How Technology Can Help You Engage Your Audience the Right Way

Shutterstock

If you’re looking for a scapegoat for just about any of the world’s issues, you probably know technology makes a good choice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people talk about how technology and being “plugged in” is making relationships harder than ever.

For some, I’m sure that’s probably true. At the end of the day, though, technology is a tool, and your relationships with other people — including your audience — depend on how you use it.

For marketers, technology presents an opportunity for you to reach and connect with your audience. Content marketing tools, for example, help you plan and craft your brand’s most engaging messages. Social media tools help you get them into the hands of the right people. Marketing automation platforms help you streamline and automate your processes, among other things.

The only catch? You can’t entirely remove the human element from the equation and let technology do it all.

Learn the Golden Equation: Technology + authenticity = engagement

If you had your choice between an engaging, personalized message from an authentic thought leader at a company and boring, automated content coming from an impersonal corporate logo, which would you prefer? It’s no contest: We’d all choose personalized content from real humans.

Marketers can use technology to create that content, deliver it, measure their efforts — any number of things. But tech, as ever-present as it is, won’t magically result in audience engagement and stronger relationships. Like I said, it’s a tool that needs to be used to make your job of connecting with your audience easier than before.

Sadly, too many brands forget their role in building those relationships and overlook the human elements that are necessary to make their messages resonate. They then wonder why engagement is low, assuming technology has created this huge trust barrier and made it harder to connect instead of looking in the mirror to find the root of the problem: They haven’t humanized their brands or used the right content to communicate that.

Make the shift from me to you

Talking “at” versus talking “with”: It’s a big distinction. Too many companies are knee-deep in the former, pushing out information like that boorish uncle at your folks’ annual Fourth of July picnic who simultaneously says everything and nothing.

In the past, brands would develop an idea or a message and push it out for everyone and their mother to see, whether those recipients truly cared to see it or not. In my business and marketing book, “Top of Mind,” I call this “Me Marketing,” where marketers only push out what they want and focus on themselves in the process. (I’ve yet to meet one person who truly enjoys getting spammed with a ton of promotional emails that were clearly sent out en masse with no personalization at all.)

Today, effective brands and marketers are taking a different approach. They have shifted to what I call “You Marketing” and have begun creating content for the actual audience members receiving it.

There’s a much greater focus on what audiences want and how they like to receive information, engage with content, and work with brands. Marketers need to listen to and authentically engage with audiences, and they need to do it on that audience’s terms. Technology can help.

Pursue new technology for better relationships

One example of a tool that’s taking the modern customer experience and running with it is PingPilot. Launched by SCORCH, this software aims to change the conversation between businesses and individuals by allowing people to choose their preferred means of communication. The means of conversation can change depending on the client’s needs — live chat, voice, and SMS are all viable channels. Essentially, businesses move over and give consumers the keys to the car, as well as the wheel.

Over time, this allows brands and consumers to forge sincere bonds based on trust and live interactions, not chatbots or automated replies. Each touchpoint becomes an opportunity to build a better understanding of customers; data from these interactions can improve the company’s marketing stack and explode lead generation, not to mention conversions.

This is a prime example of how technology actually helps build stronger personal relationships and connections, not replace them.

Everyone loves to hate something, but it’s time to pull back from blaming technology left and right. Instead of cursing a technology-rich world that’s made Snapchat filters and hashtags so ubiquitous you hardly notice them anymore, it’s wiser to look deeper into what those selfies and hashtags mean to the people who make, view, and engage with them. Authenticity between brands and audiences has technology at its core, but it takes human hands, minds, and hearts to execute it.

John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a keynote speaker, and the author of “Top of Mind.” You can book John to speak here.

[“Source-forbes”]

Want secure code? Give devs the right tools

Want secure code? Give devs the right tools

The Internet has serious security problems that need to be fixed. Despite many calls to action over the years for the industry to band together and work on solutions, progress has been mild. What’s needed isn’t necessarily more security technology. What’s needed are better tools for developers so that they can improve the security of their code.

In his keynote at Black Hat in Las Vegas, Dan Kaminsky, chief scientist and co-founder of White Ops, advocated for environments and coding frameworks that make it easier for developers to implement security without compromising usability or stifling creativity. His keynote, “The Hidden Architecture of Our Time: Why This Internet Worked, How We Could Lose It, and the Role Hackers Play,” called on the security industry to think about how new programming environments could have basic functionality and security features built in and turned on by default.

“I worry about the ability of developers to innovate without being smothered by security concerns,” Kaminsky told attendees.

I caught up with Kaminsky after the keynote to discuss what developers need to continue innovating and developing. During his speech, he said, “We have to figure out what people want to do and help them to do it safely.” In our discussion, he explained how that meant looking at programming languages, working with containers such as Docker, and sharing code.

There is so much innovation and so much technology now that “everyday developers can do massive things,” Kaminsky told me. “If they don’t have a way to build these technologies securely, all of [developers’] thought is going to leave ‘How do we build what users want’ and go to ‘How do we survive the real world.’ It’s a drain on people’s thought.”

The answer isn’t more standards or theory, but “real-world experimentation,” Kaminsky says. “No more ‘If you really care about security, program in this language.’”

It’s one thing to create new tools — say, programming languages like Rust that stamp out a whole class of vulnerabilities by enforcing memory safety– but it’s another to see how developers use it. If they aren’t able to do what they need to accomplish with the new tool, they’ll figure out a workaround.

For example, it’s easy to say stop coding in C because of the chances of introducing memory-related vulnerabilities. However, if the developer needs to embed code, then Python as the “safer” language is not an option. It has to be C. By looking at actual use cases, at how developers are working, we learn about these roadblocks and can start figuring out solutions to address them.

“I am not a fan of obtuse, difficult-to-use, theoretically correct but operationally difficult solutions only considerable because they are mathematically correct,” Kaminsky said during his speech. There needs to be people focusing on operational questions to figure out how things really work and come up with practical answers.

“We didn’t stop our cities from burning by making fire illegal or heal the ill by making sickness a crime. We actually studied the problems and learned to deliver safety,” Kaminsky said in his speech. “If we want to make security better, give people environments that are easy to work with and still secure.”

Developers in organizations are fixing bugs in their applications every day, but because they are not releasing the fixes, everyone else encountering the same bug has to fix it themselves. It’s common developer practice to search Google or poke around GitHub for code samples to common programming problems. Right now, there’s no way to tell if something is done well or if it’s poorly written. The best way to make sure everyone gets the best fixes is to publish the code so that it’s available to all.

“Managers, you should be letting your engineers share solutions to many of your internal security problems. You’re solving them anyway,” Kaminsky said during his speech. “Someday, someone’s going to have your problem again.”

If that fix is the first result for a Google search, then more people will use the better code rather than a broken hack they found elsewhere.

“There are a million reasons why technology doesn’t work outside of security. What matters is, it doesn’t work. So the game really is, let’s figure out, what really does,” Kaminsky told me.

 

[Source: Javaworld]

 

Microsoft’s app strategy is finally heading in the right direction

Microsoft’s app strategy has been picking up steam recently. The latest development came at Facebook’s F8 conference, which was held this week, and will allow developers to build apps for Windows with greater ease.

Up until last week, the strategy could have been described as a shambles and had created problems for Microsoft right across the board. The biggest one, or at least the one that has gotten the most attention, was Windows Phone — now Windows 10 Mobile — which struggled to get popular apps, like Snapchat, onto the platform.

Versions of Windows Phone barely had any popular apps, like Instagram, which lead to a community that regularly had to rely on third-party alternatives, which were usually developed on a shoe-string budget. These apps, while good, would often get shut down or the developer would run out of money.

It’s unfair to say that Windows Phone failed entirely because of this problem, but it was definitely a contributory factor. People tried all three operating systems — Windows, iOS, and Android — but found that only two had the apps they wanted (or needed, in some cases).

The app problem lead to a sales problem which, in turn, lead to the problem of fewer apps. No developer, especially an indie developer, was going to spend time making an app for a platform that had, at times, less than 2% global marketshare and, thanks to low-end phones, users that were less likely to spend money than iOS.

Microsoft evidently thought long and hard about this problem and came up with a solution: One app for all platforms. These platforms include PC, Xbox (which, naturally, brings in big-name games), Internet of Things devices, and phones. Now, developers have a different choice: Instead of having to build a separate app for Windows phones, they just build one for Windows 10.

This was, and still is, a big boost for Microsoft’s phones and offers something that no other platform can offer developers. While Apple has been working on building phone features into the desktop — things like Launchpad, for example — it has never presented a unified app strategy, much to the annoyance of developers.

Google, too, has never worked that hard at letting Android apps work on Chrome OS and, besides, the operating system has never been as popular as Windows (or OS X), except in schools, which mainly rely on the browser or a word processor.

Microsoft had, in one move, created a unique selling point for its platform, which it calls the Universal Windows Platform, and has been rolling with it ever since.

However, it’s still unclear if the strategy will work, but there are signs that it could be. The latest one, as I said, coming from Facebook.

Essentially, what Facebook has done is expand its set of tools, which it calls React Native, to Windows 10. This means that over 250,000 developers will now be able to easily port apps to Windows 10 which, thanks to the Universal Windows Platform, means that PCs, the Xbox, Windows phones, and even your IoT-powered fridge can benefit from them.

This coincides with a big push from other developers, like Uber, into the Windows world. While there are few people who would choose Windows because of Uber, it does demonstrate the advantage that a universal platform brings Microsoft. The app works on your desktop, which is perfect for ordering a taxi from your home, just as well as it works from a phone.

As I have argued before, Microsoft’s best chance of making something out of Windows 10 Mobile, and its assorted devices, would be to focus on its enterprise customers, pitching it as a cheaper (and easier) alternative to managing iPhones and Android phones from a system administrators point of view.

Thanks to UWP, Microsoft can get all of the apps it needs — boosted, in part, by the high adoption rate of Windows 10 — and then pitch phone customers off the back of that.

This strategy is very long tail — businesses tend to adopt technologies at a far slower pace than consumers — but it may eventually be a big bonus for Windows, and Microsoft, as developers start building apps for the platform.

The support for Facebook, which was initially sceptical about Windows, is an especially big deal. According to an analysis of user’s habits, people initially download many apps but then only use about five regularly and one of those is Facebook. (Others, like Snapchat, are not available on Windows phones.)

The developers behind The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, Netflix, Shazam, and more, are all bringing apps out on Windows 10, which are then available on Windows phones, and can be used to attract users.

Beyond this, Microsoft has also been working on making apps that are currently available on iOS and Android available on Windows. Xamarin, the company Microsoft bought earlier this year, offers developers the ability to build cross-platform apps and the company announced at Build that its software is now open source.

The “bridge” projects have also been moving forward — except the Android version — and could lead to more developers bringing iPhone-ready apps to Windows, although it’s not yet clear how successful this plan will be.

All in all, it seems like one of Microsoft’s biggest problems — a lack of apps on Windows, across all device classes — may be slowly coming to an end. The excitement around Windows 10, which now has almost 300 million users, is palpable and Microsoft has never been in a better position, both strategically and directionally, to realise its objectives.

 

[Source:- Winbeta]