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How to Create a Social Media Hub for Your Business

by: Finella Kristle Panlilio

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 | Comments (0)

Category: Outsourcing Research / Trends

Did you know that you can use user-generated content in real-time and at the same time display all of your social media updates in one place?

Social media relies heavily on interaction, and isolating each conversation by using social channels independently simply isn't enough anymore. Bringing audiences together in a single place - a hub - encourages them to share more as it lets you stream social updates in real time, further motivating your audience to converse across platforms and carry your message to an even wider crowd.

Social hubs take your social media marketing to a whole new level. They can be used for everything - from displaying cross-platform updates on a big screen at a live event to embedding multiple social media feeds in your website.

Social Media Examiner gives us three ways to pull social conversation to a single hub and build an audience on the web.

1. Find a tool that allows you to moderate and display real-time interaction.
Postano allows social media marketing campaign integration with events or shows. Use it to show audience updates on a big screen at your event, prompting your fans to share their experience with friends across social platforms - of course they want to see their updates on the big screen! Further build the energy level by holding a voting contest during your event and encouraging fans to vote by using a specific hashtag, and then showcasing the results live on the big screen.

Make sure that the tool you are using lets you curate posts and updates to avoid accidental sharing of negative or inappropriate user updates.

2. Use a platform that lets you combine multiple feeds in your website.
RebelMouse is a platform that lets you use your own website to share posts and pull in related content from different publishers. In other words, it lets you create a digital newspaper within your website - a one-stop shop for the latest news.

3. Encourage audience participation.
Tint lets you transform your website into a dynamic social hub by offering a way to embed timeline-style social media feeds on a web page or screen, with options to personalize how the timeline is displayed and track hashtags or client testimonials. Similar to Postano and RebelMouse, Tint also allows you to moderate users' contributed content.

Use Tint to set up a social media display hub at an event. Your audience can participate by using the dedicated hashtag when they post related comments and photos, and these will appear on the company social media wall in real time.

12 Business Buzzwords We should Stop Using

by: Finella Kristle Panlilio

Friday, July 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

Category: Outsourcing Research / Trends

Business buzzwords and phrases are so overused that they have lost their original meaning. While some words or phrases may be deemed appropriate and substantial for a business situation, many people abuse buzzwords to sound smart, or as an alternative to something that would have been a better and clearer way to explain themselves.

Mashable caught up with 12 founders and asked them which pieces of business jargon they wish fellow entrepreneurs and start-ups would stop using.

"Hit the ground running"
According to Michael Quinn of Yellow Bridge Interactive, he hears this phrase at the end of almost every meeting he’s in. No matter who says it - somebody on his team or a client - it’s become a cliché. The goal is always to have positive progress with any new initiative, he says, the phrase is unnecessary and redundant.

"Visionary"
Millionaire Network CEO and Co-founder Parker Powers says the term ‘visionary’ should be a bold statement by which others recognize about you, and not a moniker you would refer to yourself as. Entrepreneurs and start-ups should never declare themselves as experts and gurus to the world.

"Think outside the box"
Tim McHugh, Co-owner and Vice-president of Sales and Marketing at Saddleback Educational Inc., is tired of hearing this phrase in the business world. McHugh acknowledges that it has an important meaning, but he implores you to be different and find a new way to say it.

"Innovate"
According to Real Bullets Branding Founder Caitlin McCabe, strong words like innovation are being turned into nothing more than marketing jargon and that’s not good for the business world. Products, services, and companies, she says, should earn the right to be regarded as innovative.

"Influencers"
Cyber Superpowers Founder Travis Steffen recalls what the term ‘influencer’ meant back then: an individual with a high amount of influence over a certain market or fan base. Now, he says, advertising an event to be full of "influencers" is only a flashy way of saying, "We’re having a party. Invite all your friends as long as they have jobs and aren’t crazy."

"Pivot"
Darrah Brustein of Network Under 40 and Finance Whiz Kids says pivot has become the glamorous way of saying you changed something that wasn't working. Admit that you made a mistake and that you found a way to adjust it, she advises. Brustein says she has much more respect for calling it like it is than trying to cover something up to save face.

"Paradigm shift"
For Solomon Consulting Group Founder Grant Gordon, the term ‘paradigm shift’ is technically a valid way to describe changing how you do something and the model you use, but it has been so overused that it’s already redundant - paradigms shifting paradigms of paradigms.

"Engagement"
Chocomize CEO Fabian Kaempfer says using ‘engagement’ as a real measure of evaluation is a common and discreditable practice among start-ups and marketers. It reduces the success of your efforts with a vague statement that generalizes all of the resulting actions, when in reality, each action should be weighed separately and with corresponding degrees of value. That measurement and evaluation tools are increasingly improving pushes engagement out of place.

"Value add"
Ty Morse, CEO of Songwhale, doesn't like terms that suggest that something is or should be more than itself. I’m providing a service or product or good that is useful to you, he says, that is value add. There is nothing more to add to it. Either it works or it doesn't.

"Pre-revenue"
ZinePak Co-founder Brittany Hodak hates when founders use the term ‘pre-revenue’ to describe their "game-changing" start-ups. Most businesses exist to make money. Hodak says if your start-up is in its third year and still pre-revenue, chances are you have an expensive hobby, not a company.

"Growth hacking"
For Petovera founder Matthew Ackerson, a growth hacker is what lazy people call an expert marketer, as well as a trendy phrase among wantrepreneurs, a fancy way of saying business development or marketing. As a marketer himself, Ackerson says the phrase ‘growth hacking’ is really just marketers marketing (themselves). It is nothing new; the skill set growth hackers are pulling from is the same one used by other marketers for the last century. Ackerson encourages us to be honest and just call it what it is: marketing.

"Game changer"
Shawn Porat, CEO of Fortune Cookie Advertising, has seen many people describing their latest product or service as game-changing or a game-changer. Porat says it usually turns out to be mainly hype. To him, something is only a game-changer if it’s truly revolutionary and changes the way things are done. His advice is to tone down the rhetoric and be more realistic about what you’re offering, especially if you know your product or service can’t live up to your own hype.

Europe has regional data laws that affect the decision-making process when it comes to outsourcing. This makes data center location a crucial concern for outsourcing buyers. Also, with European firms having a regional nature, they are known to prefer local providers. Language and cultural barriers are also present particularly in France, Italy, and Spain.
    
Shuba Ramkumar, Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan Information and Communication Technologies, advised providers to offer services that are localized or are focused within a specific region. Security and data confidentiality should also be guaranteed by the service providers to win potential customers.

Ramkumar said companies are now more focused on reallocating internal resources to the core processes of their business and becoming more economical. This is why organizations are looking for solutions such as managed hosting and data center services. 

Ramkumar also said cloud will propel colocation services. However, security and efficiency are expected to become long-standing problems to the growth of the cloud.

With the numerous changes and dynamic requirements in the data services segment today, hybrid services are now becoming popular among providers and buyers, resulting to a combination of colocation, managed hosting, and cloud solutions.

An article posted at Finance.Yahoo.com highlights several factors that are contributing to the continuous growth of the European data services market and the adoption of outsourcing. These include inter-machine connectivity, as well as the advancement of cloud technology and applications. The rising volume of data is also identified as a key growth driver as companies are strongly considering new innovative ways to address issues without having to deal with internal data centers.

Even with the challenges, the data services market of Europe is projected to post a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16 percent until 2018 with Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Benelux as the largest markets in the region.

5 Tips on Becoming a Thought Leader

by: Finella Kristle Panlilio

Monday, July 21, 2014 | Comments (0)

Category: Outsourcing Research / Trends

A service or product’s success does not depend on the brand of the company alone. It is both the brand and reputation of the people behind it that influence business success.

What comes to mind when you think of the term ‘thought leader’? An individual who invests his time and energy in pushing his personal brand is helping build credibility and at the same time enhancing not just his reputation but his company’s as well. To do that, one must establish himself as a thought leader. We know that closing deals and satisfying existing customers take up most of an industry leader’s time, but the good news is that not all personal branding strategies are time-consuming.

Entrepreneur lists five less tedious personal branding strategies that generate significant and positive results:

1. Identify your area of expertise.
A thought leader is the go-to individual or firm recognized for their expertise in a selected area of specialization. Most entrepreneurs and business leaders choose to focus on areas they have had a lot of past experience in.

Remember that the past experience needs to be connected with what you want to be known for in the future. Select an area that will bring in followers that can be either clients or advocates of what your company is selling.

2. Strengthen your LinkedIn profile.
If you don’t have a good, strong profile on LinkedIn yet, you better start creating one. You can’t avoid interested advocates looking to learn more about you and your company via your LinkedIn profile. Ask yourself, "Does my LinkedIn profile sell me and my company?" Your profile needs to look like an SEO landing page for you and your brand, not like a resume.

3. Follow other thought leaders in your area of specialization.
Advocate marketing is fast becoming the most effective form of marketing. Consumers are more likely to believe their friends and recognized experts than a website or a salesperson.

Start following the thought leaders and influencers in your space. Interact with them on social media: comment on their Facebook and LinkedIn posts, retweet and favorite their content on Twitter, comment on their blogs. Establish a relationship with them. Getting them to know you will pay off to a considerable degree.

4. Share content.
Don’t forget to share relevant and compelling content, and keep the 80/20 content guide as a rule of thumb: 20% original and 80% curated.

5. Follow through.
Being a thought leader also entails building long-term relationships with your key customers, influencers, and future advocates. Return customer calls and respond when they send you an email. When customers, influencers, and advocates connect with you on social media, accept their invitation, or simply respond to them at the very least.

Global Outsourcing Industry Sets New ACV Record in Q2

by: Sarah Joson

Friday, July 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

Category: Outsourcing News

A post at MarketWatch.com reveals the latest study done by market intelligence and advisory services company Information Services Group (ISG). The report shows that global outsourcing activity peaked during this year’s second quarter, and has likewise boosted contract values during 2014’s first half.

In ISG’s Outsourcing Index, commercial outsourcing contracts with annual contract value (ACV) of $5 million or more were recently analyzed. It was found that 340 contracts were signed during the second quarter. Most of the activity was detected from deals not exceeding $40 million annually.

Compared to last year’s second quarter, ACV is up by 72 percent, generating $6.4 billion. All of this happened even as the volume of mega deals - which are valued $100 million or more - dropped.
 
In addition to that, the strong figures posted during this year’s first quarter boosted the overall standing of this year’s first half with an impressive 30 percent increase in the total number of contracts (663). The total ACV for the period is $12.4 billion - the third best ACV ever recorded and is 34 percent higher than last year.

According to ISG President and Partner John Keppel, growth can be seen almost everywhere in outsourcing. He said the number of deals is growing incessantly, momentum in three key regions - Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific - continue to rise, ACVs all over the world are surging, and high-valued information technology outsourcing (ITO) gains traction. 
 
The rising number of smaller-sized deals is believed to be sustaining the market. This is because large companies are closing smaller contracts with shorter duration to several providers instead of sticking with just one. Mega deals, on the other hand, dropped from this year’s first quarter when 11 deals were signed, to just seven $100 million-plus deals signed during the second quarter. Still, the low volume of mega deals will equate to positive projections for the rest of the year.

The growing market also signifies growth in restructured contracts and even flow of new scope awards. In addition to that, restructured contracts with a combined value of $4.5 billion broke records in the first half, while new-scope ACV with $7.9 billion is in line with the usual levels over the past few years.

The Social Media Success Team

by: Finella Kristle Panlilio

Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

Category: Outsourcing Research / Trends

Updating social media profiles on a regular basis seems like a fairly easy job, but it isn't. To manage multiple brand pages is just as taxing as the need to create relevant, unique, and compelling content constantly.

The Social Media Success Team

The sales department of outsourcing service providers faces several challenges every day. They have to work with their marketing team in setting realistic expectations when it comes to lead generation, the number of requests for proposal (RFP) which is diminishing by the hour because of tight competition, and the hard sell or cold call approach that is not as effective as it was before. They also have to deal with the constant pressure from their organizations executives.

It’s hard to blame them when deals lose their luster, especially in long-term outsourcing contracts. It has become a constant struggle for outsourcing deals to survive because what happens is for the first few years, the provider does well, then they become complacent and careless, and right before the contract ends, they will do whatever they can to salvage whatever’s left of the outsourcing relationship in hopes of getting the client to renew their contract.   

A post at HorsesforSources.com shared four ways that can help restore and reinforce client-provider relationships in the outsourcing industry:

1. Look past the contract. When it comes to closing deals, providers often become too focused on landing a contract, that they say all the right things to win the client over. However, they soon forget the promises they made when they were still in the courting stage and leave the clients on their own.

Service providers should have a concrete structure where their propositions are realistic and achievable, instead of filling presentations with buzzwords that are only used to confuse the clients. There are numerous opportunities for them to develop and cultivate their relationships that can break contract longevity records, as opposed to providing quick fixes for clients. Also, it has been found that outsourcing relationships that are built on trust and collaboration become more successful.

2. Perform a standard background check. There are several ways for buyers to know the real providers. What happens next once the contract is signed? Are they still as accommodating and amicable as they were during the RFP process?

They can hire an expert who will do the work for them, or they can contact past clients to see their real track record.

3. Early termination should be covered by the contract.
It should have provisions for early termination, as well as sufficient rewards until the deal expires. This way, providers will be able to properly set their goals according to the initial agreement.

For the providers, it will serve as protection should the client go on a power-tripping frenzy and begin to lowball or set unworkable goals.

4. Appoint a POC.
Having a point of contact will make it easier both for the outsourcing services provider and the client. The POC is assigned to handle the operation and act as the middle man who will ensure that the concerns and deliverables of each party are addressed.


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