Tag Archives: online learning

Outsourcing your knowledge

Albert EinsteinWhy knowing less helps you to do more.

Diane Shawe M.Ed. 

When you think about the power of your brain and how we learn, memorise and recall all those facts, it can get very confusing. Having taught for nearly 25 years and trained some of the brightest professionals over last 10 years, I believe that knowledge is divided in two distinct areas. We can either know about a subject ourselves or we know where we can retrieve information on that subject. The massive amount of information available online has opened an infinite library of easily and quickly retrievable information with simple search engines. I like to think of it as an organic external hard drive, an outsourced memory we can plug in at any time. Some have argued that the internet dilutes the most traditional kind of knowledge: knowing a subject ourselves. They argue that in some way it makes our brains less efficient, diminishing our intelligence and destroying our inner hard drives and memory.

You may remember (if you are of a certain age) that when you were young, you knew by heart the phone number of your closest friends. Since the introduction of digital directories on smartphones there is no longer any reason to memorise numbers by heart.   On the other hand, how many hundreds more contacts do you have now compared to then thanks to the digital directories? In reality, how much more connected are you? The real deal of the information age is not that it allows us to know more, but that it allows us to know less in terms of depth of what we know, as mentioned by David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, in his famous 2006 NY Times article[1] The Outsourced Brain.

neuroscience brain“Memory? I’ve externalised it.” He said, “I am one of those baby boomers who are making this the “It’s on the Tip of My Tongue Decade.” But now I no longer need to have a memory, for I have Google, Yahoo and Wikipedia. Now if I need to know some fact about the world, I tap a few keys and enjoy the vast resource of the external mind.”

I think the positive side of this is that we are free to expand our awareness of subjects we did not have space, or availability, to explore before. Our memory now has a different function: it is a digital index that remembers the existence of a subject and what are the best leads to find information on that subject. I too had thought that the magic of the information age was that it allowed us to know more facts. Then I realised that the magic of the information age is that it allows us to know less.

It provides us with external cognitive servants, silicon memory systems if you will, with collaborative online filters, consumer preference algorithms and networked knowledge. We thus can give these servants the massive raw data and liberate ourselves to think, explore and be creative. You can use your brain to learn new skills, the soft skills that are the true measure of success.

Your outsourced memory (the internet, the cloud and more) allows you to be aware of the existence of information you would never have come across before when you were limited to what your inner memory could hold. It allows you to increase the quantity (and thus the quality) of the information that you can process because you do not always have to worry about memorising every single detail of it. It allows you to use more brain power in linking concepts and applying them rather than remembering them. It empowers you to think and process information faster because your brain has the space to hold links to so much different information, and in doing so it expands your subjective time. Back in the analogue era, the difference between a deep brain and a shallow brain was the availability of information and the choice of whether to take in that information or not came second.

As an educationalist and technophile, combined with my outsourced memory I have the capacity to think deeper. Now that (nearly) everything is available, the power is back to you: it is up to you to take responsibility of what content goes into your mind and how you use your outsourced memory.

Now you have begun to outsource your brain and now have room to do something rather special with your neo-cortex. Enjoy.

 

THE THREE REASONS COMPANY STORIES FALL SHORT OF EXPECTATIONS

Develop your interviewing skills

Develop your interviewing skills

The company story is a composite of how you represent yourself to employees, supplier, customers, and the general public.

It is tied closely to your reputation, reinforced by your integrity, and defined by your behavior. Your story is the essence of who you are, what you believe in, and how you act out your character in a business play. Think of your story as if it were presented in a theater. Your story can be a comedy, a tragedy, or a musical. There will be a cast of characters, some good, others not so good, each telling their own version of the story.

article by Diane Shawe

Most organisations are in trouble because their main characters in the play, the managers or owners, tell stories that don’t  hang  together. Three problems are associated with their composite company story. First, the story is badly told; second, it is not acted out in a coherent manner; and third, it doesn’t ring true. The sales department is living one story while operations follows a different theme. Finance has its own world while marketing occupies still another cloud. Is it any wonder employees are confused? They seem to be working for different companies simultaneously.

When a Story Is Badly Told

A badly told story has its roots in an incomplete business plan. Most organisations have bits and pieces of the items making up the plan. Managers are usually proud they have a philosophy statement posted in the lobby. They point in triumph to the value statements listed in the company literature. Somewhere you will be shown a vision. Each of these elements is appropriate and necessary in both a well-constructed business plan and an authentic story.

If a single element is missing from the plan, the story is incomplete. The danger of an incomplete story is evidenced when the flaws show up in execution of the plan. An incomplete business plan results in a frag- ile document presenting a story that doesn’t ring true. An incomplete model implodes.

When there is no vision statement for instance in a story. any well-written plan with all the pieces will not stack up if the vision portion is lacking.

Time management Mindfeed 4 by Diane ShaweWhen the Story Pieces Don’t Add Up

Failure to virtually linked to the elements  also contributes to an incomplete story. Because the parts and pieces are not interconnected there is no coordinated, disciplined implementation. It is possible to actually have the elements working against each other. For example, values may contradict the philosophy. The vision and mission could be disconnected. Principles could be developed that cancel each other. These disconnected behaviors cause customers and employees to hold the company management suspect. They sense something is not right or it is just not working.

When the Story Isn’t Believable

Another equally fatal flaw in telling a story is to be incongruent. For example, you claim to love customers then treat them badly. You claim to value employees yet they become targets of opportunity for reengineering or down sizing, even in good times. You profess to provide the best products in your industry yet they don’t work as advertised.

People are astute and getting smarter especially with the powerful smartphone in the palm of their hands. They pick up on the fact you don’t live your own company hype. Your story simply isn’t believable. Consider public awareness of a company’s environmental protection position. Let one incident occur then watch the media have a field day with the inconsistencies. Politicians suffer the same fate when they make public promises they cannot keep. They become inconsistent with their story, telling each special interest group what the group needs to hear.

The Antidote to a Badly Managed Story

There is an antidote for a badly managed story. The key is building a congruent story by eliminating the very issues that create incon- gruence. The first step is to get a business plan in place. To do it as defined in this text, you will be forced to deal with the key planning elements as discrete elements and then again as an integrated framework. This is the only known process to make the message authentic, congruent, and believable.

Being authentic requires truth and hard work. It requires an acknowledgment of who you really are in terms of what you believe in, how you behave, and what you expect. If yours is a lethargic organisation, don’t claim high performance. Being authentic means identifying all the problems in your system, communicating to employees that you know the problems, and finally telling them how you intend to fix those problems. Everyone must share this hard work across the range of business activities and down the management structure. Everyone must participate in careful organisational analysis and the required actions to fix the problems.

Being congruent requires constant vigilance on the part of the whole management team. This means you must do what you say— every single time. There are situations where you will slip. Honest mistakes are okay. Employees do not expect their management to be perfect. They do expect them to live up to their word and match word and deed.

Reaching a state where you and your management team are believed is a journey with history working against you. A mis management example made public doesn’t help your case. Building trust to counter this history is not an overnight event. After your story is completed, communicated, and demonstrated you will experience hesitance and resistance from employees. They won’t be quick to jump on your train. There will be a test period to see if you really meant what you said or if this was simply an annual pep talk from upper management. Remember two points: Employees have heard it all before, and actions speak louder than words.

10 Questions You Absolutely Must Ask Before Accepting a Job Offer

Need help with sharpening up your interviewing skills?

Need help with sharpening up your interviewing skills?

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Disruptive cloud e-learning has positive implications for employers

start a short course with avpt using mobile phoneThe current speed of change means that employees need to be trained continuously in order for Companies to avoid the dangers of being out-thought and out-maneuvered by competitors.

article by Diane Shawe M.Ed

Real and tangible data proving the argument and the added value of E-Learning initiatives to stakeholders constantly endorse the use of online technologies to:

  • Keep the workforce appraised of their job functions’ developing requirements, enabling them to make a positive impact within their Organization and help that Organization achieve its aims and goals;
  • Aid succession planning, helping workers to acquire the knowledge and skills to help them progress within their Organization;
  • Allow Organisations to keep training budgets under tighter control, develop and retain existing employees and reduce the costs related to external human resources recruitment, selection and on-boarding.

This system of Training management — often referred to as a learning management system (LMS) — is a key element of an effective professional development plan as well as being a key element of an Organisation’s human resources strategy.

There seems to be universal agreement that the worldwide E-Learning market will show fast and significant growth over the next three years. The worldwide market for Self-Paced E-Learning reached $35.6 billion in 2011. The five-year compound annual growth rate is estimated at around 7.6% so revenues should reach some $51.5 billion by 2016. While the aggregate growth rate is 7.6%, several world regions appear to have significantly higher growth rates. According to recent regional studies, the highest growth rate is in Asia at 17.3%, followed by Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America at 16.9%, 15.2%, and 14.6%, respectively.

Each of the world’s regions has its idiosyncrasies In terms of the factors that drive this market. The U.S. and Western Europe markets are the most mature. The U.S.A. spent more on Self-Paced E-Learning than anywhere else in the world. Western Europe is the world’s second largest buying region for E-Learning products and services but Asia is predicted to outspend Western Europe in E-Learning terms by 2016. In 2012, Bersin & Associates stated that there were some 500 providers in the LMS market and only five of them have more than a 4% market share. According to this, the LMS market was expected to reach $1.9 billion in 2013. However the growth exceeded expectations, closing the year at $2.55 billion.

The Cloud is changing the way Organisations, Employees and Partners interact and collaborate. Within the Cloud solutions universe, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is playing a major role. According to Gartner, SaaS will continue to experience healthy growth through 2014 and 2015, when worldwide revenue is projected to reach around $22 billion. Gartner has stated that many Enterprises are now replacing their legacy systems with SaaS-based CRM systems. Enterprise clients also report that SaaS-based CRM systems are delivering new applications that deliver complementary functions which are not possible with older, legacy CRM platforms.

Various surveys and analyses into the reasons behind this big growth in SaaS agree on at least three. SaaS brings:

  • Speed of implementation
  • Savings on capital expenditures
  • Savings in terms of operational expenses

The SaaS model is also playing a major role in helping to increase the size of the E-Learning market. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), as well as large Corporations are making the adoption of a SaaS LMS a key priority. In particular, large Corporations are switching to a SaaS LMS from in-house LMS solutions or they are now using a SaaS LMS as a secondary learning system for special training purposes.

E-Learning is subjected to the influences of sales trends related to smart connected devices and the Internet megatrend (that is, the spread of the Internet in the world).

According to IDC, the number of PCs will fall from 28.7% of the device market in 2013 to 13% in 2017. Tablets will increase from 11.8% in 2013 to 16.5% by 2017, and smartphones will increase from 59.5% to 70.5%.

The new frontier to address is the trend towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) — where individuals take their personal (usually mobile) devices to workplaces. Increasingly, these seem to be being used to help their owners perform work activities (including formal training), both in and out of the workplace. Smartphones are the most common examples of these devices but employees often also use their tablets or laptops in the workplace.

While the corporate-training market has lagged behind other education-based sectors, it continues to represent a viable investment opportunity.

The corporate-training market is among the most cyclical within the education industry. Since 2010, employers’ total spending on training and the amount spent per employee — the key data used to measure this sector — have been declining. However, the corporate market related to outsourced services (net of all ancillary costs) has grown to reach 42% of total expenditure.

Download report here Strategies for Modernising Corporate Learning by Diane Shawe M.Ed Dec 2014

Within the training industry, the E-Learning sector has grown consistently in recent years. All its subsectors (Packaged Content, Platform, and Authoring tools) show positive annual growth. Market acceptance of E-Learning has resulted in its increased use for both large and small companies. SaaS/ Cloud E-Learning solutions are particularly suitable for Organizations ranging from SMEs to large institutions.

General budget constraints appear to be the main drivers of the shift towards using E-Learning. However, E-Learning is not merely a solution which is attractive during an economic downturn but it is also an efficient and cost-effective solution when workers — especially those in Organisations with a widely geographically distributed workforce — need to be brought up-to-speed quickly on relevant knowledge and skills.

With the inflow of an estimated $6 billion of venture capital over the past five years, E-Learning is being driven not only by startup dot-com entrepreneurs but also by big corporations, for-profit spin-off ventures, as well as big and small universities

AVPT, a disruptive Cloud E-Learning solutions provider with over 400 courses. We welcome the opportunity to further the conversation with you to discuss the white labelling of a LMS system populated with bespoke softskills courses or access to a

Our training initiatives (incorporating individual and group training activities) are monitored and managed via a consistent and reliable tracking system that can be stored, consulted and analysed as required. The system’s data will be useful for management reports on productivity and for assessing individuals’ career advancement.

Please contact us to learn more about how an integrated learning management system can empower your employees to greater effectiveness without incurring massive development cost and extensive lead time. www.startashortcourse.uk or call 0203 551 2621

Sources:

  • GSV, Education Factbook 2012
  • IBIS Capital, E-Learning lesson for the future
  • Tower Watson, Global Workforce study 2012
  • Accenture, Technology Vision 2014
  • BMO Capital Markets, US Education Research 2011
  • The EvoLLLution ,
  • Lifelong Education and Labor Market needs
  • Georgetown University, Projections of Jobs and Education requirements through 2018

Why strategies for modernising corporate learning should focus on outcomes

there's never been a better time to start a short coureTHE SPEED OF CHANGE IN MODERN BUSINESS DEMANDS A NEW APPROACH TO SUPPORTING LEARNING AND PERFORMANCE AT THE POINT OF NEED.

article by Diane Shawe M.Ed

“THE IMPORTANCE AND EVIDENCE -BASED APPROACH TO
LEARNING USING MOBILE TECHNOLOGY IS INFLUENCING HOW INVESTMENT IN CONTINUED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF A WORKFORCE IS ACHIEVED”

New market opportunities open and close at blinding speed, new competitors emerge overnight, product lifecycles are getting shorter, and customers are more knowledgeable and sophisticated. This fast-changing environment has led to requirement to change learning and training. However more often than not, the task of aligning the learning organisation to the business can be challenging and the perception of how the business views the learning organisation in terms of aligning to strategic initiatives is different to how the learning organisation perceives itself.

Downsizing has resulted in a mass drainage and outflow of skills as employees or contractors are let go. To ensure that an organisation can compete globally and remains at par with the technological changes in the global market committing to the investment of on-going skill training is often viewed as a potential unnecessary incision into the bottom line
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Corporates, enterprises and charities all wish to run their operations at the minimum costs allowed. We all recognise that in today’s environment, business moves faster than ever. Most organisations now recognise the importance of developing a strategic approach to learning and harnessing the internal skills of their teams. Moving away from more tactical based activities associated with training such as measuring skills-based behaviours, to focusing on acquisition of knowledge and learning transfer that result in individual and organisational performance improvements.

With the explosion of mobile technology, organisations need to take advantage of the benefits, scalability, and viability of using mobile e-learning, using smart phones, tablets, and notepads that offer a blended solution.

E-learning has the potential to fully integrate the benefits of personal freedom with connectivity (belonging to a purposeful group of learners). From an educational perspective the “e” in e-learning stands for more than electronic; it can also stand for extending and enhancing the learning experience.

Fulfilling the buyers requirements

Corporate strategy for modernising learning free report by Diane ShaweThe four pillars that go to underpin the buyer’s requirements and therefore still define the industry offerings are centred on the following: • Compliance and accreditation

  • Scalable and flexible whilst achieving a real reduction in Cost
  • Improving, tracking and measuring Learners’ performance
  • Real time management, alignment and communication to support on-going changes.
  • The ability to track and report learner performance remains uppermost in many procurers’ minds.

Isaac Asimov’s quote is now more urgent and relevant if corporates are to gain a lean and competitive advantage with a progressive highly skilled workforce for the 21st century.

“No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”

Why strategies for modernising corporate learning should focus on outcomes rather than input by Diane Shawe M.Ed

If all the unemployed formed a country it would be the fifth largest in the world. Why does this matter?

Getting the world back to work with skills we can trust

Getting the world back to work with skills we can trust

Why the grip held by outdated educational institutions based on historical prestige needs to take a back seat and become student centric!

Article by Diane Shawe M.Ed

If we hadn’t had the most recent global economical crisis and the unrest in certain war torn regions had not occurred, there might have been 62 million more jobs in the world today, according to the International Labor Organisation as it is, there are over 200 million people looking for work across the globe.

To add to our worries: 75 million of these are young people, eager to take that first firm foothold in the ladder of success. We cannot allow them to become a “lost” generation.

The Great Recession has been particularly hard on older workers also, who have had difficulty finding new jobs after being unemployed for long spells. This is especially troubling because of their pressing needs for health care and retirement preparation.

It is also doubtful that the long-term unemployed are going to become more effective jobseekers simply by being forced to visit a Job centre daily if indeed they have a job centre in some parts of the world. But I am going to site that back in 1996, when the Jobseeker’s Allowance was introduced, the requirement to visit a Job centre every two weeks and provide detailed evidence of active job search did not raise overall job search effort among the unemployed.

If explicit job search requirements were not effective in a period of rapidly growing labour demand and falling unemployment, there is no good reason to expect them to be effective in the aftermath of a severe recession and one cannot certainly make a claim to recovery based on one geographical location sprinkled with opportunities driven by technology and property prices.

So clearly, jobs must be a preeminent priority in the years ahead. The major test of the new technological era is simple: can it provide decent livelihoods for all people?

Technology and rising inequality feeds into a broader concern: Technological advance creates a small cohort of big winners, leaving everybody else behind.

Certainly, those with the lowest skills are having the toughest time in today’s economy.

And yet, we also need to discuss what kind of growth this “right track” leads to. Will it be solid, sustainable, and balanced—or will it be fragile, erratic, and unbalanced?

To answer this question, we need to look at the patterns of economic activity in the years ahead, and especially the role of education, technology and innovation in driving us forward.

As Isaac Asimov—a master of science fiction literature—once said: “No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.” Isaac Asimov

So I have chosen a big topic and what I want to address in my blog today, in the form of three questions:

1. First, what does this new technological era mean for the economy, especially for jobs?

2. Second, how does it relate to one of the scourges of our age—rising inequality?

3. Third, what about some solutions, including vocational education and what I refer to as the growing need to foster a new thinking around “Entreployability”

The Interlinkages between Technology and the economy

Innovation is pushing ahead at warp speed. We are certainly living through one of the most exciting periods in human history. The pace of change is so fast that even the technology of five years ago seems prehistoric.

Those of you who are students probably do not even remember a time when phones were not smart, when cameras contained film, when texts meant school books, and when wireless was a word used for old-fashioned radio!

This advance is centered on the rise of a global digital network—the “hyperconnected world”—combined with the rise of genuine machine intelligence. Today’s smart phones are more powerful than yesterday’s supercomputers. We see cars driving themselves, printers making complicated three-dimensional parts, and robots doing the most complex tasks. “Science fiction” is rapidly becoming “science fact”.

What does this all mean for our lives and livelihoods, for our common economic future?

If the previous revolutions were about using machines for brawn, this is about using machines for brains. And since technology is powering a giant leap in global interconnectivity, these are “connected” brains! Just look at some of the trends.

Certainly, we can see some worrying trends. For a start, the effects of new machine technology are not showing up in productivity statistics—at least not yet—and productivity is by far the most important driver of long-term economic growth.

Now I am not an expert on the Economy, but we are all touched by it and using common sense I for one can see that there is a looming problem. For instance one of the biggest worries is how technological innovation affects jobs put simply will machines leave even more workers behind?

You may not want to give this a second glance but even seasoned professionals can find themselves cast adrift on an unfamiliar ocean.

Rising inequality

My second point about rising inequalities is going to be brief. But here’s a little statistic for you to consider. According to Oxfam, almost half the world’s wealth is owned by one percent of the population and, stunningly, the bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.

What is causing such a convulsion in the distribution of income? There is no single factor here, although it seems clear that technology is one of the major factors—it can create huge rewards for the extraordinary visionaries at the top, and huge anxieties for the ordinary workers at the bottom. The speed at which information is sent around the world means that the average disgruntled people who make up the 5 largest country can amplify unrest as they all voice their fears to the small percentage of the world wealth holders.

What about some solutions?

So finally what is the purpose of education in today’s 21 Century, I quote Jane Stanford of Standford University — “with a “spirit of equality”. One of her goals for the university was “to resist the tendency to the stratification of society, by keeping open an avenue whereby the deserving and exceptional may rise through their own efforts from the lowest to the highest stations in life”.

What has happened? Why have these large institutions priced education out of these fundamental principles?

How can we make the new economic age enhance, rather than diminish, our humanity? How can we make this amazing innovation advance the prospects of all people?

It is clear that at the moment Educational systems are not keeping pace with changing technology and the ever-evolving world of work.

Not enough people are thinking strategically enough in this area. Fundamentally, we need to change what people learn, how people learn, when people learn, and even why people learn.

We must get beyond the traditional model of students sitting passively in classrooms, following instructions and memorising material. It is evident that computers can do that for us! A 21st century educational system must focus on the areas where humans can outclass computers—such as in cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, fine motor skills, or sophisticated coding skills. Maybe we need to remind ourselves of the purpose of education and vocational education. I summarise in my words the following:

The purpose of education

The first and foremost purpose of education is to educate and give everyone equal opportunity as a means to succeed in life. Education is a way of igniting and enlightening the thought of an individual.

It should help learners to discriminate between knowledge and ignorance, help to create a spark and create the sense of realisation with logic and a way to reason why the other things are illogical.

The purpose of vocational education

Every man must have a vocation – a trade, a business, or a profession – (if they are able too) in order to earn his livelihood so that they can support themselves, their family and people who cannot help themselves in our society. There are institutions for imparting various types of specialised training to help people qualify for this. The specialist is in demand everywhere, – in the office as well as in factories, in educational institutions and governments.

Conclusion.

The traditional belief that we must prepare ourselves to be ‘employable’ is under threat. The counter argument encourages us to ‘gear up’ for earning our own money, rather than seeing income as someone else’s responsibility.

With the population dramatically ageing and low-level jobs increasingly swallowed up by machinery, entrepreneurship will be a necessity for many, rather than a life-style choice for some.

SMEs are of course already leading this charge but in order to gear up for the future we need to start off by asking a serious question, defining criteria’s, and examining trends, impact these trends will have and plan a way to jointly prepare current and future generations to be both employable and entrepreneurial.

We are living in a new economy—powered by technology, fueled by information, and driven by knowledge. And we are entering the new century with opportunity on our side but huge problems that require new thinking.

The Question we should all ask ourselves?

Do you think you have another 20 – 30 years to live Yes [ ] No [ ]

Do you think you have another 30 – 50 years to live Yes [ ] No [ ]

Do you think you have another 50 – 70 years to live Yes [ ] No [ ]

Have you considered what you are going to do for the next 40- 70 years?

What will the job market look like in the next 20 years?

What will you be able to do to solve your problem which could be unemployment and patchy income streams?

What will you be able to do that will solve someone’s problem for which they will pay you a fee?

If computers might even replace our intelligence, they can never replace the capacities that make us truly human: our creativity and innovation, our passion.

So education must be the bridge between the present and future, the old and the new. But we must also build an enduring platform. By that I mean a new way of thinking about the global economy—the “new ©Entreployability the way forward.

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This is helping an individual to develop their ‘©Entreployability assets’ which comprise of their knowledge (i.e. what they know), skills (what they do with what they know) and attitudes (how they do it).

To help them keep busy or at work; engaging their skills and attentions to employ themselves independently and maintain work.

To help them organise and manages their own business, contracts or employability.

To help them be available to be hired, provide them with a safe platform to encourage them to supply soft or hard skill for solving problems or being of service for which they will be paid by another party.

Making sure that the skill they have can be updated to help support them firstly, their family and community and economy.

Social Media – Delivering targeted messages Part 1:

 Localise, segment and personalise your social media engagement for more effective marketing

By our Guest Blogger:  Tamsin Oxford on Sep 24, 2013

For organisations to effectively engage with their consumers, segmenting and then personalising social media content is vital

The core of any business is the customer. What corporations and their brand stakeholders have realised is that the traditional broadcast model for engagement is no longer effective or efficient.

Organisations need to gain insight into audiences, segment their social engagement into specific groups and appeal to a diverse demographic without compromising brand integrity or messaging.

This feature is the first of three examining how to create customised experiences for customers across different platforms. In this feature we are considering how a business can accurately identify core groups, get to know their audiences and segment customers into niche collections. Sound complex? Not necessarily.

“Social media offers interaction that traditional media could never give to the marketer,” says Devon Stanton, PR and Promotions Manager at Megarom [www.megarom.co.za], “In addition, there is an impressive range of toolsets available that can analyse your social media audience and pull out vital demographic and interaction data. By utilising this information, you’ll be able to craft your social media to best suit your audience.”

A white paper by Experian offers a superb breakdown as to what segmentation is and why it is of value to the business. They define it as “the process of dividing your database into groups based on single or multiple criteria.”

This offers value in that you can drill down into the essentials of the client for improved targeting and flexibility. What better way to locate and address the most profitable customers and ensure that there is relevance in this communication? The right message to the right people at the right time – it works, that’s why it’s a cliché.

The business can no longer afford to be generic. A bland message directed across all social platforms may hit one or two people along the way, but it is unlikely to generate brand loyalty or encourage customers to identify with the brand itself.

“Take the time to understand what motivates people to share and talk about topics,” says Scott Gray, Head of Planning at Quirk [www.quirk.biz], “Interests are so fragmented that being generic doesn’t work anymore. To get messages to spread across social networks, brands have to have a point of view and get this to the most relevant group of people. If you’re not relevant, you’re dead.”

Steps to segmentation

Jeremy Waite, Head of Social Strategy at Adobe EMEA, offers a four-step process by which organisations can identify core groups and segment them efficiently that include:

  1. Influence – build relationships with key influencers
  2. Data – data helps brands identify which content drives conversation
  3. Optimising content – using this information helps to streamline content development that says the right things
  4. Measuring impact – stay aware of the impact of social efforts to continually drive conversation and stay relevant and targeted

The many faces of influence

“Building relationships with key influencers is vital,” says Waite, “Data shows that only 6% of fans regularly engage with companies they like on Facebook. By identifying the people most likely to drive conversation, and the types of posts and messages that engage these influences, this helps to increase engagement.”

Veronica Gross del Rio, EMEAI Social Media Manager at Interface  [http://www.interface.com/neteffect], agrees and adds, “Begin determining which social sites you should participate in and what topics are trending or popular. Track how your customers are using social media. We are a B2B company that designs and makes carpet tiles, for us interior designers and architects are the key people who specify our products so we need to convince them more than we need to convince the final buyer. Having the most accurate profile of them on social media is vital.”

It may be obvious that a business needs to identify its core markets and platforms to ensure it markets products effectively, but social media analysis and communications are not the forte of every organisation. It is here that solutions such as Quirk, Codestar and Adobe Social come into play. These companies have made it their business to understand the market and what the organisation needs in order to effectively understand, track and target their customers.

“Successful brands like Starbucks, Xbox and Dell have reduced most of their reporting to only one page that includes all the relevant metrics and information that they need to know about their customers,” says Waite, “These are known as the five ‘W’ – a strategy that Adobe Consulting has also adopted.”

These five ‘W’ are:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Why
  • Where

Who are people talking about, what are they saying, why are they talking about you, when did the conversations begin and where did they take place.

“We design specific apps and landing pages for various products and services advertised on Facebook and often for specific consumer groups,” says Vinny Pianna, Director of Facebook specialists Codastar. “We find that ads for specific customer groups are far more successful than general ones. To segment this effectively we have looked at where we are successful and worked hard to build on this. The key to success is to tailor your messaging, advertising and landing pages for each group.”

Understand the core

To succeed in creating an effective marketing strategy across social media your organisation must ensure it is relevant, targeted, on trend and specific. To do so you need to listen to your customers and understand what they are interested in and make sure that you are communicating with them on the right platforms.

“The web has allowed people to form groups and communities around common interests,” says Gray, “If you’re into dressing up like Batman and singing karaoke, there’s probably a community of people like you. I think that more effective targeting is driven along lines of interest and passions rather than race, gender or age. People are the new conduits of media.”

Interface used these tactics to develop a targeted social media campaign to launch a new product. They created specific content for each social media channel that tapped into their unique qualities and the campaign has been a huge success as a result. Gross del Rio believes that it is this very targeted approach that has made all the difference to the success of their campaign.

“I think that knowing who your audience is and understanding the goals of the campaign will net you far better return on investment,” concludes Stanton, “The data is there to help you make better marketing decisions so use it to maximise results.”

In part two of this series will ask the experts how to take this concept one step further to tailor social media messaging to ensure you appeal to different needs, motives and preferences.

The 4th annual Corporate Social Media Summit Europe

Dec 4, 2013 – Dec 5, 2013, London

Become a social business: For superior marketing response, sharper corporate decision-making, enhanced innovation and a happier, more loyal customer

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Why do your customers Like your brand?

We mean to help you so that in turn you help us

We mean to help you so that in turn you help us

Can the Law of Reciprocity Make or Break Your Business?

We mean to help you so that in turn you help us

We mean to help you so that in turn you help us

Understanding the Law of Reciprocity

article by: Tim T Dingle BSc (Hons) MIBiol PGCE MBA
CDO  Academy of Vocational and Professional Training

Have you ever wondered why some people seem luckier than others? Have you ever been (mildly) annoyed that others attract more referrals than you? There has got to be a reason, hasn’t there? Well a good definition of ‘luck’ is when action meets opportunity. People that help other people every chance (they get) almost always come out on top. I am amazed by the simple gestures of holding a door for someone, returning a lost wallet and giving someone a referral produces 2 things:  First, the feeling that the person on the receiving end of your kindness is compelled to reciprocate; and second, you create a positive thoughts/feelings about your self-image. There’s something very powerful at play that causes this phenomenon.

Psychologists call it The Law of Reciprocity and it says that when someone does something nice for you, you will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return. It is buried deep inside our DNA and is an evolutionary survival mechanism. As a matter of fact, you may even reciprocate with a gesture far more generous than their original good deed. You can try and resist this law, but your DNA will intervene and you will more than likely still feel that you need to respond in kind to a good deed. If that’s true (and it is) then it would be to your advantage to understand the right way – and the wrong way to take advantage of this powerful law.

Do you think that the Law of Reciprocity can make or break your business?

Diane Shawe the CEO of the Academy of Vocational and Professional Training states “the law of reciprocity is like a karmic “piggy bank”. What you broadcast into the universe, whether it is positive or negative, is a deposit due to be returned to you. Your deposits may be returned quickly, without the effects of past and future deposits added”  but then she goes on to say “How then do we define the purpose of Business Etiquette?”  interesting combination.

For this reason, it is wise to bank positive deposits often.

As someone who is running (or is aspiring to run) their own business, there are a couple of ways you can invest in the use of reciprocity: the Constructive Way and the Destructive Way.

The Constructive Way

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One of the hardest parts of a new business relationship is building trust and rapport. To do that, there are some things you have to establish up front with a potential client to show them you’re one of the good guys. These fall in the area of intent, empathy and credibility. So, if you really are one of the good guys, you can show people what you’re made of simply by being friendly, honest, and helpful. That’s the idea behind a lot of the freebies that bloggers give away all the time. By giving something that’s of legitimate value away with no expectation of compensation, you’re achieving several things.

  • If the material or help you’re giving away is of high quality, you’re establishing yourself as a person of credibility – someone who knows what they’re talking about.
  • You’re demonstrating empathy by showing the recipient that you understand they’re looking for answers. You understand that they need help – and you’re someone who’s willing to give it to them.
  • You’re showing that your intent is not just to get into their wallets – but to sincerely help.

In the process, you stimulate the DNA program of The Law of Reciprocity. When you establish yourself as an honest, sincere, and giving person – you make it much easier for people to buy from you when you have something to offer. It is at that point they already like you, they have seen that you know your stuff, and they trust you. All that makes it much easier for them to choose you.

The Destructive Way
3 HR JUMP START BUSINESS BOOTCAMP WITH GEWUK 18 NOV 2013While responding to The Law of Reciprocity is hard-wired into us, most people aren’t stupid, but can often be inexperienced or too trusting. If the Law is exploited as a tactic, they often experience a lot of discomfort and dis-ease about the situation. Even though I use the word ‘exploiting’ ( I don’t believe that most people conspire to use this law) you might best understand it as someone being false’ pretense, a front; you are pretending to be sincere and helpful, therefore only to trick people into feeling a sense of obligation. Poor salespeople are easy to find – and when someone is using reciprocity as a pressure tactic, it’s obvious. You’ve been there as a consumer.

I’ll bet you don’t have to go back very far in your memory bank to remember a time when someone seemed a little too nice. Even though they were doing something positive for you, you still instinctively didn’t trust them. That’s because their intentions weren’t sincere and you sensed it. Using the Law that way may trick someone from time to time, but it likely won’t lead to repeat sales, good will, or referrals. Pressured prospects tend to disappear quietly.

So the right way to gain maximum benefit from the Law of Reciprocity is to use it sincerely and for the right reasons: to help others and to grow your relationships. There are a lot of aggressive sales and marketing people out there, but listen to them with caution. Consumers are smarter than ever before. Being aggressive tends to offend and alienate. Instead, aim for active and inclusivity. What’s the difference? Aggressive is relentless and pushy. Active and exclusivity is, well, active listening and keeping them involved.

If what you’re selling is truly of value, you don’t have to be a bully to get people to buy. You just have to work hard to get your name out there and develop your brand. Since you are one of the good guys, ask yourself; What small thing can I provide today that my customers can really use?

When you come up with an answer – give it to them. It’s the right thing to do – and because of The Law of Reciprocity, your customers will gladly return that generosity when you do have something to sell.

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Is Mobile Technology re-wiring the brains of our Children?

Overload or Growth?

Overload or Growth?

Or is there hope in a BRAIN project funded by the President of the USA?

Well you do hear people say that mobile technology and smart tech is rewiring their brains brain, making a new breed of digital natives and even brain washing our children. The facts are that they will spend 11.5 hours a day using smart technology; whether that’s computers, tablets, television, mobile phones, or video games (and in my experience usually more than one at a time). That is a big chunk of their 15 or 16 waking hours. The media tend to exploit these facts and combine them with pseudo-science with outlandish claims of ‘brain rewiring’ and potential harm. I have heard this uttered in alarm, (usually by those concerned that children’s ability to learn and pay attention) and stated as a ‘good thing’ by others, convinced that a generation of digital natives has developed incredible powers of absorbing and applying information.

Indeed 4 years ago President Obama officially announced in 2013 that 100 million dollars in funding for arguably the most ambitious neuroscience initiative ever proposed. The project has the catchy name of Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neuro-technologies, or BRAIN, and aims to reconstruct the activity of every single neuron as they fire simultaneously in different brain circuits, or perhaps even whole brains. If you have seen Iron Man 3 there is marvellous moment when the evil Aldrich Killian (played by Guy Pearce) shows the beautiful Gwyneth Paltrow inside his brain in real time; a must see moment. The next great project, as Obama called it, could help neuroscientists understand the origins of cognition, perception, and other brain activities, which may lead to new, more effective treatments for conditions like autism or mood disorders and could help veterans suffering from brain injuries. It also might just help people realise why they need to choose a great course and real focus.

neuroscience and nerve system neuroscience brainSo what are facts about neuroscience and mobile smart technology? Can we learn effectively using smart devices? Well, when our minds are engaged in a simple or complex task, the information relevant to that task is held in our STM or short-term memory. According to the late but great psychologist, George Miller, this mental holding space can only contain four to seven pieces of information at a time. To be retained it needs to be transferred to the LTM (long term memory). We can only move information from short-term to long-term memory using our attention; we have to be paying attention to, and thinking about, a fact or a concept in order for it to be encoded in memory.

To encode properly you need to eliminate distractions, which are often caused by multitasking events. Young people report frequent media multitasking (texting, emailing, surfing the web, Twitter and Facebook) while also doing homework. Their belief is they can do it effectively, but research shows otherwise. In fact, research demonstrates that individuals who multitask the most are actually the worst at it. Whether we’re learning with a tablet, smart device or a book, it’s best to give it our best attention.

The rapid evolution of mobile technology has placed quite a burden on our concentration. The day is constantly being challenged by external sources. Even the most pressing of matters can be interrupted at any moment by a familiar buzzing in the pocket. This gives a friendly nudge to pay attention that the brain responds to and many find virtually impossible to resist; alarmingly even while driving. These all too frequent interruptions, coupled with growing expectations for immediate responses (emails responded to at 2am), will challenge our cognitive control system at its very core.

The cognitive control system is our ability to focus on accomplishing a task in the context of competing demands. You might want to look at a course that explains this in more depth. This special ability is what has allowed humans to achieve remarkable achievements, from developing languages and building complex societies.

It doesn’t matter that we think children are growing up digital natives and somehow addicted to technology. It simply doesn’t change how we come to understand new information. Basic understanding happens when we process new information in terms of its meaning, rather than its surface features. Understanding happens when we connect new information to what we know already.

It seems that the competing noise and multitasking distractions, will have a more significant negative impact for those with undeveloped or impaired focus and cognitive control. Those that easily lose focus such as children and us older adults, or in the presence of neurological or psychiatric conditions like ADHD or Alzheimer’s disease. There is no doubt that we have to be careful about the influence of unending data streams of interference on our minds. We need to make more informed decisions about how best to interact with the technologies around learners and how we use the technology positively every day. Perhaps the BRAIN project will guide us on new ways being effective learners.

The lesson seems to be that when we are engaged in something that requires high quality attention (like one of our excellent express courses in critical thinking we should conduct ourselves in a manner that is most appropriate for how our brains function: in the absolute focus mode.
So it seems that despite all the real concerns, technology is not rewiring young people’s brains or brain washing them. Indeed mobile smart technology must and can be harnessed to improve our minds. This will come as a relief to some and a disappointment to others. This new brain research will shed light on our understanding, our attention and focus systems and better memory that can now be applied to a new generation of humans, not so different from the ones who came before.

Mindfeed ebooks by Diane Shawe

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 Shawe’s eBooks are available on Amazon right now at: https://www.amazon.com/Diane-Shawe/e/B0052WG8V6

About the Author

Diane Shawe is an author, speaker, trainer, mentor, consultant and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience. She has personally trained over 2800 people around the world in a variety of fields and has published a number of works. She has contributed to over 100 Kiva Entrepreneur’s around the world.

She was also one of the producers of a Day time Ladies Talk Show in 2015 and Host of one of the UK’s best loved Annual Hair Extensions Awards.

Diane also enjoys oil painting, sailing and clay pigeon shooting. She focuses on topics that she is passionate about in her writing and has attracted over 36,000 followers on her popular blog.

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