Category Archives: Business Strategy

Pursuing Informatics

There’s no doubt that finding meaning in the data your company has amassed is necessary to staying competitive. But, as you scan your available talent pool, you might be wondering, “Who?” Who will be able to make sense of it all?

Differences between Informatics and Computer Science

According to Charles P. Friedman in “What informatics is or isn’t”, “Sciences basic to informatics include, but are not limited to: information science, computer science, cognitive science, and organizational science (224).” He goes on to say that informatics is NOT “scientists or clinicians tinkering with computers (225).”

In “What is biomedical informatics,” Bernstam, Smith, and Johnson suggest “information technology-oriented definitions focus on technology and tools…These definitions usually emphasize computer-based technologies.” They reason that “clearly, computers are very important tools for biomedical informaticians. Many activities associated with biomedical informatics such as data mining or electronic medical records would not be meaningful without computers. However, by focusing on computers, technology-based definitions emphasize tools rather than the work itself. (105)”

If you want to find the “why” of a problem or even potential solutions, delve into informatics. Berstam, Smith, and Johnson define it as, “the science of information, where information is defined as data with meaning (106).”

Social Drivers for the use of Information Technology

At digital marketing conferences, you’ll hear speakers discuss the latest innovations in data gathering as key to having better “personalized” results. While the driving facade is always “we want to better meet customer needs,” there’s no doubt that banks, hospitals, search companies, and businesses in general are driven by economic gain.

An altruistic view of informatics could be applied to education. Educators use online testing and measurement companies to gather and plot data, so that our teachers can analyze and strategize to improve professional development reports, curriculum, and lesson plans. But, while the driver in any given district is to bring special needs students to the next benchmark or give AP students specific problem areas and resources needed to obtain higher test scores, third party testing companies could be using student information to develop a broader portfolio of data collection and problem-solving services for economic reasons. Data could be shared, in some cases, with partner vendors to develop services identified to address district needs. Additionally, the government could access data. In 2014, My Web Writers published “Do You Trust the Internet?” about how to protect children from data gathering.

Information is power.

According to an April 15, 2014 article entitled, Study Finds Big Data is the Driving Force Behind Growth in Public Cloud Services, “public cloud providers are using big data to drive their own operations, get new customers and expand product portfolios. According to the analysis, the turnover of the 50 leading public cloud providers increased by 47 percent to $6.2 billion in the fourth quarter compared with the same period last year.” The increase in the Cloud size indicates an increase in the public’s thirst for knowledge.

On the bright side, advancements in cures for diseases, delivery of food, water, and medicines to third world countries, or forging new technologies into space are closer than before because of advancements in this field.

Is Informatics a Science? 

Because the government and corporate world are thirsty for talent who can interpret data and knowledge into information, one suspects the question of whether or not informatics is a science can be waved in favor of it being a science. Companies enroll employees in college programs to develop talent because the potential pay-off for corporate profit is so great. College administrators know a money-making degree when they see one. Informatics may or may not be a science, but a degree in it will give one a competitive edge today.

According to a mini lecture by Josette Jones, Mayo says, “A science has:

  1. a theoretical foundation, a set of generally accepted principles and well-supported general hypotheses, termed a paradigm by Kuhn (1970).
  2. a set of well-validated methods and techniques that do not depend on the underlying paradigm, although interpretation of the results of these methods may depend on the current paradigm.
  3. the ability to directly test hypotheses through empiricism.
  4. the ability to attribute failures in testing to specific features of a hypothesis.
  5. the ability to question the underlying paradigm of the discipline (Week 1 p. 3).”

Bertam et al. suggest that “Defining the central study of informatics as data + meaning allows us to distinguish informatics as a science from computer science, mathematics, statistics, the biomedical sciences and other related fields. It also clarifies each of these fields in informatics” (107).

Validating methods, testing, and attribution can be answered by the Tower of Achievement model as presented by Friedman. The steps of model formation, system development, system deployment, and study of effects nicely address the above list of requirements to be a science.

Friedman's Tower of Achievement

 

Commonalities between all sub-disciplines of Informatics

Finding the meat of the matter unifies the various sub-disciplines of informatics. E.V. Bernstam et al. say that “Despite the lack of agreement, most definitions, regardless of their category, focus on data, information and knowledge as central objects of study in informatics (105).”

Lingering Questions about Informatics

How will the bar rise as artificial technology continues to better decipher meaning? To what extent would the field change if computers advance enough to determine significant meaning or question the underlying paradigms or disciplines? Deciding who determines meaning and how he or she determines it before programming AI or artificial intelligence requires attention. Courses in informatics ethics should be required.

The science of informatics is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on (and contributing to) a large number of other component fields, including computer science, decision science, information science, management science, cognitive science, and organizational theory. ~ AMIA.

Consider cross-training your staff in informatics to continue developing your company’s competitive edge.

~Jean

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Filed under Analytics, Business Strategy, Informatics

Word Choices Matter in Campaigns

The candidate firmly grabbed the edges of the podium to present himself as a man who knows who he is and where he’s going. He stood tall, squinted at the camera, and clenched his jaw. Someone whispered, “I think he’s going to be president.”

Why?

“Because he looks like a president. He’s organized and seems to know what to do.”

It’s understandable. Like Homer Simpson, the candidate is funny. He makes headlines with raw rants and doesn’t apologize, which is something most of us can’t do without being fired.

Consider the case of Karen Fitzgibbons, an elementary school teacher who ranted on her Facebook page about the conflict between police and teenagers at a pool party. She offered an apology after her rant, but it was too late. She lost her job. It’s true. Many don’t want to be held to politically correct speak, but what is the impact of careless, personally insulting words?

Nick Kyrgios, a tennis player, made an off the cuff comment about another player’s girlfriend during a tennis match and was fined $10,000 in addition to being booed at subsequent matches.

In the case of the presidential candidate, the more journalists utter his name, the bigger his brand becomes. Case in point, we don’t have to mention his name, but you know who we’re referring to, right? If he wins the presidency, his companies win. If he loses the presidency, his companies win. It’s a smart strategy. Run for president to broaden your power and audience– earn high ratings by being outlandish. If the goal is “to eventually become bigger than Amway, now an $8.4 billion company and the giant in the field” and his product appeals to “those who own companies, which tend to do well in bad economic times, when people are broke, desperate, and angry at the system,” (NY Mag) jumping into politics pumps life into corporate holdings.

Can we excuse so many cringe-worthy slip-ups because of who the candidate is? He often limits the scope of his insults to one person or a smaller segment of certain groups. Then, he embraces and praises the remaining segment by promising to win their support. He dismisses legitimate concerns with creative spins. He ignores calls for apologies and avoids ownership for his offenses.

Advertising Age suggests that the candidate’s,

“eschewal of politically correct cant and plainspoken ways account for much of his mass appeal among a frustrated electorate, those same qualities may ultimately derail his bid for the nomination. And while it’s impossible to predict how long he can keep this up, it probably should go without saying that antagonizing the nation’s No. 1 cable news outlet isn’t a recipe for longevity.”

What else? It becomes difficult for parents to instruct their kids to stand up to bullies, when they’re justifying the actions of an adult version.

If bully speak wins, everyone loses. The door to strife or war swings wide open.

After Words Fail 
No one is perfect. How do you fix poor word choices after they occur? The public might embrace you– even with all your flaws, after an authentic apology. If you’ve made a career of embracing people, the public is probably more likely to forgive misspeak. Kelly Osbourne, who made a comment about Hispanics cleaning toilets, addressed her word choice faux pas with an immediate apology on Facebook. Then, the story disappeared.

Flood social media with new stories. Business 2 Community suggests putting “your writers in motion.”

While your legal team looks things over, gather together your writers for some old-fashioned SEO work. Use the keywords, phrases, product names and employee names in blog posts, social media posts and press releases. Make sure that you have the opportunity to really dominate Google’s results for those terms.

Everyone makes mistakes. Acknowledge yours and work on minimizing them as you move forward. And don’t think that just because you’re a candidate, you’re above it all. Your words and actions matter, too.

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Filed under Audience, Branding, Business Strategy, Persuasive Essay, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, Speeches

Free Learning Modules to Work On Over Lunch

Embracing lifelong learning ought to be the standard and not the exception. Consider updating your skills by spending an hour before or after work or during lunch in one of hundreds of available free learning modules.

Image courtesy of M. Martin Vicente- http://www.flickr.com/photos/martius/

Image courtesy of M. Martin Vicente- http://www.flickr.com/photos/martius/

Tag Manager Certification

If you own a website, you’ve undoubtedly placed Google Analytics and other tags in your headers to measure various results.  Google Tag Manager eliminates extra lines of code, which increases your website’s speed. Add one container code to your site from Google Tag Manager and then fire everything else you need from Google through Tag Manager. You can create triggers for Google Analytics or Adwords. According to Krista Seiden of Google, over 80,000 people worked on improving their knowledge of Google Tag manager this summer. If you miss the course, there are still free modules on the site to learn at your leisure.

Adwords Certification

Get certified for Google Adwords. Did you know that CPM is phasing out and vCPM will soon be the standard for impressions? Even if you’ve been working in the space for years, there’s always something new to glean. Start learning the essentials of Adwords marketing and display advertising or refine your skills with more advanced courses. Google’s training modules are easy to manage in corners of available time and the certification exams are free to Google Partners. Microsoft offers its own training for Bing Ads, too.

SEO Training

Google provides this free guide on the basics of SEO. If you’re more of a video person, check out all of the webmaster videos Google offers on YouTube. Don’t expect to be a master of SEO after watching a few videos, but do expect to be better prepared to ask decent questions of the digital markers in your life.

Social Media Marketing Insights

Find out more about social media marketing from Twitter, Facebook, and G+ or check out this decent blog post with other do it yourself training ideas.

Writing, Business, and Other Free Classes

Even the rules of grammar, punctuation, and formatting change over the years. If you’re used to typing two spaces after every sentence, for example, it’s time to retrain yourself to type just one. How do we know? We read and always strive to keep a pulse on the latest. Peruse this list of 10 free writing courses or jump into the latest Ted talk. Colleges know that the smarter you become, the more you’ll value continued learning. Universities like MIT now offer hundreds of free online course materials. Improve your semantics, management, analytical, and programming skills or something else.

Find an hour in your day and start the journey. You’re never too young, too old, too ignorant, or too smart to learn.

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Filed under Apps & Tools, Content, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, Writing Careers

Self-Publishing Continues to Challenge Traditional Publishers

Digital Self-Publishing Trends Upward

While retailers were talking– once again, about the importance of mobile, video, personalization, and other digital trends at IRCE 2015, My Web Writers attended Write-to-Publish to learn more about the 2015 publishing market for writers.

The notable trend in publishing is the migration of authors from hoping to be signed bywtp panel traditional publishers to taking the reins with self-publishing or a middle ground solution. The number of e-book and self-publishing companies in attendance at Write-to-Publish this year was easily double what it was a few years ago.

With the average book only selling 500 copies, most traditional publishers at this conference mentioned they’d like to see newer writers cut their teeth (or break their pencils) on self-publishing. But, passing over potential is a profit gamble for publishing companies.

What Experienced Authors Have to Say about Self-Publishing
James Altucher says that for writers,

“the key is the Era of Validation is over. Nobody needs to pick you. You pick yourself.” Altucher suggests that “your book is the new business card.” He also divulges that “When I self-publish, I make about a 70 percent royalty instead of a 15 percent royalty with a traditional publisher. I also own 100 percent of the foreign rights instead of 50 percent. I hired someone to sell the foreign rights and they get 20 percent (and no upfront fee).”

Harry Bingham, an author for more than 15 years, now embraces this latest era in the publishing industry.

“And then too, if I was going to be published e-only by Random House, I would receive just 25% of net ebook receipts. That’s about 17% of the ebook’s cover price as opposed to more like 70% by simply publishing direct with Amazon. I couldn’t understand why I’d want to do that. I mean, yes, I’d have listened if they’d come to me saying, ‘Harry, I know giving up 75% of those net receipts sounds like a lot, but we’re going to add a whole ton of value to the publication process. We’re going to do a whole heap of things that you can’t do on your own. And here’s a stack of in-house data which shows that we can boost your sales way past the point you could achieve.’…

They didn’t actually make any argument at all. When I said no to 25% royalties, that was it. No further conversation… And this, I think, will be the theme of this fourth era that’s now just possibly emerging. It’s a world where authors with plenty of Big 5 sales experience choose to say, ‘You know what, I’m not playing this game any more.’ Where authors make a positive choice to walk away from the terms offered by good, regular publishers.”

For new authors, this fourth era is great news. You can self-publish or take the improved odds of succeeding with traditional publishers now that veteran authors like Altucher and Bingham are walking away to self-publish. Learn from the process and consider your options with each new book.

Market Your Business with a Book

For businesses, self-publishing provides both a marketing channel and an unexpected income stream. Most digital marketing firms took advantage of publishing downloadable e-books years ago, but there are still some brick and mortar companies leaving stories unwritten. Today, it’s easier than ever to hire ghostwriters to create content about your company’s CEO, creative product uses, successes, or early days in the industry, and then turn those stories into e-books or self-published coffee table books for your lobby or employees’ bookstore. Paul Jarvis suggests

“self-publishing through Amazon makes sense for authors who are willing to give up the customer details and accept lower royalties for a potentially higher sales volume. I’ve seen a massive spike in sales by selling this way.”

In his Indie Author Manifesto, Mark Coker reminds authors that, “A few years ago, it was practically unheard of for an indie author to hit the New York Times bestseller list. Now it happens nearly every week.”

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Filed under Authoring Books, Business Strategy, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing

You Can’t Judge a Buyer By His or Her Cover

Yesterday, I received this letter from Phil Eisaman, Digital Marketing Manager for the Great American Spice Company.  I could completely relate to his experience because I too sold cars for a brief summer right out of college. I asked Phil if I could share his story with you and he agreed.  Thanks for taking a moment to write it, Mr. Eisaman.  It’s no wonder American Spice continues to increase revenues year-over-year!  We can’t judge a buyer by his or her cover– all should be treated with respect. ~Jean

 

car-160343_1280

Hi,
I read your story about the leather jacket and loved it. The salesman was a good salesman because he had to be to survive. Treating everyone who walks in the store as a potential customer is huge. Having said that I have a story to share.

I was working at Fort Wayne Acura selling used cars back in 1997. Being new at it my boss always taught me to never make assumptions about customers– just treat them well. Using this method I quickly out paced all the other salesmen, selling more cars than some of the most seasoned salesmen.

One afternoon my boss gets a call from another lot manager saying there is a walker headed your way (a walker is someone that walks from dealership to dealership). This young man started at the auto mall and made his way all the way down to my lot. My coworkers said, “Go get him I am sure he is a big spender” with sarcasm in their tone.

I greeted the man on the lot with a smile and a handshake. He says “I have been to 10 lots and you are the first to talk to me.”

“How can I help you today, Tony?”

“I am looking for a car,” he said.

“Well how much are you looking to spend?”

“About  $2800.00,” he replied.

Pointing to an early 90’s beat up Grand Am I said, “That one may work.”

“I will take it,” he said as he handed me $3000.00 in cash. I went to my Manager and said,

“This guy out here wants to buy that Grand Am.”

My manager says, “Phil we can not get that financed. It is too old.” Handing him the cash his eyes lit up and he said, “Phil we have $100.00 into that car. You are making a fat commission!”

The next day at the sales meeting I received great praise from management as the others were scolded.  In car sales you are only paid commission and if you don’t sell anything you take a loan against your future commissions. I didn’t want to owe money for not selling. I made 3-5 thousand a month selling used cars because I treated everyone like a potential customer and treated them with respect. I only sold cars for a few months because it is still a shady business in my book.

And remember “With desperation comes innovation.”  -Phil Eisaman

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Filed under Audience, Business Strategy, Capturing Audience, Customer Profile, Local, Reputation Management, Sales, Time Management

Tips to Makeover Your Profile Picture

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are you saying with your profile pictures?

Photo courtesy of Hair Dresser’s Guide to Photo Shoots

With each photo you post, you choose to represent yourself and your company. A vital part of crafting an online presence, the profile picture can get lost in the shuffle of quality information and targeted content.

Consider your profile picture as the human connection piece to your organization. Whether you are choosing your personal profile picture on a social networking site or a picture that will rest on a “Meet the Staff” page, this is where your users will make their first judgments about you and the quality of your organization.

Even away from the company’s website, you are still a face that represents your business. Use these tips to make sure you draw people in with your confident, professional appearance.

Focus on You:

Since your face is the focus of a profile picture, make sure you are the focus of yours. There should be no one else in your photo, nor animals or distracting objects. Create an uncomplicated background. This does not mean that you have to stand in front of a blank wall, but make sure there isn’t anything to distract people behind you. Have your photographer frame the photo with you in the center. Insure that your head doesn’t look lopped off by leaving the top half or fourth of your torso in the shot.

Snap a great pic:

This may seem obvious, but make sure your profile photo is actually a quality image. That means it needs to be well-lit with your face in-focus and sharp. It also means that it needs to be a high-resolution image. Posting a second-rate photo is an easy tip off to a potential client that you are unprofessional and not detail oriented.

Be consistent:

Make sure that you have the same profile picture representing you on all of your social networking sites. If a client is trying to determine whether or not to follow you on Twitter and your profile picture appears different, they may not be able to tell if it’s actually you. Think about your personal profile as your brand. A consistent profile picture will become your logo. This does not mean, however, to keep the photo of you from twenty years ago. Use a recent photo. Update if you get a drastic new hairstyle or every three to five years so your photo represent the real you.

Be professional:

Dress in your picture the way you would go to a meeting with a client. Dress in your finely-tailored business professional look or embrace the business casual look. Make sure that you appear clean and are wearing professional makeup or jewelry. Try also to select your outfit’s colors based off what will complement your website’s coloring. Neither you nor your company will be represented well if your yellow outfit clashes with the brown of the website. Always, make sure your clothes are clean and not ill-fitting nor wrinkled.

Get the perfect angle:

Once you are dressed and ready for the perfect shot, look into the camera and try to be pleasant. Make sure to smile but do not attack the camera with your confidence. Sit up straight and upright, making sure you don’t tilt your head to the side.

If you find yourself questioning your choice of a profile picture, do not be afraid to ask for the opinions of others. Remember to be professional!

~Katelyn

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Filed under Branding, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Reputation Management

CBS Films’ #theDuff Targets Teens in Marketing Campaign

Invite Student Reporters to a Free Pre-Screening

It’s a clever way of marketing, but especially, it’s an effective way to reach teens.  CBS Films began promoting their latest movie, The Duff, by contacting teachers in charge of their schools’ publications. Feeling like royalty, the teachers’ students received free tickets to private pre-screenings of the film. The final cut releases to theaters February 20, 2015.  Think of it, SEOs.  Those students will write free articles about the movie for CBS and much of that content will end up on educational sites- just the kind you want for digital back-linking power.  Wow.

Create Your Digital Keyword and its Definition to Dominate Searches

What is The Duff, you may ask? As the mother of a teen that received a free ticket to one of those private, pre-release screenings, I joined her for “girls’ night” on a school night and found out that it stands for “Designated Ugly Fat Friend.” Lovely. But, smart. The movie can now add its name to duff’s Wikipedia entry to dominate Google searches for the term’s origins and meanings.

The start of the movie did not make me happy.  “Great, that’s all these kids need,” I thought, “another label that makes everyone in the room self-conscious about their social standing and value.”  The movie did come around to join hands and say, “We’re all duffs to someone, so be yourself and embrace it,” but eh, what I’m most interested in is how the movie is being marketed.  I reached out to CBS Films for comment, but they did not respond.

Include Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook Handles to Promote Interaction

We are truly in the age of social media.  The hashtag, #theDuff, is on the big screen and on the movie’s website, while the ending credits give the Instagram or Twitter handles for each of the actors.  The call to action is clear. Teens, whip out your phones, start following, and tell your friends. The Duff is on a mission to build an audience and earn revenues.

Provide Attractive Content

As a side note, the actors get “As” for chemistry. Light-hearted joking between the characters make this film a movie night pick. Girls, I just want to point out that Robbie Amell, who plays Wes and looks like a young Tom Cruise (one way to pull in your Moms), was born in 1988, which would make him a very old, high school senior at age 27! The same is true for Mae Whitman, who portrays the funny and down-to-earth, Bianca.  However, Bella Thorne- mean girl, Madison, was born in October 1997, and is a real high school junior this year.

Ask Your Audience to Promote After They Consume

The story line includes moments when the main character endures cyber-bullying after a video that was created about her goes viral.  The marketing off-screen is all about harnessing the power of viral because after the teen reporters watched the movie, they were invited to submit questions the next day to interview the actors in real time.

My daughter thought the interview was going to involve just the students in her publications class and the actors themselves, which was not exactly accurate. Her class stayed after school to wait for the late start of a webinar experience that included about 300 schools throughout North America.  All of these students submitted their questions, but only a few of those questions were selected.  Students took notes and then wrote articles for their schools’ newspapers, magazines, and classes.  These stories should be hitting the presses between now and the movie’s release in February 2015.

Smart idea, isn’t it? Why pay for your content when you can give out some free tickets to kids who have the power to reach other kids with their words? The Duff will reach its teen and tween niche in no time.

Jack pot, CBS Films, you even captured a mother who writes content for a living.  You get a little publicity as a thank you for the great experience she had covering your story and I get mother-daughter time to point out how companies influence the choices we make about the goods and services we consume.

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Filed under Audience, Branding, Business Strategy, Capturing Audience, Content, Content Marketing, Marketing, Persuasive Essay, School Websites, Writing for Children