Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker: The Power of Networking

posted in: Business | 1

Networking

Over the years networking has been cloaked with a negative connotation. Social media (esp. Linkedin and Facebook) has cheapened relationships from lifelong to one-click wonders. The most powerful networkers I know focus on helping others connect, not themselves. It’s not about how many business cards you can dish out or how many friends you can “collect” on Facebook. True networking involves getting to know people and keeping your eyes open for opportunities to connect them with others.

For example, lets examine two people who share a similar passion for programming: Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker.

Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984. He studied at Ardsley High School before transferring to Phillips Exeter Academy for his junior year. During the 1990s, he learned Atari Basic Programming through his father and studied under software developer David Newman.

While Mark’s friends played computer games, he created them. In his teens, he built the Synapse Media Player under the Intelligent Media Group. PC Magazine rated it 3 out of 5. In September 2002, he enrolled at Harvard University instead of accepting job offers from Microsoft and AOL. By this time, he was already known as a “programming prodigy.”

During his second year in college, he created CourseMatch, an online platform that allowed students to choose their classes based on other’s choices and to join study groups. Eventually, he created Facemash – where students selected the most attractive students by voting online. Facemash became so popular that it overwhelmed the school’s network switches. Some students complained that their photos were used without their permission. He apologized, and soon took down the site.

During that time, students were also looking for a site that would allow them to voluntarily share photos and contact information. Mark saw the perfect opportunity. He and his roommates – Eduardo Saverin, Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskowitz started working on the project. On February 4, 2004, thefacebook.com was launched. It became so popular that after a month, Mark left school to work on the project full time.

Sean Parker

Sean Parker was born in 1979 in Herndon, Virginia. At the age of 7, his father taught him programming on an Atari 800. By the time he was 16 his hobbies were programming and hacking. FBI agents tracked down his IP address one night while hacking a Fortune 500 company. Being a minor, he was only made to do community service as a punishment.

He spent two years at Oakton High School in Fairfax, Virginia before moving to Chantilly High School in 1996 for junior and senior high. He won the Virginia state computer science fair for creating a Web crawler and was recruited by the CIA. He spent his high school life writing code and starting companies. Earning $80,000 a years through different projects enabled him to become an entrepreneur and skip college with his parents’ permission.

He launched Napster in 1999 together with his friend Shawn Fanning, which was eventually shut down after lawsuits from various record labels started surfacing. In November 2002, he launched Plaxo, which was considered to be the precursor of networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. He also became an advisor for Friendster in 2003. In 2010, he helped fund Votizen. He launched Spotify in the US in July 2011. In the same year, he launched Airtime.com with other investors.

How Mark and Sean crossed paths

A girlfriend of Sean’s friend showed him thefacebook.com. Being a veteran of online networking sites, he took interest and sent an e-mail to Facebook’s generic e-mail address. He met with Mark and Eduardo Saverin in the spring of 2004.

Facebook was born

Sean was considered the Facebook veteran. He helped Mark and his friends to network and meet important people in Silicon Valley and generate funding for Facebook. Sean first went to Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s CEO, who declined because it posed a conflict of interest with his current position. He introduced Sean and Mark to Peter Thiel. Thiel liked the idea and agreed to become its first angel investor with $500,000 for 10.2% share in the company. Mark Pincus, co-founder of Zynga, also joined in.

In August 2005, thefacebook.com officially became Facebook. They bought the domain name for a reported $200,000. And the rest, as they say, is history.

In an e-mail, Mark mentioned the following about Sean, “Sean was pivotal in helping Facebook transform from a college project into a real company. Perhaps more importantly, Sean helped ensure that anyone interested in investing in Facebook would not only buy into a company, but also a mission and vision of making the world more open through sharing.”

From a college project that started in a room dormitory to a company that is reportedly worth more than $100 billion today, we cannot help but wonder whether it would have survived if the Sean Parker failed to connect with Mark and help him connect with the Silicon Valley elite.

McDonalds VS Starbucks (Infographic)

posted in: Business, Social Media | 1

McDonalds VS Starbucks

 

Other Stats

 Particulars  McDonalds  Starbucks 
 Year Established  In 1940  In 1971
 Where First Established  San Bernardino, California  Seattle
 Original Business Type  Barbeque Restaurant  Local coffee bean roaster and retailer.
 Original Founders  Brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald  Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker
 Later acquired by  Ray Kroc – sold Milk Shake machines  Howard Schultz – sold coffee machines
 Acquisition Cost  Kroc paid the McDonald Bros $2.7 million to buy the company in 1955 at the age of 53  Schultz paid the owners $3.8 million in 1987 to buy the company at the age 0f 34
 First Store outside US  1974 in the United Kingdom  1996 in Tokyo, Japan
 First Initial Public Offering  April 21, 1965 at $22.50 per share  June 26, 1992 at $17 per share
 Revenue Sources  Rent, royalties and fees paid by franchisees. Sales from company-operated stores.  Licensed Stores. Packaged tea and coffee. Branded coffee. Food Service Operations. Sales from stores.
 Estimated Annual Revenue  $22 billion  $11 billion
 Menu List  Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken, french fries, breakfast items, coffee, soft drinks, milk shakes and desserts.  Hot and cold beverages, whole bean coffee, microground instant coffee, full-leaf teas, pastries and snacks.
 # of Stores worldwide  34,000 Restaurants  20,336 Stores
 # of employees worldwide  1.7 million employees  149,000 employees
 # of countries where it can be found  119 countries  61 countries
 Facebook Likes  33,481,240 Fans  26,993,917 Fans
 Twitter Followers  934,325 Followers  3,349,993 Followers
 Pinterest  1,615 Followers  69,902 Followers

Startup Pivots: 3 Inspiring Examples

posted in: Business | 0


“If at first you don’t succeed… try, try, try again.”
– W.E. Hickson 

Let’s face it; doing things perfectly from the beginning is nothing short of a miracle. If you feel that your business is heading south, you have a couple of options. You can close up shop or you can take the parts that work and pivot in another direction. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Andrew Mason and a large number of the most successful companies on the planet started off with a completely different product or service in mind.

Let’s take a look at some successful examples of startup pivots.

Groupon

startup-pivots-groupon

Groupon started out as ThePoint.com – a social initiatives platform built to get people enthusiastic about a cause. Chicago Entrepreneur Eric Lefkosky gave ThePoint.com founder Andrew Mason $1 million in seed money in January 2007. However, it wasn’t able to attract the attention of advertisers.

One campaign of ThePoint.com was successful – where consumers got together to increase bargain-buying power. ThePoint.com saw the opportunity and started blogs that offered deals from different vendors on the site. This became their pivot. In November 2008, Groupon, a combination of the words group and coupon, was born. Groupon is currently valued at $3.3 billion.

Amazon 

startup-pivots-amazon

Jeff Bezos launched the company Cadabra in July 1994. In 1995, it was converted to an online bookstore and renamed Amazon. With an initial 1 million titles at launch, Jeff Bezos saw a bigger picture. He wanted to be at the forefront of e-commerce. When Bezos introduced other items on Amazon.com he wasn’t just pivoting, he was evolving.

Bezos came into the digital music scene late. He had lost the digital music battle to Apple’s iTunes. This was a lesson that Amazon’s needed to pivot into hardware and digital goods. Amazon didn’t really manufacture goods; they just sold merchandise online until Kindle was created in November 2007. Kindle became the perfect match for the e-books Amazon was selling. Although other players entered the space, they are still able to control 70%-80% of the ebook market. Although this pivot to hardware drew skeptics at first, it has paid off handsomely.

Flickr

startup-pivots-flickr

Flickr was once a defunct multi-player online game called Game Neverending. Founded by Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake in 2002, Neverending failed to attract the attention of venture capitalists and they had no choice but to shut it down.

However, one of the game’s features was golden – instant messaging. They eagerly rolled up their sleeves and worked on adding the functionality of dropping photos together with text in instant messages. It became so popular that the original business plan, Neverending, gave way to Flickr – a photo-sharing website. Yahoo eventually bought Flickr for $40 million in March 2005.

Benefits of Pivoting

Pivoting helps you embrace new opportunities and offers your business room to be flexible. If something isn’t working, dig in and analyze what’s hindering your success and what the market is telling you.

WARNING: Don’t Pivot Too Early

Many startups pivot before giving their ideas a chance. It’s easier to pivot than work hard getting your idea off the ground. Don’t pivot until you have people using your product or service and you’ve exhausted ever other avenue for traction or spot a golden opportunity.

“You should be continuously looking to what the market is telling you and making adjustments,” he said. “You should be pivoting all the time.”

– Gil Zimmermann (CloudLock CEO)

Attention Startups! Advertising Is NOT A Business Model.

posted in: Business | 1

The Advertising Business Model

fail-advertising-business-model

Traditionally, newspapers and other print media earned money through advertisements. Publishers believed that the Internet was a golden opportunity with scalable reach and minimal distribution costs. What publishers didn’t count on was the limitless amount of free information and news pouring in from every writer with an Internet connection. The major publishers no longer controlled the flow of information and online advertising rates slowly declined.

There’s a long-term belief that profitability can be achieved by “just getting users” using freebies – like news, products and services, and then monetizing solely with display ads. However, companies are slowly realizing that in order to remain profitable, they have to create multiple income streams and diversify.

Companies like Google and Facebook are the exceptions to this rule. With Facebook’s more than 1 trillion page views per month and Google’s more than 180 billion ad impressions each month, they can generate enough revenue from ads to sustain their business model. My last company planned on monetizing solely through advertising.  We had tremendous traffic, but at the end of the day we weren’t Google and we scrambled to find a new business model.

Digg

digg-advertising-business-model

Digg was created with the idea of empowering people by allowing them to post news stories that they found interesting. Digg tried everything possible to monetize. When it gained popularity, its creators made the decision to enable Google Adsense to earn money for the company. However, even with the massive amount of traffic it wasn’t enough to keep the company profitable.

Reddit

Reddit is another company that thought about generating revenue by putting in more ads on their site. Although the site gained success through their Ask Me Anything (AMA) campaigns that allow users to ask questions to celebrities– like President Barack Obama, the large amount of traffic meant upgrading their existing IT infrastructure and additional storage/bandwidth costs.

Reddit CEO Yishan Wong admitted that incorporating ads in between pages would compromise the user experience.  Aside from that, he stated, “See, the problem is that if your site is funded primarily with advertising, then you are beholden to your advertisers. If your users choose to post something politically or culturally controversial, you come under editorial pressure from advertisers to remove or modify it…This eventually results in a watering down of the true, authentic content on the site (remember Sears?). It’s one of the reasons Digg failed.”

With this in mind, instead of putting more ads on the site, Reddit began promoting a Gold membership plan to its users – where users who purchase this plan have exclusive access to discussion groups and forums.  Sites like Techdirt, 4Chan and Talking Points Memo are also attempting this strategy.

Other Business Models

Subscription Services

There’s no business model as straightforward as paid subscription. You have the number of subscribers and you have the subscription price. Then, just do the math. The challenge in a subscription models is presenting content that’s compelling enough to draw the potential subscriber’s interest and gain their trust. That’s where freemium comes in.

Freemium

This is a model that offers basic services to its users. If the user wants to have access to additional features, they are charged a fee.

Trial

This model is similar to freemium except that instead of withholding features, the service expires after a certain amount of time. The user must pay if they’d like to continue to use the service.

Microtransactions

Microtransactions, also known as in-app billing or in-app purchasing, is a business model that allows users to purchase virtual goods. Amounts involved are usually small, $1 or less, but they often add-up due to the volume.

Affiliate

In this business model, a company earns through payments made by the referrer’s site to the affiliate site. This has been touted as the business model that is “6 times more valuable than ad revenue.” Here, the approach is more targeted. If someone were interested in social media, he would logically visit sites about social media. The site’s owner can present an affiliate link related to social media that can be clicked by the web visitor. If they make a purchase through the link, the site owner makes a commission.

 

Ads placed on websites, no matter how strategic they are placed, are often ignored. The more ads you place, the more they turn visitors off. It’s all about figuring out how to present interesting offers to visitors that will result in a transaction.

Ray Kroc | Franchising French Fries

posted in: Business, Mini Biography | 0

Raymond Albert Kroc was born on October 5, 1902 in Oak Park, Chicago. His parents were of Czech descent. He was brought up in the sales industry starting with selling lemonade as a kid in front of his home and working in a grocery store. He learned the restaurant business in Ray Dambaugh’s restaurant. Eventually he became a salesman for the Multimixer milkshake machine that lead him to cross paths with the McDonald Brothers.

Meeting the McDonald’s

Kroc thought the Multimixer would be an instant cash cow. At the age of 37, he was able to obtain the exclusive marketing rights to the milkshake maker. He spent years peddling the product to various businesses and restaurant owners. In the 1950s, there was a sudden decline in the economy and Ray began losing money and customers. Luckily, there was one humble restaurant located in San Bernardino, California that ordered 8 machines. It was a rare order at that time. Intrigued, he traveled to visit this restaurant and found himself in a small burger stand run by Mac and Dick McDonald.

McDonalds

The restaurant offered something new and fresh at that time. It was self service with limited menu including hamburgers, fries, drinks, and of course, milk shakes. Buyers lined up to place orders and received their food in less than a minute. Ray had a feeling that this was yet another cash cow. The possibility of having these restaurants all over America would bring in a truckload of money. He talked to the McDonald brothers about opening branches across the country, but they weren’t interested. Kroc offer to do it for them and the brothers gave him exclusive rights to market and sell the “McDonald’s method.” For each franchise sold, he would receive 1.9% of the gross sales. From that, he still gave the brothers 1.5% of the commission.

In 1955, Kroc opened his first McDonalds franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois. He managed to sell 18 franchises in a year but his profit was not covering his own expenses. He decided to acquire the rights to the Mcdonald’s Method.

He then met Harry Sonnenborne who taught him how to buy and sell real estate. The game plan was to lease or buy all the land where the McDonald restaurants were located. Franchise owners pay Kroc either a monthly rental or percentage of their current sales. By owning the franchises and the land they were built on, Kroc grew his fortune and eventually bought McDonalds for $2.7 million in cash.

Ray though that the original McDonald’s in San Bernardino was included in the sale but the McDonald brothers took a firm opposition. Because Ray Kroc now had the exclusive rights to the name McDonald’s, the brothers were forced to change their restaurant name to The Big M and eventually went out of business. McDonalds continued to be the biggest name in fast food all over the globe.

Networth

Ray Croc was named by Time Magazine as one of the ‘100 Most Important People of the Century’ and died January 14, 1984 at the age of 81. He had an estimated net worth of $500 million at the time of his death. When his wife Joan Kroc died in 2003, her estimated net worth climbed to $1.2 billion. The McDonalds corporation is currently worth over $90 bilion.

Top Social Media Books

1.) Content Rules

How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (New Rules Social Media Series)

Author Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman

content-rules-mindofmiller

Summary:

Social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and blogs have enabled everyone, different organizations and their targeted markets included, a chance to be heard. With billions striving for attention in the online world, how do you make your “voice” heard? How do you generate videos and blog posts that can turn mere browsers into fans who will be passionate about what you have to offer, and will catapult your business to new heights? Content Rules gets you revved up for online success!  Learn the art and science behind content that people love. Read about case studies of companies who were able to create a buzz online with the ideas that enabled them to create credibility and a loyal customer base.

Find your true “voice,” learn how you can leverage social media for your business, understand why you do what you do, and write in a way that sends you message across with clarity.

Review:

This is a book that every business owner and marketing executive should read.  The authors (Handley and Chapman) were able to present useful information in a format that is easily understood.

Content Rules is recommended for those who are just testing the waters, so to speak, in the digital world. In addition to that, for those who are looking to raise the bar a little higher… as far as content is concerned.

This book is a cross between social media and online marketing. It will help you understand the basic steps you need to take so that you can find the “voice” that will make you and your brand unique in this crowded marketplace.

2.) Social BOOM!

How to Master Business Social Media to Brand Yourself, Sell Yourself, Sell Your Product, Dominate Your Industry Market, Save Your Butt, … and Grind Your Competition into the Dirt.

Jeffrey Gitomer

social-boom-mindofmiller

Summary: 

Social BOOM! showcases many facets of social media, incorporating the business parameters (blog, personal website and e-zine) that will enable you to unleash the power of the law of attraction. As you create online communities, you build connections that lead to real business engagements. Make the leap from social media to business social media by adding value to your friendly followers.

Learn about the business social media tactics that author Jeffrey Gitomer and other online gurus are employing right now as you examine each angle of this “foundation-building, platform-building” book. These are not ideas that came by chance. They have been tested and can be put into action today.

Review:

Social Boom! is a good book, both in terms of aesthetics and in providing valuable information. It’s like taking a tour on various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogging and being reassured that they are not as frighteningly difficult as they seem.

Aside from Gitomer, guest authors like Noah Rickun, Mike O’Neil, Mark Schaefer and Sally Hogshead provided a well-rounded approach in explaining what social media really is.

I look at this book as a business manual.  As Jeffrey makes you feel that you’re on a one-on-one coaching session on how you can create a strong social media presence. Having said that, it’s definitely geared more towards beginners in the space and experienced online marketers might not find it worth their time.

3.) Likeable Social Media

How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (And Other Social Networks)

Dave Kerpen

likeable-social-media-mindofmiller

Summary:

Likeable Social Media teaches businesses how the online world is not so different from the “real” one. Where being LIKEABLE is the key that will unlock the door to new opportunities. Relationships matters. And what people say about you counts, especially online. No advertisement can beat a “friend’s” recommendation.  With Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms – feedback, whether good or bad, has never travelled faster and lasted longer than before.

This book teaches you how you can leverage the very powerful word-of-mouth marketing to propel your business to success.  Hear what your customers and prospects say.  Engage them and make them spread positive feedback about your business.

Review:

The real world case studies and examples are fantastic.

We see, hear and read about self-proclaimed Social Media Experts every day. David Kerpen showcases a unique and credible set of knowledge. Likeable Social Media was written by someone who clearly walks the talk.

At the end of each chapter, Kerpen challenges you – through exercises, to put into action the concept he discussed so that you’ll understand how you can apply it to your business.

I suggest this to anyone who is curious as to how they can leverage social media for their business.

4.) The New Rules of Marketing & PR

How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly

David Meerman Scotts

new-rules-marketing-pr-mindofmiller

Summary:

The way businesses communicate has evolved through the years. Creative ad copy no longer gets the job done. This book has opened the eyes of thousands of marketers to the reality that the rules have really changed in the new digital age. Unique, a first of its kind in offering a doable action plan on how marketers can maximize the Internet’s potential to reach its target market directly, increase online visibility, and pump up sales.

Learn how you can send the right message across to the right audience at the most opportune time – with little to no marketing budget.

This updated edition includes an introduction on the recent developments in marketing and PR, mobile marketing, real-time marketing and PR, updated materials on how you can measure the effectiveness and success of your campaigns, an array of new tools and new case studies.

Review:

This book opens your mind to new ways of observing and building marketing and PR. At certain points in our life, it’s easy to conform and become extinct. After all, if it worked once it will always work, right? WRONG

Social media is dynamic. It’s fast-evolving. This book has gives a glimpse of what to expect in the future as far as marketing and PR is concerned. As well as what needs to be done to stay relevant in today’s marketplace.

For those looking for thoughts and ideas that will enable you to use the various platforms online more effectivel, this book is for you.

5.) The Zen of Social Media Marketing

An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue: 2012 Edition

Shama Hyder Kabani

zen-of-social-media-marketing

Summary:

The word “zen” is associated with being easy, masterful and calming. But when it follows the words “social media marketing,” it feels like an oxymoron.  Social media marketing is a lot of fun, but it’s rarely easy. Businesses can no longer avoid social media – so you might just as well join the conversation and connecting with your customers online.

The Zen of Social Media Marketing will open your eyes to the benefits of social media marketing without the hassle.

Chris Brogan, New York Time’s best-selling author, wrote the foreword for the book. He stated how Kabani was able to give tested procedures from her successes through her online business interactions, as well as tips and tricks that will enable you to be more productive with your time.

Review:

Connecting with customers in a meaningful way and getting them to engage is a must to block out competitors and capture your customers’ attention.

The Zen of Social Media Marketing takes us through the different social media platforms with a variety of tips, and step-by-step guides.

Whether you are a solo entrepreneur who’s ready to grow his business or a marketing executive working for a big corporation, this is one of the top social media books.

Increase Traffic with Social Media Contests

posted in: Marketing, Social Media | 1

Social Media has changed the game for business marketing. No longer are advertisements and promotions strictly for TV, radio and print, the Internet is now an essential media platform for companies to reach their target market.

If you’re interested in bringing more traffic to your website, increasing sales and customers, launching social media contests can dramatically improve your online web presence. If you’re launching an online contest, I recommend using Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Why a contest?

People are attracted to contest with the hopes of grand rewards and minimal effort. A simple click of the mouse and you get a chance to win a new iPhone. Why not? Visitors are willing to spend a reasonable amount of time for a shot at something unlikely (opportunity cost). People also tend to ignore the odds and concentrate on the prize. Holding a contest for a new iPhone costs $199 whether 10 people enter or 10,000 people enter.

Contest or Sweepstakes?

Online contests and sweepstakes have a few subtle differences. Sweepstakes generally have no competition. Online users just need to submit their entry and the winner will be raffled off or picked at a random. Contests, on the other hand, have the aspect of challenge. Contestants compete with one another and the winners are chosen either by judging based on a criteria or by majority vote. I suggest going the contest route. Participants tend to solicit support through their social networks; increasing awareness and participation.

Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest?

Facebook

Facebook now has over 1 billion active users and is a market that can no longer be ignored. Facebook is my favorite platform for a contests due to its flexibility. You can engage your community with fun photo contests, polls, captions, trivia and more. The ‘like’, share and/or ‘tag’ contest is also a favorite because people can win big prizes with little effort… and everything is shared making the impact exponential!

If you want your readers to visit your website, create an online treasure hunt contest where you post a question and the answer can be found anywhere within your website. This encourages your fans to go to your website and browse through its pages. Remember that Facebook requires businesses who run a contest to use a third party application. This app will also help you in meeting FB’s set regulations for promotions and contests.

Twitter

The concept of Twitter is simple. Broadcast a short message (144 characters or less) that will be received by all of your subscribers (followers). These small bursts of information are great for updates during a campaign or contest. Twitter also pioneered a new a new form of tagging called hash tags #. Hash tags can be used to organize similar information or trending topics. When Microsoft launched Windows 7 they launched a contest and used the hash tag #WinWin7. Recommended contests for Twitter are guessing games, follower milestones, sweepstakes, re-tweet to win or create a Twitter poll.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a relatively new social media site but it has a phenomenal following with over 15 million users (dominated largely by women). So, if your products or services are geared towards women, better start pinning away on Pinterest. Some contest ideas are sweepstakes, re-pin to win, submit a photo, picture puzzle and photo scavenger hunts.

Know the Rules

Promotional contests are regulated. Make sure that you check with your state or your country for any law that governs holding a contest. Generally, small online contests are not closely monitored, especially if the prize is under $500. If the value of the prize is less than this, winners don’t need to pay taxes on their prize. If there is a pot of money involved, an official registration may be required from the authorities.

Contest Brainstorming

Before you launch a contest you should create strict rules and regulations. Create contests rules and mechanics to map out who is eligible to join the contest, what prizes to give away, contest period and how winners will be selected. Make your mechanics short and easy to understand.

Branding and Measuring

Your online contests and campaigns should coincide with what your brand stands for. Know what your marketing goals are. Is this contest gearing for brand awareness or a sales push? It should have a relevance to what product or service you sell. Keep in mind that the key objectives of a contest are to promote, advertise and eventually, create sales out of the online exposure it generates.

Online contests are serious marketing campaigns. As such, you should measure it with precision to gauge whether it is a good tool for promoting your brand. You can make use of analytics software (ex. Google Analytics or Facebook Insights) to track where and how people share your contest.

Launching your Contest

Once you are all set and all details of your contest are ironed out, prepare for the big launch. Specify a date for your launch. Days before the contest send out teasers like, “Stay tuned for a chance to win $100 worth of XYZ merchandise.” Promote your contest as much as you can. Blog about it and encourage your readers to spread the word. Remember that a successful contest is not about how big the prize is but how well the audience participates.

Remember, simplicity is key.  People are busy and keeping their attention is difficult. Complicated rules will make them hit the “back” button as soon as possible.

Training with Gamification

posted in: Gamification HQ | 0

Lessons from Super Mario: Training with Gamification

training-with-gamification

You probably remember playing Super Mario at one point in your life.

Or, you’ve at least seen pictures of the red suited chubby little plumber jumping up and down on giant mushrooms.

If you have played the game, it’s likely you’ve have experienced an unsuccessful beginning. According to developers, “the first thing that happens as you play Super Mario Bros is that you die.” The fast paced game quickly kills the main character.

The developers of Mario turned the starting stage into a learning field.

Now, the beginning part of the game carries the task to teach children how to behave, jump and run in video games. Designers made players feel as if they’re undergoing training at the opening stage of Mario. Instead of giving obstacles at the beginning of the challenge, Mario has presented a smoothly expanding set of in-world objects and hazards. The design appears like teaching players through iteration, repetition and escalation. So when you play Mario, you’re actually learning from the first stage how to play the game without noticing it.

Capturing the attention of your expected viewers longer than the usual time they spend on learning something requires a context that is motivating. It needs a learning process that enables them to stick to your context until they discover what needs to be discovered.

The video game, Mario, which is talked about earlier is a good example of letting players learn in the most engaging way. Instead of giving a manual that can be read for hours, the developer desires every player to learn the game at the starting stage.

Hence, they’re dropping them right into a tutorial-like level. A 15-minute game could be enough to let players discover how to play Mario.

Gamification has become a powerful technique used by experts to make a certain context more engaging or attractive to the target audience. With this strategy, users tend to make use of some game mechanics to create a motivating atmosphere.

Gamification involves the use of gaming psychology, storytelling, game design principles, game play scripts, player journey and other aspects related to game.

Training with gamification is becoming popular due to the success earned by those who have applied such a strategy already. It drives an individual’s game-like player behavior to a higher level. At that moment, the person is expected to get more involved in the competition, learning process, awareness, interaction, engagement and addiction.

If you are promoting a context related to health and fitness, civic engagement, education, community participation, work and other areas that are non-game, using the gamification technique is highly useful.

Instead of looking at the ordinary situation, viewers will tend to see the situation in an extraordinary way. It’s like making the situation a game.

Learning from actually playing the game allows players to retain what they have learned. It’s like a “learning on the job” process wherein the knowledge earned gets retained far more than the knowledge gained from reading the manual.

More people are in favor of this particular technique as it keeps them alive and determined while undergoing training or learning something.

Now, how can you incorporate gamificiation into your business training? Imagine allowing your employees to make controlled mistakes and then learning from those mistakes. Imagine separating training into different stages that allow employees to “level up” and reap rewards (along with additional responsibility).

As with Super Mario, the most engaging type of training is when the person being trained doesn’t even realize it.

Did Badges Ruin Gamification?

posted in: Gamification HQ | 0

badges-ruin-gamification

Did Badges Ruin Gamification?

Gamification is a service design that integrates into a certain application, content or process to increase engagement and drive motivation.

Once gamification is involved, an ordinary landscape can turn into a game-like zone. Hence, it takes away the boring atmosphere or environment.

The application of gamification was a success with several companies. But many of those companies have overused and abused the techniques. They tend to focus on just giving badges particularly in selling apps.

Instead of utilizing a different platform and creating a more unique and engaging setting, developers often take the easy route by granting badges to users of their applications.

The wrong use of gamification, according to experts, can lead to a company’s downfall. Firms that are taking advantage of this strategy are SCVNGR, Shopkick and Foursquare.  While Bunchball, BigDoor and Badgeville, allow 3rd party app integration.

Some enterprises are aware of the situation and are slowly stepping in a different direction.

Foursquare has changed significantly from concentrating on mayorships and check-ins to offering genuine information services, in attempts to make it a strong competitor of Yelp. The company may have adopted a slightly different strategy, but many are still skeptical (including myself) about the challenges that Foursquare has to go through.

Gowalla was purchased by Facebook for $3 million. The sale wasn’t substantial, but it further demonstrates the consolidation of the industry. Some predict that the next acquisition target will be the gamification platforms for firms involved in selling services to various enterprises.

Gartner predicts that by 2015, around 40% of the 1000 worldwide organizations will be using gamified elements as a way to inspire and motivate their employees.

A successful application of gamification not only enhances the company’s operation, but can also drives sales and customer loyalty. But remember, badges get old. Find new ways to provide sustainable value with gamification.

Steve Wynn – Rolling the Dice | Entrepreneur Profile

posted in: Business, Mini Biography | 0

Steve Wynn

Steve Wynn is a business magnate and a casino oracle.  His rise to success took place on the Las Vegas Strip in the 90s.

Because of the tremendous financial success of the Las Vegas Strip, Wynn became part of the 500 richest people on the globe. He also became the chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts Limited which manages his resorts and casinos.

Steve Wynn learned the ropes from his father whose business was in gambling with bingo parlors around the eastern United States. Naturally, Steve got involved in the family business.

Before getting into the business, he studied English literature and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.

Despite his academic achievement, the family faced financial hardships when his father was forced to undergo an open heart surgery.

Eventually, Steve’s father passed leaving Steve with $350,000 in gambling debts and the family business.

Wynn had two children with his first wife, Elaine. They were married in 1963 and divorced in 1986. Their daughters are named Gillian and Kevyn.  They married again in 1991 and had another divorce in 2010. Elaine still holds the position of the company board of director.

At present, Wynn lives at his private luxury in Las Vegas, while his ex-wife lives in the mansion that they built in Southern Highlands.

Wynn is now legally blind after several years of having retinitis pigmentosa. The disease is characterized by reduction in visual capability around the perimeter of the eyes until the eyes lost the capacity to detect light.

In response to his blindness, Wynn immerses himself with a vegan diet as recommended by Mike Anderson through the show Eating.

It is estimated that Steve Wynn has a net worth of $2.5 billion as of March 2012, making him the 491st richest man in the world.

Net Worth: $2.5 Billion

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