Archive for the ‘use’ tag
It can easily tarnish a brand’s identity when a user brings his or her complain on the social media. But it also goes the same for reaping compliments for your customers. In order to take advantage of social media for your business, it is best that you know how you can properly integrate it to your customer support service
Means of Communication Between You and Your Fans
It may be counterintuitive for your campaign to let users post complains on your page, but it is more ideal than letting them rant elsewhere. You can easily respond to your customers’ issues if you let them post on your page. If you do it right, you can turn their opinions around because of your superb customer service. Just remember to open the floor for complaints with a concrete plan on how you would handle them.
Bring Your Existing Fans to Your Page
Using you current means of reaching out to your customers, bring your existing fans to your social media profiles. Run a contest or a promotion on your Facebook, and include it on your product’s packaging, newsletter, or email. After all, they already “like” your brand in real life.
Connect with Your Customers
People uses social media to connect and be heard. Interact with users who talk about your brand, whether it’s a compliment or complaint. Don’t wait for someone to post on your wall or mention you in his or her tweet. Make them happy by listening to what they have to say.
Give Your Brand Ambassadors a Bonus
Always keep on searching for your brands, and think of ways on how you can rewards them. Turn them into advocates of your products by making them feel special. It can be as simple as pitching new or upcoming products, giving them a free sample, or giving them an office tour.
Share Compelling Content
It will be difficult for your brand to engage your customers through social media if you don’t have anything special to say. That’s why use your online platform to share useful and relevant content to your customers. Every brand can—and should—create and share quality content.
Other than texts, you can also share content in other media form such as images or videos to make it more engaging. Moreover, encourage your customers to participate and share contents on your page. That way, you are making your online presence sound and look human, and your interaction with your precious clients is more personal.
Using various social media for your business can impact your brand big time. So use it to its full extent, but don’t forget to learn how you can handle it properly.
Source: Social Media Magazine by Thomas Hendele | Flickr
The post Taking Advantage of Social Media for Customer Service appeared first on About Social Media.
With Internet use on smartphones set to overtake desktop browsing by early 2013, it is surprising that businesses—big and small—are not taking full advantage of mobile search. A recent study by telecommunications giant T-Mobile indicates that 46 percent of local businesses are not visible when users search via smartphones. For those local businesses that took the [...]
Social media sites like Facebook have become a central part of the lives of many families, letting them keep tabs on each other’s lives through pictures. But they’re not for everyone. My mom and dad, who live in the U.S., have no interest in joining Facebook. They are okay with email, and my dad will even video Skype if his wife, my stepmom (a computer scientist, as it happens), sorts it out for him. But you know what? They still really love it most of all when I send them a real letter with photos of me, my husband and our two kids. And you know what else? I’ve really fallen off the wagon where letters are concerned. I’m terrible at finding time to sit down and write them, and then getting around to sending them.
So I was especially excited to hear about HiMom, a YC-backed mobile app, part of the current class, that lets you create postcards from pictures you’ve taken on your phone, and then send them to your parents — or anyone else you’d like to keep in touch with on a regular basis. To me, it seemed like the perfect union: it takes something I am already doing to record and create things (using my phone) and matches it up with how my parents like to get their content (in a physical form).
“HiMom is about improving engagement between the young social networking generation and those who are not connected there,” co-founder Martin Poschenrieder says. As with a lot of YC products, the founders have been using their YC classmates and past work contacts as guinea pigs, and the service, they’ve found, is being used just as much by those living near to their families as it is by those who are many miles apart — the latter use case coming out of the founders’ own backgrounds, two Germans in Silicon Valley whose families are still back in their home country.
The app works simply enough: with the iPhone app, you can use any picture you have taken on your phone, or from your iPhone library via iCloud, and turn it into a postcard. You have some options for borders and filters on a full-sized postcard picture; and you can type a message. And in a nice touch, you can also “sign” the card either with a scribble of your name or another doodle. You can then send it as a postcard for $1.99 or as a free email.
Before I go any further with this, I’ll say yes, I know there are already a bunch of photo sharing apps, and even hundreds of postcard apps, out there already.
Postagram is one of the biggest, and its developers Sincerely are now working with Facebook on a postcard service to create images out of Facebook photos specifically. And with so many more, is there really room for another?
I think yes, particularly if HiMom follows through on the trajectory its founders have started. HiMom does what its name says: it is about creating and sending postcards, and building up a relationship specifically around one or two particular people — in this case between you and your parents, grandparents or others who are not necessarily connecting with you in your busy life.
By narrowing the focus, it becomes something you could potentially use more regularly as part of that specific relationship. In that sense, it’s not unlike Pair and Cupple, social networking apps designed for groups of two. By focusing on building social relationships outside of the more established social networking norms, it’s not unlike YC alum Family Leaf (a family-based social networking platform for families who don’t want to or can’t use Facebook).
HiMom has some automation built into it as well: an upcoming update will offer a daily alert at 11am, and future versions of the app, Poschenrieder says, will let users change how often and when this alert comes, to remind you to send over a card your contacts. Other features to come will include a read receipt, “so that you see when your mom opened the notification email,” Poschenrieder says, as well as a “thank-you” button for your recipient to reply automatically, as well as address book integration: right now you have to enter recipients’ addresses manually. Integrating the address book might widen the number of people you would use HiMom for as well.
What’s potentially even more interesting is how the HiMom framework could be developed for more than just postcards: think of how, say during a birthday or special occasion, you can add a bouquet of flowers or chocolate (or other gift) delivery, in addition to the postcard.
And that could loop in with some of the e-commerce knowledge of Poschenrieder and his co-founder Markus Jura.
The pair are both German and met while working for Accenture in Europe. When they were in London applying for Y Combinator, they actually pitched a completely different idea, around product sharing between people. (That idea was parked when they realised that “acceptance from local merchants in the U.S. was different than in the UK,” Martin told me.) It’s not too surprising to see YC startups changing this way; after all, the incubator has an ethos of backing talent, not specific ideas.
Things like physical gifts could be something to explore further down the line. For now, it’s about sending a beautiful postcard in place of what was there before… which, for many busy professionals, may well have been nothing.
The latest WikiLeaks release has shone a spotlight on an alleged domestic and foreign surveillance program run with cloud-based software provided by Texas company TrapWire, many of whose top leaders and employees are former members of three-letter American intelligence agencies.
WikiLeaks tweeted about it today, and the story quickly became a trending topic on Twitter:
WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 10, 2012
TrapWire produces software that is currently in use by Homeland Security, the military, U.S. intelligence agencies, and local police forces including the LAPD and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC (whose chief recently praised the software). Private sector clients include major corporations in the energy, chemical, and financial industries.
TrapWire does three things: protect critical infrastructure by analyzing CCTV footage with face and pattern recognition algorithms to detect pre-attack patterns, provide online reporting systems for citizens to report suspicious behavior, and gather and analyze many sources of information to allow law enforcement to make sense of the masses of collected data.
If TrapWire does what it is intended to, it’s potentially a critical innovation that can help protect the U.S. from terrorism. Tying together disparate facts from multiple sources across geographies might have prevented 9-11. On the other hand, the secrecy, the integration with government, and the thought that a private corporation could have access to huge amounts of private citizens’ data is concerning to say the least.
The data WikiLeaks released was taken from more than five million emails allegedly stolen from a company with close ties and inside information about TrapWire, security information company Stratfor. Stratfor had a contract with TrapWire in which each company agreed to promote the other company’s products, and Stratfor agreed to feed its intelligence reports into the TrapWire system.
Then Stratfor was hacked by Anonymous in 2011, and Anonymous provided the emails to WikiLeaks.
In those emails, Stratfor says that TrapWire is in use in “Scotland Yard, #10 Downing, the White House, and many [multinational corporations].” Another talks about the Nigerian government being interested in TrapWire, and others imply that organizations as diverse and powerful as the Secret Service, MI5, and the Canadian RCMP are all clients.
And yet another leaked email from Fred Burton, Stratfor’s CEO, says “God Bless America. Now they have EVERY major [high-value target] in [the continental U.S.], the UK, Canada, Vegas, Los Angeles, NYC as clients.”
TrapWire was not always so secretive about its software. Company founder Richard Hollis spoke about the software in 2005, say that it:
… can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists. The application can do things like “type” individuals so if people say “medium build,” you know exactly what that means from that observer.
And in 2007, the company elaborated on how TrapWire works:
… the TrapWire rules engine analyzes each aspect of [reported security incidents] and compares it to all previously-collected reporting across the entire TrapWire network. Any patters detected — links among individuals, vehicles, or activities — will be reported back to each affected facility. This information can also be shared with law enforcement organizations …
The question becomes: Where does national security start and the public’s right (or need) to know end? And, to what extent should private companies be embedded in public surveillance?
Even tougher: does our security depend, at least in part, on our ignorance? Because if we learn about anti-terrorism methodologies, you can bet the bad guys do too.
There is as yet no statement from Stratfor, TrapWire Inc., or any of the named public security agencies.
Image credit: ShutterStock/Steven Finn
According to court documents made public on Friday, Apple in 2010 offered Samsung a $30 per smartphone/$40 per tablet license deal for use of the Cupertino company’s patents.
I’ve broken this out into lots of steps. You could do it all in one or two steps with a shell script or other geekery. I wrote this to keep each step simple, and get you into Excel as quickly as possible, instead.
What I’ve never done, though, is shown folks how they can quickly find those busted external links using basic tools. So, here goes:
With a log file, you can find broken external links that Google hasn’t. Google Webmaster Tools only shows you broken links found by Google. GWT ignores:
- Old broken links that Google assumes are no longer relevant;
- New incoming links that are broken, from sites like bit.ly;
- Broken social media links, if they’re not driving many clicks.
Don’t you want all those links from Twitter? How about all the old .edu links you used to have, but lost when you took down the target pages?
Hell yes. Here’s how you can find them using your log files:
Get your tools together
If you’re using OS X or Linux, you have everything you need except, possibly, a spreadsheet program. Google Docs will work, or OpenOffice for big files, or Excel for the coolest stuff (like pivot tables).
If you’re on Windows, you’ll want to install CYGWIN—that gives you all of the command-line tools I talk about in this post.
1: Get access to the log files
If you run your own site, you can download the log files yourself. Otherwise, though, you’re going to have to ask someone else to get ‘em for you, and that’s rarely popular. Here’s how you can make the process less painful:
- Explain why you need them: To improve sales. Log files will give you the best potential linking ‘wins’, and reveal the biggest site indexation problems.
- Explain the value: The log files will let you more accurately spot ‘big two’ issues (links and indexation) than any other method. Both have huge implications for site traffic. Which has huge implications for sales.
- Explain exactly what you need: Don’t just ask for ‘the log files’. Let them know you just need a 5-10 day slice of the files or, if the site’s really busy, just a day or two.
- Provide them an easy secure location to upload the zipped files. An FTP or Dropbox folder should work fine, and it saves them a step.
- Assure them we’ll delete the logs the moment we’re done.
The key here: Make this an easy process. The first concern of whoever you ask for the files will be: “Is this a lot of work for me?” and “Is this a security issue?” Answer those concerns before they’re raised.
1b: If you can’t get the files
I’ve spent weeks, literally, trying to get log file access from a client. Usually, that’s because no one knows what I’m talking about. If you run into this, try these steps, in this order:
If the site’s located with a hosting company:
- Read the company’s tech support docs. You may find the information you need there.
- Check the site’s control panel. It probably has an area for log file management, or a file manager where you can click around and find the log file folder.
- If all else fails, contact the hosting provider’s tech support team. Pick up the phone. Talk to a human being. You’d be amazed how well that works.
If the site’s self-hosted or managed by an internal team:
- Get in touch with whoever manages the server day-to-day. Whether they know it or not, they’ll have the info you need to get the logs.
- If they can’t find the files, but they’re willing to let you get access, get SSH or Remote Desktop permissions on the server. You can then click around and find the log files, or go directly into the IIS control panel/Apache configuration file and find the log file location there.
- If they can’t find the files and they won’t give you access, find out their server platform. Then research possible log file locations on that platform, and ask them to look there.
Got the files? Great! Time to get to work.
2: Extract the log files
Now, you can go download the log files. You probably have a bunch of compressed files up on a server somewhere. They’ll look like the right-hand side of my FTP window:
Download them to your machine. Decompress them using whatever utility makes sense. If these are .gz files, you can extract them using the GUNZIP command:
That will extract every file in this folder with a .gz on the end, and leave you with something like this:
Log files may be compressed using ZIP, or something else. You can find the right extraction tool using, I dunno, Google?
3: Combine the log files
Ideally, you need a single log file. To combine the log files, use the CAT command:
cat access_log > biglog.txt
The above command will:
- Read each file that has a name starting with ‘access_log’.
- Write the contents of all of those files into a file named ‘biglog.txt’.
- The single ‘>’ tells CAT to erase a pre-existing file named ‘biglog.txt’ and start over. If you use ‘>>’ then CAT will add to the existing file, instead.
If the files are really huge you may have to keep them separate. But that’ll only be an issue if, once combined, the final file is multiple gigabytes in size. GREP is really good at processing huge files.
Interlude: What you need from this file
You need to find all of the broken external links. So, you’ll need four pieces of data:
- The response code. A web server responds to a request for a broken link with a 404 error code, which then gets stored in the log files you just combined. The response code will let us filter for broken links.
- The referrer. It also stores the referrer—the URL of the linking page. We’ll use this to figure out the value of the broken link.
- The request. It stores the request—the URL of the linked page. The request will tell us which pages we need to replace or redirect.
- The user agent. Finally, it stores the user agent—the type of browser or bot that made the request. This will let us exclude Googlebot visits.
With those four items, you can find all of the external broken links visited by browsers other than Googlebot.
4: Use GREP to find the 404 errors
Now to the good stuff. You’ve got one gigantic log file. You can use the GREP command to search through that file at super speed.
Use this command, changing the htm and file names as relevant:
grep "\.htm*[[:space:]]404[[:space:]]" biglog.txt > errors.txt
This command will:
- Find every line in the log that includes ‘.htm’ and ‘ 404 ’. It uses a regular expression, or regex. I kinda suck at regex, so go to this site if you want to learn more.
- Write that to a file called errors.txt.
This can take a minute or two.
You may need to change the .htm. We’re using to exclude all of the requests for .gif, .png and other non-html files. We only care about pages this time around. If your site uses php, and all of the URIs end with .php, you’ll have to change .htm to .php.
5: Get rid of Googlebot
We need to remove all 404 errors generated by Googlebot. GREP can do the job, again. Use this command:
grep -v "Googlebot" errors.txt > errors-no-google.txt
This command will:
- Search through the file you generated in step 4.
- Find every line that does not include “Googlebot”. The -v inverts the search, so GREP finds all lines that don’t match the search criteria.
- Output that line to a new file called errors-no-google.txt. If the file exists, it’ll wipe that file and create a new one. Use >> if you want to append to the existing file instead.
Notice how fast GREP ran that command? Pretty nifty, huh?
When I ran through this exercise on my laptop, I took a .5 gigabyte biglog.txt file and trimmed it down to a 904kb file that just contained the errors I needed. It took a total of 5 minutes, start to finish. Try this in Excel and you’ll see smoke rising from your computer. GREP is so cool that I’ve written about it before.
6: Prepare your spreadsheet
Using whatever spreadsheet software you prefer, import the errors-no-google file as a space-delimited text file:
You won’t need most of the columns. Only three columns really matter:
- The column that includes GET or HEAD and a URL. That’s the request—the page on this site that someone tried to load.
- The column that includes a three-digit number. It usually comes right after the request. That’s the response code—the server’s reply to the request. If GREP did its job, the response should be 404 for every line in the sheet. Sometimes it goes wrong, though, because of a ‘404’ somewhere else in the row. Poop happens.
- The next column should be a URL, or a dash. That’s the referrer. If someone clicked a link on another page, that other page’s URL is the referring URL. It’s shown in this column. If they typed in the page address, or if their browser is set up to hide the referrer, the referrer is ‘-’.
You can delete the rest of the columns. Then insert a new row at the top of the page and label the columns:
That’ll let you indulge in some data processing niftiness later on.
Oh, and save the damned spreadsheet. Nothing sadder than losing all your data because your cat strolled across the keyboard.
7: Set up filtering.
Put your cursor in the heading row you created in step 6 and click the filter button:
Now you can sort and/or filter our stuff you don’t need. For example, I may not want to see all of those ‘-’ referrers:
And I probably only want to see external broken links, so I can filter out all referrers that include this site’s domain name:
Note that I used ‘does not contain’ for the second filter. Read up on Excel’s filter tool. It’s your friend.
8: Find the broken external links
Phew. Finally. We can find some external links. Take a look at the result:
It’s a link goldmine!!! Every row represents a broken link from another site.
Now you can use a pivot table or other spreadsheet awesomeness to find the biggest problems:
Or, you can just browse through the raw data. Either way, you’ll find great, easy incoming links.
9: Prioritize the links
Prioritize broken links like this:
- Broken links from high-authority sites get fixed first. These links could really give you a rankings boost.
- Broken links with a high number of requests get fixed next. A lot of people are still clicking them.
- Everything else.
10: How to fix the links
None of this work means a thing if no one fixes the links! Here are the ways to fix them, from best to worst:
- Rebuild the missing page. If the broken link points at a deleted page, replace that page. If the site’s an online store and the link points at a product that’s out of stock or no longer available, put up a page, at that URL, that says ‘This product is out of stock’ or ‘This product is no longer available’. Then provide links to other relevant pages, or to customer support, or to the category page.
- Build a new page. If the broken link points at a page that never existed or had to be deleted, create something new (but relevant) there.
- Build a detour page. Create a page that summarizes what the old page said and then says ‘But this page is gone now. Sniff. Instead, go over here.’ Then link to an alternative.
- Use a permanent redirect. Create a 301 redirect from the broken link URL to a relevant page. Do not simply redirect to your home page! That just confuses your visitors.
Always use options 1-3 before 4. A permanent redirect is a very imperfect solution, and best applied when you have no other options. 301 redirects will reroute authority for a while, but eventually the authority ‘decays’. Plus, a high number of 301 redirects on a site can wreak havoc with Google and Bing. Both search engines’ crawlers will give up if they see too many redirect ‘hops’.
Put away that letter opener…
This post has over 1800 words. At this point you’re probably ready to stab me. Please don’t. I like my insides in.
And, this isn’t nearly as hard as it seems. With practice, you’ll be zipping through all these steps in under an hour. It’s by far the quickest, easiest way to improve site authority.
Incentives are all the rage: employee bonus pay, app badges, student grades, and even lunch with President Obama. Despite their widespread use, most research finds that incentives are terrible at improving performance in the long-run on anything but mindless rote tasks, because the fixation on prizes clouds our creative thinking (video explanation below). However, a new Harvard study of teachers found that a novel approach to incentives could dramatically improve student performance: give teachers a reward upfront and threaten to take it away if performance doesn’t actually improve. Exploiting the so-called “loss-aversion” tendency could open the door to creative incentivizing for software designers and managers.
Harvard University’s Ronald Fryer and his colleagues explain that, in education, pay-for-performance has a dismal record of improving student outcomes. Teachers who were offered sizable bundles of cash (up to $15,000) didn’t fare any better at helping their students than teachers who worked simply out of the goodness of their impoverished hearts. In india, teachers show modest gains the first year incentives, but the effect largely drops off a cliff the next year.
However, humans process loss differently gain. For instance, one study showed that people will pay more than twice as much money to keep a coffee mug they were given beforehand then to acquire it in the first place. The idea behind the “endowment effect“, popularized by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, is that people become psychologically territorial about their own stuff, and begin imagining all the ways they’ll use their new treasure once it’s in their hands. The research has been widely replicated and applied, such as in a Chinese factory to improve worker productivity.
The Harvard school experiment applied the logic in pretty much the same way: teachers were randomly selected to receive a bonus either at the beginning or end of the year; those getting the check up front (the treatment group) had to give it back if student performance didn’t improve as expected. Teachers could earn up to $8,000, depending on the level of improvement. The experimental group was cut a check for the expected amount ($4,000) upfront and had to give back or add to that amount depending on the actual performance at the end of the year.
The results were impressive by education standards: up to 10 percentile points on average (that’s 0.33 standard deviation units, for you statistic nerds).
The research holds exciting possibilities for business. Why not hand out bonus pay at the beginning of the year? Or, maybe give out restaurant discounts for a month, and revoke it if users don’t check-in on Foursquare each time they come.
The possibilities are endless and we’d love to hear your ideas. How do you use incentives in your organization? How could someone use loss-aversion to change the way incentives are given?
Hey Microsoft, this whole new-name-for-Metro thing? It’s getting a little ridiculous. Just give us the new name already.
Last week, Microsoft ditched the “Metro” interface name for Windows Phone, Windows 8, and other products after nearly two years of use. The company lamely said Metro was just a “code name,” but it’s most likely due to a trademark dispute.
Since then, speculation has run high over what Microsoft will call the user interface. Yesterday, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reported that Microsoft workers are being told the name is now just “Windows 8 user interface.” It’s a terrible name, and it ignores the fact that the “Metro” design is found across other Microsoft products, including Windows Phone, Xbox, Office 2013, and the new Outlook.com.
Today’s rumor, per The Verge, is Microsoft employees have switched to calling the interface the “Modern UI Style.” The “Modern UI Style” name does have some traction because a Thursday blog post from Microsoft even calls it that. “Modern UI” would be better than “Windows 8 UI,” but we’d prefer something more distinctive.
I asked Microsoft if the company would indeed be changing to “Modern UI,” but a spokesperson said the company “had nothing to share.” Surprise surprise.
Why is a design name is causing such a stir? Because Microsoft and CEO Steve Ballmer (pictured) have been touting it for so long. Most of its products are taking on elements of this clean and refreshing look, and it’s a big bet for a normally conservative business. But now that bet has no name.
Microsoft, it’s time to step up.
Steve Ballmer photo: Aanjhan Ranganathan/Flickr
Filed under: VentureBeat
Researchers at UC Berkeley have discovered that what looks like junk may actually open the doors to a treasure of solar energy.
Using an electric field, semiconductors such as metal oxides (as you can see above, this amounts to rust) can be made usable for solar panels. The electric field gives the materials the high-quality p-n junctions (the electro-chemical building blocks of solar panels) they need to capture energy from the sun’s rays.
Creating the p-n junctions needed is a process called doping. The Berkeley researchers’ paper is called Screening-engineered Field-effect Solar Cells, and it states that any semiconductive material, including cheap metal oxides, sulfides, and phosphides, can be successfully doped using an electric field.
For example, cuprous oxide (Cu2O) is, the paper says, “a highly abundant but hard-to-dope semiconductor. … We have demonstrated a 60% relative efficiency increase with Cu2O.”
“It’s time we put bad materials to good use,” said physicist Alex Zettl one of the researchers who produced the paper.
“Our technology allows us to sidestep the difficulty in chemically tailoring many earth abundant, non-toxic semiconductors and instead tailor these materials simply by applying an electric field.”
Image courtesy Zettl Research Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California at Berkeley
Filed under: green
There’s never a dull day in the world of iPhone component rumors.
The latest leak comes from 9to5Mac, which has published what it says is the battery for Apple’s next iPhone. While it’s physically identical to the current iPhone battery, it does feature a 1440 mAh battery, a slight bump up from the 1430 mAh batteries currently in use.
But there’s one problem if this battery turns out being legit: It’s not nearly big enough.
Right now, an LTE-ready iPhone 5 is basically a sure thing, which means that this battery can’t possibly belong to it. LTE, the next-generation of high-speed network connectivity, is a notorious battery hog, which is why manufacturers have been forced to give LTE phones hefty batteries to compensate.
For example, consider recent LTE phones like the HTC EVO 4G LTE and Droid Razr Maxx, which feature 2,000 mAh and 3,300 mAh batteries, respectively. In order for the next iPhone to offer any semblance of respectable battery life, it’s going to have to feature a battery with a similar capacity.
While there is a slight chance that the iPhone 5 will be optimized for better power consumption, it’s going to be tough for even Apple to tame the battery-draining beast that is LTE.
So, there are two possibilities: Either we will see a much more sizable battery in the next iPhone, or Apple is going to have to bundle Mophie battery cases with every device. Guess which one is more likely.
Filed under: mobile