LinkedIn Needs a Better Notification System

I am a regular user of LInkedIn and rely on the service to build and maintain a strong professional network. There is, however, a very significant problem with the site: their notification system.

So far the system displays notifications only for new messages and invitations. It does not send notifications when someone comments on your status update or when a new connection has accepted your request.

These are major drawbacks that are limiting the ability to have conversations among contacts within the site.

Not having a well-functioning notification system is one of the reasons a lot of people don’t spend more time on the site. I believe that a system which is more similar to the one Facebook has – comprehensive and customizable – will prove to be of great benefit to the website.

Notifications for group discussions can also be improved. At the moment, LinkedIn sends you all these emails which fill your inbox. I have filtered all the messages coming from LinkedIn a long time ago. Therefore, I may miss important announcements, but I prefer this than having my inbox cluttered. If users are noted about group activity through a notification system instead of emails it will make life much easier. At least that’s how I see it.

How about you? Are you a frequent LinkedIn user and would you like to see an improved notification system? Do you have other suggestions on how it can be improved?

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3 Great Interactive Marketing Campaigns with RFID and Facebook

I am a big admirer of new technology and its application in marketing, especially when the result is a novel and remarkable user experience. The use of Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and Facebook in interactive marketing campaigns is a combination that creates such an effect.

Recently, I have been researching a bit more about this technology and the possibilities it can bring to the field of marketing and communication. And I managed to find a few really interesting cases which I think are worth sharing.

Below you will see three campaigns from the automotive, drinks and holiday industries.

Renault

The first one is a case by Renault. Earlier in the year, Renault participated in the Amsterdam auto show in The Netherlands. Visitors to their stand were able to interact in a quite unusual way and to connect their online and offline worlds. And all of this with just a plastic card…well not exactly, as you can see from this video:

Coca-Cola

The second case features Coca Cola and their Summer Village initiative organised in Israel. The organisers were able to find a great and entertaining way to let the teenage visitors to share their experience in the real world with their friends online. And all of that with the help of a bracelet…and a chip, and Facebook of course. Here’s the video:

Ushuaia Beach Hotel

The third case comes from a very warm and sunny place – Ibiza. The Mediterranean island becomes the party centre of Europe for three months every year. As a result of that local clubs are faced with the big challenge of attracting the attention of the visitors. If you have been to Ibiza you can’t have missed all the people inviting you to parties in random clubs and all the other crazy ways they’ve come up with over the years to attract your attention. Well, this year, the Ushuaia beach hotel and club found a great way to stand out from the crowd. Again with the help of a few simple tools. Take a look:

All these cases and the speed at which agencies are adopting the innovation bring me a sense of encouragement that very exciting times are ahead for all of us involved in digital communications. I’m really looking forward to more creative uses of this technology by marketing and communication professionals!

3 PR lessons from the Charlie Sheen saga

Picture from @charliesheen 's Twitter stream

Charlie Sheen. Over the last couple of days you’ve heard a lot about him. The stories have been everywhere – press, TV, internet, radio. Putting aside the players and issues in this story, I’d like to focus your attention on three communication practices which I believe the actor’s public relations team has been doing really well.

Express clearly your side of the story and stick with it!

First, and most important of all, over the last week the actor and his team of publicists have been openly sharing their side of the story. Charlie Sheen, being a spokesperson for himself, tells his story in a transparent, honest and direct way, in a language that is easy to understand by everyone. The message he wants to communicate is very clear, he sticks with it all the time, and repeats it confidently over and over again – he is clean, ready to get back to work, and the twitter hashtags #winning and #tigerblood are well-known nowadays.

In contrast, there has been almost no word from the camps of Chuck Lorre and CBS. Those two parties have missed on the opportunity to present to the wider audience their own side of the story. As a result of that, the public might turn against them in the near future and take the side of Sheen later. Hearing only statements like “no comment” will most certainly not help their cause.

Increase exposure to your message!

Second, the actor’s camp has generated enormous level of exposure for their message. Charlie Sheen interviews have been broadcasted, published and streamed all over the place. And all of them happened in the time frame of 48 hours! Moreover, various different media have been utilised to help increase the exposure levels. You open a newspaper and you read about the actor. You switch on the TV and you can see an interview with him. You tun on the radio and you can immediately recognise his husky voice. You go online and you are overwhelmed by the amount of material streaming across various social networks, blogs and other sites. You simply can’t avoid it – you’ve been exposed to the message. Job well done PR Team Charlie!

Pay attention to new technologies!

Third, Charlie Sheen’s communications team did not ignore the importance of new technologies. In this particular case, the actor’s team acted quickly to get him on Twitter and start spreading the message on the social network. And what a result that was! His account (@charliesheen) has become the fastest growing twitter account ever. In two days the actor accumulated more than 900 000 followers. At the time I am writing this post he has more than 1,3 million followers! No one has ever done that in such amount of time. By starting a Twitter account, the actor quickly expanded his network and was presented with a great platform where he can express all his thoughts. Using this medium, the actor can easily share his side of the story and continue to increase the exposure to his message.

To sum up, going in front of the public with a clear, honest and easy to understand message, using various media to increase the exposure to this message, and adopting new communication technologies has allowed Charlie Sheen to present his side of the story surrounding his personal life to a broad and influential audience.

This is what I find most interesting from this whole story. What about you? Can you infer any other good communication practices from this case study? Let me know in the comments!

Reinventing News

People from my generation don’t consume news in the form they are at the moment. We are losing interest in the way information is being transmitted. Information, which characteristics seem to be so outdated.

News need to be reinvented!

Don’t worry I am not actually going to reinvent news (at least not for now). In fact, it might not be a person that reinvents news, but rather news themselves will evolve in the near future.

I was thinking recently about the fact that today I am no longer interested in knowing everything that is going on around the world – well, I don’t need to know the details, so just a title is more than enough to get the idea what the story will be all about. Of course, I am from this generation that does not look for the news. The news find me through various channels – Google Reader and twitter, to be precise. And all the information I consume is based on my interests and reading habits. My news stream is very personalised. In this way I am able to isolate most of the noise and avoid going through tons of irrelevant stories, but I also save lots of time for myself. Time which I highly regard, is valuable, and I can use for focusing on both my professional and personal development. And I believe that this is the case for most of my peers and members of the so-called “Generation Y.”

So, what are the characteristics of a member from this generation?

Well, as I said already I think that almost all of my peers and I have quite a lot of things in common. First, we are the group that is constantly aware of new technologies, both as a consumer and creator.

Second, we are very flexible and adopt new trends easily, making them part of our lives earlier than any other group of the population. Our habits and behaviours are constantly evolving based on developments shaping our environment.

Third, all the time we are looking for ways to improve the way we live, by making simple tasks automated. We are not worried about giving a machine the responsibilities of taking care of these time-consuming, simple choruses. In this way we have more time to focus on ourselves and the people around us. We have more time to think, help each other and make new relationships in- and outside the workplace.

Fourth, because of this non-stop changing world we live in, we are facing the challenge of becoming overwhelmed by information and technologies. So, we’ve come to adopt various techniques to help us get through all the “gadget-and-information garbage” out there. We are aware of our own interests and we use those as a filter that lets in only what’s valuable and useful for us. For instance, we are using tools like RSS readers (Google Reader, Feedly), twitter feeds, and the Facebook news stream – all of these are highly personalisable, and they know our consumption habits. We have authorised machines and tools to make the dull job of gathering the relevant stuff and put it in one, easily-accessible place. Saving us the time and the effort.

You know what? All these characteristics are not just characteristics of the generation Y-er. There is someone else out there sharing the same characteristics. That’s right – THE NEWS! Like the people from my generation, news are highly influenced by developments in the technological world. Their form and ways of distribution change fast and easily according to these new trends. A good piece of news is also concise and to the point. And news are based on the needs and interest of the consumers.

Seems like there’s no better fit than the one between the news and the generation Y-er.

This is why I believe that like us, news will reinvent themselves in the near future and will become this constantly changing, flexible entity that makes a valuable contribution to our lives.

Mastering the art of skimming through

Overwhelming and time-consuming - more than 15 tabs...

I am writing this post while at the same time, in my browser, I have 14 tabs open, each with (probably) an interesting and important content that I have to consume in order to stay up to date with goings on in the marketing communications industry. All of these pages I have found on my twitter stream and list of renowned professionals.

Overwhelming amount of information

It is a great way to keep in touch and stay alert for essential new developments in the field. However, each of these experts have an incredibly active online presence and the amount of information coming into my stream can be, at times, overwhelming. I have managed to find a system with which I am able to follow them and check the insights they are publishing. But then, after I go through the list and open all the pages I find relevant, I am facing a browser window stacked with a huge amount of tabs and information, respectively.

Challenges

In this situation I am facing two challenges – I am tired at the end of the day and don’t want to spend an hour staring constantly at the screen; there is also the danger of loosing interest and getting bored with all the text and information, because it’s just too much, way too much. Somehow, I have managed to solve this. I started using the technique of skimming through the texts, saving precious time and keeping myself engaged into what I am doing. I will provide a few guidelines based on my personal experience.

How do I do it?

1) I carefully read the title, so I am sure I the information in the publication is really important and, most of all, it is relevant to me.

2) After I have opened the pages and start going through the articles I focus on the first paragraph – it should be compelling enough that it raises your interest and clearly outlines what the following content will be all about.

3) Look for headings. Headings are the best tool for quickly identifying the relevant part in an article and you can easily navigate to this part that you want to read about.

4) Focus on lists. Articles that contain lists are much easier to read. You can easily go through all the major points and if you need more clarification, then focus on the details. What happens most of the time is that you will be reading of things you have read already somewhere else, so, you won’t need to read in depth. On the other hand, if you find something completely new, you can devote your whole attention to it.

5) Read the conclusion. Usually at the end of the publication the author will be summarising the content, raising a new, challenging question, or ask you for direct action. Make sure you check out this part of the content.

These are my thoughts and techniques I use while skimming through all the articles I read daily. I would like to know what other techniques you consider valuable and useful in a similar situation. Let me know in the comments!

Always keep your eyes and mind open

Minds are like parachutes – they only function when open.

Sir Thomas Dewar

Tommy Dewar

This is one of my favourite quotes by Sir Thomas Dewar – one of the greatest salesmen of the 19th century. In one short sentence he managed to pack one simple truth about progress – it’s only possible if people appreciate innovation and variety. The same statement is valid also for success. Especially in today’s global world – a world of interconnected different societal and technological cultures. Continue reading

Re-discovering the pleasure of reading books (it’s actually worth it!)

I feel like writing again, even though I haven’t planned to do any this night. Well, it’s better to go with the flow and use this moment to actually write something of good quality. Because here is the thing: words don’t always come so freely to me. Either my mind is in this state when I can write sentence after sentence without getting distracted, or I have the energy and motivation of a dung beetle who really let himself go. Continue reading