User Experience Design (UX): Promoting Usability by Making the Complex Feel Simple

Reader Takeaways:

  • User Experience Design, commonly referred to as UX, is the process of designing intuitive systems built around the user’s needs. By simplifying the user experience of the operator, the system will allow for more efficient sales to drive increases in revenue.
  • By implementing solid UX strategies, enterprises can empathize with their users to find and solve their frustrations, creating a system that allows for intuitive usability.
  • UX has the goal is to build a system so intuitive to the user that training for use would be unnecessary.
  • By collecting feedback data on the pain points from both users and management, UX can easily incorporate both the user’s needs and the company goals.
  • Using initial customer data, stakeholder interviews, and business goals, UX can grow a product in phases, giving enterprises greater accountability while promoting growth.

 

Understanding how customer needs converge with business goals can carry substantial weight in the process of designing effective retail client platforms. User experience design, commonly referred to as UX, is the process that works to build eCommerce platforms intuitive processes in mind by using data to create a user experience that makes the complex feel simple.

 

By solving for complexity, UX design utilizes intuitive task performance to drive increases in revenue. Replacing less efficient operations with UX design allows introspective simplicity, giving enterprises greater accountability while promoting businesses’ growth. An easy to use eCommerce platform will allow for more efficient sales to drive increases in revenue.

 

Leveraging Empathy to Solve for Inefficiency

In terms of design, user experience is based on empathy. By implementing solid UX design strategies, enterprises can effectively improve how they are engaging with customers, driving their behavior toward revenue growth. User experience research is essentially feeling customers’ pain through feedback. By listening to your customers and finding pain points, you can evaluate how the business goals can converge with the needs of the user. If the user is easily able to complete retail purchases, your revenue increases instantly.

 

When creating a user experience analysis for a national retail chain, it is helpful to begin by gathering data from users through surveys, forums, and competitive analysis. The goals include learning the whole process by going to stores, speaking to associates and managers, and finding how the associates use their tools rather than trusting the way they should be used. In researching for the UX best practices empathize with users to guide the design process.

 

Bridging the Gap Between Job and Tool

After reviewing the user’s needs, a UX team will incorporate the enterprise goals for the design into their analysis. By evaluating everything the enterprise needs in the platform and leveraging all of the data that had been collected, the goal is to build a system so intuitive to the associated user that training for use would be unnecessary.

 

By incorporating both the user’s need to have an intuitive experience and the company goals of creating a high-performance application, UX teams can work to bridge the gap between management and users. While blending complicated internal reporting with the efficiency of maximum intuition, the UX design team can create a prototype built around the user experience with the goals of the company in mind.

 

Building the Future With Phases of Feedback

Using initial customer data, stakeholder interviews, and business goals, the best practice in UX design requires building the product in phases. Once an initial prototype is built, the system can utilize further user experience testing to quickly modify. With user feedback, the user experience team creates the modifications, ensuring many versions of the final product with a focus on maximum user benefit.

 

In the case of the national retail chain, PeakActivity used this type of user experience design research to move an outdated paper-based system into a user-centered prototype for a national retail chain. The prototype has been a great success in pilot stores, promoting positive user experiences and driving sales with increased efficiency.

 

While elevating the user experience, UX design can convert inefficient processes into revenue-building task performance. The UX design mindset works to better connect customer intentions and business growth through forward-thinking progression. Investing in UX is the next step in balancing goals with design. Don’t make assumptions about what your customers want; invest in UX to deliver balanced usability with proven results.

Break Through: Implement a 3-Step Methodology to Accelerate Innovation

Break Through: Implement a 3-Step Methodology to Accelerate Innovation

Reader Takeaways:

  • Real innovation is difficult and often painstakingly slow or nonexistent in many enterprises.
  • Processes that allow teams to incrementally achieve success with clear communication through documentation will help innovation establish a toehold in your organization.
  • Implement a methodology that enables teams to understand and adapt design thinking processes to encourage accelerated innovation with reduced investment.
  • Simplify your innovation methodology into three steps: research & document your current state, visualize your future and develop a clear roadmap for execution.

Building a strategy for real innovation is a daunting task that leaves many companies stuck in the middle between saving cost and implementing technology solutions or process improvements. We at PeakActivity have been experimenting with different techniques that support the simplify and speed up the innovation process. Through our experimentation, we have established a methodology that governs the innovation we bring to our customers, and we’ve decided to share our learnings here. Our methodology has been applied in many different environments, industries, and company growth stages, with the intent of breaking the logjam that holds back real enterprise growth. We firmly believe that enterprises that intelligently accelerate such initiatives will be poised to win in the new business world.

Your methodology at its core should adapt and extend design thinking principles. Design thinking principles have successfully taught teams and individuals to think creatively, an important step in the process of innovation. Read more about design thinking from Google here.

We have distilled the myriad of design thinking “thinking” into a 3-step methodology for applied innovation. The three major steps of the process are:

  • Research & Document Your Current State
  • Map Your Future
  • Develop a Clear Strategy for Execution

Research & Document Your Current State

The first phase begins with an observation of the current environment of the business and its customers. Observing the competitive landscape with an innovation point of view allows for a deep review of the current processes, technology, and identifies any underlying issues. While conducting the current state research for a company, you find & identify key pain points for internal stakeholders & end customers. You may also find major challenges that are limiting your innovation delivery that is not easily remediated. Some areas that such great challenges exist are typically in areas such as data modeling, IT systems & security, or human resource processes. The current state research phase provides documentation of historical actions and pain points that have previously held innovation back. The deliverables at this phase allow for a wide review of how the company is operating from multiple points of views, giving innovation a strong foundation.

Visualize Your Future

Visualization of an innovative future is established through the process of reviewing, defining, and strategizing business choices. Bringing in external thought leaders to work with internal teams can significantly help accelerate this phase of the process. In this phase, it’s important to enable teams to focus on spending time reviewing the current state research, then coming up with ideas, prototypes, and ultimately hypotheses that will help the enterprise invent the future from their point of view. Once a future vision is created, teams must then take time to validate their thoughts to ensure stakeholders, customers, and business needs will be met. Visualizing your future eventually should engage multiple teams and stakeholders, all with the intent of creating transparent communication and common understanding.

Develop a Clear Roadmap for Execution

Armed with the knowledge of their current state and a visualization of their future, your team members can now create an innovation strategy roadmaps supported by budgets, resource allocation, and projected financial benefits. The process combines identifying stakeholders, their must-have features, and the key benefits to your business benefits. In addition, you will want to incorporate the resolution of any major operational issues that might prevent your initiatives from succeeding. Once you have established a clear roadmap, it’s time to lead your teams to deliver a small project establishing a framework for success.

This 3-step method focuses heavily on delivering strong business growth through managed digital service delivery. With deep expertise in strategic digital transformation, innovation, and technology delivery, it is easy to support enterprises in the innovation process. With the 3-step strategy at hand, your company can easily build a culture that fosters innovation, creating real enterprise growth.

Social Commerce: Boosting eCommerce Revenue by Leveraging the Power of Social Media

With the gap between social media marketing and eCommerce rapidly narrowing, combining marketing and technology has become more important than ever to creating and maintaining visual brand awareness. Social Commerce allows targeted users and brand loyalists the opportunity to engage and purchase products as well as services within their existing social ecosystems. This creates an increase in brand loyalty while attracting new customers through targeted social media efforts. While social media used to be disconnected from direct sales, it is now a fully integrated sales attribution channel. eCommerce sites need to up their game in order to keep up with consumers on social platforms, integrating full omnichannel experiences to drive greater brand affinity and increases in sales.

Reaching New Customers

One great advantage of social commerce is it can reach a global audience, so the influence has no boundaries. Integrating a strategy of social commerce creates more than an opportunity for repeat sales, it drives customers’ trust in a brand or product. Finding new customers is simple when implementing the right strategy. Targeting potential customers who will be interested in a brand supported by real customer engagement builds great trust from new audiences. In the first few months of a targeted social media strategy, an apparel company saw an increase of more than 270% increase in Traffic Referrals. Targeting new customers on social media is one of the easiest ways to boost a marketing strategy.

Creating Brand Awareness

Social Commerce is one of the most rapidly growing commercial markets and can be a great way to showcase more than just products and features. Creating a brand culture and brand lifestyle makes a company more personable to current and potential customers. Social networks open the doors for two way communication between brands and customers. With the right strategy, PeakActivity increased the brand perception of a leading retail furniture chain driving traffic and sales by more than 50%. These continuous efforts to drive engagement through social commerce attract new customers while increasing brand loyalty. This loyalty drives repeat customers and increases the lifetime value of the customer.

Streamlining Customer Experience

Some social networks allow customers to buy directly from the platform. This means businesses can enhance customer experience with a frictionless and streamlined checkout process. This ultimately eliminates the need to fill out long forms and visit the company website to make a purchase. This type of social commerce makes it easier for customers to make purchases on the go and to compare products or consult their trusted network. This new type of eCommerce customer experience requires a specific marketing strategy related to social commerce. Once PeakActivity took over an apparel brand’s Facebook page, the last click attributed sales increased over 112% over the previous year.

Increasing Revenue

Integrating social commerce with existing channels is a proven strategy to increase sales, increase order value, increase repeat customers, and reach new customers. By creating a social commerce strategy on platforms that are already free, you can directly influence the purchase decisions of customers. By integrating a full social commerce strategy an apparel company saw an increase of time on site of over 156% and an increase in conversions by over 75%.

Social commerce is the future of eCommerce, and without it, businesses are losing out on the conversions from targeted social media demographics. Along with creating a cohesive story across all channels, PeakActivity consistently has been able to reach customers through social media and increase engagement for a wide range of clients including apparel, furniture, healthcare, and industrial businesses.

In order to keep up with consumers, any company planning on investing in eCommerce and social media must also ensure Social Commerce is added to the strategic plan as soon as possible.

How Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are Bringing Marketing to Life

Marketers are increasingly finding innovative ways to reach customers.

One of the newest marketing trends is the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)–mostly in big-budget marketing. But swifter adoption could be on the horizon.

In fact, the VR market alone is expected to reach $101 billion by 2027. And, according to Statista, VR and AR spending across sectors was already in the billions in 2017.

With imagination and technology on our side, the future marketing potential is endless.

Today, brands are already using AR and VR for innovative marketing campaigns.

Let’s take a closer look at the definitions of VR and AR, and some interesting case studies.

What Is Virtual Reality (VR)?

Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.

What Is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. One example of this is the Pokémon Go app, which allows you view the world through your smartphone camera and superimposes Pokémon characters on it.

How Are Brands Using VR and AR?

Let’s explore ways that both AR and VR are creeping into marketing agendas and paving the way for all marketers to add some new life into their marketing campaigns.

Snapchat Brings AR to Both Users and Advertisers

You may have heard about Snapchat’s dancing hot dog that debuted in 2017 and used a form of AR to delight users. According to Snapchat, the hot dog was viewed more than 2 billion times.

Here is an example of the dancing hot dog reposted from Snapchat to Instagram:

Snapchat has since announced that it would begin allowing others to create their own form of AR within Snapchat via its ad platform. They call it “3D World Lenses,” and it allows companies to bring characters and products to life inside the Snapchat camera.

IKEA Makes Home Design Easier Through AR

In 2017, IKEA announced the “IKEA Place” mobile app, which allows iOS users to virtually place furniture in their home before buying.

IKEA said in its release:

Built on Apple’s new ARKit technology, IKEA Place marks an important milestone in the IKEA digital transformation journey. IKEA is one of the first home furnishing brands in the world to bring this technology to people, shifting the way we purchase furniture in the future. The app automatically scales products – based on room dimensions – with 98% accuracy. The AR technology is so precise that you will be able to see the texture of the fabric, as well as how light and shadows are rendered on your furnishings.

Giraffe360 Enables VR in Real Estate

Giraffe360 is VR technology that’s designed with the real estate sector in mind.

With Giraffe360, real estate professionals can capture virtual tours of a property. The technology promises real estate professionals to achieve higher deal efficiency and decrease property showings down to 70 percent with virtual tours.

Marriott Hotel’s Virtual Travel Teleporter

Marriott came out with a really creative marketing campaign utilizing VR when they setup various teleporters in key locations, which with the help of Oculus Rifts VR technology, allowed hotel customers to travel and experience new locations virtually.

The campaign had a huge impact on customers and was reported for years as a key example of companies using VR in their marketing.

You can see the creation of the teleporters in this video below:

Vespa’s AR Scooter Ad

Many companies have combined AR technology with traditional print ads, but Vespa did something really creative when they allowed you to customize a 3D scooter right before your eyes. That’s not all though, as once you finished creating your scooter, you are able to drive it right off the page and around the room or area you happen to be sitting in.

As you can see, even in this early stage of AR and VR technology, many companies are starting to adopt this trend in their marketing efforts. And as is often the case, early adopters are sure to see bigger wins.

Although both VR and AR technologies have not come to realization in every day life as quickly as initially predicted, it is still inevitable that these technologies will become a part of every day lives in the near future.

Now is time to start thinking about how your company and your products fit in a VR and AR world.

Effective Ways Companies Are Using Chatbots

If you are involved in marketing today, then you have heard of chatbots, also known as conversational agents.

With Hubspot recently reporting that almost half of all consumers would rather connect to a company via live chat than any other means, 40% of those people saying they don’t care if it is a chatbot or human being, and with 35% of people wanting more companies to launch chatbots, it is clear that this new emerging technology is changing the way companies handle marketing and customer service.

That said, sometimes it can be hard to envision where and how you would incorporate using chatbots in your marketing plans.

Well here are a handful of companies that are using Chatbots effectively, to give you some ideas and inspiration of how you could be using them for your company.

Spotify 

Spotify is one of the most popular music apps around and sharing what someone is listening to and getting song recommendations is a big party of the Spotify experience. So it makes sense they would launch a Facebook Messenger Chatbot, which offers playlist recommendations based on factors such as mood, activity, and genres.

Here is what it looks like to get started on the Chatbot, which you can find here : m.me/Spotify

It might seem pretty straight forward, but Spotify has jumped on an emerging technology, taking their users sharing and recommendation activities, and introduced a function around their app that is bound to increase user satisfaction, app usage, and attract new users.

Sometimes simple and easy is all it takes to have success in marketing with emerging technologies like chatbots.

Mastercard

Mastercard took an interesting approach, by launching their Masterpass Chatbot technology, which allows other businesses to take payment through their chatbots. Like selling shovels at a gold rush, Mastercard took advantage of a need to receive payments and launched Masterpass onto multiple platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, Telegram, Slack and more.

A large number of companies have partnered with Mastercard using Masterpass Chatbot technology, such as FreshDirect, Blue Nile, Office Depot, Neiman Marcus, The Cheesecake Factory, and Subway, who had one of the largest Facebook Messenger launches in the Restaurant space, launching with more than 26,500 Subway restaurants.

By making a technology that allows so many other major companies to find more financial value in their own Chatbot experiences, Mastercard was able to expand its brand and participation in one of the fastest growing emerging technology markets.

Now these are some great examples of companies using Chatbots to improve their customers experience in a way that enhances their already existing offerings or services.

Here are some examples of companies who have really become creative with Chatbot technology, providing some unique benefits for their customers.

Casper

As one of the leading mattress companies in America, Casper knows sleep.. and they know that sometime people just cannot fall asleep.

Can’t sleep for any reason, then connect with Casper’s Insomniabot to be entertained (and possibly lulled to sleep) with some light hearted conversation until you finally doze off to sleep.

Casper’s previous VP Lindsay Kaplan described Insomniabot as having “watched all of “Stranger Things” and stayed up way too late that night. It’s kind of obsessed with pizza and is really on the fence about if it’s too late to eat or it should just wait to eat waffles in the morning.”

MedWhat

Just about everyone goes online at the first site of some illness, injury, or mysterious symptom they want to figure out.

Well MedWhat has taken it a step further by providing a robust medical artificial intelligence chatbot to help improve your every day health.

MedWhat says: “Our virtual assistant answers medical and health questions for consumers and doctors instantly. The answers are provided by an intelligent super-computer that learns about medicine everyday and over time about your health record and medical questions history.”

So not only does it answer your initial questions and try to determine what problem you might be having, it also continues to improve over time as it learns more about you and the medical industry as a whole.

Similar to Mastercard, MedWhat also has launched an API to allow other companies to partner with them to utilize their information and chatbot technology.

We mentioned a couple examples of Chatbots in use in this article, but there are thousands of examples out there with more every day.

Don’t wait.. start thinking about how your company can utilize this exciting new technology in your marketing plans!

*All images used from the mentioned company websites or personal screen captures.

How to Find Your Audience on Social Media

So many businesses are on every social channel without understanding if their core audience is there. I see it all the time.

There are a ton of social platforms. They range from “everybody’s-on-it” to “bright, shiny and new.”

So I get why people might fail to pick the right social sites for their business.

But there’s actually big drawbacks to having an active presence on too many social media platforms. You can find yourself:

  1. Spreading the brand too thin, or doing too much poorly.
  2. Overcommitting resources to low-ROI channels.
  3. Missing opportunities in high-ROI channels.

To avoid this, it’s the marketer’s responsibility to analyze each channel for:

  • Demographics — does the audience makeup match your target audience?
  • Internal resource alignment — is your staff active on the channel?
  • Business goal alignment — do business objectives match the platform’s purpose?
  • Competitive presence — are competitors active on the channel?

Ultimately it comes down to determining your social media ROI on a channel-by-channel basis.

You can do this for the social media channels you’re currently using and new channels that you’re considering.

Great! … Now how do you evaluate if your audience is using a social media channel?

What Social Networks Are Most Popular?

A data point: a 2018 survey by Pew Research tells us this about how many adults in the U.S. are using different social sites:

  • 68% use Facebook
  • 35% use Instagram
  • 28% use Pinterest
  • 27% use Snapchat
  • 25% use LinkedIn
  • 24% use Twitter

Alexa’s website ranking data gives complementary insights that tell a story of how long people spend and how many pages they visit on the most popular websites.

Check out the daily time spent on these social sites from the U.S. top 10:

  • 8.5 minutes on YouTube
  • 15 minutes Reddit
  • 10.75 minutes on Facebook
  • 6 minutes on Twitter
  • 5.75 minutes on Instagram

Together, this info  narrows down the top social sites you’re probably looking at for your business:

  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

In this article, I’ll help you find where your audience is among the top social media sites.

Is My Audience on Facebook?

Facebook is about family and connecting with people.

We share our family photos to keep aunts and uncles in the loop.

We join private groups to cultivate communities around similar interests.

With 2.2 billion people worldwide, good chance is your audience is on Facebook. But there’s a caveat.

When you’re deciding if a social channel is right for you, consider the longevity and future of the channel.

Organic reach of Facebook Pages is dead.

There’s an opportunity for marketers to reach their audience with Facebook Ads and Facebook Messenger chat.

In fact, Facebook Analytics was launched at the f8 Developer’s conference this past May. The platform gives a lot of insight that helps businesses understand how users are interacting with a brand and its advertisements. More on Facebook Analytics below.

What are the demographics of Facebook?

Use Facebook IQ tool to see audience, advertising, and industry insights.

You can slice and dice the audience and people data by region, behaviors, conversations … go crazy.

Here are the U.S. demographics of Facebook as viewed in aggregate.

Age and gender:

  • 54% women
  • 46% men
  • Majority are 18-44 years old

Job industries:

  • 33% admin services
  • 22% production
  • 11% arts and entertainment
  • 7% veterans
  • 5% education and libraries
  • 4% cleaning and maintenance
  • 2% IT and technical services
  • 2% installation and repair services
  • >1% farm, fishing and forestry

Relationship status:

  • 48% married
  • 30% single
  • 17% in a relationship
  • 4% engaged

Education:

  • 62% college
  • 30% high school
  • 8% grad school

How do I find my audience on Facebook?

Facebook Ads has a big reputation in the digital marketing industry for its fine-grained audience targeting.

You can find your audience on Facebook by running ads targeted by job title, region, behavior and interests.

As if to combat any hesitations by businesses in the wake of the latest personal user data harvesting scandal, Facebook launched the business-friendly Facebook Analytics at the f8 developer conference this past May.

Check out the Facebook Analytics demo preview to get a feel for the platform:

What marketers get within Facebook Analytics includes:

  • Daily users
  • Growth metrics
  • Channel breakdown
  • Activity by hour
  • Automated insights
  • Machine learning identified conversion funnels
  • And demographics data by segment:

Is My Audience on Reddit?

Reddit is about connecting with like-minded individuals.

People share, vote, view and comment on content posted to interest-based, public community groups.

The most popular content in any community floats to the top.

A business can get ROI on Reddit from traffic and from user feedback and beta users.

A link that becomes popular on Reddit can send massive traffic spikes that are great for sales businesses.

And visibility in groups that are big on conversation can be a renewable resource for early and late-phase product feedback and getting testers.

What are the demographics of Reddit?

When I spoke to Reddit this past February, they were kind enough to share these key user statistics:

A Reddit-collected survey in 2016 gives us some interesting insights into the employment, age and gender break-down of redditors.

Age and gender:

  • 33% women
  • 63% men
  • Majority are 18-25 years old

https://i.imgur.com/EId9ABj.png

https://i.imgur.com/3qr7y04.png

Employment:

  • 58% student
  • 29% employed full-time
  • 18% employed part-time
  • 11% not employed
  • 3.5% self-employed

https://i.imgur.com/paKhOEm.png

Income:

From Statista.com we see the household income of Reddit users skews high:

  • $100k+: 35% of Reddit users
  • $80-100k: 29% of Reddit users
  • $70-80k: 32%
  • $60-70k: 23%
  • $30-60k: 24%
  • Under $30k: 18%

How do I find my audience on Reddit?

There are a bunch of tools that help you find subreddits, Reddit’s communities.

Try out:

Is My Audience on Instagram?

Instagram is about the visual experience of life and being inspired.

And Instagram users (800 million monthly) are pretty open to inspiration.

What this means for businesses — 80% of Instagram users are following a brand on the image-and-video-centric platform.

Instagram isn’t likely to drive much traffic to your website. It’s predominantly a branding channel, with some exceptions for products and shopping.

What are the demographics of Instagram?

This 2016 data from Pew Internet Research Center evaluates to the percent of online American adults using Instagram.

Age and gender:

  • 68% of women
  • 32% of men
  • 59% of 18–29 year olds
  • 33% of 30–49 year olds
  • 18% of 50–64 year olds
  • 8% of 65+ year olds

Education:

  • 37% with some college experience use Instagram
  • 33% who graduated college use Instagram
  • 27% with a high school diploma or less use Instagram

Income:

  • 38% of Americans that make less than $30,000 use Instagram
  • 37% of Americans that make more than $75,000 use Instagram
  • 32% of Americans that make $30,000–$49,999 use Instagram
  • 32% of Americans that make $49,999–$74,999 use Instagram

Here’s an infographic of Instagram user demographics from SproutSocial.com:

How do I find my audience on Instagram?

If you want to get your content in front of Instagram’s 500 million users, Instagram has the same ad targeting system as its sister company, Facebook.

You can select your audience from the same demographic and psychographic options in Facebook’s ad system. Just include Instagram as your placement.

Demographic targeting categories for Instagram and Facebook:

  • Education
  • Financial
  • Home
  • Life events
  • Parents
  • Politics
  • Relationship
  • Work

Interest targeting categories for Instagram and Facebook:

  • Business and industry
  • Entertainment
  • Family and relationships
  • Fitness and wellness
  • Food and drink
  • Hobbies and activities
  • Shopping and fashion
  • Sports and outdoors
  • Technology

Behavior targeting categories for Instagram and Facebook:

  • Anniversary
  • Automotive
  • B2B
  • Charitable donations
  • Consumer classifications
  • Digital activities
  • Expats
  • Financial
  • Job role
  • Media
  • Mobile device rser
  • Multicultural affinity
  • Purchase behavior
  • Residential profiles
  • Soccer
  • Travel

Community-based curation is coming to Instagram. The Explore area will surface popular content by topic in interest-based channels.

Influence your inclusion in channels with hashtags.

Remember that branding is the biggest ROI driver in Instagram thing. Instagram gives people the opportunity to see into the everyday life of a person or company.

Use Instagram to give your brand a voice and show the people behind the business. Instagram is  helpful for making that a reality.

Is My Audience on Pinterest?

Pinterest is about learning with visuals. Pinterest’s business inspiration page puts it this way:

“They’re actively seeking helpful, inspiring ideas. People use Pinterest to plan for what’s important in their lives, whether that’s easy dinner recipes, home renovation tips or the perfect pair of shoes.”

What are the demographics of Pinterest?

Age and gender:

  • 70% women
  • 30% men

Data from Pew Internet Research Center from 2016 says this about the age of online American adults using Instagram:

  • 36% of 18–29 year olds
  • 34% of 30–49 year olds
  • 28% of 50–64 year olds
  • 16% of 65+ year olds

Education:

And of America’s digitally savvy adults:

  • 34% of adult college graduates use Pinterest
  • 34% of adults with some college experience use Pinterest
  • 22% of adults with a high school diploma or less use Pinterest

Income:

According to Pinterest for Business, 40% of Pinterest users have an income over $100k a year.

How do I find my audience on Pinterest?

With a business account on Pinterest, you have access to insights and targeting tools like Pinterest Analytics.

Pinterest Analytics offers access to information on your most popular pins and metrics about the people who engage with your business and the other things they like.

More on profile metrics, audience metrics and website metrics in Pinterest Analytics here:

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You can use Promoted Pins to reach who you want to through targeting based on:

Is My Audience on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is about networking for business and career.

Businesses can use LinkedIn for branding along with talent acquisition.

If being connected to the businesses community is important to your business — whether it’s for prospects, partnerships or hiring — join the ranks of 270 million LinkedIn users and 18 million company pages.

What is the demographic of LinkedIn?

We turn to Pew Research Center’s 2016 report of American adults using the internet for LinkedIn demographics.

The following stats report how many online adults in each category use LinkedIn.Age and gender:

  • 31% of men
  • 27% of women
  • 34% of 18–29 year olds
  • 33% of 30–49 year olds
  • 24% of 50–64 year olds
  • 20% of 65+ year olds

Education:

  • 50% of adult college graduates
  • 27% of adults with some college experience
  • 12% of adults with a high school diploma or less

Industries most represented on LinkedIn:

  1. Finance
  2. Medical
  3. Education
  4. High Tech
  5. Manufacturing

Income:

  • 45% of adults making over $75,000
  • 32% of adults making $50,000–$74,999
  • 21% of adults making less than $30,000
  • 13% of adults making $30,000–$49,999

How do I find my audience on LinkedIn?

Say you want to increase your visibility to the right LinkedIn audience. Consider joining any of the 200 million LinkedIn groups.

LinkedIn groups might be organized around interest on a topic, sharing a credential, or belonging to the same company or industry.

Here are some tools for helping you find communities on LInkedIn you’ll love:

Is My Audience on Twitter?

Twitter is about being involved in a conversation as it happens, in real-time.

Since Twitter is about behind-the-scenes or everyday conversations, sports players and celebrities have big followings on Twitter.

And since Twitter is a high-interaction channel, it’s becoming a top option for customer service online.

What is the demographic of Twitter?

SproutSocial has made an infographic out of the 2016 Pew Research Center data about Americans online using Twitter:

https://media.sproutsocial.com/uploads/2017/02/twitter-demographics.jpg

Age and gender:

  • 25% of women
  • 24% of  men
  • 36% of 18–29 year olds
  • 23% of 30–49 year olds
  • 21% of 50–64 year olds
  • 10% of 65+ year olds

Education:

  • 29% of adults who graduated college
  • 25% of adults with some college experience
  • 20% adults with a high school diploma or less

Income:

  • 30% of adults who make over $75,000
  • 28% of adults who make $50,000–$74,999
  • 23% of adults who make less than $30,000
  • 18% of adults who make $30,000–$49,999

How do I find my audience on Twitter?

Twitter is always working to surface popular hashtags and content. Use the tool Hashtagify.me to uncover hashtags that bring your content greater visibility.

Plug in hashtag ideas for related suggestions:

Another Twitter tool for user research is Followerwonk. Search the bios of Twitter users so you can find people with like interests to converse with.

Next Steps Once You’ve Found Your Audience on Social Media

To figure out where is your audience on social, look at where your competitors are and what their interaction is like there.

Then find active communities for your topic. Each social media site and each community within it has fundamental principles for how its users should interact with the site.

While you should probably own your business profile on every account, you can be selective about where you put energy.

Wherever your business has a presence on social media today, it might be time to evaluate which platform is worth you investment.

You’re better off having a low-maintenance social strategy than a confused one.

Digital Battlefield: The Ongoing Fight Between Retailers and Hackers

The weekend that retailers and shoppers have been waiting for has finally arrived. Bargain hunters everywhere will be waiting in line and logging on to find the best deals available between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Unfortunately, with all that excitement also comes a very high threat of credit card fraud.

Sellers are certainly doing their part to play defense in this game of digital cat-and-mouse. eCommerce merchants spend more than 7% of their total annual revenue combating fraud, according to a recent report by InternetRetailer. That’s a pretty large amount of money devoted to trying to stop cyber-thieves who always seem to be two steps ahead of the good guys.

As online and mobile sales continue to rise, so does the fraud total involving sales categorized as card-not-present, or CNP. This refers to any sales that are made to consumers who are not physically there to hand over their credit cards, either by computer, smartphone, tablet, phone call, or fax. The hackers take full advantage of CNP purchases, to the tune of what is expected to jump to an estimated $6.4 billion by 2018.

This may sound all bad, and for retailers, it’s obviously a costly part of doing business. Buyers, though, also have technology on their side. While chip credit cards are helping to curb fraud at brick-and-mortar stores, online merchants aren’t just sitting back and ignoring the problem. Sellers are using everything from fraud detection software and two-step verification to data encryption to protect their customers.

Tokenization is also making it much harder for hackers to get access to cardholder information. Tokenization systems convert your credit card number into randomly-generated values that protect your data. More simply, your financial info is never transmitted after you make a purchase. Instead, a random series of letters and numbers is used to represent your credit card number, which means hackers never get the chance to steal any meaningful data.

In a recent research report by Worldpay, 59% of merchants say they think mobile transactions bring more risk of fraud. This makes plenty of sense, but despite the concern, a whopping two-thirds of those same survey respondents say they don’t treat mobile transactions any differently from others. One could see this as indifference or even arrogance on the part of the sellers, but the optimistic view is that it means they’re working just as hard to make it safer for you to shop across all possible platforms.

Banks are also protecting consumers as best they can, detecting potentially fraudulent activity and keeping customers from being liable for those transactions. Most financial institutions are quick to issue new credit cards and replace your money whenever your account is hit with bad charges.

Bottom line: there is no reason to change your shopping habits this holiday season. Stay vigilant and look out for yourself, but be thankful that banks and retailers are doing everything they can to protect your money, as well as their own.

The Size and Performance of Agile Teams

In discussions around Agile team sizes, conventional wisdom holds that teams should be made up of seven, plus or minus two people.

The Scrum Guide, developed by the co-creators of Scrum, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, actually advocates for a number between three and nine. Three people may seem absurdly small, but more than once, I’ve worked with high-producing scrum teams made up of exactly three people.

Here’s the guide’s take (page six, for those of you with your PDF’s handy):

Fewer than three Development Team members decrease interaction and results in smaller productivity gains. Smaller Development Teams may encounter skill constraints during the Sprint, causing the Development Team to be unable to deliver a potentially releasable Increment. Having more than nine members requires too much coordination. Large Development Teams generate too much complexity for an empirical process to manage.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos advocates for what he calls “the two pizza rule,” which asserts, simply, that you should be able to feed your team with two pizzas. I was able to eat a whole pizza in college, which could have thrown things off, but the premise makes sense.

So where do these numbers come from? Many in the Agile community will refer to Miller’s “magic number,” although this is a misapplication of Miller’s term; and, it’s not really the concept he was trying to illustrate (and in Scrum, it’s not even the same range).

In Fred Brooks’ “The Mythical Man Month” (if you haven’t read it, go read it right now), Brooks writes:

If each part of the task must be separately coordinated with each other part, the effort increases as n(n–1)/2. Three workers require three times as much pairwise intercommunication as two; four require six times as much as two.

In Brooks’ math, where n is the number of persons on a team, a team of one (let’s call her Alice) only needs to communicate with herself. This is easy for any self-actualized person (though self-actualized persons may be, in and of themselves, a rarity).

Now let’s say Alice is on a team of three. Alice now has to communicate with two other people (Brian and Chris) who each have to communicate with two people (including Alice). You can map their communication by drawing a line from each person on the team to each other person on the team. Their communications network looks like this:

Team_of_3 (2)

Three people, three lines, three possible (and necessary) vectors of communication. Simple.

Ramp it up to five. Each person has to communicate with four other people. Their new communication network looks like this:Copy of Team_of_5

If you are counting, there are now ten possible communication channels in this team’s network.

Now let’s do 8. That’s 7 connections per person. Since connections go both ways, it’s 28 lines total.Copy of Copy of Team_of_8 (1)

What happens in a team of ten? Forty-five possible lines of communication in the team’s network. To quote The Scrum Guide again:

Having more than nine members requires too much coordination. Large Development Teams generate too much complexity for an empirical process to manage.

Often, I see organizations pushing for teams larger than this. Sometimes, it’s because they don’t have sufficient budget or human capital to scale their product ownership resources to accommodate more teams. (This causes problems that we’ll address in a later article.) Other times, management assumes that more people = more productivity (which seems reasonable, on its face). Other times, it’s an innocent matter of trying to make sure good people have good projects or teams to work on, whether those teams need more people or not.

In the mid 2000s, QSM published a study, oft-cited by members of the Agile community, which examines the effects of team size on schedule and productivity. In studying nearly 500 projects, their observations feel intuitive to anyone who’s ever worked on large projects. Yet the solutions to the problems they highlight still run counter to accepted wisdom in most organizations.

Firstly, the team found that productivity per person drops as team size grows, with a sharp drop after the team crosses into the 9- to 11-person range.

From Brooks’ math, we know that a 9-person team’s communication network is significantly more complex than an 8-person team’s network (36 channels of communication vs. 28). The 9-person team assumes almost 30% more communication overhead, simply by adding one person to its roster. This scales similarly in both directions.

Further, they found that projects with teams of 9 to 11 take nearly 2.5 times the effort, as measured in person-months, than project teams of 5 to 7 (167 vs. 69 person-months, respectively). Of course, much of that effort can be parallelized; so the projects, on average, take approximately 40% longer to deliver.

In all, they found that individuals worked most efficiently on teams of 3 to 5, but teams of 5 to 7 people were able to deliver projects slightly faster. Whether the faster delivery justifies the extra headcount is highly situational.

So why are smaller teams more effective?  In addition to the problems with communication overhead that arise in larger groups, we’ll take a look at the Ringelmann effect.

Ringelmann (1913) found that having group members work together on a task (e.g., pulling a rope) actually results in significantly less effort than when individual members are acting alone. Furthermore, Ringelmann discovered that as more and more people are added to a group, the group often becomes increasingly inefficient, ultimately violating the notion that group effort and team participation reliably leads to increased effort on behalf of the members.

Maximilien Ringelmann proved that, as teams grow, individual contribution shrinks, caused by lack of motivation and loss of coordination. One possible cause of coordination loss may be accounted for by network overhead, but on a task like rope pulling, there isn’t much to communicate. Agile methods try to fix the motivation problem by involving people in the reasoning behind their work, though this could be an article unto itself. We mitigate the loss of coordination simply by limiting the number of things we need to coordinate: tasks, user stories, and in particular, people.

On paper, the corroborating evidence in support of keeping teams small seems pretty overwhelming. Yet organizations who endeavor to design the structure of their Agile teams (which may be, in and of itself, problematic for self-organization), will frequently over-staff teams, and as project importance increases, so does the probability of making such a miscalculation and often the probability of failure.

Leaders, Teams, and Agilists alike should understand the cost and benefits of scale. But for anyone who’s ever seen a small team become hyperproductive, it’s not even a discussion worth having.

Blogging 101: 5 Things Every New Blogger Should Know

So, you want to start writing a blog? Ok, great! What now?

Getting a blog going can be incredibly exciting. It’s a constructive way to express your thoughts and share them with anyone who wants to read them. It can also be a bit overwhelming, especially for bloggers who have never actually done it before. Here are 5 important things to keep in mind as you get started:

  1. Write the way you speak.

Keeping it conversational can help you connect better with your readers. When things are a little more loose and relaxed, your blog is an easier read, and it can also help break down some of your more specialized topics into ideas that everyone can digest.

  1. Find your niche.

It’s important to find blog topics that will resonate with your target audience. There are millions of blogs out there. The only way to stand out from the pack is to find something specific that you’re passionate about, and write about the most interesting aspects of that topic. You’re not going to be loved by everyone, but that’s not realistic. The main goal is to appeal to those folks who have an interest in what you’re writing about, and keep them coming back for more.

  1. Research, research, research.

It’s not just about the writing… reading is just as important. Even with a topic that’s in your wheelhouse, you still need cited facts to back you up. There’s always more information out there that can give your blog a little something extra. Linking to articles where you found quotes, statistics or data to support your point will go a long way toward establishing the kind of credibility that you crave.

  1. Share and share alike.

Whether you love it or loathe it, social media is going to be a driving force behind marketing yourself and your blog. Share links to your writings on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other place that will push traffic to your site. You’re starting from scratch, so it will likely take a little while before the readers are coming in droves, but social media is always one of the best ways to get noticed.

  1. Keep at it.

You’re new at this, so try not to get discouraged, especially early on. Gaining a following will take time, so be patient. Make an editorial calendar, so that you know what topics you’ll be covering and when you’ll be tackling them. It’s important to generate content on a regular basis, with whatever frequency you chose to post. If you don’t like the direction things are heading with a particular topic, change gears to something that suits you better. Trial and error is just part of the process.