• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 17, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • Companies need to know that as attractive as BYOD can be, that doesn’t mean they should ignore the costs that can come with it. Few policies are without some drawbacks, so a realistic approach to BYOD can foster the benefits while appropriately examining the costs. With the right plan in place, the transition to BYOD can be a smooth and productive process, paying dividends for many years to come.

    With all the hype surrounding bring your own device (BYOD), it’s easy to see why businesses are so eager to adopt BYOD policies. For one thing, there’s the promise of getting more productivity out of employees since they’re more familiar with the devices they can now use at work. That can also lead to higher rates of job satisfaction from all who participate in a BYOD program. Beyond these benefits, many companies are also enticed at the prospect of cutting costs through BYOD. After all, having employees use their own devices seems like it would lead to lower operating costs since organizations wouldn’t have to provide the devices themselves. This line of thinking, however, might not be entirely accurate. So businesses need to think beyond what is BYOD and instead ask themselves if it really saves money.

    There is no true consensus as to whether BYOD by itself saves organizations money. Some studies, like the 2012 research done by the Aberdeen Group, show large businesses actually lose money as they adopt BYOD. That Aberdeen study found organizations that used at least a thousand mobile devices spent $170,000 extra on BYOD each year when compared to other mobile plans that used corporate-owned devices. While that may seem convincing, other studies and use cases show different results, where business actually saved money in the long run when adopting a BYOD policy. From these differing results, it becomes clear that simply implementing BYOD may not be enough to save on costs; it’s how the expenses from BYOD are managed that is the most crucial component.

    One area that certainly deserves attention is the hidden costs that can accumulate from having employees bring their own devices to work. Without knowledge of these unexpected burdens, the costs of BYOD can quickly spiral out of control, effectively minimizing any benefits that could come from the program. The biggest source of concern with hidden expenses usually originates from employees engaging in costly behaviors. When expenses are paid for by the company, some workers may end up taking advantage of this and billing their employer for expensive data plans they normally wouldn’t purchase. Employees that are out on the road a lot may accrue roaming charges that the company would have to take care of. Some workers may also choose to upgrade their phones, again having their employer foot the bill. The key to ensuring none of these expenses gets out of control is to outline clearly in the BYOD policy which actions and behaviors are allowable and which are out of bounds. Equally important is the enforcement of these guidelines to make sure employees are always following the rules.

    Perhaps the most important thing all businesses should focus on when adopting BYOD is the way the program will reimburse the employees. Some companies may choose to simply give employees a monthly stipend to cover the added costs that will add up from using personal devices on the job. A second option is to have employees fill out expense reports that will see them get reimbursed for specific charges. Either option is a viable strategy, but each one should be approached carefully, knowing full well that there are potential costs to each choice.

    Handling expense reports is a straightforward solution with its own hidden costs. While the reimbursement is itself a cost that needs to be calculated, each expense report is also an added expense. According to business analysts, the cost of processing an expense report can range from $15 to $20. In large companies, the total cost can add up quickly. Part of that expense comes from having to deal with different parts of the company, like the finance and IT departments. The best way to manage the reports is to allow employees to file them less frequently, at least quarterly or even yearly. As for stipends, management should take a larger role in centrally planning how stipends are given out. That amount should be determined by factors such as the employee’s role, expected device usage, etc. Having a centrally managed BYOD plan also allows companies to negotiate better plans with providers, thereby reducing the costs of BYOD even further.

    Companies need to know that as attractive as BYOD can be, that doesn’t mean they should ignore the costs that can come with it. Few policies are without some drawbacks, so a realistic approach to BYOD can foster the benefits while appropriately examining the costs. With the right plan in place, the transition to BYOD can be a smooth and productive process, paying dividends for many years to come.

    The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is out with its annual list of content marketing predictions. Here are a few of them that stood out for me.

    The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is out with its annual list of content marketing predictions. The organization published its list in a blog post yesterday titled 60 Content Marketing Predictions for 2015.

    It’s hard to believe CMI has been publishing predictions on “content marketing” for seven years because it doesn’t feel that long, perhaps serves to underscore the important role of data.  While my own writing on these very pages often laments how far we have to go – one thing that struck me in reading through this year’s predictions was the realization of just how far we’ve come.

    It is perhaps, the beauty of paradox: it is nearly impossible to look forward without in some way, shape, or form, reflecting on the past.

    Below are a few content marketing predictions – in some cases bits of predictions – from this year’s list that stood out for me, though I’d encourage readers to make time to read through the entire deck. 

    1. Content by acquisition.

    “Medium-sized and large businesses will begin to purchase niche media companies because they thirst to create real relationships with targeted audiences,” says Joe Pulizzi, who founded CMI.

    In my view this is a well-grounded strategy for business leaders who take the time to understand the media landscape shake up – and the opportunity in developing a community. What Adobe has done with CMO.com and CDW with BizTech Magazine, for example, are notable proof points.

    Joe’s book also tops my reading list for any business leader trying to understand what content marketing means for business.  Here’s my take on his book: 8 Epic Takeaways from Joe Pulizzi’s Epic Content Marketing.

    2. Rise of marketing ops.

    “In B2B in 2015, we will see…Marketing ops will come of age,” writes Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners, based in the UK.

    I couldn’t agree with Doug more, because I view this as a corporate huge pain point that can only be solved from within. More than just driving consensus on what is and what is not a qualified lead – and then routing those accordingly – I see marketing ops as the engine behind marketing automation, to include people, process and technology.

    Marketing ops needs to be both business marketing and technology consultants.  They need to be able to paint artful pictures, draw effective flow charts all while writing scripts in code to link together tech systems.

    3. Cooperative content.

    “2015 will bring decentralized content creation programs with participants across the company (not just marketing), as well as content initiatives that rely on user-generated content in expanded and highly strategic ways. The best source of content in most companies may be right under your nose: your employees and customers,” says Jay Baer of Convince and Convert.

    In my heart of hearts, I could not agree with Jay more. The businesses that nails this prediction in 2015 will find good fortune.  Jay has also written a book that I place quite high on my recommended content marketing reading list.  Here’s my review: Book Review: 7 Takeaways from Jay Baer’s YOUtility.

    4. Participation marketing.

    “Participation marketing is co-creating content with existing customers, partners and especially with prospective customers in the community, and I think we’ll see a lot more of that kind of crowdsourcing, which will affect content development and promotions,” says Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing.

    Lee is an absolute master of co-creating content. It’ll take just a few minutes of scrolling through the posts on his agency’s blog the Online Marketing Blog to see examples.

    I have followed Lee’s blog for a very long time – probably longer than any other marketing blog I still read consistently. So when he published his book…you guessed it…I called it a must read.  Here’s the review: Nine Takeaways from Lee Odden’s Optimize.

    5. Distribution side of the equation.

    “Content creation has gotten a lot of attention lately, but content management and distribution will rule the day in 2015,” writes Mike Myers who pens a blog titled Always content, never content.

    Creation gets all of the glory but distribution must account for the other half of the content marketing equation.  This seems to be a recurring conversation of late, I have the sense Mike is right and predicting a renewed focus on distribution is a pragmatic expectation for the next 12 months.

    6. Content marketing as a minimum barrier to entry.

    As for my own prediction, here’s what CMI found fit for print (click here or image to enlarge):

    Pragmatic Content Marketing Predictions

    I’d be interested in your views, so please feel free to sound off in the comments.

    Photo credit: Flickr, Rob Shenk; CC BY-SA 2.0

    There are many different types of native ads, and two of the most common ones are search advertising as well as content marketing, the latter being particularly useful for businesses who are trying to increase their brand awareness, to diversify their target market as well as to boost their revenue. Sponsor-funded content is often placed alongside editorial content, with the specific purpose of reaching the target audience.

    There are many different types of native ads, and two of the most common ones are search advertising as well as content marketing, the latter being particularly useful for businesses who are trying to increase their brand awareness, to diversify their target market as well as to boost their revenue. Sponsor-funded content is often placed alongside editorial content, with the specific purpose of reaching the target audience. 

    Why Are Businesses Expected To Invest More In Native Ads In 2015?

    The answer to this question is very simple: native advertising is flourishing across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms and content portals, as well as news websites and streaming services. More than two billion people have constant access to Internet, and this is precisely why native advertising is one of the most efficient and straightforward ways to send a message and to raise visibility for a product or a service, thus helping business owners increase their sales and awareness. 

    At the same time, another reason why the native ads spending will increase is because an increasing number of people have started to rely on mobile devices, such as tablets or smart phones, in order to access their favorite news portal for information or to buy items online, from retailers and online marketplaces. Statistically speaking, it was proven more than once that native ads are the most efficient in the content streams that are commonly accessed by mobile phone users – and media publishers, advertisers, marketers and business owners certainly want to make the best of that. In addition to this, recent surveys have revealed that the print ad spending is expected to decrease by $1 billion in the United States in the next few years – while the print ad spending records a decline, the online advertising industry (and native advertising in particular) will record a significant increase. 

    In the United States alone, the digital ad spending on both online magazines and newspapers was of little over $7 billion, and it is expected to revolve around the sum of $8.5 billion a year, within the next several years. In 2015 alone, there is expected to be an approximate 30% increase in the native ads spending, as opposed to 2014. Native ads are literally being used by everyone – from high tech companies like Dell and IBM to internet fads like Ukraine dating. Media companies, social networking websites and all the other publishers are eager to create new revenue streams based on native advertising that would help them compensate for the constant decline in the print ad spending mentioned above – the more streams available, the more likely it is for marketing and advertising agencies as well as businesses to invest in native advertising. 

    Google has certainly played a very important role in the increase in native ads spending over the past decade, as it has repeatedly launched products and tools to help marketers and publishers reach common ground. Taking Product Listing Ads as an example, this marketing tool has become an $8 billion market within only two years from the moment it was launched, back in 2012. Google was, and still is, the primary destination for searching products and services, even though increasingly more people have started to rely on mobile devices to get what they want. 

    Online retailers are recording a 60% yearly increase in the revenue that originates from social networking websites. At the same time, the Product Listing Ads program mentioned above helps businesses that use it increase their mobile-generated traffic (people who visit their website via smart phones or tablets) by almost 50% each year. 

    Overall, it is important to mention the fact that native advertising offers brand agencies the opportunity to help business owners gain an edge over their main competitors. The traditional native ads as we know them are somehow becoming obsolete as they are replaced by the native mobile ads, one of the most powerful and efficient tools used by digital marketing professionals in the United States for brand affinity. 

    Last, but not least, it must be said that besides the fact that online advertising is slowly taking over offline advertising, there are several other notable benefits to native ads that will make them even more popular and sought-after in 2015: in addition for being a great tool for promotion, native ads are also great for lead generation and for increasing the conversion rate. From many points of view, it is safe to say that native ads play a much more important role in the sales and branding niche than direct-sales agents, and this has certainly caught the attention of large corporations. 

    Anyone frustrated by the slow progress in adoption of mobile pay by consumers can thank Edward Snowden. Why? Putting the genie back in the bottle with respect to the public’s privacy concerns is going to take time. So is it any wonder we value privacy above all mobile commodities? And will Mobile Pay ever be accepted? Yes - and here's why.

    Anyone frustrated by the slow progress in adoption of mobile pay by consumers can thank Edward Snowden.

    Whatever side of that debacle you fall on – horror at the idea of Big Brother watching, or horror at the ease with which an NSA employee was able to leak thousands of classified documents – one thing is clear: putting the genie back in the bottle with respect to the public’s privacy concerns is going to take time.

    Even the most even-keeled among us can’t avoid at least a flickering sense of paranoia post-Snowden, especially when you add in incidents like the Target and Home Depot hacks.

    Is it any wonder we value privacy above all mobile commodities?

    Think I’m exaggerating? Consider the over-the-top response to Facebook’s independent Messenger app. How many of your friends have yet to download it after all the privacy warnings that circulated upon its release?

    While it was much ado about “nothing-more-than-you’ve-already-allowed-via-every-other-app-already-on-your-devices” (including Facebook itself), the list of permissions did give many people pause. As do digital privacy concerns in general.

    So Will Mobile Pay Ever Be Accepted?

    Yes. Of course it will – just like all other Internet-related activities we used to freak out about (like shopping and banking online). But it will probably take longer than technology companies would like.

    Then again, it will depend on how well the front-runners handle things (for those not paying attention, that’s Starbucks and Apple).

    Starbucks has been the poster child for single-retailer mobile pay success since its launch in 2011. Apple has just entered the picture with Apple Pay, but could there be a better masthead for an across-the-board mobile pay solution? It’s early in the game, but no one will be surprised in a few months if the numbers bear out that assumption.

    But beating (or even keeping up with) Starbucks will still only account for a fraction of transactions (15% in Starbucks’ case), which isn’t exactly a rave for the adoption of mobile pay. Sure, some people are giving it a try, but the real truth is most people are super hesitant about the whole thing.

    Mobile Pay is Scary but Inevitable

    Here are the two biggest obstacles to adoption of mobile pay, according to a new report by leading engagement and insights platform, PunchTab, people don’t think they need it - and people are afraid of it.

    About one-third of consumers are perfectly happy with the payment options they’ve got. And why not? They’re working well. They’re easy enough. What’s the rush to go all futuristic? But those people would probably jump on the bandwagon once mobile pay is being used regularly, and they see which apps are working best.

    The real problem is the 62% of people concerned about data security. Comprised of people who don’t trust technology, are concerned about privacy, and/or concerned about the security of their personal information, this majority is who retailers and broader mobile payment solutions companies (like Google Wallet and Square) have to convince that mobile pay is safe, above all else.

    For that you’re going to need a little help. (More on that below.) First, some good news. While the overwhelming majority either see no need or are wary of mobile pay, they still offered up a wish list of features they’d like to see incorporated into a mobile payment app. Sounds like they plan to join the ranks eventually, doesn’t it?

    Consumers Want Specific, Yet Broad

    Knowing what consumers want will help brands smart enough to give it to them gain the edge as consumers cross over from hesitation to adoption, and it will happen sooner than you think.

    In short, consumers want it all. They want a mobile payment app that:

    ·      Can be used anywhere, but also offers store-specific integration

    ·      Speeds up the checkout process, and eliminates the need to carry cash or credit cards

    ·      Connects to their favorite loyalty programs, accruing and displaying points earned, as well as offering special deals and coupons

    By 2020, the mobile payment industry is projected to reach nearly $3 billion (US) according to a study by Grand View Research, Inc. But retailers and other app developers shouldn’t assume that means they have plenty of time to get in on things.

    Yes, most consumers are leery right now, but that will certainly change as early adopters spread the word (the help I mentioned above), and prove privacy concerns to be over-blown. Savvy Millennials (who particularly want store-specific integration along with broad-use options, even more than the 35+ demographic) are major influencers of all things tech, swaying older generations to jump on board.

    Smart retailers won’t run scared just because consumers are – they’ll get in the mix and stake their claim in the mobile pay game now. Those that do will surely reap the benefits down the road when mobile pay becomes the next big thing we take for granted.

    Where do you fall on the mobile pay spectrum? Are you nervous about data security, or just waiting until all the kinks are worked out before picking an app? 

    Recently, I was the part of a debate about whether social media is a boon or a bane for today’s workplace. I know this discussion goes around and around, and normally stops with social media being accused for workplace distractions and low employee productivity. But, I believe that social media is getting a bad rap. In fact, a study has proven that social media savvy employees are more efficient at their work, specifically work-related social situations. Efficiency is never a bad thing.

    Recently, I was the part of a debate about whether social media is a boon or a bane for today’s workplace. I know this discussion goes around and around, and normally stops with social media being accused for workplace distractions and low employee productivity. But, I believe that social media is getting a bad rap. In fact, a study has proven that social media savvy employees are more efficient at their work, specifically work-related social situations. Efficiency is never a bad thing.

    Will the social media savvy employees lead the charge that makes social media as universally present in the workplace as it is in our personal lives? Will our productivity and business operations soon be tied to social media? Is the current silo about to break away? Today, our solutions still force employees to engage in work activities on one platform and social activities on another. Yet, more and more businesses are trying to push toward creating more social employees, and utilizing employee advocacy and social business programs. Before that integration can take place, however, social will need to become as much a part of our work as email and Office.  There may be some limitations in adoption, but let’s explore the future of work and how technology and social are going to blend into one seamless tool for communication and employee productivity.

    Social technology ups the level of communication. The need for communication is growing even stronger with the workplace becoming broader and more dispersed. We work differently than we did just a decade ago, with more opportunities for flex time and remote working. With the changing face of work, it is obvious that the level of communication required is changing drastically, as well.

    Therefore more organizations are exploring social media to bridge the communication gap between their employees. According to the latest study by Dell about evolving workplace trends, 25% of respondents believe technology brings people together. How so? Some social media activities rocking the workplace are Internet forums, weblogs, blogs, wikis, podcasts, photos, video, rating and social bookmarking, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowd sourcing, and more.

    Social aids collaboration. Using technology for communicating, storing, and managing shared data for distributed work is nothing new. What is new is the ability to carry out these functions through hand-held devices like smartphones and tablets that have 24/7 internet connectivity. In fact, that internet connectivity has quite a lot to do with the quality of collaboration within your organization. For instance, higher internet speed and capabilities will result in better video and audio quality during video conferencing sessions, even on consumer-grade video services such as Skype and Hangouts.

    While your important and more serious video needs can and should be met with enterprise-grade solutions, you can definitely use social communication platforms for internal communication.

    Social supports BYOD. Today, most of the social media workplace collaboration is happening on employees’ personal devices, rather than on their office computers. According to the latest stats revealed by Dell and Intel, more than half of employees worldwide currently use personal devices for work purposes or plan to do so in the future, while 54% of companies globally are already allowing BYOD.

    Workplace adoption of social media. If you really wish to reap the benefits of social media technology, you must avoid the most common misstep – treating social media as a special guest rather than making it a part of your organization. Integrating social media with your normal workplace routine should be the goal. One of the best examples of this integration that I can think of is how Salesforce.com’s Chatter, which lives within the CRM platform, gives employees a more meaningful connection to the people they work with on both professional as well as personal levels. Employees can use this platform to make new connections, track friends and co-workers, and get in touch with colleagues they have previously worked.

    As long as people look for the human touch in their professional lives, tech advancements are less likely to eliminate the need for humans in the workplace. Perhaps, social media could gratify the need for human touch by creating a unique blend of technology and social elements satisfying that social craving, while at the same time pushing our productivity to new heights.

    Photo: Creative Commons