Tuesday, September 30, 2014

5 Web Design Trends To Love

The creativity and techniques that inspire web design greatness are always in transition. What’s the latest? The web design community is laden with hot trends that push the limits when it comes to scrolling effects, mobile functionality, browser compatibility, interactive navigation and big, chunky content blocks. Here’s 5 web design trends to love – and more important, to implement, right now!

Big Content Blocks

Content marketing is big. Web design recognizes this with, of course, big designs. Big, bold content blocks are super in right now, allowing for content to be displayed fast and easy – telling big stories in seconds and conveying brand messaging with a few dynamic fonts and colors. Content blogs allow web designers to convey content in a modular fashion – compartmentalizing content to attract eyes fast. When websites get mere seconds to engage and enthrall visitors, big content blocks can do the trick!

Responsive. Responsive. Responsive.

Only responsive websites are worth anyone’s time. Smartphone and tablet usage is massive – and global. This year, mobile devices are dominating, forcing web designers to embrace the user experience and guarantee stylish designs that look spectacular whether displayed on an iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy Note or any laptop or desktop. Web designs are all about delivering an immersive experience. If someone cannot view a site from a mobile device – shut the lights and go home. It’s over!

Beautiful, Beastly Scrolling

Continuous scrolling is a design element that more and more sites are implementing. Literally allowing the user to continuously scroll through content allows for more text to be viewable with a minimalist navigation influence. More icons, rolldowns and generally condensed navigation approaches to displaying tighter, better content in a free flow manner shrinks audience loss and encourages a richer, fuller content display experience. Bigger, better imagery with greater prominence of vibrant colors – hemlock,  cayenne and radiant orchid – heighten scroll experiences too, allowing for longer and more deeper viewer engagement.

Video Storytelling

There is no way around it – corporate storytelling is a major component of business branding and content marketing. What better way to tell a story than a unique video that educates, entertains or even inspires! Viewers will hang out longer to watch a video than to plow through text, however minimalist and targeted the content may be – video always wins out in engagement. Web designers are tuned in to
featuring videos prominently in designs that not only win over brand advocates, but also build social communities.

Simplistic, Flat Designs

When it comes to web design, less can be more – much more. Minimalism has its place in clean, crisp web designs that take brilliant creative concepts and convey them in a subtle, delicate fashion. When it comes to flat web designs, subtlety is supreme. If a site is not going responsive for some time, hopefully it at least sports a flat design that is rich in classic, distinct two-dimensional styling. With flat designs, elements are simplistic – making for an easy, placid viewing experience that, at times, trumps the best drop shadows, bevels and embossing flares out there. What the flat design lacks in glitz it makes up concise crispness. Never underestimate the comfort of simplicity and really great typography.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

The Batman Approach to the Software Development Lifecycle

Much like Bruce Wayne decided to become Batman, businesses decide to utilize custom software solutions because they see problems and want to do something about them. While businesses are not using software to clean up the streets of Gotham City, that doesn’t mean the ideal software development lifecycle shouldn’t function just like Batman.

A comprehensive software project lifecycle should include all aspects of the developing the solution ranging from discovering and identifying the issues to continued support after the solution is launched. Let’s take a look at each stage in the software development lifecycle and how it can be modeled after the creation of Batman:

1. Discovery and Analysis

When Bruce Wayne was a child, he was faced with the incomprehensible death of his parents at the hands of a robber born out of economic depression within Gotham City. This event stuck with him throughout his life, and it sparked his initial desire fight against crime and help save his city.

The need for a business software solution is also created with a goal in mind; only in this case it is to help make a business more efficient and productive. The initial stage of the development lifecycle sets the stage for the success of the solution. In this stage, key employees from the customer should be meeting with the business experts on the software project team in order to understand the customer’s pain points and other areas where the new software system should be able to improve the businesses. 

2. Solution Architecture 
After spending time wandering around as a recluse and a nomad, Wayne found himself in prison with little direction in his life. He was approached by Ra's al Ghul with the opportunity to join the League of Shadows should he prove his worth. Here, Wayne began to see a solution to his problem as he would set the plan in place to develop himself as a crime fighter.

In the software development lifecycle, once the customer’s pain point and business inefficiencies are determined, the framework for the development of the solution can be put into place. Use cases are created, mockups are drawn and data migration, customization and integration requirements are identified. Communication among all parties is key in this stage, as the deliverables from this stage include the system business requirements as well as the development plan.

3. Development

Once he joined the league of shadows under Ra's al Ghul, Wayne began to develop himself to become an expert in hand to hand combat and in minding his surroundings. He followed through with the plan he had set in place, and learned that he needed to master his fears.

This is one of the most important stages of the lifecycle, as it is the one in which the solution is developed. The prototype systems/modules are built to meet the requirements which were laid out in the development plan. In addition to the development of this system, a comprehensive software development lifecycle should also include the creation of an implementation plan at this stage.

4. Training and Configuration
Once Bruce received instructions from Ra's al Ghul, that was just the beginning of his transformation into Batman. He trained vigorously with the League of Shadows in order to prepare himself to fight crime in Gotham.

When the custom software solution is developed, the responsibility of the company that develops it certainly does not end there. At this stage, a software solutions team should develop a training program and conduct a full review of the system with the principal contact at the customer’s business. They should also conduct training sessions—either remote or onsite—to train employees who will be part of the next stage: Beta.

5. Beta

After his disagreement with the League of Shadows over whether Gotham City was beyond saving, Bruce Wayne made his return to Gotham in order test his new found skills and techniques. He hadn’t fully mastered what he could be at Batman, but he worked with Lucius Fox to use technology to his advantage in his first attempts to thwart Gotham crime boss Carmine Falcone.

In this stage of the cycle, the customers whom the solution is built for get to experience the new technology for the first time. And much like Batman had to work out some kinks, in this stage the beta users will identify and usability issues and the software team will work to correct and bugs in the system. 

6. Implementation- "Go Live"
Once Batman identified the items in his arsenal that needed to be fixed, he was ready to fully become the hero of Gotham City. With the help of Sgt. (later Lt. and Commissioner) James Gordon, Batman deciphers Ra's al Ghul’s plan. He is able to stop Ra's al Ghul from completely vaporizing Gotham’s water supply, thus saving the city from its demise.

After the Beta stage is complete, version 1.0 of the software system should be all set for implementation. The software development company should install any hardware necessary, and then proceed with the installation or implementation of the new system for the business customer. The system should be used to run through typical business processes to show that it is functioning properly. There could also be an onsite consultation during the initial implementation of the solution.

7. Ongoing Support

Even though Batman defeated Ra's al Ghul, his role as Gotham City’s protector certainly did not end there. There were many future foes to fight, and Batman needed to be the hero his city deserved. He also had his support team as well—whether it was Alfred taking care of him, Robin fighting along with him or Gordon aiding with his investigations, Batman was never alone in his quest to save Gotham.

The software development lifecycle does not end once a system has been implemented or “gone live.” The company that builds the system should always be there to support the users for any future issues that need troubleshooting. In addition to software help desk support, a solid software support plan will include also include proactive maintenance and monitoring to help determine any future upgrades that could potentially need to be made to the system. 

Developing a custom software system is not something that will happen overnight, but a thorough plan and proper execution should leave the customer with the solution it both needs and deserves.

Interested in learning more about the Software Development Lifecycle and custom solutions for your business? Contact us today. 

Images Courtesy of Warner Bros.

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Miles Content RoundUp: Social Media Greats, Blogging 4 Business & Windows Server 2003 End of Days

Sharing content is a driving force in staying market sharp and trend aware! Miles Technologies actively shares expertise, observations and best practices with a variety of leading journalistic and market savvy platforms! Here’s a few of our recent shares, including articles that react to current events. Timely social media sharing is always a content bonus! Tweet us @milestech and let us know what you are reading - and we hope you enjoy our articles! Remember, sharing your expertise is a great way to get your knowledge recognized - share your smarts, share your content, grow your business.

7 Awesome Social Media Content Greats To Emulate
Platform: Small Business Trends

Social media requires a dedicated, creative drive to deliver effective, engaging and entertaining content. Some social media platforms have it – some do not.The mark of a dynamic thought leader, innovative company or true social media influencer is the quality and frequency of social shares. It’s all about content – that simple and, at the same time, complex. Social media is about social promotion, community engagement and effective messaging that rolls elements of public relations, media relations, brand publishing, content marketing and community empowerment into one massively opportunistic communications campaign. See what Richard Branson, Panasonic, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, the American Diabetes Association, PewDiePie and Intuit are doing right!

Ray Rice: A Social Media Case Study
Platform: Social Media Today

Ray Rice’s termination from the Baltimore Ravens and his indefinite suspension from the NFL was not because he was indicted by a grand jury in March for third-degree aggravated assault in the punching of his then fiancée in an elevator in Atlantic City – it was because he did it in front of a video camera in the age of social media.

The Baltimore Ravens terminated running back Ray Rice’s contract Sept. 8 after a graphic video emerged from TMZ and fast went viral on social media. The video shows Rice punching his fiancée, now his wife, in a hotel elevator in February. The video outraged millions on social media and drew fresh questions about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the situation. In July, the NFL suspended Rice for just two games — although Goodell previously issued much heavier fines for issues such as substance abuse. What did social media have to do with the fate of Ray Rice? 

Why Blogging Can Save Your Business
Platform: The VAR Guy & IdeaXchange

Blogging can save your business. True or false? Let's face it, probably false. Without exceptional products, services, expertise, lead generation and customer service, a business will not flourish. Blogging is not a miracle for poor best practices. Still, blogging can revitalize a business that is lacking in branding outreach and positive awareness. It compliments overall marketing campaigns and establishes a true thought leadership for a company or its CEO. What does it take to make blogging a business boosting endeavor?

The End of Windows Server 2003 is Near, Prepare Now
Platform: Small Business Trends

Every Windows product has a lifecycle. The lifecycle begins when a product is released and ends when it’s no longer supported. Knowing key dates in this lifecycle helps you make informed decisions about when to upgrade or make other changes to your software. In case you have forgotten, the end of Windows Server 2003 is near. Microsoft announced the end of life for Windows Server 2003 is July 14, 2015. The clock is ticking – no more extended support for WS 2003. Microsoft officials are doing a good job at sounding the alarm in reminding everyone that there will be no more fixes, patches – paid or free, security or non-security. Over the next few months, more enterprises will take the necessary steps to migrate off of Windows Server 2003. Make no mistake, this will be a process – perhaps even painstaking at times. What do you need to know - now?

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Windows Server 2003 End of Life: What Does this Mean for your Business?

As many organizations already know—or will soon find out—Microsoft is ending all support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015.While that date may seem far enough away in the future, if a business is still running Widows Server 2003, it is important to start right now in setting up a migration plan to upgrade to the latest version, which is currently Windows Server 2012 R2.
Windows Server 2003

There are many reasons why it will be necessary to upgrade from Windows Server 2003, and one prominent one is for security reasons. Business often store vital information on their servers, and after July 14, 2015, the system will no longer be supported by Microsoft. What does this mean? For one, it means the system will be vulnerable to attacks from people trying to again access to this information.

Whenever a bug in Windows Server software is reported, Microsoft will troubleshoot it, and issue a patch to prevent the issue from re-occurring. Not only will Windows Server 2003 no longer receive these patches once support ends, but according to Matt Haedo, IT Implementation Specialist at Miles Technologies,  patches from later versions of Windows Server Software can actually be used to target Windows Server 2003.

Haedo explains that if a patch is issued to Windows Server 2008, for example, someone can take that patch and reverse engineer it to attack a vulnerability in Server 2003 which has a similar code base. “Not only will unpatched vulnerabilities exist [once support ends], but a lot more will be discovered because they will be patched for other operating systems,” says Haedo. “People can then use these patches to target Windows Server 2003. From a security prospective, that’s a very big concern. Businesses that are bound by certain compliance requirements may have to upgrade in order to stay in compliance.

In addition to these security concerns, Haedo says that if a business is still running Windows Server 2003, it may be time to take a big picture look at the company’s IT infrastructure as a whole. “If you are running Server 2003, there is a good chance you’re also running on older hardware and probably have older applications,” he says.

According to Haedo, for businesses running on Server 2003, now is the perfect time to evaluate and potentially upgrade the infrastructure as a whole. “Not investing in your infrastructure holds you back,” he says. “When staying with an older operating system, you could be missing out on tools that can make your business more productive. There’s a 90 percent chance that if you’re running Windows Sever 2003, you’re probably also running outdated software that you use for critical tasks on a daily basis. It’s not just about being more secure; it’s about being more productive.”

Taking into account the software and applications being run on your server not only presents an
opportunity to upgrade your business’ productivity, but also shows one of the main reasons why companies need to start planning well in advance for Windows Server 2003 end of life. For a business still running on Windows Sever 2003, upgrading to Windows Server 2012 R2 isn’t something that can happen overnight. More often than not, it requires a full migration plan as many versions of applications that run on Server 2003 aren’t necessarily compatible with its successors.

“A thorough planning process is definitely recommended if not required,” reports Haedo. “If you don’t do a carefully planned out upgrade, you put a lot of things in jeopardy. And that’s the reason to upgrade now. If you upgrade now, you don’t upgrade now. You get the planning process started now.” An extensive migration plan is usually necessary as upgrading to this new software will often require upgrades in hardware as well as newer versions of applications which could require communication with third party vendors.

While some businesses may look at Windows Server 2003 end of life as a costly nuisance, with careful planning ahead and some initial investment, it could pay dividends in the long run via a larger infrastructure upgrade to create a more efficient, productive and secure business. 

Interested in learning more about this topic? Check out the latest Miles Technologies Podcast where Haedo discusses discusses Windows Server 2003 end of life and how this is the perfect opportunity for your business to upgrade its technology:
Need to find out more about Windows Sever 2003 end of life or have questions about what your business needs to to do upgrade? Contact us to speak with our IT Experts.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Can Apple Pay be the Spark to Ignite Mobile Electronic Payments?

While most of the buzz surrounding Apple’s recent keynote was about the new iPhone 6 models and the Apple Watch, one of the announcements that may have flown under the radar was the introduction of Apple Pay. This new feature, which will be available next month, allows iPhone 6 users to complete a one touch payment transition using their phone (or Apple Watch). It utilizes the iPhone’s Passbook app to store credit card information.

While Apple Pay is a new feature for the iPhone, it is not a revolutionary product. Much like similar endeavors such as Google Wallet, Apple Pay uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in the device to complete the payment transaction.  So why does Apple Pay have a chance to succeed where others have lagged behind? Joe Reithmeier, Client CIO at Miles Technologies, believes the answer lies within the power of Apple’s brand and the timing of the release of Apple Pay.
Apple Pay
IMAGE: Apple

Reithmeier, who has been working with banking and financial technology for over 20 years, has seen the evolution of electronic banking grow from virtually nothing to what it is today. He explains that for a system like Apple Pay to succeed, Apple must win over three stake holders who are involved in the transaction process. The stakeholders are:
  1.  Payment Processors
  2. Consumers
  3. Merchants
Apple can already check the first one off the list. Major credit card companies Visa, MasterCard and American Express havealready signed on to work with Apple pay—ditto the major national banks that issue debit cards.

For the consumers, iPhone 6 and 6+ users will have the ability to use Apple Pay right out of the box. Reithmeier says that based on past history, users will jump on board quickly. “Let’s face it; Apple has raving fans all over the world,” he says. “They tend to get their technology out very quickly. [Apple Pay] will be in a lot of hands very shortly.”

The final potential stumbling block for Apple will be getting merchants on board with accepting Apple Pay as a form of payment in their stores. “The stake holder that normally derails the electronic payment movement is the merchant who needs to accept those payments,” Reithmeier says. “In the past, NFC technology has been expensive to implement and maintain.”
Joe Reithmeier, Client CIO Miles Technologies
Joe Reithmeier, Client CIO
So what is different now? According to Reithmeier, there are two main factors. This first—and more obvious one—is that Apple was never involved before.  “Apple is a big player in the market, and they may have a lot of their customers asking [merchants] about it,” he says.

Secondly, it’s getting closer and closer to October 2015. Why is this date so important? “In October of 2015 there will be a liability shift,” Reithmeier says. “What that means is that all the big payment processors like MasterCard, Visa and American Express will begin to require EMV technology—an embedded chip—in their cards to make them more secure and make fraud more difficult. Today, if data from a credit card transaction is stolen and used for fraud, the credit card company assumes liability. Come October of next year, if the merchant is not accepting cards with EMV or other enhanced security methodologies like the Apple Pay technologies, that liability shifts to the merchant.”

The immediate implication of this liability shift is that merchants who still want to accept credit and debit cards must upgrade their technology to accept EMV chip payments lest they put themselves at risk at being held liable for countless potential fraudulent charges.

Reithmeier says that this shift may be the impetus merchants need in order to upgrade their technology. Before, there was no incentive to do so. Now they must do so in order to protect themselves from potential liabilities. “[The liability shift] may be the onus for the merchants to begin to look at investing in new technologies and brining in something like Apple Pay.”
Apple Pay Screen Shot
IMAGE: Apple

According to Reithmeier, the winning over of the three stake holders, backed by Apples strong brand history, may be what allows these electronic payments to take off. “Apple has a track record of changing some of these industries that seemed to be unchangeable in the past. Just think of the music industry,” he says. “Apple also has some features that are already on the iPhone that people use today—namely the Passbook functionality.  That’s a trusted place that people already use to store important information, so storing a credit card there isn’t too big of a stretch for consumers.”

“It’s a bit of a perfect storm brewing,” Reithmeier adds. “You have a very popular technology company that has a lot of people who are looking forward to adopting the newest technology, merchants that need to do something anyway, and payment processors that want to stay in the game. It’s best for them to stay on the side of Apple.”

Time will ultimately tell whether or not these payments catch on, but based on his vast experiences, Reithmeier thinks the likelihood is there thanks to Apple and October 2015.

Interested in learning more about this topic? Check out the latest Miles Technologies Podcast where Reithmeier discusses Apple Pay in further detail, and predicts the impact it will have in the financial world:

Need to find out more about Apple Pay, Information Security or How Changes in the Banking Industry will Affect your Business? Contact us to speak with our Finance Industry Experts.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Inbound Marketing: 7 Most Important Takeaways from HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report

HubSpot surveyed more than 3,500 marketing and sales professionals at virtually all levels, across all industries and around the world. Why? The 6th Annual Report on Inbound Marketing & Selling! HubSpot asked what they do, why they do it, how they do it – and if what they do works. Covering everything from inbound methodologies to inbound marketing ROI trends, HubSpot's report is comprehensive – and encouraging. Here are seven major takeaways:

Inbound Unlocks ROI: If you are running an inbound marketing program and not tracking ROI, you are doing your company – and your career – a great disservice. Inbound marketers who measure ROI are more than 12 times more likely to generate a greater as opposed to lower year-over-year return. Proving that you are increasing return is important for several reasons, most notably the positive impact it has on budget. No single factor had a greater impact on budget – positive or negative – than did “past success with inbound.” Improving ROI may even safeguard your budget against factors beyond your control, like the economy itself.

Priority #1? Getting Found & Getting Blogging: HubSpot zoomed in on the segment of inbound marketers generating positive ROI – high performers – to see if they prioritized different types of projects than low performers. High performers are emphasizing programs designed to get their content, and by extension their company, found. In order, blogging, organic search, and content amplification top the list. Blogging appears to have the most substantial impact on performance. In fact, HubSpot reports marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI

Data Alignment. Marketing Alignment: If inbound marketing were a sports team, its coach would be Coach Data, according to HubSpot. Data is objective. It’s immune to the feelings and instincts that drove the previous era of “arts and crafts” marketing. Data has also delivered a new marketing energy – with rebooted marketing priorities. HubSpot reports strong alignment exists between marketing practitioners and leaders, with a focus on reaching the relevant audience, proving the ROI of marketing activities, reducing the cost of contacts and leads and converting contacts to customers.

Guess What? Agencies Are Leading The Pack: Inbound marketing performance is up across the board. More companies are running inbound than ever before. More are measuring ROI and more are enjoying improved ROI. Inbound is expanding into other lines of business, and those departments are experiencing positive results. It’s even driving revenue globally. The group setting the standard? Marketing agencies, currently outpacing vendors by sourcing nearly half (47%) of all leads through inbound channels.

Welcome The Inbound Selling Era: The era of “inbound selling” has arrived. Inbound is no longer limited to “just” marketing. More than 25% of respondents reported that their organizations’ sales teams practice inbound, and it’s not just lip service. Contrast the two charts below, and you’ll see that sales professionals are far more “inbound” than are marketers who favor outbound practices.

Inbound Budgets Positively Correlate To SLAs: Service Level Agreements (SLA) between marketing and sales correlates to inbound marketing budgets considerably. Ratifying an SLA with sales demonstrates credibility. Example: if marketing commits to delivering a certain number of leads that meet a measurable quality score, and sales is accountable for following up on those leads in a documented amount of time, then the two groups are signaling to leadership that they are focused on driving business results, not just intradepartmental metrics. Establishing an SLA also requires marketers to measure consistently - a prerequisite to becoming a high performer.

Content Marketing Is Huge: When HubSpot coined the term “inbound marketing” back in 2006, the company had loosely defined it as meaning: “a methodology that focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product.” In other words, inbound is the superset of quality content. Since that time, a similar methodology called “content marketing” has taken root.

Perhaps because content marketing was not championed by a single organization, it tends to have a less ratified definition. Nevertheless, it’s become a popular term. In fact, Google Trends data shows search volume is considerably higher for “content marketing(orange line) than for “inbound marketing” (blue line). In fact, the marketers concluded that content marketing is a subset of inbound at nearly twice the rate (59% to 33%) as all other options combined. While the data showed less variance for sales and services professionals, “content marketing is a subset of inbound” was still clearly the most popular answer even for groups newer to inbound.

One fact is clear: Inbound marketing is just now experiencing a glimpse of its full potential.

Miles Technologies is a HubSpot Certified Partner 

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Friday, September 5, 2014

5 Creative Marketing & Social Media Lessons Pouring from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In a word: BRILLIANT! The ALS Association is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support from people all over the world in participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge and for making donations to support the associations fight against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease - a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

Let’s be clear. The mission, motivation and enthusiasm behind the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is commendable. From a social media engagement standpoint, it may even be viewed as historic. So far, the Ice Bucket Challenge, as of September 5, has fueled more than $109.1 million in donations as the cause stormed social media with a viral energy not witnessed previously in campaigns of its nature.

The frenzy to jump aboard the ice bucket pouring endeavor hit global proportions – highlighted by political leaders, celebrities, entire community groups, academic institutions, not to mention grandmothers, toddlers and just about everyone in between, even that cousin of yours that rarely talks at family parties.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is social media engagement gold – pure and simple. It is a captivating marketing campaign and brand strategy that may go down as one of the best marketing campaigns ever! In short, it's a winner! What can we learn about social media engagement from it – speaking objectively?

Being Crazy Pays Off! When you want to engage your social media audience, think creatively. Think wacky! Ponder the ‘what if’ concepts and deliberate them seriously. If the ALS Association decided to go conservative, and harness the concept of its Ice Bucket Challenge, what a loss that would have been to the cause of raising funds to find a cure for ALS. Kudos for creativity, ALS Association!

People Will Do Anything! Of course, this statement is broad – and false. People will not do anything! However, when friends and families are happily pouring buckets of ice water over their heads and doing it with big enthusiasm, supporting a great cause…well, that becomes infectious. Don’t underestimate the power of community engagement – or participation. If the cause is noble enough, and the request is within reason, people will do anything to support something great.

It Helps When Former Presidents Get Involved! One of the best ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos came from none other than former President George W. Bush – who even called out former President Bill Clinton to take the plunge. At the start of his video, the former president shares his thoughts that the Ice Bucket Challenge is not very presidential, but then within seconds former First Lady Laura Bush soaks him with a massive bucket. Funny! If you can create a cause that gets the attention, much less participation and endorsement, of a man that once was the most powerful man in the free world, you are doing something very right.

The Internet Really Is Awesome! The Internet was the platform that gave life to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg dumped a bucket of ice on his own head. So did Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Just about everyone got into the act – and shared their ice bucket dousings all over the Internet, thanks to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and more. When developing a social media campaign to recruit mass participation, think visually and rest assured the Internet will help carry your vision to millions. After all, isn’t it entertaining to watch famous people and regular folks dumping buckets of ice water over their heads? Of course it is!

One Clever Idea Can Create A Big Splash! While a bit unconventional a mechanism for increasing awareness and raising donations, the brilliance of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is not in its flare for splashing water, but in its devotion to its cause. Millions of people donated. Millions of people learned a little bit more about ALS. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a social media engagement winner, not because we got to view countless funny videos, but because we – as a collective – got to laugh together, participate together and give together to a tremendously important cause. As a global community, we became unified – under one massively cold bucket of water.

The ALS Association reports funds will be used to fund cutting-edge research as well as care and support to people living with the disease. Now and in the coming weeks, the ALS Association plans to enhance its strategic plan, reformulating and recasting strategies with input from stakeholders, including donors, chapters, and most importantly, people living with ALS, as well as input from ALS families. What an awe-inspiring outcome, from one very bold and strategic marketing concept that grew to be one unforgettable social media engagement story.

Now, what ideas do you have for your social engagement?

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