One of the oft touted benefits of technology; new and shiny gadgets, software or apps, is their ability to make our lives easier, save time and be more efficient.
Not all make the grade, in fact many can create quite the opposite effect and leave you staring at a screen for far longer than you’d want. The app that promises to make your life so much easier and then fails to act at the all too critical moment
There are however some gems that do indeed work their magic and serve as excellent tools to help keep us organised and in control. I have 6 such examples here that I would recommend you looking at if you don’t already use.
Issue #1 – Managing multiple accounts or a single brand across many social media platforms
Hootsuite – there are other platforms such as Tweetdeck that continue to deliver a good PC experience for visibility of activity but for me Hootsuite offers just that little bit more. The dashboard can take some getting used to but it’s worth persevering
Issue #2 – Keeping abreast of news on specific topics
Google Alerts – this little nugget has been around for a few years now but still many are not using it. I don’t know why. By searching for Google Alerts you’ll identify a keyword tool that can provide search results for specific keywords on a daily or weekly basis. You set the time and frequency and provide an e-mail for this digest to be forwarded to. A great way to monitor yours and your competitors brand along with sector specific items that may be of interest to you, your staff or your customers.
Issue #3 – Smartphone Memory Management
CM Security is one tool I make good use of as I have an iPhone and without this very effective app I’d be all out of memory. There are other similar apps available but CM is one of the best offering a simple click solution to removing excess, unnecessary items.
Issue #4 – Keeping on top of followers/ unfollowers on twitter and Instagram
I’ve been aware for some time of the rather short sighted method of attempting to grow a network. Someone follows you, on for example Twitter and then a week later after you’ve returned the compliment and followed back they “unfollow” you. Nice! Surprising how many accounts employ this strategy – if you are please don’t and if you’re subjected to it don’t let them have the benefit.
One of the best apps I’ve found for regularly reviewing those who unfollow and keeping your network to those who you can trust will engage is Unfollow for Twitter. The same issues arise on platforms such as Instagram, again there is an unfollow Instagram app. Given the difficulty of identifying these unfollowers, especially if you have a large network, I would recommend uploading these apps and once a week clearing out any accounts that are not following you back.
Issue #5 – Sleep patterns affected by late night browsing
Increasingly smartphone users are complaining of tiredness and attention deficit. This is often a side effect of staying on a smartphone, ipad or laptop late into the evening. The screen glare of these devices replicates sunlight telling the brain its wakey-wakey time rather than time for bed. At the point of retiring to the duvet the brain is unable to switch off.
The Opera browser which you can download to your devices offers a “bedtime” mode which reduces glare and keeps your brain in line with the actual time.
I’ve used it and it certainly works.
Issue #6 – too many passwords to remember
Do you get frustrated with the number of usernames and passwords your forced to remember or record to access your bank, facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, e-mail accounts, Starbucks app, iTunes, Amazon, ebay, MailChimp….I could go on.
If you’ve a brain that can cope with keeping and retrieving multiple passwords you’re ok but if like most people you can only remember if prompted the 1Password App may well be for you.
Some people keep spreadsheets of their log-ins which is great, until someone unauthorised accesses it or it’s deleted. The 1Password option gives you a secure vault in which you can then introduce the accounts you want to quickly access.
I’m sure in time the finger print or eyeball scanning will be the way we access our all-important data but until that becomes the norm I’d suggest looking at 1Password.
Most of these apps can be found by searching on your device by the name or if that doesn’t work a quick Google will do it. If you’ve got a hot tip for a great time saving or efficiency promoting app please drop me a line and we’ll feature it.
I’m not the first to write on this topic nor the last but it’s the subject of today’s blog because I feel quite strongly about this growing phenomenon.
There are an estimated 1.8 billion of us using smartphones and this year alone will see a further 25% increase in ownership. By 2017 a third of the World’s population will be glued to their touch screen devices.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m someone with a long record of smartphone ownership from early HTC varieties through to iPhone but I’m not such a fan as I was.
Millions of us are struggling with an addiction to the smartphone. The proliferation of these super slim, super smart devices gives us a look of that 24th Century imagined world of Gene Roddenberry. How long before we’re moving from “hang outs” to “beam ups”?
So what of this reference to making us stupid and why am I not such the fan that I once was?
It’s not that your smartphone contains anything other than a deep pool of wonderful treasures. We have ready access to apps that can help with every single facet of our lives. They keep us fit, healthy, on time, up to date with international, national, local and personal news and entertained with games, TV, radio and our favourite songs.
We can’t hold back progress with technology and let’s face it we’re pretty insatiable when it comes to the fast moving consumer gizmology but I do think we’re struggling to keep up.
As humans we are undeniably an adaptive species. Evolving from hunter gatherers to hot shot gamers with each generation bringing their own unique code of knowledge and rules factoring the software into their lives so that it becomes intertwined with everyday living.
It’s this interdependence of human and technology that is starting to bother me. It’s also a reason why primary schools are starting to build lessons into the curriculum to help explain how these instruments work.
Our recent trip to the USA was great save the occasions the location visited either A) didn’t supply wifi or B) did supply wifi but at such a poor level that it brought immediate frustrations. I even went to the trouble of buying a portable wifi hotspot so we could retain connectivity whilst traveling up the coast from LA to San Francisco. It cost a few dollars but nothing compared to the potential costs if we’d relied on the local networks for our downloads. We ALL had smartphones and we used them, pretty much constantly.
At work they can be a real boon, mobile access to e-mail, online searches on the move and that feeling that “you’re always in touch”. Trouble is, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Here are a few of the issues I have with how we are currently using our smartphones;
Selfie time. No please, don’t take another profile pic for Facebook, instead take a look at yourself properly. When was the last time you truly studied how you’re running your life. Heads up from the screen and take pen and paper to write a list of positive actions that can help you take back control.
Last year for the whole month of October I ran my #Offtober experiment. I turned off my smartphone at 8pm each evening and didn’t switch it back on until 8am.
The result of this simple step was improved sleep it also had a positive impact on mood and overall well-being. Like many of us I’ve since drifted back into bad habits but rather than wait for October to come around I’m going to set myself clear rules so I can get the benefits of the tech without the downside.
No doubt many smug readers, my wife included will nod sagely and say, I told you this ages ago. Well yes, you probably did but I was face deep in technology at the time.
With technological developments continuing to move forward at a scary rate I’m pleased to report on a quick, easy and relatively inexpensive way to bring yourself up to date in one very entertaining area.
Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality or immersive multimedia capability has been with us for some time but typically confined to high end gaming and specialist applications.
Way back in 1968 Ivan Sutherland the renowned computer scientist and Internet pioneer created the very first VR headset, although it was so heavy the unit needed to be suspended from the ceiling.
Almost 50 years later and we now finally have the technology in our own hands and a headset that can be made of…..cardboard!
So how do you enter the VR world via your Smartphone?
The Google Cardboard App comes with a variety of experiences not least the opportunity to take a virtual tour of locations around the world through Google street view. This includes trips to the Eiffel Tower, Colosseum in Rome and New York’s Times Square.
This might sound obvious but please remember where you are and avoid viewing your VR World near stairs or objects that you might collide with. It can be quite disorientating especially when you start. Here’s an example https://instagram.com/p/3lxfFotEZA/ My wonderful daughter Ellie aka Betty, experiencing her first VR moment.
In addition to the headset experience you can view 360 videos now on your smartphones and tablets – here you can turn and twist your device or swipe with your finger to take a complete 360 degree view of the film makers location.
Mike Tompkins uses this to great effect in this video http://youtu.be/Xe6YI-Ax3d0
We are living in an amazing era of technological advancement – the trick now is to find creative ways to use these innovations to connect with customers. Be prepared for a future of 360 and VR advertising and Christmas frenzy over gaming platforms with VR capability.
Some critics of Google Cardboard say it lacks quality an isn’t as good as it should be. My view is that it is quite an amazing experience and it can only improve. I’m more a fan than a critic and can already see how this development can be adapted for commercial advantage.
I hope you found this interesting and you take the leap into the VR World. If you do let me know what you think of the virtual becoming a reality.
Preparing for a presentation I found myself reflecting on the seismic global events of the recent weeks.
Once untouchable monoliths of the corporate World, the oil corporations were running scared, BP setting aside £1bn just to cover their restructuring costs. Others pulling back from investing in new fields as the costs would not be covered by the sub $50 a barrel price point.
Then there’s the supermarkets, another fall from a significant height for Tescos as the new CEO serves up the trimmings, 43 store closures, 2000 job losses and that’s just for starters. Morrisons are also re-thinking their store strategy and withdrawing from projects that now look to be wholly unprofitable.
It’s funny, an election in full swing and of course the incumbent leadership is talking up an economic recovery the opposition shouting this down as hugely overplaying the dire position we’re all in. The reality is, as always, somewhere between the two but one thing is for sure….unlike the Aldi bear, we’re not quite out of the woods.
Just hopping back into the international events of 2015. Just when you thought bankers were back in their box, up pops the Swiss with an unexpected decision to drop the Euro cap. No it doesn’t mean that their international footballers have failed to qualify for the European Championship finals. Just a small matter of the bankers deciding that the Euro currency was no longer a safe bet and they’d be better off taking their chances letting their friend Franc free to find his own rate. And find his rate he did…settling about 15% higher than the Euro which had immediate and for many devastating consequences. Don’t be rushing to buy your great Aunt that original Swiss made cuckoo clock, it will now cost you 15% more, as will army knives and of course heartbreakingly… Swiss chocolate.
The financial markets took the Swiss roll (sorry!) and then went into round two, following the Greek election results and the success of the anti-austerity party Syriza. A good deal of uncertainty surrounds the Euro and the future of the Eurozone especially as the answer to recent difficulties appeared to be Mario Draghi’s 60bn a month bond buying programme, a variety of quantitative easing.
Before you start throwing your Euro coins in my direction in despair there was of course good news from certain fruity businesses. Well…one in particular.
Apple’s record $18bn profit for a quarter was nothing short of staggering and a clear indication of the World’s obsession with smartphone technology. It also demonstrated the power of the brand and lack of concern over the pricing of the new IPhone 6. This result was swiftly followed by news of the corporations’ reserves – some $143bn, a figure so staggeringly huge it could fund the R&D and delivery of a manned trip to Mars or buy Lithuania 3 times over. Unbelievable!
All of this massive news and yet it’s happened within just a few weeks of 2015 emerging into the light. If anyone thought the pace of change was slowing or we were returning to a more stable economic climate these first few weeks of the year have proved if anything things are heating up.
But what’s that got to do with marketing?
Pretty much everything in my view.
When there is so much negativity, uncertainty, financial pressure and posting of big success we can become disorientated within our own business. What does the future hold? Should we invest or just stick as we are? Can we afford to hire new staff, move premises or give bonuses?
In addition to the worries there’s the added concern of planning to grow the business through proactive marketing. In my experience the greatest success of a business often coincides with a flush of confidence, borne from belief in the team, products and/or service offering. With so much going on we can hardly find time to catch breath let alone plan the next 12 months. But that is exactly what you should be doing.
Look at where you want to be, hold on to the vision and harness the resources of your business to a set of clear objectives that take you towards your long term goals. Don’t be swayed by politics, rhetoric, negativity of other business leaders and those who would rather head for the bunker.
Now is a time for cool heads and clear thinking and as a leader in your business you need to show how it’s done. If all else fails quote a little Kipling to ease the furrowed brows and inspire others to rise above the negativity.
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…” If by Rudyard Kipling
If you are looking for help in planning the growth of your business please drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.
David – follow me on twitter @davidlaud