Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How TeemingPod enhanced our Management Meet!

I have often awaited brainstorming sessions with much glee! It’s a great feeling to gather and discuss plans with diverse people from other teams. It helps one to plan further with valuable feedback and streamline the entire process. As you might guess right now, I have attended one such meet and I am glad to see it as a well-planned meet!
There is a very rich exchange of information that happens in these meets. Often, many things are exchanged in an informal way between individuals; however, this means every single person at the meet may not be aware of these conversations and inputs discussed between other team members.
This is probably the reason why I often felt a need for a structured information sharing approach due to which the whole process turns out as an enriching one for all! I also felt that information sharing should be easy and can serve as a rich source for those who are unable to be a part of all the discussions during the meet or are not able to attend the meet!
I was glad to see that we utilized social interaction to the fullest in this year’s management meet. There were various topics discussed right from leadership to strategy. There were more than 40 people who shared their views on every topic and there were some great discussion sessions. Just imagine if this discussion happened either through email or in the form of comments on a blog. Oops! What a mess it would have been with 40 people sharing and discussing their view points on every topic.
This is the moment when I can confidently say that TeemingPod deserves credit for a very structured approach I saw in these discussions. In TeemingPod, discussions were very well organized; such as the various views on the topic were well distinguished, users who are inclined towards a given view and their supporting points could be easily distinguished, which points are attracting debatable answers and so on.
Apart from all the above advantages, one more advantage which we could get out of TeemingPod was usage of all these viewpoints even later on during our group discussions! This helped one to see clearly the strengths or shortcomings of a given approach from various angles as seen in the discussions.
Probably this was the first time people indirectly contributed in individual group discussion by putting forward their view points well ahead of time.
Some astounding new ideas were also put forward and I must say, there was an amazing response! There were suggestions that came pouring in and the entire team could utilize this information to the maximum.
Not to say that such meets are complete without any presentations. These thought-provoking and decision making presentations when shared ahead of time with the people; receives a good response in terms of feedback and comments during the presentation. Sharing such presentations well ahead of time provides sufficient time for people to go through the presentation and get their queries resolved during the presentation. For those, who could not share their inputs verbally; had an option of sharing ideas through comments in TeemingPod. Hence, not a single valuable thought was lost in this process!
TeemingPod thus allows social interaction anywhere and anytime. I must say, this has been one of our most productive sessions. Are you ready to go the TeemingPod way?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A New Idea for the New Year!

It’s a brand New Year and I am sure you all must have had a very enjoyable time! There are many who may even be still extending their holiday plans! This is the time one cherishes being with family and friends. I am sure it also brings back fond memories.
The other day, I was deciding upon enhancing the way social interaction happens online and I happened to go back to my school days. The endless sessions of lessons were a great time to connect with friends on the back bench! Those are the days which actually gave me an idea about something new and useful.
I remember the classroom sessions that often made us discuss things amongst each other rather than ask questions to the professor directly. In fact, I even remember that some of the most valid points were brought up in the midst of these discussions. The main point here I would like to bring attention to is the amount of valuable information that is generated through these discussions. We can observe the same scenario in a professional setup as well. There are many presentations and conferences that are conducted to impart/share knowledge with others. In this case, I have noticed that the amount of information and discussions that happen, during and after the presentation; is a valuable resource for both the presenter and audience. The feedback however may never reach others who are not a part of the discussion or have not attended the presentation, as most of it may be purely verbal or shared online at various places.
Sharing presentations online was one way to share the PPT file with others. However, this missed the most valuable discussions which happened during the session. To share this valuable information, currently, the trend of ‘twittering’ is very widespread and is visible amongst professionals and youngsters alike. I have often noticed users posting tweets about good inputs about a presentation or an interesting conference. This however, does not give other users a clue about the actual presentation and its content. The simple reason being, a person who is reading the tweet has never seen the presentation. Either the presentation is not shared at all or is shared on a third party site which is different from where the tweets appear.
Also, when people start tweeting about the presentation; others may not know the right hash tag or keyword to use as search terms to obtain all the tweets related to that presentation.
The point I am trying to make is all this information (discussions or comments among people and the tweets on the presentation) can be more useful when it is shared at one spot so that users can connect instantly and know feedback in a structured way. In this manner, professionals giving presentations and the audience can be well-informed about the latest updates and feedback.
The importance of Twitter definitely cannot be ignored. Many tweets can actually be a value addition for one’s professional work.
I am hoping to add more value to the way we interact online. Keeping this in mind, I would surely like to know any suggestions from your side for my new idea!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Much-Awaited Google Chrome OS

Slowly but surely, Google has crept into our lives on the web. It has always been having a steady grip on its users, to the extent of irking the competitors. Google has been dominating in many ways in terms of the Internet. This time around, there is an attempt to dominate a user’s desktop!

Last month, the world witnessed the release of Google’s open source project viz Chromium OS. Google’s idea behind building this OS is to essentially create a thin client operating system for consumers. Chrome OS is all about the web and web based apps. 

Let us look at few main highlights of this OS
  • It will run with a Linux kernel as its base.
  • It will boot directly into the Chrome Web browser
  • Since it is web based, it will not be designed to have local storage; all data will be stored in the cloud.
  • Web developers would be able to build web apps that can run on any standards-based browser as its open source.
  • Google will release the software to the open source community before the end of 2009
  • Hardware partners for Chrome OS announced till now: Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba.
The best thing about this concept is that all the applications are web based. One does not have to deal with installation or even updates about different programs. Google also boasts about the intensive security options. The speed is another factor users can look forward to!

Few advantages of having such an OS:
  • People can now access their emails instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot
  • One can access data from wherever they are located
  • No need to worry about backup files
  • There is no requirement to configure computers with every new piece of hardware
  • There is also no need to bother about constant software updates
Even though Google has promised many such things, experts opine about different issues. There have been several concerns such as the case of WiFi. A user may not be able to access it when out of range. Besides, the security is still a debatable issue. 

Few examples of things that would be difficult to do with Chrome OS
  • To view a huge video which is present on the local drive, takes a fraction of a second to start the movie. This could become really problematic if the video needs to be viewed from cloud, especially for slow network connections. Also, one has to consider the time required to upload a video to Cloud.
  • A user can have access to data on hard disk even without a network connection. However, Chrome OS uses Cloud based data storage, which means that an Internet connection is required to access the data. Also, a fast network connection might be required to be able to upload and download data.
For those who have tuned in a little late, click here to view link. Till then, we can only wait for the ultimate day!

In my opinion, Chrome OS will be a very specialized operating system which would be beneficial for many applications. But, it would not be a Microsoft Windows killer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Limitations of Online Social Interactions!

Social interaction and its presence on the web can be seen in terms of the popularity of this concept. Although many sites are yet to adopt this strategy, it goes without saying that it does lend a valuable contribution to websites.

Apart from social networking websites, interaction online is useful for professionals all around the globe. It helps a firm to collaborate and solve issues even if teams are located in different areas of the world.

The most common ways of interacting within a group is through online webinar sessions. Once the date and time is fixed, everyone can attend it from any area all over the world.

However, I am sure you must have faced some issues which have been my concerns as well. I have listed these below:

• You can attend the presentation or the online meeting only if you are present online at the given time.

• If you are unable to attend it, there is no other medium through which you can know details about the discussion.

• Even if you do try to gather inputs post the presentation, you may be able to connect only with the host and trying to get in touch with all the participants would be a tough task!

• You can probably interact or know about details through mail but it does not have the same effect as a live interaction with users online.

TeemingPod users however may have experienced that social interaction continues whether or not the person is online at the same time. A user is able to share presentations and connect with others at his/her leisure. A user can even refer to the FAQ or Ideation section to know about the kind of interaction that has been going on between others.

In fact, it’s online social interaction without the restrictions!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Top 5 Sticky Ideas for Your Website

The term sticky did seem odd to me first when I started having a closer connection with the web world! I thought, “What does the term sticky have to do with a website?” As I shrugged my shoulders, it was only a matter of a few days when I learnt the importance of this term. Look up on Word Web and one of the definitions would be, “Having the sticky properties of an adhesive.” Rightly so, there are elements that create the same effect for websites. For those who wish to know the other side of ‘stickiness for sites’, can read on for 5 sticky ideas for your websites!
Those who are still perplexed with this term: Stickiness for a website means the user is kept on the page for a longer time. The content and presentation should be embedded in the minds of the users!
Top 5 Sticky Ideas: Interaction is what you need
Many webmasters strive to add the stickiness factor to their websites. What you need here is social interaction on the page. A website that only contains graphics and content may attract users but may not make them return back to the websites. The need thus arises to create a kind of social interaction on the page. Here’s a look at some ideas that will help to bring about social interaction on websites.
Publish Authentic Content
Words and visuals go together. The content for the site should be authentic and appeal to all readers, precision and catchy headlines help!
For example: An article directory site that is interspersed with links is bound to drive away genuine readers. Articles that are published on many sites in one go also tend to put off readers, hence the requirement of authentic content.
Start a Forum
A forum is like a space where users can interact with each other. This peps up the overall look of a website.
For example: A product website that adds forums to its site will ensure that users interact with each other. In this manner, users can discuss the products, recommend stuff and perhaps even suggest areas for improvement.
Include a Poll
Another way to add to the stickiness of the website is to include a poll on the page. This increases the curiosity amongst the users to know what others users feel about the topic.
For example: If you have a news related website, you can highlight important points in the form of polls. By gathering opinions, users will actively participate and will always remain interested in the website.
Allow Special Users to Blog
A blog option helps to add to the stickiness factor. It keeps users on the page, besides, it even gives them the option to contribute and be active with the website.
For example: A fashion website can include a blog section wherein reputed names in the industry can contribute. This will add to the interest factor as fashionistas will enjoy returning back to the site to be up-to-date with the latest trends.
Resource Sharing
Provide a space for users to share, recommend links or share photographs. The idea of photo sharing or link sharing online will increase social interaction amongst users.
For example: A site dedicated to photography can include these options. Avid photographers can share their photographs with users and will spend more time on the web page.
These points listed in random order are only some of the many other points to add the stickiness factor to websites. Watch this space for more information!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Burning Need for Social Interaction

There are many people who always talk about being with the times. There is a need to accept new ideas and be in sync with things happening around us! Pull on a flowered shirt today and you are considered old fashioned! A desktop is no longer the most-sought after commodity with the arrival of laptops.
As we know that tastes change, preferences can change but there are some things that should hopefully never change. (Things that bring about a smile to our face such as sumptuous home-cooked meals or listening to the pitter-patter of the raindrops!)
As the Internet rules our lives, things surely have taken a different turn in the new age. The reason could be to shop, lookup information, bank online, search for a new eat-out, etc. The Internet serves as a medium for our every need. But then, in a fast-paced environment, how connected are we really? Actual interaction between people has reduced visibly, as users resort to social interaction online.
Social interaction is required not only on a personal one-to-one basis, but even online. Net addicts turn to chat to find friends and connect. A website that contains these modes to connect with users is most popular. Social networking sites such as Facebook or Orkut are therefore successful as users sign up to stay connected with old friends or discover new friends! It’s time we embrace the change and equip ourselves in the best possible way!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Much-Needed Factor for Websites: Social Interaction

The other day, I was checking my mail and I realized I had received an email from a very earnest person. I wish to share some of his concerns with you.
It went in this manner….
“I have a very talented design team who has used their creativity to come up with an excellent design for my product site. The website includes a display of all the products with details required by my consumers. It also contains a varied range! Yet, I feel that I do not have the right kind of response that I wish to generate for this website. Please have a look at my website and kindly let me know where the problem exists for the site.”
The first thing that struck me after reading this post was that if the website is good then why should he seek feedback a person who has never visited his website before? It would definitely make sense to talk to his visitors directly and check out their views and opinions. Well, still wearing a critique’s hat I surfed through this website to see what could be the issue.
My first impression was exactly how the mail stated; it was attractive and interesting to look at. I could view all the pages with ease. Yet, there was an element that seemed missing from the picture.
I saw everything seemed fine in terms of design. The missing piece seemed the lack of activity on the web page! The web pages and their product display played the function of attracting the users. The thing about the website was that it did not create any action for the user!
The website basically lacked a very important factor - creation of social interaction amongst users. This is why the website owner did not receive the desired results. One may wonder what the importance of social interaction is! The answer lies in the results which are seen after the use of social interaction!
What happened here was that due to lack of interaction with the consumer, the website owner had to resort to seeking my advice. This not only created a longer channel for the website owner, it did not give him the chance of knowing the consumer opinions!
The use of social interaction on the web pages would solve many things! This gives the website owner a chance to interact with the users online. Users can put forth their views. This gives better and faster results once the changes are implemented. These changes when implemented also make consumers feel that their suggestions are valued. It only generates loyal traffic for the website!
One can use many ways to interact with users. The use of a Presentation slide show that showcases the latest achievements of the week may garner more interest. This can make a user take active interest and watch the slide show of the products, either to submit comments or view those from other users.
The website users should also get a chance to interact with each other that helps them to discover more about the options being offered on a website. There could be an FAQ, which users refer to for information posted on a website. They can also ask their questions to which other users or a website owner can answer. In this manner, live chats, sharing of images or links can be utilized to make the whole experience socially interactive!
Implementing social interaction on a website helps users to interact amongst each other, which in turn proves to be useful for a website. Apart from creative presentations, a website that obtains feedback from users will get better results!
This is what I finally replied to the email I had received. I received a long email thereafter that thanked me for everything!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Latest Brew: Social Interaction!

Walking through the cobbled street always gave me a sense of pleasure every morning. It was like a complete experience, passing by the green lawns and shops bustling with activity in the busy morning hours! I loved looking at these scenes and nodding a quick ‘Good Morning’ to people around. It is on this note I would like to share something interesting with you!
As I said before, I loved walking through this street. The thing I loved doing most was sipping on a cup of coffee and looking across lazily at the people across the street. The enticing aroma of coffee tempted me to stop by for a sip! The presence of two coffee shops on this lane drew many people throughout the day. I always ensured I visited both throughout the week. The total crowd that visited these shops always seemed equal in number. While one was named ‘Java Lovers’, the other was named as ‘Something’s Brewing!’ I loved being at both places as the crowd and ambience rocked. I noticed for many months that the number of people that visited these coffee shops were equal.
Then, it was on a sunny morning, when I passed through this lane again, I realized, ‘Something’s Brewing’ seemed a little more packed than ever. This scenario continued for many more weeks. Whenever I passed by this lane, I wondered what the buzz was all about! Yet, as I wondered, I shyly went into the other coffee shop for my brew!
It was then I decided that I need to visit ‘Something’s Brewing’ to find out what brought about such a change in the number of customers. As I pushed the glass door open, I was greeted by a large number of people happily sipping their cup of coffee over conversation. I managed to locate an empty seat in the corner and turned into the silent observer. As I observed, I noticed the guy behind the counter read things out aloud whilst looking at his mobile phone. I leaned forward to hear and I could catch some latest gossip being read out. “Jennifer Anniston will be featured on the latest issue of Vogue”, he said. The people listening in turn gathered around him for more gossip and of course, cups of hot, steaming coffee! After a few minutes, he announced some more news items related to technology. This immediately caught the attention of the professional crowd sitting on the other side! The person behind the counter was doing a marvelous job of reading latest updates from his cell phone and engaging the people present there. I even saw two groups mingle together and share their table for more cups of coffee and goodies.
I rested back in my chair and was surprised to see some people approach me in a bid to have a general chit chat! I chatted around and as I left the coffee shop, a little delayed, I realized I have made 2 new friends! The following morning I was eager to meet the same. As before, the same person announced latest news updates and I met up with my new set of friends! With time, I felt my friend circle increase! A simple change of strategy changed things not only in the coffee shop, but even the way I spent time! There was more than just something brewing in ‘Something’s Brewing’!
A simple change in business strategy helped ‘Something’s Brewing’! It soon became the most popular hangout in this area! This shows the power of social interaction. It can even be applied to a website. Social interaction when applied to a website can give the website owner more traffic! Once users interact with each other rather than going through normal text and visuals, it surely has a different effect. Users tend to return back to the website to interact and befriend other users. It proves to an effective way to increase traffic and also the stickiness factor for the website. Websites with social interaction tools on their pages will surely stand out from the rest! So, are you game for the same?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Five Tips for Building a Successful Online Community

We are all aware about online communities and how they bring about like-minded people together. These are now touted as one of the busiest places online. Although setting up an online community is definitely not rocket science, there is more to it than meets the eye! A community manager needs to be prepared to tackle things in the appropriate manner to ensure active participation in the community to make it a ‘go to’ place for its target audience.
There’s no secret to building communities online…but there’s surely a basic formula for its success. Let me share with you five tips that you must get right to build a successful online community!

1. Content Should be Classified
An online community that contains a haphazard display of information only leads to more confusion! A user needs information to be classified properly while searching for it. A threaded discussion will increase interaction amongst users. A structured and organized approached ensures better participation from users.
2. Allow Users to Interact and Express their Opinions
To ensure you achieve a success rate for your online community, you must allow users to interact freely and let them be a judge of the activities. A user needs to be able to express her/his views freely. For example, if a user likes a particular post; he/she should be able to vote for it. Or if the user gets an answer to a query, he/she should be able to mark it as complete so that others know the thread has been ended successfully. Allow users to judge each other so that it builds an appropriate environment for the community.
3. Follow the Basic Rules of Netiquette
The basic purpose of a community is to provide an exclusive space online, for people to interact and discuss. In that case, every user needs to be given freedom to post his/her views as long as it adheres to the rules of the community. Answers that are posted to questions can be replied with a simple ‘Thank You’. This can work wonders! Appreciation for other users is important. That’s what netiquette is all about!
4. Easy-to-Use Tools/Features
To build a successful community online also requires the use of appropriate tools. Some of the most commonly used community building tools are chats, message boards, emails, etc. These tools should be easy-to-use to ensure easy social interaction amongst users. Social community tools should make interaction exciting and provide options such as email alerts that keep a user informed about any new post in a thread. Addition of useful features in a structured way without disrupting the natural flow of conversation is very important for successful community building.
5. Ensure Good Leadership
A successful community needs a good leader or a moderator who takes care of the content and the social interactions amongst users. A good moderator is one who ensures the right kind of attitude is maintained throughout the forums being discussed. A moderator who does not weigh down his/her presence yet ensures decorum is maintained is bound to have a more interactive and focused community. A community can have more than one moderator or expert panel to ensure that the responsibilities are divided.
A successful community thus needs the combination of right features and tools and all the points mentioned above. Eventually, community managers would hope for a tool that encompasses all the above points.
TeemingPod is a tool that is very apt for setting up a community for all the above stated reasons. With TeemingPod, you get to use different activities such as Presentation, Ideation, Spot Polls, Discussions, etc which are needed to keep a community informative and engaging. Apart from this, features such as email alerts and rating allow more options through one mode. It allows users to extract useful information in a PDF format for their future usage which is a unique advantage for community users. All this is possible without straying away from the main page. This ensures that attention is concentrated on one spot despite many activities being carried out by users.
Although the Internet trends have changed over the years, the bottom line remains that users love sharing and interacting online, amongst each other. After all, enhancing this user experience is what TeemingPod does best!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

See how Easy it is to Make your Web Pages Socially Interactive!

We have all seen how TeemingPod increases social interaction amongst users! With TeemingPod, all you need to do is use the various activities to communicate with users in a structured way. With TeemingPod, you provide a space for users to interact better and also increase the stickiness and engagement factor for a web site.
Well, you won’t know the sheer magic of TeemingPod unless you take a trial for yourself. To register for the free trial, check out the guided tour that highlights the steps to be followed.