods are gone – they are out of date and it’s time to take on a full culture shift. The question: are you ready?

If you are, here are a few ways to get started: 

1. Mobilize: Mobilize an experienced team (Awesome if it is diverse) that can research, design, implement, and manage a social media plan that has vision.

2. Understand: Research and analyze all the elements needed for the effort to work.

3. Design: Generate and test viable social business options and select best option as a team. Remember, you have to get the vision right and be relevant to your audience and their emotional needs.

4. Implement: After you’ve mobilized the team, understood the elements, and designed the model, go to town and implement that thing. Also, make sure that your colleagues are on board with your conquest or everything could fail.

5. Manage: Manage specific metrics that benefit the whole organization. Prove to everyone in the company that by being a social business everyone wins.

Now it’s up to you, you can decide to transform your organization or you can decide to be run over by the companies that do decide to transform.

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What’s it going to be?

 

SOCIAL MEDIA: IT’S NATURAL TO SCREW UP

What social media mistakes are you making? I’ve made a ton by the way – it’s natural to screw up, we all make mistakes.

We all know social media is an effective marketing strategy but if done incorrectly can end up damaging your business’s reputation and chances for success – you don’t want that.

After at least a couple of years now working with companies, startups, and people on their social media strategy, I’ve put together a list of common mistakes.

Here are the common mistakes that companies make:

1. No plan, plan to fail.

Everything needs to begin with some strategic planning. Take the time to mobilize a diverse team within your company to discuss goals, resources, and anything else necessary to execute. Building a plan is a great way to create a foundation for which everything else is structured.

Once your team is mobilized, here are some questions to get you started:

  1. Do we know are primary and secondary audiences?
  2. Do we have a plan for how to communicate with them?
  3. Do we understand how our social media strategy ties to our business strategy?
  4. Is our social media strategy embraced by everyone in the company?
  5. How does our social strategy tie into our marketing plan?
  6. Who is going to staff the efforts? Are they trained?
  7. How will we measure success beyond likes and followers?

2. Bad timing

Timing is always an issue. Take the time to understand where your customers are, which time zones they are in, and when your sweet spot is. Don’t mess up by assuming you know when your customers are spending time online – do your research and know for sure.

3. Have some Manners

People are horrible with manners and this applies in the social world as well. Don’t be rude, be nice and follow some simple rules.

  1. Start conversations by asking questions.
  2. Don’t follow someone on Twitter, and then unfollow them when the follow you. Only follow people you want to be connected to or you appreciate.
  3. Don’t be selfish. Promote other people as well as your own brand. For every personal social media mention you should mention another person or business five times.
  4. Put some focus to your world or you wont be adding value at all. Try to focus on four or fewer networks at a time.

4. Measure your success

Yeah, it’s hard to measure something like a conversation. However, you can measure things like total community size, the number of mentions of your brand across all channels, and the traffic referred to your website. Don’t be lazy and just track the number of likes and followers…unless you ultimately want to fail.

5. Competitive Benchmarking

It’s important to know who your competitors are, what they’re doing, and how you can one up them.

To keep an eye on your competitors you should be doing the following:

  1. Keep a close watch of their website
  2. Like their page
  3. Follow them on twitter
  4. Sign-up for Google Alerts for their brand
  5. Sign up for their newsletter
  6. Anything else you can think of

It’s just as important to see what their fans and followers are saying and use those reactions to adjust and improve your strategy.

If you have a well designed social media strategy, and avoid the above mistakes, you will be rewarded with more social media love than you can bear.

Do it right and get to it.

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What about you?

What mistakes are you making?

 

 

BUSINESS EXERCISE: THE SILLY COW

Are you in need of getting your team’s juices flowing about a new idea, business model, or startup? If you are, you should try out an ideation session with a silly, fun warm-up such as the Silly Cow exercise from the book Business Model Generation. It’s a great exercise to get you thinking beyond the typical constraints of old, outdated ideas that honestly..suck.

Here’s how it works:

Instruct participants to sketch out three different business models using a cow. Ask them to first define some characteristics of a cow (produces milk, eats all day, makes a mooing sound, etc.). Tell them to use those characteristics to come up with an innovative business model based on a cow. Give them three minutes.

Keep in mind that this exercise can backfire, as it is indeed quite silly. But it has been tested with senior executives, accountants, risk managers, and entrepreneurs, and usually is a great success. The goal is to take people out of their day-to-day business routines and show them how readily they can generate ideas by disconnecting from orthodoxies and letting their creative juices flow.

I have found the silly cow exercise to be a huge hit and it’s always a good time too. If I were to guess why it works so great, I would say that it challenges you to look at things in a different light. The other cool thing, it even works with serious business people like accountants and attorneys!

Try it out with your teams and let me know how it works.

 

CONTENT STRATEGY: STOP MAKING IT SOMEONE ELSES PROBLEM

Can we agree that there is just way to much shit out there in terms of content? You got everyone there brother and there dog creating content these days. Where is all the good stuff and how do we find it?

In my opinion it’s pretty ridiculous. You got people who have no experience other than a few writing classes trying to write about entrepreneurship, and then you got Joe Schmo writing about social media and trying to act like he’s some social media professional because he has all of his college buddies as friends on facebook. Are you kidding me?

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4 POINTS ON COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE AND WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER IT

How intelligent do you really think you are? I would go to bat saying that you are not nearly as smart as you think you are. I know I’m not as smart as I think I am sometimes! Now, where I am smart, is at leveraging a group of people who have come together after social collaboration and competition to make intelligent decisions.

If you are not making decisions this way today, you better start. With all the social tools, and new technology advances that we have at our finger tips we are able to make far more intelligent decisions than ever before.

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