Social Media Audits Balance Art and Science

Considerable evidence exists that social media is rapidly evolving from the shiny new marketing toy to a standard part of the media mix.Nowadays almost every campaign at least considers doing a YouTube video or a blog or a Facebook page. What sometimes gets forgotten is the post-mortem – was using social media worth it? Where do we go from here? That’s where a social media audit comes in.I’ve long held the belief that communications is as much art as science. Yes, I try to maximize reach and frequency and lower cost per thousand impressions for my clients, but that doesn’t capture the art of conversation, or even persuasion. There is no formula that says how many interactions it takes for me to enlighten, engage, educate or persuade you. Yet typically that’s what we communicators need to do.I used to think the word audit meant a precise accounting of assets and holdings. Then my accountant friends enlightened me that even in a profession as buttoned down as accounting, interpretation plays a large part. Had I only known 20 years ago when applying for student loans!A social media audit, then, is essentially the process of sifting through a bunch of raw data to try to determine if the social media program is “working” or optimized, according to the original goals of the program. You did have clearly stated goals, right?Numbers in isolation only tell you so much. The classic mistake is to proudly report something like “we have grown to 10,000 Twitter followers,” which says nothing about whether these are the right people to be communicating with, whether they are listening at all and, even if they are listening, if you are having any impact.Like a forensic auditor, it’s best to take a number of measures and then correlate the results to see what impact your program is having. You might consider gathering raw data on several different variables, such as reach (fans/followers), frequency (adherence to publishing schedules), engagement (conversations, comments, retweets, likes), influence (Klout score, Twitter ratios, blog score, pagerank) and sentiment (positive, negative or neutral brand mentions).For example, let’s say you have oodles of Twitter followers, but you broadcast only, talk only about your company, rarely or never chat with anyone and never get retweeted. It’s safe to say people are tuning you out. If your goal was to tick the social media box on your performance review, great, you’re done, but assuming you set out to actually do something useful, this is not it.
When I conduct a social media audit it necessarily starts with the question what were you trying to achieve?Without knowing where you intended to go, I can hardly assess if you are en route. Let’s say your objective was to increase positive mentions of a big project. The very word increase means you need a baseline measure – how many positive mentions did we have before we worked our magic, then how many positive mentions after we worked our magic. Did it increase? If yes, good, if not, why not? Good research is a critical companion to good communications, including social media. Some art coupled with some science is a powerful combination.I recommend a hub and spoke publishing system to my clients, where your website/blog is the centre of your media empire. Therefore, a critical data source for a social media audit is web analytics, usually Google Analytics.Google Analytics can tell you things like sources of traffic, entrance and exit points, time spent on the site, bounce rate and more. It really helps to know if people generally come to your site from Twitter but then run away screaming within 30 seconds. OK, Google doesn’t measure screaming (yet) but you get my point.All these things provide clues to the success or failure of your content marketing. And content marketing is at the heart of social media.Other tools such as Website Grader, Twitter Grader, Twitalyzer, Facebook Insights, YouTube Insights and more provide a plethora of data points with which to evaluate your social media efforts.To be useful, someone has to aggregate and assimilate all this data and draw conclusions from it. Hard work, but it beats chasing meaningless fans and followers, and it balances the art of communications (which can be tough to defend in the boardroom) with science.

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I’d Like to Meet the Moron Who Said, “Hang Art Eye Level”

Seriously?If I had a dime for every time I heard someone say, “Hang Art Eye Level”, I’d be writing this post from my private jet. Seriously, can you really hang Art at eye level and please everyone? My brother stands 6′ 5″, my husband is almost a foot shorter. You see where I’m going with this?Art is very personal. I can’t buy art for my best friend and I can assure you, she can’t buy it for me. There are very few rules about Art because it is so subjective. What you choose to hang on your bathroom or bedroom walls depends on many elements; personal taste, size of the wall space, color of the decor, theme of the room, even budget. But, we cannot dispute the final decision of “How High to Hang Art.” That is Rule number 1.Just for the fun of it, I’d like to take 100 new Art buyers from around the world and have them hang art at their eye level and see where it ends up. My hunch is, the art would range from 4 feet off the ground to 6 feet. The average would be close to accurate.And that, my fellow inquisitive art lovers, is how the calculation of how high to hang art came to be. It is an average of many “eye levels”. Here is the exact way to determine where on your wall you should hang your Art.Measure 58″ from the floor to the halfway point of the Art. For example, if the art measures 24″ high, than the top of the art is hung 70″ from the floor. Half of 24″ (12″) plus the 58″. However, you can adjust the artwork if there are very tall people in your home. Most people hang Art too high, now that you know the 58″ rule, you will have the correct range to work with.There are exceptions to this rule.If there is a large piece of furniture below the artwork, than you must keep the artwork at least 5″ above it. You don’t have to worry if it’s a couch or a chair, most people do not sit down and throw their heads back (knocking the art), unless they’re having a seizure. When you and your family/friends are sitting down and looking at your art on the wall, no one should be looking up to see it.Rule #2: Thou shalt never crane one’s neck to look at Art. That should have been written in the “good books”. Craning is when you use your neck to look upwards. Art is meant to be appreciated, for long periods of time, without getting a kink in your neck. I suppose the artists who sat for hours drawing on their canvas wanted you to have the same experience.Read this next line carefully: IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW HIGH YOUR CEILINGS ARE. If your eyes can’t look at the art, without your neck tilting up, than you have hung your art too high. The solution to covering large areas of a wall (with high ceilings) is to choose Oversized Art. But, you’re still going to measure the 58″ from the floor to the center of that Art, before you hang it, right?Are there any other issues that when it comes to the height of hanging art? If you are hanging 2 pieces of art vertically, one above the other, treat the 2 as if they are one unit. Place them on the floor first to determine the right layout. Whether you are stacking them or staggering them, the gap between your artwork is usually 3″. Once you’ve decided how they will appear on the wall, keep the 58″ rule in play. Therefore, one picture will be higher (than a single, stand alone piece) and the other will be slightly lower (than if it were by itself on the wall ), but the balance of the 2 will be at your “eye level”.I just had to say that.Really, I should have written, “Average Eye Level” and that’s probably what the Moron meant to say.

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50 Information Technology (IT) Trends To Watch

Once upon a time technical discoveries were magical things that mesmerized us. Gradually we became accustomed to the technical wonders as they were integrated into our daily lives. 21st century has seen both the unprecedented development of technology, especially the “Information Technology (IT)” and our dependence on the same. In the IT age, technology is making our lives simpler by handling the complexities for us, up to the extent that its unavailability or a disruption in the services that it provides could adversely affect almost everything from the businesses to our day to day lives.It is an accepted fact that the speed of technological changes is an accelerated motion. This article enlists some of the important trends in the IT world that are already visible or are forecasted to be on their way.Human (inter)face for the technologyTechnology penetration is happening fast from the business to the households to the personal lives of the human beings. This irrevocable dependency of human beings on the technology will have the most profound impact over the future of the technology. Technology will be solving the human problems, business problems just being a part of the bigger picture.1. Technology will become indispensable even for carrying out day to day activities ranging from office communication to opening a window (of your home of course)2. User Experience facilitated by the products, implementation of how human beings see at a problem and the technology as a mechanism for solving it, will be the factor deciding what sells and what not3. People instead of the businesses will be the largest technology consumers and success of any new enterprise will depend upon how well it taps into this consumer base4. Cost of the failure for the technology will become unimaginable due to its direct impact over the human lives, this will add an additional dimension to the security and safety concerns for the technology developers5. Boundary between the technical and non-technical aspects of our lives will fade away, everything will have a technical underpinning, explicit or implicit6. Innovation (and so the people- the knowledge workers) will keep the center stage7. Transition from a nice to have feature to an implicit expectation will be accelerated by many foldsSocial networking for the social animalsStatistics show that out of the 7 billion people on the earth, over 1.2 billion are Social Networking Users that comprises 82% of the online population. These figures are going to increase exponentially in the coming future.8. Companies will need to remove constraints on the social technologies as the boundaries among employees, vendors, and customers will blur, all will need to communicate through the channel of the social network9. Social Network Analysis (SNA) will be a prominent tool for the businesses and will provide valuable input to their strategy, marketing, customer segmentation, advertising etc.10. Social Networking will provide a platform for a never seen before collaboration among the experts for solving the problems across the boundaries of their organization11. Taken the benefits of the Social Networks it will be a challenge to manage the threat it poses for the security and privacy, and technology will need to handle this challengeBig data growing biggerAccording to an estimate the Big Data is worth $100 billion business and is growing twice as fast as the software business as a whole.12. More and more new tools that support Big Data will come13. Most of the businesses in the need of amassing and analyzing more and more of the data will need to rethink their data management strategy and approaches14. Existing database management systems will either evolve to handle the big data or eventually fade awayMobility on the moveAs per an estimate more than 75% population in the world do have access to a mobile phone. Increasing computing power and decreasing hardware cost will ensure that very soon everyone on the globe have access to a mobile phone and most of them migrate to smart phones and are connected.15. Smart devices will become sort of magic wand that will not only keep us connected and allow capturing and playing audio video contents but will also serve as a tool for communication, handling professional work when on the move, executing business applications, navigation, payment option, sensors, risk alert system, aid devices, training tool… the list is virtually endless16. There will be a boom of the applications tailored to handheld devices17. Enterprises will need to make their applications support handheld devices partly or fully18. There will a never seen before opportunity for the individual developers for reaching out their customers with their own applications (Google – Android App Store already in business and Microsoft launching Windows Store)19. Different mobile development platform may have to consider standardizationClouds and clouds everywhereBy 2012, 20% of the businesses will not own IT assets. – Gartner Report, 2010.As this prediction is on its way to fulfilled and go beyond that, cloud is seen as one of the topmost things that will change the face of computing and IT industry.20. Online service offerings will become lucrative and competitive21. As the confidence will built in favor of the cloud, decreasing cost of cloud based implementations (infrastructure or application platform or both) business shunning it (due to security and other reasons) will finally adapt to it22. Cloud adaptation will force the service providers to find solutions for the challenges that cloud poses:a. Concerns regarding security for the financial data and personal informationb. Locking their customers to a proprietary technology platformc. Difficult coexistence with the legacy and proprietary systemsBusiness models for the future to take shapeAs the speed of change in the technology is turning the world topsy-turvy businesses will need to rethink their operations to get in alignment with those changes and harness the opportunities it provides. Business models that are based on the philosophy of “Win-Win” and are agile enough will survive.23. There will be demand for innovative business models where the customers and the service providers are seen as partners and have combined stakes in the project success, new and innovative business models will be replacing the legacy models fast24. Legal aspects will get ever complicated and governments will need to formulate laws for handling the new legal challenges25. IT Budgets will get trimmed, especially in turbulent times without trimming on the SLAs (so the customers will demand more services at a reduced cost)26. Licensing models based on pay for use will get prominence27. Multisided business models (where a service is provided to A for free but B is charged for the advertising or trends data etc.) will pick momentum28. Service providers will offer “Freemium model” where a service is free for certain limit, a usages beyond that is charged29. Businesses will spread their foothold in non-traditional markets, multinationals reaching to rural areas and smalltime businesses getting global30. Government will increase usages of the IT for its public service delivery – education, law, transportation, health care etc., once the public service systems are technology enabled applications that integrate with them will have an impactNew SDLC Models to replace existing onesAs an article put it aptly “Agile is the new waterfall”, projects will not be able to wait for long delivering a working functionality or implementing a change.31. Reduced time to market and intense competition will force the businesses to adjust their strategy more often than imagined. This will demand SDLC models that deliver the working products fast. So the iterative project development models will replace the standard waterfall models and its variations. Architecture and development models supporting small chunk deliveries will get prominence32. Lesser time to market and faster releases will give a competitive advantageArchitecture with No Architecture will get prominenceFactors like Internet, Cloud Computing, Service Integration and Mobility Support etc. will make the application architecture overly complicated. The architecture of the future will be architecture that has no architecture- it can survive as its building blocks keep on changing.33. Obsession with technology will be diluted and business needs etc. will take the center stage in the Enterprise Architecture34. Architecture will get only ever complex and distributed… no turning back35. Changes will be ever faster in the business requirements, technology, interfaces, non functional requirements etc.36. Concepts like inter-operatibiliy, platform independence etc. will be implicit and so NFR (Non Functional Requirements) will more critical than ever37. Architecture would need to keep on going as all the elements of architecture – device to network, application UI to data store will change and keep on changing38. Applications will lack a direct control with the overall architecture elements but still have to be accountable for their piece39. Context sensitivity on the pieces (is it a notepad or smart phone?) will be important40. With diminishing maintenance time window and increasing number of interfaces and dependencies, long running batch process will need to be give way to asynchronous processes41. Various business departments will need to share their business and technology models to create the consolidated picture42. Trend will be a movement towards using product lines (that are tested, can be scaled, manage the volume, serve the SLAs and so on) rather than developing custom built solutions43. Senior technical representation will be prevalent in the higher managementGeography will become irrelevantAccording to a 2011 survey over 6 billion people do have access to the computers and roughly half of them have access to the Internet. Increasing power of the handheld devices and the advent of the mobile computing is going to increase these figures exponentially.44. Enterprises will bid a farewell to most of the applications that do not support Internet or can’t be made to interface with the web and most of them will be required to support handheld devices (Mainframe based applications could be an exception, but they too are getting integrated using Web-services)45. Global presence of the technology companies and spread of virtualization will enable organizations to create global teams that will work in shifts having an impact over how the teams are setup and tasks are managed46. Most of the applications will need to have inbuilt localization and globalization features as a must47. More and more applications will have “Geolocation” capability inbuilt (imagine browsing to the map that allows searching and drilling down to an address and filing up the address instead of typing it and running the validations)48. More and more applications will be required to be up 24X7, having little time window for the activities like maintenance and batch processesHardware and Network will see loss of importanceAs the price of computing hardware is coming down and their performance is going up, elements like hardware and network will no longer be the differentiator factor as everyone will be in a position to afford them at a reasonable price.49. The value-add provided by the application and services will have to meet all the expectations50. Increasing popularity and capability of virtualization will ensure a consolidation in the terms of the hardware, software and data

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