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According to Catalyst.org, women currently hold 5.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 5.4 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. While it is obvious the glass ceiling still exists on an executive level, this is also likely to change as the white-collar economy moves towards a less hierarchical model, as predicted by Times.com.

Times.com recently published their ‘Future of Work’ article with predictions on how jobs will change and evolve by 2025. An interesting observation made was the likelihood that the future of work will see an increase in women dominating business. This is in fact already happening on a global scale- over half the corporate leaders in China are women, and India has more women CEOs than the US. In the US we have seen women lead companies in historically male-dominated industries such as IBM's CEO Virginia Rometty, and Hewlett-Packard's CEO Meg Whitman to name a few.

According to Catalyst.org, women currently hold 5.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 5.4 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. While it is obvious the glass ceiling still exists on an executive level, this is also likely to change as the white-collar economy moves towards a less hierarchical model, as predicted by Times.com. The article in Times.com asked:

“Are the women themselves making the difference? Or are these smart firms that make smart moves, like promoting women? There is growing evidence that in today's marketplace the female management style is not only distinctly different but also essential.”

Female leadership style, or ‘transformational leadership style’ is heavily engaged and motivational, with female leaders described as “consensus builders, conciliators and collaborators.” As the future of work sees the emergence of a global decentralised workforce, female management skills will be highly sought after where executives will be required to skilfully manage remote teams. Diversity across gender, race, and indeed time-zones will help foster a more creative and collaborative workforce that is more adept to meeting the challenges of the future of work.

Companies that provide female-friendly working environments will find flexibility has indeed become ‘a compelling business strategy’ that will help boost productivity and retain talented female leaders. And it should be noted that providing flexible working environments is not only attractive to women, but also Millennials entering the workforce who demand a mobile and flexible work environment, as well as the Boomer’s approaching retirement who are now looking to scale down to part-time work.

Perhaps the historical negative connotations of the ‘work life balance’ phrase in the corporate world should be renamed, as suggested by Times.com’s Claire Shipman to ‘Make More Money’. This is really the point of these disruptive changes in the white-collar economy- the formula for a competitive business model in the globalised era is one that needs to adapt for the growing decentralised and virtual marketplace, where 'the demand for female management skills will be stronger than ever', and where the focus will be on results as opposed to time spent within office walls.

Content marketing takes many shapes and sizes. As a company builds out its marketing plans, it may be a daunting task to determine what shapes and sizes are the right fit. We recently polled other marketers and chatted with the Twitter community about their winning content formats, so we wanted to share some of the various responses we received with you. I created a list of five content marketing formats you may be overlooking.

Content marketing takes many shapes and sizes. As a company builds out its marketing plans, it may be a daunting task to determine what shapes and sizes are the right fit. We recently polled other marketers and chatted with the Twitter community about their winning content formats, so we wanted to share some of the various responses we received with you. We decided to create a list of five content marketing formats you may be overlooking.

Podcasts:

While the popularity of visual content has changed the way online audiences process information, podcasting is finally getting its shine on as a hot resource for connecting with consumers. Why? It’s informative and dynamic. Podcasts allow you to elaborate on larger-picture ideas in a way that’s more personal and convenient. Ryan Hanley--an industry influencer who you should keep your eyes on--does a great job demonstrating his podcasting chops (recent guests include Jerod Morris and Jay Baer).

Quizzes:

Trends may come and go, but the online quiz has solidified itself in the digital world as an interactive and engaging content tool for marketers. If you’re trying to create something fun and shareable or are trying to gather audience information, there’s no limit to the data you can collect from a well-thought-out quiz. Just be sure to provide the user with something they value, such as personality test results, knowledgebase scores, an unlocked exclusive deal, or a piece of content.

Slide Shows:

They aren’t simply for internal business communications or college presentations. Tools like SlideShare have transformed the way marketers are formatting content by creating easily digestible, shareable, and downloadable content by way of slides. Create a powerful SlideShare that showcases your expertise; upload it to the hosting service; and watch as it gets passed around among others in your field. The ability to embed your SlideShare presentation into a blog post is also incredibly practical, as it provides a visual connection to your content and keeps your audience focused. For inspiration or to share as curated content, MarketingProfs is a trusted resource with more than 80 SlideShare presentations.

Video:

Video marketing is on the up and up. We’ve all been nodding and grinning about its importance, but if you’re not carving out a space for it in your marketing initiatives, you’re truly overlooking this content format. Platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, and Vine are dominating online communities. If you establish yourself here early on, the benefits will be immeasurable and constant. Especially because YouTube is the second largest search engine used, other than Google.

Interviews:

There’s almost nothing more valuable than getting first-hand knowledge from an industry expert or thought leader. It is the ultimate piece of credible content. It signifies that you recognize key influencers and that you have merit by virtue of scoring their time and input. With that, other influencers will value your position and seek you out as a forum for their fresh perspectives. All of this works together to establish your own authority, opening doors for engagement with your target audience. Add valuable content, and acquire customers. It’s the content marketing way.

Are there any overlooked content formats you'd like to see in this list? Add yours in the comments section, or let us know if you’ve used any of the content formats above with success.

“Having spent a number of years in the digital video space, we saw there was a huge opportunity to work with companies who understand a video’s performance is tracked by more than just views,” said Jonathan Stefansky, co-founder and CEO of the Israel-based platform, Viewbix.

’Tis the season to push your holiday marketing plan. If you started planning it as early as September, you’ve been reaping the benefits of the 23 percent of consumers that started shopping in early fall, according to a 2014 report by Accenture. On the other hand, you may need a quick, creative outbound communication campaign to capture shoppers through year’s end.

At this point in the season, online video marketing is probably the most practical use of your marketing time and energy. That is unless you have time to write 1.8 million words—the equivalent to a one-minute video, according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research.[[{"fid":"210266","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"style":"margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; float: right; width: 189px; height: 300px; ","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

Viewbix makes it really quick and easy to create interactive videos. With five minutes, and your YouTube or Vimeo video, you can customize your video in terms of colors, size, and call to action. The interactive features include music, additional videos, and photos from services such as Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa. You can even add a Twitter feed, eBay auctions, coupons, and Skype integration. Then all that is left to do is embed and share your video everywhere, including on Facebook, Twitter, websites, blogs, and mobile devices.

“Having spent a number of years in the digital video space, we saw there was a huge opportunity to work with companies who understand a video’s performance is tracked by more than just views,” said Jonathan Stefansky, co-founder and CEO of the Israel-based platform. “Video consumption habits shifted tremendously, and companies quickly started to search for a better way to measure true ROI from their video content. We built a quick prototype, which got covered by a small blog, and were blown away by the number of businesses who signed up for our service. This was our ‘ah-ha’ moment because it truly validated the need for a better way to engage with consumers through videos, and for companies to measure results by engagement.”

Another “ah-ha” moment was when Stefansky and his co-founder, Hillel Scheinfeld, COO, looked at the increase in engagement Viewbix-enhanced videos get when shared on social channels. For example, clients have seen a 35 percent uplift in engagement for Facebook campaigns with Viewbix-enhanced videos.

Cuisinart is a great example of a brand that was looking to drive email signups, click-throughs to their product pages, and social followers from their videos,” Scheinfeld said. “We started by running Facebook video ads using our video platform and drove engagement rates of more than 25 percent. In other words, more than 25 percent of viewers who watched Cuisinart’s videos took at least one of the calls to action they were looking for, which were opting-in to email sign up, clicking through to their site, or becoming a fan or follower on social.”

[[{"fid":"210271","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"style":"margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 60px; ","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]You can add a call to action at various points in your video to drive the specific engagement you want from viewers. While you drive measurable ROE (rate of engagement) from your videos, you get detailed, actionable analytics to understand how and where they’re performing best.

“Our brands can see when and where viewers opt-in to the call to action, where they share the video, how long they watched the video, and more,” Stefansky said. “You can also quickly change the placement of your creative or call to action based on how and where viewers are engaging. Essentially, you don’t have to wait until after the campaign wraps to measure performance; you make changes in real time based on real-time feedback.”

[[{"fid":"210261","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"style":"margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; margin-top: 6px; margin-bottom: 6px; float: right; width: 300px; height: 201px; ","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

Since Viewbix launched in April 2011, it has seen the rise of mobile viewing coupled with the effectiveness of running videos on social networks. As a result, Viewbix’ default player is on HTML5, though it still supports Flash.

“We hope to be able to extend our distribution reach to other social networks such as LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram,” said Scheinfeld. “These platforms are a natural fit for social video advertising, and the shift in consumption habits coupled with the shift in ad dollars reflects that.”

I worry, sometimes, that we take the process of hiring, onboarding, coaching, developing and managing the performance of sales people too casually. Too often, managers tend to treat sales people as commodities.

I worry, sometimes, that we take the process of hiring, onboarding, coaching, developing and managing the performance of sales people too casually. Too often, managers tend to treat sales people as commodities.

There’s an attitude of quickly hiring the best that’s available, if that person doesn’t work out, we can fire them and hire someone new.  Likewise, as business goes through it’s natural ups and downs, sales organizations are expanded and contracted to fit our budgets.

It’s not just a sales management issue, too many sales people move from job to job, never staying in a job long enough to be long enough to produce results.

Recently, I heard a great speaker at CEB’s conference.  He outlined some frightening statistics, here are some that scared me to death:

  • The average tenure of a sales person from the time they start a job to the time they leave is less than 2 years (Sales Readiness Group).
  • The average tenure of a sales manager is 19 months.
  • 47% of companies say it takes 10 or more months for new sales people to become fully productive (67% are 7 or more months)(CSO Insights).
  • 58% of reps make quota (CSO Insights).

Taken together they present a frightening view of selling and the cost of sales.  Basically, we have to make our money from a sales person in a little more than a year.  That is, to get a return on our investment in hiring and onboarding someone-who takes 7-10 months to be full productive, but who will probably leave within the next 14 months; we have them produce at least 2 years worth of business in those 14 months!

But it gets even worse.  That sales person is probably on their second manager, who takes some time to ramp and become effective as a manager.

But think further.  Many people selling complex B2B solutions have sales cycles longer than 18 months.  So coming into a job, they may “inherit” great deals started by the previous sales person–but we’re new so our likelihood of winning is low.  The deals that we qualify early on in our tenure on a job is probably very low–because we are new and don’t know the right deals to qualify.  As we get to the 10 plus month mark, we start recognizing what a quality opportunity is, the quality of the deals we chase go up, then 14 months later……..

It’s no wonder overall quota performance is so bad.  It’s no wonder we constantly struggle with the cost of selling and getting a return from our investments in selling.

And then there are the customers.  We talk about the importance of relationships, of establishing the trust and confidence.  Yet, it can look like a constantly revolving door to our customers.  For a buying cycle that may be longer than 12 months, a “trusted” sales person is seldom involved for more than one buying cycle.  Customers have to constantly invest in “training,” and developing relationships with new sales people and sales managers.

It’s no wonder, customers search for ways to minimize sales involvement in their buying process.  If they are constantly “training,” new sales people, if the sales person isn’t as knowledgeable as she should be, if there is no relationship, the sales person can be a disruption and slow the customer down.

So at a high level, the economics behind a sales person and organization are challenging, when we look at the data on time to productivity, average time spent in a job, churn at a sales and managerial level, and declining performance results.

There is always a danger in dealing with high level data and averages across large numbers of people.  But I the data should cause us to rethink the people side of our profession.  We can’t be casual about this, it’s simply costing us to much in money and opportunity.

We have to be purposeful about recruiting, the costs of a bad hire can be millions.  We have to be purposeful about onboarding, we need to get people to full productivity as quickly as we can.  We have to be purposeful about performance management, coaching and development.  We have to look to retaining sales people–providing great work environments, meaningful career development.  Churning people as business goes through ups and downs, or as we look at different strategies du jour is expensive and wrong for both the business and people.  It’s a demonstration of bad leadership/management.

This isn’t just a management issue, sales people own a large part of this.  Jumping from job to job may seem the thing to do, but you are cheating yourselves and your companies.  If you want to be a high performing business professional, you need to hang around long enough to learn and to prove that you can accomplish something.  I’m amazed when I see resumes of people with 10 jobs in as many years.  It causes me to question their real capabilities and experience, particularly, since it’s unlikely whatever success they attained was primarily due to their efforts.  While you wonder about “loyalty,” the real concern is can they produce?  Have they hung around long enough to fairly claim the results of their work, not someone who preceded them?  People may be able to fool hiring managers for a few jobs, but ultimately, hopping jobs will catch up with everyone.

Both managers and sales people seem to have a very short-term attitude to longevity and experience in a role.  It’s a costly practice, both from an organizational and individual point of view.  The impact to organizations is $millions.  The impact to individuals can amount to $100’s of thousands to millions because they haven’t developed the deep experience they need from staying in a role long enough.

It’s time to understand the true business and personal costs to the short-term perspectives we take.

Photo Credit: Sales Force/shutterstock

Cha-ching! With a little extra effort on your part, you can see a noticeable increase in sales on Cyber Monday. Learn the most effective (and time-constraint friendly) marketing tactics to use to give your business a chance at cashing in on this profitable day.

Cyber Monday, Black Friday’s technologically savvier cousin, is right around the corner. (Seriously, it falls on December 1 this year.)

For online sellers, this means it’s time to stop dreaming of all that turkey you’re about to eat (or tofurkey, if you’re like me) and get your ass into high gear.

Still not motivated? These stats from last year's Cyber Monday might help:

  • 2013 Cyber Monday sales totaled $2.29 billion.
  • Social media drove $148 million in sales between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Sounds even tastier than that turkey, right? Let's get this last-minute guide to Cyber Monday started!

Upload Your Products ASAP

You know how you initially uploaded three of your products to your ecommerce site or online shop with the mental promise that you’d get to the other 30 at some point soon?

Well, now it's months later, and you’re still offering only a few products online, when you really have a much wider and more appealing selection offline. Remember, the more products you have for sale, the more credible your business looks. And the more likely it is for you to appeal to a wider audience.

If the idea of getting all of your products up at once is overwhelming, set aside 30 minutes to an hour each night to ensure you’ve made some serious progress come Cyber Monday. Don't forget that great product descriptions as well as captivating images can make a big difference in the amount of sales you get too.

Now pour yourself a glass of wine (or two, if you’re like me) and start uploading products like it’s your job. (Because it kinda is.)

Don't Go Crazy With Discounts

We all know that consumers are going to be looking for smoking deals this day, but don’t let that pressure you into offering discounts you can’t afford. (You know the old saying, "Never write a check that your ass can't cash"?)

Larger brands can easily discount their entire product line if they want to, but if a small business owner does that, it can kill their profit margin almost instantly. (But at least it'll be a quick death?) Instead, why not tier your discounts based on how much a consumer spends? For example: spend $100, get $20 off, spend $50, get $10 off.

You can also give gift cards instead of an immediate discount. Spend $200 and receive a $50 gift card with your online order.

Send Out an Email Blast

Email marketing is undoubtedly your friend when it comes to everyday marketing tactics. But it’s your best friend when it comes to the big, profitable shopping days like Cyber Monday.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • First, define your deal. (E.g., all sweaters are 25% off.)
  • Second, write persuasive copy. And give your deal urgency. For example: Warm, cozy, stylish… and 25% off?! That’s right! Our entire line of sweaters is on sale for one glorious day only! Get this great deal on Cyber Monday by using the promo code LETSCYBER at checkout. Browse our sweater selection now.
  • Third, use an eye-catching subject line. (E.g., Our best Cyber Monday deal ever)

Send this email a few days before the sale to drum up interest and then send another the day-of with revised copy, like this example below:

  • Subject line: Hurry! 25% off sweaters today only
  • Body of email: It’s here! It’s here! Cyber Monday is upon us and you know what that means… 25% off our entire inventory of sweaters. But, hurry, you’ve only got today to score this smoking deal. Enter promo code LETSCYBER at checkout. Shop now.

Always include a call to action (e.g., browse now, shop now) and be sure to include a direct link to your online shop for easy purchasing before sending your emails!

Promote Heavily on Social Media

Of course, you’ll want to promote your products and deal(s) on social media in advance, but a heavy push the day-of is also going to be important.

Without over-killing it and annoying your followers, a few tweets and posts throughout the day will help remind your target market to check out what you have to offer.

According to PFS Web, online sales peak beginning at 11 a.m. EST on Cyber Monday and hold strong until late in the evening, meaning it would be smart for you to be on the computer continually this day, tweeting, sharing, pinning, Instagramming (and so on) your deal along with product pictures.

Use hashtags on applicable sites (#cybermonday and #cybermondaydeals) to help deal-seekers find you. Be on hand to reply to customers and join in on the online conversations to help you drive sales and engage with shoppers.

Put Down That Pie and Get Started

Just kidding. You can totally do all of the above whilst eating any type of pie, but pumpkin is preferable. (Heavy on the whipped cream.)

What's most important is that you actually give your small business a fighting chance to be seen and heard, not only on Cyber Monday, but throughout the holiday season.

And you can do this by creating a marketing plan of attack (ahem, like the one above) and committing to helping it succeed by working on it a bit every day.

Continue on with special incentives throughout December, including email blasts and social media posts to help ensure this holiday season is your best, and most profitable one, yet!

Share your questions below on how to increase Cyber Monday sales.

Rooted in science and art, proper storytelling is the root of successful marketing. Stories don't just contain information, but they also have the power to influence mood and emotions. And emotional response, according to a Psychology Today article called Inside the Consumer Mind, outweighs rational analysis when it comes to influencing purchase decisions.

It's probably not a stretch for me to claim that people have loved stories since the human race developed the ability to tell them. I can imagine the earliest hominids using grunts and gestures to tell stories around the camp as a way to educate, warn, and of course, influence their fellows. We might imagine our earliest ancestors developing the craft of storytelling until it became hardwired into our brains as part of what makes us human.

Stories don't just contain information, but they also have the power to influence mood and emotions. And emotional response, according to a Psychology Today article called Inside the Consumer Mind, outweighs rational analysis when it comes to influencing purchase decisions. Now it's time to reflect on how you can use storytelling in your successful marketing campaigns.

1. Be Honest

Of course, you are telling stories. Characters might be fictional, but the brand has to deliver on the promise. A tooth fairy doesn't actually collect teeth. Parents don't promise that the fictional tooth collector will leave a pony. Kids know they can leave teeth under their pillow and expect them to get replaced with a dollar or some other reasonable reward. The Tooth Fairy, be she mom or dad in real life, delivers on the brand and everybody's satisfied. You are free to exercise creativity, but you can't do it at the expense of trust in your brand.

2. Create Personalities

Flo, the gecko from Geico, and State Farm's mayhem guy help differentiate similar products in a competitive business environment. Instead of just using unmemorable and dry statements that one insurance company or another reliably covers car and home accidents, the companies have developed brand personas to make them memorable. You don't have to have a mascot, but it is helpful to infuse your brand with a personality.

3. Make Your Brand the Good Guy

Instead of using clearly fictional mascots, like the Geico Gecko, you are free to develop a persona that is more rooted in real life. In fact, as authors, many of you will represent your brand as yourself. If you write fiction, you might pull main characters from your stories to represent your brand. Either way, be sure to present your own brand representatives as interesting characters that your potential audience cares about.

4. Tell a Complete Story

The best marketing storytelling follows the rules of fiction in that there is a clear problem and resolution. In simpler terms, there must be a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion. Even if you do it very quickly, delivering a complete story satisfies your audience and doesn't just confuse them. Of course, this still leaves room for cliffhangers, and that brings up the fifth point...

5. Leave Them Wanting More

Well, of course, we hope the end result of storytelling is leaving our audience wanting more. Crafted correctly, proper stories should influence an audience to return for more of the same, and eventually, a purchase of your products. As book marketers, you need to let your audience know where to find the rest of the story.

What's Your Story?

As marketers, we know we cannot just use dry phrases that emphasize features and benefits but lack any narrative quality. Storytelling helps market brands by stimulating both intellect and emotion, so now it's time for us to develop your story, and of course, give it a happy ending.

It's easy for a business to get wrapped online with social media without connecting that activity to their brick and mortar retail locations, but that's a result of misunderstanding the way retailers should be integrating their online activity. Social media is an extension of retail locations, not a separate entity.

It's easy for a business to get wrapped online with social media without connecting that activity to their brick and mortar retail locations, but that's a result of misunderstanding the way retailers should be integrating their online activity.

Social media is an extension of retail locations, not a separate entity.

That's not to say that you can't create additional revenue online, but unless you plan on closing down the physical locations your online activity should also be a bridge into your stores. There are a number of traditional retailers who have found creative and effective ways to build that bridge. Here are some things you can do to increase sales in your stores and build your online following at the same time.

Offer In-Store Coupons and Discounts

Although this tip seems like it comes from Captain Obvious, it's still a great idea and one of the simplest to do. We've been conditioned to give incentives out to potential customers in order to get them to like our pages and create more online engagement. That's still a good practice (even though Facebook is putting down the clamps on this), but why not turn it around? In addition to incentivizing a social following, give them a reason to get out of the house and trek to your actual location. You could do this in a number of ways, but the simplest way - and possibly the best - is to send discount codes to followers that are only good in-store. You could also do this via email or text, which would also allow you to build up a mailing list. Good social media management software will be able to integrate your sms and email campaigns as well so you can track the results.  

Giveaways and Freebies

What's better than a discount? A freebie, of course. Fashion company Marc Jacobs took advantage of this fact when they opened a pop-up store in Manhattan during New York's Fashion Week to show off their new line of Daisy fragrances.

Customers who came in were encouraged to send a tweet or post an Instagram photo about the new line using a certain hashtag. Those who did so received gifts from the retailer, including perfumes, jewelry, and accessories. The result was over 13,500 mentions on Twitter and 4,300 Instagram mentions.

Nordstrom and Pinterest

Visit Nordstrom's profile on Pinterest. Nordstrom's use of Pinterest in their stores is now legendary among those of us who track such things. Pinterest is the fastest growing social site on the web, and the vast majority of the users are currently women, although there has been a big push in recent months to bring the guys along for the ride as well. Pinterest is also neck-and-neck with Facebook when it comes to driving sales, and beats them out in many categories. Nordstrom famously brought their Pinterest popularity into the store by creating a section of "most pinned" items, complete with labels bearing the Pinterest "P" logo. This is a great way to showcase what items are the most popular among other shoppers and fashionistas.

Location. Location, Location-Based Shopping

Another oldie-but-goodie that still has plenty of applications for those willing to embrace it is check-ins through social sites. Offering a discount to those who check in when in the store gives just as much advertising advantage as mentions and hashtags. Facebook might keep you from giving away goodies for liking your page, but they can't stop you from handing out discounts in real life if you can get them to check in.  

\Digital Displays

These might cost a bit more out your budget than encouraging tweets and check-ins with signs, but it will get attention and create engagement. Nine West is using digital displays that collect shoppers' posts that contain certain hashtags and displaying them for everyone to see in-store. That means that when they take a selfie with the new Nine West outfit they just bought or tried on, they can become part of the advertisement on display. Playing to people's vanity is always a winner. If you can't afford to get such a display, you could still have an iPad mounted for selfies and posting to social during the shopping experience.  

Bring Home the Bacon with a Beacon

Apple's iBeacon technology is the frontrunner in this emerging technology, and it will likely be a staple of real-world shopping in the years to come. The iBeacon searches for and connects with iPhones in reach via bluetooth, if the phone has the app on board. This tech was added beginning with iOS 7. There are also competing technologies for the same purpose, and iBeacon is even compatible with newer Android OS's - although Apple is trying to close that loophole.

These are a few examples of how forward-thinking businesses are bringing synergy to their online and real-world commerce, but the space is wide open to new ideas. There are likely hundreds of ideas waiting to happen once someone gets the lightbulb going off in their head. Do you have a unique way that you reverse the formula and bring social media into your retail locations? We'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Beyond creating separate Twitter accounts to handle customer service on social media, what should your Twitter bio really look like? Are there any rules you should follow? How can you truly make your customer care Twitter bio stand out?

Beyond creating separate Twitter accounts to handle customer service on social media, what should your Twitter bio really look like? Are there any rules you should follow? How can you truly make your customer care Twitter bio stand out?

Customers should know what to expect from the service you deliver. The way you describe yourself online says a lot about how you provide customer service and ultimately, how you do business.

There are 5 crucial best practices to incorporate in your Twitter bio. Is your brand really hitting the right marks?

1. Include ‘Customer Care’ in Your Twitter Name

Be straightforward and clear. Although it seems like a small change, don’t forget to include ‘customer care’, ‘customer support’, etc. in some way in your Twitter name.

2. Be Upfront: State That You Deliver Customer Service

Beyond tweaking your Twitter name, don’t forget to state that you actually deliver customer service in your Twitter bio.

e.g. “Providing customer care since”, “Customer care team, at your service!”

3. Include Opening Hours

When is your company able to provide social customer service? Make sure this type of information is available for everyone to see. Customers need to instantly know whether they can access you through social media or have to look for an alternative. Commonly, this is between 8am and 8pm from Monday until Friday, depending on the industry you work in.

4. Have an Alternative Available

Dealing with an issue after hours? Make sure you state an alternative to tweeting to your company in the Twitter bio (e.g. directing to your online help center with a link).

5. Who’s Tweeting?

Let your customers know who's behind your Twitter handle to give your company a human face. You will be surprised by how much this small tweak will pay off! Adding a name in the Twitter Bio isn’t possible for every company, especially in larger teams dealing with a high volume of incoming messages. But, in that case, it's a nice alternative to have your social media team and a tweet with their name.

Schermafbeelding 2014-11-03 om 10.12.02

One of the best examples of a company who knows how to get their Twitter Bio right is KLM, the Dutch airline company that is truly at the forefront when it comes to delivering social customer service. Updating their response time in their Twitter header really put them ahead of the game.

Schermafbeelding 2014-11-03 om 10.11.46

Although it’s only one step to tweak your Twitter bio, meeting these expectations is an entirely different story. Make sure that once you've agreed on the standards of service you will deliver, you are then able to live up to that promise.

Geneneration Y’s spend, on average, two hours a day on their smartphone and use six mobile apps a day. By 2020 they will make up 50% of the workforce. Is your organisation ready for the internal mobile comms revolution

In the past 5 years, the way we communicate outside of work has changed dramatically. With 62% of the UK population now owning a smartphone and 30% owning a tablet, most of us have 24/7 access to the Internet.

But we aren't using our mobile devices to browse the web.

Earlier in 2014 Princeton University published a paper, based on Google search traffic, predicting that Facebook would lose 80% of it's web traffic by 2017. The news was publicly ridiculed by Facebook which pointed out that the majority of it users (83% in the UK) access the platform via mobile devices and apps.

Make no mistake, for most people the web search has already been replaced by one-touch mobile apps.

And what we do as consumers is impacting on how we like to work. Generation Y (people born in the 80s and 90s) are increasingly expecting and desiring to communicate with their colleagues, customers and clients through mobile devices. 20% of all employees now spend at least 10% of their time working remotely and 56% of Gen Ys say that increased mobile working would increase their productivity.

There's also good business sense behind this trend. 96% of senior executives cite a lack of effective communication for workplace failures and 39% of employees who use social business tools (including mobile apps) say they have experienced 'increased connectedness'.

In spite of this, most organisations are lagging behind in their adoption of internal mobile communications. 41% of employees say the mobile devices they are provided with are old and not fast enough, and only 11% of organisations say that creating mobile apps for internal communications is a digital priority for 2014.

Mobile Social Communications Revolution

Check out these two case studies to see how more organizations are meeting their employees' needs for social interaction during the workday.

Companies of all sizes are realizing most people are more productive when there’s a social element to their work. Let’s look at two case studies that delve into this concept:

IBM Fuses E-mail With Social Features

IBM recently introduced a new business-oriented e-mail application. In addition to allowing people to send e-mails as normal, the service -- called IBM Verse -- has a built-in feature that keeps track of how users behave when sending e-mails and can draft future responses based on those interactions.

You may be surprised there's also a strong social integration. For example, users can easily convert e-mail threads into Facebook-ready blog posts, which might be helpful if a person is balking at the idea of using a special text editor program to craft a blog, but is already well versed in e-mail. Also, when an e-mail is sent to multiple people, a user can instantly see the relationships between the recipients.

Much like the way Facebook has experimented with pushing content to users based on what they are likely to enjoy or deem important, IBM Verse has a "faceted search" function. This function analyzes user actions to identify content that's specific to a particular need, and it can pick out the people who seem to be among an employee's most important contacts.

If you have ever left a comment on someone's Facebook profile to offer congratulations after he or she got engaged or welcomed a new baby, only to discover you get bombarded with activity notifications every time another person in that person's social network offers similar well wishes, it probably didn't take you too long to figure out how to mute future notifications for that particular post.

IBM Verse has a similar "mute thread" function, helpful if hundreds of your coworkers are replying to a thread about a company potluck, an upcoming national holiday or someone's surprise birthday party, and all you want to do is focus on work.

IBM Verse developers spent $100 million to get the program ready for the public, and it's hoped Verse will eventually overshadow Windows Outlook as an e-mail option. For now, Verse is a free service, but a paid version with more features and a larger data allowance will become available at the start of next year. It's too soon to tell whether the social media-inspired features will help the app rise above the rest, but the offerings are at least more than enough to spark curiosity and encourage people to give the free version a try.

WeWork Believes Creations Happen Best in a Community Setting

Social media certainly has its advantages, but there are also great benefits to having meetings of the minds with people who are in the same room you are. At least, that's the belief and business model of WeWork, a chain of coworking spaces around the world. Currently, there are 31 locations in places like New York City, Austin and Seattle, but also as far flung as Amsterdam and London.

Amenities range from private phone booths to meditation spaces and member workshops. According to WeWork, if a person decides to become a member and get access to any of the coworking spaces, he or she will suddenly become part of a global community full of visionary people all working on their respective goals.

Being in such an environment can undoubtedly be inspiring, especially for people such as freelance musicians and writers, who may work for hours or days on end with very little supervision or human contact. By taking comfort in the fact WeWork locations are set up around the world, a person may feel more confident about being equipped to do his or her work to the fullest, thanks to plentiful high-tech and upscale features in each facility.

Also, even people who prefer to be sociable mostly via social media channels have something to smile about, especially if those in-person chats increase the sizes of their social networks. After all, working among like-minded individuals tends to spark conversations, and many of them include questions like "Hey, are you on Twitter?" in an attempt to break the ice and find common ground.

These are just two examples of companies that are doing their part to make sure the social element of a workday doesn't get lost. There are many others out there as well; are you one of them?

Image by Jeff Sheldon