March 4th, 2014 | Posted by Georgia Relich
The Ellen DeGeneres selfie taken at the Academy Awards. I can’t get away from it. Every media outlet from the New York Times to Mashable has reported on it. It fascinates me. All the speculation . . . what it real? what is staged? was it a sophisticated Samsung product placement stunt (after all, rumor is that Ellen was using her iPhone backstage and Samsung did run a ton of commercials during the show)? Who knows, but what I do know is that within a 4-hour television show, seven tweets garnered between 26,000 and 170,000 retweets. Even Twitter seemed as amazed by the selfie as I was.
A Twitter spokesperson is quoted as saying “We were surprised and delighted to see Ellen’s use of Twitter during the broadcast of the program and the power of Twitter as a companion to TV is evident in the live reach we saw of that single Tweet.” eMarketer agrees. In their recent article, they report that the site has passed the early-adoption market and is settling in a pattern of more mature growth across demographic groups. But, what does it mean for us marketers and advertisers? The eMarketer article contends that older users are more likely to engage with ads. That bodes well for Twitter where 25- to 35-year olds are more into the service than teens, and in 2014, they’ll also represent nearly double the number of users. A maturing user base means slower growth which fuels marketplace concerns that Twitter is not growing fast enough. But, the article contends, a “well-established user base can be a less violatile user base, and Twitter’s maturing users not only in numbers but also in age could influence its advertising revenue potential.”
All good information for us marketers. But, what I really want to know is whether the pizza delivery guy was really a pizza delivery guy or a starving actor.
Categories → Media, Trends & Research, Web
February 6th, 2014 | Posted by Jerome Gaynor
The above graphic caught my eye during a casual perusal of social media last week. I zoomed in, and liked what I saw. Nothing about it was brand new to me, but it was put together with a clarity that felt inspiring, and that made me want to learn more about this “Carol Zweck, PhD” to whom the ideas were credited.
It turns out that she is a Social Psychologist that has done a number of clever studies that have shed light on the way that a person’s mindset can affect their life. The heart of her thinking is that there are two basic ways that people think of their own and others’ abilities:
- FIXED: “People have a certain preset level of ability. Some people are smart, some are not.”
- GROWTH: “A person’s ability grows or shrinks depending on the effort that they make.”
And from these two fundamentally different views of the world, we have the two cascades of results shown in the diagram.
Many of her ideas seem trite, or commonplace – but what’s different about her is the originality and rigor of the research behind her ideas.
My favorite part of the article describes a study she and her colleagues did with a few hundred middle-school students. It went like this:
- Each of the students was given a relatively simple IQ test.
- When they had finished, half of the students were praised in a way that emphasized their ABILITY: “Wow, you did great, you must really be smart!” (to push them into a “FIXED” mindset) and half were praised in a way that emphasized their EFFORT: “Wow, you did great, you must work hard!” (to push them into a “GROWTH” mindset)
- Next, the students were given another IQ test with harder questions than on the first test. Of course, they didn’t do as well. The FIXED-mindset students expressed shame – if doing well meant they were smart, then doing poorly meant they were stupid – and their performance on the test degraded as they proceeded through the test, so their discouragement had a measurably negative impact. But the GROWTH-mindset students expressed enjoyment of the test – and as the test went on, the second group’s performance improved.
- Finally, the psychologists asked the kids to privately write a letter to one of their fellow classmates describing how they did on the tests, including a place where they could report their score. And get this – 40% of the fixed-mindset kids actually lied about their scores, indicating that they were experiencing significant shame about their performance.
Reading about that study really drove the point home for me, and I immediately started thinking about how to apply this insight to my life in a practical way. My first thought was of my teenage daughter – I wondered how often I praised her ability and how often I praised her effort. I resolved to pay closer attention to the way I spoke to her in this regard. My second thought was realizing that when I felt discouraged following a mistake, that the basis for that discouragement was indeed in the mistaken idea that my identity was fixed.
I should also mention that Nigel Holmes, the fellow that created the drawing that sucked me in in the first place, is no slouch either. Would my discovery and acceptance of Ms. Zweck’s ideas have ever happened without the fantastic “marketing” of his illustration? You can see more of his work here.
Categories → Design & Culture
January 30th, 2014 | Posted by Christine Manfrede
We all have good ideas. The trick is capturing them when they happen. More likely than not, they’ll happen when you’re away from your desk.
Fortunately there are some useful apps that are helpful to have in your back pocket.
Evernote — Faster and easier to use than ever, the redesigned iOS 7 version is even better for keeping your ideas, photos, and cool things that you come across connected. It automatically synchs to your desktop, so when you get home or to the office, your ideas are there waiting for you. The new Quick Note feature is especially handy for recording something on the fly.
Paper by FiftyThree — Extremely simple to use, this is the best app I’ve found for sketching or writing something down. You can organize your ideas in individual notebooks, and they’re easily sharable via email or social media. It’s fantastic on the iPad, especially with a stylus.
Mural.ly Catcher — With this app, you can do everything from gathering branding research to creating a mood board for your wedding. It allows you to create a mural that is laid out like a physical corkboard. So, for instance, if you see something interesting while walking your dog, you can send a snapshot to your mural. Sticky notes and links are easy to add as well.
It seems like inspiration strikes when you’re not expecting it. And oftentimes, that song you made up in your head to remember it just doesn’t stick. Armed with this trifecta, you’ll be prepared to capture thoughts and content on the go.
Categories → Design & Culture, Uncategorized
January 20th, 2014 | Posted by Scott Leisler
Increasingly, the topic of having a “Responsive Website” makes its way into conversation early during Discovery Phases of new web projects.
Should we build our website to be responsive (working on a variety of devices such as desktop, tablet, phone with a single CMS) or build a desktop version and a separate mobile version? At this point it’s clear that responsive is overwhelmingly become the popular direction of choice.
Content decisions are made early on regarding how images and copy should be displayed and the importance of each design element is weighed against what will create the most user-friendly experience on each respected device.
Seems easy enough right? Create a content plan, everyone communicate effectively and soon enough users are experiencing content on the device of their choice.
There is however one little detail that is often forgotten – how responsive design relates to search engine optimization.
With SEO best practices constantly changing, today’s rule of thumb is to create honest content (no black hat tricks) and user-experiences for visitors. But it also means building your responsive website so that search engines know how to find it and index content easily. This is particularly worth pointing out during the content development phase of the website build when key decisions are being made about when and where content is displayed. The SEO solution for a “traditional” desktop solution may not translate 100% to a responsive site.
It requires another level of thinking and a lot more planning than in the past, but necessary to ensure users can easily find what you want them to see.
To learn more and for a checklist, check out Smashing Magazines write up: SEO for Responsive Websites.
Categories → Best Practices, Trends & Research, Web
January 6th, 2014 | Posted by Susan Weissman
How’s that for a shock? We were crawling out a recession, there was a brutal civil war in Syria, our government shut down and demonstrated to us just how dysfunctional they are and the whole NSA spying fiasco. But Zack Beuchamp shares some big picture facts that make your head spin:
- Fewer people are dying young and more are living longer.
- Fewer people suffer from extreme poverty and the world is getting happier.
- War is becoming rarer and less deadly.
- Rates of murder and other violent crimes are in free-fall.
- There is less racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination in the world.
Now, that’s what I call pulling your head out of the weeds and looking at the big picture. A very difficult and important perspective to achieve. It’s also representative of something called Asset-Based Thinking. A foundational philosophy one of our clients teaches and builds into all of their service offerings. It’s the practice of working to see the cup as half full. You can actually build skills to approach your business from this perspective.
I’m optimistic about the future. I believe we can keep improving the world we live in, the businesses we create, the relationships we have. But sometimes I feel naive believing in a positive future. I appreciate Zach and my Asset-Based Thinking friends at The Cramer Institute for helping me see it another way.
Categories → Design & Culture, Trends & Research