Tag Archives: Technology

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My Recent Blog Posts This is a compilation of some of my most recent writings (with some graphics and co-proofing help) at the digital agency, Mindgruve where I currently work. Let me know if you like any of them by … Continue reading

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Interactive Video Resume; Mike Roberts; Part 1 – Intro This is an Interactive Video Resume for Mike Roberts. Mike Roberts is actively pursuing new career opportunities. To view his resume and learn more about his job search, please visit his … Continue reading

How to use Foursquare for Business 101


I put this together for my boss to help him understand how Foursquare can be used to promote local business objectives.

What is it?

Foursquare is a social media platform that allows users to tell their friends where they are geographically. Their location is announced by telling the name of a business or point of interest such as ‘Starbucks’ or ‘Balboa Park’. 

How does it work?

When a user visits Starbucks, they are able to pull up the corresponding Foursquare mobile application and ‘Check In’. When they do that it is announced to their foursquare friends where they are similar to a Facebook status update. Users are able to identify in real time who is currently at any given location and can use it as a medium to find and meet up with their friends. These ‘Check Ins’ can also be pushed to a variety of other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and dramatically expand the reach of these updates.

How to use it to promote a local business?

1. ‘Check Ins’ are Advertisements

 ‘Check Ins’ become advertisements to all of their friends and keeps your business top of mind. This dramatically increases when they’re posted to Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes good deals offered to Foursquare customers can incentivize telling their friends like this. Other times having a brand or business that would add to someone’s image is enough. For example, I might check into a fine dining restaurant and want to show off to all my friends that I’m eating there.

2. ‘Check Ins’ Bring Their Friends

‘Check Ins’ incentivize their friends to join them at that location. For example, if I check into a coffee shop and my friends that are a few blocks away notice and end up visiting the coffee shop to see me when they would have not done that otherwise.

3. Steal Customers

Deals found by being in a surrounding area can cause people to stop by your business when they otherwise would not have. This can drive foot traffic. For example, if I visit the mall and check into the mall itself, but then notice that Macy’s is offering a special deal* if I check in there. I might stop by Macy’s now to take advantage of that when I had never intended to visit there on my visit. If so, Macy’s may have just stolen my business from the store I actually went to the mall to go to. This can be really powerful because it is targeting people in a very close geographical range to your store and likely looking to spend money. It is a very effective and cheap way to increase foot traffic.

4. Increase Traffic

There can be competition in the Foursquare community over becoming the ‘Mayor’ or the most frequent user to ‘Check In’ and businesses can take advantage of that. Users often turn becoming and staying the ‘Mayor’ into a game that causes them to go out of their way at times to ‘Check In’ at a venue. This increases their personal social credibility stats but this is fueled even more when businesses offer a special deal only for the Mayor. For example, Hot dog on a stick offers a  free lemonade* only to the mayor. Now customers will visit your business to try to get the deal.

5. Another Traffic Frequency Boost

Another, less exclusive way to offer an incentive is to give it to any customer who visits your business after a certain number of check ins. For example, a restaurant in downtown San Diego called ‘Currant’ offers a glass of Sangria or well cocktail for only $0.10 (ten cents) on your 3rd Check in. This is a way to reward and incentivize frequent customers and thus capitalize on the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule that states most businesses will get 80% of their business from 20% of their customers. This feature helps keep that 20% happy and coming back for more.

Let me know if you see the plausibility of using Foursquare as a business or a customer. Also let me know if you don’t and why.

*These deals were current as of the publication of this article.

1 Step to Manage Email 5000% Better… Overnight


Need to manage your mail?

Need to manage your mail?

Well, 5000% might be a bit of an exaggeration but the point is definitely valid. For many of us, email has become the 500 pound gorilla that we have to wrestle every day. We strap on our armor and charge into battle and ultimately work harder rather than smarter. Email is a productivity tool that is woven into the very fabric of social and corporate culture alike. Without specific email management and time management strategies set up, we won’t actually be able to use this tool to be efficient, effective, or productive. So let’s step out of the cog and stream-line it.

Step 1: Email Management Best Practice: Batching

Let’s start with the concept first. How many people do you know take a dirty piece of clothing and wash it as soon as they are done wearing it? None, right? If they did, they would be constantly washing their clothes. It sounds to me a lot like how a ton of people treat their email. They are constantly checking their email at work, at home, on their iPhone, Droid and Crackberry. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love technology and what it can do for you, but in this case the perpetual feed is more of an interruption than a help.

Again the idea behind batching is that you batch or collect a group of items together. In our laundry example, we would collect all of our dirty laundry in a nice wicker basket and then once it was full, we would wash all of it at the same time. This is a much more productive, efficient, and effective us of our time.

Advantages of Batching

Now stretch your imagination to think what it would be like if we treated our email more like our laundry and batched it? What if instead of allowing your email to interrupt you again and again and again while working on a single task, you saved it till you were finished with that task and checked them all at once. This would take us a step towards how email was originally intended to be and away from using it like an instant message chat room. When you let it become a chat room, it will control the flow of your work every time a new message arrives. Don’t let it.
Simply set up scheduled “meetings” to block out time to make sure that you can adequately respond to your emails at a time that fits best in your schedule. It takes time to switch from focusing on one task to focusing on another and the more times you do that, the less gets actually finished. But I thought we checked our email constantly to get more done faster? The old adage, “less is more” seems to ring true here.

Statistics to Chew on

In a 2005 survey, 41 % of respondents said they checked their email in the morning before going to work. There were more than 25% that said they had never gone more than a few days without checking email. The world is so connected to the web these days that 60% said they check it on vacation and finally, 4% are probably the most productive people on planet Earth check their email in the bathroom; there isn’t a place they can’t be reached.

How much of that is actually necessary? Would your productivity really be hindered if you batched your email instead?

Common Objections

BUT WHAT ABOUT EMERGENCIES? There is a massive population of people  who live under the impression that there is always an emergency. I find that there are a lot more illusions of time sensitive emergencies than actually exist. However, for the conscientious objector, there are some things you can do. The first is create an auto response to your email much like an out of office used for vacation in which you let everyone who emails you know when you’re checking  your email, and when to expect a response from you. If this emergency can’t wait till then, have them elevate it to a more immediate channel like your phone. Train those you work with to discern what needs to be taken care of immediately and what can wait till later that day or the next day.

BUT MY OFFICE REQUIRES CONSTANT MONITORING? It is amazing how this cog can be surprisingly counterproductive.  However, simply communicating  your goal to be more efficient, effective, and productive by improving your email management can really help. Introduce it by mentioning that you’ve been reading up on email best practices and that you would like to pilot this as a test program for a week. Then you can legitimately test it to see if it works for you and your coworkers and boss will be in the loop. More than likely, they will be interested in how it actually works for you. As a back up, no one is going to get on your case about trying to be a more productive employee and you can always revert back to the never ending email addiction you where consumed with before.

Questions for the Reader

How does this relate to you? Do you find this helpful? What are other success stories, comments or objections you may have?

Best Note Taking Software?


 Below is a question I received via email from a friend of mine about note taking software and my answer and recommendations. I thought it might also be helpful for some of you even though it was a quickly written email.

 Question:

 You seem to be more organized than I when it comes to probably many things, but specifically putting ideas on paper.  I really love evernote for quick ideas or whatever to jot down.  What program do you use for your main note taking?  

Trying to find something better for school.  I will be trying a trial version of circus ponies notebook, have you ever tried it?

 Answer:

 Lol, well I try to be organized. There are a lot out there and many are very similar with small differences. For example, Evernote is great because it is a mobile app, has a website that you can update with a full keyboard on a computer and has search and photo functions. Catch is similar and works well too. For PC, I found Microsoft OneNote to work really well for notes of all kinds; it’s a really robust piece of software.

 Another type of very helpful software for me are mind maps. A quick search will give you a dozen providers. These are great for brain storming and coagulating information and organizing it. I look for something that doesn’t need to be downloaded, lives on the cloud so I can access it from any computer with internet, I can publish them so anyone can see or give specific access, and obviously free. For an example of a mind map that is actually a resource for online collaboration tools, check out: http://www.mindmeister.com/maps/show/12213323. I have used http://www.Mindmeister.com and am looking at using http://www.thebrain.com/ which might be a little more user friendly. You can copy website or article links, upload documents of all kinds, color coordinate, and on with these programs. There is a whole section on mind mapping in that resource map above.

 I’m typically a fan of stuff that can be accessed on the cloud. I can use it at work, home, on my phone, at my parent’s house, on my girlfriend’s computer at her house or wherever I happen to be at. So Evernote and Mindmeister work well for that. I use Google docs a lot too, but that isn’t exactly a note taking program. I haven’t found a replacement for Onenote for Mac, but the notebook function for word works pretty well and much better than Evernote for something like taking notes in class. You can organize, write lots of content, and actually record audio too. It shows where the audio matches up with what you’re writing. I’ll keep my eye out for some better things when I come across them too. I haven’t tried Circus Ponies Notebook, but it looks cool

 I hope some of that jumbled stuff is helpful. What are you currently using?

 Mike

 

Readers:

 What do you use? Any suggestions?

Read the 2nd part to this post about how bloggers can get the most out of Evernote with SEO and link building tips.

 

 

 

 

Facebook Fans Vs. Twitter Followers:


Facebook Fans Vs. Twitter Followers: Which Are More Valuable? http://ow.ly/3DBzC

Flix on Stix Offers Movie Downloads to Flash Drives


Flix on Stix Offers Movie Downloads to Flash Drives

Movies were once only available at theaters, at least until rental stores came along. Then Netflix popped up and offered movies-by-mail, sending flicks directly to the customer’s home with no late fees. Next, kiosks began appearing with ability to rent movies 24 hours a day in various locations.
Now, Flix on Stix lets consumers plug in a portable flash drive and download a movie, making it viewable on any number of devices.

Read the full article: “CES: Flix on Stix moves movies from kiosk to USB”
(CNET.com, Jan. 6, 2011; NACS.org)

Students Turn Page on E-Mail Communication


Students Turn Page on E-Mail Communication

Students are moving away from e-mail communication and are more inclined to send text or instant messages. As this migration continues, look for campuses to also pull away from e-mail accounts. With Facebook, Twitter, texting, and instant messaging constantly evolving, there really is no way to predict the most common form of communication in the next five years.

Read full article: “How Will Students Communicate?”
(Inside Higher Ed, Jan. 6, 2011; NACS.org)

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Mobile Shoppers Have Leverage Mobile shoppers, those savvy consumers who use handheld devices such as smartphones and other gadgets to search for deals while standing inside a store, are in a better position to bargain with retailers for a lower … Continue reading