Forget the Lazy Weekend: 12 Fitness Quotes to Pump You Up

What are you doing this weekend? While it’s tempting to sleep in, sit on the couch and let the weekend slide by we can all get out there and do more. This doesn’t mean spending more time in front of your computer. This means spending some time on you and your body. Spending time on your fitness over the weekend will only leave you more energized for the week when Monday rolls around (which it always does). Get motivated with these 12 fitness quotes below and get out there!

fit

 

fit1

 

fit6

 

fit3

 

fit2

 

fit10

 

fit5

 

fit7

 

fit8

 

fit9

 

fit11

fit4

 

For more awesome picture quotes follow Under30CEO on Pinterest. 

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Video: 10 Must See Inspirational Commencement Speeches

j.k. rowlingEvery year thousands of commencement speechs are delivered at schools around the country. Many of them carry inspirational, motivational and up-lifting messages. However, there are always a few that stand out above the crowd. Here is a list of ten speeches that we think are more than worth your time. Let us know what commencement speeches are your favorite in the comments!

Steve Jobs – Stanford University

Here we see Steve Jobs delivering his commencement speech to the graduates of Stanford University in 2005. In it he talks about getting fired from Apple in 1985, life & death.

Oprah Winfrey – Howard University

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey received an honorary doctorate and inspired an audience of graduates at historically black Howard University. “After all the partying is over,” Winfrey said, “the anxiety may start to creep in. What do you now do with all this education?”

Jon Stewart, College of William & Mary

Jon Stewart, speaking at his alma mater, the College of William & Mary, was no less funny than he typically is on his nightly “Daily Show” TV program. “I know that the decisions I made after college worked out. But at the time I didn’t know that they would.”

J.K. Rowland – Harvard University

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling in her commencement speech at Harvard University talked about the “benefits of failure” and the “crucial importance of imagination.”

Conan O’Brien – Harvard University

Thirteen years ago, Conan O’Brien was still host of his long-running “Late Night” TV program when he gave the commencement speech to students at Harvard University, his alma mater.

Stephen Colbert – Northwestern University

“Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.”

Ellen DeGeneres – Tulane University

Top-rated television show host and New Orleans native Ellen DeGeneres was the keynote speaker at Tulane University’s 2009 Commencement. This was the graduation of the “Katrina Class” that entered in Fall 2005.

David Foster Wallace – Kenyon College

This is the commencement address he gave to the graduates of Kenyon College in 2005. It captures his electric mind, and also his humility–the way he elevated and made meaningful, beautiful, many of the lonely thoughts that rattle around in our heads.

Sheryl Sandberg – Barnard College

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg delivered the keynote at Barnard College’s 119th Commencement ceremony. Addressing approximately 600 members of Barnard’s Class of 2011, Sandberg implored the young women to “never let your fear overwhelm your desire.

Aaron Sorkin – Syracuse University

Aaron Sorkin ’83, screenwriter of the Social Network, used his particular blend of wit and principles to deliver a stirring commencement address for our 158th graduation ceremony on Sunday, 13 May 2012.

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WordPress Plugin Development Course for Designers – Part 1

I assume that you are a freelance designer or someone who work full time as a designer for a web design agency. Most of web designers are used work with static website design.

Now the question is: do you have a future as a static website designer?

The answer would probably be no since most clients and companies are planning to convert their websites to work with a CMS like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.

WordPress is becoming the new static web site.

WordPress integration is simple enough that almost anyone can setup a WordPress site with an auto installer program. Unless you are familiar in working with a CMS like WordPress, you will definitely face issues moving further as a freelance designer.

WordPress Plugin Development Course for Designers – What to Expect

Being a designer, your main focus should be to learn WordPress theme design and development. But clients are never going to be satisfied, even if you build their websites with professional theme and design. They will ask you for more and more features as they know that it’s easier to build things with WordPress.

WordPress plugins are a quick and easy solution to wrap your site with additional functionality such as social integration, breadcrumbs, Google Maps, etc. If you are not familiar with using and customizing plugins, you will have to need the support of a developer to keep clients from going from you and go looking for another developer who is capable of providing both design and development tasks.

Hiring a developer and creating the custom functionality can be costly for you as a freelance designer. So you should be thinking about learning the skills of plugin development.

What Can You Expect From Us?

So often we see tutorials for learning WordPress plugin development focused on developers. Here we are going to approach it differently by looking at WordPress plugins development from designers perspective. So everything will be created and explained from scratch.

Initial part of this tutorial series will consist of four parts, where we will learn WordPress Plugin Development from scratch. Throughout the series we will be developing a WordPress plugin to integrate your favorite jQuery Slider. Final output will be a complete slider plugin for WordPress, which you use in any part of the CMS.

Let’s take a look at the 4 parts of the series.

  1. Understanding WordPress Plugin Structure
  2. Basics for Creating WordPress Plugin Template
  3. Integrating Your Favorite Slider into WordPress
  4. Enhancing WordPress Plugins with Add On Features

Today we are going take on the first part on the tutorial series. So Let’s get started.

Understanding WordPress Plugin Structure

WordPress plugins lets us create additional functionality without affecting the core system. As designers, our main focus should be to develop quality front-end plugins with awesome designs rather than developing highly technical back-end plugins to provide complex functionality. So it’s important to know the basic structure,initial components and functions of a plugin to get things started.

What are the prerequisites?

Throughout this series you will have to work with technologies like PHP, JavaScript, and MySql. It’s ideal to have basic knowledge of those technologies, although it’s not mandatory. As designers, I don’t expect you to have knowledge on working with server side technologies and databases. But basics of JavaScript will be handy and I assume you have the basic idea.

Should You Create Plugins from Scratch?

I think the answer should be no, in situations where you can find a free plugin to implement the required features. WordPress plugin repository is full of plugins with wide range of capabilities. It’s much easier to find a plugin from the repository rather than creating from scratch.

Even though the repository contains around 20,000 plugins, there is no guarantee that there will be plugins to suit each and every requirement in your projects. In such cases you will have to either modify an existing plugin or write your own plugin from scratch.

Components of WordPress Plugin

We will be focusing on creating web design related plugins throughout this series. So these plugins will have some kind output to the browser using combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. This will be considered as the front-end component of the plugin.

Usually we need to change the design components with dynamic data. Therefore we have to create a custom section inside WordPress Admin panel to enter dynamic data and options. This data creation section can be considered as the back-end component of the plugin.

Let’s take a look at the back-end and front-end of a premium slider plugin from Themeforest.

Frond-end of the Plugin

wpbs_08

Back-end of the Plugin

wpbs_09

You can see how these components are used effectively in professional plugins. Simplest plugins will not require a back-end component. Here we will be creating a slider with both front-end and back-end components.

Creating Your First Plugin

First we have to know where to create plugins inside the WordPress installation. WordPress consists of 3 main folders called wp-content, wp-admin and wp-includes. The following screenshots previews the files and folders available inside WordPress installation. Our focus will be on the highlighted wp-content folder, where we install our themes and plugins.

wpbs_04

Inside wp-content, you will find another folder called plugins. Now switch to plugins folder and you will see few default plugin folders created by the WordPress installation. This will be the place where we create our own plugins. Following screen shows the list of folders available inside wp-content folder.

wpbs_03

We can directly create a plugin inside the plugins folder by including the plugin file. But the recommended method is to create each plugin in a separate folder inside the plugins folder.

So let’s name our plugin as 1WD Slider and create a folder called 1wd-slider. It’s important to know that there is no restriction on naming the plugin folder. I prefer using the plugin name as the folder name for keeping consistency. The following image shows our plugin folder inside the plugins.

wpbs_02

Creating Plugin File

Plugins can contain any number of files as you want. For the purpose of this tutorial, I am going to create the plugin as a single PHP file. So create a file called 1wd_slider.php inside your plugin folder. Once again there are no restrictions in naming plugin files. Having created plugin folder and file, let’s see how it displays on WordPress plugins list.

Login to your WordPress account as admin and click on Plugins tab on the left to get a list of available plugins.

wpbs_05

Surprisingly, the plugin list does not show our plugin. What is the reason?

Even though we created both plugin folder and file, we did not inform WordPress to consider it as a plugin. We have to add a PHP comment in predefined format on top of the file to make it a WordPress plugin. Open the 1wd_slider.php file and insert the following PHP comment.

<br />
&lt;?php<br />
/*<br />
Plugin Name: 1WD Slider<br />
Plugin URI: http://1stwebdesigner.com/<br />
Description: Slider Component for WordPress<br />
Version: 1.0<br />
Author: Rakhitha Nimesh<br />
Author URI: http://1stwebdesigner.com/<br />
License: GPLv2 or later<br />
*/<br />
?&gt;<br />

As a designer you might not be familiar with PHP codes, hence I’ll explain the code in detail. Tags <?php and ?> is used respectively for opening and closing PHP codes. This is similar to script tags in JavaScript. Anything you place between these tags will be executed as PHP codes.

Then we have a multiple line comment which is similar to comment syntax in JavaScript. We can use /* */ for multiple line comments and // for single line comments.

Inside the comment we have defined plugin details in key value structure. Basically Plugin Name will be the most important and mandatory parameter. Once you set the Plugin Name, WordPress will identify your file as a plugin to display in the plugin list. Following screen contains our plugin with complete details.

wpbs_06

Now let’s go through the remainder of parameters by comparing with the screen.

  • Plugin URI – is used to let users know about the details of the plugin and available download options. This isn’t mandatory and you can keep it blank, if you don’t have an intention of making the plugin publicly available.
  • Description – is used to provide a summary of functionality of the plugin.
  • Version – is used to define the version and you can use any numbering format as you wish. Plugins need be upgraded with each WordPress version upgrade. Therefore it’s good to have proper version numbering even though it’s not mandatory.
  • Author and Author URI – is used to provide details about the developer of the plugin.
  • License – is used to define the conditions for using this plugin. We can include standard licence such as GPL2 or just mention something we prefer such as Free to use.

We don’t need to consider about the parameters other than plugin name, in case we are not making the plugin publicly available for use.

Now we have our first WordPress plugin, even though it doesn’t do anything at the moment. We can activate or deactivate plugins from the plugin list.

Let’s discuss more on plugin activation.

WordPress Plugin Activation and Deactivation

Plugins will be on inactive status by default. We can click on the activate link under the plugin name to activate the plugin. Once the plugin is successfully activated, its features will get effected to your website.

Also you should be able to see deactivate link instead of activate link after a successful activation. Clicking the deactivate link will revert the status of the plugin to its original inactive status.

wpbs_07

What Can We Do on Activation/Deactivation

Think about a real world scenario where you activate premium membership of a club or library. Obviously you will get added benefits on activation and you will lose those benefits on deactivation. Similarly we can execute some tasks on plugin activation and deactivation.

WordPress provides a concept called hooks, where you can trigger certain tasks to add new behavior or modify existing behavior. So let’s look into the code for activation and deactivation hooks.

<br />
function fwds_slider_activation() {<br />
}<br />
register_activation_hook(__FILE__, 'fwds_slider_activation');</p>
<p>function fwds_slider_deactivation() {<br />
}<br />
register_deactivation_hook(__FILE__, 'fwds_slider_deactivation');</p>
<p>

Above code contains two functions called fwds_slider_activation and fwds_slider_deactivation. PHP function is a reusable piece of code where we can execute multiple times. Even as a designer you might have a basic idea about functions since PHP functions are similar to JavaScript functions.

Then we have the two hooks called register_activation_hook and register_deactivation_hook. Don’t worry too much about hooks as you will understand them while learning about plugin development in this series. For the moment just define these hooks with plugin specific activation and deactivation functions and execute necessary codes inside the function.

Why Do We Use Activation/Deactivation Hooks

We can create basic plugins without considering activation and deactivation functions. But advanced plugin will require these functions to provide additional features.

Following is a list of possible things we can do inside plugin activation/deactivation.

  • Create custom database tables on activation to store data and remove tables on deactivation.
  • Create custom options for plugins and activation and reset in deactivation.
  • Validate other dependent plugin on activation.
  • Any other necessary task you need to execute in activation.

Now we have discussed the importance of WordPress plugins for designers and its structure. From next part onwards we will be digging into the technical aspects of WordPress plugins.

Don’t be afraid of complex PHP or JavaScript codes since I will be covering all the necessary details about those codes in a simplified manner to suit web designers.

Time to Take the Poll

I mentioned that we will be covering the theories of WordPress Plugin Development for designers, by creating a complete plugin to integrate a jQuery slider. This tutorial series is meant for you and hence I want to know about your preferred slider instead of going with my favorite.

So make sure to vote for your favorite slider plugin as I’ll be using the most voted plugin for the development to this tutorial. ( Vote for Rhino Slider as it’s my favorite :))

Vote for Your Favorite Slider

Following is the list of sliders available for voting with preview images.

Coming Up

In the next part we will be digging into the actual code to learn the necessary functionality for creating a plugin. WordPress core functions needed to implement plugins will be discussed in detail from designers perspective. Throughout the next part we will be building a template for creating design based plugins. Until then I suggest that you read the following resources and get an ideas about plugin development.

You can grab a copy of the plugin here. The plugin does not include any functionality yet. So you can only see how it activates and deactivates using WordPress admin.

I have made my explanations in a simplified manner to suit web designers. Still I know that it can be difficult for designers who basically concentrate on HTML, CSS without considering JavaScript.

So let me know anything you didn’t understand through the comment section and I’ll get back to you with much more simplified explanations. Also let me know what is your preferred slider and why you voted for it.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

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14 Interviews With Billionaires to Watch this Weekend

mark-cubanHave some extra time this weekend? Instead of turning on the tv how about checking out some interviews with the worlds most succesful people.

Richard Branson–Billionaire founder of Virgin

Warren Buffett– Billionaire Investor

Bill Gates– Founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Larry Ellison–Founder of Oracle

Mark Cuban–Owner of the Dallas Mavericks and HDNet

Mark Zuckerberg–Founder of Facebook

Oprah Winfrey–Media Entrepreneur

Jeff Bezos–Founder of Amazon.com

Sergey Brin –Google Founder

Larry Page & Sergey Brin Google Founders

Michael Bloomberg–Entrepreneur and Mayor of New York

Sean Parker –Internet Entrepreneur

Peter Thiel–Founder of Paypal and Venture Capitalist

Reid Hoffman–Founder of LinkedIn

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The Lean Entrepreneur is here

Last May, I shared the news that long-time Lean Startup advocates Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits were working on a new book called The Lean Entrepreneur featuring illustrations by FAKEGRIMLOCK. That new book is about to hit bookstores everywhere.

I was honored that they asked me to write the foreword, and with their permission I’m posting an excerpt below. After the 2012 conference I viewed it as an opportunity to reflect on the growth and evolution of the movement as a whole.

One of the things that I love about what Brant and Patrick have done with The Lean Entrepreneur are the numerous case studies of how entrepreneurs are tackling new ventures, minimizing risk and learning their way to success – these case studies will speak to garage startups and corporate
entrepreneurs alike.

A few of the detailed case studies include:

  • Tech legend Bill Gross building an MVP in 1999 to test demand for online car sales, which grew into CarsDirect.com.
  • LitMotors approach to using Lean Startup to create a new vehicle category.
  • AppFog creating “high-hurdle” experiments to surface authentic early adopters with real pain.
  • The Embrace infant warmer was developed – by getting out of the country — and how Rob Emrich learned and scaled his non-profit, Road of Life. (Social
    entrepreneurs take note!)
  • BetaBrand building apparel MVPs and testing them quickly with targeted customer communities.
  • Telecom O2 learning to move at the speed of the internet
  • 500 Startups and their accelerated feedback loops on what works, and what doesn’t work in early-stage investing.
  • Scott Summitt iteratively leveraging the emerging technologies of digital fabrication and 3d-scanning to change people’s lives.
  • PayPal, under the leadership of David Marcus and Bill Scott, re-defining and re-engineering itself by embracing Lean Startup to improve the product
    experience.
  • KISSmetrics building and empowering cross-functional teams to attack problems in their sales funnels via hypothesis testing.
  • Intuit showing large organizations how to combine Lean Startup with horizon planning to nurture internal innovation and startup experiments.
  • Berkeley Pizza: from pizza in the farmer’s market to a sit-down restaurant.

Another thing I love about The Lean Entrepreneur is how Brant and Patrick are treating their book like a startup. One example is in their marketing, which
in today’s environment requires providing value. This doesn’t mean pointing to the product and describing the product’s value, but rather the marketing provides value itself.



As part of their book campaign, Brant and Patrick have teamed up with General Assembly to offer 4 free online video classes, including:

Lean UX Research Techniques – Rapid Prototyping – How to Hire Developers – Growth Hacking

Every book pre-order get access to all of these classes – and quite a bit more. You can pre-order on their site until February 10th
2013, and after that on Amazon.

Lastly, I wanted to share with you the foreword I wrote for The Lean Entrepreneur. As we head into 2013, it’s a good time to reflect on how far the Lean Startup movement has come:


When I first started blogging in August of 2008, I had no idea what to expect. Startup blogging was hardly “cool” back then. Plenty of venture capitalists
advised me against it. 

My personal background was as an engineer and my companies had been Web-based startups, so that is what I wrote about. Struggling to explain the successes
and failures of those companies, I discussed principles like continuous deployment, customer development, and a hyper-accelerated form of agile. When I
delved into lean manufacturing, I discovered the concepts and terminology dovetailed. The result: a new idea I called The Lean Startup. 

I started with some basic theory: that a startup is an institution designed to thrive in the soil of extreme uncertainty; that traditional management
techniques rooted in forecasting and planning would not work well in the face of that uncertainty. Therefore, we needed a new management toolkit designed
explicitly for iteration, scientific learning, and rapid experimentation. 

At the time, I viewed it as incidental that the theory might be tied to a particular industry, such as high-tech startups or web-based environments. Lean,
after all, emerged from Toyota, a huge automobile manufacturing company. I simply stated my belief that Lean Startup principles would work in other types
of startups and in other areas of business where uncertainty reigned. 

Boy, was I unprepared for what happened next. I was hopeful that we would change the way startups are built – but I didn’t know.Fast-forward more than 4 years and I’m astounded by what has emerged. A nascent community has blossomed into a full-fledged movement. Entrepreneurs, both
new and experienced, proudly share their Lean Startup learning in case studies, conferences, and many, many blogs. Books, workshops and courses authored by
passionate practitioners relate experience, share insight, and create tools to teach students ways to make Lean Startup principles their own. Many
investors, advisors, mentors and even celebrity entrepreneur icons speak the Lean Startup language. 

It’s a big tent. We stand on the shoulders of giants: customer development, the theory of disruptive innovation, the technology life-cycle adoption theory,
and agile development. Complementary lines of thinking, such as that of user experience professionals, design thinking practitioners and the functional
disciplines of sales, marketing, operations and even accounting, come together to share practices that lift us all. 

Lean Startup has gone mainstream. I wish I could say that this was all part of some master plan, that I knew all along that companies of all sizes – far
outside the high-technology world – would embrace Lean Startup. I wish I had foreseen that within a year of publishing The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Achieve Radically Successful Businesses, many large organizations,
including such monsters as the United States Federal government (!) would have recognized that to cope with today’s world -faster, more competitive, and
inundated with data – new methods are needed to keep up. The truth is that all of this change has happened faster and more thoroughly than any of us
imagined. And – as you’re about to see – we’re just getting started. 

That’s why I am so excited by the volume you hold in your hands. The Lean Entrepreneur is about those new methods. Brant Cooper and Patrick
Vlaskovits are among the earliest adopters of new ideas such as Lean Startup and customer development. Their new work turns their lens on three primary
focal points: how to interact with customers, run experiments, and use actionable data to move the needle of any uncertain business endeavor. 

As with all of their work, theirs is not just a book of theory. Brant and Patrick provide great tactical depth in each of these areas. 

They endeavor to answer the question: No matter where you are as an organization, how do you know where to focus your Lean Startup activities? The Lean
Entrepreneur offers new thinking, tools and activities that help organizations identify and act upon business model challenges in a waste-eliminating
manner. Following the precepts of traditional lean thinking, Brant and Patrick introduce the value stream discovery process, which helps organizations
hypothesize what they must do, including product development, marketing, and sales in order to create value. These business model assumptions are then ripe
for testing, measuring and iterating upon. 

Further, the value you create is meaningless without a customer who needs, wants, desires and ultimately, determines the final value of your creation.
Brant and Patrick spend considerable time helping you think through your customer segments. Cleverly and in the spirit of the scientific method, they even
help you discover where your customer theory is wrong. 

Everyone likes a good story; Brant and Patrick interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs and documented numerous case studies both inside and outside of
high-tech, in both startups and large enterprises. There’s even a classic Wizard of Oz minimum viable product that dates back to 1998! 

Make no mistake, Brant and Patrick have been here since the beginning. They self-published The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development in
April of 2010
From the outset, they were both practitioners and mentors, urging entrepreneurs not to follow a paint-by-numbers approach, but rather to think lean: fast,
agile and continuously learning. Over the last two years they’ve traveled around the world speaking, advising, and teaching Lean Startup. 

The Lean Entrepreneur is an important addition to the growing library of principles and practices designed to improve how we tackle innovation and
uncertainty, be it in tech startups, Fortune 100, non-profits or government. 

I consider myself lucky to count Brant and Patrick as friends and colleagues. It is my hope that from this book you will gain valuable insights, make Lean
Startup your own, and – much more importantly – that you are successful in changing the world for the better. 

Eric Ries,
San Francisco, December 2012


If you want to read more, you can find an excerpt of Chapter 6, Viability Experiments here.

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Measuring Social Media: How to Determine Your ROI

Are you trying to measure your social media return on investment (ROI)?

Do you need to measure the social performance of your business?

To learn how to determine the ROI for social media marketing, I interview Nichole Kelly for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Nichole Kelly, author of How to Measure Social Media and the CEO of Social Media Explorer and SME Digital.

Nichole shares why so many businesses struggle to determine the ROI of their social media activities and what’s really important in your social media measurement.

You’ll learn the most important steps that all marketers should take when thinking about social ROI.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

Listen Now

You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Social Media Return on Investment (ROI)

Why so many marketers struggle with measuring social ROI

Nichole believes one of the reasons social ROI is a challenge is because marketers have redefined the metrics used to measure social media. Words such as mentions and retweets are similar to what was measured before. But now people have decided that social media is special, and therefore needs to be measured in a special way.

stock photo 17323056 measuring tapes

Marketers have redefined metrics to try to measure social media. Image source: iStockphoto

Nichole believes this has set us up for failure. When you try to 1) justify what you are doing and 2) measure the return, you can’t compare these two things. It then becomes difficult to compare and optimize whatever the return is.

People have played with the return on investment phrase in the social realm. For example, you’ve likely heard of return on influence, return on engagement and return on conversation. The problem with this approach is that at the end of the day, ROI is a financial return. And whether it is the best measure for success of social media doesn’t really matter, because it’s the measure of success for business.

Listen to the show to find out why you need to translate social media into a positive ROI.

The backstory that led Nichole to social media ROI

Nichole explains how she spent most of her career in corporate marketing and grew up in the boardroom.

In June 2011, there was a study that came out from the Fournaise Report that said 73% of CEOs think marketers lack business credibility. The #1 stated reason was because we talk about trends like social media.

fournaise report

In June 2011, the Fournaise Report said 73% of CEOs think marketers lack business credibility.

Whether you agree with this or not, Nichole noticed that marketers were caught in a trap of trying to measure social media differently. And measuring social media ROI isn’t as hard as everyone was making it out to be.

So she set out to provide how-to information with step-by-step instructions on translating social media into something that can be compared across channels.

Nichole wrote ROI-related articles for Social Media Examiner and discovered there was a never-ending appetite for help figuring out social media ROI.

Nichole thinks people are still trying to understand it completely, but they are actually ready to measure now.

When Nichole first started, a lot of people were talking about measurement in philosophical terms. We are starting to see companies, and marketers in particular, understand that with social media, it doesn’t matter how many fans or followers they have.

At the end of the day, if you can compare social media to what you spend on pay-per-click advertising and start measuring it with something simple like cost per click on all of the web traffic you are sending to your site, you have something that justifies a budget.

Listen to the show to find out why Nichole feels measuring social media ROI hasn’t come full circle yet.

The most important first step for marketers when thinking about social ROI

The first step is never use a social media metric. You should never talk in terms of fans, followers, likes and retweets. You should dispose of all of this social media lingo and start thinking in terms of other marketing channels and what you measure there.

For example, if you focus on pay-per-click advertising, you should measure cost per impression, cost per click and sometimes cost per conversion. If you focus on public relations, you should measure cost per impression and sometimes cost per mention. The one thing that you can measure right now is how much you spend on content, agency fees and total spend on social media marketing.

If you start comparing all of that with the cost of whatever is brought to your website or whatever the conversions are from social media, then it’s easy for people to understand social media ROI. You want to use the terminology that executives are familiar with.

Listen to the show to learn why it’s important to use the terminology that executives are familiar with.

The main types of objectives marketers measure

Nichole sees many companies measuring reach and engagement. As marketers, we want to optimize what we are doing and the only way to do that is to measure how often people engage and whether a piece of content is performing. These are good metrics.

For business it comes down to three things: sales volume, revenue and cost.

Nichole feels that we haven’t quite connected social media with the bottom of the funnel where the actual conversion, sale or customer retention process happen. And because we haven’t connected these things, we have executives with misaligned expectations about where social media fits into the sales funnel.

crm funnel chart

Nichole feels social media hasn’t quite connected with the bottom of the funnel. Image source: iStockphoto

Although you may be generating interest in the social channels, likely you still are converting customers using email marketing, having them come through organically or by using pay-per-click advertising. You need to align expectations accordingly, or you could set yourself up for failure. This can kill your ability to get any kind of budget for the social media marketing your company needs.

There are two different types of leads. A soft lead is someone who’s exchanged his/her email address in return for something, and a hard lead is someone who is already a customer or a qualified prospect.

Nichole recommends you generate the soft leads with social media and then use email marketing to convert them into hard leads.

The biggest call to action that Nichole sees is “Sign up for our newsletter.” She finds this funny. How many people really sign up for a newsletter anymore? Today the word newsletter is almost the clean word for spam. People really don’t want a newsletter. They want something of value.

Delivering a newsletter is not the best call to action to get that email address so that you can do additional marketing.

Nichole likes to focus on content-based marketing, where you give people something they value in return for their email address, and tell them what kind of emails they can expect after that.

Are you trying to gain leads with your social media efforts? Then you need to measure the cost per lead. Most companies that spend money on marketing are measuring what the cost per lead is today. The second piece to measure is cost per acquisition. How much did you spend to get an actual customer? You can measure these two metrics across channels.

One of the biggest challenges with social media is that we are trying to measure social media in the social channel, when in fact the business value tends to happen on the website or through the email list. You have to stop thinking in terms of one silo and look at social media as one part of the story.

Listen to the show to find out how to measure every touch along the buying cycle.

How marketers can measure performance

Most companies have a variety of different website analytic tools; however, the majority use Google Analytics. Nichole explains how you first need to have a goal set up for your conversion page with a thank-you page. So you set up the goal on the thank-you page. Then with every link that you share, you add “custom URL parameters.”

There are three parameters you can append to the end of a URL to tell Google Analytics the campaign, the medium and the source of where that link was posted. Nichole uses these parameters and keeps track of them in a database. This tells her exactly which status update generates a specific conversion because she has numbered each status update and has it in a database.

Listen to the show to hear how to track your conversions.

How marketers should convey their data to management

Nichole describes two different types of metrics. First of all, there are the metrics that marketing managers care about. These are the metrics you need to optimize your results. For example, which tweet led to the most conversions that month and should we do more tweets like that?

Once you start getting into executive management, you have to distill it down to three things. These are cost per impression, cost per engagement and cost per lead. Sometimes you need to add in cost per customer acquisition. If you can get to revenue and there’s an integration with CRM, you start adding things like average revenue per customer and revenue metrics, etc.

The big three are the ones that have historical presence in companies. They are benchmarks for success and a known acceptable cost for each one of these things. This is all the executive team cares about.

Social media is one line item on a budget of many marketing channels. Executive management really doesn’t pay attention to the nitty-gritty. And Nichole believes that if the executive team pays too much attention to these small details, it probably means that the marketer has not positioned social media to show proper integration. This is why they are scrutinizing it so much.

Nichole always works on getting this information into that one line item on the overall marketing report. People are scared to measure and marketers are scared to be held accountable. If you start delivering these kinds of metrics and your data shows that social media is not working, then your job is on the line. And the pressure isn’t just about social media, it’s coming for the entire marketing channel.

analyzing

People are scared to measure and marketers are scared to be held accountable. Image source: iStockphoto

It’s now time for marketers to get serious. Is it going to be something you integrate into your marketing plans and into your business, internally and externally, or is it something you are going to fiddle around with on the side?

Should companies measure engagement in answering questions on their Facebook wall as a public service? Should they measure engagement with “thank-you’s” on Twitter? Nichole believes that it isn’t that these activities don’t lead to ROI. The intent is different.

There’s the question of being a good steward in social media and then there’s also the question of finding a way to impact business. It’s a combination of both of these things that work on social media.

You’ll discover what happened when Nichole did a test for her book on Facebook. When she first posted a status update simply with a link to her book, there was no engagement at all. Then she took a picture of herself in Barnes and Noble with the book, and she received tons of feedback. People loved it. Nichole hasn’t got the numbers yet to see if this generated sales. But it was the one thing that people could connect with because it made Nichole human.

Nichole explains how measuring ROI is important, and why you should also continue to be human and provide value, while tracking your sales funnel.

Listen to the show to hear why Nichole is 100% sure that your ROI is negative when you start to measure.

Economical tools Nichole recommends

The one tool most people have is Google Analytics. Nichole’s advice is look at the goal conversions that are set up on your site.

Next is to do a search for Google Analytics URL Builder, which allows you to put in the three parameters mentioned earlier. This generates a long URL that has them all appended. You can shorten it in your social channels.

url builder

Google Analytics URL Builder.

Once you have tested it, you can now connect this to sales data. This means plugging into a marketing automation system that attaches to a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool like Marketo or Pardot.

Listen to the show to hear how the Google custom URL Builder works for social channels.

This Week’s Social Question

Ben Adam Smith from House Planning Help asks, “How long should you spend managing your social media?”

house planning help

Ben Adam Smith of House Planning Help sent in today’s social media question.

Ben, here is what you need to do.

Here’s a statistic from our 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, where we surveyed about 3,800 marketers and asked them how much time they spend on social media. About 64% are spending between 1 to 10 hours a week on social media.

If you look at 10 hours spread over a 5-day workweek, that’s a maximum of about 2 hours a day. This shows that people are investing a fair amount of time in their social media efforts.

To help you figure out how you can spend less time and still get great results, here’s a very simple plan.

You can use scheduling tools like HootSuite and Buffer to schedule some of your activities (but not all of them).

At Social Media Examiner, we use SocialOomph to schedule our tweets and our LinkedIn updates only. The reason for this, to the best of our knowledge, is Twitter and LinkedIn are the two networks that don’t penalize you for using their tools. But we’ve heard mixed reports over time as to whether Facebook penalizes you or not.

With regards to Facebook, we have found the best thing to do is to manually update your news feed.

On Twitter, I suggest you write down a number of interesting things that you can schedule into one of these tools. Find some interesting content that’s been written about your industry by others. Add a few tweets with links to your own content. Consider adding an occasional tweet about an activity or an event you’re going to be participating in or attending. Then spend an hour and schedule these tweets throughout an entire week.

If you also want to schedule updates on Facebook, there’s a built-in scheduler for Facebook Pages. So you can actually go into Facebook and schedule your updates using the Facebook built-in scheduler at the same time. The only downside to this is that I’ve had mixed reports on results. To learn more, visit here and do a search for Facebook Schedule or Scheduling.

The next step is to track what is working. You’ll learn in today’s podcast how to do this. When you begin to see that some things are working better than others, consider scaling back on what’s not working, or experiment. And increase your activity on what is working.

Listen to the show to gain more insights into how we do this at Social Media Examiner.

Call in and leave your social media–related questions for us and we may include them in a future show.

Other Show Mentions

content success summit 2013

In just a few short days, we are kicking off Content Success Summit 2013—an online conference designed for marketers and business owners who want to expand their platforms.

This conference will reveal everything from strategy to content creation techniques you can put to use immediately.

Content Success Summit starts February 5, 2013, and is spread over four weeks to improve learning and accommodate your schedule. Plus you’ll get recordings and transcripts of all live sessions. Be sure to check it out.

We have 22 speakers including Joe Pulizzi, Ann Handley, Michael Hyatt, Michael Stelzner, Mark Schaefer, Amy Porterfield, Gini Dietrich, Marcus Sheridan, DJ Waldow, David Siteman Garland, Pat Flynn and Derek Halpern.

Social Media Marketing World is Social Media Examiner’s latest mega-conference—taking place at the waterfront San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina in San Diego, California on April 7-9, 2013.

As you’d expect, Social Media Examiner recruited the biggest and best names in the world of social media marketing for this conference. Only the best for you! Be sure to check it out.

If you have been thinking about attending but you need to convince the boss, you’ll be happy to know we have a section called Convincing the Boss.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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via Social Media Examiner http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/measuring-social-media-how-to-determine-your-roi/

19 Apps for Managing Your Business in the Cloud

Apps for Managing a BusinessAs a relatively new web-centric team, we look to cloud based web applications to operate virtually every area of our business.  The great news is that most of the apps we use are free, or have a free trial option and all really help to save time, improve productivity, and generally help you do more of what you are best at – running your business.

I’ve written case studies before comparing the software we utilize for many areas of our business – so this roundup covers the best from each sector.  Whether you operate a one person business or an SME there will be value in some, if not all of these web apps.

1. FreeAgent

It’s widely accepted by most entrepreneurs and startup businesses that book-keeping and general tax red tape are a real time-sink.

It’s a familiar story; an increasingly unwieldy excel spread sheet and an overflowing filing cabinet which collectively comprise your accounting system.

If I could recommend one app for new and growing (UK based) businesses it’d be this. Don’t tell them I said this but if it was 3x the cost we’d still be customers, such is the pain this software remedies.

Note: This is the best for UK businesses, but Freshbooks runs it close for US businesses!

Use it for: Good old accounting.It’s really robust (it hasn’t fallen down on us yet) and gobbles up otherwise daunting day-to-day book-keeping and dreaded tax issues.

2. SEOMoz

I’ve been in and around SEO and digital marketing since late 2006-07. Around that time SEOmoz operated mainly as a consultancy but over time have morphed into an inspiring software company. It was a seemingly organic pivot but the end result is a piece of kick-ass software.

A post from me without link/mention of Rand/SEOmoz is a rarity such is my fanboy adoration, but taking it back on point it is a great tool for measuring and improving for online presence.

I am awaiting the big reveal on moz.com which for my money is a more all-encompassing iteration of the software looking holistically at search/social/engagement.

Use it for [Businesses in general]: Understanding how you currently perform for the phrases in your niche and for a more noob-digestible explanation of how to improve.

Use it for [Agencies]: Great client intelligence and a solid reporting framework

3. SnapEngage

Such an under-rated visitor nurturing tool. Depending on which side of the fence you are on, live chat consoles are either a waste of pixels or a great way to engage with otherwise passive web visitors.

I can directly attribute new business wins to the presence of SnapEngage and if you operate in B2C (ie your target audience is not in a position to pick up the phone 9-5 and they can easily pass off their live chat as important email typing stuff) you can win big by rolling out this software.

 Use it for: Live chat – get a friendly (real) face on there you’ll be surprised by the uptake, right now around 1% of our visitors are engaging in a chat – I would estimate those may otherwise have passed through. Oh and you can experience full functionality on the free plan.

4. Unbounce

I’ve written before about Unbounce, another great story I’ve watched develop as they close an investment round, the fruits of which being a facelift and lots of great new features.

Use it for: Landing pages. If you are using PPC you can improve the chances of making it pay by utilising, and split testing landing pages.

5. Salesforce

The giant of this pack, so no heartfelt monologue but their platform is unrivalled and we’ve got it threaded into our full suite of lead nurturing activity.

Use it for: Tracking your sales and keeping tabs on the leads in your pipeline.

6. Clicktale

I slap myself on the wrists weekly for under-using Clicktale – it’s great value and provides a gold mine of insight on your visitors.

Use it for: Understanding web visitor mouse movements, it’s a killer feature of a feature-rich platform that comprehends mouse movement (closely correlated with eye movement) is the key to improving your product message and ultimately your user journey and goal completions.

 7. AdInsight

This tool is super-innovative and so useful. Another nice story which lead to big investment, AdInsight enables you to join up web and telephone enquiries by attributing John Smith’s call (and subsequent widget purchase) to a Google search for “blue widgets” last Thursday.

Use it for: Finally proving that your website and digital marketing is the source of your telephone calls and the clunky telephone directory can go straight into the paper recycling bin.

8. Google Analytics

Yep the wise granddaddy of web analytics software – let’s hope it remains free.

Use it for: Understanding volume and breakdown of website visits [basic] … everything [agencies]

9. WordPress

Open source still counts and WP is the lord of the open source dance.

Use it for: Managing your site content- it’s a great CMS platform and a criminally overqualified blog platform.

10. Adobe CreativeCloud

Wow, this must have been some sell-in to old school board members “hey I have an idea, instead of charging a one off license of £700 for each of our 10 best products why don’t we just give them all as a bundle for £27 a month”

I can almost hear the gasps. It’s what they did though, and you can now grab ALL of Adobe’s software including a paid Typekit account for that one all-in amount.

Use it for: Doing everything web/creative. From video editing to Photoshop for that introductory rate it’s almost a shame not to.

11. do.com

It’s a really powerful and (for now) completely free project management app.

The UI is beautiful and the whole thing has an emphasis on social to get things done.

Use it for: Managing a remote team or conducting your internal projects to completion.

12. Wunderlist

This is a personal one to me – I couldn’t live without it. The iPhone app is particularly triumphant.

Use it for: Your always-available to-do list. It’s really sleek and just works!

 13. Tweetdeck

This is a pinned tab on every machine in our team and although strictly speaking its now a Twitter entity we feel it’s a great implementation of the medium.

Use it for: Scheduling your tweets (or saving a few up to post intermittently) and for managing multiple Twitter accounts.

14. Trello

Another task management system of sorts, which has varying levels of uptake here and works really well.

Use it for: Keeping on top of tasks in hand, it uses a post it / wallboard style interface which contributes to a great user experience.

15. Campaign Monitor

Boasting one of the best company “vibes” in the tech world, Campaign Monitor have a solid product to boot.

It’s our weapon of choice for email marketing.

Use it for: Autoresponders for a nice, staggered approach to lead nurturing once you’ve been able to grab that all-important prospect email info.

16. Zapier

I wrote about this powerful tool in a post for Koozai last year.

It’s a secret weapon for tying together the various apps we have running at any one time.

Use it for: Creating a symphony of automation for your marketing.

17. Balsamiq

Another unsung hero of web design software, Balsamiq is a joy for client meetings and it’s the only time when Comic Sans is acceptable.

It’s a wireframing tool for designers to quickly draft up web/app page structures.

Use it for: Impressing clients (in person) with rapid construction of their ideas. I’ve found it doesn’t translate too well to email as the required imagination sometimes just doesn’t happen.

18. Skype

The pre-eminent web cam communication tool is equally strong in its IM guise.

It’s an obvious one but in use throughout everyone at Tone.

Use if for: Sharing your screen to collaborate well on projects struggling to bear fruit.

19. Google Drive

We used to have a physical internal server for storing networked files – but we’ve fully moved to the cloud utilising Google Drive.  In a similar way to Dropbox and other similar services, Google Drive has a desktop client so for your team(s) the folder appears as just another folder – ensuring a seamless experience.

The obvious advantage to this is cross-platform compatibility – you can grab documents from your internal network from your phone!

Use it for: A really cost-effective way to store files and collaborate with your team members.

On reflection we use lots of web apps on a daily basis, with no nasty surprises in terms of one-off licenses, costly installations and the general headaches we’d have had to incur to roll-out so many software applications even 10 years ago, if you have technical knowledge you could probably set up accounts and have all of these tools working for you in a day!

I’m really excited for what the future may bring.

Liam Veitch writes about startup culture, entrepreneurialism and digital marketing.  Liam is the founder and Managing Director of Tone Agency – specialists in lead generation and web designs that convert. 

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

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