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Time wasting at work

How much time is wasted at work being non-productive – and what can be done to improve the situation?

In Sweden, several employees of the Social Insurance Agency have been discovered browsing on the job.  The Agency found that employees had been visiting non-work related websites while being ‘inactive on the work system’.  One employee spent 50 hours of work time visiting 350 websites while another spent 47 hours on non-work related browsing – mostly on Facebook.  One of the employees was fined half a month’s pay.

Meanwhile, self-employed entrepreneur Maneesh Sethi, has been measuring his own non-productive time at work.  Using an app called RescueTime, he discovered he was spending up to 30 hours a week on non-work related sites such as Facebook and Reddit.  Looking for help to keep him focused, he advertised on Craigslist for a ‘faceslapper’ to hit him every time he attempted to visit his social media sites.  He reported a massive improvement in his productivity.

Since that experiment, he has gone on to develop a wearable device that will monitor the wearer’s ‘bad habits’ and give them an electric shock if they slip into their old ways!

Research published by CareerBuilder looked at the obstacles to maximising productivity in the workplace. Mobile phones, gossip, social media, noisy colleagues, meetings, speaker phones and email are all cited.  73% of the participating organisations had attempted to implement measures to mitigate time-wasting at work, including blocking some websites, monitoring internet usage and limiting meetings.

But what if you want to be distracted at work?  Helpfully, econsultancy has provided a list of 11 websites and Twitter accounts that can help you fill your days unproductively, including the useless and ironic time-saving tips of @TwopTips – example:

Make yourself feel more important by referring to your tweets as “content”.

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Cash free and free cash

While a millionaire is giving away cash on Twitter, new tech is enabling more people to go ‘cash free’.

The Twitter ‘free cash’ phenomenon has spread to Europe.  In the US @HiddenCash has been posting clues online to the whereabouts of cash prizes.  The idea was copied in the UK and, it has been announced, will expand into France and Spain.

The idea is simple – the donor publishes clues to the location of hidden cash.  Those who find it are asked to tweet photos of themselves with their ‘treasure’.  The idea is more than 21st century philanthropy – it is also being billed as “a social media experiment for good”.

While some people are tracking down free cash via social media, others are looking forward to a cash free summer.

Cash free

  • London buses have announced they are becoming ‘cash-free’.
  • Following in the footsteps of Burning Man in the US and the UK’s 2012 Wireless Festival, many Swedish music festivals are planning to become cash-free occasions in 2014.  Festival-goers will be able to pay by swiping their armbands which they will have ‘topped up’ with cash before they arrive.

Wearable tech

The smart festival armband is just one example of a connected wearable.  This year’s Brand Z survey (featured elsewhere on this blog) highlights the rapid growth of both the apparel and the technology sectors.  These two sectors overlap in wearable technologies.  A recent example is the proposed launch of Ringly, a gold ring which vibrates and lights up to let the wearer know they are receiving calls or texts. Apparently missed calls of the bane of women who can’t locate their own phones in their own handbags (!)

Ephemeral messaging

“This message will self-destruct in 24 hours”

The growth of ephemeral messaging services and private social networks – individuals want more privacy; companies want to be more like Snapchat!

Path is a private social network that supports photo-sharing and private messaging between close friends.  Each user may include up to 150 friends in their network.  Path has now announced that all new messages will be automatically removed from their servers after 24 hours (downloaded messages will remain on users’ devices).  The service has described these messages as “24-hour ephemeral”.

Ephemeral messaging is of course key feature of Snapchat.  Dating website Tinder is also following suit, announcing that it will be rolling out a feature that allow users to share photos that will disappear in 24 hours.  Apple is also appropriating this feature in iOS 8 due to be launched later in 2014.  Facebook has accidentally revealed it is developing its own Snapchat tribute.

‘Antisocial networking’

Apps such as Cloak and Split allow users to avoid people they may know but don’t want to run into.  The mine geolocation information from other social media tools to let you know if you are about to bump into someone you would rather avoid.

Anomo is an anonymous social app that counters the ‘oversharing’ that many people feel is happing in many social forums.

What about ephemeral messaging in the workplace?

Apparently, Snapchat is already being put to use by insider traders on Wall Street – boo!  Seth Fiegerman explores the growth of startups aiming to introduce ephemeral messaging into the workplace.  These include an app (Confide) to support ‘off the record’ conversations which are encrypted and then destroyed.  Users are barred from taking screenshots.  The tricky path for some of these startups aimed specifically at business is to ensure their business model does not rely on supporting illegal behaviour.

Sources: Mashable; The New Yorker; The Guardian; Gadgetsndtv;

Learning from the world’s top brands

Google takes top spot away from Apple

This year’s BrandZ report has been released.  The researchers analyse corporate earnings and combine this data with large-scale consumer research in 30 countries.  The findings demonstrate what is important to consumers around the world and what trends are driving – and disrupting – brand growth.   There is much to be learned from how top brands build and maintain relationships with their customers.

  • Google, Apple and IBM take the top three slots in this year’s global top 100.
  • This year’s top European brands include SAP, Deutsche Telekom, Louis Vuitton, and BMW.
  • Brands based in Europe have increased by 19% in value in the last year, up from only a 5% rise last year.

Consumer trends

  • Authenticity – “sometimes the most compelling aspect of a brand is the product itself”
  • Convenience – consumers want to seamlessly combine online with physical – e.g. the growth in click and collect
  • Customisation  and personalisation – self-expression and a focus on ‘the unique’
  • Localisation – ‘local’ implies quality, reliability and attention to detail
  • Seamlessness – brands need to make the transition between physical and virtual invisible
  • Technology – new technologies are both enhancing and disrupting brands. Wearables are converging technology with clothing
  • Trust – consumers expect brands to keep their promises whether implied or explicit.  Banks are continuing to experience the long-term effects of lost trust even as they try to change because of continued revelations of past mis-deeds

How to grow your brand value

The researchers draw lessons from the best performing brands:

  • Forget ‘the customer comes first’ but focus on ‘each customer comes first’.   Forget old archetypes and use data to help you be truly consumer-centric
  • Stand for more than profit – but make sure your brand purpose is relevant to what you do
  • Be ‘meaningfully different’ so that customers can understand your brand and what differentiates you
  •  Be ‘mindfully present’ – use discretion on social media!
  • Stay relevant – respect your heritage but stay up-to-date
  • Be agile – planning is important but so is flexibility

The full report is packed with essays, infographics and data and may be downloaded here.

Bring your own identity

Organisations are seeking a balance between security, privacy and compliance on the one hand and convenience on the other.

Effective Identity and Access Management (IAM) is becoming increasingly important for organisations.  Not only are they seeking to manage the access rights of increasingly mobile employees but they are opening up applications to external users, including partners and consumers.  All this is being done in the context of the growth of social media and cloud services.

In a report for CA, Quocirca explores the current state of Identity and Access Management and why it is business priority for so many.

The age of bring-your-own-identity (BYOID)

For consumers social media is already emerging as a key source of identity – e.g. logging in with Facebook to access Spotify accounts. The report suggests that this will grow in more ‘conservative’ business areas including government and online banking.  Along with these changes, the emergence of the concept of Bring your own identity (BYOID) means that employees will be taking their identities with them from one job to another.

Meanwhile, for organisations opening up access to external users, the key driver is to enable direct transactions with customers and partners, with a view to increasing customer satisfaction and enabling innovation.

Geographic trends

  • Organisations in the Nordic and Benelux regions more likely to be opening up their applications  to consumers
  • Nordics lead the way with use of social media for identifying and communicating with potential customers
  • Benelux, Israeli, Nordic and UK based organisations  were the most likely to recognise the power of IAM to open up new revenue streams
  • French and Italians were focused on new business processes

The full report can be downloaded from CA Technologies.

Sharing, collaboration and getting it wrong

There’s nothing like a headline telling you you’ve got it wrong to make you read on. 

An article on Time.com written by a data analytics expert tells us ‘What [we] think [we] know about the Web is wrong’ – or at least when it comes to measuring ‘clicks’.  Actually most of us already know there is a massive difference between what people share and what they have actually read, or what people click and what they read.  For information professionals, who act as curators for many audiences, clicking and sharing appropriately (or “delving deep into multiple pots of data and information*” is a critical skill.

The article shares some interesting statistics:

  • 55% of those who click on a link spend 15 seconds or less reviewing the screen (lesson – grab your visitors quickly)
  • Content sharers are a small percentage of content visitors – one tweet per 100 visitors/readers

…and is worth reading for longer than 15 seconds.

On SocialMediaToday, another headline suggests we’ve got social media ‘all wrong’.  It’s a brief overview of how social media supports search engine optimisation and reminds us that customers don’t owe brands anything “They don’t have to share your content, they don’t have to interact with posts and they certainly don’t have to suggest your page to other people.”

Collaboration goes mainstream in the sharing economy

Regular readers of this blog may remember a New York Times Insight report about the ‘psychology of sharing’.  A new report has looked at ‘sharers’ in Canada, the UK and US and has organised those participating in the sharing economy into three types:

  • Neo-Sharers are those who have used sharing services such as Etsy**, Kickstarter or Airbnb at least once in the past year
  • Re-Sharers – are those who are already using well-established services (eBay etc) but are not yet ‘Neos’
  • Non-Sharers are those with intentions to use sharing services in the next year

Neo- and re-sharers constitute about 40% of the US and Canadian populations and about 50% of the UK population.

Sharers are more likely to be affluent, young and are much more likely to discover services via word of mouth, social networks or blogs than from ‘traditional’ marketing.

*Andy Tattersall writing about overload filters.

** We featured ‘the Etsy economy’ here.

 

 

Book publishing – some recent innovations

Book publishers experimenting with new models; books fighting binge drinking in Italy

Netflix models

An article on Wired.com looks at a new online fiction service called Rooster in which a book publisher adopts a magazine model to make itself more like Netflix!  The service uses a subscription based model that sends content to iPhones and iPads.  The daily chunks of content should take about 15 minutes to read and will deliver two books’ worth of content over a month.  Similarly, Waterstones in the UK has announced Read Petite – a ‘rich reading experience for time-poor readers’.

Another innovation learning from the Netflix model is Epic!  This app aims to encourage children to read by offering rewards for completing chapters or starting ‘reading marathons’.  For a monthly subscription, children have access to a library of over 2000 titles and can rate the books they have read.  The app also allows parents to monitor their children’s reading habits.

Book buying and book borrowing and struggling readers

The latest Pew report shows the link between highly engaged library users and book buying.  The report shows that ‘Library Lovers’ – the heaviest users of libraries and about 10% of the US population – are also frequent buyers of books, despite many of them experiencing a drop in income.

The UK Charity Quick Reads found that reading e-books can be particularly helpful for adults who may be struggling with their reading while 48% say e-readers  have encouraged them to read more.

Binge drinking – books to the rescue!

Sadly Neknominate, the social media drinking game, has spread around the world. In Italy a literary alternative to the game has been developed.  ‘Booknomination’ follows similar rules but instead of drinking, the nominated person must read a passage from a book over a webcam.  The initiative is on Facebook on the hashtag #booknomination.

Sources: Springwise; DigitalBookWorld; TheLocal; Pew Research Center; Publishing Perspectives; Wired.

Youth TV – ‘the need for speed’

The BBC’s youth TV channel to close; but a different story emerges in Belgium

In the UK the BBC has announced that it is to close its ‘youth-oriented’ TV channel and move the content onto its online platform the iPlayer.

Previous proposals to close down radio channels have been revised following public outcry.  In 2010 the BBC announced it wanted to close down two radio stations – 6 Music and the Asian Network.  Neither station was closed.

However, it seems unlikely that BBC Three will be saved.  The Corporation needs to make savings and this move alone could save it £50million a year. Some commentators have suggested the move is short-sighted.  The BBC is funded by licence payers and young people are the licence payers of the future.

In Belgium, VRT, the public service broadcaster has been developing digital projects to engage with its younger audience.  Rachel Bartlett, writing on Journalism.co.uk, describes how the broadcaster developed an internal ‘start-up’ to experiment with new platforms to re-engage with younger viewers.  The broadcaster has been consulting the target audience and is now developing three projects that reflect the way young people use and engage with social media:

  • a mobile video project on Instagram and Snapchat – Ninjanieuws
  • Sambal a Facebook-supported news platform
  • OpenVRT which encourages young people to collaborate with the channel via video, photography and blogging.

Key lessons – ‘the need for speed’

  • Keep videos very short
  • Embed animated gifs into articles – link out to YouTube
  • 15-second long videos helped launch Ninjaniews
  • Tell a news story on a 10-second Snapchat video
  • For the target audience (16-24) – focus on Facebook not Twitter
  • There’s no need for a homepage – Facebook drives traffic
  • Facebook also provides a home for ‘pop-up digital news products’ that respond quickly to certain trends

You can read Rachel’s full article on Journalism.co.uk.

The news behind a paywall – a success story from the Netherlands

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are often cited as paywall success stories.  But how are smaller news outlets making paywalls succeed?

In the Netherlands, a news site called De Correspondent set a world record in crowdfunded journalism.

In September 2013 it took just eight days for 15,000 donors to raise over one million Euros.  The site has over 25,000 ‘members’, each of whom pays 5 Euros a month to access the site.

De Correspondent has succeeded because it has brought a fresh approach to digital only journalism.  Elements of its ‘manifesto’ challenge traditional aspects of news journalism.

  • Commercial model – the site is advertisement-free and has a profit ceiling of 5%.  They want to ‘sell content to readers, not readers to advertisers’.
  • Not ‘readers’ but ‘participants’.  The site was created to enable much more than reader comment.  Instead, it has a focus on building relationships between people and acknowledges the expertise of the community.  ‘Dialogue not ‘monologue’
  • A focus on themes and connections – the site moves beyond traditional news categories such as ‘business’ or ‘international’ and instead aims to make sense of a globalised world
  • Like-minded people – not target audiences
  • An emphasis on fact-checking – and emotion

The power of community has been used to fund the site, and to develop its content.  It is also the way in which the word is spread.  De Correspondent limits its advertising to promoting some articles via Facebook.  All other marketing is conducted by the members who share with their friends and followers.

Further reading:  De Correspondent website; GigaOm

Grumpy Cat and twerking – popular search terms of 2013

Winners this year include Prince George (the new royal baby), the iPhone 5  and twerking.

US searches

The US top ten of Yahoo search terms is the usual reassuring mix of celebrities (Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber), technology (iPhone 5) and gaming (Minecraft).  For expert editorial analysis you can do no better than Ron Burgundy’s explanatory video available on the Yahoo website.

Bing has also released its analysis of the top US search terms, showing the top tens in a range of categories including most searched for musicians, sports teams and people.  Prince George was Bing’s most searched news story in 2013.

Bing figures also include searches for social media, apps and streaming websites.

US: Pinterest , Harlem Shake and Candy Crush

  • Bing’s figures show that Pinterest has entered its top ten of social media searches for the first time this year and has taken second place, with only Facebook ahead of it.
  • Harlem  Shake was the most popular meme in 2013, followed by Grumpy Cat
  • Candy Crush was the most searched for app, beating Angry Birds into second place

UK Bing searches

  • Twitter has replaced YouTube as the UK’s most searched for social media site
  • Facebook takes fourth place, behind LinkedIn and Skype

Meanwhile, YouTube has released its top trending videos for 2013.  Norway’s The Fox takes top spot, followed by the original Harlem Shake.

Twitter has also released its 2013 review, including this wonderful month-by-month breakdown of top news hashtags and photographs from people on the spot.

The Google top search terms are expected to be released later this year.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]