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Sunday, December 1, 2013

25 holi-days of better Christmas movies


Sick of the movies that ABC Family shows every year during its "25 Days of Christmas" holiday special? There are literally dozens of ways to watch movies these days, change the channel, visit your local Redbox, fire up Netflix, check the discount DVD bin, or search on-demand, and go watch these films instead!

These are the 25 best Christmas movies of all-time, in reverse order, saving the very best for Christmas Day:
  • On December 1st, watch: Rise of the Guardians
  • 2nd: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
  • 3rd: It's a Wonderful Life
  • 4th: Die Hard
  • 5th: Black Christmas
  • 6th: Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
  • 7th: Four Christmases
  • 8th: A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • 9th: Jingle All the Way
  • 10th: Love Actually
  • 11th: Iron Man 3
  • 12th: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  • 13th: The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • 14th: Arthur Christmas
  • 15th: Scrooged
  • 16th: Fred Claus
  • 17th: Elf
  • 18th: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Animated)
  • 19th: Home Alone
  • 20th: Die Hard 2
  • 21st: Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Live Action)
  • 22nd: The Santa Clause
  • 23rd: The Santa Clause 2
  • 24th: Home Alone 2
  • 25th: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Did I miss any of your favorites? Add them in the comments below:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

6 simple tips for social media


At a high level, social media seems very simple. Post this, follow her, retweet that, connect with him. But after you dive in, it can be a struggle to stay afloat. You quickly realize that it can be much more complicated than those simple one-click actions. It doesn't have to be.

Here are six simple tips to help you gain more followers and get more likes:

Adopt early: One of the easiest ways to gain popularity on any social media platform is to be an early adopter. Those who join early not only learn the ropes faster, but can also take advantage of the domino effect of all the other people who join from that day forward. Each person that joins a new network immediately follows every one of their friends who are already on that network. If you're not on that list, they may never look for you again.

Follow friends: You should not only follow all of your friends from day one, but also occasionally check to see if any new friends have joined. Some platforms are great about this (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), sending you notifications any time your friend from Facebook joins. But others take a little more effort. Check your settings or search tools until you find a "Search My Contacts" button or similar link. Most of your friends will follow back, they likely just didn't realize your account existed.

Follow back: The number one rule you'll hear the most when attending networking seminars, reading social media books, or watching a live webinar about social networks is "Follow Back!" It's something I'm not crazy about (for other reasons), but it truly is the quickest and easiest way to gain the most followers and increase interactions with your posts.

Post once per day: Unless you already have over 2,000 followers, friends, and/or connections I'd advise against posting any more than once per day. Spamming people's timelines and feeds with your opinions and stories is the fastest way to get unfollowed, unfriended, deleted, and blocked. If you have more than one post in mind, save it as draft or schedule it go live the following day.

Update profile: When someone finally does find you on any social network, the first thing they will do is read your profile. Keep it short, simple, and creative. But also make it descriptive. No matter how eccentric you are in real-life, your profile should be direct and to the point.

Add profile picture: I lied, the first thing they will do is look at your profile picture. Many times, they won't even make it to your profile because they didn't even realize it was you. If you want people to follow you, replace that Twitter egg with a headshot. Don't have a professional photo? Fine. Just upload anything for now. You can worry about putting your best face forward later.


I know a lot of my readers are also social media gurus and social networking ninjas, so please feel free to post your other tips in the comments section as well:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ten reasons to not follow back


Every social media ninja and social networking jedi says the same thing, "Follow Back!" I disagree. Here are ten reasons why:
  1. First, just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean you should. If Johnny jumped... well, you get the point.
  2. Second, it is okay to follow back, just do not do so blindly. Read their profile and last 3 tweets to see if you have anything in common.
  3. Just because someone is following you doesn't mean you have the same interests. 
  4. There are people out there who follow-unfollow just to gain followers -- so you could end up following people who actually aren't following you back.
  5. You can't legitimately interact with your audience if your timelines and feeds are flooded with thousands of new posts every minute.
  6. Social network influence algorithms like Klout's take your ratio of follows to followers into account when calculating your score -- having more followers than people you follow will improve your score.
  7. Most social media gurus follow a lot less people than they have followers -- so they're not even following their own advice.
  8. The only way to know if someone is worth following is by seeing the number of followers they have (the most interesting people have the most followers), so if we all followed back how would we know who to follow to begin with?
  9. If everyone everywhere followed everyone back what would be the point? The greatest thing about social media is being able to create niche social networks with those of similar interests.
  10. And lastly, by not following back, you're doing your part to put an end to this endless cycle. We have to start somewhere.
Can you think of any other good reasons not to follow back (I struggled with the last 2 if you couldn't tell)? If so, add them to the comments below:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Top 100 best films according to a movie-watching millennial

Top 100 Best Movies

If you've read my top 100 favorite movies list you know my definition of a favorite, or "list-worthy" film. The best films are different.
The best films, according to me, a movie-watching millennial, are those films post-1980 that a person born post 1975 could remember seeing in theaters. And they're not only the films they "could" remember (studies say humans remember major events around age 5), they are the films they "do" remember.
These are the films that left a lasting memory on me -- this is my cinefile of the best films of my time:
  1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  3. Schindler's List (1993)
  4. Inception (2010)
  5. The Dark Knight (2008)
  6. Star Wars: Episode V - Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  7. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
  8. Fight Club (1999)
  9. The Incredibles (2004)
  10. Gravity (2013)
  11. Snatch (2000)
  12. Goodfellas (1990)
  13. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  14. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  15. The Matrix (1999)
  16. The Usual Suspects (1995)
  17. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  18. Se7en (1995)
  19. The Social Network (2010)
  20. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  21. Braveheart (1995)
  22. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (2002)
  23. Memento (2000)
  24. Forrest Gump (1994)
  25. Back to the Future (1985)
  26. Toy Story 3 (2010)
  27. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
  28. American History X (1998)
  29. Good Will Hunting (1997)
  30. American Beauty (1999)
  31. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  32. Gladiator (2000)
  33. WALL-E (2008)
  34. The Shining (1980)
  35. Avatar (2009)
  36. Up (2009)
  37. The Pianist (2002)
  38. The Departed (2006)
  39. Aliens (1986)
  40. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
  41. Argo (2012)
  42. The Sixth Sense (1999)
  43. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
  44. The Prestige (2006)
  45. The Green Mile (1999)
  46. Pacific Rim (2013)
  47. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
  48. Amadeus (1984)
  49. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
  50. There Will Be Blood (2007)
  51. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  52. Black Swan (2010)
  53. Gran Torino (2008)
  54. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
  55. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
  56. Die Hard (1988)
  57. Sin City (2005)
  58. Batman Begins (2005)
  59. Fargo (1996)
  60. L.A. Confidential (1997)
  61. Heat (1995)
  62. Blade Runner (1982)
  63. No Country for Old Men (2007)
  64. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
  65. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  66. The Lion King (1994)
  67. The Big Lebowski (1998)
  68. Toy Story (1995)
  69. Donnie Darko (2001)
  70. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
  71. Platoon (1986)
  72. Into the Wild (2007)
  73. District 9 (2009)
  74. Rain Man (1988)
  75. X-Men: First Class (2011)
  76. Scarface (1983)
  77. Trainspotting (1996)
  78. Groundhog Day (1993)
  79. Finding Nemo (2003)
  80. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
  81. The Terminator (1984)
  82. Casino (1995)
  83. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
  84. The Wrestler (2008)
  85. Stand by Me (1986)
  86. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
  87. V for Vendetta (2006)
  88. Ratatouille (2007)
  89. Prisoners (2013)
  90. Star Trek (2009)
  91. Let the Right One In (2008)
  92. Mystic River (2003)
  93. The Truman Show (1998)
  94. Big Fish (2003)
  95. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
  96. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
  97. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
  98. Shutter Island (2010)
  99. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
  100. The Cove (2009)
Last updated: 10/6/2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

An argument for generic LinkedIn invites


You've probably seen a blog post, heard a podcast, or attended a webinar that called for an end to generic LinkedIn invitations. Everyone is talking about it. And everyone seems to be in agreement. For example, here are 10 opinions from some industry experts:
But I couldn't disagree more! I am here to argue exactly the opposite:

You don't need to customize your LinkedIn invitations to connect.

You don't customize each phone call greeting do you? No, you simply say "Hello". And when you handwrite a letter you simply start with "Dear". So why do we have to customize our LinkedIn greetings? In an effort to combat the 10 (thousand) posts that are telling you why you should, here are 10 reasons why you shouldn't:
  1. It's easier to send generic invitations! Why are we making technology (that is supposed to make the world simpler and more convenient) more complicated by forcing people to customize each individual LinkedIn invitation?
  2. The people who send these generic invites aren't lazy, they're busy! Time is money, so the fact that you didn't take the time to customize your message likely means you're a busy, successful businessperson who understands this concept, and therefore someone others should want to connect with on LinkedIn.
  3. The LinkedIn mobile app does not allow you to customize your message, so the request likely came from someone innovative and technologically savvy who, again, you should want to connect with on LinkedIn.
  4. The LinkedIn social connector add-on for Outlook also does not allow you to customize invitations, but it is the quickest and most effective way to connect with someone you just exchanged emails with while at the office.
  5. Nobody reads, so until LinkedIn allows you to embed a 30-second elevator pitch video recording in each invitation you might as well not waste the time writing it.
  6. Everyone should accept every LinkedIn invite to connect (you can always block them later), but the whole point of a social network is to connect with people, so why does it matter what their invitation said? The real power is what they bring to your network after you connect. If you accept someone's invitation and they are constantly spamming you, block them (but, unless you're a celebrity, this will rarely happen).
  7. If people don't accept every invite, they can still check out your LinkedIn profile (and Google you) to find out more about you than you could possibly explain in the invitation's 300 character limit.
  8. LinkedIn itself even says the ability to "add a personal note" is OPTIONAL! If it was required it would just be a blank text input box without a generic template.
  9. You don't have to customize your "friendship" requests on Facebook or requests to follow on Twitter and Instagram (the so-called "personal" social networks), so why do you need to personalize your invitations to connect on LinkedIn (the so-called "professional" social network)?
  10. And lastly, again, no one should expect you to customize your LinkedIn invites until everyone starts answering the phone, "Hello this is Ryan an innovative and creative marketer who would like to talk to you on the phone right now and here's why you shouldn't hang up yet..."
Are you on team generic LinkedIn invitations? If so, add your reasons below! Or if not, feel free to tell me why I'm wrong:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Marketing = Creativity + Data



I've always been creative (every child is). But I've also always loved math (yes, math). In 6th grade I actually tallied up the stat lines for our fantasy basketball league myself, using a newspaper (pre-internet) and a TI-85 calculator (pre-iPhone). Then in college, I even chose my first major based off my creative skills and love for math. But after two years at the Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University, I realized that it was actually too design based and lacking the engineering I had expected. I wanted more math. I wanted more data. That's when I found the perfect career -- Marketing.

Marketing and advertising have always been stereo-typically creative fields (i.e. Mad Men's Creative Director, Don Draper). But today, great marketers are more than just creatives, they're analytical as well. Today, marketers have to thoroughly enjoy digging into the data and tracking KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) on a weekly basis. In order to be a successful marketer in the digital age, you need to track campaign effectiveness from the top of the funnel through the sale.

And now, there's a new marketing buzzword sweeping the nation: Big Data. According to smartdatacollective.com, "big data refers to our ability to collect and analyze the vast amounts of data we are now generating in the world." Now, with big data, marketers can start analyzing and utilizing information earlier in the sales process, before suspects even enter the funnel.

For example, have you read the story about how Target figured out a teen girl was pregnant before her father did? Or how President Obama's 2012 campaign used big data to rally individual voters? Both are examples of how "marketers" analyzed the vast amounts of data available to them to target specific audiences and then persuade them to act in accordance to their organization's goal. And both are examples of how, today, marketing isn't just about being creative. Today:

Marketing = Creativity + Data

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The new 80/20 rule


If you've read my blog, seen my presentations, or talked to me about social media, you've probably heard me preach my version of the 80/20 rule (which by the way is in no way related to Joseph M. Juran's Pareto principle) in regards to what you post on social networks:

80% of the things you post online should be professional and in-line with your public profile while the other 20% can and SHOULD be personal or off-topic.

But lately, I've found the 80/20 rule to be useful guideline for many other things in my life. Generally, if you can split a decision into two 2 black-and-white choices, there is a grey area in the middle in which 80% of your decisions should be made near the good, reasonable, acceptable, unusual, and wise choices end of the spectrum and the other 20% near the high-risk, poor, and easy choices end. Here are some examples:
  • Eat 80% healthy foods and 20% junk foods
  • Read 80% enlightening books/articles and 20% gossip
  • Watch 80% enlightening TV/movies and 20% gossip
  • Shop at 80% local stores and 20% national conglomerates
  • Focus 80% on helping others and 20% on helping yourself
  • Invest 80% of your money on safe bonds/plans/accounts and 20% on aggressive stocks
Can you think of any others? Add them in the comments below:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

iOS 7 could actually cost $APPL



Apple's new iOS 7 mobile operating system is a big departure from the previous 6 versions. In fact, it's the first big change since its inception in 2007. Change is good -- and iOS 7 is great! But Apple could actually lose money as a direct result of this new operating system update, and here's why:

iOS 7 includes a new feature which automatically updates apps in the background, which means you never have to open the AppStore app again.

Imagine if your peanut butter cans, milk jugs, and ketchup bottles automatically refilled at home without ever having to go to the grocery store again -- would you ever have Oreos in the cupboard, ice cream in the freezer, and mustard in the fridge? Probably not.

Well the same is true on your iPhone and iPad. If you never "have to" visit the AppStore, you likely won't at all. And if you don't visit the AppStore, you won't ever see all the cool new apps featured next to the updated versions of the ones you currently own. So you won't see the best advertising that exists for iOS apps, "window shopping" in the AppStore itself. And as a result, you'll buy less apps.

Therefore, this great new iOS 7 operating system that's a major improvement over it's predecessor could actually cost Apple money in the long run.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know if the comments after you install iOS 7 on September 18th. All I know is I've been running iOS 7 for a few weeks now and I'm yet to spend a dime in the AppStore (not including CandyCrush in-app purchases, of course).

Monday, July 22, 2013

9 simple steps to going digital


They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. And therefor another 21 days to break it. But making the switch from analog to digital is harder than just breaking a habit. It's generational. But just because you were born in a specific decade doesn't mean you have to be stuck in the paper age.

Here are nine tips to help you go from a scribbling-pen-and-paper boomer to a digital millennial:
  1. Shopping List: Stop writing your shopping list on that dry erase board on your fridge and start keeping track of your grocery needs in an app that syncs between devices. Now, if your spouse picks something up at the store at lunch, you won't accidentally also buy it after work.
  2. CDs: If you're seriously still buying and/or burning CDs please stop. Trade in that compact disc player, get an iPod, and turn all those 15-song albums into 100-song playlists. Then throw away that CD sleeve on your car's visor. You can thank me later.
  3. Notes: Stop taking notes on post-it's at work or home -- jot them down on your phone or tablet instead. Now you'll never forget them and they'll never accidentally end up in the trash.
  4. FM/AM Radio: Ditch the radio at work or on-the-go and download an app and/or podcasts instead. They're fully customizable and sound better too!
  5. Movies: Are you really still driving to the video store for rentals? Just rent it online on iTunes, Vudo, Amazon, or stream it on Netflix. Or at least go to the nearest RedBox. Then be sure to rate it on whichever service you're using. Now, next time you're looking for something you'll like, you'll get recommendations specifically for you.
  6. Wallet: Replace all those cards in your wallet or purse with an app like Lemon, Passbook, or CardStar. It easily scans the barcodes and membership numbers to quickly create a digital copy on your phone. You'll lose a little weight (off your shoulder or out of your back pocket) and save some money at the same time.
  7. Books: I know physical books have a "smell and feel" that are harder to quit than crack cocaine, but give a Kindle or Nook a try for 2 months and I guarantee you never fall off the wagon again. Syncing across devices and the ability to download new books anytime, anywhere, are just a few of the reasons you'll never turn a page again.
  8. Recipes: Are you still writing your recipes on index cards and filing them away in box? Type them up on your computer for easy searching and sharing. Or download an app on your tablet or phone and instantly multiply your list of dinner options exponentially.
  9. TV: Some shows are better live, one-at-a-time, on a week-by-week basis, but there are also hundreds of shows worth binge-watching on Netflix and Hulu at any time. Late to party on the new hit show? Out of the loop at the water cooler? Start a new show a month or even a season late and get caught up in a few days with TV on-demand.
Follow these tips and you'll find yourself not only paperless, but also much more organized and ultimately happier.

Have any other helpful tips? Add them in the comments below:


Saturday, June 22, 2013

14 reasons I love iOS 7

iOS 7 iPad mini
iOS 7 on my iPad mini
iOS 7 isn't available yet. It won't go public until this Fall. But the beta version was released to registered Apple developers nearly 3 weeks ago. I downloaded it. And I love it! Here's why:
  1. New Design: The new UI and UX is refreshing. I love the pastel, translucent design. I love the new fonts. And I love the redesigned native app icons.
  2. Control Center: Easy access to Bluetooth, WiFi, airplane mode, and other settings is long overdue. Just swipe up from the bottom of any screen.
  3. Flashlight: Control Center also includes quick access to your calculator app and a built-in flashlight on/off switch that controls your camera's LED flash -- one of the handiest apps I had in iOS 6 that I can now delete in iOS 7.
  4. Photo Moments: The photos app now automagically gathers all your camera roll pictures into "moments" based off time and location.
  5. Safari: Safari has been updated to include swipe navigation, bookmark icons on new browser windows, and new browser tabs that look like your flipping through a filing cabinet -- you can even tilt your phone to look down the page to get a better view of each tab.
  6. AirDrop: I guess it's pretty cool functionality -- being able to share things with other iOS 7 users in your vicinity -- but the best part about AirDrop is stuffing a sock in the mouth of all those Galaxy S4 fanboys who think sharing playlists with friends is the "coolest thing ever!"
  7. Group iMessages: A few subtle updates in iMessage, like photos of those involved, make group chats better than ever.
  8. Integrated YouTube / Vimeo: I take tons of photos, but I always wish I shot more videos. With system-wide YouTube and Vimeo integration, hopefully I will.
  9. Auto-Update Apps: Apps automatically update in the background so you never have to open up the AppStore again -- which should save you some money too. 
  10. Camera App: The camera app has been updated with built-in filters and an Instagram-like square lens. I'm one of those people who take photos outside the social network then import it into the app later, so being able to frame the photos correctly on my first attempt is a big deal.
  11. iTunes Radio: I've honestly never been a huge fan of Pandora Radio, but Apple always outdoes the competition, so I have no doubt I'll become an avid iTunes Radio user. Plus, it's integrated with your Music app which means it already knows what songs & artists you like, making it an immediately more powerful music discovery tool.
  12. Notification Center Today: The new Notification Center includes a "Today" tab that gives you a personalized overview of your day, including appointments, weather, stocks, tasks, and more. And it's accessible from the lock screen!
  13. Unread Mail Folder: The mail app now includes smart inbox folders including an "unread" folder of just new email messages.
  14. New Siri Voices: Siri has been updated with a more natural sounding woman's voice as well as a brand new male voice.
Have you downloaded iOS and found other cool features I've missed? Add them in the comments below:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The best Twitterers are Marketers

#beliebers


There's no denying, the best accounts to follow on Twitter have the most followers -- that's why they have the most followers (and if you disagree, please, keep reading). But what you don't realize, is that every one of those people are selling you something. It's true -- even if it's not obvious.

Let's start with just the people YOU follow. There are your friends, your family, and everyone else. An everyone else is selling you something.

Take the list of the top 10 people on Twitter with the most followers (this does not include corporate brands, which, obviously, are trying to sell you something):
  1. Justin Bieber: @justinbieber - 39,673,026 followers
  2. Lady Gaga: @ladygaga - 37,703,992
  3. Katy Perry: @katyperry - 37,075,529
  4. Barack Obama: @BarackObama - 31,982,994
  5. Rihanna: @rihanna - 29,756,835
  6. Taylor Swift: @taylorswift13 - 28,329,970
  7. Britney Spears: @britneyspears - 27,372,412
  8. Justin Timberlake: @jtimberlake - 20,778,620
  9. Shakira: @shakira - 20,773,482
  10. Ellen DeGeneres: @TheEllenShow - 19,301,628
They're all trying to sell you something -- mostly music. And even when it's not as obvious as that, they're still selling you on the idea of themselves as musicians, politicians, or celebrities. Their selling their own personal brand.

And then there are the corporate brands. Common sense tells you they are trying to sell you something, but you wouldn't know it by reading their tweets. There is no mention of "Buy this" or "Try that" -- just simple content marketing and engaging conversations. And that's why they're the best brands on Twitter:
  1. YouTube: @YouTube - 10,259,054 followers
  2. Twitter: @twitter - 8,856,790
  3. Twitter en español: @twitter_es - 8,480,198
  4. CNN Breaking News: @cnnbrk - 6,923,605
  5. TwitPic: @TwitPic - 6,615,838
  6. UberSocial: @UberSoc - 5,826,875
  7. The New York Times: @nytimes - 4,700,907
  8. NBA: @NBA - 4,525,421
  9. Google: @google - 4,465,778
  10. E! Online: @eonline - 4,267,255
Brands and Twitter are all about content marketing. The best brands -- whether personal or corporate -- are the best content marketers. They post interesting tweets that are relevant to their followers. By doing so, they promote their brand. That's why they have the most followers. And that's why all the best Twitterers are marketers.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

[INFOGRAPHIC] How social media changed the search for jobs & talent

The internet and social media have completely changed the way people find jobs and recruiters find talent.

Pre-social media, and even pre-technology, the word "search" had an entirely different meaning. For job hunters, searching for your dream job was a difficult, time-consuming, and often times luck-dependent process. Those who found their dream job just happened to be in the right place, at the right time. For recruiters, searching for qualified talent depended entirely on personal relationships. If you didn't know the person, or know someone who knew someone, you couldn't shake their hand.

Then Google (and Yahoo) changed everything -- and searching was instantly easier. Technology redefined "the search."

Today, technology has made it easier than ever to find what you're looking for. And with social media, you often find things you're not looking for. With everything your friends and follows are sharing you can't avoid it. Every time you check into your feeds and timelines your presented with new opinions, research, and opportunities. And if you're online, you can be found.

Today, everyone is a passively-seeking candidate, whether they know it or not. 

The internet and social media have completely changed the way people find jobs and recruiters find talent. The following infographic from TalentBin shows how these emerging technologies have contributed to improvements in the passive and active search for both the recruiters and the candidates:

Social Media Recruiting Infographic

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Gossip vs Enlightenment



There are two types of information in this world: gossip and enlightenment.

Much of the world's communication surrounds the first, gossip. This information is pointless, useless, and entirely unenlightening.

Everything else, is enlightening. This information is valuable, educational, and thought provoking. It can be in the form of fictional entertainment or scientific nonfiction. It can be historical or hypothetical. But enlightening information is, and always be, exactly that -- enlightening.

Enlightening information is based on facts. Gossip is opinionated.

Enlightening information is helpful. Gossip is often harmful.

Enlightening information is freeing. Gossip is binding.

Enlightening information is the key to your -- our future. It's what moves us forward. Gossip is just a reflection of the past.

So remember, there are two types of information in this world: gossip and enlightenment. Be careful which one you choose to spend your time with.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Megacon, transform! Content repurposing made easy


Content marketing isn't as complicated as it may sound. Content is everywhere! You just need to redefine and repurpose it. And once you've transformed your old content into new mega-content marketing materials you'll have all-new channels to drive website traffic, build brand awareness, and generate sales or leads.

Here are ten tips to make content marketing easy through content repurposing:

Tip #1: Stop saving thousands of .docs, .pages or .txt files and start writing everything as a draft on your blog. Once it's got a working title, keyword tags, and general outline of content it's easy to edit and publish!

Tip #2: Stop writing meeting notes and brainstorming sessions on paper and type it up on your laptop or iPad instead. Now that it's digital, you can easily copy and paste it to your website, social networks, sell sheets, press releases, emails, presentations, newsletters, etc.

Tip #3: Repurpose emails you've written or received that contain interesting data or insightful information. Even a personal one-to-one email can be transformed into an interesting blog post.

Tip #4: Don't just comment on articles you read. Respond on your blog or social networks. Repurposing other people's content with your own unique opinions can be some of the most interesting pieces of content.

Tip #5: Any PowerPoint or Keynote presentation deck you create should be posted on SlideShare, YouTube, and SlideRocket. Then embed the slide deck on your blog or website. The visual content in presentations is often more appealing and more easily skimmable than paragraphs of text.

Tip #6: If you haven't already repurposed your data and/or survey responses into an infographic do so! But infographic images are so 2010. Now you should repurpose the images in your infographic to create an infographic video.

Tip #7: Press releases are still a useful medium to reach journalists and get "picked up" by "official" media channels, but today, you don't need them! Repurpose your press release as a blog post on your own website and then push it out through your social networks

Tip #8: Every presentation, Webex, GoToMeeting or live demo should be recorded and posted on YouTube or Vimeo and then posted on your blog with intro copy and a call-to-action conclusion. Only appropriate for current clients? Make it an "unlisted" video, embed it on a landing page, and only give it to your account managers.

Tip #9: Create an eBook by combining your blog posts into a thought leadership guide, report, or white paper. If you own a Mac, you can even use Apple's iBooks Author to create and publish it yourself. Then record someone reading your eBook to create a podcast or audiobook.

Tip #10: Repurpose old evergreen content by repromoting it on social networks. Just because you created and posted it last year doesn't mean it's not still relevant or interesting to readers who may have never seen it a year ago.


Looking for more tips on repurposing your content? Here are ten other content marketing posts worth reading:
Do you have other mega-content marketing ideas? Leave them in the comments below:

SEM, SMA, CPC, and the holy grail of marketing acronyms: ROI



So many acronyms. But only one matters: ROI.

And when calculating your return on investment (ROI) on search engine marketing (SEM) or social media advertising (SMA) spends, the only acronym that can prove ROI is CPC (cost per click).

How? 

CPC is directly correlated to ROI.

Let me explain.

Over the past year I've been advertising on all the major platforms, and here are the results:
  • AdWords: $0.54 CPC
  • Facebook: $0.08 CPC
  • LinkedIn: $2.00 CPC
  • Twitter: $0.21 CPC
  • YouTube: $0.41 CPC
What does all that mean?

For my dollar, Facebook is hands down the cheapest advertising platform at just 8 cents per click. But just because LinkedIn costs me 2 dollars for every click doesn't mean it's wasted money. In fact, the advertising platform with the highest average CPC is likely your best spent cents

Why?

As long as you've fine tuned your ad copy through A/B testing and honed in on your target audience with the right keywords (and any other targeting criteria available), the platform with the highest CPC is also the network with the largest, most-active population of people you're trying to reach. It's also the network where your competitors are advertising. That's why it costs so much to engage with them.

But every industry will have different results. So which platforms are you advertising on? And which has the highest ROI?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

[INFOGRAPHIC] Recruiting has always been social

Recruiting has always been social -- technology just changed how we define "social".

From the beginning, recruiting was always about the handshake. You met someone, got their resume, and shook their hand. Some time later, you introduced that person to another person, they shook hands, and the job was done.

Today, those handshakes still occur, just on a digital level. Instead of shaking hands in-person you connect on LinkedIn, follow on Twitter, circle on Google+, and like on Facebook.

Below is an infographic from JobVite on the social history of recruiting technology. The timeline clearly shows how technological innovations have created a new era of recruiting -- that's oddly similar to where it all began.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Move beyond old-fashioned job postings


The job board is slowly becoming an obsolete tool for recruiters. As the job market turns around and social networking continues to grow, active job-board-seekers will near extinction. However, with some creativity and innovation the job posting can still be an extremely useful part of the sourcing process. You just need to repurpose the job description and start proactively seeking candidates yourself.

Each field of information in a job posting can be used as search criteria in any database or social network to refine the pool of candidates and find the perfect match. Use an advanced search tool to hone in on candidates with experience in your industry and preferences that match your job opening's location and function. Looking for a candidate with specific certifications or degrees? Make sure to include it in your boolean search strings. The more information you include in your search the better the quality of hire.

These simple innovative techniques can help recruiters move beyond old-fashioned job postings -- making the job board the first step in a more proactive and effective sourcing process.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

These aren't the Androids you're looking for


The Android versus iPhone debate will never die. But Androids do.

The one thing I've always loved about my Apple products is that I never have an issue with them "not working" or dying. Before I bought my first Mac, I had two HP laptops and a Sony Vaio. Between those 3 computers I had 2 failed hard drives, 2 failed screens, and a handful of other Windows-related software issues over a 5-year span. I have had my MacBook Pro for 5 years now and have yet to have a single issue with the hardware or software.

Beyond computers, I also love every Apple mobile device I've ever owned. Okay, so maybe I'm a fanboy. But I wasn't always! I grew up on PCs running Windows. I actually liked Clippy.  And I'll never forget how cool I felt when I first found the Microsoft Bear easter egg in Windows 3.1. I even had a Treo 700w, a handful of flip-phones, and a handful of problems before I bought my first iPhone. But to this day, I still have every single iPhone I ever owned -- an iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and now an iPhone 5 -- and every single one still works perfectly.

But don't just take my word for it, recently, in a study by FixYa, the iPhone was rated as the most reliable smartphone on the market -- 3x more reliable than Samsung smartphones and 25x more reliable than Motorola phones. So if you're looking for a mobile device that doesn't die? These aren't the Androids you're looking for.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

You are what you bookmark


I'm no psychologist.  Nor a philosopher.  But I don't think you have to be to see that the websites you have bookmarked in your favorite web browser speak volumes about who you are as a person.

And whether you sync your bookmarks (using iCloud, Chrome, or some other extension) or you have two separate set of bookmarks (one for work and one at home) says something about you too.


Take my bookmark bar (see above) for example:
  • Synced across all devices = geek
  • Abbreviated to save space = perfectionist
  • In Google Chrome, the fastest browser = busy
  • Different folders for different jobs/companies = multitasker
  • Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn = social
  • Different folders for different Facebook and Twitter links = very social
  • Blog = blogger
  • iCloud = Apple fanboy
  • Gizmodo = technophile
  • Digg = been online since "web 2.0" was a term people used
  • Fantasy Football = sports fan
  • Amazon = online shop-a-holic who likes receiving things in the mail
  • Nike+ = fit / brand loyal
That literally sums me up. Perfectly.

But now I'm curious. What do you have bookmarked? And what does it say about you?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

[INFOGRAPHIC] Recruiters go mobile

Today, MBA recruiters use a mixture of traditional on-campus, in-person recruitment methods, and new digital recruitment tools to aid them in this complex process. This infographic from MBA Focus, "Digital MBA Recruitment: Top 10 recruiting tasks done by device," gives you a glimpse into how companies are recruiting top MBA talent using their computer, mobile device, and good ole-fashioned pen & paper. It clearly shows that recruiters have not only gone mobile, but also social, as more than 45% of recruiters use social media apps on their smartphone as part of the recruitment process.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Surviving the social game: Survivor vs Big Brother


Big Brother and Survivor are two of the most popular reality TV shows of all time. But besides some obvious differences -- one takes place inside a locked home for $500,000 and the other in the great outdoors for $1,000,000 -- the two shows are very similar.

A group of complete strangers come together to compete for money and vote each other off the show. In order to win that money, you must be the last man (or woman) standing at the end of the show. To get to the end of the show, you must not only win competitions, but also be socially accepted.

The way to win the social game is the one key difference between Survivor and Big Brother.

On Big Brother, you have to be strategic. You can't just lay low and cruise to the "small table" (the "small table" is brought into the kitchen to replace the "big table" once the house is down to 8 housemates). On Big Brother, you have to either be a leader, or align yourself with a leader. Then stick with your alliance until you have to make a move. Sometimes, the winner of Big Brother is the loudest, most-outgoing, socially-unaccepted person in the house, but they make moves. On Big Brother, making strategic moves gives you the power to survive.

On Survivor, you can be too strategic. If you make too many moves, you won't survive. On Survivor, you just have to keep calm and lay low. Sometimes -- if you're not too opinionated or too outgoing -- you can lose every single challenge, and just by laying low you'll make it to "the merge" ("the merge" is when the previously separate and competing teams come together and the show becomes every man and woman for himself or herself).

It always amazes me that contestants on Survivor can't keep calm long enough to make it to "the merge." It's the only thing you need to do to survive longer than half of your competitors. Sometimes people on Survivor make it to the merge before I even learn their name!

Maybe I am just speaking for myself -- a level-headed long-fuse? And granted the producers do cast the most overly-dramatic short-fused personalities they can find. But it's for one million dollars! C'mon!

Then again, I do get pretty cranky when I haven't eaten.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Email still the best way to recruit millennials



Having issues getting your brand in front of job-seeking millennials? Wish millennials understood your company's culture? It's an important issue and often one of the biggest pain points for recruiters at lesser-known brands.

Every year I hear from millennials who want to personally connect with their new employer. Often times, millennials will even choose a company with the "right" culture over the company offering more money. Millennials need to know they'll love their new job. And you need to show them that they will. But how?

Millennials, or Generation Y, are known as the connected generation. So how do you communicate with the connected generation? Through their mobile phones? According to the PewResearchCenter, 66% of millennials own smartphones, compared to 53% for generation X, and 28% for boomers. But more often that not, millennials are annoyed with advertising via SMS (aka text messages). And good luck getting them to pick up the phone to chat.

Of course, social media is an obvious channel to reach millennials. The two words go together like Kim and Kanye. 75% of millennials use social network sites (compared to 30% of boomers). But it can be hard to portray company culture in 140 characters or less. And, outside of a viral YouTube video, good luck creating any sort of meaningful message that sticks.

Email is in fact still the best way to reach millennials. It's simple. Just create a message that describes your company's culture and breaks down the typical day at the office. Include testimonials and links to videos of happy employees. And be sure to explain how your company is different from the bigger brands. You'll get better open rates, better click-thru rates, and better responses than any other channel. Guaranteed.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

iWatch: Apple's long-overdue innovative invention



Apple is due for a major product innovation. And though many people think it will be a new TV (the iTV), I believe it could be a new wristwatch (the iWatch or iBand).

Update: The New York Times reported on February 10, 2013 that Apple is indeed working on a wristwatch (as predicted in this blog post in late-January).

In the 2000s, Apple was inventing new stuff every year. But over the past few years -- and especially since the passing of Steve Jobs -- the company's assembly line of innovative new products has stalled. Even the software has lacked innovation (which led to the departure of Apple's Senior Vice President of iOS Software, Scott Forstall, in late 2012).

This lack of innovation has allowed for the competition to catch-up, and in some cases, surpass the once unimaginably imaginative company. Companies like Microsoft have developed an all-new product category with the Surface Pro. And Google has actually made a phone worthy of trading your iPhone in for -- the Nexus 4. In fact, for the first time, Apple's iPhone was ranked worst among the top smartphones by ConsumerReports. But why?

There's a saying -- "if it ain't broke don't fix it" -- but those words aren't uttered by innovators. Innovators are always fixing. tweaking, updating, improving, and creating. Apple has barely accomplished 2 of those 5 over the past few years. The iPhone changed the world forever. The AppStore changed software forever. Music was revolutionized by the iPod and iTunes. And the iPad was truly groundbreaking. But the iPad 1 was announced on January 27, 2010. It's been 3 years to this day. So what's next? I'm hoping it's the iWatch. Are you?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ten tips for better online résumés



The resume in printed paper and PDF form is dying. But the content itself has never been more alive. Now, each and every piece of information you formerly tried to cram into a 1- or 2-page document can be displayed beautifully via highly-customizable webpages and social network profiles.

But today, despite innovative new digital strategies, the content of these online résumés remains the most meaningful part. No matter how impressive your professionally designed templates look, your experiences and skills won't be overlooked.

To paint the perfect picture of who you are, what you've done, and where you're going -- you need to follow these ten tips:
  1. Focus on accomplishments, not duties
  2. Create a short summary with the highlights of your career
  3. Follow the inverted pyramid metaphor and put the most important information at the top
  4. Make sure to include any honors or awards you've earned
  5. Add a few unique personal interests as memorable differentiators
  6. Describe your work ethic and time management process
  7. Choose fonts wisely -- it's like bad writing
  8. View it on a mobile device and in multiple browsers
  9. Include social network links -- it's just as important as email and phone numbers
  10. Double-check for typos and misspellings
Miss anything? Leave your ideas in the comments below and/or connect with me on LinkedIn:

View Ryan Pratt's profile on LinkedIn


Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Force is strong with this Trekkie

JJ Abrams to direct Star Wars Episode 7

J.J. Abrams, the man behind the current reboot of Star Trek, will also be directing Star Wars Episode VII. The film, to hit theaters in 2015, is the first in the series since 2005, and the first episode not directed by the creator of the galaxy far far away, George Lucas.

In October of 2012, Lucas sold the Star Wars franchise (and all of Lucasfilm, which also includes the Indiana Jones franchise) to The Walt Disney Company for $4,050,000,000. Disney immediately announced its plan to revive the series and the speculation officially began.

Abrams emerges from a list of A-list directors considered for the role, including Steven Spielberg, Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew Vaughn, Brad Bird and many more. Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine) will be the film's screenwriter (a questionable choice at first but understandable after hearing him explain this thoughtful writing process.)

Abrams, however, is a good choice. A great choice even. He knows the sci-fi genre and has directed multiple blockbuster films. But this will also surely anger some die-hard fans. Especially those who've repeatedly contested that Star Wars is better than Star Trek. But to those fanboys I say, who's a better choice? Honestly.

The exclusive story broke on Hollywood news blog theWrap.com, but has also now been reported by multiple sources inluding The New York Times, E! Online, PolicyMic, ScreenCrave, Examiner.com, Film School Rejects, my hometown paper The Canton Repository, and more.

FourSquared: gamifying the check-out



What if customers could only check-in on Foursquare (or Facebook) after they check-out and pay for products? How could businesses benefit from this more restricted social network interaction? And what would customers stand to gain from this major overhaul of these social networks?

The idea behind check-in apps and social networks is gamification. Gamification is the use of game mechanics in non-game contexts in order to engage users. On Foursquare, your earn points with each check-in and as you earn points you move up the leaderboard. But there are many other reasons to "check-in":
  • To brag about your whereabouts
  • To share tips on what to eat, buy, or do
  • To find friends nearby
  • To find deals
  • And to win a mayorship, badge, or some other recognition 
The latter -- the friendly competition -- is at the core of gamification. And this gamified experience is still a  major draw to Foursquare over Facebook's check-in features. But this competitive spirit can be quickly spoiled by the employees of a store or restaurant. It's because of this that employees should not be allowed to check-in at their stores & restaurants. This social network interaction should be reserved for customers. Otherwise, there's no point.

Mayorships and gamification can be a powerful promotional force leading to more customers and higher sales. But not if you allow your employees to check-in, because a customer will never be able steal that mayorship from an employee. They're simply not on-location as much.

Now, what if customers could only check-in at checkout? What if Foursquare partnered with Square to become FourSquared? Or Facebook furthered its partnership with Apple to realize an NFC iPhone's full potential? Now you not only have to be in the store but you have to buy something to be able to check-in! Imagine all the benefits for customers and businesses.

Here are 7 advantages of gamifying the check-out processes with check-in apps:
  • Improved customer loyalty programs with 1-click signups and no need for physical cards
  • A value-add for customers to visit brick-and-mortar stores instead of shopping online
  • Social network integration delivering peer reviews to customers based off product ownership
  • Social network integration delivering more fans/followers of business pages
  • One-click, self-checkout payment options for customers without employee interaction or checkout lines
  • Paperless receipt systems tied to email and in-app inboxes
  • And more targeted marketing for businesses based on customer purchases AND interests
An innovative partnership like this could revolutionize the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. But could it save it from an inevitable death-by-dot-com?

Social gaming as defined by $ZNGA



Social gaming isn't a new idea, it's been around since poker and Monopoly. It refers to any game played with others -- as opposed to playing alone. It could be played on anything from an old wooden table to 70" LED HDTV. But today, social gaming most commonly refers to video games played online like XBOX Live (first made available to the public in November of 2002) and games played through social networks like FarmVille (launched on Facebook in 2009).

Recently, social gaming has grown exponentially and simultaneously along with the growth of smartphone use. In particular iPhone and Droid adoption -- and the availability of social games in their app stores -- have lead to an all-new way to play games with friends.

These social games with friends are dominated (quite literally) by the company, Zynga, who recently went public after creating a handful of extremely popular games "With Friends". Words With Friends alone has over 1,000,000 daily actives users (DAU).

These Zynga With Friends games are so popular that out of my 2,050 "friends"on Facebook today;
  • 17 are playing Chess With Friends (1%)
  • 20 are playing Gems With Friends (1%)
  • 30 are playing Matching With Friends (1%)
  • 209 are playing Hanging With Friends (10%)
  • 209 are playing Scramble With Friends (10%)
  • 550 are playing Words With Friends (27%)
Can you name one other video game that 1 out of 4 of your friends has played?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ten tips to win the Instagram popularity contest



Instagram is officially the next big thing in social networking. And despite some outrage in late 2012 over changes to its terms of service, Instagram continues to grow. The photo-centric social network now has 90 million monthly active users and sees more than 40 million photos uploaded every day. They also report having more than 8,500 Facebook “Likes” per second making it one of the most popular social networks around. But not everyone or everything on Instagram is "cool".

After reflecting on those I follow (and unfollow) on Instagram, I've discovered these ten things you can do to get the most likes and the most followers (and avoid the dreaded unfollow) on Instagram:
  1. One At a Time: Don't post more than 1 or 2 photos at a time. This isn't Facebook. It's not a place to publish albums of photos. And there is never any need for 2 photos of the same thing. Pick the best one.
  2. Use Hashtags: The more hashtags you use the better. And seek out some of the "secret" top hashtags. They're like The Skull and Bones, once you join the club you'll become instantly popular.
  3. Don't #TBT: #TBT, also known as, Throw Back Thursday, is one hashtag to avoid. You should only post photos you just recently took on your iPhone or Droid (there's a reason you can't upload from the web). It's supposed to be "instant" hence the name Instagram.
  4. Join the iPhone-Only Club: Expanding on the previous tip, there are a lot of people who believe Instagram should only be photos you took with your iPhone (or Droid or other smartphone) and NOT pictures taken with your digital camera or expensive DSLR. Those photos belong on 500px and Flickr.
  5. This Isn't Pinterest: Instagram is not the social network for sharing memes, inspirational posters, and quotes. That's what Pinterest is for. And don't even get me started on #instanotes.
  6. More Action Photos: Don't just post selfies and pictures of you with your friends smiling for the camera. Take some action photos of people actually doing things other than saying "cheese".
  7. Less Blurry Photos: Do NOT EVER post a blurry photo. Even if you caught Big Foot in a blurry dash through the forest, do not post it! At the same time, don't use the cool little blur tool on every photo. Though there are some cool effects that you can accomplish using this feature (i.e. miniatures), it is greatly overused. 
  8. Less Random: Try and not post random unrelated photos that have nothing to do with previous posts. Create a theme with your photos, whether it be through the content of the photos (i.e. all sunset photos) or the style of the photos (i.e. all close-up shots). 
  9. Foodies Beware: Though it is good to have a theme to your Instagram collection be careful about just posting pictures of your meals. It's become a major cliche and though it could still be acceptable as a restaurant review or recipe sharing service, there are better social media outlets to be doing so (i.e. Yelp).
  10. Share to Twitter: Now that Instagram has revoked the inline previews of photos on Twitter you should be careful what you choose to share via tweets. Having to click-through to instagram.com to see the photos can ruin the experience -- especially if the photo is breaking one of the above 9 rules!
What other Instagram tips do you have? Leave your best practice suggestions in the comments below.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Top 10 films of 2012



I must preface this list by restating that for years now I've contended that the Academy is out of touch with the general movie-going public. And I've also admitted time-and-time again that there is a distinct difference between the best movies and your favorite movies.

I must also admit I have not yet seen Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, or Salmon Fishing in the Yemen -- but honestly, who has?

With that said, and despite no longer being employed and reimbursed to see movies in theaters or at home, I have seen quite a few and more than most people, and I believe IMHO that these are the top 10 best movies of the year:
  1. Argo
  2. Lincoln
  3. Django Unchained
  4. Zero Dark Thirty
  5. Skyfall
  6. Looper
  7. 21 Jump Street
  8. Flight
  9. Wreck-It-Ralph
  10. The Grey

Not to be confused with my favorite movies. As I said earlier, the best films of the year are not always my favorite films of the year. Heck Fools Gold is one of my all-time favorite films. It's rated 11% on RottenTomatoes.com. So with that said, these are my top 10 favorite movies of the year:
  1. The Avengers
  2. Argo
  3. Django Unchained
  4. Ted
  5. Skyfall
  6. Looper
  7. The Dark Knight Rises
  8. The Cabin in the Woods
  9. Dredd 3D
  10. Chronicle

I'm sure there are some snubs. So go ahead and let me have it in the comments.