Thursday, July 28, 2011

Social Media Vs Email : Email Is Still Important- And Here Is Why?

Social media is more than a buzzword. It’s now a lifestyle decision for a lot of companies. Many individuals and organizations have abandoned a traditional Web presence (which used to mean a website and email address) in favor of a Facebook page coupled with a Twitter account.

So, where does this leave email? Has the @ symbol lost its meaning as an address, and instead become the signifier of a Twitter name? I think that we need to radically reconsider our approach to email in this changing landscape and understand that it can be a powerful tool when leveraged correctly.

Changing Habits

While I disagree with the assertion that “social is killing email,” evidence shows that email use among the younger generation is declining: a 59% decline among US teens between December 2009 and 2010, according to comScore. In the same study, only the over-55s had increased their use of email. This is especially significant if it represents a long-term shift away from email and towards social media and SMS as preferred methods of communication.


Losing Faith In Email

Email has been around forever (it predates the Web), so it’s not surprising that, for some, it has lost its lustre. For one, it’s not exciting enough; other social media platforms have come with fanfare. Twitter has hosted world headlines, and Facebook has been the driving force behind many campaigns. In 2009, a Facebook Group even succeeded in getting Rage Against the Machine’s single “Killing in the Name” to the UK’s “Christmas number one” spot ahead of the X Factor single.



This level of drama appeals to business types who like their social media “sexy,” and for this reason Twitter and Facebook push all the right buttons around the boardroom table. By comparison, an email marketing campaign may seem tired and old fashioned.



For another reason, it lacks tangible value. Valuations of Internet companies (and particularly social media giants) have skyrocketed. In May of this year, LinkedIn was valued at $10 billion (roughly 41 times its 2010 net revenue). Facebook is still a private company, but rumors of a public offering in 2012 include a valuation that could reach $100 billion. While many in the industry see this as a portent of a second dot-com bubble, for a lot of businesses it is simply a compelling reason to invest in these services.

Email is non-proprietary, which means that no one is pushing its agenda, and, unlike the LinkedIns, Groupons and Facebooks of the world, it cannot attract a market worth. Value theory tells us that if something has no market value (such as air, water, etc.), it is often taken for granted. I think email has suffered a similar fate.

Finally and perhaps most significantly, it lacks the pack mentality that most of social media thrives on. Despite the growth of marketing, email is still mostly private. No one knows which lists I am subscribed to or who I write to from the privacy of my inbox, even if by virtue of Facebook they know what I ate for breakfast. In stark contrast to the insidious evils of “like” culture, my email behavior does not broadcast itself all over the Internet, which for marketers is a decided disadvantage.

Email Is A Currency

Everyone Has It

It’s true that email is fighting with other services for online communication, but it is still ubiquitous in a way that other social media networks are not. As of May 2010, 39% of US Internet users had never used a social network, compared with only 6% who had never sent or received an email. If you want to reach the majority of your audience, email is still the safest bet.

It’s a Unique Identifier

It’s worth noting that people tend to be members of multiple social media websites simultaneously, with varying degrees of involvement, but they usually have only one or two active email addresses. The email address remains the unique identifier online; you use it to log into almost everything, so it would take a lot for it to become obsolete.

It’s a Coveted Resource

According to research conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing is expected to generate an ROI of $44.00 for every dollar spent on it in 2011. This is due in part to the fact that more customers are engaging via email: 93% of email users have opt-in relationships with a consumer brand, as opposed to 15% on Facebook and 4% on Twitter (according to Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs).

This value has been recognized by most social media networks. Facebook launched Messages, which provides each user with an @facebook.com email address, because it understands the importance of email in the social graph. Google+ is also tying email more directly into social media activity, blurring the distinction between the two.

Overcoming Obstacles



Spam

This incarnation of junk mail is relentless. It plagues users, who must be cunning to distinguish genuine mail from hoaxes. Email clients require elaborate algorithms to sift the wheat from the chaff. And perhaps most vexing, Internet marketers have to struggle to get anything commercial through to their subscriber lists.

Unfortunately, Twitter and Facebook are not safe havens either. Business folk are not the only ones taking a bigger interest in social media; scam artists are, too. As of April 2011, spam alone occupied seven full-time employees at Twitter. This is a drop in the ocean compared to email (over 73% of all messages sent are spam), but it might be a relief to hear that we are experiencing the lowest levels since 2008; at least things are looking up!


 Broadcasting

Social media networks encourage multi-way conversations between many users. Even those who are not involved directly in the conversation can often “overhear” what is happening. Email is much more direct; it is usually between just two people and does not invite additional participants. Understanding this limitation of email will make it your greatest ally. Unless an email is personal, it will not get a response; however, it is one of the best ways to deliver direct messages, such as newsletters and alerts, which do not invite discussion so much as action.


Presentation

HTML email is far more effective than plain text for marketing, but you’ll need to know the tricks to make it look good across different browsers. Writing code for email usually means going back to 1998, which is enough to put most people off it entirely. Luckily, Campaign Monitor and MailChimp offer some great templates to get you off on the right foot. But make sure to use a tool to test the email across different clients before clicking the “Send” button, or else you could do more damage than good.


Making Email A Part Of The Conversation 

Email is difficult to ignore. Unlike social media streams, in which content is disposable, an email demands your attention until it is read. Use this to your advantage: write newsletters; push your most engaging content in front of your users; adapt your offers so they match your audience.

Also, email is a much calmer medium. Inbox zero is a difficult (yet achievable) goal, whereas staying on top of every stream, tweet and status update is not only stressful, but well nigh impossible! With email, you can take time and give thought to your words; you can dedicate some time to the person you are communicating with. Email not only gives your thoughts some room, but gives you time to write them down clearly.

If you’ve heard of the Slow movement (which advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace), then you might want to consider how email fits into Slow Marketing. Is it possible that cultivating brand advocates over time who have more than a fleeting interest in your product could bring long-term benefits? Could you talk to these customers in a more respectful way, one that leads to substantial, meaningful conversations?

Think Twice Before Hitting “Send”


If you’re not put off by the shortcomings of email and you find 140 characters more limiting than liberating, then you’re well on your way to incorporating email in your social media campaigns. Chances are your email subscribers are your most loyal audience, so treat them with respect (which means offering valuable content, and not too often), and they could become your greatest advocates.

While reams of articles are devoted to creating social email campaigns, here are just a few tips to get you started:

Have something to say.
Sounds simple, but while your daily musings are permissible on Twitter, your email audience will be less forgiving.

Make it digestible.
Email doesn’t limit your word count, but you’ll need to apply some editing of your own. If it’s a long article, include an excerpt and link through to the website for the full story. This has the added bonus of enabling you to track the most popular items.

Be regular.
Set a schedule of emails that you know you can keep to. A monthly or quarterly newsletter can be a good guide.

Be personal.
Tailor your tone to the audience. Most email services offer invaluable segmentation tools. You wouldn’t speak to your spouse the way you talk to your bank manager; neither should you address your entire audience the same way.

Don’t forget that email is only half of the conversation. Find out where your readers hang out (you can use their email addresses to locate them), and continue the discussion there! 


Friday, July 15, 2011

Hashtags: Tweet Your Message to a Larger Audience with Hashtags



Twitter is a great place to find and follow people with the same hobbies and interests as you have. Unfortunately, once you have as many followers as Darren does, it starts to get overwhelming to stay in touch with them all, and make sure the right information goes to the right people.

Making an appearance at a marketing seminar and love to cook? You’ve got a situation then. How do you make sure you’re tweeting details about marketing events to the seminar group while tweeting your favorite recipes to the cooking group?

Enter Hashtags. A hashtag is a symbol – # – followed by a name that can be used to broadcast to a specific group of people. For example, there’s a group for #googlenews, #love and even #kmart. None is probably more popular right now and relevant than the group created for the Mumbai attacks – #mumbai.



Hashtags.org shows the most recent group tweets on Twitter


To see which groups have already been created, visit www.hashtags.org – the official site that creates, organizes and displays these groups. Use the search box in the upper right corner to see if your group name is already available.

If it isn’t, you can create it simply by tweeting and including the hashtag (#) within your post.

The first step though, is to make sure hashtags can index and display your group tweets. Just follow @hashtags and the service will follow you back automatically. Then it’s time to help spread the word about your new Twitter group.

For example – Got a great Twitter tip? Just send it to #TwiTip and you could see it on our blog!

The second step is to get familiar with hashtag commands, so that you only broadcast a message out to the people you want to receive it, those being the members of your hashtag group. Here’s a quick rundown of the more useful ones:

Follow #tag – (example: follow #twitip) – lets you follow all updates tagged with #twitip.

Follow username#tag – subscribe to all updates from a certain person that are sent to a group. (Example: Follow problogger#twitip will give you every post by Darren sent to the #twitip group)

#tag message – Send a message or question to the group. (Example: #twitip Anyone know a great software program to organize tweets?)

#tag !message – Send a message only to people who are subscribed to updates from #tag. (Example: #twitip !How many twitip users post to twitter daily?)

Leave #tag – Unsubscribe from the group. If your friends are subscribed to this group as well, you’ll still get messages from them that include updates for the group. (Example: leave #food will unsubscribe you from the Food group, but you’ll still get messages from your best friend and fabulous cook Jenny whenever she sends a message to #food).

Remove #tag Unsubscribe from the group and from friend messages that include this tag. So if Jenny posts a recipe to #food and you’ve typed Remove #food in your Twitter status bar, you won’t see that recipe even if Jenny is on your followers list.

You’ll probably want to print out this set of hashtag commands for future reference. If and until Twitter creates its own built-in service for groups, hashtags is the most up-to-date (albeit unattractive) way to stay in touch and create powerful, profitable groups for expanding your Twitter empire and connecting with people who share your interests.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Top 10 Sites for File Sharing


"File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digitally stored information, such as computer programs, multimedia (audio, images, and video), documents, or electronic books (wikipedia)." As w/ any business or educational institution integrated w/ technology, it's important to have a solid grasp on file sharing and be fluent in the use of file sharing technologies.

Top 10 Sites for File Sharing

Box - Probably the most popular of the web based file sharing sites that integrates w/ Google Apps. Also, has the ability to share/store files in a folder which is ideal for embedding into a site.

Minus - A simple file sharing site that allows users to embed their file into a blog/site or share w/ a unique URL.

File Dropper - A free easy to use site that allows users to upload up to 5 Gig of data.

Pipe Bytes - An ideal way to share files in a private setting either as an URL or embed code.

DocDroid - A great site for file sharing which allows for password protection and the ability to choose what format you want to download the file in.

Papyrs - An excellent site for sharing files in a social network type setting.

Go Pileus - A simple to use site (drag-n-drop) for sharing files that also integrates nicely w/ bit.ly for URL shortening.

Sendoid - A site that is also available as a free app for sharing files person to person rather then storing on a server.

Air Dropper - A unique site that allows a user to create a dropbox that allows others to access via a request and then download.

WeTransfer - A fun site for transferring files w/ a nice user interface. Also, a person has the ability to add a message to their file transferring email.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

5 Ways to Encourage Customers to Share Your Content


Nearly every brand has realized that integrating social elements into most or all of its marketing programs is essential. Companies are also thinking about social media as an integrated element that spans all of its campaigns and channels – not as its own silo. But enabling people to share a campaign with friends is only half the battle; you’ve got to give them a compelling reason to socialize.

Here are five creative ways to motivate social sharing. We’ll provide insights as to how you can structure campaigns to encourage more people to share, alongside examples of brands that are getting it right.

1.       1. Increase the Payoff When People Share More

With the advent of DIY group deals, you can create campaigns in which the more people share among themselves, the more they all save. The idea of collective benefit also plays to team dynamics: people will mobilize when lots of folks can get a benefit.

Oscar Mayer’s recent program for its new Oscar Mayer Selects hot dogs provides a good example. Oscar Mayer offers consumers a coupon to try the product, and encourages them to come back to share a “Taste-a-Monial” (essentially their personal review of Selects Hot Dogs) to get a second coupon. But this second coupon is progressive in nature: for every 5,000 people who share their Taste-a-Monial, the value of the coupon will increase by $0.50. The value continues to increase until the deal becomes a free pack of hot dogs, or until the promotion ends on August 15. At that point, everyone who shared a Taste-a-Monial will be rewarded their coupon.

Snoop Dogg made headlines recently for the progressive group deals he runs from his Facebook page’s “Shop Snoop Now” ecommerce tab. Each day, one product is featured for a special group deal – the more “Likes” the product gets, the lower the price for the product.


2. Give Them Something Exclusive

Giving people something unique or exclusive in return for sharing can be a powerful motivator — we all want to feel privy to something special.

For example, in a recent campaign to build awareness for recording artist Cady Groves, RCA offered fans a free song download for registering on the Cady Groves website. RCA also incentivized fans to share Cady’s music with their friends by offering a free merchandise pack to every fan who convinces five people to download the song.

Many brands are also rewarding fans by providing early access to content. For example, a big trend we’re seeing in the music industry is “share to reveal,” where fans get advance access to music videos or song tracks in return for sharing with friends.

3         3. Appeal to Their Altruism

People are inherently good. If you make it easy for them to help, they often will — and your brand will get a major boost along the way.

For example, Clarisonic recently ran a fundraising campaign for “Look Good, Feel Better,” a program that helps women battling cancer cope with treatment-related skin changes and hair loss. It contributed a $1 donation for each new “Like” on its Facebook page. The campaign made it fun and easy to share the program with friends by designing different “calls to action” that visitors could choose to share. As a result, Clarisonic generated over 30,000 new Likes on the page.

Of course, many fans will share simply because they love the cause and want to spread the word — so make sure you’ve at least added social elements to all your customer touch points.


4         4. Let Fans Help Create the Offer

Giving fans the ability to choose which version of a product should be offered, or to vote for the discounts or special offers they want to receive, helps ensure they’ll share it. For example, HarperCollins’ Bookperk website, which keeps readers up to date on new books and special deals, lets members select which books will be offered at a discount. Once members have chosen a book, they have the option to log into Facebook and share their selection with friends, therefore spreading the word about the discount.



5.       5. Identify, Recognize and Reward Superfans

Humans are inherently social beings, and like to be recognized for their expertise and achievements. Recognition can be a powerful motivator for social activity.

In the Cady Groves example mentioned above, not only was the campaign successful in getting many fans to share with their friends, but furthermore, quite a few “superfans” took sharing to the next level. They generated their own tweets, direct messages and Facebook posts. Some individuals managed to recruit several hundred new fans to the Cady Groves website and Facebook page.

These superfans aren’t necessarily motivated by the incentive; they’re interested in promoting the artist, getting free merchandise for their friends and establishing their reputation as someone in the know. Smart marketers will look to identify and reward these superfans on an ongoing basis, and further provide them with ways to carry on their message.

Once you’ve identified your superfans, make them part of your marketing mix. Give them preferential or early access to new items, and reward them with recognition on your Facebook page, Twitter or your website.

Why Is Bluetooth Called Bluetooth?




When two devices need to talk to each other, they need to have a handshake on various parameters before the conversation starts. The first agreement is on the medium – will they use wires, or talk over some wireless signal?
Bluetooth is one such wireless signal (protocol) over which two (or more) devices communicate over.

Strange name though isn’t it – are the bluetooth waves invisible but blue and shaped like teeth? Wrong! There is absolutely no relation between the name and the meaning.

The Bluetooth protocol was created by Ericsson (pre-Sony Ericsson) which is a major Swedish telecommunication company.
They named it after the Danish viking king, Harald Blåtand. As legend goes, Blåtand had the blessed ability to bring people negotiate with each other, and come to talking terms.
So skilled was he, that he was able to unite Denmark and Norway together! The literal translation of Blåtand means blue-tooth, hence the name Bluetooth for the protocol. It does precisely what Blåtand did – lets two wireless device to communicate with each other!

The Bluetooth symbol has Harald Blåtand’s initials inscribed into it (in Runic). The two lines sticking out of the back of the B actually represent a Runic H – thats H for Harald .The B for Bluetooth also stands for Blåtand!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Indian Govt Takes The Open Source Route

 The Indian Government has been talking of the open source-based systems for long, but for the first time it is working on a policy on the use of operating systems and device drivers in all new e-governance projects.          
Friday, July 08, 2011:   According to the latest draft policy on e-governance, all new projects must work on open source operating systems only. The draft Policy On Device Drivers For Procurement Of Hardware For e-governance says, “Government of India (GOI) endeavours to provide e-governance services, which are technology-neutral, cost effective, interoperable and vendor-neutral. GOI Policy on open standards is a step towards meeting this objective in the development of e-governance applications.” The policy shall apply to all the new e-governance projects as well as the existing ones.
   



 The need for such a policy was felt because while implementing open source, there is a possibility of non-availability of device drivers for all general purpose operating systems. “Hence, there is a need for a policy by GOI for procurement of computers and associated peripherals to empower the implementation of e-governance projects with neutrality to all general purpose OS,” states the draft.

The draft clarifies the reason for covering both computers and peripherals. According to the document, most parts of the computer, in general, work with the recent stable versions of Windows and Linux operating systems. However, some of the devices internal to computers may require drivers, which should adhere. The policy has to be applicable to them also, for example, webcam, inbuilt speakers. Other devices (like printer, scanner) are external to computers. Hence both computers and peripherals are covered in the policy, in addition to the drivers of external peripherals to ensure the complete-working of the computer system.

The Department of Information Technology (DIT) has demanded the following from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

1. The computers shall be capable of running on all general purpose operating systems.
2. OEMs shall provide drivers for computers and peripherals, which are capable of running on all general purpose OS.
3. The drivers of computers and peripherals for GNU/Linux (one of the general purpose OS) shall satisfy any of the following conditions:

a. The source code, build procedure and installation instructions for the drivers must be made available as per any of the open source software (OSS) licences listed. Computers and peripherals must be operational using these drivers in the latest stable Linux-kernel. It implies that in case, the source code, build procedure and installation instructions for the drivers are made available as per any of the open source software licences listed in the policy, and if these are accepted in the latest stable Linux-kernel, then it is expected to work in any of the Linux-distributions.

b. The source code, build procedure and installation instructions for the drivers must comply with LSB-3.0 or higher versions and accepted by any of the Linux-distributions. The compliance with LSB-3.0 or higher versions is opted because the current stable version of Debian distribution (Version 6.0 Squeeze) is compliant with LSB Version 3.2, and not LSB Version 4.0.

c. In case only binaries are made available for the drivers, then they shall be Linux-compatible; in addition, kernel dependent binaries must adhere to the specifications of the latest stable Linux-Kernel.

As mentioned above, the adherence to any one of the three conditions is sufficient when considering Linux OS. The reason cited for this is: "The source code of the device driver for the Linux operating system is made available through two approaches, (a) under open source licences (b) LSB compliance, as indicated in the policy. From any of the two approaches, binary for the device driver can be built. Third approach is to use the binary of the device driver provided by the vendor as per the policy requirements."

The open source licences demanded in the policy are:

1. Apache License, Version 2.0
2. Eclipse Public License- v 1.0
3. European Union Public License (EUPL v.1.1)
4. GNU General Public License, version 2 (GPLv2)
5. GNU General Public License, version 3 (GPLv3)
6. Mozilla Public License 1.1 (MPL 1.1)
7. The BSD License
8. The GNU Lesser General Public License, version 2.1 (LGPLv2.1)
9. The GNU Lesser General Public License, version 3.0 (LGPLv3)
10. The MIT License
11. Any other licence which gives freedom to copy, modify and redistribute driver source code without any restrictions.

The draft policy clarifies the demand for so many open source licences. It says, “The widely used OSS licences are listed along with generic open source software licence which gives freedom to copy, modify and redistribute driver source code without any restrictions. Hence the driver is made available by building the executable from the available source-code under any one of the listed licences.”

Source: www.efytimes.com

Monday, July 11, 2011

Printed Books are Dying, Readers are Decreasing: A High-Time for Libraries and Librarians to Accept the Change

 Introduction: Printed or paper books will very soon be relegated to niche markets for people who buy them for nostalgia. If anyone still reads printed books, they are the dying breed, a freak of nature in today’s culture. It won’t be a surprise if printed bookstores and printed libraries will be extinct within the next 50 years with all the technological revolutions.



1. Root of the Change: The root of the change can be analyse from the following angles-

a) Screen is Dominating over Static Printed Page: The technological revolution, created an intensely visual culture and society. Kids growing up these days are addicted to screens, it may be TV, computers, movie theaters, etc. The printed books are ideal, it does not create interaction. So, people are favouring other options and there is no wrong with it.

b) People are Busy and Are on Move all the Time: Life is much busier than it was even a decade ago, and printed books require time to finish, weight much to carry with our move. On the other hand the electronic books or AudioBooks occupy less space, remains clean and fashionable so it’s grabbing the printed market. After all no one can force the readers to read something they don’t like, not comfortable with and enjoy.

c) People are Goal Oriented: We claim to value education, but we really only value it as a means to an end. Education is something to be endured so that you can get your diploma and move on to the “real world” of work. We don’t see education as a goal in of itself. So does the new generation. They only value the content that meets their needs; it may be a blog post, a web discussion and so on. They now don’t bother for a 500 page long book.

d) Patience is Lacking: Since all other media currently available comes in short clips or easily-scannable screen / blog posts, the people’s attention span (in general) has decreased and they are not comfortable with the time need to spend to read out a complete printed book.

e) Emergence of Popular Entertainments: The entertainment industry is shifting and one has huge options left than to read a printed book. S/he can watch the movies over TV / Internet, listen songs in iPod, listed radio over mobile phone, can play games over internet / mobile / laptop / desktops / iPhone.

f) Social Network is Grabing the World: Facebook, Myspace, Orkut, Twitter is grabbing the world especially the young population.

Further, in case of printed books first you began with a tree, you needed to cut down destroying the environment, turn into paper, write something on, and for in-depth information on any topic refer the user to other documents. Internet makes it easy to read out and catch related thing by following the hyperlink. You can jump from link to link, from books to books until you are satisfied.


















2. Is Reading Declined?: Printed books are one of many mediums / modes of transferring knowledge between people. As society has progressed, so has our way of acquiring and sharing knowledge. Our methods of teaching, learning all are transforming. Who don’t have taste for reading still don’t inclined towards reading. But majority of people who have a taste for reading now shifted towards internet and other electronic medium. Parents who grow up with technology are passing it onto their children. So, in case of young generation the inclination towards screen is proportionally high. This is more a shift in medium than a rejection of reading in general.



3. Role of Libraries and Librarians: To be frank, public library funding is decreasing throughout the world; the users of printed books are also following this trend. Many libraries only get the users in its Internet Zone or Corner, Digital Library Section and so on. Users are building a tendency towards screen in place of printed books and the computer science professionals are grabbing the opportunities of Library and Information Science (LIS) Professionals. So, if any librarians still focused on printed documents it would be very difficult to save the library from his hand. Though there are many options left in the hands of librarians the following two needs greater emphasis.

a) Generate Your Own Fund: All type of libraries should try to generate their own fund.

b) Promote the Change: Readers are reading as much as ever, if not more. But the shift to screen (Kindle, Nuke, IPod, IPad, IPhone, TV) is unavoidable. So it’s the time for librarians and libraries to acquire these new things, new technologies and move to the future.



4. Conclusion: The time is at our hand, when we need to stop thinking of reading as sitting down with a hardbound printed book that is 500 pages long. Instead, we need to recognize and embrace variety of ways that people express their ideas. After all in present situation, reading and gaining knowledge cannot be focused only on printed book. One can definitely get an in-depth knowledge by going through a blog post and its comments or a discussion forum than reading the printed book of a single author. Even who are interested in a full book reading, can download it in RSS Reader (Google Reader), e-Readers, Kindle, iPhone, Nook, iPad and iPods and carry a mass volume with them wherever they went. E-books at least give reading a chance in the future so it’s the time to keep reading alive by extending support to those formats.

In the days to come, more people will be reading on screens. So it’s the time for libraries and librarians to accept the change and just get used to it, begin embracing and promoting the new technologies. Otherwise they will just shoot themselves on their foot.

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