Samsung Galaxy Note I: Product Review

Okay I have had my Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone for about 5 months now and I have a pretty good grasp on the use and functions of this awesome product. The Note is so much more than a smartphone, updating the operating system to ICS really put this tool over the top for this social media professional. I have recently added a compatible mini keyboard which allows me the opportunity to carry my office in my front pockets. I love that I have the ability to work from anywhere, combined with easy portability. Lets take a moment and dig a little deeper.

The Pros

A handheld computer…

This little baby really is a handheld computer. I rarely have to break out the old laptop anymore. Whatever my laptop can do, the Note handles as well. Utilizing cloud technology as long as I have a wifi connection, I can do almost anything remotely that I can do in my office. Addtionally using Evernote I can create and add to blog posts, writing assignments, etc., from where ever I choose to work. The size of the device with it’s 5.3 inch screen, in 1280 x 800 pixel resolution makes working with the Note easy, and doesn’t strain the eyes. The 16 GB of memory make for adding many apps without using up all your memory, add an additional 32GB of external memory and you are good to go for some time.

The Camera

The 8.0 megapixel camera is one of the best on the market for smartphones. Pics and vids are amazingly clear. I have been able to use the camera many times to capture a pic when I don’t have my regular Samsung 12.2 megapixel camera. The Notes camera is adequate enough to make it usable in a pinch.

Screen Size

The 5.3 Inch monitor as I will call it is great for being able to view things comfortably. No squinting necessary with the Note. The gorilla glass is pretty indestructible and a great added advantage.

The S Pen
The S pen is what makes this device so different. The functionality that the S pen provides is amazing. Take it from a simple artistic tool to create art, to a fully functional office product, capable of editing, creating, moving, drawing and changing documents, as well as capturing any and all screen shots. There is so much that the S pen does that I am still finding new uses for it constantly.

As with any device there are Cons: 

While many have commented on it’s size has never really been an issue for me personally. Some people do think the device is too big however.

Originally only available from AT&T, I think the device is now available from T-Mobile as well – Sprint users, sorry. I actually had Sprint as my carrier but since they couldn’t get the device, I switched. I have had no issues with AT&T thus far.

Overall this device absolutely rocks! One of the best decisions I have made was to purchase this awesome business tool. Now with the introduction of the Galaxy Note 2 with Jelly Bean, I may just be in the market to upgrade….

Gonna Get Me Some Action (Movie FX)!

Have you ever looked at the video that you took with your iPhone or iPad and wonder what you could do to give them that little bit of pizazz? You know, like rather than take that hum-drum Christmas dinner video that you take every year, instead take one that has aliens dropping in and blowing up the Christmas turkey. How about blowing up that beat up old car of yours with a sidewinder missile, without having to wonder how you are getting to work in the morning?

"Action movie

photo credit: openDemocracy via photopin cc

Enter Director / Producer J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Lost) and his special effects company Bad Robot Interactive, with an iPhone / iPad app that turns your hum-drum mobile device videos into epic, special-effects filled, clips of awesome! Enter Action Movies FX!

It’s Da Bomb! (plus MUCH More!)

The first time I used this app was to give my kids a giggle when they where hanging out in the backyard with the neighbour’s kids, bored on a Summer’s day (if that is possible). Standing there I narrated the lead up to dropping a giant ball of steel on all four of them. Next I had fun with a client that I had been working on a Twitter project for, by crashing an F/A-18 Fighter Jet into his SUV crossover. Each one took less than a minute to film and less than that to add the desired effect. The reaction to these videos is always the same; laughter, followed by “WOW! That is so cool!!”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA9DnUlLff4&w=560&h=315]

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxeeiJAO8EM&w=560&h=315]

What you get is a pretty straight forward app that allows you to pick the special effect you want in your video, a target on your video screen to ensure that you have the camera positioned perfect, and a few moments to render your special effects filled video clip. Just like that you can have a video that is the envy of your friends (well, at least those who don’t also have Action Movie FX). You even get some mayhem from some of the combat gadgets found in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2!

It’s Fun, But Is It Business Friendly?

Was there something written in the Holy Bible of Marketing that says that you have to create videos to attract people to your business product or service with videos that are actually about your product or business? Think about this. Do major name brands pay to make a movie, or do they pay to have their product IN the movie. Use this app to have some actual fun promoting your business. Create an action filled clip for YouTube that has your product or service in the movie. It may not win you an Oscar, but it will get you noticed.

…. aaaaaaand ACTION!

 

I LOVE My Website (Part 1 of 7)

Every business owner wants to say, “I love my website!” Thankfully many do, but sadly some don’t. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your website love?

what to love for your website

In my experience with clients, and in talking with numerous business owners, I’ve narrowed down 7 things you need to love in order to truly love your website. You need to love how it looks, love the way it works, love its ability to serve your business, love how secure it is, love using it and love how much your visitors love it. You also need to LOVE your website designer!

Part 1 – Love how it looks

Professional Design

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” -Steve Jobs. When I was choosing a name for my web design company I choose ArtSci Designs to reflect both sides of professional design.

I had some fun trying to turn it in to a dictionary definition.

ArtSci (art-see) adjective
1. the state of being in which a thing is simultaneously appealing to the visual senses and fully effective in it’s technical aspect
2
. harmonious fusion of creativity and organization
3. fun and functional
Origin: 21st Century Geek.

Here are a few things to ask yourself, or your website designer: Is my website designed to work well with all modern browsers? Are we using table-less design with well coded html and CSS styling? Does the overall design work well with the page content? This list could go on and on.

Your Company Logo

Can you picture the logos of these companies? Apple, Nike, Bank of America, UPS, Amazon, PayPal and WordPress? These companies have logos that we remember. Does your company have a memorable logo or signature graphic? Developing one is not an easy task, and if you need help with this there are some great logo design companies who can assist you.

Color Theory 101

website colour“Color is so powerful – it creates emotional impact, makes your designs more memorable and even makes a statement about what your brand stands for.” – Erin Ferree, Brand Style Design.

Whether you are simply adding colored text to an image or creating a new color scheme for your brand or website, a better understanding of color theory and the importance of color will serve you well.

Does your business “own” a color? When we think about the companies above with memorable logos, we can also envision the colors used in their branding.

I think the emotional impact that color can make is fascinating! Here is a short list of colors and feelings associated with them. We all have our favorite colors when it comes to home decor or how we dress, and it is important to consider more than personal preference when selecting business colors. You can read more about the meaning of color at the Color Wheel Pro website.

  • Red: Passion, Love, Anger
  • Orange: Energy, Happiness, Vitality
  • Yellow: Happiness, Hope, Deceit
  • Green: New Beginnings, Abundance, Nature
  • Blue: Calm, Responsible, Sadness
  • Purple: Creativity, Royalty, Wealth
  • Black: Mystery, Elegance, Evil
  • Gray: Moody, Conservative, Formality
  • White: Purity, Cleanliness, Virtue
  • Brown: Nature, Wholesomeness, Dependability
  • Tan or Beige: Conservative, Piety, Dull
  • Cream or Ivory: Calm, Elegant, Purity

A Match Made in Heaven

Have you ever known someone who was color-blind, or with little fashion sense, who just couldn’t seem to put the right colors together? The human eye seems to just “know” when certain colors look right together.

From Art 101, you may recall the color wheel. Harmonious color schemes are those where the colors are equally spaced around it. You don’t have to guess which colors to use together. There is a mathematically relationship between those that “belong together.” I think it’s really awesome how so many colors found together in nature are also a perfect match mathematically.

Thankfully, we don’t have to pull out our calculators or actually “do math” here because there are several free, fun and easy to use tools online that do the hard work for us. Many of them will help you develop a perfect color scheme from either a starter color or an image. Here are some of my favorites:

Cheri’s Short List of Online Color Tools

Images and Graphics

A webpage with some images on it is certainly more interesting to look at than one that’s simply text. If a picture is “worth a thousand words,” then we need to be sure those 1000 words are saying the right thing. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing images for your website.

  • Tone – Know when to use serious, playful or humorous ones.
  • Uniqueness – Be careful with stock images. Customize them.
  • Relevance – Make sure that your image supports your written content.
  • Audience – Choose images your website visitors can relate to.
  • Image Rights – Always check licensing information.

Sources for stock images:

Font and Typography

website typographyThe day my family came home and found me watching a movie on Netflix called “Helvetica” that I was totally enjoying was one of those days that confirmed that I really am a geek!

Earlier this year Smashing Magazine published an article called, “Typography Guidelines And References” that compiled several of their posts on this topic. If you want to learn more, I suggest reading it. Or, you could watch “Helvetica” and post a movie review!

One of the biggest things to keep in mind is not to mix and match fonts. Choose one font you will use consistently across your website. A common exception to this rule is using different fonts for page titles and headlines.

If you haven’t explored Google fonts yet, check them out! They are “easy” to add to your website and open up a whole new realm of possibility. Caution: these can take as much time playing with as the color scheme tools.

Website Love…

My goal at the end of all web design projects is for our clients to say, “Wow, Cheri, I LOVE my website!” If you aren’t feeling enough website love, we’d be glad to help you. The first step is to request a Website Checkup.

What do you love about the look of your website? Please leave a comment below!

Two reasons to get stoked and make an ebook

Happy Cyber Monday (by the way, I hope you had an amazeballs holiday weekend)! People will be buying new tablets – iPads or their mini-mes, Kindle Fires or Droids and join the growing tablet consumer base.

Ebook

photo credit: Jules Holleboom via photopin cc

You can write. We write on a daily basis in text messages, blogs, emails, Facebook and Google chats, the rare snail mail, and we write in the air when we speak or sign.

So…why don’t you write an ebook to adorn these new tablets? I suspect some of you are groaning and I feel you. But you can. There are two key reasons why business owners, community managers or website owners should consider writing an ebook. Woot! Let’s get the fire under your tush going, no?

Lead Generation

Ebooks are an effective way to get subscribers to your blog, newsletter and increase exposure. When you build a base of loyal subscribers over months and years, your chances of revenue increases (i.e. customers will be inspired to call you for consultations, buy more books in the future, or refer you to someone in their network).

Short and appealing ebooks are easily shared and saved, leading more unique vistors or repeat ones to your website. I have a folder on my desktop full of helpful ebooks at my disposal and I love it. Repeat exposure is positive. We reread books, watch our favorite movies more than once because we love them.

You can read this great how-to blog from Aweber (one of the most popular email marketing tools) to send free ebook to your subscribers. I know there are other ways to achieve the same goal for your blog, including MailChimp (free for beginners!) and I’d be tickled happy to have you share your tools and experience in the comments.

Digital Books are Smarter (and you’ll get smarter too)

TED is about ideas worth spreading and golly have I got one for you. I got to attend a TEDx event recently and one of the speakers was Dominique Raccah from Sourcebooks.  I will say I didn’t expect it to be one of the most memorable speeches. When the printing press came out, it was revolutionary. In the old days the technology enabled ideas to act as change agents and circulate in mass publications. Now, digital books are today’s most compelling change in how we interact with literature and the ideas are shared much more rapidly.  Read about a killer example from the Sourcebooks blog: Shakesperience - how the user interface improves the learning of Shakespeare.  You can include social media for sharing or links to relevant context to help the reader and enrich knowledge for all, including yourself as you write and research to prep for your author debut(s)!

Bonus: Even there is a Google analytics for ebooks – Hiptype. Sign up for their beta version!

Hold your horses…a few tips before you make an ebook:

  • Do not make it too long. Two to ten pages would be fine (but if it’s on the longer end, it should have a lot of visual breaks and comfortably sized text). People want to digest ebooks easily especially for free. Paragraphs, short sentences, quotes that take up half of the page can work. If the reader is serious about investing time and learning, they’re more likely to look for a book to purchase or read longer books and you don’t want to shoot for this the first time.
  • Eye candy. Pictures, quote bubbles and a few bold colors.
  • Ponder about the audience. What problem does your ebook solve? How will it better their lives or business?
  • Have a tweetable and epic title that makes everyone else 1) wish they had thought of it and 2) feel they’re missing out if they don’t download it.
  • Worry about the format later. Get the important stuff out. Hijack your creativity.
  • It HAS to convert to PDF before it’s universally downloadable. Open Office or Word can work just dandy!
  • Good content won’t get anywhere without design to enhance its appeal and readability. Blurb is a stunning hub for self publishers and even includes Instagram, Blog, Facebook or Wedding print books and ebooks.
  • Our own Phil Gerbyshak, a new Steamfeed member, recently came out with an ebook of his own. Check out The Naked Truth of Social Media and you’ll see why a catchy title and graphics will make you go “Oh, I’m SOLD.”
  • Write when you’re actually stoked about the topic!

Who’s excited?? I think ebooks also make a fitting New Year’s resolution…

Elevator Pitches: A Waste of Time For Entrepreneurs?

Elevator Pitches

Photo: D.H. Parks

 

Who?

This post is for entrepreneurs who’ve had to painstakingly craft an effective 90 second elevator pitch to raise money from investors, and for those investors who’ve had to sit through what I’m sure have been both killer and horrid elevator pitches over the years.

What?

Two weeks ago I was flattered to have my startup, WeMontage, be selected as one of 15 companies to participate in an “Elevator Pitch Olympics” (EPO) at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium, which was sponsored by the Wisconsin Technology Council. Initially, I hesitated to participate, but after thinking about it for a second I quickly realized I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The reason I hesitated is because I initially thought an elevator pitch competition in which no real money is awarded would not be a productive use of my time. After all, I’ve got my head in the weeds trying to get these darned Ukrainian developers to finish the last few minor changes to the WeMontage website, so I can finally release the beta.

Boy, was I wrong.

The EPO is like the tv show, Shark Tank, minus the über ”prickliness”/”slimyness” of the judges. Oh, and there’s one other difference: no one on the panel invests! But the panel is comprised of professional investors who score your pitch and provide extremely valuable feedback. And did I mention you get the practice of pitching and controlling your nerves in front of 500 people?!

Elevator Pitch Resources

With a quick Google search you can find a few dozen resources that help you prepare an effective elevator pitch. I used an Inc. article as a guide, but I found this article most helpful. I also referenced this handout I received at a panel discussion about elevator pitches at last year’s WI Early Stage Symposium:

Elevator Pitches

 

The Pitch

I mentioned there were 500 people in the audience; it was probably more like 750! Here’s a pic I took from the back of the room. Gulp!

Elevator Pitch

I was in awe of the size of the audience, entertained by all the nervous body language of some pitchers, and amazed at how composed and effective other pitchers were.

As for me, I was totally nervous. One woman sitting next to me who already completed her pitch, which, by the way, the judges weren’t too keen on for some reason, said  to me, “Don’t shit yourself.” To which I replied, “too late!” Ha!

My pitch went over well and I received mostly 3s and 4s from a scoring system of 1 thru 5. I was pleased with this result given the visual nature of my product and I didn’t have any video, pictures, or slides to show them (props were allowed but no use of the projector).

There was the one judge who, after I explained how I got the inspiration for WeMontage from an episode of HGTV and mentioned I have a patent pending, blurted out, “you know they’ve patented that, right?”

My response: “who?”

His reply: “the people on HGTV?”

Me: “what exactly have they patented?”

Him: “the whole thing?”

Me: “what do you mean?”

Him: “oh, I’m just kidding! Hahaha!”

Seriously, dude? What a jackass.

Here’s a youtube video of me practicing my 90 second pitch for the 50th time (no exaggeration):

[youtube http://youtu.be/GCy14rKAte0&w=560&h=315]

 

Whaddaya think? Good? Great? Sucks? Lemme know by leaving a comment.

The Answer To The Question

I got a lot out of this experience and am thankful I was asked to participate. It’s incredibly difficult to distill your biz’s story down to 90 seconds and explain what you do, why it’s different, who the competitors are, how you’ll make money, and what the market opportunity is.

I also got to meet entrepreneurs who are working on some pretty kewl start-ups. For example, I met the founder of a company, Iristocracy (love this name!), which is building technology that lets you virtually try on a pair of glasses while sitting at your computer and see how they look in 3-D, from all angles. How kewl is that?! Actually, they won the competition.

I met another guy whose company, Novo Luggage, solves the problem of your luggage looking like everyone else’s at the airport by letting you add a custom skin to it.

So, are elevator pitches a waste a time for entrepreneurs? Absolutely not!

Have a thought about elevator pitches, how to best prepare one, or their effectiveness? Please share by leaving a comment.

Suerte! (Good luck!)

 

3 Reasons Google Plus Can’t Be Ignored

Are you still deciding whether it’s worth investing in Google Plus?

If you work in social media, chances are you’re already on it because …well, that’s your job. If you’re a small business owner, you’re likely one of the millions who signed on during the hype, got dizzy going around in “circles” then abandoned it, leaving your page to lie there like a dead leaf on wet pavement.

GooglePlus

The number one Google+ question I get is not:

“How do I get started on Google+?”

Nope. It’s… “Do we really need another social media platform”?

Do we really need another type of tablet, smartphone, or toothpaste?

Ok, maybe not so much toothpaste.

Many say they don’t spend time on Google Plus because their clients aren’t there.

I say…”yet”.

How many of your clients were on Twitter a year after it started?

And unless your clients were university students, they probably weren’t on Facebook either.

Google Plus isn’t a small start-up with it’s beginnings in a student dorm or SXSW hallway.

It was developed by a company that owns 2 of the biggest search engines in the world; Google and YouTube and who have very deep pockets.

A year and a half after its debut, nearly 450 million people are now signed on to Google+.

Unlike its precursors, Buzz or Wave, Google Plus is not a social platform.

Google Plus is GOOGLE.

“Google+ is just an upgrade to Google,” says Vic Gundotra, senior Vice President Engineering for Google. “People have a hard time understanding that. I think they like to compare us  with other social competitors, and they see us through that lens instead of really seeing what’s happening: Google is taking its amazing products, and by bringing them together, they just become more awesome.”

As Mike Elgan puts it, Google took its various products and turned them into features of Google+, rather than treating Google+ as a standalone social network.

Why You Need to Pay Attention to Google+ 

1. Social Networking

Networking on Google+ is more like Twitter than Facebook. You can stalk, uh, follow anyone you want without their permission. The advantage over Twitter is that the platform allows limitless text and integrates with rest of Google.
Tip: Find and follow people who share interests (not necessarily DNA or school colours). A good source is Google+ Shared Circles. You can also circle your Gmail contacts who will receive a notification and then can decide to circle you back or not. Regardless, you can still share content with them from G+. They’ll just receive it in their mailbox instead

Video: Find People You Know

PDF: Getting Started with Google+ for Business

G+ Post: How to Interact Well on Google+

Google Plus

2. Content Marketing

Creating valuable and sharable content improves your Google search ranking as well as your brand recognition and influence.

Because of it’s reach and palette of features, some writers have chosen to use Google+ as their blogging platform. Although I always advocate having your own piece of internet real estate, they  make a good case.

Tip: Take advantage of all the content creation tools that Google+ offers including images, video and Hangouts. A major advantage of Google+ is that you can do this all on the same platform.

Video: Formatting your posts with bold, italic and strikeout text

Blog Post:Why I blog on Google+ (And how)

G+ Post: How to Participate in Hangouts and Hangouts On Air

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The top reason businesses stake a claim on Google+ is because of the perceived SEO benefits of being on Google property. The assumption is true – to a point.

You can’t just set up a Google+ Page then walk away expecting to rank #1 in search for your keywords.

Google has made it relatively easy though for you to optimize your chances of doing just that with G+ badges for your website and AuthorRank (rel=author) to improve.

Tip: One of the best ways to optimize your Google+ presence for SEO is to make sure your Profile Page is complete and filled with “keyword” rich texts.

Video: How to Create a Google Plus Business Page in Under 3 Minutes

Blog post: 10 Dead Simple Tips to Take Advantage of Google+ for SEO

G+ post: Why Is There a Search Boost for Businesses on G+?

Google Plus

In closing, I’d like to share this video just released from a Google+ friend of mine, Martin Shervington who was the first to invite me to a public Hangout and who has since helped many “newbies” get “plussed”.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FOGc8E0gMY&w=560&h=315]

Everything you need to know about Google Plus but were afraid to ask!

What’s your biggest Google+ challenge? Please leave a comment below!

How Backup Solutions For Small Business Save Heartache

Living a digital life does not come without its moments of angst, stress and sheer panic, especially for small businesses that rely on technology and the internet for their revenue. So many things can go awry, but the one that instills more fear than any other and is almost always unaddressed is loss of data.  It’s a situation that can be easily avoided by having the right backup solutions for small businesses in place, and no it doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune for peace of mind!

Backup solutions for small businessEveryone is scared about the prospect of arriving in the office, coffee in hand, ready to start the day to find that the hard drive that they knew was well past due for replacement has finally given in and fried, or that their website was hacked and they have no way of recovering the website.

This type of loss for a small business can be devastating, but it is an issue that can be easily recovered if only some initial precautions were taken. I cannot even count the times that I’ve been called in to fix an inaccessible/hacked website or to try and restore data on a fried drive where the customer does not have any backups. It’s a heartbreaking situation especially if nothing can be done to retrieve the data or at least retrieve it in a cost effective and timely fashion in order to get the business back up and running.

Digital storage used to be super expensive, but this has not been the case for almost a decade. Nor does it take a huge amount of time to back data up these days – most of it can be set up to be done automatically, so you don’t even need to take manual backups.

Whatever has caused the lack of access to your data, you need to have contingencies in place so that you can get your small business and/or website back up and running as soon as possible. My suggestion for this is a two-fold belt and braces approach.

Firstly, get some cloud storage that will synchronize all your data directly to the cloud for you. You can even set your website to back up directly to your cloud storage solution in most cases, meaning no manual intervention after the initial set up. Companies that offer good solutions at good prices dropbox, SugarSync, Apple iCloud, Microsoft Skydrive, and even Google. An average sized small business should have to pay no more than around $10-$20 per month, depending on how much data you have. Some solutions are even free if you only have a very small amount of data.

Secondly, get yourself a portable hard drive, so that you can backup your data and keep a copy of it somewhere physically near you, but away from the office! Sometimes cloud storage may not be available when you need it, they have outages too for a variety of reasons – natural disasters, technical issues, hacking to name but a few. A Western Digital My Passport 1TB drive will cost you a one off amount of around $100. Most small businesses  don’t need an intricate bespoke solution.

It’s cheap and easy to make sure that you can get your business back up and running as soon as you possibly can. Don’t leave it until after a disaster has struck to look into backup solutions for small business.

Do you have a solution in place that works for your small business? Let us know in the comments below!

Get It Qwiqq!

Every once in a while you come across an app that is not only useful, but a whole lot of fun. With so many people taking pictures of their favorite products, foods and places, the founders of Qwiqq hit on an idea that incorporated the prolific world of smartphone cameras and sharing more than just the picture.

Qwiqq is a free app that integrates it’s own social network along with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Constant Contact to allow its users the ability to take a picture of their favourite items, add a description, a location and a price to accompany the picture. A word may be worth a thousand words, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra pieces of info along for the ride.

I began using Qwiqq when it was only just out of the gate, thanks to a connection with its community manager reaching out to Social Media influencers in specific regions. Living on the West Coast of Beautiful British Columbia, my brain raced at ways this app could be used.

Qwiqq

Running off at the Thumbs

It started out with a picture of morning coffee at my favourite coffee shop and a snapshot of some seriously delicious signature macchiato muffins. A picture, little comment and a foursquare tag and it is off in cyber-space, shared on my favourite Social Media platforms. Within minutes, I had locals commenting on a sudden desire for macchiato muffins and my fellow coffee addicts in the #UsGuys stream talking about everything from the coffee bar view to the recyclable cups and sleeves being used.

Hmm. Not only did I just share out some great products from a local business, I got people talking about the business and the community. Isn’t that what Social Media marketing is all about?

Off I went! Visit to my favourite local resort to take pics of some clothing gear they had on sale, which lead to a friend in Texas asking for me to pick one up for her. Trip to the local fishing pier for one of their monster ice cream cones, which led to a family friends coming down to take in the view and goodies with me. Qwiqq pic of a passing cruise ship in the early evening was shared out by the local tourism promotion organization.

Down to Business

So how does this work for the small business, or even big business, owner? Simple. As with all Social Media environments, your very best brand ambassadors are not within the walls of your marketing office; it’s on the street with the people that are using or accessing your brand. This app shows your product, gives a price and tells the consumer where your product can be found.

Business can benefit by telling their patrons about the app and encouraging them to “be Qwiqq about it!” Before you know it, people will be chatting about your product and having fun doing it!

Google Plus: The Just In Case Network

Google Plus. Some love it, some hate it, and quite a few are still trying to figure out what it is. Google’s much beleaguered social network has been overwhelmingly unimpressive. What is impressive: The strong opinions many have espoused.

Launched in June of 2011, Google+ now boasts an impressive 400 million users, 100 million of which are active every day. Granted, it still lags behind Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, but 400 million users is nothing to sneeze at. I’m pretty sure we’d all be doing backflips if we had that kind of monthly traffic. However, there does seem to be a strange disconnect between the sheer volume of users and vocal few who seek to malign it.

Why are so many people, especially social media aficionados, using a social network that they spend so much time complaining about? Or worse, that they find irrelevant and predict will ultimately fail? Why bother to cultivate a presence if you believe it is a waste of time? I have a theory. That theory has its own acronym: JIC. Just In Case. Just in case Google can pull off this social media experiment. Just in case Google was right and social signals translate to more meaningful search results.

Google has a track history of doing the improbable, the unthinkable. Case in point, the very word “Google”. It has evolved from a noun to a verb. We don’t search, we google. Google is synonymous with search. It is part of our vocabulary. Google is a search powerhouse. We are tantalized by the SEO possibilities. Do you really want to ignore what could mean the difference between life and death for your online presence? Neither do I…….just in case.

Recognizing that it would be foolhardy to ignore Google, I have a suggestion for Google. Give us something that will make Google+ indispensable. Something so inherently useful that we wouldn’t dream of looking for the next great thing in social media. Something that would make us circle with glee. Give us Venn Diagrams. Yep, I said it. Math geeks rejoice. Venn-Diagram functionality in our circles. The ability to automatically create new circles based on the intersection of existing circles. For example, I could take my “Believers” circle, my “Women of G+” cirlce and my “Social Media” circle, see where they overlap and create a new circle, “Social Media Women Who Are Believers”! Genius.

Such a simple concept, yet so incredibly useful that its hard to believe they have not done it yet. In that I’m a “cup half full” kind of gal, I have faith that they will eventually give us what we need. In the meantime, I’ll do it manually….just in case.

Is It Time to Declutter Our Technology Habits?

As is my routine at this time of year, I’m reflecting on everything that has transpired business-wise over the past three quarters. This ranges from reviewing our achievements versus goals, the technology that we use, the effectiveness of our processes and so on.

TechnologyThis time just as I was starting this process, Chris Brogan wrote an interesting post about the amount of literature, digital or otherwise, that we consume. He questioned whether we are getting everything we could from this knowledge because the ever increasing volumes could be diluting our learning. With that in mind, he challenged his audience to read just three books from November 2012 until the end of October 2013. I’ve chosen three books to concentrate on; you can check them out if you’re interested.

I have serious doubts over my ability to stick to this challenge; my work simply won’t permit it, but it has certainly gotten me thinking about all the clutter in our business lives — specifically, the technologies that we choose to purchase.

It dawned on me that every client that we’ve worked with this year, all bar one (that we didn’t touch on this subject with), has purchased a piece of software that they have then not gone on to use. It has varied from small to medium recurring payments for a SaaS up to substantial financial outlays.

Is the line really blurring this much between B2C and B2B, that small to medium sized businesses really are behaving like consumers rather than businesses? This trend has been emerging over the last few years but this is the first that I have seen this effect become so widespread.

My thoughts are that this is part of a wider problem. We are gathering inputs and resources from far and wide, well past what we’re actually going to use, well past what is actually necessary, and we’re failing to properly use all this information. I think it fosters a sense of confusion amongst those who need to learn the most. Too much information is overwhelming; if you don’t focus, you’ll start to stagnate under the pressure of an implied need to know more.

In life, less is almost always more, and it seems this principle is just as relevant to businesses. What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment below!