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Content Strategy: Engaging Audience everywhere!

What is Content Strategy? How is it different from Content Marketing? How can Content Strategy help in engaging our audience? And how in the world of Enterprise Social Network (ESN), a well defined Content Strategy can help?

These are few questions which have always alarmed me with no answers! You tend to get lot of ‘Noise’ on Google, but again does that cater to my need, when I need, where ever I want?

I am learning about Content Strategy, and during this process its alignment with ESNs too. Before we go deep, let’s take a look at this small video:

The video is called Drag Him Away. It was created by Britain’s National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV). It not only raises awareness with credible content but gives people a personal experience that reinforces that they can intervene and do something to stop abuse.

The London billboards are one great example of Content Strategy. Let’s learn more about the concept!

In simplest of words ‘Content Strategy’ is

Effectively communicating the story, in a Credible. trustworthy, and transparent manner!

Why is it important to understand and master the concept of ‘Content Strategy’; simple: because the content that you’re sharing and / or using to communicate and share your goals and objective with your audience consumes their time!

Most of the minutes which you want your content to consume are already committed to working, eating, sleeping, and being with friends and family.

Let’s view this from an end user who will be consuming yours and ‘Like Yours’ information, for her:

  • There is ever-rising tidal wave of information, and it will continue to rise
  • No more time (Not even an addition of one more minute to 1440 minutes of a day!)
  • And it is getting more complicated by every passing second…

As a content administrator for your brand, or for your organization, you have to communicate in something that matter to them, and not the message that You want to communicate, even if the message is important…

Remember, if your audience is receiving more than what they want to know, means you are asking them to spend time on what you Like!

What I am learning along the way is:

“If the content is not smart it is not strategic”

We as content originator have to understand that just because we’ve put it does not mean it is really engaging…You need to remember the pressure on their time! We need to STOP sending out non-strategic messages which consumes time…lot of time! Respect Time!

Strategy refers to the direction and the goals that people often leaders have, and they are thinking about where the organization should be going!

Wait a sec, you said…you don’t have a strategy…ok…no worries…let’s decompose strategy: Do you have Goals, and priority label on these goals…well Yes! Every Organization has certain goals which are prioritized, ad hence becomes a strategy…

However, you need to understand the difference between Strategy, and Tactics!

Tactics are primarily basic things which need to be done, and last for a Year or less whereas Strategy: conveys a roadmap…it refers to the prioritized roadmap and lasts more than a 2-3 years!

While developing the ‘Content Strategy’, for you the First imperative should be to deliver value to empower customers, think about what they value, and how they behave; What matters to them and their work. This should become the base of your strategy.

How effectively you can create a content that enhances your communication, and address customer needs defines how successfully you’ll be able to communicate your Organization goals!

You should communicate in an engaging way. It should be articulated so that the ‘where‘, ‘when‘ and ‘how‘ audience will receive this message gets addressed. If your audience doesn’t receive your message: Where they need it the most, When they need it the most, and how they receive it; your message is bound to fail!

Make sure you know who your audience are! The more specific you can define and understand that narrow set of people…the more expressive and targeted your content will be to them!

Your content may reach and address various geographies and diversified culture but remember

How people decide to spend time with their content is not a function of culture.

All right then, what did we learn, let’s summarize, and keep learning…

Message 1 Content Strategy Message 2

Rest in coming days…Happy Learning!

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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Digital Trends and Insights

 

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Top Social and Digital trends for 2014

2014 Digital Trends

2014 Digital Trends

2013 has been an aggressive, fast paced, innovative and a year of Collaboration! 2014 seems to be taking a cue from it and moving on a rapid path of exciting Enterprise Social Media; Cloud, and mobility. Talking about the various trends which we may see in 2014; here is my list of few trends which we may see in coming year!

Content Marketing: 
2014 set to see a major revamp in the way marketing is done.

Brands need to act more as publishers; grabbing the attention of customers will become more and more tricky and good content for sure is going to be one way of doing so… This communication should educate consumer about the brand, and its strategy. Today consumer interacts online with brand, they read the content, they read articles, content that appeals to them, which educates brands on the type of content that is relevant and important to their prospects. These insights can provide valuable input for brands to device their strategy and communication!

The Data...and it's Big Data

We have data, and then we have huge data…and now we have BIG DATA! Lots of news around this, and this for sure will continue to exist for major part of 2014.It is estimated that the volume of data produced is expected to be ~44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009. Phew! That’s massive…. Let’s understand why this is important: First thing to realize is: From where this data is coming? This data is coming from? Data that we are talking about is from all corners, be it customer feedback, the way they interact with your product / services; what your competitors are doing, how are the y doing; and where you stand in all this… This is huge data, and with this come problems of doing a comprehensive analysis of customer preferences, transaction backgrounds, online interactions; analysis of competitor moves, and their strategy etc. Data Analytic, and various tools which are provided in the field, are there to stay and in fact will continue to improve! Data will be analyzed by marketers and use the insights from big data to measure and impact customer engagement, customer retention and loyalty, and marketing optimization/performance.

Images: We Love them...so we love Instagram!

We all love to communicate, and primarily the mode of communication has been words…but 2014 will be a change…2014 will witness communication happening around Images… It’s a fact that posts with images get more responses, likes, comments and shares. Users surely want to communicate by showing rather than telling. The 140 characters; will face a bigger challenge from images…and hence I feel images are going to rule; and rule in big sense!

Crowsourcing: The Social way

Crowdsourcing is an exercise or a practice, by which you can obtain a service, content, or an idea by reaching out to large group of contributors, rather than individuals or employers…

Threadless.com is one such example; crowdsourcing is less expansive and more focused. Let’s see how ‘Porsche’ utilized the crowdsourcing:

Porsche

I don’t know about you, but I for sure am not in a position to afford a Porsche anytime soon. The company also Understand this and think similar for about a significant percentage of their fans.

So here’s an idea, why don’t you let them help design the ultimate fan car? Well; they did come up with this brilliant idea of crowdsourcing this deal!

“The campaign started on Feb. 4 with Porsche asking “the best expert panel in the world: our fans” to choose an exterior color. The post resulted in nearly 16,000 likes and 1,200 comments, with Aquablue Metallic winning the most fan support.

Similarly there are other campaigns which ran around the crowdsourcing; which is sure to get a huge hit in 2014…

We will continue to explore further trends in our next post…

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gamification and Classroom teaching – no more GPAs Continued

In our previous post we talked about two very crucial elements of Gamification in classroom teaching;

Clarify the learning outcomes!

Select a Big Idea!

Schools today face major problems around student motivation and engagement. Gamification, or the
incorporation of game elements into non-game settings, provides an opportunity to help schools solve these
difficult problems; and this is our objective…

The Fun Way To Engage

The Fun Way To Engage

Today we will talk about two aspects which involves ‘Creating the storyboard’, and Designing the learning activities’

How we can do this?

Schools already have several game-like elements in place. Students get points for completing the assignments. These points translate to “badges” or shall we say as grades. Students are rewarded for desired behaviors and punished for undesirable behaviors using this common currency as a reward system. If they perform well, students “level up” at the end of every academic year. If we do have the gamification already in schools; why is that this game like element doesn’t translate in to engagement?

Storyboard

Storyboard

The primary reason for the disengagement from school to happen is; at Social and Emotional levels…few examples of this would be:

Read an optional library book on the topic being taught in class? Receive “Reading” points. Get perfect attendance and complete all homework assignments on time for a month? Earn an “On Target“ badge.

In order for the students to understand the gamification and enjoy this…the game has to have a story around this, where you start with a challenge; do some learning activities to accomplish this challenge…and then you end this with a show – off; show off in this case will eventually be a reward for the student.

Let’s relate this with our Angry Birds game;

Angry Birds asks players to knock down towers by launching birds out of a slingshot. Players must experiment with the game to figure out the physical properties of different tower materials, the ballistics of the slingshot, and the structural weaknesses of each tower. They launch birds, observe the results, plan their next moves, and execute those plans. In short, players’ desire to beat each level makes them small-scale experimental physicists.

This is exactly the way a game should be planned with a challenge and an opportunity to learn!

There is an emotional transformation that is associated with every game; and so with the storyboard formation in our game theory. While designing the game we need to make sure that we are adding points where ever user can ‘Fail Safely’.

Consider this example of emotional transformation in a game which is around the issue of failure. Because games involve repeated experimentation, they also involve repeated failure. In fact, for many games, the only way to learn how to play the game is to fail at it repeatedly, learning something new every time you fail.

Also pay attention to what happens at the vantage point; since there is always a tendency to react differently when you are at the extreme; be it a failure or a success. This can create a transformation in student behavior too. A shy student may actually learn to lead a team of fighters in the game…which in turn makes her get rid of stage fear; speech fear and many such things.

Now let’s talk about another aspect of our discussion which is around designing the

What do we mean by an ‘Instruction’?

Instruction is a ‘Set of events’ which are external to the learner, and are designed to support the internal purpose of learning.

Examples of learning activities can be: Make Connections, anything which involves deep thinking, and attention grabbing activities…etc.

Learning Activities

Learning Activities

Majority of the time you would see learning to happen during the instructional period; teachers and student and their team mates share the information on what they did, how did they do it; what instruction were helpful for them to achieve a challenge.

Teaching kids was never an easy task, and it will never be; however what we can always try is to make it more fun for them; make it more interactive for them. There are reasons why student fail; the first one being they are not getting engaged with what they are taught! This should be changed! Especially for a country like India, where there is a massive gap between education standards; and the rate at which students join and then leave the school midway…Gamification can be a real boon for a country like ours!

 

 

All right then tomorrow we’ll be talking more on how to build teams, and the dynamics of team…till then ‘Happy Learning’… 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Gamification

 

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Gamification and Classroom teaching – no more GPAs

What happens when you combine game-based learning and gamification process together for your classroom!

What are we talking about…we’re talking about making ‘Learning’ a fun!! And how do we do it?

How many of you have played ‘Angry Birds’…all of you :); have you ever thought of using this awesome game as a learning tool; how about Newton’s Law? Have a look at the image below; and you will immediately say..Oh! Wow!

Angry Birds and the science...

Angry Birds and the science…

Let’s pause and realize, how much we as adults actually come across ‘Gamification’ in daily routine!

In fact, your life is itself “gamified”—loosely, through informal social challenges- gaining access to “Titanium” or “Life-time free” credit cards, collecting frequent flyer miles, getting free tickets of your favorite movies. Even sticking a push-pin [Check-ins] into the map of every traveling destination you’ve ever visited is a form of “gamification.”

I have always been a supporter of making learning ‘Easier’ for kids, and assuring that ‘GPA’ or Grade Point Average’ should not be a criteria for judging the ‘Intelligence’ of kids or students for that matter. Why?

Grades quantify or attempt to quantify the understanding and/or performance in hopes of hiding the complexity of the learning process. Just think about the complexity different learners go through!

Individuals have different teachers, different assignments, completed in lieu of different learning styles, with the overwhelming influence of incredibly different personal lives— Now how can a grade system actually be ‘Universal’?

Gamification can change this! Let’s see how!

Rather than providing a handful of slots for the “star performers” to occupy, within gamification lies the ability to recognize the deeply personalized nature of learning. Not all students want trophies or gold medals, or to be patted on the head for “studying hard.” Rather, learners [There is a reason why I’m talking about learners; gone are the days when you only wanted to be recognized for being Studious’]  want—and need—recognition of their unique nature: their past experience, their interests, their cognitive and creative gifts, and the critical interdependence with those around them.

With gamification we can create which I call ‘Personalized Learning’

Let’s take a look at step by step approach which if implemented in schools / colleges, bound to help learning process! We will be talking about 6 step processes…and make it a three part series; here are the first two steps…

Step1: 

Clarify the learning outcomes!

First thing first; you need to clarify the learning outcomes…what is that a student is going to get from the learning process? What is there in it for her/him to improve upon?

Primarily, an educational objective can be divided in to three sections: Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor; you can call these as [Knowing-Head | Feeling-Heart | Doing-Hands].

Larning Objectives

Learning Objectives

Now once you have master these objectives you should be able to create a process for students to study with! For more information refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy

The best way to do this; is to use Verbs; these are the verbs which expresses Learning Outcomes; for example one of the learning outcome can be:

You need to arrange alphabets to recognize a sketch [The bold are verbs], this is a perfect way of providing a clear outcome of what you really want your students to come up with!

Once this is done, you need to make these outcome measurable;

After analyzing the sketch, we will merge various sketches to envision a story.

This is another kind of example where after defining the objective, you’re providing it a measure. In this case measure is a ‘Story’!

Step2: Select a Big Idea!

You need to ask yourself; what idea you should impart in your student’s mind which will carry the course through to the end..this idea can be a challenge…or can be a theme…and in order to accomplish this idea; student should master all the learning outcomes!

Big Idea

Big Idea

Example: An idea can be; your class is working towards saving the ‘Rainforest’

Now pause here, and try and relate to what I mentioned in the previous step!

  • You have defined learning outcomes…which in our case was a ‘Story’ made out of various characters…[sketches]
  • And you also have an idea too…which is our case is saving the rainforest…

Try and think from a student perspective, you will visualize the excitement, and the fun kids are going to have their studies…and this all can be achieved with just a thoughtful execution of gamification…

For the next series; we’ll be talking about how do we ‘Create Storyboard’, design the learning activities, build teams, and apply the dynamics of game…till then Happy Gaming… 🙂

References: Verbs that express learning

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in Gamification

 

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Usability Mistakes – Assumptions and Solutions!

Too Many clicks!

What makes any software usable be it a healthcare, Retail, or say Airlines industry?

The message that product gurus are receiving from users is clear – many of today’s solutions are perceived as non-intuitive, with the potential to confuse workflow and slow down their practice. Organizations that focus on product usability are gaining competitive advantage by showcasing success stories of innovative design, ease of adoption, and long-term satisfaction.

Having worked on few products; I have come across quite a few Assumptions. We in this 4 part series will talk through these assumptions and try and see if we can have a solution around these assumptions!

Assumption 1: All info at single screen

Majority of the times it is assumed that information presented by a software product should be
visible on a single screen!

The question that comes with this assumption is how come in the world the huge amount of data can be presented into one screen without making it cluttered?

This is a classic user interface problem. Typically, this type of observation stems from prior experiences in
which the user was forced to hunt for information.

Usability Mistakes

Usability Mistakes

Users become frustrated when they can’t find the information they are looking for. And this results in the assumption that the solution to their problem is to have all of the information available “up front” so that they don’t have to search for it.

But this approach is not a correct one! It has its own flaws…a single UI screen simply just can’t have enough space to house all information.Even if you somehow are able to adjust the data in one screen, this would end up making the scree or page cluttered!

What I feel we never understand what exactly user is looking for; To me they are really asking for the ability to obtain the information they are looking for in a

quick, non-stressful fashion

You can only help them do this if you understand the common tasks performed by your users and the terminology that they use in their work day.

  • Reserve dashboards for primary tasks only

If you design the dashboards without formal user research and usability testing, you would see cluttered dashboards / main screens on almost every product.
Once you understand the users’ workflow, you would discover that users have a distinct set of primary and secondary tasks. They may look for some information quite a few times per day, while they may only want to access other information once a day or once a week.

The key is to ensure that the information can be found and accessed in a logical fashion and displayed at the right time.

Research has shown that if the path to the desired information is clear and obvious, a user will not mind navigating two or three pages “deep” as long as they know that they are on the right track.

It is therefore important to design the interface in a way that

  • reduces the time for a user to think about where to go
  • moves them through the interface in a logical fashion.

If users become confused about where to look for information or the time it takes to return to that information, they will become frustrated and their confidence in the solution will be shaken.

A desired page might be just one or two clicks away, but if users do not see a logical path to that information, they often assume that it is not available – or simply give up before finding it.

We will talk about few more mistakes that a user would do in our upcoming posts! Till then ‘Don’t let your users think!’

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Usability, UX

 

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How to design a great product which delivers Wow!

Great Products are a result of a design process which understands that users should get two essential values out of a product.

1. An emotional value (“Wow! I love my iPhone”)
2. A utilitarian value (“A mobile phone…wow, now I can call my friends from anywhere!”).

These are linked so closely with each other that you just can’t have one, without having at least ‘One’ other one!

Now question comes how do you deliver the Emotional and Utilitarian value? Well there are three ways (Which again are related);

Aesthetics

The product looks good, is “fun” to interact with, has smooth transition, a “clean” layout, is symmetrical, feels “professional”, and has a “cool” factor associated with it, etc.

Functionality

It just does things I really value. For example, I value that I can scan my laptop for viruses, though I find it extremely hard how to do so, but I do value that I can do this!

Usability

The way functionality is delivered. Is it effective, efficient, satisfying, and simple?

Majority of the IT companies, and now even the mobile companies focus on the utilitarian value of a product, and the functionality of the product.

They are forced to sneak in as many ‘Functionality Feature’ in a release as they can; since this is the way ‘Success’ is measured for them.

Apple never re-invented the features of a Phone! They just made the experience beautiful!

On the other hand Samsung did the opposite…adding features [primarily of very less usage] will give them success in short run…but the way experience is delivered – it’s a Steve Baby!

I mean its tough for companies too, cut throat competition, a mindset, which puts more emphasis on ‘Features’ and less on ‘Experience’; the companies are forced to follow the path!

A great product delivers a user experience that combines aesthetics, functionality and usability to meet both the user’s emotional and utilitarian needs. So next question is

How do we do it?

I would call it a ‘Fiver’

Expertise – Have in house expertise, or call upon Expert!

Techniques – Use Appropriate techniques!

Leadership and Culture – Appreciate value of UX from business point of view!

Processes – Define processes!

Perspective – Apply principles and process in the broad perspective!

And You?

 

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You think you have a great Business Idea?

Ok, so it’s all about an idea…as a famous tagline for one of the telecom giants in India goes on to say, ‘An idea can change your life’…well for sure it can, but do you think your idea is indeed a ‘Great’ “Business” idea? What does it take to have your idea a successful business implementation? What are the measures you should run your idea through to see the light at the end of tunnel? The very first question that you should be asking yourself is;

Do you have the passion to see your idea through?

If you don’t, well then you should re-think. Because you should do what you love! If you’re not passionate about it, don’t even attempt it! Say you are passionate, but passion alone will not help…

Do you have the knowledge, required skills, and experience?

If you don’t have these, well networking helps you here…you should stick to what you know, and then try and gather support for your idea! Say you are passionate, and have the required skills too, but

Do you have a goal? What is that you want to get from your business and how will you achieve this?

If you don’t know what do you want out of your business, how will you achieve this…well you need to know that. Because there is no point having a map in your hand, when you don’t know where you are! Ok…so you now you have your goals also…wonderful, and things seem to be coming in shape here…but wait a sec…

Who are your customer? Any idea?

Hmmm, you should get your head immediately in to market research See here Because whatever you do…but if you don’t see or have a good customer base, you are bound to fail! Now comes the cracker…

Do you think your idea is big enough that people will pay for it?

Did you say ‘No Idea’? Well, Start Again , well if you are a millionaire you may not actually, but if you are not…your idea has to make money for you!

Ok, so good to hear that you know who your customers are, but

Have you tried it out in front of customer…even as a trial run?

Well here is an old advice…’Test the depth of water before you plunge in! Test the water with your product or service with a limited trial to gain valuable feedback. The most important measure for me to device the value of your idea is:

Are you making something which is filling the void? Which is able to fill a demand, meet a need or solve a problem?

Did you say NO? Well then why bother even starting with the idea…you should know what you are addressing, what the needs are! And this is my favorite

Can you define your product in 25 words sales pitch?

You said you can, wonderful. Ideally it should not take more than 25 words to define your product. Because Complicated won’t sell.

How about the resources?

Do you have the resources that you would need, the skillsets and knowledge that you are lacking? Where will you source your people, and/or offices? You should have answers for these if you want to have an ideal implementation.

The idea which is yours…is it similar to some other feature or product in market?

Your product must have features that set it apart: it needs unique selling points (USPs) to lure consumers away from competitors! Here is a brilliant video

Another very important thing in managing product is, do you know what are the limitation of your product!?

If you tell me…”No, my product is the best”, well I am sorry, it’s not…even the great iPhone has its own flaws…better you find yours…before your competitor does so… We would come to the logical conclusion of this article in next post…till then Happy Thinking 🙂

 

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