Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Web Secret #212: KONY 2012 and Other Stories

Social media can change attitudes. In a big, big way. Here are 3 stories from the Internet trenches that speak to that very point.

Story 1 - KONY 2012:

Before March 5, 2012, had you heard of Kony? Neither had I, but thanks to a brilliant YouTube video

almost 90 million people have now heard. After the video went viral, things got kind of controversial, and the pundits lost track of the most amazing aspect of the story. 90 million people, mostly teenagers, watched a 27 minute video about an obscure African war lord. Up to that point, the rule of thumb was that no one, certainly not teens, would watch a video longer than 2, maybe 5 minutes.

Story 2 - Facebook includes donor status on its pages:

It was announced quite simply, on May 1, 2012:
Starting today, you can add that you're an organ donor to your timeline, and share your story about when, where or why you decided to become a donor. If you're not already registered with your state or national registry and want to be, you'll find a link to the official donor registry there as well.
By the end of the day, more than 900 million people had already chosen the organ donor status on Facebook.

Story 3 -

Proving that you don't need to be an Internet behemoth to make a difference, a young teen decided to do something about the bullying she had suffered, creating the We Stop Hate website and a compelling video that already has 80,000 hits.

What is the moral of the story?

To quote the KONY 2012 video: "This connection is changing the way the world works."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Web Secret #211: Don't Stand Still

In December 2011, I wrote a post about a Canadian Employee Assistance Program's (EAP) ground breaking mobile app,  My EAP. And then I sat back and waited to see other EAPs, treatment facilities and mental health clinic jump on the app bandwagon.

And nothing happened. As far as I know Canada is still leading the app pack.

Oh, wait. Something did happen. The Canadian company, Morneau Shepell updated their app, and came out with an improved version.

I'll let them describe some of the improvements:
My EAP version 2.0 includes expert health and wellness articles, videos, and new interactive tools which are all now available on a global basis.

New features and improved functionality allow users to:

  • contact EAP support toll-free, anytime, anywhere worldwide;
  • register for E-Counseling directly through the app (Canada and US), instead of through a computer;
  • determine their stress levels via a new tool called My Stress Index; and
  • evaluate their relationship using a new tool called My Relationship Meter.
So I throw down the gauntlet, and urge you to put your big toe in the app and social media waters.

Before Morneau Shepell comes up with version 3.0.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Web Secret #210: Don't Touch My User Interface

I think you will all agree that this blog has featured a minimal amount of whining. That is about to change.

Several months ago, when I signed into Blogger to create a new blog post, I noticed the words that strike fear into my heart: "Blogger is getting a new look!"

I have also received the following announcements, (forgive me for paraphrasing):
  • "Facebook is getting a new look"
  • "Your Aptela phone system is now Vocalocity!"
  • "Your gmail is getting a new look!"
Usually, you receive this horrible news a number of months before the change takes place and can ignore it. But sooner or later, like death and taxes, they will force the new look/system/user interface on you.

This will be announced thusly: "Blogger has a new look! Introducing the completely new, streamlined blogging experience that makes it easier for you to find what you need and focus on writing great blog posts."

Take my word for this, 99.99% of the time, this "upgrade" does not make anything easier. Au contraire, it means that what you used to accomplish without any difficulty whatsoever, is now gone forever, and you are going to have to take hours of your time to learn the "new and improved" version of, in this case, Blogger.

As Charlie Brown used to scream, "AAUGH!!!"

The other day, I heard that one of the marked characteristics of the successful 21st century employee, will be his/her ability to constantly learn new stuff, in contrast with earlier centuries, when you learned stuff in school or an apprenticeship, and once you entered the workforce, you applied what you learned for the rest of your life.

So we are not so lucky. But wait, there's more.

This is not an across the board problem.

Take cars for example. If I don't want a car that works like a computer - a 2013 model with Bluetooth, a slot for your iPhone, GPS, a warning that sounds if you change lanes without signaling, etc., etc. - I can buy an older version of that car.

You can hang on to that retro feeling 2005 Dell Inspiron laptop.

Not so with social media tools, or computer software. Were you in love with Windows XP? Sorry Charlie, Microsoft has announced it will no longer support it.

Am I concerned that the pace of change is accelerating with every passing month, to the point where I am spending increasing amounts of time learning the "new look" of an increasing number of "streamlined" systems? And it's not just new versions of known systems. How about the fact that there are new social media channels and technologies being introduced all the time? (And remember, I love technology...)

There is a silver lining in this cloud of change. If you didn't jump on the social media bandwagon in 2008, you can just pick up whatever is going on right now.

Pinterest, anyone?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Web Secret #209: Pinterest

I have never had a guest blogger on my site. Until now.

Months ago, my 23 year old daughter - and new media expert - told me about a new social media channel - "This is going to be the next big thing," she assured me.

I opened the site - glanced at it and zoned out.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago, when, at an elegant Manhattan wedding, a distinguished 60 something woman asked me, "What do you think about Pinterest? I'm thinking of using it for my antiques business."

Oops! Guess I better get up to speed.

Jamie, you have the floor:

"Pinterest is a site made up of pins - photographs and videos of anything that you can imagine - positioned on pin boards (virtual bulletin boards.) These visuals includes clothes, animals, architecture, DIY projects, tech gadgets, and much more. Anyone can open an account in a matter of minutes for FREE and create one, or dozens of boards to showcase products, opinions, ideas, etc. Remember that no one buys anything they can’t see.

The social media aspect is that there are millions of pinners all over the world, so just like Facebook, or a blog, you can follow, “like”, and comment on people, brands, single pins, or entire pin boards. Pinterest is a massive network of people who simply like all sorts of stuff, and you have the opportunity to make them like you, your products, and your ideas.

If I were you, I would get going before your pins get lost in the mix.

Still not sold? There is a tab at the top of the Pinterest home page titled “gifts,” which allows users to name a price range for items they might want to buy. In the blink of an eye, a page with a huge number of purchasable products of all kinds appear on your computer screen. Just click on a pin and you are linked to the site where that product is sold.

There are other great things about Pinterest. You can spend time checking out your competition, communicating with fans, or posting a short video, hoping it goes viral. Did I mention that there is a smartphone app?

Pinterest is a marketer’s best friend
. And in case you’re saying to your computer screen, “I’m not a marketer,” you’re in denial - because every professional needs to become a brand in this day and age in order to be successful.

Happy Pinning!"

Thank you, Jamie.