Windows 8 is still a couple of years away, but Microsoft (MSFT) is already telling partners what to expect in the next generation operating system. Luckily for the public, Microsoft planning documents shared with HP and other OEM partners were leaked this week, providing a wholly unexpected Windows 8 sneak preview.
[ For complete coverage on Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system — including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts— see CIO.com’s Windows 7 Bible. ]
Thanks to Win7Vista.com, I was able to download the documents, consisting of more than 15 confidential slide decks Microsoft has shared with partners in the last few months. Some of the details are sparse, and Microsoft’s plans are likely to change significantly between now and the actual release of Windows 8. But, based on Microsoft’s current planning, here’s a look at 8 amazing things you’ll be able to do with Windows 8:
Log in to your PC with your face, instead of a password
By 2012 sensors such as microphones, cameras, GPS, accelerometers, and temperature and magnetic sensors will be common in most PCs, allowing Windows 8 to interact with the user’s environment in new and interesting ways.
One scenario uses facial recognition software to verify a user’s identity.
“Amish walks into his home office,” Microsoft writes in one of many fictional scenarios outlined in the Windows 8 slide decks. “The proximity sensor on his PC detects motion, and wakes the PC. By the time Amish sits down, his PC is powered up. It scans his face and logs him in. finally, when Amish gets up and leaves, his PC notices that he’s gone and locks itself and powers down.”
Windows 8 may also eliminate the need for remembering passwords across multiple websites.
“Password pain has reached a tipping point,” Microsoft says. “Windows 8 could include a way to securely store usernames and passwords, simplifying the online experience”
Make Windows 8 follow you across devices
Microsoft wants to make your Windows identity user-centric, rather than machine-centric, meaning your settings and preferences would roam with you as you move from a desktop to a laptop, and to smaller devices like slate machines (read: a Windows 8 version of Apple’s iPad).
“Windows accounts could be connected to cloud to make it easy to roam settings and preferences,” Microsoft says.
Users of tomorrow may have a laptop for productivity applications, writing e-mail and organizing photos, movies and music, and a slate optimized for web and media consumption, causal gaming, IM and social networking, and reading and sorting e-mail. With the same Windows 8 login across devices, a user might start a game on one machine and then finish it on another.
Importantly, the software license will roam with a user, Microsoft says in one slide.
Use iPad-like touch screens
Microsoft is telling partners it will outdo Apple by building a better touch screen for slate PCs. Windows 8 will also support accelerometers and location-awareness for gaming and other functions, while adjusting the screen brightness to changes in light.
“Users are able to hold their slate/tablet PCs in any orientation and Windows will smoothly and automatically change the screen orientation to accommodate,” Microsoft says. “Users never have to think to interact using touch on their slates. Users can type confidently and efficiently on the soft keyboard with touch. The soft keyboard is easily launched, text prediction is more accurate, the UI is more usable, and throughput is increased for everyone. We can adapt to changes in ambient light, so that the display is always easy to see.”
Watch HD movies on your wireless TV
Windows 8 will integrate with a variety of technologies to let users pick out TV shows and movies and stream them to any screen. Turn on your laptop, find a movie online or in your hard drive, and with a click of a button you’ll be able to watch it on whichever TV screen you choose.
“Users can easily discover and connect to a wide variety of modern displays like wireless televisions and monitors, wireless docking stations, and USB-connected monitors,” Microsoft says. “The user can easily light up displays around him with all his content and media, whether it is online or local. Developers can build modern experiences around display devices by leveraging Windows 8 support for premium media experiences, such as stereoscopic 3D and wireless TVs.”
Download apps from the Windows App Store
A new app store based on the model made popular by Apple is mentioned in many of Microsoft’s Windows 8 slides. While Microsoft insists that users still need an operating system in the age of the Internet, the App Store is one of the ways in which Microsoft is adapting Windows to the web world.
There isn’t a lot of information about what types of apps the store will contain, but Microsoft is trying to appeal to developers by letting them create apps in whichever language they prefer. The hope, obviously, is to provide a wide array of applications to rival the offerings of the Apple and Android stores.
Kill a virus, but keep your personal data
Viruses, unfortunately, often force users to restore their machines to the factory settings, a painful process that involves loss of applications and personal data. Microsoft, however, is working on a new reset option that will retain files and personalization settings while giving users an easy way to reinstall applications.
In one of the scenarios detailed in Microsoft slide decks, a user named “Jon” (no relation to me) decides to reset his Windows 8 PC.
“Jon notices that his Windows 8 PC is starting to perform poorly and he can’t figure out what to do,” the slide deck says. “He presses the reset button and chooses to reset his windows 8 PC. … knowing that all his stuff is safe. Windows 8 automatically retains files and personalization settings, and migrates the user accounts. Windows is restored to the factory image and restarts. After restarting Jon can launch the App Store to reinstall applications he purchased there and see a list of other applications that he had installed outside of the App Store.”
Boot your machine near-instantly
Microsoft seems to be putting a premium on improving the start times in Windows 8. A March 2010 Windows Planning Survey polled 545 customers about 21 user activities, and found that starting the computer tops the list when it comes to “highest importance/lowest satisfaction in terms of speed and performance.”
Mean boot times have decreased from 40 seconds to 27 seconds from Windows Vista to Windows 7, according to the slides, but Microsoft wants greater improvement.
“Boot performance is getting better but it is not ‘instant on’”, as one slide says.
Technologies in development could cut boot time in half, Microsoft’s planning slides suggest. Windows 8 may also include a “new off state combining the best of hibernate with a boot/shutdown look and feel.”
Take more control over your machine
One goal of Windows 8 is to simplify the user experience, but Microsoft also wants to give the savviest users new ways of interacting with the operating system. The new user interfaces will make it easier for PC owners to understand the resources their machines use, and improve startup times and power efficiency by killing unneeded processes and applications.
“Windows 8 will arm users with an effective set of tools that will both deepen their understanding of the state of their PC and enable them to fine-tune their PC experience,” Microsoft says. “Users will be presented with helpful and intuitive views of the system, applications running, resources being used, helpful personal and historical context, along with actionable, timely and pertinent advice and suggestions.”
© 2010 Network World Inc.
PC World — That Jeff Lebowski was one cool dude.
Aside from the fact that he actually referred to himself as “The Dude,” the iconic character from The Big Lebowski just had something about him—a kind of pure coolness that’s hard to describe.
His secret? He didn’t try.
Tech companies, on the other hand, try with all their might to come across as cool. Sometimes, they succeed—Apple’s “I’m a Mac” ads managed to project an air of coolness that stuck for years—but equally often, their attempts to connect with consumers make them look more out of touch than Mr. Magoo at a Megadeath concert.
Ultimately, it all comes down to something I call “The Dude principle of coolness”: If you’re actually trying, odds are, you’re failing. And the harder you try, the greater those odds become.
Here are 10 times when tech companies’ attempts failed miserably.
1. MSI Takes a Crack at Viral Video
MSI tried to hop on the pop culture bandwagon with this astoundingly disturbing video published to the Net in 2009. The clip shows a couple of guys in Spandex onesies (strike one) throwing laptops at each other (strike two) and catching them in certain unmentionable crevices (strike three…you’re out!). Take a look:
MSI’s concept, from what I can best surmise, was to show off the superthin profile of its new X-Slim laptops. And given the popularity of shows like MTV’s “Jackass,” you can see how a team of suit-wearing hacks might have seen the stunt as a cheeky way (so to speak) of grabbing college kids’ attention.
What MSI failed to realize was that there’s a difference between making people cringe and making them want to buy your product. This asinine stunt fails to accomplish the latter—no ifs, ands, or butts about it.
2. Sony Gets a Bad Rap
Talk about a flop: Sony’s 2006 attempt at connecting with the “cool kids” was so bad, the company actually had to apologize.
Remember this one? Sony hired a marketing company to create what was supposed to look like a teenager’s blog. That “teenager,” of course, was an employee who blogged exclusively about how he and his pals really wanted a Sony PlayStation Portable for Christmas.
The crowning moment came when a video surfaced showing the blogger’s “cousin” Pete rapping about the PSP. Pete’s lyrics included such insightful prose as: “Games so crazy / they totally amaze me / gotta ask my mom for one / fo’ shizzy.”
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Features: Post updates, ask questions, share links, track time. Co-op also lets you share your daily agenda with your coworkers, so everyone knows your current projects. The Web app automatically stores records of activity, allowing you to review what your team has accomplished each day.
How are others using microblogging in the enterprise? Click here for three case studies.
How should we be organized? It’s one of the most common questions I hear in the office of the CIO.
For IT leaders, it’s a critical part of how they get close to and provide services to the business of which they are a part.
Over the last 10 years, I have seen a number of instances where IT has been “configured” or “set up” as internal consultants to the business. In other words, these companies seek to apply the principles of the operating model used by consulting firms as the basis for the operating model for the IT group within a larger organization.
In some cases this merely means having two or three “consultant-like” managers who act as the primary interface to internal customer groups. In other cases, some go as far as creating a full consulting-like organization that issues proposals that compete with mainstream consulting firms like IBM and Accenture.
Before I share my feelings on this topic with you, let’s take a closer look at what’s behind the idea of having IT as internal consultants–the pros and the cons of this idea and what it’s trying to achieve.
The business case
There are three big reasons for setting up IT as a group of internal consultants. They go something like this:
- Internal IT consultants are more invested in their companies. They put their companies’ needs and priorities first. External consultants are more concerned with their own financial goals and selling the next engagement.
- Internal IT consultants save time. There’s less ramp up time on projects because the internal consultants already know the business and the people.
- Internal IT consultants save money. External IT consultants have additional sales and marketing expenses, overhead, and profit requirements. Using internal resources to do the same work as external consultants saves money because the hourly rate is far less for internal people with the same skills.
Sounds like a winner
On the face of it, these benefits seem compelling. What’s more, configured as consultants, the IT group has a better opportunity to get closer to the business and to proactively meet its needs.
Unfortunately, this idea doesn’t quite hold up in the real world. In place of the expected benefits, I have seen instead a number of “sticky” problems brought on by this approach. They are usually some variation of:
- Internal consultants often suffer from a skill gap. The title consultant brings with it an expectation of certain skills and expertise. Just calling someone a consultant doesn’t make him one.
- Internal consultants lack external perspective. Internal consultants don’t have the perspective of working with other customers. They can’t bring the best practices of other corporations to their consulting roles.
- Internal consultants lack the credibility of the outsiders. Right or wrong, there is a widespread perception that there are no prophets in their own lands. And this certainly holds true here. Internal consultants are viewed as colleagues not external experts¾no matter what we call them. This limits their ability to challenge the status quo and drive change.
- Internal consultants quickly turn into salespeople. Configured as consultants and taking their cue from their business model, internal consultants can’t help but start to “peddle” their ideas and projects to their business colleagues. After all, they have to keep busy or else they will be “fired.”
- Internal consultants are subject to internal political constraints. It’s not easy to be part of an organization and independent from it at the same time.
- Internal consultants suffer from the negative perception of all consultants. Consulting is often referred to as the second oldest profession in the world with many of the same attributes as the oldest. ‘Nuff said.
My perspective-and it’s probably not what you’re expecting
Personally, I love the idea of having IT personnel function like consultants but I absolutely hate the idea of calling IT internal consultants.
I think the idea of having IT function like consultants is fundamentally sound. A lot of the value external consultants bring comes from their highly competent execution and management of pretty straightforward, non-expertise type functions, functions such as:
- Business analysis
- Process design
- Presentation development
- Meeting and workshop facilitation
- Project management
And last, but certainly not least, basic work practices like taking good meeting notes, following up proactively and generally being on top of things.
Reading the above list, I trust you agree that every IT department should absolutely be building these competencies in their people at every level of the organization. It’s not hard to see that a move in this direction will dramatically improve IT’s standing within the organization.
However, the idea of calling internal IT professionals “consultants” and asking them to face off with customers like an external vendor just doesn’t work. It saddles the internal IT folks with all of the baggage of external consultants without any of the benefits.
“Things went downhill when we had three family crises in a year,” said a new client who was explaining how her lovely home had evolved into a cluttered, chaotic mess.
It is very common for people to lose control of the order in their homes during times of crisis. Crisis situations that go on for an extended period of time consume time, energy and the motivation required to maintain an organized home.
It’s not uncommon for people to find that once they’ve gotten past the personal crisis–illness, death in the family, caregiving for aging or sick relatives, recovery from surgery–they have another crisis on their hands, a living space that is such a mess that they have no idea how they will ever get it back to its more orderly state.
Twice in the past year I’ve been thrown into crisis mode, first when my step-father began deteriorating mentally and had to have brain surgery and then when my disabled brother developed a serious infection in his artificial knee joint requiring surgery, weeks of IV antibiotics and another knee replacement. Both events were incredibly energy consuming for me because I was a key decision-maker, the coordinator of communication between family members, a key source of emotional support, and I had my own fears and other feelings to manage.
It was all I could do to get through each day dealing with the crisis at hand, much less tend to my small business and maintain order in my home. Those two crises were an opportunity for me to learn how to get through difficult times without losing control of other parts of my life.
Here are 6 of the important lessons I learned:
1. Identify tasks to be done no matter what.
Then do them! I am the money manager in our house. So, making sure bills got paid and that money was in the right accounts at the right time were two tasks I had to get done so we could avoid consequences like ruining our credit rating. Keeping us afloat financially during those difficult times helped ground me. I liked knowing that no matter what else happened, we were operating on a firm financial foundation.
2. Defer whatever tasks you can to other people.
Instead of trying to keep everything in order by myself, I asked my husband to do many tasks that normally I would have done to maintain our home and our lives together.
Also, people offer help during times of crisis. Let them! Last summer when I had bi-lateral bunion surgery I asked friends to help provide food and walk my dogs. They were happy to have something to do that would help me, and their help provided a type of emotional support I really needed.
3. Lighten your load by eliminating obligations.
It became clear to me pretty quickly that helping my mother and step-father through my step-father’s health crisis and staying healthy myself during that stressful process was more important than writing checks for a professional organization. I actually chose to resign from two volunteer positions because taking care of family and myself were the priority.
4. Control paper flow even if you can’t regularly process it.
You may not have time to do much with paper that flows into your house on a daily basis, but you can make sure that it all flows to the same place. That way, when you need to find something in that pile of paper, you have only one place to look. You might stack it in piles in your home office or get an open box and store it there. Just don’t let it float throughout your space!
If you want to go one step further, pull out bills and magazines/catalogs/newsletters. Put the bills in a highly visible location so you don’t forget about them and so they are easily accessible when you are ready to pay them. Place the magazine, catalogs and other reading materials in a location where you spend time reading. Removing those items from your paper pile will make it shrink and also make it easier to access things to read when you need a source of distraction.
5. Resist the urge to do nothing.
In times of personal crisis it is very normal to shut down because of overwhelm, fatigue, or just not knowing what to do. While it is important to take breaks to rest, recharge, and recover, it is not a good idea to go to ground and let everything go. It takes only a day or two for your space to go from being a peaceful haven to a chaotic nightmare. Then you not only have a crisis going on outside your home, but also inside your home. You have no safe place to retreat. Messy houses scream, “You slob! Why don’t you do something about this mess!” Make yourself do at least the bare minimum to maintain order, like controlling the paper flow, washing the dishes, straightening up daily.
6. Remember that maintaining a basic order will ground you during difficult times.
You may resist doing maintenance activities because you are exhausted, but if you override the urge to stop and plop on the sofa and instead do a few tasks to keep your space neat and organized, you will find that doing those things will help ground and calm you. You will then be better able to go out and deal with whatever challenge is going on. If you are physically incapable of maintaining order yourself, because of illness or disability, ask others to help you do that. Many people want to help in some way. Let them know that their help will ground you and facilitate your recovery.
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“Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.” So began the “letter from the founders” penned by Sergey Brin and Larry Page in the company’s securities registration form in 2004. Despite ever-increasing commercial success since that date, Brin and Page have kept to their word.
) is an unconventional company with a huge stake in our online lives. It is a source of fascination for many, including us, but what really happens in the Googleplex? And what cool factoids and stats exist from the company’s relatively short past?
Here we bring you 10 fun facts about Google to quench our own thirst for Google knowledge as well as hopefully offer you a distracting diversion from your daily life.
1. The First Google Doodle
Google’s famous homepage “Doodles” (the changing Google logo graphics) are well known and enjoyed by millions around the world as a way to mark an event or anniversary. But did you know that the very first Google Doodle was designed as a kind of “out of office” message?
In 1998 Brin and Page took the weekend off to go the Burning Man festival in Nevada. The Burning Man doodle (shown above), was designed by the Google guys and added to the homepage to let their users know they were out of office and couldn’t fix technical issues like a server crash.
2. Interesting Figures from the Google IPO
While the initial price for Google’s stock at its Initial Public Offering in August 2004 is an interesting stat in itself, there’s more to the story. The opening price for Google’s stock was $85 per share. At the time of writing, the stock price was $483 but has soared as high as $600 in the past year, making GOOG a rather nice investment for many.
A bonus factoid from Google’s IPO process is the value Google stated it hoped to raise on its S-1 form — as much as $2,718,281,828. It may just look like a string of numbers to non-mathletes, but 2,718,281,828 is actually the first ten digits of the mathematical constant ““e”,” showing that even as their company was planning to go public, the Google guys could still geek out with a bit of numerical humor.
3. The First Google Storage Was Made From LEGO
As proud hosts to Google back when it was still a research project, and known as “BackRub,” here Stanford now showcases the original Google storage from way back in 1996. It’s made up of a whopping 40 GB (less than a modern iPod) and it’s made from, as fans of the building bricks will be delighted to see, LEGO. It even hash funny mini-figures on the top.
Legend has it that the reason for the LEGO construction was that the Google guys needed an easily expandable, and cheap way to house 10 4 GB hard drives, and LEGO fit the bill. Whether the primary colors of the bricks used were the hues that went on to inspire the Google logo’s design is up for debate, but we’d guess it wasn’t just a coincidence.
4. Google’s First Ever Tweet
Google’s first ever Twitter post was as satisfyingly geeky as you could hope for. The message, sent in February 2009, reads “I’m 01100110 01100101 01100101 01101100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101100 01110101 01100011 01101011 01111001 00001010.”
For anyone not fluent in binary, here’s a hint — it’s a well known phrase from the company’s homepage. Got it? Yep, it reads: “I’m Feeling Lucky.”
5. Google Rents Goats
This one isn’t actually one of Google’s infamous April Fools’ Day jokes: Google rents out goats. Yes you read that right. It rents goats from a company called California Grazing to help cut down the amount of weeds and brush at Google HQ.
The operation of 200 goats (plus herder and a border collie) is kind to the environment, and as Google puts it: “A lot cuter to watch than lawn mowers.”
6. Google’s Impact on Language
While you’d think the news that the Merriam-Webster and Oxford English Dictionary adding “google” as a verb to their lexicons in 2006 would thrill the search engine, Google was actually none too pleased with the development.
“We’d like to make clear that you should please only use ‘Google’ when you’re actually referring to Google Inc. and our services,” the company wrote in a blog post at the time.
The rationale behind the semantic displeasure was that Google had “a brand to protect,” and feared Google would “slip from trademarked status into common usage.” Now, four years later, we have to say Google was fighting a losing battle — just ‘google it.’
However, we’ve found some other Google-themed linguistic delights for you — a Google staffer is commonly referred to as a “Googler,” while a new team member joins as a “Noogler.” Nooglers also used to wear a colorful hat with a spinner on top. According to a former employee, those hats are now pretty scarce in some offices, instead: “Every Noogler gets a yellow smiley balloon and a nameplate.”
7. Google Is Dog-Friendly
Google is a super dog-friendly company. It proudly names “company dogs,” like Yoshka (described as a “free-range Leonberger”) pictured above. Yoshka accompanies Urs Holzle, senior VP operations and Google Fellow to the Googleplex. Less senior staff are also allowed to bring their dogs to the office.
According to Google’s “Dog Policy”, one indiscretion too many on the Google carpets, or aggressive behavior, means Lassie will have to stay at home in the future. Strong bladdered and friendly canines are more than welcome across the campus.
Unfortunately, cats are not quite as welcome. Here’s an excerpt taken directly from Google’s Code of Conduct: “Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.”
8. Google’s First Ever “Company Snack” Was Swedish Fish
Back in February, 1999, the chewy candy known as “Swedish Fish” became the first ever company snack (not counting beverages) that was ordered into the Google office.
Although a relatively small event, it has led to big things. Google is infamous in the industry for treating its employees to not just free drinks and snacks on tap, but full-on gourmet meals, three times a day at a plethora of on-site cafes and eateries, as well as regular BBQs during the summer.
Brin and Page have been quoted in the past as saying no Googler should have to go more than 100 feet for food, leading to snack-filled “microkitchens” that are liberally dotted around the Google offices.
In fact, the free food is said to be so tempting that Googlers risk the “Google 15,” similar to the “Freshman 15,” where they pile on weight soon after joining the company. Good thing they also have a Google gym.
Backing this up, here’s a stat from Google — “Bay Area Googlers consumed approximately 5,500 pounds of handmade chocolates from the snack bins in the microkitchens in 2007.” Wow.
9. The Google Logo Was Not Centered Until 2001
Google’s famously sparse homepage is considered a classic design in the online world. The Google logo, however, wasn’t actually centered on the page until March 31, 2001. As early users will remember, the homepage had a bias to the left-hand side, and even earlier — back in 1998 — Google sported a Yahoo-style exclamation mark.
10. Google Has a Company Dinosaur
By all accounts, there are many wondrous sights to be seen at the Googleplex, but one of the most arresting is surely the gigantic T-Rex skeleton — nicknamed “Stan” after a “real” dino found nearby — that looms menacingly at Googlers in Mountain View.
)-themed models, pink flamingos, a large LEGO man, Google-colored phone boxes and grown-up size ball pits. One thing seems for sure — just like the company itself — life at the Googleplex must be far from dull.
For more technology coverage, follow Mashable Tech on Twitter (
More Google Resources from Mashable:
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It’s common to hear stories about marketing or recruiting departments using social media. But what about CEOs? Could having the ‘top dog’ of your organization engaged in social media be an asset to other corporate efforts?
Our case studies outlined below show that having your CEO visible on social media can bring tangible results to your bottom line.
Carmen Magar, CEO of Chocri, a make-your-own chocolate bar company, says the exposure makes a difference. “While the competition can see everything (e.g. when customers suggest a new topping) and some of them seem compelled to copy my blog posts nearly word for word, it’s worth it because authenticity rules.”
Building Marketing and Public Relations Exposure
For many companies, getting the word out about their product/service is the starting point. That positive exposure can lead to strategic alliances and increased awareness. Geri Stengel, president of Ventureneer, an online source for education, advice and peer support for small businesses looking to make a social impact, noted that positioning Ventureneer as a trusted source for information among those making a social impact is an important part of their overall strategy.
Using her experience as an expert reviewer for the Social Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program from the Corporation for National and Community Service, Stengel posted a piece on how to write a winning grant proposal on her corporate blog. “As always, I tweeted with a link to the blog (
) post. I was delighted when the vast majority (89) of the nearly 100 bit.ly clicks were from others who tweeted about the post. Importantly, a link to the blog post was included in the daily digest of Tactical Philanthropy’s blog. Sean Stannard-Stockton, CEO of Tactical Philanthropy, is a nonprofit thought leader. Tactical Philanthropy also became one of our 2,400+ followers on Twitter (
), a goal we’d had for some time. Within two weeks of posting, the post became the most read on our website during that time period with nearly 200 page views.”
Stengel’s story is a great reminder that success in social media doesn’t only come via quantitative metrics but also through quality engagement. And Diane Hessan agrees. As president and CEO of Communispace, Hessan’s corporation creates private online customer communities to help marketers from the world’s largest brands explore customers’ mindsets and generate game-changing insights. They’ve created more than 350 customer communities for industry leaders such as Kraft, Hewlett-Packard, Charles Schwab, Hallmark, Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline and Hilton Hotels Corporation.
Hessan shared, “through social media, I’ve gotten free consulting and secured new clients and partners. Twitter has been a fantastic vehicle for getting information about Communispace into the marketplace fast. For instance, when Communispace launched its new blog, Verbatim, I sent a tweet out about it and more than 1,000 people checked out our blog as a result. To this day, some 40% of our blog visits have come from Twitter links.”
It’s also important to remember that not everything that happens on social media needs to stay on social media. Magar tells the story of getting into a sold-out food event because she heard about it on Twitter and offered herself as a substitute for a cancelled participant. It translated into exposure with over 150 food journalists.
Turning Marketing Opportunities into Sales
For many organizations, the CEO is also the chief sales person. That was the situation with Scott Imbrie, CEO of Original Skateboards, LLC. Eight years ago, he started a skateboard company with his brother using their would-have-been college funds. “For six years, we generally broke-even. While we were growing the overall size of our business, we were still not profitable. Then, we changed course and focused specifically on online social media creation via YouTube (
). We launched our first video in 2007 — sales went up 40% and never went down. The following year, we invested in the production of an entire series of videos, the first of which was featured on the YouTube front page. Sales went up 80% and kept climbing.”
Original Skateboards grew 432% in profit and 321% overall last year. And they are enjoying a great 2010. According to Imbrie, “We are up roughly 300% over top of that growth. Our focus on social media connection and innovative products seems to have finally paid off. We are now a multi-million dollar company and the 7th most subscribed sports channel in YouTube history with 73,000 subscribers.”
)and Twitter. “The fact that we, as founders and CEOs, can speak to customers directly now makes us much more personal and people connect with us more easily.”
Even when there might not be data supporting a direct relationship between social media activity and sales, sometimes other metrics point to the connection. For example, Magar explained that focus group participants ranked Chocri above their competitors with the main reason being that the company was “sympathetic.” And their post-purchase survey data taught them the following:
- Satisfaction: A whopping 100% of our Facebook and Twitter followers described Chocri’s chocolate as “excellent or very good” (compared to 92.1% on average).
- Branding: 90% of Chocri Facebook fans and nearly 99% of Chocri Twitter followers said “You guys rock” or “Like you a lot”, compared to the average (88%).
- Recommendations: More than 77% of Chocri Facebook fans and nearly 86% of Chocri Twitter followers recommended them to 4-7+ friends, compared to 56% on average.
Staying Connected to Future Employees
Having the CEO of a successful organization speak to students is a great way to recruit talent. Hessan uses social media as an opportunity to recruit students to work at Communispace. “Rather than collecting business cards, I encourage students to stay in touch on Twitter, where I connect them directly with our recruiters, while also taking advantage of the opportunity to see how facile they are online. As a result, we’ve ended up hiring over a dozen new employees this way in the last quarter.”
Whether it’s fixing a customer service matter or soliciting feedback, interacting directly with customers can prove to be invaluable. And yes, this can be done on many levels in an organizations, but there is something about conversing with the CEO that’s just different.
Having a CEO involved in marketing and product development conversations on a consumer level encourages participation. Magar tells a story of the time before Chocri was introduced in the U.S. “We asked on our blog what toppings we should keep (toasted hazelnut), get (cocoa nibs) or toss (hemp seeds) upon entering the U.S. market. Not too long ago, we asked for submissions for ‘phrases’ to be printed in the inside of the packaging. Between Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr (
), we got more than 47 suggestions – that are now printed. The winner was: Slow down. Relax. Enjoy.”
Hessan also turned a customer service challenge into an opportunity for feedback. “Early on, when I first launched my Twitter account, someone tweeted about an awful experience they had in one of our client communities. I was mortified and tweeted, ‘Ouch, tell me more.’ She was blown away. Ultimately the situation was resolved and this person wrote a long post about how blown away she was that I responded. Since then, we’ve become friends – I’ve helped her with a job transition and she has provided valuable feedback on our software.”
While CEOs like to see data and clear results, it’s important to remember that brand perception and customer service are very real. Magar suggests “not to ditch it because the direct and easily measured impact (sales) doesn’t directly justify the time spent on it. We found some ways around this with our post-purchase survey, but it does take a leap of faith.”
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