New business year, New blog location, Old, old memories

 *** Bye bye http://eileenbrown.wordpress.com. hello http://amastra.com/blog/ ***

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At the start of my 6th year at Amastra, I thought that it was finally time to make the change from my trusty old WordPress.com blog, to my own hosted blog at Amastra. It feels strange making the move.

I started my blogging journey at Microsoft in 2004, and have had this blog as a back up knowledge base – just in case something changed there. I’ve been blogging for almost ten years.

July 2005 saw me talking about a variety of things. The release name for Longhorn, Windows Vista was been announced, i blogged about LCS (now called Lync by the way) and PIC connectivity and the availability of the .mobi domain. Was it really nine years ago?

July 2006, I talked about applying policies to Windows mobile devicesChecking for compliance and a step by step guide to Outlook Web Access.

In July 2007 I was excited about the VOIP feature in Office Communicator 2007 and VOIP and Skype (which now belongs to Microsoft!)  July 2008 had me talking about Office Communications Server (Now Lync) integrating with Lotus Notes. I also played with Round Table, the multi user video conferencing device

By July 2009 I was preparing to leave Microsoft. I presented my last ever session as an employee and ran my first 10k race.

July 2010 had me celebrating the start of my second year at Amastra. There were 500 million users of Facebook and the first edition of my book was ready at Amazon.

I’ve had a nostalgic look back at how technology has changed in the (almost ten) years I’ve been blogging. I’m pleased I can now look back and reflect on the fact that I’ve been blogging through an amazing time for technology.

User Generated Content has risen to the fore, and interactive media pervades our everyday mobile, location aware lives.

What a blast, what a journey so far. I do hope you will continue it with me here http://amastra.com/blog/

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Is email all you seem to do at work?

Email costs North American businesses nearly $2 trillion annually – a huge amount of money. Collaborations specialise Contatta has published an infographic showing just how much American businesses pay employees to process email.

The infographic shows some staggering inefficiencies in the way we work:

Workers spend on average 13 hours of their workweek reading and answering email – around 637 hours annually.

Based on the average professional wage in the US of $23 per hour, businesses pay over $15K per employee to process email

Collectively, employees spend nearly 75 billion hours in email. This costs businesses nearly $2 trillion in salaries. That is around 14 times the combined wealth of Bill Gates, Oprah and Warren Buffett.

That amount of money could give everyone in the US with $5,637. But we would have no email!

The staggering cost of business email infographic

Data and statistics were pulled from the US Bureau of Labour, McKinsey Global Institute and the Radicati Group to showcase the ineffectiveness of email and the way we process things.

So why do we still send emails instead of communicating using instant messaging tools such as Chatter, Lync, and Yammer? 

Like the memos of the past, we seem to think that email gives us the permanence of a written memo. We have an audit trail and an ‘official’ message that  can be printed out and faxed or posted to anyone.

Actually, instant messaging and other collaboration tools can do this as well. Firewall filters can be applied to block unsuitable messages, or messages filled with profanities or other undesirable keywords. All messages can be archived and audited and processed like their email alternatives.

We need to change our behaviour. but after over 20 years of electronic messaging – it is going to be a long hard slog to embrace true social business.

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Just how valuable are Twitter followers to your small business?

I saw an interesting infographic from Twitter the other day. It tracked the progress of a follow of a promoted tweet. There are some interesting statistics in this infographic which was produced by Twitter in conjunction with Marketprobe International.

73 percent of Twitter users follow a small to medium enterprise (SME) for updates on their products. If you are running a small business it is really important to keep in touch with your customers, and more importantly, your potential customers. keeping in touch with them will turn them into advocates. If they are not ready to buy from you just now, if they like you, they could still pass your message on to other potential customers.

85 percent of tweeters feel more engaged with an SME after following them. They are more likely to favourite your tweet, retweet it or have a direct conversation with you. The personal touch makes them feel much closer to you the brand. Your direct engagement with them will make them more likely to recommend you to others. 82 percent are more likely to recommend an SME they follow to friends.

72 percent of followers are likely to make a purchase after following a company.  Your followers become your advocates. They feel that they have a good relationship with you as an individual and also your brand. The personal touch from an SME makes them  feel more valued so their intent to buy from you is higher.

Here’s the full infographic from @twitterUKI_SME

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Eileen Brown is a social media advisor at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Facebook introduces explicit sharing for apps to reduce Feed spam

Facebook has started to restrict those annoying apps that auto-post to news feeds. Now you have to specifically share those posts that you want to share. This means that there will no longer be those annoying posts from apps such as Spotify or images from Instagram that flood your news feed. Apps now need specific, explicit  permissions in order to be shared.

The News Feed algorithm has changed to allow priority of posts that have been explicitly shared. Implicit sharing was a good idea but there were few apps that were written well enough to make engaging content in users news feeds.

The number of implicitly shared stories has declined as users have marked posts implicitly made by apps as spam. Less users marked posts as spam as implicit post visibility declined.  Apps in your news feed will only appear if they have been explicitly shared by your Facebook friends.

In a blog post Facebook explained its rationale for the change:

We’ve found that stories people choose to explicitly share from third party apps are typically more interesting and get more engagement in News Feed than stories shared from third party apps without explicit action. We’ve also heard that people often feel surprised or confused by stories that are shared without taking an explicit action. In the coming months, we will continue to prioritize explicitly shared stories from apps in News Feed over implicitly shared stories.

Developers now have the option to add dialog boxes to their apps such as the Message Dialog, or the Send to Mobile option.  The Message dialog embeds content from within a conversation thread on Facebook Messenger.

The Send to Mobile feature enables developers to encourage more app downloads.

The option adds the functionality for the mobile app to be installed when people log into the app website using Facebook credentials. 

If users request the app then the link to the app is sent to the mobile phone with a notification.

Clicking on the notification sends the user to the Apple App store or the Android Google Play store to download and install the app.

This is a good move by Facebook. Facebook is all too aware that users need to remain engaged with the Facebook page in order to see the advertising. If users are flooded with spammy apps implicitly sharing everything from the app, then users will turn away from engaging with Facebook. This could lead to a revenue drop – something which Facebook is determined to avoid.

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Turn off, Tune in, Look up from your device

This YouTube video about our online behaviour really makes me stop and think about my online behaviour. Its a simple, but compelling message.  Look up has been doing the rounds on the Internet and social media for a couple of weeks and has already been seen over 21 million times. It is intended to make us stop and think about what we do online and how we are ignoring the world – and the people around us.

In the late 1990’s the “Advice to live by” video did the rounds on email. Its phrase “Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly” and other advice about sunscreen resonates even today. Some pieces of advice endure through time.

And this video will also resonate in years to come as we learn to change our online behaviour and stop relying on our hyper-connected social worlds. Just like reading beauty magazines will make us feel ugly, reading social networking updates will make us feel lonely.

In fact, I mused last summer about why our social networks make us feel lonely and how by being absorbed in this perfect online hyped world we can feel lonely and excluded from activities our friends are sharing without us.

If you go to a public place and look around you you will see the same behaviour wherever you look. Smartphones and tablets are everywhere. People are transfixed by the small screen and its messages. These people are ignoring the big screen all around them. Other people, families, nature and — REAL LIFE –  is happening all around us.

But we would prefer to stare at our smartphone…

We laugh when we see people videoing a sign describing what you are looking at in an area of great natural beauty. “It’s so we can remember it when we get back home” they say. But instead of just videoing the sign and its surroundings, why don’t they put the video camera down, look around them and spend time taking in the majesty of the view around you.

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Timothy Leary said, “Turn on, tune in, drop out” Although meant in a different context, Turning on and tuning in to your device makes you “drop out” of  all that is happening around you.   Don’t miss the best things in life, the sunrises, sunsets, bees buzzing, flowers blooming.

Take some time to smell the flowers. But importantly, take that device in your hand, put it in your pocket and Look Up.

You’ll be glad you did…

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

From Selfies to SMS–what UK iPhone users do with their phones

In the UK we tend to use our phones mainly for phone calls and SMS. It looks like we spend all of our time searching at social media activities on our phones.

I found an infographic from UK brand 3 showing what iPhone users across the UK  do with their devices. Interestingly  enough SMS texting just leads the way ahead of phone calls.

When we take photos, we take pictures of our friends and family. and men take selfies more often than women. Users in East Anglia take the most photos and iPhone users in Yorkshire love their weather app.

3 a look at where the UK’s iPhone community are using their devices most. This research revealed that 69 percent of Londoners use their iPhones while on the toilet and, unsurprisingly, this is the region most using their phones while commuting, at 82.3 percent.

The four other regions most using their devices on their journeys to and from work are the North East, at 73.6 percent of residents, Northern Ireland at 71.8 percent, the North West at 60.5 percent, and Scotland at 60.4 percent.

The infographic can be found on Three’s web siteiPhone Users

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.