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Uncategorized 09 Jun 2010 03:25 pm

Forrester Research Interactive Marketing Forecasts Social Media Marketing Spend up 34% per year

With the Re:NEW Michigan survey showing a continued growth in the use of social media for business marketing, speculation around the future of social media marketing is only natural. According to Forrester Research’s most recent Interactive Marketing Forecast, social media marketing will grow at an annual rate of 34%. This is faster than any other online marketing and double the rate of all other online marketing techniques. Can you see your business utilizing social media 34% more? What will social media look like 5, 10 or 15 years from now?

Uncategorized 03 Jun 2010 09:33 am

E-readers Next Big Thing?

College campuses have always been a breeding ground for innovation. It is unlikely to find a group of people more receptive to change clustered in one area. Facebook, for example, made its debut on college campuses, and now everyone and their uncle (literally!) seems to have their own page. An upcoming trend deserving of closer watch is the use of e-readers in education.

Last fall, Kindle DX, Amazon’s e-reader geared towards e-textbooks, was run through pilot programs at Arizona State, Case Western Reserve, Pace University, Princeton, Reed College, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. This initiative was undertaken by the institutions in an attempt to eventually defray textbooks costs and reduce the amount of paper used by each student. The Kindle DX was very well received. Students were able to access and transport all their textbooks in one portable 10.3 oz device as opposed to carting a heavy backpack full of high-priced books all over campus.

After discussing the issue with my college students peers, I found them to be extremely interested in the idea of purchasing an e-reader for textbooks as well. With the ever-rising cost of college tuition, adding an extra $700 per semester for textbooks leaves students feeling outraged and open to a technological device that will save them money in the long run. A Kindle DX retails for $489, and e-textbooks average around $50, well under about half the cost of traditional, in-print textbooks.

The issue presents a chicken and egg type paradox, however. Students will not purchase an e-reader until they are ensured that all of their needed textbooks are available in digital format. While at the same time, textbooks companies will not release e-textbooks until students start purchasing e-readers. According to the National Association of College Stores, the textbook industry brings in an average of $6.5 billion dollars annually, and these publishers are not yet ready to relinquish control over how their content is sold and displayed.

For now, the e-textbook industry, with the potential to revolutionize the educational world, is at a standstill. It is up to the publishers to take the next pivotal step because it is doubtful that money-conscious students will do so.

Emily Rozanski

Uncategorized 26 May 2010 09:18 am

Chinese Social Networking Site Biggest in the World

QZone turns profits from people, not ads
Model for social network sites

It’s time for Western internet users to say “ni hao” to the biggest social networking website on the Internet, QZone. (“Hi” or “hello” in Chinese).

If social media want to build revenue models for their businesses, they need look no further than the highly popular 5-year-old Chinese portal, QZone. It generated $1.2 billion revenue in 2009!

QZone is a Chinese social networking site (available only in Chinese) started by China’s largest Internet service portal TenCent just five years ago, in 2005. The website has more than 250 million reported users as of late 2009, according to Reuters. Some of QZone’s features include tools to interact with friends, online games, uploading and sharing photos and music as well as the wildly popular instant messenger QQ. It permits users to write blogs, keep diaries, send photos, and listen to music. most services are not free. A user pays for virtually every service he or she uses.

What makes QZone unique to other social networking sites, like the U.S. based Facebook and MySpace, is how QZone generates revenue. In 2008, QZone and TenCent was over $1 billion and only 13 percent came from advertising. The rest of QZone revenue come from virtual purchases.

Virtual profits are made up of any type of service or online goods for which users pay real money. This can range from subscription fees to buying virtual clothes for avatars and codes or boosts for games. As silly as it may seem to some to pay for accessories for a two-dimensional character or to cheat in a game, this technique has made online companies in Asia wealthy.

Whether Facebook and MySpace can employ the same technique with equal success is still to be determined, but for now QZone stands as the best revenue-generation business model for social networking.

Larry Eiler & Alyssa Eckles

Uncategorized 27 Jan 2010 05:53 pm

Hard Times Make New Opportunities: Seven Steps to Managing a Business Crisis

Planning for and managing crises are valued components of public relations especially during economic downturns. The reputation and well being of all businesses, non-profits, schools and governments are at risk when there is no plan for action when the wolf is at the door.

“We just do not have a ready handle on how to handle the new situations we are encountering because of new situations due to the economy,” said the CEO of one large organization of businesses.

His plight is common. Bankruptcies threaten financial institutions in each of our 50 states. Governmental units, fire and police services and educational systems are under fire for redundancies in services or for financial mismanagement. Restaurants, banks, and other businesses routinely are hit by burglars. These are all crises. They involve doing business in ways that differ from normal times.

Here are seven steps that any organization can take to manage a crisis.

Candor
Publicly identify and acknowledge the problem. Frankness and honesty are always the best policy.
Say what you will be doing, when, and provide updates as you will acquire new information.

Explanation
Identify situations as you are able. Explain them clearly.

Declaration
Specify the steps that you will be or are taking to resolve the issue. Explain your role as spokesperson and provide 24/7 contact information.

Contrition
Accept responsibility.
Do not place blame.
Offer apologies, regrets, sympathy or whatever is appropriate to the situation.

Consultation
Ask for help from relevant parties.
Seek engagement from those most directly affected.
Use collective ideas to plan how further situations will be prevented or communicated.

Commitment
Promise to take actions to eliminate potential further situations.
State what will be done in assessing and evaluating solutions.

Restoration
Explain how you will remediate the problem.
Emphasize management’s focus on prevention.

Larry Eiler

Uncategorized 27 Jan 2010 11:08 am

Working On Your Dream

“I’m working on a dream

Though sometimes it feels so far away

I’m working on a dream

And I know it will be mine someday”


- Bruce Springsteen

If Bruce Springsteen can get his dream, why can’t you? According to the National Federation of Independent Business’ (NFIB) Optimism Index, small business’ hopefulness is out. In a time of economic hardship, companies are becoming increasingly pessimistic about their future. But why give up on your dream altogether? No one said being successful would be easy.

There are many ways for businesses to fight through the economic recession, mainly by cutting costs. First, save money on advertising. Joining social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter allows your company to promote itself for free. That’s right, I said free! By completing a simple sign in page, your company can create a profile that informs followers of important business or industry news. Additionally, join LinkedIn. By joining this site, your company has the potential to meet prospective clients and employees. Once again, membership is free and partnering with new clients can lead to a number of new opportunities.

By implementing these small changes, you can improve your company’s standing in today’s economy. Look at the glass half full and stay motivated. Follow in Bruce Springsteen’s footsteps and work on your dream to further the chance of making it a reality.

- Sami Kraslow

Uncategorized 23 Nov 2009 11:19 am

Could subscription fees be the end of Hulu?

Free television shows you can watch on your computer? It sounds too good to be true? That’s what Hulu, the online video player, is beginning to think as well.

Hulu.com showcases the latest episodes of shows from major cable channels for free. It’s simple to work: just find the series you want to watch and click on an episode. There are commercials and Hulu will remove television shows after a short period of time, but overall it’s a great concept.

Despite its popularity and general success, Hulu is considering a huge change. The video player has announced it would like to start charging viewers in 2010, turning the “free-for-all” website into a subscription service.

If Hulu starts charging its viewers for content, it will lose quite a few significant audience groups. People who just want to catch up on a series won’t continue with Hulu, and neither will those who use it as a surrogate television. Most major television channels will offer the three most recent episodes of a show for free, if you don’t mind their finicky media players. Many users will be hard-pressed to find something positive about a media player which charges it viewers for something they had been getting for free.

Hulu will need to evolve if it wants to charge viewers and remain the top online-video site after YouTube. The first thing will be to cut all commercials; nobody wants to pay to sit through the same McDonald’s commercial five times in a 20-minute show. Hulu will also need to beef up its content. Currently, it only offers maybe 5-10 current television shows from each main channel and only a few shows from smaller specialized channels like Syfy. More shows from more channels would be a great way for Hulu to keep its audiences.

The biggest thing Hulu will need to do to remain popular with subscription fees is simply to be the best. Whether it’s offering more than 300 television series in their entirety or featuring full-length movies before their release on DVD, Hulu could survive a major change. Without something extraordinary, though, Hulu won’t make it to another season.

Alyssa Eckles

Uncategorized 23 Nov 2009 11:12 am

Texting While Driving: A Dangerous Distraction

As technology advances, people are increasing their ability and preference to be in a state of constant contact with others. However, when this expansion of communication reaches a point of pervasiveness that interferes and distracts from an individual’s primary tasks the results can be disastrous.

With the growth in cell phone usage, more and more people are prone to utilize their phones while they drive. This is not limited to teenagers or younger adults; people from all ages are increasing the use of their phones and other electronic devices in various capacities while driving. This includes such things as dialing a phone number, checking email on a mobile device, changing the music on a digital music player, and sending text messages.

Driving is primarily a visually dependent activity, thus any action that removes the driver’s eyes from the road is potentially dangerous. Beyond merely seeing the road, driving requires the diver to be mindful and aware of what is going on around them. Texting and similar actions take both the drivers eyes and mind away from the road.
Various studies, both in real and simulated scenarios, have established the hazards of this distracted driving. According to research conducted at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, when a car driving at 55 mph texting takes the driver’s concentration off the road for the equivalent of traveling the length of a football field. Furthermore, a study conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory at Wokingham, Berkshire England found that texting while driving is as impairing as drunk driving. Yet, regardless of all the tests all the evidence, even first hand experiences in close crash situations a large number of people continue to text while driving.

The legal regulation of texting and driving is gaining support on multiple levels all across the United States. Nationally, President Obama signed an order that forbade all federal employees from texting while operating a federally owned vehicle. Additionally AAA is lobbying for a bill that would force all states to adopt no texting while driving laws and enact them by 2013. On the smaller scale a little under half of all the states so far have passed laws that outlaw texting while driving.

This is a great step towards reducing the problem, but it is difficult to actually enforce the laws. Simply spotting the behavior, beyond being a poor/distracted driver, is difficult let alone actually proving that whatever the driver was texting. It only takes a couple clicks to erase all text messages on a phone. Theoretically this is can occur in less time then it would take for a police officer to pull a person over and walk from their patrol car to the other vehicle. Thus without subpoenaing cell phone records confirming that the person was indeed texting and driving would be extremely difficult. Even then, a person could delete the text and not send it, thus making the subpoena irrelevant. The punishment for texting while driving varies throughout the states that have banned it, but the standard seems to be a moderate fine, which increases per offense.

Where legal regulation falls short, technology is stepping up to help. Although the advances in technology and increased level of communication lead to the danger these distracting dangers, several steps are being taken to correct the problem. One example of this is the development of Microsoft and Ford’s Sync technology. Sync allows a person to connect their phone wirelessly to the car using Bluetooth technology. When a text is received, Sync provides a number of prewritten responses that can be keyed in and sent using the appropriate number on the dashboard. Sync also includes voice command technology that allows a person to vocally control various calling features of their phone. Specific music artists and tracks can also be vocally selected from a digital music device when one is connected to the vehicle. Although there is currently not adequate technology to allow for talk to text/text to talk interaction reports claim that Ford and Microsoft are currently working on further development. All of these applications allow for a more seamless, less distracting, driving and communicating experience.

Not waiting for legal regulation and technology to take their full affect there are groups attempting to raise awareness about the dangers of texting and driving. Many of these stem from established groups that are aimed at aiding and informing teenagers and their parents. The most shocking effort of the anti-texting and driving movement is a public service announcement made by a British police department, with the intent to be shown to teenagers. The extremely graphic video shows a teenage girl whose texting and driving has devastating results. Click here to view the video: Texting and driving PSA. While the video is indeed disturbing, the intention is to illustrate just how dangerous texting and driving can be.

In the end, the main goal of all of these efforts is to encourage drivers to keep their eyes and minds focused on the road. The law, technology and community groups are all moving forward to eliminate texting and driving, hopeful that society will soon follow suit.

Mike Witkowski

Uncategorized 05 Nov 2009 04:40 pm

Who Has The Time!

It never ceases to amaze me how much technology has come into my life in the past 20 plus years. Email was wonderful, but has become a dumping ground for unnecessary things. Phishing is terrible. It takes me longer to go through my email to find the relevant messages.

Looking at the social media spaces that I have set up is time consuming as well. When do I or anyone else have time to do their “real jobs.”

Articles are being written that many employers are banning employees from engaging in social media on company time.

Sandy Eiler

Uncategorized 10 Jun 2009 12:54 pm

Bing!

Bing it! Does it have the same ring to it as “Go Google it?” Microsoft’s latest attempt at competing with the popular search engine Google- Bing is now live.

Bing is more than a search engine, it’s a decision engine. The site was created for questions that have more than one answer. Bing helps users overcome a search overload and find the best choice faster. It organizes results into logical categories, not in order of popularity. For example, I searched for “Michigan”. My results were sorted in the following categories- maps, zip codes, newspapers, facts, attractions, and images. This made it much easier to find exactly what I was searching for in less time.

On the left hand side of the Bing homepage there is a guided search for shopping, health, travel and local information. The shopping feature brings price comparisons, images and reviews for what you are looking for to help you quickly find the best product at the lowest price. The health feature brings together results from top medical sites ensuring that you are getting information you can trust. The travel feature allows you to enter dates and locations then finds the best deals. There is even a price predictor that determines when fares may be cheaper. The local feature allows you to search for things like restaurants around your area. You can then refine the results by parking, price, atmosphere or reservations and get one-click directions.

What is the difference between Bing and Google? The biggest difference is how the results are sorted. For example, I searched for “Detroit Redwings” on both search engines. On Bing, the official team website came up as the first result, on Google, news results (Stanley Cup etc) for the team were displayed first. Bing also pulled up a schedule for the team listing upcoming events. Google didn’t.

Another difference is the spell check feature of each site. When I misspelled a word while searching on Google, a notification asking if I meant the correct spelling instead came up. When I misspelled the same word on Bing, it automatically changed the word to the correct spelling and searched for that.

Google pulls up almost double the results that Bing does.

Some say Bing is more interesting to look at with images on its homepage while others prefer Google’s simple and classic background.

I think which search engine is a better depends on your own personal preferences. Personally, I’ve been happy with my results using Google and don’t see the need to switch over to Bing, at least for now. It’s a nice option to learn about though.

Amanda Deluca

Uncategorized 14 May 2009 11:33 am

Watchdog Function of Newspaper: Going to Whom?

Newspapers have always been considered the watchdogs of government, the courts, business, financial service. Their reporters use connections and research to ferret out and track down all manner of wrongdoing.

But the evolution of newspapers is changing that watchdog function. To where and to whom?

I suggest that media personalities who are in continuous communication with business, public, government, education, healthcare leaders may have an emerging role as “watchdogs” in the new social media, the growing source of society’s desire for “instant gratification of information.”

The function has to go somewhere. Who better than radio and media personalities who have connections, need content for their work, have access to spread the word via all the new and growing internet social media channels.

Where else can this function of “watchdog” go?

Larry Eiler

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