Best Blogs

This quarter I really enjoyed blogging each week and reading everyone’s point of view. Now it is time for me to share with you what I think my two strongest posts and comments are. My first blog post I choose is the first post that I wrote, Digital Detox—Why you need a tech free vacation! I think that this blog post did a great job of mixing the theme of my blog and the course material into a single post. I really liked the style in which I wrote this post. The hook in the beginning was something that could engage most people. This was because I tied the course teachings and entrepreneurship with something we all want to think about, Vacation. In addition, I feel that this post did a good job of incorporating a course reading and it blended seamlessly into the rest of the post. It also expanded on the reading by expanding the conversation of tech addiction and un-plugging.

The next blog post that I choose would be Twitter Revisited. There are two main reasons I picked this post. 1) I thought that it was a well written and interesting post, and 2) why I wrote it. The reason I wrote it was to continue the conversation from a prior post. In response to my prior post, I was shown a video with a different point of view, and so I knew that I had not fully explored the topic yet. I wrote this one to continue a conversation. Isn’t that why we blog in the first place to start and continue conversations, and I thought this post really exemplified the spirit of blogging. In addition, I thought this post was a strong post as it was written with a light and lively tone which will keep people’s attention, even if they do not fancy entrepreneurship. In addition, I used a list for the important points I wanted to make. From class readings, we learned that lists are a great tool for facts based media to become spreadable. Because the post includes practical value and are more memory inducing, I believe that this is one of my most spreadable posts. Finally, I think this post did a great job of expanding a topic from class, Twitter, into a new area that was not fully discussed in class, business and entrepreneurship.

The first comment I chose is a comment on Dylan’s ‘Merica blog. In my comment I furthered the conversation that he had started. I added information that was beneficial to the conversation by branching off of a statement he had made. I then took the information that I just shared and used it to answer the question he ended his blog with by sharing my personal opinions on the matter.

The final comment that I chose is in response to DV’s World. The post was about online bullying. I liked this comment, because I mentioned an idea from the comments above my own. The comments thought that we should work on stopping bullying in real life before focusing on the online bullying.  I then shared my own opinions on why this should be the case. I think that this does a great job of continuing a conversation started by the blog, while also sharing my own opinions.

Cognitive Surplus and the Entrepreneurial Spirit.

Entrepreneurism has been on the rise ever since the early days of Apple and Microsoft. These two iconic companies share a common story for entrepreneurial ventures; how they started. They like many other ventures started as a project in a basement or garage and then later grew into a business. These business are grown out of Cognitive Surplus. Clay Shirkly argues that people are now spending more of their free time producing rather than consuming.  In the video below Shirkly further explains his concept and how he thinks it will change the world.

Shirkly’s notion of civic media is not altogether different from social entrepreneurism. Shirkly argues that cognitive surplus WILL change the world. I would disagree with this as I believe it already has. Cognitive surplus is not a new phenomenon it has existed for quite a while. Look at the world around us. The results of cognitive surplus is all around us. How many of us use Wikipedia, one of the greatest open source collections, is also one of the greatest achievements from the industrial world’s cognitive surplus. In a WIRED article Cognitive Surplus: The Great Spare-Time Revolution states that Wikipedia represents around 100 million collect hours of human labor total. Sure that sounds like a lot, but let us put that in perspective-Americans watch about 200 billion hours of TV every year! That is less than 1% of 1% of the total cognitive surplus of America. So where is the rest of our cognitive surplus? Many of us use Facebook daily. This was just one of Mark Zuckerberg’s projects that he attempted while attending Harvard. Another example is snapchat. This started as a side project, and for the most part, is still just a project as they have only now began to monetize it. In fact, the greatest change to personal computing, the app, has grown so popular because anyone can make an app for anything.

Cognitive surplus is radically shaping the world around us and we are only beginning to utilize our cognitive surplus for civic reasons. How do you think that cognitive surplus will affect us in the future? Do you agree that we are moving from a society that consumes in our free time into one that would rather product?

Viral Marketing

Marketing can make or break startups. However, it is usually what most novice entrepreneurs overlook when starting their businesses. However, marketing has changed a lot from what it once was. Nowadays, many companies have expanded far from the conventional marketing that dominates the media. Many companies have taken to maintaining blogs and social media accounts. It shouldn’t be a surprise as to why. They want to be talked about, and our new ways of constant communication has led to viral outbreaks and companies want to be a part of it.

In “Why Media Spreads” Jenkins argues that “Part of what allowed the Susan Boyle video to travel as far and as fast as it did was the fact it could travel so far so fast.” This is certainly true. Companies have now been designing their marketing to go viral, because by marketing logic: name recognition = sales. Entrepreneur has composed a list of several marketing campaigns that went viral, and explains why each one of them did.

Viral marketing Outbreak

All of these marketing campaigns have common elements that helped lead to them going viral. Marketing professor Jonah Berger and author of “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” has narrowed the science of viral media down to 6 STEPPS or Social currency, Triggers Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories. The science is simple, media that does a great job of incorporating the above principles will be more likely to go viral. However, as companies begin to unravel the secrets of why we share media they need to exercise caution. The more media that begins to conform to the above principles the less those principles will lead to media going viral due to the desensitization of consumers. However, there is a second and much larger issue that develops with companies focused on viral media. They lose relevance to who they are. I’m sure you have all seen a commercial that has left you thinking “What was that about?” In order to stay ahead of the game and be funny sometimes companies lose sight of building their brand and, although they might make a really funny video, will not impact their sales at all. In the end, companies need to realize that although viral media gives them a great opportunity to be seen they need to focus less on the viral and more on their brand.

Twitter Revisited

As I had wrote about before, Twitter is an amazing tool for businesses and entrepreneurs to utilize. The platform is well suited to collecting and disseminating information rather quickly. In addition, the site can be used to narrow the gap between customer and customer service. However, I feel that the topic has not been fully explored and the article before was somewhat one-sided. It is true that if used correctly Twitter can bring numerous benefits to a company. However, Twitter can also have some numerous drawbacks.

Although meant for comedy, the above video makes some very important points.

1)      One of the tools that makes Twitter so great at broadcasting information is the hashtag. People can easily look up or join a conversation by using a particular hashtag. However, a company can use a hashtag inappropriately or join a conversation that they did not intend similar to DiGiorno Pizza’s #WhyIStayed incident (More corporate twitter fails).

2)      Twitter is great at closing communication gaps. However, there is a line that has to be drawn somewhere. We don’t want companies to stray into the more intimate moments in our lives. We wish them to stay out of certain moments in our lives. For example, we don’t want social media feeds to be full of promoted material telling us to have a happy “insert holiday” from companies. We would prefer for the holidays to be reserved for friends and family members instead. Sure the example in the video is a bit extreme, but it showcases the point perfectly that some conversations should be capitalism free.

3)      Finally Twitter makes communication easy and many companies can now be much more vocal than they have in the past. However, this does not mean that they should be. “Silence is never controversial” is a key idea from the video. No one is going to call a company a “communist bastard” because they didn’t remember 9/11 in their tweets. Businesses need to err on the conservative side when using twitter as a brand recognition tool like the examples in the video.

To sum it all up: Twitter is a great resource for businesses and will continue to be so in the future, but businesses need to take great care when venturing into less conservative uses of the platform. Remember the Christopher Long post about tweeting, “Will it build trust and community among those sharing the experience …?” Insincere tweets to stay relevant will always be viewed negatively.  Again, the best way for a business to use twitter is disperse information and promote its brand from within its established marketing

Twitter as a New Pipeline to Customers.

Twitter is a long established social media powerhouse. Boasting nearly half a billion users, Twitter has become the dominant social force connecting the world with 140 characters or less. Twitter is an excellent platform for collecting and dispersing information. As a result, it is without a surprise that businesses are beginning to take advantage of the connectedness of twitter.

By using twitter, businesses have closed the gap between producers and consumers. A consumer can now tweet a business directly about poor service or questions about a product. In addition, businesses can quickly inform their customers with news about the business or updates on products. As a result of the interconnectedness of twitter, customer service can be taken to the next level. We can see this directly today. People staying at a hotel can tweet the hotel instead of calling room service. In fact, some hotels will even book people who need a last minute room over twitter. Another industry that has made significant strides in customer service by utilizing twitter is the airline industry. Everyone has heard of the horrors of lost luggage and the pain that people have to go though at the airport as a result. However many airlines now have better results at finding lost luggage when a passenger tweets the corporate twitter account of the airline than if the passenger went to the service help desk. However, using twitter as a customer service tool is just the most straightforward use of twitter, but there are many other uses of twitter for business. Aaron from the blog askaaronlee.com gives multiple reasons why businesses should use twitter. Among his top reasons are connecting with customers and customers feedback like I have mentioned above. In addition he also mentions Branding and Marketing. Anyone can market on twitter without having to spend millions on a marketing campaign like the large companies. This makes creating a brand image easier for new companies. Also entrepreneurs can use twitter to create their own personal branding. For small startups personal branding is just as important as marketing. Remember, nobody wants to follow a logo they prefer a more personal feel to a company and its culture. How have you seen companies use twitter effectively and how has it impacted your brand recognition?

Infographics and Marketing

In The Best American Infographics, Nate Silver argues “Human beings have strong visual acuity. Furthermore, our visual language is often more universal than our words.” This is why the infographic has become popular in our social media age. However, businesses have been slow to adopt the infographic for marketing and branding purposes. I think that the infographic has great potential to become a marketing tool especially since startups are ramping up the complexity of their business models and services and infographics can quickly share lots of information. The blog jeffbullas lists several reasons why a company should market with infographics. Reasons include their viral capabilities and the portability of infographics. Infographics can explain more than most visual marketing while still keeping a reader’s interest because of people’s natural visual acuity. The infographic below further explains infographics and their usefulness for capturing people’s attention.

Additionally, I believe that infographics could change the art of pitching. Imagine an entire pitch deck condensed into an infographic that could then be widely distributed or shared with VC and other investors. They could replace the elevator speech as they offer a visual for the business that could then be taken home or shared.

Infographics are not a new business marketing tactic. Businesses have relied for years on printed pamphlets for both promotion and marketing. So why are they so reluctant to scrap large scale expensive multi-media campaigns to include for the more portable infographic? As with many business endeavors it’s all about time. Many business are new to the viral world. They are testing the waters with social media and its related marketing practices. They are testing the waters to see how these new methods fit into their marketing strategies. However, I believe that as startups are seeing infographics as a valuable tool larger businesses will soon follow. Perhaps 2016 or 2017 will even be known as the year of the infographic. How do you think that businesses could incorporate infographics into their business models?

Read/Write Culture: The Crucial Building Block for Innovation

Digital natives are repeatedly told that they take everything for granted. We often overlook the privileges that exist in our lives and  the world that they have created for us. This fact hit me hard while reading part of the book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. In the book Lawrence Lessig explains our culture as a read/write culture. Basically this means that media is constantly being remixed and recrafted to create new interpretations and arguments (for more information about his ideas see video below). I thought that the ideas behind read/write culture was also the driving force behind the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs embody innovation and what is innovation really but the remixing of current technologies to do something new.

The heart of entrepreneurs is innovation as shown by entrepreneur celebrities such as Elon musk and Steve Jobs. They were not the inventors of music players, cell phones, electric cars, or spacecraft, but you still know these people as the face of them. Do you even know the names of the inventors? The mp3 and electric car existed long before they made them mainstream. They were merely the innovators building upon the ideas of others.

Many startups today build upon the technology of other. Many startups today are built around app development.  Here they take the work of others (namely Google and Apple) and create their own new product using someone else’s platform. This is really no different than the remixed media that Lessig was advocating about in his book.  Perhaps becoming a read/write culture is the driving force that has led to the popularity of entrepreneurship in the last decade.

I believe that as entrepreneurs we should all advocate for the fundamentals of the read/write culture. An article for Worldchanging about Lessig and the notion of copyfight states, “Our culture belongs to all of us and the democratization of new technologies is empowering everyone to participate.” I truly believe in that. The more open our technology becomes the faster it seems to advance. I cannot imagine what today would be like if we lived in a read only world, and so I ask you which do you think is better copyright or copyfight.

Digital Detox–Why you need a tech free vacation!

I know I can’t wait for my next vacation. Feet in the sand and a cold drink iPhone in my hand. At least this is how many Americans now spend their vacations. In our increasingly plugged in world we are forgetting that we need to unplug.  We let ourselves be lulled by our phones and tablets into bringing the world we are trying to escape with us.

Working on vacation is the new norm. We entrepreneurs are the biggest offenders. I get it. We all have the idea that will be the next big thing, or our startup is in yet another critical growing period.  We can’t bring ourselves to turning our phones off and so we spend most of our vacation working. Then we return from vacation feeling just as tired and stressed as when we left. Already we need another vacation.

An article from Mediashift entitled How a Plugged-In College Student Spent 24 Hours without Tech stated that “79 percent of people keep their phone with them for 22 hours of their day and one in four people couldn’t recall a time when their phone was not at least in the same room.” This is our generation’s addiction and it’s time for us to go on a detox. An article from Entrepreneur about digital detox lists poor concentration, disrupted sleep, bad posture, eye irritation, and lack of motivation as symptoms of technology induced burnout. Burnout is the biggest threat to entrepreneurs, but we still don’t take vacation seriously. If only we put our phones away during vacation and stop checking our inbox, we could return from a vacation relaxed, unstressed, and actually ready to get back to work. This is why we all need a digital detox.

Tech-free vacation—a simple approach.

digital detox

Most of us have probably forgotten how to live a tech free life so let me give you a tip. Eliminate distractions before they happen. It is a simple solution. If you tell people beforehand that you won’t be answering their calls then they most likely won’t try to contact you, and if they do then you can ignore it guilt free. Many smartphones nowadays have do no disturb features that we can use to block calls from coworkers. Do not hesitate to use these. Remember why you decided to take a vacation in the first place. For many of us that is because we think we need an escape from the real world, so don’t be afraid to cut yourself off completely. Save posting pictures on Facebook and Twitter until after you get back. They can wait but a stress free vacation can’t.

Choosing a digital detox might seem farfetched, but distancing yourself from your everyday stresses, and finding time to live in the moment while being mindful of the world around you will surely improve your mood. You will finally enjoy your vacation, and isn’t that why you decided to take one in the first place. But why wait for your next vacation. I encourage you all to try a digital detox this month if possible, because can you really choose not to do so when considering the potential benefits?